Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 31, 2012

Open Intervention In Syria Seems Unlikely

Russia is likely to veto the "western" UN draft resolution on Syria as it does not reflect the situation on the ground and is obviously an instrument to impose regime change if needed by war.

Unlike the draft resolution the report by the Arab League observer mission clearly tells of (pdf) brutal rebel attacks on the government and on civilian:

In Homs, Idlib and Hama, the Observer Mission witnessed acts of violence being committed against Government forces and civilians that resulted in several deaths and injuries. Examples of those acts include the bombing of a civilian bus, killing eight persons and injuring others, including women and children, and the bombing of a train carrying diesel oil. In another incident in Homs, a police bus was blown up, killing two police officers. A fuel pipeline and some small bridges were also bombed.

Any state will rightly use force to put down such armed gangs.

The Turkish president Gül is pressing for a fast solution:

“We regret this, but Syria is unfortunately on a path of no return. The important thing is that this process is not dragged out. There is no [good] end for this. The end is certain. The question is how painful it will be,” the president also said.

I see no fast way for the "west" to achieve regime change in Syria. A "no-fly zone" against a country where there are no military flights against the rebels makes little sense and a coalition of the willing is unlikely to evolve soon as everyone, the Turks, the Gulf dictatorships and the U.S., involved has a different idea of what the end game should be.

Despite ten month of attacks the Syrian state institutions and its military have held together well and there is no sign of any breakup. Without any serious forces on the ground any intervention just from the air would be insufficient. Who would be willing to declare war on Syria and to send their own ground troops? Turkey is the candidate with the most potential to do this but the risk of resistance to it in its own minority areas seems too high.

With the UN way blocked and an open war unlikely the U.S. and its followers will try different ways to get Syria under their control. Most likely they will increase in the weapon flow to the rebels and intensify their training of more rebel groups in Turkey and Jordan. The Saudis and Qatar will continue to finance their Salafi gangs on the ground.

This conflict then will continue for quite some time but with the Syrian government now seemingly more aware and able to counter the rebels.

Slowly but deliberately Assad is moving Syria's political system towards a more democratic state. That is probably something the "west" would really fear. A democratic Syria not under its control and therefor likely to continue its rather independent policies. This may explain the current rush to find a way to smash it before this happens.

Posted by b on January 31, 2012 at 18:04 UTC | Permalink

Comments

I come to this site occasionally. I have no problem reading your illogical and angry leftist rants. They are actually amusing and remind me why America is still the wealthiest and most powerful country around.

But I don't understand the point of blatantly lying to yourself and the people who read this site. Two points of contention I have with this post:

1) Assad IS losing. For goodness sake the rebels are now on the outskirts of Damascus. Aleppo is rioting like crazy. Just a few months ago neither of these were thinkable. If Assad's thugs could have beaten the rebels, they would have already. But they can't. His army is defecting left and right, and pretty soon he will either have to flee or get killed like the Romanian guy. I'm sure he was another one of your heroes.

2) Assad is NOT interested in democratizing Syria. Again, similar to how he can't crush the uprising, if he wanted to he would have. 11 years in power and all of a sudden he is a reformer? He was elected with what, 98% of the vote last time around?

Please keep up the good work. Can't wait to check back in a few months when Assad is either in Russia or six feet under. Looking forward to another big laugh when that time comes.

Posted by: Majd | Jan 31 2012 18:37 utc | 1

According to insurgent statistics published by FP Passport, 312 soldiers were killed in January -- 27 percent of the total death toll, the highest proportion during the entire conflict.


But the U.S. puts a different spin on it, of course. It's not an armed revolution or an insurgency, it's an attack by the Syrian regime on military members who defect with their weapons and are peacefully sitting in their kitchens peacefully fondling their weapons.

Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokewoman, explains it.

I think with regard to activities in recent days, among the things that we are seeing, we are seeing military officers defecting from the Syrian military forces, and we are seeing then regime forces attack those defectors. And some of those defectors have taken their arms with them. So in places like Homs, where we’ve seen the regime fire mortars into apartment buildings and kill 18 civilians yesterday, our analysis of this is that in some cases, these Syrian military operations have been in retaliation for the defection of military officers.

So they’re going after guys who don’t want to fight for them anymore. And in some cases, these guys are taking their weapons with them. So this is why we put the bulk of the blame for the cycle of violence at the feet of the Assad regime.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 31 2012 19:27 utc | 2

@Majd
Why are you railing against illogical and angry leftist rants in an illogical and angry leftist rant? It makes no sense.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 31 2012 19:37 utc | 3

@ Majd

If you read the post fully, you will see that no where does B say that Assad is winning. He says that the International Community is not going to intervene (and he is right because the Russians are opposed) and also says that "this conflict will continue for quiet some time". Nowhere does he say Assad is winning. But I will turn it around and question your claim that "Assad IS losing".

You claim Aleppo is rioting "like crazy". There was riots in Aleppo suburb of Marjeh after a funeral and 10 people were killed but every news account of the riots claim that it was a few hundred people rioting, this is a city of 2.3 Million. Also the Damascus eastern suburb being taken reminds me of the push on Tripoli. I think the Free Syrian Army was hoping if they took a suburb then the whole city would rapidly rise up like in the final days of the war in Libya. It didn't happen and now the FSA has been pushed back out of the suburb.

The Syrian rebels do have alot of advantages. They can hit and run attack and meld into the civilian population after, and have a grassroots organisational structure. As the Americans learned in Iraq and Vietnam and Afghanistan, this Asymmetric community-based warfare is insanely hard to defeat. But just like the Sunni insurgency in Iraq (which was much more organised and larger) it is very hard to actually topple the state through this method.

Iraq showed that you can have 40% of the population supporting an insurgency for 5 or 7 years and yet the state doesn't fall. I imagine this is why the Free Syrian Army wanted NATO to intervene. Assad might not be winning but neither is the FSA. You might likely have a situation where the rebels are strong enough to attack some areas and take control but not strong enough to bring down the whole regime.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Jan 31 2012 19:46 utc | 4

@Majd - I have no idea where you get the information that lead to your conclusions. They are obviously not public sources. Are they voices in your head?

