Thursday, April 21, 2011

Syria's Wrong Numbers

From Homeland Security NewsWire:

The brief // by Ben FrankelSyria's wrong numbers; ME democratic hard test begins now

Published 15 April 2011

In instructions to Syrian security forces engaged in suppressing the anti-government protests, the government cautions that when security forces and snipers enter protest areas, "the number of people killed must not exceed twenty each time, because it would let them be more easily noticed and exposed, which may lead to situations of foreign intervention"; the Syrian regime may have a naive view of Western public opinion; killing twenty-one or twenty-two, rather than "only" twenty, pro-democracy Syrian activists a day would be enough to draw the attention of Western public opinion to the machinations of the Syrian regime? Would that it were true!

Here are quick comments on three stories that caught our eye this week.

1. Wrong number

Members of the Syrian anti-government protesters on Wednesday revealed a document — purportedly drafted on 23 March by senior Syrian intelligence officials — which details a sophisticated plan by the regime to thwart, frustrate, and eventually defeat the protest movement.

The text was posted on Facebook on Wednesday, and was translated by NBC News (for more details see this Jerusalem Post report). The authenticity of the document could not be immediately verified, but U.S. officials said there was a “strong likelihood” it is real.

The document outlines a three-pronged media, security, and political plan to suppress the protests. Here are some of the points it makes:

•“Link the anti-regime demonstrations and protests to figures hated by the Syrian populace such as the usual Saudi and Lebanese figures, and connecting the lot of them to Zionism and to America”

•The plan calls on security agents to work via Facebook to “jam up” dissent using “pseudonyms” to pose as political dissidents and then gather intelligence about the opposition.

•Opposition figures should also become the target of lawsuits designed to “smear their moral and religious reputations.”

•The text calls for blocking off the locations of political protests, and inserting civilian- clothed security agents “in an attempt to cause a state of chaos.”

•Further to “deceive the enemy,” snipers should be concealed among protesters and be given the leeway to shoot some security agents or army officers, “which will further help the situation by provoking the animosity of the army against the protesters.”

•The document also cautions that when security forces and snipers enter protest areas, “the number of people killed must not exceed twenty each time, because it would let them be more easily noticed and exposed, which may lead to situations of foreign intervention.”

We are not in the business of advising the Syrian security services, but the last point betrays a somewhat naive notion of Western public opinion and its attention to foreign affairs. The Syrian regime may safely relax the limit on the number of protesters the security services can kill every day. We think it would be safe to say that the regime can kill somewhere between fifty and seventy a day, and do it over several days, before its campaign of suppression would grab the headlines here.

Killing twenty-one

Turkey's Cautionary Tale

From CSP and The Jerusalem Post:

Column One: Turkey’s cautionary tale



Turkey's AKP used democracy to gain power. Now that they have power, they are systematically destroying freedom in their country.

Today’s Turkey is a cautionary tale for the West. But Western leaders are loath to consider its lessons.

Ever since Turkey’s Islamist Justice and Development AKP party under Recip Tayip Erdogan won the November 2002 elections, Western officials have upheld the AKP, Erdogan and his colleagues as proof that political Islam is consonant with democratic values. During Erdogan’s June 2005 visit to the White House, for instance, then-president George W. Bush praised Turkish democracy as “an important example for the people in the broader Middle East.”

Unfortunately, nine years into the AKP’s “democratic” regime it is clear that Erdogan and his colleagues’ embrace of the language and tools of democracy was a mile wide and an inch thick. They used democracy to gain power. Now that they have power, they are systematically destroying freedom in their country.

Turkey ranks 138th in the international media freedom group Reporters Sans Frontieres country index on press freedom. Sixty-eight journalists are languishing in Turkish jails for the crime of doing their job. The most recent round-up of reporters occurred in early March. And it is demonstrative of Turkey’s Islamist leaders’ exploitation of democratic freedoms in the service of their tyrannical ends.

As Der Spiegel reported last week, veteran journalists Ahmet Sik from the far-left Radikal newspaper and Nedim Sener from the highbrow Milliyet journal were among those rounded up. As radical leftists, both men oppose the AKP’s Islamist politics. But they shared its interest in weakening the Turkish military.

The Left opposed the military’s constitutional role as the overseer of Turkish democracy because the military used that role to persecute leftists. The AKP party opposed the military’s power because it blocked the party’s path to Islamizing Turkish society and politics. When the AKP turned its guns on the military it used leftist journalists to support its actions.

This collusion came to a head in 2007. In a bid to destroy the legitimacy of the military, the AKP regime has engaged in unprecedented levels of wiretapping of the communications of senior serving and retired generals.

This wiretapping operation preceded the exposure in 2007 of the so-called Ergenekon conspiracy in which senior military commanders, journalists, television personalities, entertainers and businesspeople have been implicated in an alleged attempt to topple the AKP government. As part of the Ergenekon investigation, over the past four years, hundreds of non-Islamist leaders from generals to journalists have been arrested and held without trial.

Ironically, Sik, who is now accused of membership in the Ergenekon plot, was an editor at the leftist weekly magazine Notka that “broke” the conspiracy story.

As Der Spiegel notes, the arrest of Sik and Sener shows that the AKP’s early embrace of investigative reporters and championing of a free press was purely opportunistic. Once Sik, Sener and the other 66 jailed reporters had finished discrediting the military, the regime had no need for them. Indeed, they became a threat.

Both Sik and Sener have recently written books documenting how Turkey’s version of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Fetulah Gulen network, has taken over the country’s security services.

In an interview this month with the opposition Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review, former Turkish president Suleyman Demirel warned that the AKP has established “an empire of fear” in Turkey.

TURKEY’S DESCENT into Islamist tyranny has not simply destroyed freedom in Turkey. It has transformed Turkey’s strategic posture in a manner that is disastrous for the West. And yet, in this arena as well, the West refuses to notice what is happening.

Earlier this week the US Ambassador to Ankara Francis Ricciardone gave an interview to the Turkish media in which he romantically upheld the US-Turkish partnership. As he put it, “Our interests are similar. Even if we have different methods and targets, our strategic vision is the same.”

Sadly, there is no way to square this declaration with Turkish policy.

This week it was reported that NATO member Turkey is opening something akin to a Taliban diplomatic mission in Ankara. Turkey supports Hamas and Hizbullah. It has begun training the Syrian military. It supports Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It has become the Iranian regime’s economic lifeline by allowing the mullahs to use Turkish markets to bypass the UN sanctions regime.

In less than 10 years, the AKP regime has dismantled Turkey’s strategic alliance with Israel. It has inculcated the formerly tolerant if not pro- Israel Turkish public with virulent anti-Semitism. It is this systematic indoctrination to Jew-hatred that has emboldened Turkish leaders to announce publicly that they support going to war against Israel.

The Turkish government stands behind the al- Qaida- and Hamas- linked IHH group. IHH organized last year’s pro-Hamas flotilla to Gaza in which IHH members brutally attacked IDF naval commandoes engaged in a lawful mission to maintain Israel’s lawful maritime blockade of Gaza’s coast. With the support of the Turkish government, IHH is now planning an even larger flotilla to assault Israel’s blockade of Gaza next month.

Actually, in a sign of the intimacy of its ties to the AKP regime, this week IHH announced it is considering postponing the next pro-Hamas flotilla in order to ensure that its illegal pro-terror campaign will not harm the AKP’s electoral prospects in Turkey’s national elections scheduled for June.

American and other Western officials have argued that it would be wrong to distance their governments from Turkey or in any way censure the NATO member because doing so will only strengthen the anti-Western forces in the anti- Western government. Instead, Western leaders have done everything they can to appease Erdogan.

The US even allowed him to invade Iraqi Kurdistan.

Unfortunately, this appeasement policy has only harmed the West and NATO. Take the behavior of NATO’s Secretary-General and former Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. As Denmark’s prime minister, Rasmussen stood up boldly to the Islamists when they demanded that he apologize for the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten’s publication of caricatures of Muhammad in 2005. Yet when Turkey threatened to veto his appointment as NATO secretary-general in 2009 over the Islamists’ rejection of free speech, Rasmussen abandoned his strong defense of Western liberal values to placate the Turks.

In a humiliating speech Rasmussen said, “I was deeply distressed that the cartoons were seen by many Muslims as an attempt by Denmark to mark or insult or behave disrespectfully towards Islam or the Prophet Muhammad... I respect Islam as one of the world’s major religions as well as its religious symbols.”

Rasmussen then proceeded to appoint Turks to key positions in the alliance.

Far from reining in Turkey’s anti-Western policies, by maintaining Turkey in NATO Western powers have been forced to curtail their own defense of their interests.

