What Ankara Knows

By Ramzy Baroud

“Even despots, gangsters and pirates have specific sensitiveness, (and) follow some specific morals.”

The claim was made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a recent speech, following the deadly commando raid on the humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza on May 31. According to Erdogan, Israel doesn’t adhere to the code of conduct embraced even by the vilest of criminals.

The statement alone indicates the momentous political shift that’s currently underway in the Middle East. While the shift isn’t entirely new, one dares to claim it might now be a lasting one. To borrow from Erdogan’s own assessment of the political fallout that followed Israel’s raid, the damage is “irreparable.”

Countless analyses have emerged in the wake of the long-planned and calculated Israeli attack on the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, which claimed the lives of nine, mostly Turkish peace activists.

In “Turkey’s Strategic U-Turn, Israel’s Tactical Mistakes,” published in the Israeli daily Haaretz, Ofra Bengio suggested Turkey’s position was purely strategic. But he also chastised Israel for driving Turkey further and faster “toward the Arab and Muslim worlds.”

In this week’s Zaman, a Turkish publication, Bulent Kenes wrote: “As a result of the Davos (where the Turkish prime minister stormed out of a televised discussion with Israeli President Shimon Peres, after accusing him and Israel of murder), the myth that Israel is untouchable was destroyed by Erdogan, and because of that Israel nurses a hatred for Turkey.”

In fact, the Davos incident is significant not because it demonstrates that Israel can be criticized, but rather because it was Turkey — and not any other easily dismissible party — that dared to voice such criticism.

Writing in the Financial Times under the title, “Erdogan turns to face East in a delicate balancing act,” David Gardner places Turkey’s political turn within a European context. He sums up that thought in a quote uttered by no other than Robert Gates, US defense secretary: “If there is anything to the notion that Turkey is moving Eastward, it is in no small part because it was pushed, and pushed by some in Europe refusing to give Turkey the kind of organic link to the West that Turkey sought.” But what many analysts missed was the larger political and historical context, not only as pertaining to Israel and Turkey, but to the whole region and all its players, including the US itself. Only this context can help us understand the logic behind Israel’s seemingly erratic behavior.

In 1996, Israeli leaders appeared very confident. A group of neoconservative American politicians had laid out a road map for Israel to ensure complete dominance over the Middle East. In the document entitled, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” Turkey was mentioned four times. Each reference envisaged the country as a tool to “contain, destabilize, and roll back some of .. (the) most dangerous threats” to Israel. That very “vision” in fact served as the backbone of the larger strategy used by the US, as it carried out its heedless military adventures in the Middle East.

Frustrated by the American failure to reshape the region and unquestioningly eliminate anything and everything that Israel might perceive as a threat, Israel took matters into its own hands. However, in 2006 and between 2008 and 2009, it was up for major surprises. Superior firepower doesn’t guarantee military victory. More, while Israel had once more demonstrated its capacity to inflict untold damage on people and infrastructure, the Israeli weapon was no longer strategically effective. In other words, Israel’s military advantage could no longer translate into political gains, and this was a game-changer.

There are many issues the Israeli leadership has had to wrangle with in recent years. The US, Israel’s most faithful benefactor, is now on a crisis management mode in Iraq and Afghanistan, struggling on all fronts, whether political, military or economic. That recoil has further emboldened Israel’s enemies, who are no longer intimidated by the American bogyman. Israel’s desperate attempt at using its own military to achieve its grand objectives has also failed, and miserably so.
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USA, Israel and India are a pestilence upon the world

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by Asif Haroon Raja

In violation to international law, Bush administration heavy with neo-cons chalked out a policy in 2002 of unilateralism, shock and awe and pre-emption against a state whenever the US felt that its strategic interests were being harmed.

Threat perception also included non-state actors like Al-Qaeda or states harboring or assisting stateless elements. This policy framework got a shot in the arm when Al-Qaeda started to hurl threats that it would strike at US targets within or outside USA whenever opportunity came its way. Strategy of pre-emption was conceived with eye on Iraq and its oilfields and to retain US unchallenged uni-polarism.

Accordingly false story of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was fabricated and drummed up with full vigor. In order to justify the invasion, people of America and western world were frightened into believing that WMD had to be instantly taken control of before those could be used against western interests. None questioned Bush as to why he was risking the lives of American troops and coalition forces when he knew that the enemy was linked with Al-Qaeda and had WMD.

While the sole super power is consuming all its energies to browbeat outfits like al-Qaeda and Taliban for nearly 9 years, and trying to destabilize third world countries like Pakistan and Iran at the cost of its economy, prestige and credibility, Russia and China are busy expanding their influence globally and consolidating their economic gains. China has achieved astounding economic growth despite global recession and is modernizing its armed forces at a fast rate.

Russia too is feverishly engaged in reconstructing its armed forces after it achieved economic recovery. As a consequence, the two countries have surged ahead in the economic race and have also established their credibility on sound footing.