For goodness sake the rebels are now on the outskirts of Damascus. Aleppo is rioting like crazy.
That one small group in the outskirts of Damascus was taken care of yesterday. Aleppo seems quite quiet.

BTW - I am not alone my judgement. See Tony Karon, a better analyst and writer than me, who just comes to similar conclusions than I do (note: I read his peace AFTER publishing mine and I do not agree with all of what he writes.)

U.N. Security Council Meets: Syria’s Assad May Be Under Pressure, But He’s Not on His Way Out Yet

Assad is not about to heed a resolution put before the Security Council by the Arab League — and backed by Western powers — that bluntly demands his surrender, because that outcome that does not reflect the current balance of forces on the ground in what has evolved into a full-blown civil war.
...
Assad’s key security forces remain largely intact, with vastly superior armaments and organization. Those security forces are dominated by the Allawites, who rightly or wrongly fear for their future in a post-Assad Syria, and are willing to fight to keep that eventuality at bay.
...
Western powers are highly unlikely to go into Syria, except in support of an intervention by neighborhood players, such as Turkey or the Arab League. But the Arab League is divided, with Lebanon, Iraq and Algeria more supportive of Damascus, while even Saudi Arabia may shows little inclination to push for a direct military response. And Turkey, despite its support for the opposition and the FSA, is increasingly concerned about the implications of Assad’s fall for its own internal struggle with a restive Kurdish population.
...
All of this works to Assad’s advantage, of course, and the more he forces things onto the terrain of civil conflict, the more he reinforces factors that, in the short term, shore up his regime even if they weaken it in the long term.
...
So the conversation this week in the Security Council may not herald the onset of the Syrian endgame, as much as the start of a protracted and increasingly bloody conflict that becomes a recurring theme at the U.N. for many months to come.

Posted by: b | Jan 31 2012 19:56 utc | 5

@Don Bacon @Majd
Why are you railing against illogical and angry leftist ran...

So you are calling my writing on Syria an "illogical and angry leftist rant".

Why the fuck do you bother to post here you dimwit?

Posted by: b | Jan 31 2012 19:58 utc | 6

what ever does 'democracy' mean?

Posted by: brian | Jan 31 2012 20:35 utc | 7

an angry old Majd...'I come to this site occasionally. I have no problem reading your illogical and angry leftist rants. They are actually amusing and remind me why America is still the wealthiest and most powerful country around'

clearly american and as such unaware his country is owned by China.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyePCRkq620

'But I don't understand the point of blatantly lying to yourself and the people who read this site. '

why is Majd lying? when he and we know the thugs attacking Syria are are armed and dangerous, and backed by islamic terrorists from NTC in Libya and the Muslim brotherhood. US war ships are plying the seas and waiting to strike, terror into the syrian people.

as for democracy...thats been defined by Gore Vidal as:

Our only political party has two right wings, one called Republican, the other Democratic. But Henry Adams figured all that out back in the 1890s. 'We have a single system,' he wrote, and 'in that system the only question is the price at which the proletariat is to be bought and sold, the bread and circuses
http://dailybail.com/home/gore-vidal-our-only-political-party-has-two-right-wings-one.html

Majd(not his real name,but he maye be a zionist jew) seems to be a relic of cold war america,ranting against anything media made bogeyman.

Posted by: brian | Jan 31 2012 20:44 utc | 8

lets look again at those deagth toll figures:
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2012/01/syrian-death-numbers-are-likely-all-false.html
so why would the media lie?

http://rt.com/news/syria-assad-media-attack-501/

so is Majd just a dumb american? befuddled by professional media lies?
america is well and truly on the decline...the only industry it has left is the war industry, and all it exports is war, as we see with US war ships prowling other peoples coastlines, waiting for the moment to strike terror.

Posted by: brian | Jan 31 2012 20:47 utc | 9

@b
I was imprecise and therefore my meaning was mistaken. I intended to defend you.
I should have said "Why are you railing against what you allege is an illogical and angry leftist rant . ."
The dimwit charge is probably not far off. It's a cross I have to bear.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 31 2012 21:05 utc | 10

"312 soldiers were killed in January -- 27 percent of the total death toll, the highest proportion during the entire conflict"

This says a great deal about the nature of this conflict - if it was the Syrian security forces taking on peaceful demonstrators, it is unlikely that the casualty would come anywhere near 1%. If the Syrian security forces were taking on untrained fighters who had recently taken up weapons, it s unlikely that the casualty would come anywhere near 10%. That it is 27%, suggests to me that the "opposition" consists of fairly highly-trained troops. One of the photos I saw recently of some of the opposition showed that they had received either western military training or training from someone who had received western military training such as a member of the GCC armed forces.

BTW, does anyone know why three members of the Saudi royal family are on "Death Row" in Iraq? Could it be because they were supporting insurgents there or even organizing suicide bombers there?

Posted by: blowback | Jan 31 2012 21:18 utc | 11

So you are calling my writing on Syria an "illogical and angry leftist rant".

i was wondering the same thing myself. it didn't sound angry to me at all. and as usual, like everything b writes, it sounded very logical.

Posted by: annie | Jan 31 2012 21:34 utc | 12

Don Bacon,

It doesn't matter whether Majd's rant is coming from the angry Left or angry Right, as this kind of political pigeonholing has become irrelevant these days. What matters is that his rant is totally illogical. That seems to be the point that you making here -- at least that's how I see it. Hopefully b will come around to seeing the same.

Posted by: Cynthia | Jan 31 2012 21:37 utc | 13

@Cynthia
Thank you. I did say "rants" as a generality and in no way did I intend it to pertain to the above. My intent was, as you have seen, to highlight the illogical comment and not to agree with it.