NATO’s incoherent mission in Libya is case in point. It can be argued that Germany’s large and increasingly radicalized Turkish minority played a role in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to risk her country’s good ties with Britain and France and refuse to support the Libyan mission. So, too, it was reportedly due to President Barack Obama’s deference to Turkey that the US failed to support the anti-regime forces until Gaddafi organized a counteroffensive against them. So if as appears increasingly likely, Gaddafi is able to survive the NATO-backed insurgents’ bid to overthrow him, he will owe his survival in no small measure to Erdogan.

TURKEY IS a cautionary tale for the West, which is now faced with the prospect of AKP-like regimes from Egypt to Tunisia to Jordan to the Persian Gulf. And the real issue that Western leaders must address is how things in Turkey were permitted to deteriorate to the point they have without any US or European official lifting a finger to stem the Islamist tide? The answer, it would seem, is a combination of professional laziness and cultural weakness. This mix of factors is also on display in the US’s behavior toward the revolutionary forces active throughout much of the Arab world.

Professional laziness stands at the root of the West’s decision not to contend with the unpleasant truth that the AKP is an Islamist party whose basic ideology has more in common with Osama bin Laden’s values than with George Washington’s. This truth was always available. Erdogan and his colleagues did not make any special efforts to hide what they stand for.

The West chose not to pay attention because its senior officials knew if they did, they would have to do something. They would have had to distance themselves from Turkey, remove Turkey from NATO and seek to contain the power of the Erdogan regime. And this would have been hard and unpleasant.

So, too, they knew that if they noticed the nature of the AKP they would have to throw themselves deep into Turkish society and defend the superiority of Western values over Islamist values. They would have had to locate and support Turkish leaders who are willing to adopt Western values and then cultivate, fund and empower them. This also would have been hard and unpleasant.

Likewise, in post-Mubarak Egypt, it is easier to believe fairy tales about Facebook revolutions and Westernized student leaders than face the harsh truth that from Amr Moussa to Mohamed ElBaradei to Yousef Qaradawi there are no leaders in post-Mubarak Egypt who support the peace with Israel or believe that Egypt has common interests with Israel and the US. There are no potential leaders in Egypt who share Western values of individual liberty and human rights.

And as in Turkey, the price for recognizing these inconvenient facts is taking effective action to counter them. As in Turkey, the West will be forced to do hard things like develop a policy of containing rather than engaging Egypt, and of identifying and cultivating forces in Egyptian society that are willing to embrace John Locke, John Stuart Mill and Adam Smith over Hassan al-Banna and Qaradawi.

Rather than do any of these hard things, Western leaders have lied to themselves about the nature of these forces and regimes. They have told themselves that there is no problem with the likes of Erdogan and his Egyptian cohorts, and opted to limit their meddling in the internal affairs of others to endless attempts to undermine and overthrow successive pro- Western, democratic, non-leftist governments in Israel. These governments, they have argued, must be replaced by leftist parties in order to feed the West’s fantasy that all the problems of the region, all its Qaradawis and Erdogans, will magically become Thomas Jeffersons and John Adamses if Israel would just cut a deal with the PLO.

This fantasy is convenient for lazy Western cultural cowards. They know that there will be no pushback for their policies. Israel won’t attack them. And by pretending the Islamists share their values and strategic interests they are free to take no action to defend their values and strategic interests from Islamist assault.

But while this strategy has been convenient for policymakers, it has done great damage to their countries. The growing menace that is Islamist Turkey teaches us that professional laziness and cultural squeamishness are recipes for strategic disasters.

Democracy On The March: Coptic Christians Begin To Flee Egypt

From Jihad Watch:

Democracy on the march: Christians begin to flee Egypt

I tried to tell you. "Christians begin to flee Egypt," from Christian News Today, April 14 (thanks to Alexandre):

A growing number of Egypt’s 8-10 million Coptic Christians are looking for a way to get out as Islamists increasingly take advantage of the nationalist revolution that toppled long-standing dictator Hosni Mubarak in February.

Egypt Daily News reported on Tuesday that “lawyers who specialize in working with Coptic Egyptians…say that in the past few weeks they have received hundreds of calls from Copts wanting to leave Egypt.”

“They are insisting on leaving Egypt because the risks of staying here are too great,” Naguib Gabriel, a Coptic human rights lawyer, told Egypt Daily News. “Many Christians are afraid of the future because of the fanatics in the mosques.”

At least 20 Christians have been killed in sectarian violence with Muslims since Mubarak’s ouster. And groups like the Muslim Brotherhood have been taking an increasingly visible role in forming Egypt’s next government.

Coptic leaders have complained that they are being left out of the decision-making process, raising fears that the Egypt of tomorrow will be far less free and democratic than even the Egypt of Mubarak.

Posted by Robert on April 14, 2011 4:07 AM

Jordan Releases Four Jihadists From Prison In Attempt To Stave Off Protests

From Jihad Watch:

Jordan releases four jihadists from prison in attempt to stave off protests

Meanwhile, American analysts continue to insist that the protesters are largely secular. "Jordan releases 4 jailed members of radical Islamist group in effort to stave off protests," by Jamal Halaby for The Associated Press, April 12:

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan has released four jailed members of a radical Islamist group that had threatened to stage a mass demonstration over their detentions, the group's leader said Tuesday.

Abed Shihadeh al-Tahawi said the four were released late Monday under a deal between the security forces and his ultraconservative Salafi group, which is banned in Jordan.

"We warned that we will hold a large demonstration today, which was seen as a security risk for the government," al-Tahawi said. "The government knows that we mean business and that we do not get intimidated by security forces."

Al-Tahawi himself has recently served a prison term for plotting terrorist strikes against the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Jordan in 2004....

Al-Tahawi said security officials got in touch with him and other group members on Monday "to persuade us not to hold our protest."

He said the rally was meant to publicly articulate his group's demand for the release of its four followers, who were arrested in an anti-government rally last week.

"When our four brothers were released, we cancelled the planned protest," he said.

But he insisted the group will continue staging demonstrations to press its demand for the release of 300 other Salafis serving prison terms for plotting al-Qaida--linked terror attacks in Jordan....

Posted by Robert on April 13, 2011 5:49 AM

Increasingly, Egyptian Political Elites Are Uneasy About The Rising Popular Resonance Of Salafis

From Jihad Watch:

"Increasingly, Egyptian political elites are uneasy about the rising popular resonance of Salafis"

I tried to tell you. Salafis, in case the term is unfamiliar to you, are pro-Sharia Islamic hardliners. "Egypt's hard-line Islamists speak up, creating unease," by Hannah Allam for the McClatchy Newspapers, April 13:

[...] "Increasingly, Egyptian political elites are uneasy about the rising popular resonance of Salafis, concerned that, although the Egyptian groups do not currently advocate violence, their extreme interpretation of Islam creates an environment where susceptibility to radicalism and jihadi ideas is heightened," a U.S. diplomat wrote in a cable to the State Department that's among the cache obtained by the WikiLeaks website.

Until the movement that toppled Mubarak, Salafis assiduously avoided involvement in the world of secular politics. But as the anti-Mubarak demonstrations unfolded, young Salafis, with their bushy beards and full facial veils, became conspicuous among other activists in Cairo's Tahrir Square, despite the reluctance of their clerics to support the protests.

Then last month, a Salafi umbrella group in Alexandria, a stronghold of Islamists from all ideologies, sent shockwaves throughout Egypt with the announcement that Salafis would enter the political arena - an abrupt reversal of the faction's longtime stance of boycotting elections to focus on religious outreach.

Some critics argue that the Salafis are too intolerant and politically immature to pose much of a threat at the polls, but other Egyptian activists fear that the Salafis are aligning themselves with the more moderate Muslim Brotherhood, and that that alliance will steamroll the disorganized youth groups and liberals in fall parliamentary elections, resulting in an Islamist victory.

That's the U.S. government's nightmare scenario: an Islamist-dominated government ruling the Arab world's most populous nation, one that is a neighbor and peace partner to Israel and the keeper of the strategically vital Suez Canal.

It's one that alarms pro-democracy activists in Cairo, too.

They point to the results of the recent referendum on revising the constitution of what can happen in an "Islamists vs. Everyone Else" political climate.

The Salafis campaigned in tandem with the Muslim Brotherhood in poor neighborhoods with religious populations, pitching a "yes" vote for hastily drafted constitutional amendments that the pro-democracy movement opposed.

The amendments passed with 77 percent of the vote - a victory that one popular Salafi sheikh controversially gloated about as a "conquest of the ballot boxes."

The YouTube video of Sheikh Mohamed Hussein Yaqoub's remarks went viral, setting off online battles between the cleric's Salafi supporters and Egyptian moderates who took the video as proof that Islamists were trying to take over Egypt.

One of Yaqoub's students, Sheikh Ali Nasr, said a Saudi-style theocracy isn't the goal. He challenged critics to listen to Salafi preachers, promising they'd hear nothing about violence or forcing their austere brand of Islam on other Egyptians.

