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05 October 2012


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Alba Etie

What is the end game for the Turkish government in its support of the wahabee salafist agenda ? Is it the destruction of Iran ? Is it a resurgent neo Ottoman empire? How likely is it given the active role in supporting the FSA that France & UK have demonstrated will NATO become involved if the Turkish leadership decides to intervene in Syria ? Will this be the "October" surprise that is oft mentioned in our election season? Would a Romney administration be more amenable to a regional war in ME & SW Asia then the current administration ? This is total madness- do we really wish to risk war with Russia & China ?

Clifford Kiracofe

Good questions. The Turkish Foreign Minister, Professor Davutaglu, promotes what some call neo-Ottomanism.

"His publications include Alternative Paradigms: The Impact of Islamic and Western Weltanschauungs on Political Theory, The Civilizational Transformation and The Muslim World in English, Stratejik Derinlik (Strategic Depth), and Küresel Bunalım (The Global Crisis) in Turkish. Especially his book Strategic Depth is a very influential book in Turkey's foreign policy orientation. He is very influential in the military, academic, and government triangle shaping Turkish foreign policy."(WIKI entry)

Here is a list in Arabic with rough English translation of terrorist orgs said to be waging jihad against Syria and their operational zones:

The regime change policy and support for Wahhabi and Salafi terrorist organizations is bi-partisan inside the Beltway. One would expect Romney with his bevy of Neocons to be more aggressive. His advisors are among those who gave us the Iraq War. With the new de-listing of the MEK as a terrorist organization some might conclude that the US has become a terrorist sponsoring state.

But not to worry, the administration has just nominated Cheryl Saban, wife of the Israeli media mogual Haim Saban, as US representative to the upcoming UN General Assembly. No doubt she can explain US policy to the international community assembled there. She and her husband give millions to the "Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces" org.


"What is the end game for the Turkish government in its support of the wahabee salafist agenda ? "


Charles I

Clifford, as always, thanks for the background.

It would seem amongst all players on "our" side of the great divide there is a settled acceptance of the continued existence and influence of the House of Saud, Whahabbism, Israel & the Gulf States, while everything else is mutable and illegitimate. Well funded chaos all around Turkey and its natural regional aspirations, the latter some say heightened by the never-ending EU accession prep demands, makes for many imperatives to be deeply involved in disparate fields that obscure and derange steady strategic policy.

The recent conviction of 350 Generals last weeks must surely play into domestic calculations on foreign relations as well.

On another front, there was a large peaceful demonstration in Jordan this week, in response to a call from the MB for protest in the name of legislative reform.

One would hope Egypt, never mind the rest of us would respond to the mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, just as one imagines Israel imagining itself more latitude for opportune colonial entrenchment.

Interesting times.



RE: "do we really wish to risk war with Russia & China ?"

Perhaps they belittle & view insignificant whatever combined strength[s] they possess?

Babak Makkinejad

There are two fundamental weaknesses in these policies:

1- They are predicated on quick success
2- They are devoid of any positive content.

That is why I personally believe that they will fail to achieve their objectives - however impractical those objectives may have been.

In the meantime, plenty more will be dead.


Since red lines are the new black, what are Russia and China (and India and Brazil and South Africa) red lines?

Does Russia have one in an all-out Middle Eastern war - it doesn't need any oil? (Sorry about mention of oil). But China does need the old black.

According to AJP Taylor or someone 1914 turned from Serbia to wider horizons because of railway timetables. What are our new railway timetables?   

Clifford Kiracofe


The present Islamist government in Turkey is slowly and methodically purging the "secular" elements in the military and bureaucracy it would appear.

Per the EU accession thing, a French colleague once explained to me the view that the Continental lodges were for Turkish accession as a way to cut against the Vatican and Pope and Catholicism. Turkey has gone Islamist since, however. So presumably this complicates the matter.

There would seem to be a contradiction in having an Islamist Turkey in NATO. A secular Turkey Attaturk style is another matter. But NATO backing an Islamist Turkey today which is at the center of fomenting jihadi terrorism against Syria does raise issues. Turkey as a haven for jihadis in the region can also be used for infiltration and exfiltration into Europe.

As to Syria, it is interesting that the fate of Christians there is completely suppressed in the US and Euro media. I find some reports in the Vatican news service and specialized sources which are startling. There was a large group of Iraqi Christian refugess in Syria. Now the Syrian Christians themselves are at the receiving end of the jihadi terrorist orgs. But the pro-Israel US media cannot bring itself to tell this story which is not politically correct. Has Obama or Clinton or any politician in Washington said the least thing about Christians in the Middle East and the holocaust they have come under?


I'm sorry to have to say it, but it may be that part of Syrias troubles are indeed to do with oil, gas and geopolitics.

1. There appear to big gas fields, and perhaps oil, in the Eastern Mediterranean, in Greek, Cypriot, Turkish, Lebanese and Israeli waters. As you would expect, this is already creating tensions between Greece and Turkey. There appears to be manoeuvring going on by oil companies, including American companies, over exploration and development rights and there is a direct link between all said companies and their respective Governments.