But hey, stuff happens. Both b and I will survive it. It doesn't need any further attention as far as I am concerned.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 31 2012 21:50 utc | 14

Again, as with Libya, the purpose of the UN is to maintain international peace and security, and not to interfere in a country's internal affairs. So the U.S. is claiming that there must be a halt to the violence because this affair could regional instability. (This is something the U.S. would never do, of course.) The U.S. position, as noted above, that the violence is all caused by the governmentregime, specifically Assad so he must step down.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 31 2012 21:58 utc | 15

Don,

relax! I had to reread b's post several times but when I finally got it it was in no way a reflection on you. He just used your post as a spring board to lite into Majd. I won't fault b but Majd's type of tripe is to be expected and acknowledged as confirmation that b's analysis and commentary is right on. I'd just leave it to rot in the garbage bin. Maybe b should initiate such a thread called the garbage bin and move all such shit there.

b, of course will correct me if I misinterpreted him and I will sulk back into my hurt ego; but I doubt I got it wrong.

Posted by: juannie | Jan 31 2012 22:49 utc | 16

Bullshit, juannie. b called our porky friend a dimwit. Don's nuance got lost in translation. I picked up on it right away and laughed my ass off when b called him a dimwit. b didn't pick up on it. I can excuse b for it since he's operating in two languages and English is not his mother tongue, but there's no excuse for you and annie. Cynthia's the sharp one, thus far. Kudos to you, Cynthia. At least there are still a few here with some objectivity and independence.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Feb 1 2012 0:32 utc | 17

The so-called International Community (of 5 or 6 overtly racist-supremacist, ex-colonial, token Christian, faux Humanist, powers-in-decline) shot themselves in the foot as defenders of democracy when they refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of the democratically elected HAMAS government.
In fact they did exactly the opposite and endorsed Israel's policy of kidnapping dozens of HAMAS politicians and putting them in administrative detention without charge or trial.
-----------------------
Majd's excursions into Neocon Fantasy Land has left him/her/it with a serious case of terminal myopia - perfectly illustrated by the irrational claim that "If Assad's thugs could have beaten the rebels, they would have already."

Majd seems to have "forgetten" that the World's Only Superpower has been in Afghanistan for 10 years and is farther from "victory" today than the day it blundered in.

The other thing Majd is conveniently overlooking is that the "turmoil" in Syria is confined to a few local hot spots in a handful of cities in Syria and is NOT widespread - despite the illusion the Mainstream Media is trying to concoct from isolated and unverified anecdotes.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 1 2012 0:46 utc | 18

Sometimes I play a little mental game of substituting "President Obama" in these speeches our diplomats come out with, the ones where they end up demanding that some leader has done so many egregious things he has lost his right to maintain his position of leadership.

Oh, oh, oh, please, someone: Say this about Obama! Plus, along with all his unconstitutional actions he's also brought the Nobel Peace Prize into disrepute, so surely it's time for him to go?

Posted by: jawbone | Feb 1 2012 0:58 utc | 19

Majd, you speak of things you have no idea about. The Romania guy was killed because he dared to pay the country's external debt. He paid it. Can you believe that? Indeed, it took 10 years and the people had to suffer, but this is how debt is paid, is it not? Anyway, as soon as he paid it, he became part of a staged revolution and was court martial-ed and executed.

Posted by: Ian | Feb 1 2012 1:25 utc | 20

Majd, Syrian government wont fall simply because it has powerful friends: Russia and Iran.

Posted by: nikon | Feb 1 2012 2:16 utc | 21

Here are video and transcripts from a couple of Syria perspectives on last night's Lateline (ABC.au).

"Syria faces UN pressure as crackdown continues"
http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2012/s3420036.htm
This story is unusual inasmuch as it quotes a statement by the Syrian Interior Ministry - along with rants by Susan Rice et al.

"Russia opposes intervention in Syria"
http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2012/s3420041.htm
This is how real diplomacy looks and sounds.

Btw, there's an amusing backstory to the Russia report.
Lavrov is in Canberra and deposed PM Kevin Rudd has publicly undertaken to meet him to try and persuade Russia to change it's mind on intervening in Syria.
I'm supremely confident that Lavrov will find an excruciatingly polite way to tell Yank-slave Kevin to "get effed."

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 1 2012 2:51 utc | 22

The U.S. claim that current Syria violence threatens the region, and thus invites the UN, doesn't seem to be shared by two of Syria's principal Arab league neighbors, Iraq and Lebanon.

Iraq, Syria's largest Arab trading partner, with the longest common border, abstained on the recent Arab League vote after making clear that it would not back punitive measures. (So much for hopes of a new U.S. ally. Gosh, all those lives and dollars for nothing.)

Lebanon, still dominated politically by its larger eastern neighbor, voted against. Both countries also opposed the league's recent decision to suspend Syria's membership.

Jordan, on Syria's south, feels caught between wanting to end the violence but against military intervention, either by Arabs or the West.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Feb 1 2012 2:53 utc | 23

'Again, as with Libya, the purpose of the UN is to maintain international peace and security, and '

Don , the UN under Banki Moon, a man who has violated UN protocols, is to promote US power. UNSC fres1973 is a eg , filled with lies, its been used to justify US NATO aggression an support for islamic fundamentalism and genocide aganist Black africans

Posted by: brian | Feb 1 2012 4:23 utc | 24

There does appear to be numerous things wrong with the spin that surrounds Syria.

OK, I can buy that Syrian soldiers might attempt to desert Assad, especially if they think he's toast.
Sure, toss away the uniform and try and get as much space between you and the regime as you possible can.
That's plausible, and if that's what the story is then, yeah, I'll buy that.

But taking your weapons with you when you do a runner?
Where does *that* idea come from?

And even if you do decide you just can't live without your AK-47 what's this about launching co-ordinated attacks on your (ex)comrades-in-arms?

That's speaks of an organization that is able to plan and execute a campaign and, so sorry, "organization" and "mass desertion" are not terms that you usually see going together.

Posted by: Johnboy | Feb 1 2012 4:51 utc | 25

This thing in Syria, in terms of U.S. policy is more about Iran, and stopping the Shiite crescent of influence from becoming more entrenched and influential (see Bahrain). Like minded thinking would congratulate again the big U.S. victory in Iraq, as it comes out as an ally of Syria (haha).

Best jump in bed with the Islamists when pickings get slim.

No, we never learn.

