A major misstep in bloggers talking about the political upheaval in Turkey is assuming, without much historical or contemporary political context, that this ‘libertarian,’ ‘anarchist,’ or even ‘Marxist’ in nature. I don’t see how anyone can make that leap without knowing much about Turkey’s modern history, or being familiar with Turkish politics and current events. I am do not know much about Turkey and even I think some of the ideological spin on these events is coming off as bit silly.
At first glance the death of Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Saudi crown prince, seems to open a void at the top of the royal family.
He is the second crown prince to die in less than a year, his predecessor, Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, died in October of an unspecified illness.
Perhaps more importantly, the interior ministry is now leaderless for the first time in decades. Nayef was appointed interior minister in 1975, and held the post until his death, which was announced on Saturday.
The prince’s portfolio gave him outsize influence over not just internal security, but also regional affairs. He presided over the kingdom’s sprawling security services and was a key architect of Saudi policy in Yemen and Bahrain.
Analysts, though, say the talk of a leadership void is inflated.
Nayef’s death might make some royals nervous about the order of succession, with his likely successor, the 76-year-old Prince Salman, already having suffered at least one stroke.
But many of his policies have key backers elsewhere in the royal family, not least of which is his son, an assistant interior minister.
“The key with all of these things is Saudi likes to ensure stability and ensure things go on a track they can predict well into the future,” said Michael Stephens, a researcher at the Royal United Services Institute in Qatar.
“And they would have thought about whether Nayef was going to die or not. It explains why Salman was moved up the line so quickly in the last few months.”
Nayef presided over security services which employ more than 130,000 people. Their main task, under his leadership, has been to stamp out perceived threats to the royal family.
He won favour in the West for cracking down on al-Qaeda, though he did so somewhat reluctantly.
Nayef initially refused to believe that the September 11 attacks were carried out by Saudis (15 of the 19 hijackers were from the kingdom).
He described the attacks as a Jewish plot, and held a news conference in which he announced that Saudi Arabia was “being framed”.
The prince’s attitude would change several years later, when al-Qaeda began to carry out a wave of bombings across Saudi Arabia.
The group had become a threat to the royal family, and Nayef cracked down hard. Hundreds of people were arrested and killed, and al-Qaeda’s operations in Saudi were largely curtailed.
That policy will likely survive his death. His son, Mohammed bin Nayef, is the assistant interior minister for counterterrorism, and runs many of the ministry’s day-to-day operations. (Mohammed was targeted by a suicide bomber in Jeddah in 2009.)
Even if his son does not take over the ministry - the top job could go to Prince Ahmed, who was Nayef’s deputy - he will continue to play a leading role behind the scenes.
“Even if Prince Ahmed was to become the interior minister, I think to be honest the ministry in terms of its workings would still be Mohammed bin Nayef’s,” Stephens said. “In some ways it’s not really going to make a huge difference because it was bin Nayef who initiated many of the recent reforms, and not his father.”
Nayef also carved out huge influence in regional policy. Neighbours like Yemen and Bahrain are close enough to be considered part of his portfolio.
After Sultan’s death, Nayef took responsibility for much of the kingdom’s policy in Yemen, where it supports the central government and buys the support of tribal sheikhs via a vast patronage network.
He was a vocal supporter of the Sunni monarchy in Bahrain, which has spent the last 18 months suppressing pro-democracy protests led by the country’s Shia majority.
Neither of these policies is Nayef’s brainchild. Saudi has long propped up the government in Sanaa, and it spent much of the last decade waging an on-again, off-again war against Shia fighters in northern Yemen.
And the kingdom’s policy in Bahrain has been blessed by King Abdullah: When Saudi sent troops to Bahrain in March 2011 to help crush the uprising, they sent the National Guard, which is commanded by Prince Mutaib, the king’s most powerful son.
Nayef’s death does remove one of the most hidebound figures in the Saudi royal hierarchy, which may create some breathing space for domestic reforms. He opposed almost any change to the kingdom’s deeply conservative laws, like granting women the right to drive.