2. There is a desire by Europe to diversify its energy supplies away from Gazprom and Russia who have Europe by the short and curlies at present. Part of this strategy involves pipelines from Central Asian and Iranian gas fields to the Mediterranean to bypass Russia.

It is not hard to see that temptations to meddle in the region are strong.




You are right, the resource envy school of historical explication is boring. I suppose that there is some corner of this world in which there are not resources now in evidence or yet to be found where economic determinism would not apply. pl

Charles I

Let us forget that many Palestinians are Christians, nobody defends them either, not even when criticizing Hamas in Gaza, its all about the rockets.

Another Palestinian fisherman was murdered by the IDF for getting too close to the border fence on the Gaza beach last week.

Alba Etie

Mr Kiracofe,
Should there be a concern that with the purges of the secular Generals that Turkey could go full bore Islamist Republic ?,. In the current political climate is there enough diversity & democracy in Turkey to mitigate the neo Ottomanism ascension to power ? And given the recent reported high level diplomatic visits between Turkey & Egypt should there be a concern for a more Pan Wahabee/salafist revival in the Arab Spring states & Turkey. I thought at one time Turkey was involved in an effort to counter balance al Shabah and other salafist groups in Somalia . Didn't al Shabah bomb a Turkish diplomatic mission there last year ?

Babak Makkinejad

Number 2 in your post above has no substance behind it.

That is like a balding fat middle-aged man wishing to have a flat belly and red sports car.

USSR and Russia never cut the flow of gas to Europe - not even in the darkest days of the Cold War.

Just another canard.

One number 1, that is just fiction.

Babak Makkinejad

An Iranian Jew - safely ensconed in California and past the military age - told me that he supported Israel attacking Iran, inspite of 25,000 Jews living in Iran.

Protestant Christains - the Champions of Israel - and others of their ilk do not care one whit about the Christians in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, and Lebanon.

After all, those Christians are not evangelicals for the most part - either Orthodox or Catholic.

Evidently, those people are irrelevant.

Ramallah was Christian city, now it is a Muslim.

Neil Richardson

"USSR and Russia never cut the flow of gas to Europe - not even in the darkest days of the Cold War."


Russia cut gas supplies to Ukraine on New Year's Day, saying it would pump only enough for customers further down the pipeline.

But then Moscow accused Ukraine of siphoning off gas intended for third countries and it restricted supplies even further.

Ukraine denied the claim, but the flow of Russian gas ceased completely on 7 January, leaving many European countries with major shortages.

The EU gets a quarter of its gas supplies from Russia - 80% of which passes through Ukraine - and more than 15 countries across central Europe have been hit by the shutdown of Russian supplies.

Babak Makkinejad


I do not see Europeans flying to Tehran to conclude gas deals.

Neil Richardson


If you say so. I guess Putin didn't realize what the potential impact might have been in Europe before pulling the plug.

"I do not see Europeans flying to Tehran to conclude gas deals."

Irrelevant. The question is whether one accepts the existence of economic statecraft on the part of Russia (or any significant state). Intentions *and* capabilities matter when assessing security risks.


Al-Mayadeen network reported a few hours ago that a hezbollah unmanned drone entered 100 km into israeli airspace.

Babak Makkinejad

Look, if Europeans felt so threatened by the potential for Russia cutting off their gas, they would have tried to find alternatives.

They are not, ergo this is a canard.

Economic statecraft is duely demonstrated by EU againt Iran.

I stand by what I have stated; a canard by any other name.

Clifford Kiracofe

"Homs (Agenzia Fides) - The Christian communities in Syria, after repeated violence suffered by armed gangs, often jihadist groups, have begun to organize, in different locations, "popular dissuasive committees", formed by young armed Christians, who seek to prevent banditry and violence and defend their neighborhoods. Christian communities have suffered abuse, kidnapping, rape, murder, theft, violations of property in the "Valley of the Christians" (Western Syria), in the center of Aleppo, in the area of Damascus "Jaramana", in other villages such as Qusayr and Rableh (in the area of Homs). Despite repeated appeals of Syrian Bishops who have repeatedly urged the faithful not to "take up arms" and to "be patient", these defensive groups have begun to form especially within greek orthodox and Armenian communities, who "felt the need to defend themselves. " As sources of Fides in Syria explain, "it is not militia fighters or combatant groups, but only groups of guards who monitor and ensure the safety of Christian areas."
Meanwhile, the Syrian Catholic Archbishopric of Homs, in the al-Hamidiyah area, in the historic center of the city was set on fire. The Syrian Catholic Archbishop Georges Kassab, priests and faithful of the community have expressed their disdain to Fides "an unjustified act". On the night of September 13, report sources of Fides, a group of about ten unidentified militants broke into the building, closed and abandoned for months because of fighting between rebels and loyalist forces. Militants poured several cans of gasoline and then set it on fire, which seems "a revenge for unknown reasons." (PA) (Agenzia Fides 18/09/2012)"

In the US, mainstream denominations organize under Churches for Middle East Peace.