Posted by: anna missed | Feb 1 2012 9:32 utc | 26

I think the US and company are divided on Syria. All we hear from the least conflicted is how Assad has been a rogue actor. But I can't get out of my head the fact that we sent people to Syria to be tortured. That indicates a high level of high level cooperation. I can conceive that a few impetuous souls concerned about Israel might wish for Assad's ouster, but I would imagine that those deep state coordinations would make wiser heads prevail. I think that's where we are, Syria is being fueled by some of our dark channels and our formal leadership is trying to manage the consequences.

Posted by: scottindallas | Feb 1 2012 14:31 utc | 27

It seems like a show on the U.S. part. Stop the violence, which won't happen voluntarily, and have Assad step down and cede power to his deputy. Big deal. Israel is better off with Assad or his deputy than it is with yet another Islamic state in the area. I'm sure Israel has apprised the U.S. of its preference.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Feb 1 2012 15:55 utc | 28

@ 28: Redundant, but, another read.

Posted by: ben | Feb 1 2012 16:08 utc | 30

Ann Marie Slaughter (name is program) argues for R2P intervention in Syria. A good long piece takes her argument (and others) apart: Syria and Irresponsible Protection

Posted by: b | Feb 1 2012 17:12 utc | 31

The "shi'ite crescent of influence" doesn't actually exist. That the power of the alawites in Syria is regarded as a critical part of the "crescent" is an indication of the construct's insubstantiality. Syria, of course was the favoured destination of Sunnis fleeing Petraeus's ethnic cleansing of Baghdad.
I'm trusting that this post will be accepted, my attempts to join the discussion yesterday were rejected

Posted by: bevin | Feb 1 2012 17:27 utc | 32

Why the f... do you bother to post here you dimwit?

dimwit, singular, not dimwits: b was referring only to Majd

Posted by: claudio | Feb 1 2012 19:52 utc | 33

id argue for R2P intervention in the US and EU...they need it.

Posted by: brian | Feb 1 2012 20:27 utc | 34

can anyone explain Turkey's shift from "zero problems with neighbors" to armed interventionism in Libya and Syria?

Posted by: claudio | Feb 1 2012 23:06 utc | 35

@ 35.
I've persuaded myself that Turkey is an Islamic Trojan inside NATO. Its token membership seems to be the result of over-enthusiasm by NATO to have a long list of 'partners', many of which could be described as military nonentities and borderline failed states. But Turkey's membership bolsters the illusion of NATO's 'internationality'.

Despite Turkey's "full membership" it is denied EU membership and other privileges enjoyed by the 6 or so core members. Turkey is big on rhetoric and small on action when playing its role in the NATO talkfest game. I believe Turkey's attitude is something like "If NATO is silly enough to invite us to join, why rock the boat?"

Imo, NATO and Turkey are playing a double game. But if push comes to shove Turkey will be guided by its Islamic ties and act accordingly.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 1 2012 23:48 utc | 36

@36 thanks

still I don't understand Turkey's strategy; it seems it is going along well with Iran and Russia, but apparently is seeking (playing its "double game" with Nato, as you say) a Sunni revival; I don't think Iran wants to sanction a sectarian divide in the Middle East, which would isolate it; the Curds will be emboldened by any new fracture in their area; I mean, I see only problems for Turkey along its present course

maybe a serious absence of Us engagement is felt in the area, which pushes aspiring regional powers to act, maybe rashly, and expand their area of influence? are we witnessing an emerging chaos in the Middle East?

Posted by: claudio | Feb 2 2012 0:46 utc | 37

Slaughter writes for the Atlantic which elsewhere praises the Haditha massacre verdict as a case of letting bygones be bygones.

Posted by: yes_but | Feb 2 2012 1:03 utc | 38

the only unusually valid point made in this post is that Assad Junior was a one-time reformer, eventually cowed by the military and political elites to reverse course. This is well documented. Sort of feel sorry for him.

The rest of the post is just a bunch of bullshit. The working premise in defense of Assad regime from b is always the default position rehearsed vis-à-vis Libya: people risking their lives to oppose despotic regimes are stupid Arabs who are hoodwinked by Western propaganda.

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 2 2012 1:45 utc | 39

sure, a lot of arabs are stupid, how did arabs ricking their lives to oppose the despotic ottoman empire go?

Posted by: nikon | Feb 2 2012 2:23 utc | 40

@ 39.

Doesn't it strike you as even mildly odd that US-NATO's one-size-fits-all method of saving people from ONE despot/bogeyman is to bomb the whole country back to the Stone Age, and then pick the juiciest morsels (and cash reserves) out of the economy and put them under Western control?

The UN does not have a mandate to intervene in civil wars. Its mandate is to intervene, upon request, when a country comes under external attack - not act as a cheer squad for US-NATO regime change and economic domination.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 2 2012 3:18 utc | 41

@ 37.

Turkey, Iran and Iraq all have a 'Kurdish problem' which the Israel-orientated West appears to exploit/stir up at every opportunity. For countries with a Kurdish problem (and their friends and natural allies), the definition of 'ME instability' is anything which might encourage the Kurds to get uppity.

There's plenty of scope for unintended consequences-style miscalculation by the schizophrenic West over the Kurdish issue while it continues to pursue a one-at-a-time regime change agenda while also working toward Israel's long term agenda of breaking up every Islamic state which could be perceived by Israel as a potential obstacle to its delusions of grandeur and expansion.

Imo, Turkey suspects that if it lets Syria go under Iran will be the next target, followed by Turkey. And pretty well everyone on the planet knows that being a friend of the US today, and Islamic, is a formula for eventual betrayal and destruction.

I won't be surprised if Turkey and Iran (and possibly Egypt) team up if/when Syria is attacked and tell NATO's R2P fantasists to cease and desist, or else...
If Russia and/or China are still in the anti-R2P club when this happens it will be Game Over for Western corporate and Israel inspired ME regime change.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 2 2012 3:28 utc | 42

"I come to this site occasionally."

Too occassionally.