He told a conference of clerics last year that he would “never sway from and never compromise on” Saudi Arabia’s strict interpretation of Wahhabi Islam.
“He didn’t tolerate any opposition to the state, any freedom of expression,” said Khalid al-Dakhil, a Saudi political analyst and until recently a professor at King Saud University. ”He was adamant in this issue.”
Nayef took an expansive view of “opposition to the state,” and he directed his security forces at reformists as well as any hardline opposition.
In one notorious incident, Nayef met with a small group of dissidents in 2003, and told them he rejected then-Crown Prince Abdullah’s offer to hold a dialogue with the opposition.
“What we won by the sword, we will keep by the sword,” he told them, according to participants in the 2003 meeting.
True to his word, within a year, several leaders of the reform movement had been arrested for their activities.
‘Suspicious of the Brotherhood’
In terms of foreign policy, Nayef was perhaps the prince most hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood, currently an ascendant political force in Egypt and other countries caught up in the Arab uprising.
“He was known for his animosity towards the MB,” said Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi, an analyst and commentator based in the UAE.
“He said in 2002 that radicalisation … that all of our problems, came from the Muslim Brotherhood. He was very, very much suspicious and skeptical of the Brotherhood.”
Nayef did not help relations with the Brotherhood last year when he welcomed Omar Suleiman, the longtime Egyptian intelligence chief and the Brotherhood’s chief antagonist, at an official reception during the Hajj pilgrimage.
“We’ll see the Muslim Brotherhood issue a statement of condolences [over his death], but inside they will be breathing a sigh of relief,” al-Qassemi said.
But these divisions will remain after his death. The Saudi royal family has long been divided between conservatives, like Nayef, and “reformists,” like the king, who favour incremental changes.
And the House of Saud has long been hostile towards political Islam, which it views as a threat to its own dominance.
“It’s true that Salman doesn’t share the same concerns as Nayef does,” al-Dakhil said. “But Nayef wasn’t the only one with these views.”
Praying for the of people Israel or Palestine isn’t a defense of government policy or terrorist organizations.
Too bad the people threatening to kill Kim Kardashian didn’t know that:
Turkish armed forces have launched artillery attacks against Syria in response to a Syrian mortar strike, which has killed five members of the same family in southeastern Turkey.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, said the attacks, carried out following radar tracking, were within the rules of engagement.
Western officials, from Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO secretary-general, to Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, have condemned the attack that struck a house in the southeastern border town of Akcakale.
Clinton said the White House was “outraged” by the “very dangerous situation” created by the attack.
Witnesses said policemen have also been injured in the shelling, which originated only kilometres away from the Syrian border.
Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, briefed Ban Ki-Moon, UN chief, on the situation shortly word of the attack reached Ankara.
Martin Nesirky, Ban’s spokesperson, issued a statement in response to the attack saying: “The secretary-general expressed his condolences at the tragic loss of life and encouraged the minister to keep open all channels of communication with the Syrian authorities with a view to lessening any tension that could build up as a result of the incident”.
Davutoglu also spoke to Lakhdar Brahimi, joint UN-Arab League special representative, about the military retaliation.
Earlier on Wednesday, four blasts struck a government-controlled district close to a military officers’ club in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, killing dozens and wounding more than 100, opposition activists said.
“A medical source said that at least 40 people were killed and 90 injured,” the UK-based watchdog group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.
“Most of them were regime troops.”
Meanwhile, official television channel Al-Ikhbariya said 31 people were killed and dozens wounded.
The attacks within minutes of each other struck the main Saadallah al-Jabiri Square near a military officers’ club and a hotel.
Syrian state television reported of “terrorist explosions” in the city.
Al Jazeera’s Rula Amin, reporting from Beirut in neighbouring Lebanon, said there was still no clear claim of responsibility for the attacks.
“Fighting between the government forces and the rebels continue, but no one is making any progress. The civilians are paying the price for it.”