"We shouldn't get ahead of ourselves and say that we want a religious state, but I do call for a president that respects religious freedom and, more importantly, I want the president to respect and protect our resources and confront corruption," Nasr said.

"Islam is in the souls of the people and will be here before and after elections, so we're not looking for a religious state as much as a just and fair state."...

I.e., a Sharia state.

Posted by Robert on April 13, 2011 6:39 AM

Turmoil In The Arabian Peninsula

From FPRI:


by J.E. Peterson

The Arabian Peninsula-that is, the six Gulf Cooperation

Council (GCC) states plus Yemen-has been for the most part

touched only superficially by the wave of political

instability and popular unrest that has affected much of the

Arab world. The GCC states are governed by ruling families

that mostly have been in charge for more than two centuries.

They can be more accurately characterized as being sclerotic

than instable. Saudi Arabia, for example, has had only six

kings since 1902. Sultan Qabus in Oman has ruled for more

than 40 years; until just a few years ago, he was one of the

junior leaders. Yemen has an extremely fractious past and

the present regime has an abundance of troubles; still

President Ali Abdullah Saleh has led the country for 33


But it cannot be denied that the contagion of unrest,

dissidence, and popular revolutionary sentiment that so far

has toppled autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt has infected the

Arabian Peninsula. Yemen is on the brink of toppling;

Bahrain keeps control only through the application of

repression once again; Oman withstands persistent protests

for the first time; and Saudi Arabia exhibits a familiar

unyielding attitude mixed with nervousness.


Without doubt, the most serious situation exists in Yemen.

Ali Abdullah Saleh was virtually unknown and unrespected

when he slipped into power in 1978. Since then, he has

maintained and strengthened his hold over the fractious

polity by a combination of shrewdness, the construction of

an inner core of support, a reliance on extensive patronage,

the maintenance and management of a state of chaos, and, in

his own metaphor, dancing on the heads of snakes.

But the wily survivor seems to have been slipping in recent

years. His manipulation of unity between north and south

Yemen in 1990, followed by the victory in the 1994 civil

war, resulted in a northern occupation of the south that

southerners resoundingly resent. Southern opposition

coalesced around 2007 into a largely peaceful movement that

seeks either independence or autonomy and southern activists

in 2011 have found common cause with northern opposition.

While conspicuously failing to manage this serious threat to

his regime, Saleh has allowed a serious rebellion in the

extreme north by the so-called Huthis to continue without

foreseeable resolution. A series of all-out campaigns

against Huthi strongholds failed to defeat the movement

while exposing the military weakness of the regime,

antagonizing most of the population of the north through

indiscriminate shelling and bombing of villages, and even

embarrassing neighboring Saudi Arabia when it was forced to

take large-scale action against the Huthis after fighting

spilled over into Saudi territory.

Furthermore, the regime's game of courting and denying

Islamists, including Islamist extremists, has strengthened

the extremists' position. Once Saleh realized that such a

policy could not continue indefinitely, his pursuit of an

alliance with the United States against the extremists

polarized Yemeni attitudes and provoked groups such as al

Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to target government

officials for execution.

At the same time, these three very serious challenges to the

Yemen regime's longevity transcend more fundamental problems

bedeviling the Arab world's poorest state. Yemen has been

surviving financially thanks to fortuitous oil revenues. But

the level of oil production and oil revenues has been

waning. While the inception of liquefied natural gas exports

will help soften the fall, Yemen's principal foreign-

exchange earner by far will not last long. Yemen is an

agricultural country with rapidly growing urbanization and a

mushrooming and very young population. Its water supplies

are on the verge of depletion, standards of living are

extremely low, and the growing legions of youth have few

jobs prospects. Even in the best of times, Yemen's future is

clouded-and these are perhaps the worst of times.

As of now, Ali Abdullah Saleh is hanging on by his

fingernails. Longstanding popular dissatisfaction with him

was, until recently, manageable through his manipulation of

the political system-a system that with an elected

parliament and relatively free press seemed on the surface

to be open. He nurtured an efficient power base relying on

his immediate family, his own and an allied tribe, and his

control of a compliant and tribally dominated military


But the winds of change blowing in from the north of Africa

brought simmering popular discontent out into enormous

street demonstrations. As in Cairo, Saleh's ill-advised

attempt to meet peaceful opposition with force did much to

change the balance of power. Resignations of members of his

party and members of his cabinet multiplied. The most

prominent Islamist, Abd al-Majid al-Zindani, announced his

opposition. The al-Ahmar brothers, sons of the most

prominent tribal leader in the country who died in 2007,

declared for the opposition. Finally, Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar

(a member of Saleh's own tribe and no relation to the al-

Ahmar brothers) and four other generals joined the other

side, leaving large swathes of the countryside outside

central control.

On the surface, this seemingly would have spelled the end

for the president and there were persistent rumors that a

negotiated exit strategy was imminent. But caveats can be

attached to the actions and position of each of the above

personalities. Zindani, one of the founders of the Islamist-

tribal-conservative al-Islah Party, had been in "loyal

opposition" already since Saleh dropped al-Islah from his

government. Abdullah Husayn al-Ahmar, the father, had been

prominent in Yemeni politics since the revolution of 1962.

But even though he last served as Speaker of the Parliament

until his death, he too was a member of the loyal

opposition. His sons do not carry the same authority and,

since his death, they have tended to waver in their

political positions, although the strongest of them, Hamid,

is thought to have ambitions.

Generally, it has been considered that years ago General Ali

Muhsin al-Ahmar had forged a pact with Saleh providing that

Ali Muhsin would succeed Saleh as president. This

understanding was threatened in recent years as Saleh

attempted to maneuver his son Ahmad into position to succeed

him. Ali Muhsin was in charge of combating the Huthis-some

would say that he instigated the fighting in the first

place-but his failure to crush the Huthis weakened his

position and perhaps was engineered by Saleh through the

withholding of the necessary military assets. It can be

considered that all of the above figures have acted as

opportunists, sensing the end of the Saleh regime and

positioning themselves for the future. Furthermore, all can

be described as part of the elite that has dominated Yemeni

politics in the last few decades-i.e., they are opposite

sides of the same coin that the protesters in the street


The GCC seemed to have brokered a deal that would allow

Saleh to leave without punishment but then the inveterate

politician backtracked on his promise. At the time of

writing, the GCC's intervention remains in play.

Assuming that Ali Abdullah Saleh does depart the scene in

the immediate future, there is no clear picture of what a

post-Saleh Yemen will look like. Who shall succeed him? Will

the military step in to take charge, as it has done in Egypt

and in many other Arab countries in the past? If so, which

elements of the military? Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar is a powerful

figure but essentially part of the establishment (and

perhaps has signaled his departure from the political scene)

while Ahmad Ali Abdullah Saleh remains in charge of the

elite and powerful Republican Guard.


Bahrain is a good example of why the GCC states are not all

interchangeable. It is a small country and its oil reserves,

small to begin with, have just about run out. Thus the post-

oil future that hangs over all six members has struck

already in Bahrain. While Bahrain's ruling family has been

in charge for more than two centuries, it has been more

autocratic than its neighbors and consequently the

archipelago has witnessed regular periodic protests and

periods of dissidence for more than a century.

Bahrain's troubles are often ascribed to sectarian tensions

between a Sunni minority (including the al Khalifa ruling

family) and a Shia majority. But the country's political

problems are better seen as a perpetual contest between the

al Khalifa (who trace their background from a tribe of

central Arabia) and their tribal allies who also came to

Bahrain from the mainland on the one hand, and the great

majority of the both Sunni and Shia population on the other.

Among the Sunnis are the hawala families, of Arab origin but

who arrived in Bahrain from the Persian coast of the Gulf;

they dominate in business. The Shia are principally the Arab

Baharna, generally regarded as the original inhabitants, but

there are also many Persians who have immigrated over the

last century. The opposition also charges the regime with

having naturalized thousands of Sunnis, especially

Jordanians, Syrians, Yemenis, and Pakistanis, in an attempt

to redress the sectarian imbalance.

Sunni and Shia dissidents have banded together in their

opposition to the al Khalifa regime in 1938, 1953-1956,

1965, and the early 1970s. But the Shia have taken the lead

in organized and persistent opposition because they are the

disadvantaged in Bahrain. Shia villages are visibly poorer

and lack many of the amenities found in Sunni villages. The

Shia are systematically excluded from the military and the

security forces and are under-represented in government

employment in general and in senior positions in particular.

Thus most of the large numbers of young and unemployed are

Shia who have become increasingly disaffected. The serious

unrest of the late 1990s was a Shia-driven phenomenon

although it had the quiet support of many Sunnis as well.