"I have no problem reading your illogical and angry leftist rants"

I didn't know it was possible to read when your head is up your ass.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Feb 2 2012 3:55 utc | 43

journalist lizzie phelan interviewed by the New York Times on events in libya and syria:
must read
http://lizzie-phelan.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/new-york-times-interview-with-lizzie.html?spref=tw

Posted by: brian | Feb 2 2012 7:11 utc | 44

Hoarsewhisperer,

Turkey has been a NATO member since 1952 or so. Bulwark against the USSR and all that. Today is a vastly different world, of course.

Hope that helps,

s.

Posted by: kodlu | Feb 2 2012 8:32 utc | 45

Main thing to understand is that Turkey is a democracy now and not a military dictatorship as it used to.

So lots of what is said is for the electorate. And the religiously conservative Turkish electorate has been hugely influenced by Saudi Arabian money recently.

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/default.aspx?pageid=438&n=saudi-arabia-foresees-600-bln-of-investment-in-turkey-2011-04-27

The Turkish government won the last few rounds against the military, if the US likes it or not.

So the "conservative, islamist" government got the money and the electorate. Turkish muslims tend to be quite relaxed about religion and lifestyle, if Saudi Arabia continues to pay for the mosques that might change, as they have just started to informally, not officially, allow women to wear headscarves at university, this will need a long time, if effective at all.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headscarf_controversy_in_Turkey

Europe and Turkey is a problem between conservatives - Muslim and Christian conservative parties are a similar brand with similar social policies, however their basic definition as Christian and Muslim makes it hard for them to meet. Erdogan talking in Berlin about forced assimilation being a crime against humanity was quite funny, as his arguments were German arguments against being overrun by foreigners in reverse :-)) Sarkozy is desperately trying to win elections and part of his electorate is Armenian.

Though Saudi Arabian money is certainly welcome, they will not get into any sectarian fight, wikipedia puts Alevis up to a third of Turkeys population, nobody knows ...

They certainly would not really wish to challenge their Kemalist tradition headon, they seem to have an own brand of colonialist Islam, and that is another fact about Turkey, that they used to be a very skilled colonialist empire and their archives are bound to be extremely interesting.
If you look on the map you understand that Turkey's policy of "no problems with neighbours" was a way of playing dead, as they are surrounded by conflict zones from Georgia, Armenia, Iraq, to Syria. Turkey will play it very, very safe with Syria, as the conflict threatens to destabilize their own country.
They are good at keeping out of things, very very good:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Participants_in_World_War_II#Turkey

Posted by: somebody | Feb 2 2012 13:13 utc | 46

@ 45.
I'm not sure if it helps but a bit of History is never a bad thing.
28th Feb to be precise according to Wiki, along with the Pythonesque Greek Army - for balance, one presumes.

NATO's bandits have adopted the symbol for a Star Chamber as their insignia, which probably helps to explain NATO's blatant disregard for traditional notions of Human Rights and due process.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 2 2012 14:19 utc | 47

@46 - its not as as simple as what you make it out to be - just because th Saudis are investing money in Turkey does not mean "conservative" Muslims will be "influence" by it.

The majority of Turks who practise Islam tend to accept Sufism as been integral part of Islam and follow a particular tariqa (sufi school) - the most widely followed been the Naqshabandi Tariqa. Turkish Islam still clings on to the religiousity of the Ottoman Empire and the Sultan/Caliph as the defender of true Islam (Sunnism).

The Saudi Islam aka "Wahabi" Islam is extreme in all sense of the words, its main founder and supporters revolted against the Ottoman Sultan, they desecrated Mecca, Medina and Karbala and more or less stopped hajj for fellow Muslims as they were considered to be heretics for following and accepting Sufism and the four Sunni school of laws. This presented a grave legitimacy problem for the Ottoman Sultans. One of the forefathers of the current Saudi king was captured and sent to Istanbul where he was tried by the Shayk-ul-Islam of the Ottoman Empire - their fanaticism and secterianism and non-recongisition of the Ottoman Sultan led to him been executed as a heretic.

Religious Turks are aware of this and know this - lets not even talk about the role of various Arab groups in WW1 - they reject Saudi Islam (which also breeds radical violence) and generally are more tolerant and open to other Muslims of various sects e.g. Shiahs.

These nuances and facts must be understood before making general generalisation of why Turkey is doing what its doing.
To read more about these nuances, read Selim Deringils book, "The Well Protected Domains" and kemal Karpat's, "The Politicization of Islam".

The question I am trying to figure out is why is Qatar doing what it is doing? what is in it for them? Especially knowing that they are stepping on the Iranians tail. Surely the Iranians can hit back - for e.g. the South pars gas field which is shared with Qatar?

Posted by: Irshad | Feb 2 2012 15:10 utc | 48

As Syria is the friend of Iran,we all know what this whole regime change effort is about, demonization,destabilization,and assassination,the Hitler rehabilitation scheme and Ziomic monster copying playbook,and for some to think it's funny,one would wish they were part of the Kabuki play put forth by the traitor MSM.

Posted by: dahoit | Feb 2 2012 15:41 utc | 49

Quatar is threatened by democracy, Irshad, don't you think? So they ally with forces that might keep them in place. Actually I am not sure Quatar is acting against Iranian interest they might try to be the mediator in conflicts which might give them some security from what is going on around them. Libya was unique in that virtually everyone ganged up on Gaddafi, Iran included.

Irshad, Sufis are illegal in Turkey:http://www.dar-al-masnavi.org/about-mevlevi-order.html
though Dervish dances are used for folklore.As in all countries, I guess, religion is closely related to power and the state.

However, my friends tell me that Turkish society has moved to more social conservative since, let's say 1980? If you agree, what would you put it down to?

Posted by: somebody | Feb 2 2012 17:33 utc | 50

A good piece documenting the western regime change intent and Russian resistance. UN shenanigans on Syria

The UN face-off comprises two draft resolutions - a "battle royal" with "all the trappings of a cold war", writes the seasoned diplomat, M K Bhadrakumar. [2] Despite claims to the contrary, the US/UK/France/Gulf Cooperation Council draft resolution [3] would essentially allow for a phased process of regime change.