Economically hard pressed and debt ridden countries in particular have begun to veer towards China and Russia and are distancing from untrustworthy America, known for ditching its allies and too obsessed with self interests. Other reasons of US loss of face and credibility are its habit of applying sanctions upon states refusing to tow its line, offering aid on stringent conditions, influencing IMF and World Bank to make the countries seeking loans debt ridden for life, indulging in secret wars to destabilize regimes or bringing a regime change, stealing resources, over dependence on Israel and India, imposing self subscribed democracy in Muslim countries and pursuing dual-faced policies.

The US has no well defined and sound exit strategy from Afghanistan. It relies on force and high hopes which are wishful. The US military planners are still very optimistic that with two troop surges they will be able to sufficiently weaken the Taliban’s fighting potential and force them to come to the negotiating table. They fantasize that Karzai regime which is hated by Afghans would be able to win back majority of Taliban through reintegration and reconciliation policy. It is preposterous and hyperbolic and far from ground realities. On one hand the US invite Taliban to join puppet regime and on the other vicious attacks are launched against them in towns and cities inhabited by peace loving civilians who are forced to act as human shields by the ones trying to throw out occupiers as well as by the attackers who use them as informers and guides. It is the unarmed civilians who receive the major brunt of the crossfire and are the worst sufferers. It is they who are accused by the Taliban as American spies and by the latter as collaborators. Pashtun Afghans hate occupation forces and respect the Taliban waging a Jihad against aggressors who have made their lives miserable.

Reasons which compelled Obama to take the bitter decision to quit Afghanistan were mounting opposition against futile war on terror which had no ending, demand for return of forces by home audience and western countries, sinking morale of coalition troops, corrupt and inept Karzai regime, utterly weak position of ANA and Afghan police, melting economy of USA with little hope of recovery, ever increasing expenses of war in two theatres and debt liabilities crossing over $3 trillions, national debt jumping to $ 13 trillion, rising anti-Americanism, challenges posed by assertive Russia and China, growing power of Taliban, al-Qaeda becoming a global threat. His much touted healthcare has come under clouds due to financial constraints while his efforts to revitalize financial system, enfeebled by global recession have also been hampered by Republicans. Read more of this post

Does Israel rule the world?

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by Linda S. Heard, Gulf News

With many of the major powers bowing to Tel Aviv, those aboard the Freedom Flotilla should be praised for risking their lives

Why are so many nations bending to Israel's will or staying silent on its crimes? What is it about this minuscule country that enables it to have so much control on decisions made by larger and more powerful nations? Image Credit: Guillermo munro/©Gulf News

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Yesterday, the Israeli military attacked and boarded one of the Turkish aid ships sailing to Gaza as part of a flotilla, killing 19 and injuring many more. As this occurred in international waters, it is not only an act of piracy but could also be construed as an ‘act of war’. This attack on unarmed civilian men and women illustrates the moral depths to which the Jewish state has sunk. An Al Jazeera reporter on board the vessel says the Israelis fired live bullets even after a white flag was hoisted. This atrocity and the potential fall-out should merit loud condemnation from the international community … but don’t hold your breath! We have yet to witness the extent of Turkey’s response.

Why are so many nations bending to Israel’s will or staying silent on its crimes? What is it about this minuscule country that enables it to have so much control on decisions made by larger and more powerful nations? It refuses to abide by international laws and treaties. It illegally occupies great swathes of Palestinian land and it’s imposing an illegal blockade on Gaza. Moreover, it is the only country that could get away with assassinating its enemies on foreign soil.

If any other country or territory with a smaller population than New York behaved as outrageously as Israel, it would be isolated, boycotted and, perhaps, even invaded. Yet, Israel gets away with ignoring a long list of UN Security Council resolutions — as opposed to Saddam’s Iraq, which was invaded, plundered and occupied on those same grounds.

Israel has a stockpile of undeclared nuclear weapons and, as documentation recently released by Pretoria confirms, was prepared to sell nuclear warheads and technology to South Africa during apartheid; a reality that counters US claims that Israel is a responsible democracy that would never supply weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to rogue states. Iran, on the other hand, which does not have nuclear weapons — and, unlike Israel, is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) — is being subjected to UN sanctions.

Last Friday, all 189 signatories to the NPT — including the US — agreed to hold a conference during 2012 “on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons …” Sounds good! President Barack Obama has espoused the idea of a nuclear-free Middle East. The entire Arab world has been pushing for a nuclear-free Middle East and Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has long called for a nuclear-free region.

But wait! The usual suspect, Israel, is none too pleased because it believes it is being singled out. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described the call as “deeply flawed and hypocritical”, while his office has issued a statement that reads: “As a non-signatory state of the NPT, Israel is not obligated by the decisions of this conference, which has no authority over Israel”.

No surprise there! But then Obama promptly does an about-turn, saying, “We strongly oppose efforts to single-out Israel and will oppose actions that jeopardise Israel’s security”. His message begs the question, how on earth can the region ever be free of nuclear weapons if Israel is kept out of the equation when it is the only nuclear country in the area? Read more of this post

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