When long-time ruler Shaykh Isa died in 1999, many Bahrainis

saw the succession of his son Hamad as a positive

development. Isa had never been very interested in the

affairs of government and he reigned while his brother

Khalifa ruled as prime minister. Khalifa not only made

himself one of the wealthiest men in the Gulf, he also

easily became the most hated man in Bahrain for many

Bahrainis. Through his control of internal security, Khalifa

spearheaded the wave of repression that saw Bahrainis jailed

for political offenses, some of them tortured, and others

victims of the peculiarly Bahraini practice of exiling. For

expatriates, Bahrain was a welcoming place to live and work,

but deep-seated tensions underlay the friendly, prosperous

air of the capital al-Manamah.

In his first two years as ruler, Hamad enacted a number of

long overdue reforms. Prisoners were freed, exiles were

welcomed home, real steps were made toward freedom of speech

and press, and the ruler engaged in serious dialogue with

opposition leaders. In 2001, however, he declared himself

king and the process of change stagnated. True, he held

elections for a national assembly but the elected assembly

was matched with an appointed assembly whose speaker could

cast the final vote breaking any tie. Furthermore, electoral

constituencies were gerrymandered so that Shia

representatives won a maximum of 18 of the 40 available

seats, even though they constitute the majority of voters.

Most of the other seats have been won by Sunni Islamist

supporters of the government.

The political situation remained unresolved until the "Arab

spring" of 2011 burst forth in Tunisia and Egypt. In

imitation of Cairo's Tahrir Square, Bahrainis occupied Pearl

Roundabout as the center of their vocal opposition to the

government. The goal of most of the protesters was not the

toppling of the regime as in Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen, but

genuine reform beginning with the dismissal of the prime

minister (and the king's uncle) Khalifa. He was seen by many

as the leader of the hardline faction of the ruling family

while the heir apparent and son of the king, Salman, was

regarded as the liberal leader, urging dialogue and

accommodation. King Hamad was said to be in the middle.

In the end, the hardliners won out and the regime reacted

with repression, eventually clearing the roundabout. More

protesters began to call for the overthrow of the regime and

the government acted with force, arresting many and

instituting martial law. Not all Bahrainis have protested

and there have been mass demonstrations in support of the

government. But the government has been stubborn in its

rejection of opposition demands. It apparently has sought to

stoke a sectarian dimension of conflict, it has declared

that Iran was behind opposition movements, and it has re-

arrested some opposition leaders and closed the principal

opposition newspaper.

Disturbingly, the al Khalifa have received the support of

fellow GCC monarchs and they invited Saudi Arabian and

United Arab Emirates (UAE) troops to enter Bahrain in

support of Bahraini security forces-although it is debatable

how much of an "invitation" Saudi Arabia needed. The

situation has quieted and many of the foreign media have

departed. But underneath, nothing has changed. All the al

Khalifa remain in their usual positions, the old allegations

of unjustified arrest and torture have resurfaced, hundreds

of Bahrainis are being held by security forces, and

thousands of young Bahrainis remain unemployed and

disaffected. The economic damage of the last several months

is enormous while the tenuous "social contract" between

ruler and ruled is fraying badly.


Many observers were surprised when calm, quiet Oman produced

its own explosion of demonstrations and protests, most

visibly the takeover of the Globe Roundabout in the town of

Suhar. They should not have been, however. While Oman has

been a reasonably well-run country with an easy-going and

practical people, it faces many of the same economic

problems as Bahrain. Oil production is relatively small and

has been declining over the last decade. The population is

burgeoning but jobs are scarce and standards of living for

the majority of Omanis pale beside the prosperity of the

small elite.

Older Omanis regard their ruler, Sultan Qabus, with

considerable respect, noting that before he took control in

1970, life was hard; after his accession, development began

in earnest and life changed for the better. But some 80-90

percent of all Omanis were not alive in 1970 and they do not

know the travails of the previous period. Their attitude to

the sultan is based more on their poor job prospects and the

ostentatious lifestyles displayed by the sultan and many of

his ministers who have grown rich while in public service.

They do not wish to replace the sultan or the system, they

just want promises to be fulfilled and justice served upon

those they regard as corrupt.

Sultan Qabus has made a number of concessions, dismissing

twelve ministers, promising to create 50,000 jobs and a

range of economic benefits, and initiating steps to broaden

the remit of the elected yet largely ineffectual

consultative body. None of these changes has diminished his

own authority and none of the dismissals involved his own

immediate family. Nevertheless, several key figures found

themselves without jobs, including the minister of national

economy, the minister of the royal office (roughly

equivalent to the White House chief of staff), the head of

the Royal Court, and the head of the important Royal Oman


Despite this, the youthful protesters have refused to give

up and they continue to demand more changes, including the

prosecution for corruption of leading officials. The

government has been taking an increasingly hard line,

detaining some protesters for criminal behavior but

pointedly refraining from the type of repression prevailing

in Bahrain.


A number of petitions calling for social justice and

political reform have been circulated by so-called liberals

and even Islamist reformists for the attention of King

Abdullah, first when he was heir apparent during King Fahd's

long illness and then as king. Much hope was placed on the

king to institute long-overdue political reforms. And

Abdullah responded by such promising steps as establishing a

national dialogue, welcoming back Shia religious leaders

from exile, and removing girls' education from the grasp of

the conservative religious establishment. But reform seems

to have stalled in the past several years. A ballyhooed

national "day of rage," inspired by demonstrations elsewhere

in the Arab world, was a bust - only partly because of a

heavy security presence.

There has been persistent low-level dissidence, however,

among the country's restive and repressed Shia community.

From a practical point of view-that is to say, regime

survival-Saudi Arabia's Shia do not pose a formidable

threat. Their numbers are limited, even though they

constitute a sizeable minority of perhaps a million or more.

With a few exceptions, they are concentrated in one region

of the country. Admittedly, that region is the important

Eastern Province where Saudi Arabia's oil is located, but

they are probably a minority even in that region and their

dominance in their two traditional centers of al-Hasa and

al-Qatif oases has been diluted by the immigration of


So in large part the "Arab spring" has passed Saudi Arabia

by and the country is girding for a return to another

blazing hot summer. Grievances of one sort or another

undoubtedly are nursed by much, indeed a large majority, of

the citizenry. But it should be remembered that the kingdom

has weathered a violent storm by its own Islamist extremists

and most Saudis seem to have little stomach for activist

stances that could rock an essentially calm boat.


The other three members of the GCC-Qatar, Kuwait, and the

UAE-have been almost untouched by the contagion of protest.

It is not coincidental that these are the "rich" three

members, with small populations and high oil (and in Qatar,

gas) production. The UAE, however, seems to be taking no

chances, and has detained three bloggers in a continuation

of a policy of quietly muzzling potential dissent.

The immediate crisis seems to have passed in the affected

GCC states while Yemen remains in turmoil. Most GCC citizens

seem to wish their governments would be more responsive and

less oriented to the benefit of the elites. They do not,

however, want drastic changes, let alone regime change. The

exception is Bahrain where a compliant attitude is

increasingly under threat by growing numbers who see no

change in the dismissive attitude of the ruling family and

its return to reliance on repression instead of resolution

of political disputes. It is doubtful that any of the rulers

and their families have grasped the fact that change cannot

be avoided and it is best to introduce substantive reforms

now rather than be forced into them later.

Yemen provides an all-too-uncomfortable close reminder of

the chaos that could emerge in the GCC's future. At the time

of writing, Ali Abdullah Saleh still clings to power in

Sana'a despite all odds. But the country remains in the grip

of massive dissatisfaction, incipient rebellion, violent

threats from al Qaeda, desertions among the president's

allies, and severe economic liabilities. There is no easy

answer to most of these problems and limited viable actions

that a more responsive and popular government can take to

solve them. What is certain is that whether Saleh leaves or

hangs on, the country's political and economic problems will



Copyright Foreign Policy Research Institute


40,000 Turkish Cypriots Protesting Against Turkey

From Europe News:

40.000 Turkish Cypriots protesting against Turkey

Ekathimerini 12 April 2011

By Robert Ellis

On January 28, a mass rally with around 40,000 demonstrators took place in Inonu Square, in the Turkish Cypriot zone of Nicosia, the capital of the divided island. The protests were against cuts in public spending, which the National Unity Party (UBP) that administers northern Cyprus had agreed with the Turkish government, and which means cuts of up to 40 percent in civil servants’ salaries.

In the Turkish occupied part of Cyprus, the flag of Turkey (left) is usually flown along with the one of the TRNC (right).

The demonstration displayed not only the Turkish Cypriots’ underlying dissatisfaction with the Turkish occupation, but also how dependent northern Cyprus is on Turkey. After the Turkish invasion in 1974 and the subsequent occupation of 37 percent of Cyprus, the north was declared an independent republic, the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), in 1983. But Turkey is the only country that recognizes its independence.

However, its independence is an illusion, as northern Cyprus’s economy is dependent on Turkey. Exports are far less than imports, most of which come from Turkey. In what once was a fertile area; now 80 percent of the need for fruit and vegetables is met by Turkey. As a Turkish commentator noted: “[Northern] Cyprus is like a water mill that cannot run without hand-carried water.”