Far from presenting the findings from the Arab League's monitors report, that report has been effectively shelved in presentations by Arab League secretary general Nabil al-Arabi and Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, the Qatari foreign minister. Why? Because the report effectively supported many of Syria's positions, and acknowledged that Syria had met nearly all the requirements as set out by the Arab League.
..

See the report linked in my piece above.

Posted by: b | Feb 2 2012 17:56 utc | 51

Hoarsewhisperer #42:

Turkey, Iran and Iraq all have a 'Kurdish problem [...] I won't be surprised if Turkey and Iran (and possibly Egypt) team up if/when Syria is attacked

somebody #46

Turkey will play it very, very safe with Syria, as the conflict threatens to destabilize their own country

Irshad #48

its not as as simple as what you make it out to be - just because th Saudis are investing money in Turkey does not mean "conservative" Muslims will be "influence" by it

the fact is, Turkey is actively participating (after having resisted at first) in the Nato strategy in the Arab world, in parallel with Qatar and Saudi Arabia

why is Qatar doing what it is doing? what is in it for them? Especially knowing that they are stepping on the Iranians tail.

yes, this question must be posed together with the one regarding Turkey, its relations with the Arab world on one hand, with Iran on the other (btw, Turkey won't participate in the Us-European sanctions against Iran)

I remain puzzled

Posted by: claudio | Feb 2 2012 19:53 utc | 52

their is not reason why they should not, Claudio, as we all agree, that democratically, the Muslim brotherhood will be the winnner ...

Posted by: somebody | Feb 2 2012 21:02 utc | 54

B, you say that, "slowly but deliberately Assad is moving Syria's political system towards a more democratic state." Why is he doing this? If, as you say, Syria's institutions have been holding together for 10 months, what reason do the Baathists have for democritizing the state?

Posted by: Inkan1969 | Feb 2 2012 22:57 utc | 55

@somebody - I'm beginning to suspect Turkey made a miscalculation that could cost her dear in her standing in the Middle East; that is, Turkey thought that the ME was about to be "redrawn", like it or not, by Western powers and the Gulf monarchies, and it could either take a seat at the table or find itself out of the loop

the Us is seeking disengagement from the ME, and is manoeuvring to place its vassals in the command posts, under Nato supervision: France and Uk, Qatar (a de facto Nato member), and necessarily Turkey, with the external help of Saudi Arabia, the police bastion of the oil

Turkey, in a typical "beggar colonialist" (?) style decided to turn against its former friend, Assad

maybe it didn't expect Putin, for once, to stand up to the western powers and block the Un resolution, just as it didn't expect the resilience of Assad's regime - but these are just temporary complications, we know (and Turkey knows) that western powers never let go off the bone they've closed their jaws on, not without a long and bloody confrontation

so now Turkey finds itself on a course of action that could in the long run conflict with its good ties with Russia and Iran;

will the Muslim brotherhood (in its various national brands) show gratitude in the future to Turkey for its stand? will the EU and the Us? will the Arab world? will Israel? Maybe the results, once the pros and cons will be evaluated, will be disappointing

and what if Assad stays ...

Posted by: claudio | Feb 3 2012 2:02 utc | 56

Can we all agree to stop using Wikipedia as a Source? PLEASE!?!?!

Those who do only embarrass themselves.

Geez!

Posted by: arthurdecco | Feb 3 2012 3:30 utc | 57

Turkey won't participate in the Us-European sanctions against Iran because Turkey depends on Iranian oil.

Posted by: nikon | Feb 3 2012 4:27 utc | 58

Claudio @ 52.

the fact is, Turkey is actively participating (after having resisted at first) in the Nato strategy in the Arab world, in parallel with Qatar and Saudi Arabia

If that is true I'd be interested to see any evidence you'd care to post here. I haven't seen Turkey doing any more than engaging in a bit of pro-NATO pantomime. From my perspective (pro-Turkey) it was quite a coup for Turkey that their offer to host the 'rebel' leadership on Turkish soil was snapped up so eagerly. I wouldn't discount the probability that Turkish and Syrian Intelligence services are cooperating behind the scenes.

It is becoming apparent that Assad is one step ahead of the 'rebels' and we should all be questioning the motives of the BBC etc who are obviously going out of their way to report the breathless (and scripted) outpouring of 'rebel' spokesmen and showing no interest in interviewing anyone connected with the Syrian Govt. I think the Syria escapade is already in disarray from NATO's perspective. Russia seems determined to throw a spanner in the works, which is hardly surprising.

In his 2009 CNN interview, Medvedev portrayed an attack on Iran as the "worst imaginable catastrophe" citing the potential for a huge dispossession and refugee problem (as in Iraq). China must be approaching the point at which it feels 'existentially threatened' by the West's attempts to control its access to oil.

I expect both Russia and China to call NATO's bluff and make military threats against the participants in any attempt to intervene in Syria. Military intervention will be perceived by both as a prelude to an attack on Iran. I believe Russia-China sat on their hands on the Libya escapade for 2 reasons:

1. Libya was too small to be worth getting into a fight about.
2. Libya helped reinforce NATO's pattern of destructive and illegal regime change in order to put foreign resources under Western control/supervision.

If threats are issued, I'm confident that US-NATO will fold up its tent and go home. Some fantasies aren't worth dying for and NATO has become increasingly "sensitive" about sustaining casualties as a by-product of its cowardly fake wars.

There's too much wide-eyed and wimpy pessimism surrounding the Syria issue. With so many fake wars under their belts, and a dog-like devotion to their own bullshit, it was predictable that US-NATO would eventually bite off more than they could digest. I thought it would Iran that would give them indigestion - but it looks as though Syria + Russia + China and others will be more than enough.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 3 2012 15:15 utc | 59

@somebody (50)

1. Is Qatar threatened by democracy? I personally don’t believe this – the Qatari people are been looked after by the ruling family with per capita of $179,000 per person (2010 figure). There is no opposition party and most of the population follow the Wahabi branch of Islam (unlike Bahrain where we have a majority Shia population with a Sunni ruling family).

