Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

Posts Tagged ‘Syria

Paved with good intentions

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Having previously made the point that the interests of many states converge in Syria, here’s a bit of timely, yet timeless, wisdom from Paul Johnson’s Modern Times (p. 14):

It is commonplace that men are excessively ruthless and cruel not as a rule out of avowed malice but from outraged righteousness. How much more is this true of legally constituted states, invested with all the seeming moral authority of parliaments and congresses and courts of justice! The destructive capacity of the individual, however vicious, is small; of the state, however well-intentioned, almost limitless. Expand the state and that destructive capacity necessarily expands too, pari passu.


Written by M. James

August 24, 2013 at 3:16 pm

Border tensions: don’t feel too welcome

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A sign in the window of a closed-down shop in Urfa reads: “Syrian money accepted.”

The sign was, presumably, the first and last of its kind.

50km from the Syrian border

50km from the Syrian border

Written by M. James

March 23, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Posted in Politics, Turkey

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Of mortar rounds and minor details

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I recently posted about the latest big news item: a mortar attack from Syria and Turkey’s backlash—a parliamentary mandate authorizing military action across the Syrian border.

The story was, of course, nonsense. Bashar al-Assad has no reason to send mortar rounds into Turkish villages. Thankfully, The Telegraph printed the more likely, and less news-friendly, explanation (here):

An online video purporting to be from Jabhat al-Nusra, a jihadist group accused of ties to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility.

So, more likely, it was just strategic provocation by jihadist rebels. A minor detail, by NATO’s standards.

More on the al-Nusra Front.

Written by M. James

October 5, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

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Turkish parliament affirms border integrity

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Turkey approves military operations in Syria
Al Jazeera; October 4th, 2012

Turkey’s parliament has authorised cross-border military action against Syria, if deemed necessary by the government.

The mandate, valid for one year, was passed by 320 votes in the 550-seat Turkish parliament, the Anatolia news agency reported on Thursday.

Besir Atalay, Turkey’s deputy prime minister, said authorising the use of force in Syria was not a declaration of war but was intended as a deterrent.

The vote came as Turkey resumed shelling Syrian government military positions on Thursday morning in retaliation for a mortar attack which landed over its border in southeastern Turkey killing five of its citizens – a woman and four children from the same family.

“The Syrian side has admitted what it did and apologised,” Atalay told reporters.

Turkish state media said that the attacks by artillery units based in the border town of Akcakale were continuing.

Several Syrian troops were killed as a result of overnight Turkish shelling at a base near the Syrian border town of Tal al-Abyad, a UK-based Syrian activist group said.

An aide to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, said on Thursday that his country had no intention of declaring war on Syria, pointing out that the shelling – now in its second day – should be seen as a “warning” to the authorities in Damascus.

Written by M. James

October 4, 2012 at 9:06 am

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

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Turkey: sectarian leanings?

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As Turkey becomes the leader in a newly-democratized Sunni-majority Middle East, events like this may become more common (here):

Iraq’s fugitive Sunni vice president, who was sentenced to death on charges of masterminding the murder of rivals, has said the Turkish foreign minister has assured him that he stands by him after the sentencing.

“[Ahmet] Davutoğlu called me and said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m with you’,” Tariq al-Hashemi told Turkish Habertürk TV in an interview on Tuesday. “I will never forget this,” the vice president added.

Hashemi fled to Turkey after Iraq’s Shiite-led government issued the charges against him in December, the day after US troops withdrew from the country. He would receive a retrial if he agrees to return to Baghdad, but the vice president has refused, saying he will never get a fair hearing in a Baghdad court.

The next day, NINA reported that Iraq responded by hitting Turkey where it hurts:

Baghdad / NINA /– Trade Ministry announced stopping giving permission or licenses for Turkish companies and stopped enrolling in the registration of its subsidiaries.

But if all goes well, Turkish construction companies—well-represented in Iraq—will soon have plenty of contracts to rebuild from the rubble in post-revolution Syria.

Written by M. James

September 13, 2012 at 4:17 am

Turkey has “direct” responsibility for Syrian crisis

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Embattled Assad says he needs time to ‘win’ war of attrition
Today’s Zaman; August 29th, 2012

“What is taking place (in Syria) is neither a revolution, nor a spring. It is a conspiracy,” he said, alluding to the Arab Spring revolutions that have topped authoritarian regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

Assad paid tribute to his supporters at home, saying they stood steadfastly behind him, and also praised the armed forces.

But he criticized the leaders of onetime ally Turkey.

“The state of Turkey bears direct responsibility for the blood being shed in Syria.”

Written by M. James

August 30, 2012 at 3:20 am

The new trend in Turkish-Iranian relations

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As the Syrian crisis has progressed, I have found it instructive to recall, at intervals, the words of a particular regional expert from October 2011 (here):

In his first interview with a Western journalist since Syria’s seven-month uprising began, President Assad told The Sunday Telegraph that intervention against his regime could cause “another Afghanistan”. Western countries “are going to ratchet up the pressure, definitely,” he said. “But Syria is different in every respect from Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen. The history is different. The politics is different.

“Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake … Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans?

“Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region.”

One of the divisions is already becoming apparent as Turkey and Iran start fighting over influence in the new Syria (here):

A series of unusually sharp statements over the past several days from both Turkey and Iran have brought relations between the two neighbors — which have kept improving until recently even at the expense of angering Turkey’s NATO ally the United States — to what one may call a historic low.

Turkey hit back with a harsh statement at recent remarks from Iranian officials, including the country’s chief of General Staff who has said that “it will be its turn” if Turkey continues to “help advance the warmongering policies of the United States in Syria.” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called comments by Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi “regrettable” and denied his country has meddled in Syrian affairs.

Read more.

Written by M. James

August 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

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