Public expenditure makes up 70 percent of the Turkish Cypriot economy and Turkey covers 40 percent of Turkish-occupied Cyprus’s budget. Since the AKP [Justice and Development Party] government came to power, Turkey’s contribution has tripled, and last year it donated 600 million dollars, half of which covered the enclave’s budget deficit. Nevertheless, much of the deficit was not covered, and therefore a package of austerity measures was agreed with the Turkish Cypriots. The Turkish Minister for Cyprus, Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek, has stated that if the protocol is not implemented, Turkish-occupied Cyprus will go bankrupt by October.

Last August these economic measures led to a general strike in northern Cyprus, which at the end of January, developed into a mass rally not only against the cuts but also the Turkish occupation. The rally was organized by 35 trade unions and other organizations, and among the slogans was a clear message to Turkey to leave Cyprus to the Cypriots.

This is not the first time northern Cyprus has experienced this form of uprising. In July 2000 there was a mass rally under the slogan “This Country Is Ours,” supported by the trade unions and other organizations. A letter was sent to the UN, demanding a federal solution in opposition to the then-Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash and Turkey’s confederal policy. The demonstrations continued with growing force in 2002 and culminated with a rally of more than 70,000 in February 2003, calling for Denktash’s resignation. Denktash, who once admitted “I do what Turkey says,” was overthrown and the border to the south was opened two months later to prevent an explosion. A year later, 65 percent of the Turkish Cypriots voted for the Annan plan for reunification.

As Sener Ercil, general secretary of the Turkish Cypriot Primary School Teachers’ Union (KTOS), has explained, there is no longer the same common goal. “Although we are fighting for a solution and for a united federal Cyprus, some of the other unions are happy with the existing situation, and some of them support the creation of a separate state in the north.”

Rauf Denktash was replaced by Mehmet Ali Talat, who shares a background in the trade union movement with his Greek Cypriot counterpart, President Dimitris Christofias.

Before the current round of talks began in September 2008, the two leaders agreed in principle on the issues of single sovereignty and citizenship for a united Cyprus, but since the new Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu took over last April, this agreement has ended.

Eroglu insists the new Cyprus should consist of two states with separate sovereignty, which led to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, at the summit in Geneva on January 26 between Christofias and Eroglu, asking the latter whether he retracts from the agreed issues, in which case the UN will have to reconsider its position.

Officially, Turkey adheres to the UN’s criteria for a federal state, but government rhetoric takes a different line. Cicek has stated that two separate states, two separate republics and two equal peoples are the parameters for the solution of the Cyprus problem. And Turkey’s chief EU negotiator, Egemen Bagis, repeats like a mantra: “Every morning when the sun rises, it rises over two separate states.”

The Turkish reaction to the mass rally in Inonu Square was not long coming. Characteristically, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened with reprisals. “Who are these people? We have video records of them. They need to be submitted to the court.” And he indignantly reminded the Turkish Cypriots that they were dependent on Turkey for handouts. At the same time, he came with a remark, which revealed Turkey’s real intentions with Cyprus: “I have strategic interests.”

In 1956, Professor Nihat Erim, the government’s adviser on Cyprus, recommended partition, as Turkey could make no legal claim to the whole island. This is the policy which Turkey has since followed with remarkable consistency. The Greek junta’s attempt to overthrow President Makarios in 1974 gave Turkey an ideal opportunity to intervene, and since the occupation. the original Turkish Cypriot population has become a minority because of the massive influx of settlers from the mainland. Turkey has ignored repeated calls from the UN and the EU to withdraw its troops, and the prime minister recently declared: “Turkey will not give away a single gram of northern Cyprus.”

When the trade unions’ platform announced a new ”communal existence” rally on March 2, Ankara retaliated by appointing Halil Ibrakim Akca, the architect of Turkey’s economic package, as “ambassador” to the occupied areas. The Turkish Cypriot daily Afrika referred to Akca as “a provincial governor” and the Turkish daily Hurriyet proclaimed: “Iron fist in Cyprus.”

After the demonstrations in Tahrir Square, Erdogan advised Hosni Mubarak: “Listen to the shouting of the people, the extremely humane demands. Without hesitation, satisfy the people’s desire for change.” When it comes to Cyprus, perhaps he should take his own advice.

Robert Ellis is a regular commentator on Turkish affairs in the Danish and international press, and adviser to the Turkey Assessment Group in the European Parliament.

Posted April 12th, 2011 by hrc

The Cypriot Revolt

From Europe News:

The Cypriot revolt

New Europe 12 April 2011

By Robert Ellis

Twelve years ago former Turkish prime minister Mesut Yilmaz declared that Turkey’s road to Europe went through Diyarbakir, the capital of south-east Turkey. Since 2005 it would be more correct to claim that it goes through Nicosia, the divided capital of Cyprus.

The main stumbling block on Turkey’s path is the Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement, which Turkey signed in July 2005 after being persuaded by Tony Blair that it was a “legal fact” that Turkey’s signature did not involve the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus. The EU took a different view and reminded Turkey that its accompanying declaration of non-recognition was unilateral and had no legal effect on Turkey’s obligations under the Protocol.

Consequently, Turkey’s refusal to open its ports and airspace to Cypriot registered shipping and aircraft has resulted in not only eight negotiating chapters being frozen by the European Council but a further ten being blocked because of French and Cypriot opposition. The result is now a stalemate with only three chapters being left to open.

The current round of reunification talks, which began in September 2008 under the two community leaders, Dimitris Christofias and Mehmet Ali Talat, has also stalled. On 1 July 2008 the two leaders, who share a common background in the trade union movement, agreed in principle on the issues of single sovereignty and citizenship for a united Cyprus, which is in line with the agreed UN parameters for reunification.

However, the new Turkish Cypriot leader, Dervis Eroglu, who took over in April last year, has in new proposals submitted to President Christofias insisted on the sovereignty of two separate founding states, which muddied the waters at the Geneva summit on

26 January. Officially Turkey adheres to the UN criteria for a federal partnership, but government rhetoric takes a different line.

The Turkish Minister of State responsible for Cyprus, Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek, has stated that two separate states, two separate republics and two equal peoples are the parameters for the solution of the Cyprus problem. And Turkey’s chief EU negotiator, Egemen Bagis, repeats like a mantra: “Every morning when the sun rises, it rises over two separate states.”

Now the Turkish Cypriots have taken matters in their own hands. In a manner similar to the uprising against Turkey’s satrap Rauf Denktash from 2000-2003, 40,000 Turkish Cypriots took part in a mass rally in Nicosia on 28 January to protest wage cuts imposed on them by the UBP (National Unity Party) administration. The rally, organized by a platform of trade unions, organizations and political parties, demanded civil and labour rights and the reunification of Cyprus.

One of the organizers, Sener Elcil, head of the Primary School Teachers’ Union (KTOS) stated: “the officials in Northern Cyprus are Turkey’s puppets”. And the president of the Secondary School Teachers’ Union (KTEOS) told reporters “we do not want to be slaves; we want peace, a united Cyprus”.

Characteristically, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened with reprisals. “Who are these people? We have video records of them. They need to be submitted to the court.” But the Prime Minister’s comments, especially a reference to Turkish Cypriots being dependent on Turkish handouts, have produced a strong reaction both in Cyprus and Turkey.

Erdogan also let the cat out of the bag, when he remarked: “I have strategic interests.” Since the Nihat Erim report from 1956, which argued for partition, Turkey’s policy towards Cyprus has been consistent, aiming to maintain a stranglehold on the island.

As Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu explained in his seminal work, “Strategic Depth” in 2001: “Even if there was not one single Muslim Turk over there, Turkey would have to maintain a Cyprus question. No country could possibly be indifferent to an island like this, placed in the heart of its vital space.”

If push comes to shove and Turkey has to choose between maintaining its presence in Cyprus and the EU process, Deputy Prime Minister Cicek last year made it clear where Turkey stands: “For those who ask Turkey to make a decision between northern Cyprus and the EU, let me say that we will always, always, always choose Cyprus.”

Prime Minister Erdogan recently advised Hosni Mubarak: “Listen to the shouting of the people, the extremely humane demands. Without hesitation, satisfy the people’s desire for change.” When it comes to Cyprus, perhaps he should take his own advice.

Robert Ellis is a regular commentator on Turkish affairs in the Danish and international press.

Posted April 12th, 2011 by hrc

Libya: Moussa Khoussa Is Worried

From Human Events;

Moussa Koussa Is Worried

The top Libyan defector sees a new Somalia taking shape.

by John Hayward


Moussa Koussa, the former foreign minister of Libya, is the highest-profile defector from the Qaddafi regime to date. He told the BBC he was “devoted to his work” during the 30 years he served Qaddafi, but the dictator’s brutal suppression of the recent popular uprising “changed things, and I couldn’t continue.”