I suspect that US/European diplomats must have hinted of some form of pressure to get Isreal out of the West Bank and to end the blockade of Gaza by removing the constant “threat anxiety” that Isreali leaders scream to the World when pressure is mounted upon them to settle the Palestinian problem. This process could begin after the US election – if Ohbummer wins. Turkey must be in on this as well – otherwise they will just become irrelevant to the Isreal/Palestine problem especially after the Mavi Mamara incident and will be seen as trouble makers and will lost whatever influence and clout they had/have in this arena.

Imagine if Qatar and Turkey (with Saudi/Jordanian backing) force the Syrian state to fall and have it replaced with a regime that will firmly be in the Turkey-Qatar-Saudi axis (like the PA) – and will not be a threat to Isreal, which then gives the Isrealis the room to destroy Hezbollah – which the Hariri clan and the Saudis will be happy to see – as well as the Americans and Europeans. This just leaves Iran to be dealt with – which can be done at a later date.

With the diminishing of the Axis of Resistance – this will allow the Qataris/Turks/Saudis et al. to demand movement on the Palestine front with promises of free trade agreements with Isreal and normal relations with the Arab countries. This obviously will have to include the Golan Heights.

This is what I think MAY be happening – but to me it seems a plausible answer to this mystery.

Imagine the standing of these Sunni countries to resolve the Palestinian problem peacefully (paid by the blood of dead Syrians and Lebanese).

2. Why are Turks conservative – well after 80 years of practising Islam was banned and suppressed and now since the election of the AKP – the Turkish people feel that they can practice their faith – albeit in limited ways publicly – without having to worry about the reaction of the state. Turks like all Middle Easterners are religious people – this is just one of those things. The important thing is they are not intolerant and extreme and are not nihilistic when things don’t go their way unlike Saudi Islam. This is the legacy of the Ottoman Empire - religious , open and tolerant.

3. Last nite I watched a BBC Programme (I have stopped watching BBC but this programme was very good) called, “Putin, Russia and the West”. This episode was about the Georgia war in 2008 – there is scene where the Condi Rice speaking and is telling the viewers that the US was demanding that Russia pull out of Georgia and stop the war – this was in a conversation with Sergei Lavrov – he replied to Condi saying that Russia cannot work with Saakashvili and he “must go” – Condi was not happy about this (Lavrov thought this a private confidential conversation as it was from mobile phone to mobile phone) – Condi told Lavrov that was un-acceptable you cannot change a leader because you don’t like him! And further more this conversation is not considered confidential and she will be telling the world about how the Russians want regime change in Georgia. Later, the US ambassador to the UN, Mr Khalizad quoted what Mr Lavrov said to Condi to the UNSC and to the world media – thereby making the Russians look like the aggressors and want regime change. Mr Lavrov was not happy about this – to say the least!

I wonder, if this partially explains why Russia is acting the way it is in regards to Syria – no regime change to Assad like how you said no to regime change in Georgia. Interesting at the time of that conflict Mr Assad was the only head of state to meet Mr Medvedev in Sochi to show Syria’s support for Russia (at a time when the Western countries and associated media – including Al jazeera – were blaming this all on Russia and Mr Putin).

Posted by: Irshad | Feb 3 2012 15:24 utc | 60

@somebody (50)

1. Is Qatar threatened by democracy? I personally don’t believe this – the Qatari people are been looked after by the ruling family with per capita of $179,000 per person (2010 figure). There is no opposition party and most of the population follow the Wahabi branch of Islam (unlike Bahrain where we have a majority Shia population with a Sunni ruling family).

I suspect that US/European diplomats must have hinted of some form of pressure to get Isreal out of the West Bank and to end the blockade of Gaza by removing the constant “threat anxiety” that Isreali leaders scream to the World when pressure is mounted upon them to settle the Palestinian problem. This process could begin after the US election – if Ohbummer wins. Turkey must be in on this as well – otherwise they will just become irrelevant to the Isreal/Palestine problem especially after the Mavi Mamara incident and will be seen as trouble makers and will lost whatever influence and clout they had/have in this arena.

Imagine if Qatar and Turkey (with Saudi/Jordanian backing) force the Syrian state to fall and have it replaced with a regime that will firmly be in the Turkey-Qatar-Saudi axis (like the PA) – and will not be a threat to Isreal, which then gives the Isrealis the room to destroy Hezbollah – which the Hariri clan and the Saudis will be happy to see – as well as the Americans and Europeans. This just leaves Iran to be dealt with – which can be done at a later date.

With the diminishing of the Axis of Resistance – this will allow the Qataris/Turks/Saudis et al. to demand movement on the Palestine front with promises of free trade agreements with Isreal and normal relations with the Arab countries. This obviously will have to include the Golan Heights.

This is what I think MAY be happening – but to me it seems a plausible answer to this mystery.

Imagine the standing of these Sunni countries to resolve the Palestinian problem peacefully (paid by the blood of dead Syrians and Lebanese).


Posted by: Irshad | Feb 3 2012 15:25 utc | 61

@somebody (50)

1. Is Qatar threatened by democracy? I personally don’t believe this – the Qatari people are been looked after by the ruling family with per capita of $179,000 per person (2010 figure). There is no opposition party and most of the population follow the Wahabi branch of Islam (unlike Bahrain where we have a majority Shia population with a Sunni ruling family).

I suspect that US/European diplomats must have hinted of some form of pressure to get Isreal out of the West Bank and to end the blockade of Gaza by removing the constant “threat anxiety” that Isreali leaders scream to the World when pressure is mounted upon them to settle the Palestinian problem. This process could begin after the US election – if Ohbummer wins. Turkey must be in on this as well – otherwise they will just become irrelevant to the Isreal/Palestine problem especially after the Mavi Mamara incident and will be seen as trouble makers and will lost whatever influence and clout they had/have in this arena.

Imagine if Qatar and Turkey (with Saudi/Jordanian backing) force the Syrian state to fall and have it replaced with a regime that will firmly be in the Turkey-Qatar-Saudi axis (like the PA) – and will not be a threat to Isreal, which then gives the Isrealis the room to destroy Hezbollah – which the Hariri clan and the Saudis will be happy to see – as well as the Americans and Europeans. This just leaves Iran to be dealt with – which can be done at a later date.