Clifford Kiracofe

August 2012, Christians under jihadi pressure:

"Christians throughout Syria are caught up in the battle between government forces and rebels, and the humanitarian emergency is deepening.

Last weekend Chaldean Catholic Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city and its commercial hub, told news agencies that “people are terrified and they fear a situation that is becoming more and more violent and uncertain”. According to Bishop Audo, tens of thousands of Aleppo’s citizens have already fled the war-torn areas, but those trapped in the crossfire are running out of food and basic supplies. “People are sleeping in schools, in parks,” he said, “and there is a great human need now.” Franciscan Fr George Abu Hazen, Apostolic Pro-Vicar of Aleppo, said terrified people were fleeing their homes, and the desperate members of the minority Christian community, which before the conflict began made up 25 per cent of the city’s two million population, were “praying with more devotion and faith”.

As in other cities across Syria, government forces in Aleppo are battling rebel troops set on bringing down the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which suffered a grievous blow earlier this week when the Prime Minister Riyad Hijab fled the country.

This week there was fighting in Bab Tuma and Bab Sharqi, two traditionally Christian districts of the capital, Damascus. Speaking from Damascus on Tuesday, Syria’s papal nuncio, Archbishop Mario Zenari, told The Tablet he would no longer give interviews about the situation because “it is all very delicate and difficult”. Tens of thousands of Syrians are seeking refuge in Lebanon. Fr Simon Faddoul, president of Caritas Lebanon, said last weekend that “the unofficial numbers could be well over 100,000”. "

"Bab Tuma (Arabic: باب توما, meaning: "Thomas’s Gate") is a borough of Old Damascus in Syria, one of the gates inside the historical walls of the city, and a geographic landmark of Early Christianity. It owes its name to Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ.

Famous residents included: Saint Paul the most notable of Early Christian missionaries (hence expressions such as “the road to Damascus experience”), Saint Thomas himself who after lending his name to the neighborhood went on to explore Afghanistan, Punjab and India, Saint Ananias, French writer Alphonse de Lamartine, Greek Orthodox theologian Saint Joseph of Damascus, founder of the Damascus Patriarcal School, Raphael Hawawini, known as Saint Raphael of Brooklyn, the first Orthodox Bishop of New York city (he was sent to the US in 1895 by the Czar of Russia), and Syrian-born philosopher Michel Aflaq, founder of the Ba'ath Party and ba'athist thought.

In the 16th century, following the occupation of Antioch and Alexandretta by Turkish troops, the borough of Bab Tuma became the seat of the Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic Churches for the Northern Levant (Syria, Lebanon and Southern Turkey)."

Neil Richardson

"Look, if Europeans felt so threatened by the potential for Russia cutting off their gas, they would have tried to find alternatives. They are not, ergo this is a canard."

They are doing just that even though it's a very difficult task. (See Directive 2009/119/EC and COM (2010) 639). The only canard I see here is yours. You've made categorical statements before that have been demonstrated as false. The Russians have never cut off the LNG supply. Now Europe isn't seeking possible alternatives. What's next? The EU/EC statements are plain enough. As others have noted MENA and Central Asian alternatives have been explored. Whether they succeed or not isn't the question.

"Economic statecraft is duely demonstrated by EU againt Iran."

And you've asked why the Europeans haven't yet flown to Tehran to negotiate a gas deal. Do you enjoy undermining your earlier points? One would think that logical consistency might be important in constructing an argument.

Babak Makkinejad

There is a saying in Persian: Heretic (Kafir) think eveyone else is of his Religion.

The sole expample that you have mentioned was caused by Ukraine's refusal to pay - EU states were not the target of the Russian Federation.

Indeed EU is engaged in waging economic war against Iran, thinking that others might do likewise to her.

This is a self-made problem for EU - establishing precedents and then worrying about the consequences.

And no, EU is not serious, there is no gas for EU from Central Asia - no matter what and how much they try to beat that dead horse.

Their sole alternative (excepting small amounts of gas from Algeria) was Iranian gas that they, and Russia, in their own different ways, eviscerated.

Clifford Kiracofe

Haim Saban's Saban Center at Brookings plan for Syria:


Haim's wife Cheryl was just appointed US Rep to the UN General Assembly. He owns Univision and they contribute heavily to pro-Israel causes, he being an Israeli.

Meanwhile, one of the leading foreign terrorist networks operating in Syria is reported to be the Libya Islamic Fighting Group, an AQ affiliate:

"The city of Aleppo has suffered heavily at the hands of NATO-backed terrorists, entire battalions of which consist of Libyan terrorists, not Syrian “freedom fighters” as the Western media attempts to repeatedly state. Libyan militants from the listed terror organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), are stationed, armed, and funded in NATO-member Turkey by Western and the Persian Gulf states of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, before crossing into northern Syria to carry out atrocities against the Syrian people under the guise of the so-called “Free Syrian Army.”

Alba Etie

Mr Richardson
Are you by chance the Neil Richardson that used to teach Government & World Affairs at University of Texas in the 1970's ? If you are I may have been one of your students .

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