He’s now warning that Libya is on the verge of becoming a “failed state,” which could degenerate into “another Somalia.” In a statement, Koussa said “I ask everybody, all the parties, to avoid taking Libya into a civil war.”

You might wonder what he thinks has been going on there lately, what with the bombing and the shelling and the screaming, but what apparently worries Koussa is the possibility that Libya will be permanently split into two countries, the Republic of Nato and Greater Qaddafistan. “We refuse to divide Libya. The unity of Libya is essential to any solution and settlement for Libya,” he declared, inviting himself into a rebellion that might not be all that eager to have him.

It sounds like the top defector still has a bit of nostalgia for the good old days, when it was him and Moammar cruising down Route 66 in a Corvette convertible, fighting terrorism and dismantling weapons of mass destruction. “We worked together against terrorism and we succeeded,” he told the BBC, fondly tapping his Qaddafi bobblehead doll and watching its head bounce around for a while, as he thought of times gone by. “We worked together to dismantle weapons of mass destruction. It is a great job. It is great work and it makes the world safer.”

Before he was foreign minister, Koussa’s previous great job involved working in the Libyan intelligence service, which made the world safer by blowing up planeloads of innocent people. Scotland Yard is said to have “questioned” him on his involvement in the Lockerbie terrorist atrocity, but the families of the victims want him questioned a lot harder. They’re thinking less Piers Morgan and more Jack Bauer.

Koussa is on his way to a round of meetings on Libya’s future in Qatar, where the UK Independent says he “will not participate in the meeting but is expected to hold talks on the sidelines.” The British government says he’s a “free individual who can travel to and from the United Kingdom as he wishes,” but Pamela Dix, who lost her brother in the Lockerbie bombing, said she was “astonished that he is apparently free to come and go this way.” She added that the current British government “has been very quick to condemn the previous one over Lockerbie, but they too have been very hands off. This demonstrates their continuing lack of interest in solving the biggest mass murder we have seen in this country.”

The previous government’s most widely condemned action was releasing Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was supposedly dying of cancer, into Libyan custody. Thanks to the wonders of Libyan medicine, he made an astonishing recovery and spent years living in luxury as a Libyan national hero.

Conservative Member of Parliament Robert Halfon, whose family fled Libya when Qaddafi came to power, growled that “many people will be very anxious that Britain is being used as a transit lounge for alleged war criminals. We should learn from the release of Megrahi that we should not release those people associated with Gaddafi or let them out of the UK until they have faced the full course of the law, whether in British courts or international courts.”

Others worry that giving Moussa Koussa the business would make other high-ranking Libyan officials hesitant to defect. There’s no shortage of war criminals in the Qaddafi inner circle. Of course, the flow of defectors appears to have stopped, now that Qaddafi is winning the war, and not just in the Charlie Sheen sense. The two-state solution Koussa frets over would be little more than an official recognition of the stalemate in Libya… and Qaddafi wins by surviving.

This troubled world certainly does not need another Somalia. It’s not clear that someone with Moussa Koussa’s shadowy past is the right person to lead negotiations to prevent it. He really should be talking to Scotland Yard some more, not jetting off to Qatar to run the regime-apologist concession stand at a diplomatic circus.


John Hayward is a staff writer for HUMAN EVENTS, and author of the recently published Doctor Zero: Year One. Follow him on Twitter: Doc_0. Contact him by email at

Protecting Chavez, Endangering America?

From CSP:

Protecting Chavez, endangering America?

Center for Security Policy
Apr 12, 2011

By Frank Gaffney, Jr.

President Obama's recent trip to three Latin American nations was absolutely surreal. For one thing, he launched a war against Libya from there. For another, he lauded and pledged support for offshore drilling in Brazilian waters that he has shut down in our own. And he spoke glowingly of the progress of democracy as though its forces were on the march in the region, rather than those of enemies of freedom.

What might have passed for Mr. Obama's willful blindness with respect to the rising threat posed by Chavismo - the rabidly anti-American regional campaign named for and sponsored by the dictator of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez - was revealed last week as perhaps something far more worrying, if not downright sinister: A deliberate effort by the Obama Justice Department to impede U.S. access to a key witness to Chavez's multifaceted malevolence.

If any reminder were needed of the threat posed by Chavez, Sunday's election in Peru would provide it. The top vote-getter in the first-round of presidential balloting there was Ollanta Humala, a military officer cut from the same radical leftist cloth as his ally and enabler who runs Venezuela increasingly with an iron fist. If Humala prevails in the run-off, his increasingly prosperous nation will join Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua in moving squarely into Chavez's orbit.

Add in the mentoring of the Castro brothers in Cuba and close working relationships with Brazil and Argentina through, among other channels, the insidious Forum of San Paolo, and you have a Latin America in which hostility towards the United States is fast becoming the norm, and freedom imperiled to a degree not seen since Ronald Reagan took on the Sandinistas in the 1980s. Mexico, long a buffer, is now embroiled in what some consider a civil war, effectively removing whatever impediments - however inadequate - previously existed there to migration into our country of dangerous elements from further south.

Meanwhile, unfriendly foreign powers - including China, Russia and Iran and terrorist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad - are, with the active assistance of Chavez and his allies, establishing beachheads throughout the region. Beijing is buying up resources and establishing intelligence operations; Russia is selling arms and reestablishing its Soviet-era influence operations; and Middle Eastern terrorists, both state-sponsors and their proxies, are joining forces with narco-traffickers to make money, convert locals to shariah and run smuggling operations into the United States.

An indication of just how serious a problem all this can become was revealed recently in an op.ed. in the Washington Post by one of the United States' top hemispheric diplomats, former Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega. In it, he revealed that Hugo Chavez convened a terror summit in Caracas in August 2010, attended by senior members of Hamas and Hezbollah. The precise upshot of this secret meeting has not yet been revealed. Suffice it to say though that no good can come of such brazen associations and that we should be doing everything possible to ascertain what they will precipitate.

The good news in that department is that Colombia has managed to apprehend a man who may be able to shed much light on just such questions: Walid Makled. A Venezuelan of Syrian descent but known as "the Turk," Makled was arrested on a U.S. warrant in connection with his role as what has been described by InterAmerican Security Watch as "one of the world's most important, yet little known, drug lords."

In a recent television interview with Univision, Makled described Chavez's Venezuela as a "narco-state" in which the government was "100 percent" involved in narco-trafficking. He implicated "40 generals" and "ministers, congressmen [and] governors" - including two top Chavez allies, Commander-in-Chief Henry Rangel Silva and intelligence chief Hugo Carvajal - in such activities. The drug kingpin also claimed that the military was protecting Hezbollah's Venezuelan operations.

U.S. prosecutors have made clear their desire to extradite "the Turk" to the United States to stand trial for his crimes and to provide incriminating testimony against others. In an interview last week on Secure Freedom Radio, Michael Braun, a former top Drug Enforcement Agency official, declared that such testimony could be absolutely indispensible to American efforts to protect our nation against the various threats of which this top drug-trafficker has first-hand knowledge.

The bad news is that on Friday, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) revealed on Secure Freedom Radio that he had confirmed an astounding, indeed scandalous, development: Eric Holder's Justice Department had declined Colombia's offer to extradite Makled to the United States. In that case, it seems "the Turk" will be sent back to Venezuela. At that point, he will clearly be beyond the reach of American jurisprudence, assuming he is not simply liquidated in short order.

If Rep. Diaz-Balart's information is correct, the question occurs: Why would the Obama administration not want to have the ability to interrogate comprehensively a man who purportedly knows a lot about one of this country's most determined adversaries and his far-flung network of criminal, terrorist and other anti-American allies? A possible explanation is that President Obama would find it inconvenient to have to come to grips with the reality of what Hugo Chavez is about. Is there another?

One thing is clear: We as a nation cannot afford to be willfully blind about Chavismo and its architect. Consequently, every effort must be made to get Walid Makled to the United States - and to withhold Miranda rights until he has been fully and competently debriefed.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is President of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for the Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program, Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9:00 p.m. on WRC 1260 AM.

Ambitious Turkey


Ambitious Turkey

by Daniel Pipes

National Review Online

April 12, 2011

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Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu grandiloquently proclaimed a few days ago that, "If the world is on fire, Turkey is the firefighter. Turkey is assuming the leading role for stability in the Middle East."

Gül warmly greets Ahmadinejad.

Such ambition is new for Ankara. In the 1990s, it contentedly fulfilled its NATO obligations and followed Washington's lead. Starting about 1996, relations with Israel blossomed. In all, Turkish policy offered an attractive exception to the tyrannical, Islamist, and conspiracist mentality generally dominating Muslim peoples. That the country's political leaders were corrupt and fumbling seemed of little consequence.