With the diminishing of the Axis of Resistance – this will allow the Qataris/Turks/Saudis et al. to demand movement on the Palestine front with promises of free trade agreements with Isreal and normal relations with the Arab countries. This obviously will have to include the Golan Heights.

This is what I think MAY be happening – but to me it seems a plausible answer to this mystery.

Imagine the standing of these Sunni countries to resolve the Palestinian problem peacefully (paid by the blood of dead Syrians and Lebanese).

2. Why are Turks conservative – well after 80 years of practising Islam was banned and suppressed and now since the election of the AKP – the Turkish people feel that they can practice their faith – albeit in limited ways publicly – without having to worry about the reaction of the state. Turks like all Middle Easterners are religious people – this is just one of those things. The important thing is they are not intolerant and extreme and are not nihilistic when things don’t go their way unlike Saudi Islam. This is the legacy of the Ottoman Empire - religious , open and tolerant.

Posted by: Irshad | Feb 3 2012 15:25 utc | 62

3. Last nite I watched a BBC Programme (I have stopped watching BBC but this programme was very good) called, “Putin, Russia and the West”. This episode was about the Georgia war in 2008 – there is scene where the Condi Rice speaking and is telling the viewers that the US was demanding that Russia pull out of Georgia and stop the war – this was in a conversation with Sergei Lavrov – he replied to Condi saying that Russia cannot work with Saakashvili and he “must go” – Condi was not happy about this (Lavrov thought this a private confidential conversation as it was from mobile phone to mobile phone) – Condi told Lavrov that was un-acceptable you cannot change a leader because you don’t like him! And further more this conversation is not considered confidential and she will be telling the world about how the Russians want regime change in Georgia. Later, the US ambassador to the UN, Mr Khalizad quoted what Mr Lavrov said to Condi to the UNSC and to the world media – thereby making the Russians look like the aggressors and want regime change. Mr Lavrov was not happy about this – to say the least!

I wonder, if this partially explains why Russia is acting the way it is in regards to Syria – no regime change to Assad like how you said no to regime change in Georgia. Interesting at the time of that conflict Mr Assad was the only head of state to meet Mr Medvedev in Sochi to show Syria’s support for Russia (at a time when the Western countries and associated media – including Al jazeera – were blaming this all on Russia and Mr Putin).

Posted by: Irshad | Feb 3 2012 15:26 utc | 63

Apologies for double posting in post 60. I have had freat trouble to post on this site - "b" is there a technical problem when somebody posts?

Thank you

Posted by: Irshad | Feb 3 2012 15:29 utc | 64

wikipedia is trash since it considers saudi royal family owned Al Arabiya as a reliable source for citation.

Posted by: nikon | Feb 3 2012 17:55 utc | 65

@Hoarsewhisperer - I'll look for citations of Turkey's active help for Nato's strategy, ASAP; two things I remember clearly: hosting on its own territory the rebels' HQ (a really hostile and dangerous action), and the delegitimizing of Assad through public declarations of the country's top political figures;

Posted by: claudio | Feb 3 2012 22:40 utc | 66

Some of Wikipedia's entries about geopolitics might be trash but this is to be expected with it being open to corruption by so many full-time influence peddlers on the www. On non-contentious topics it's still a good starting point for anyone looking for a concise backgrounder on, among other things, a huge range of technical topics.

The fact that so many topics with a political flavour are preceded by a warning that "some of the claims made in this article require verification and cites" is something I don't expect to hear from the Mainstream Media, or The Atlantic, anytime soon.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 3 2012 23:20 utc | 67

@ Claudio (5:40:13 PM).

Thanks. I look forward to it.
Btw, I hope you understand that I'm aware that a divergence of opinion between us doesn't make either of us wrong at this stage of the game. You may have noticed that I generally avoid telling people, with whose views I don't completely agree, that they're "wrong."

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 4 2012 0:04 utc | 68

@Hoarsewhisperer - of course! what's better than a honest discussion, more or less heated according to circumstances, while having a drink together?

Posted by: claudio | Feb 4 2012 0:29 utc | 69

@Inkan1969 B, you say that, "slowly but deliberately Assad is moving Syria's political system towards a more democratic state." Why is he doing this? If, as you say, Syria's institutions have been holding together for 10 months, what reason do the Baathists have for democritizing the state?

Well - they currently HAVE a problem at their hand to solve that fundamentally a more open structure is needed. Assad has been working on this from his start but was held back by the major ruling forces. He now has an "excuse" to go on with his program.

@Irshad b" is there a technical problem when somebody posts?

Ayes, some stupid spamfilter is holding back longer posts and I have to release them by hand. When you post again after the first comment did not appear immediately there will likely be double-posting. I am still trying to solves this. Please bear with me.

Posted by: b | Feb 4 2012 6:05 utc | 70

Open Intervention In Syria Seems Unlikely
Make that VERY unlikely.

Q: When is a no-fly zone not a no-fly zone?
A: When Syrian 'rebels' organised and armed by US-NATO realise that putting their faith in one of NATO's half-baked "It seemed like a good idea at the time" plots is probably going to result in them being rounded up and executed - unless NATO can concoct an excuse to carpet bomb Syria from the remote and secure safety of war planes.

Read/listen to these 2 radio current affairs reports and tell me Shrillary, Obama, Susan Rice and their fake Syrian 'rebels' aren't slithering clumsily into panic mode.

Plea for international community to act on Syria
(In reality it's lawyer and "rebel' rep Yaser Tabbara in the US - not the International Community)
http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2012/s3423930.htm

China, Russia accused of having Syrian 'blood on hands'
http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2012/s3423720.htm
The substance for this report, which World Today admits it can't verify, is delivered by Abu Rami a 25-year-old medical student who's in the city. He says Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad is responsible for the violence.
(World Today appears to accept the credibilty of a Syrian they Know nothing because he says he's a medical student and because, like the BBC, ABC.au is 100% funded by the Australian Government). Fortunately, the ABC has the good sense to realise that if it doesn't sprinkle a few disclaimers in govt agenda-driven reports it will have trouble maintaining an audience big enough to justify its existence.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 6 2012 5:41 utc | 71

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