Those faults, however, proved extremely consequential, leading to the repudiation of long-established political parties and the victory of an Islamist party, Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP), in the elections of November 2002. By March 2003, in advance of the coming war in Iraq, the new government signaled that a new era had begun by refusing to permit American troops to traverse Turkish territory.

Over the next eight years, Turkish foreign policy become increasingly hostile to the West in general, the United States, France, Israel in particular, even as it warmed to governments in Syria, Iran, and Libya. This shift became particularly evident in May 2010, when Ankara both helped Tehran avoid sanctions for its nuclear program and injured Israel's reputation with the Mavi Marmara-led flotilla.

But the full extent of Ankara's Middle East ambitions emerged in early 2011, concurrent with the region's far-reaching upheavals. Suddenly, Turks were ubiquitous. Their recent activities include:

Erdoğan conferring with a pleased al-Assad.

Providing a model: The Turkish president, Abdullah Gül, holds that Turkey can have a "great and unbelievable positive effect" on the Middle East – and he has some takers. For example, Rached Ghannouchi, leader of Tunisia's newly legalized Ennahda movement, has stated: "We are learning from the experience of Turkey, especially the peace that has been reached in the country between Islam and modernity."

Offering an economic lifeline to Iran: Gül paid a state visit to Tehran in February, accompanied by a large group of businessmen, capping an evolution whereby, according to the Jamestown Foundation, "Turkey is becoming a major [economic] lifeline for Iran." In addition, Gül praised the Iranian political system.

Obstructing foreign efforts in Libya: Starting on March 2, the Turkish government objected to any military intervention against Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi's regime. "Foreign interventions, especially military interventions, only deepen the problem," Davutoğlu put it on March 14, perhaps worrying about a similar intervention to protect Kurds in eastern Turkey. When military operations began on March 19, Turkish forces did not take part. Turkish opposition delayed NATO's engagement in Libya until March 31 and then freighted it with conditions.

Supporting Qaddafi: Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan helped Qaddafi by issuing both demagogic proclamations ("Turkey will never be a party that points a gun at the Libyan people") and practical proposals (e.g., that Qaddafi salvage his rule by appointing a president). Ankara also offered, according to Hürriyet newspaper "to be involved in the distribution of humanitarian aid in Libya, to manage the Benghazi airport and to deploy naval forces to control the area between Benghazi and the Greek island of Crete." In gratitude, Qaddafi replied, "We are all Ottomans." In contrast, Libyan rebels fumed at and marched against the Turkish government.

Erdoğan could hardly get closer to al-Qaddafi.

Helping Damascus: In January, Ankara agreed to train Syrian troops; in March, Erdoğan publicly advised Syria's President Bashar al-Assad how to maintain power, perhaps fearful that Syria's 1.4 million Kurds might win more autonomy and cause unrest among Turkey's approximately 15 million Kurds.

Anti-Zionism: Ankara has emerged as the leader in delegitimizing Israel. Davutoğlu tries to unify its enemies while predicting Israel's disappearance; a government-affiliated organization plans a new Gaza "freedom" flotilla with at least 15 ships taking part; and the deputy prime minister calls for a Libya-style bombing of Israel.

Ankara's ambitions must be checked. Less provocatively and more intelligently than the Iranian regime, it aspires to reshape Muslim countries in its Islamist image. The opening salvos of this effort have gone well, being both effective and largely unnoticed.

Possible methods to block AKP influence include: expressing displeasure with Ankara's "neo-Ottomanist" policies; publicly questioning whether Turkish actions are compatible with NATO membership; quietly encouraging opposition parties in the country's June 2011 elections; and, at this moment of AKP hostility and of Kurdish uprisings in eastern Turkey, reconsidering the delicate question of Kurdish civil rights.

Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Egyptian Revolutions Turns More Islamic, More Anti-Israel

From Jihad Watch:

Egypt revolution turns more Islamic, more anti-Israel

I tried to tell you. "Egypt revolution turns more Islamic, more anti-Israel," by Ryan Jones for Israel Today, April 10:

[...] Over the weekend, Cairo’s Tahrir Square again filled with angry demonstrators who are still waiting for their full list of demands to be met. Among them was the Muslim Brotherhood, which last week officially announced its intention to take part, as a group, in renewed anti-government protests.

As the demonstration turned increasingly hostile, Egyptian soldiers opened fire, reportedly killing two demonstrators and wounding another 15, according to Cairo hospital officials. The army denied firing live ammunition at the crowd.

Not content with protesting their own new government, the demonstrators also marched on the Israeli embassy in Cairo. Gathered at the gates of the Israeli mission, the angry mob demanded that Egypt cut all ties to the Jewish state and stop supplying Israel with natural gas. They also wanted the Israeli flag flying atop the embassy to be removed.

Posted by Robert on April 11, 2011 1:42 AM

Marco Rubio Presents A "Clear And Present Danger", Says Former State Department Chief Of Staff

From Town Hall:

Humberto Fontova

Marco Rubio Presents a "Clear and Present Danger", Says Former State Dept. Chief of Staff

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Well, it’s about time somebody had the guts to say it! It’s high time to quit coddling a mostly foreign-born ethnic group that brazenly supports-- and even harbors-- terrorists! Many Americans have had it up to here with these swarthy, screaming, fist-pumping hot-heads! This Trojan horse against our national security must be called out! Exposed!

Retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Sec. of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff, and teaches a course on National Security at George Washington University stepped to the plate. He took it upon himself to grab the torch from Billy Mitchell, George Patton, Doug Mc Arthur, John Singlaub and call out America’s hidden enemies point-blank--along with their powerful political patrons and partners in subversion.

“…the hardcore Cuban-American lobby… has long since outlived any benefit to the United States it might have once offered,” he wrote this week. “In fact, that special interest group today constitutes a clear and present danger to the real security interests of the United States." So there!

Though a legislator rather than a lobbyist, Senator Marco Rubio is as proud and outspoken a member of that “special-interest” group as exists in the U.S. Indeed his first filed amendment went for the very throat of Col. Wilkerson’s “special-interest,” also known as subsidizing Castro’s Stalinist regime, also known as the current state-sponsor-of-terror that came closest to nuking Col. Wilkerson’s homeland.

“There is no reason for the United States to help enrich state sponsors of terrorism,” declared Senator Rubio back in February in response to the Obama administrations further opening of travel, “cultural- exchanges” and remittances from the U.S. to Castro’s fiefdom. “I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this effort to ensure that U.S. policy does not expose our nation to new security risks and increased security costs.”

"Cuba is Intelligence Trafficker to the World," reveals Lieut. Col Christopher Simmons, until recent retirement, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s top Cuba spycatcher. Among other missions, Cuban spies in the U.S., often working undercover as “diplomats,” “scholars” and “cultural ambassadors”, stole U.S. military secrets and delivered them to Iraq, Panama and Grenada, alerting these regimes to U.S. plans.

Col. Wilkerson ranks right up there with Jimmy Carter as among Castro’s favorite yankees. This “credit to his nationality” as Castro might put it, is frequently showcased by Castro’s propaganda ministry while he lobbies for his heartfelt special-interests, so obviously dear to Castro’s own heart.

But Wilkerson’s “special-interest” doesn’t stop with lobbying for increased cash-flow from the U.S. to Castro. He also lobbies for freeing Castro’s spies and terrorists convicted in U.S. courts. Along with Jimmy Carter, and joining forces with Danny Glover, Bonnie Raitt, Sean Penn, Martin Sheen, Benicio del Toro, Jackson Browne among many other experts in U.S. Appellate court procedures, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson agonizes over the fate of the “Cuban Five,” denounces the judicial process that convicted them and lobbies for their immediate and unconditional release to Cuba.

Back home, presumably, these Communist spies could get a refresher course from their KGB-trained handlers, brush up on their KGB manuals and maybe outfox our FBI next time. Some background: On September 14, 1998, the FBI uncovered a Castro spy ring in Miami and arrested ten of them. Five were convicted by U.S. juries (from which Cuban-Americans were scrupulously excluded) for espionage against the nation Col. Wilkerson took an oath to defend (and did so in Viet-nam) and for conspiracy to commit murder. These became known as the “The Cuban Five” in Castroite parlance. On serves two life sentences and the convictions of all five were upheld by an appeals court.

“When I was chief of staff of the Department of State from 2002-2005,” Col. Wilkerson wrote for Castro’s press, “I noted several reports…written for reasons having everything to do with special interest groups to whom politicians were pandering. I believe Cuba’s inclusion on the terrorism list is a glaring example of such a report. I sometimes felt a considerable degree of shame with regard to my country’s issuing of the (terrorism) reports without listing itself as a violator (emphasis mine).”

That should tell you something about Col. Lawrence Wilkerson.

“America is the single greatest nation on earth, a place without equal in the history of all mankind,” declared Senator Rubio during a weekly GOP address in November. “I know about the unique exceptionalism of our country. Not because I read about it in a book, I’ve seen it through my own eyes. You see, I was raised in a community of exiles, by people who lost their country, people who once had dreams like we do today, but had to come to a foreign shore to find them.”

And that should tell you something about Senator Marco Rubio, this “clear and present danger to our national security” in the view of such as Col. Lawrence Wilkerson.

Tags: Budget and Government , Cuba , Marco Rubio

Humberto Fontova

Humberto Fontova is the author of four books including Exposing the Real Che Guevara and the Useful Idiots Who idolize Him and Fidel; Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant. Visit

The Arab Street And Lies

From Town Hall:

Mona Charen

The Arab Street and Lies

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Dear Arab protesters,

From Tripoli to Sanaa, and from Cairo to Damascus, you are taking to the streets to topple your governments. The fabled "Arab street" has, after many predicted eruptions that failed to materialize, at last been heard from.

There is still a great deal we don't know about you -- though we do know that you've displayed tremendous courage, particularly in Libya and Syria, where the regimes are firing on and murdering peaceful demonstrators by the score. Some of you are Islamists, who would usher in even worse regimes than the ones you hope to replace. Some of you are clearly hoping for economic change.

As for those of you who shout "Freedom! Freedom!" -- like the demonstrators in Syria -- we deeply hope that you mean what we mean by freedom -- a pluralistic, Western-style society.

But one thing is pretty clear: You take a dim view of your current leaders' honesty. You've been lied to for so long and so thoroughly that rumor and gossip are more readily trusted than official pronouncements.

Little wonder. Saif el-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libya's oil-rich and blood-soaked ruler, has told the world that protesters in his country are "mercenaries" and "anarchists" who are "on drugs." Muammar Gaddafi has told the world that the people of Libya "love" him.

Just in the past several weeks, as the regime in Syria has killed at least dozens and perhaps hundreds of demonstrators (and as regime thugs have prevented the wounded from reaching hospitals for treatment), Bashar al-Assad has claimed that those protesting against his government are "armed gangs" and "saboteurs." The Ministry of the Interior, which began firing on demonstrators during the first week of peaceful marches, issued a statement declaring that "there is no more room for leniency or tolerance."

Assad also gave an interview to The Wall Street Journal a couple of months before demonstrations began in Syria, offering the dictator's interpretation of unrest in Egypt and Tunisia. He let fall a cascade of gobbledygook like this: "This current will lead to repercussions of less creativity, less development, and less openness. You cannot reform your society or institution without opening your mind. So the core issue is how to open the mind, the whole society, and this means everybody in society including everyone." But in the midst of the dense mud that passes for thought from Assad, there were one or two howlers.

What provoked the Arab people's ire? It was "internal and external," the president explained. Regarding the latter, he said "... It is about the problems that we have in our region, i.e. the lack of peace, the invasion of Iraq, what is happening in Afghanistan and now its repercussions in Pakistan and other regions. That led to this desperation and anger."

As for internal conditions, Assad allowed as how joblessness might be a problem in some parts of the Arab world -- though not in Syria.

"We have more difficult circumstances than most of the Arab countries but in spite of that Syria is stable. Why? Because you have to be very closely linked to the beliefs of the people."

Hosni Mubarak emerged from his well-guarded villa in Sharm el-Sheikh on April 10 to deliver a televised speech denying he had enriched himself as president of Egypt. The former president, who had enjoyed, in addition to the presidential palace, a multimillion-dollar townhouse in London registered in his son's name, a fleet of Gulfstream jets, the above-mentioned villa on the Red Sea, and no one yet knows how much cash in offshore accounts, was caught in his own net. Having accustomed his people to lies, he is now outraged that Egyptians believe he commands something like $70 billion in stolen treasure -- a figure that is almost certainly grossly inflated.

But we ask, in light of what you see happening in your countries, in light of the venality of those who have held power over you for so long, whether you might reconsider everything they've told you.

In addition to dishonesty about themselves, Assad, Gaddafi, and the rest have woven a skein of falsehoods about Israel, about Jews, and about the United States. You've been told that Israelis are subhuman beasts who shoot Palestinian civilians for pleasure, have no historic link to the land of Israel, use human blood in religious rituals, and plot conquest of the world. You've been told that the United States is at war with Muslims, in the pocket of the Jews, bent on conquest, plotting to steal the Arab world's oil, and guilty of war crimes against Muslims.

As you attempt to free yourselves from the tyrannies your leaders have inflicted on you for decades, perhaps you will also free your minds from the shameful poison they have purveyed.

Tags: Foreign Affairs , National Security , Libya , Foreign Policy , Gadhafi

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ivory Coast: Gbagbo Captured

From The American Spectator:

Apr 11, 2011 (14 hours ago)Gbagbo Capturedfrom The American Spectator and AmSpecBlog by Aaron Goldstein

Today, forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara have taken Laurent Gbagbo from his home and into their custody. It is not clear if Gbagbo was arrested by French troops or by Ouattara's forces but it is clear the French played some role in facilitating Gbagbo's capture. Gbagbo was President of the Ivory Coast for more than a decade until losing an election last fall to Ouattara. However, Gbagbo refused to cede power. I guess this means Ouattara will soon take office.

Of course, it isn't so cut and dry. Last week, here at The American Spectator, Roger Kaplan wrote an excellent analysis of the conflict in which both sides have blood on their hands. The Ivory Coast gained independence from France more than fifty years ago but has struggled since the death of its first leader Felix Houphouet Boigny in 1993.

In its simplest terms, the southern part of the Ivory Coast is loyal to Gbagbo and is predominantly Roman Catholic while the northern part supports Ouattara and is predominantly Muslim. Perhaps the best possible means to avert a full scale civil war would be to partition the country along these lines. It will be interesting to see what happens when Southern Sudan formally secedes from Sudan and becomes an independent nation in July. If things work in Southern Sudan (and it is a big if) then perhaps it could serve as a model in alleviating further conflict in the Ivory Coast.

Eighteen Million Coptic Christians Throwing Off Oppression Is The Driving Force Behind Egypt's Revolution

From The Patriot Word:

Apr 11, 2011 (12 hours ago)18 Million Coptic Christians Throwing Off Oppression Is The Driving Force Behind Egypt's Revolutionfrom The Patriot Word by Walter L. Brown Jr.

Recently, I accepted a role as a board member for Voice of the Copts. Our goal is to report news of discrimination and oppression of religious minorities in every corner of our planet. Special attention is given to legalized and outlawed criminal activity that occurs in the Arab world along with in-depth explanations of Arab mentality, behaviour and way of life based on first hand reports of the oppressed.

Voice of the Copts publishes articles of interest to the Copts (Egyptian Christians). Our website is an open window to the Coptic Christian culture, as well as a comprehensive source of information on the Copts' suffering in their own land.

Coptic Christians Are The Driving Force Behind Egypt's Revolution:

The role of Coptic Christians in the Egyptian uprising is described here by the President and Founder of Voice of the Copts. Here is a short excerpt from his commentary discussing the actual beginnings of the revolution.

"Things really began with a street clash a few months earlier in a very significant backlash by the Copts who, for the first time in recent history, confronted with force the regime’s police who violently attacked workers at a church construction site in Omrania, just north of Cairo. The actions here were not caught on camera and were not sparked by Facebook organizers, but having reached the point of no return regarding abusive police brutality, Coptic protesters cried out for freedom of religion and demanded equal treatment under the law in order to build their place of worship. On this day, they demanded as well that Mubarak step down. Police retaliated by attacking protesters, killing three and injuring many.

The Copts paid dearly for this when, on January 1st, a car bomb was planted in front of the Coptic Saints Church of Alexandria and rigged for three explosions timed just ten minutes apart in order to maximize the killing of innocent worshippers departing from their New Year’s service. Mubarak’s police would never allow the raised voices of the "infidels" demanding fair and equal treatment under the law to go unpunished."

Here are my comments in response to Voice of the Copts President Ashraf Ramelah's article:

Here are my comments in response to Voice of the Copts President Ashraf Ramelah's article:

In 1857, Frederick Douglass a courageous black man and leader in the movement to abolish slavery gave this speech in Canandaigua, NY my hometown. Please share his words with our Christian brothers in Egypt along with our prayers for their courage. May God bless you and all other Christians with the courage to stand firm in the face of evil.

"The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress. In the light of these ideas, Negroes will be hunted at the North and held and flogged at the South so long as they submit to those devilish outrages and make no resistance, either moral or physical. Men may not get all they pay for in this world, but they must certainly pay for all they get. If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others."

The struggle for freedom and liberty is a struggle, it doesn't come freely, it requires courage and sacrifice and the Coptic Christians are on the right track. Jesus provided us the example and the courage to sacrifice ourselves in the battle against evil.

Voice of the Copts Board Member

Walter L. Brown Jr.