Aleppo, Syria’s commercial hub and largest city, has seen intensified fighting between regime forces and rebels trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad, especially after the fighters launched a new offensive last week.
Aleppo-based activist Mohammad Saeed said the explosions went off minutes apart at one of the city’s main squares.
He said the blasts appear to have been caused by car bombs and were followed by clashes and heavy gunfire.
Possible suicide bombings
In a statement, the SOHR said the explosions went off following a clash between guards at the military club and armed men, suggesting the attacks may have been suicide bombings.
Suicide and car bombings targeting security agencies and soldiers have become common in Syria, particularly in the capital, Damascus, during the course of the 18-month-uprising against Assad.
But such bombings have been rare in Aleppo, which was spared the mayhem that struck other Syrian cities during the first year of the revolt.
Then, in February, two suicide car bombers hit security compounds in Aleppo’s industrial centre, killing 28 people.
Nationwide, at least 104 people were killed on Tuesday, 57 civilians, 26 soldiers and 21 rebels, the SOHR said.
Among them were civilians hit by intense shelling from the army against rebel-held areas of Damascus.
Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy, is due back in the region this week to try to revive talks aimed at ending the bloodshed, officials said.
Jan Eliasson, Ban’s deputy, said he did not know if Brahimi would be able to enter Syria, but hoped to persuade the Assad regime to “go in the direction of a reduction of violence”.
The uprising against Assad that erupted in March 2011 ago has gradually morphed into a bloody civil war.
The conflict has killed more than 30,000 people, activists say, and has devastated entire neighbourhoods in Syria’s main cities, including Aleppo.
SANA, Yemen (Reuters) — Nearly half of Yemenis go to bed hungry as political instability compounds a surge in global food and fuel prices, giving Yemen the world’s third-highest rate of child malnutrition, the World Food Program said Sunday.
Yemen has been in turmoil since the revolt last year against Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had ruled for more than three decades. Already weak state control in outlying regions broke down as the army split into pro- and anti-Saleh factions and Al Qaeda militants occupied some areas.
The country has to import most of its food needs because of a paucity of arable land, and the rise in food and fuel prices has hit it badly, a World Food Program spokesman, Barry Came, said.
“Five million people, or 22 percent of the population, can’t feed themselves or buy enough to feed themselves,” Mr. Came said. “These are mostly landless laborers, so they don’t grow their own food, and with high food prices they can’t buy it either.”
“There is another 5 million who are being really hard hit by high food prices and on the edge of being food insecure,” he said. “So 10 million people in this country go to bed hungry every night.”
The number of people receiving daily food rations from the United Nations agency has risen to more than 3.8 million from 1.2 million in January, but poor infrastructure and fear of kidnappings have complicated the logistics of providing food aid.
“They are really hit by fuel and food price rises,” Mr. Came said, “but there’s also political instability, conflict, terrorist activity and huge population displacement. Without political security and stability you can’t solve the problem.”
Thirteen percent of children were now acutely malnourished as a result of the political and economic strains of the past year, giving Yemen, which has a population of 24 million, the third-highest rate of child malnutrition in the world, Mr. Came said.
Mr. Saleh was forced to stand down in February after more than 2,000 people had died. Mr. Came said that there were now 500,000 internally displaced Yemenis after the fight with militants in the south and Mr. Saleh’s 2009-10 war against Shiite rebels.
International donors pledged $1.46 billion in aid to the country at a meeting in New York on Thursday. The donors, including China, France, Russia, Britain and the United States, as well as Gulf Arab states, had already promised $6.4 billion.
Russia and China back the Syrian Baathist regime to kill its own citizens of whom may have nothing to do with the Free Syrian Army or the Al Qaeda operatives within Syrian borders, but they want to try to hold some moral high ground over the United States and its allies for backing the oppositions.
Their hypocrites and dicks. Anyone defending either camp is a silly statist.
I hate it when assclown reporters kiss leading democratic party leaders’ asses.
Deh’Subz, Afghanistan (CNN) — Terrorists will stop at nothing to keep Afghan girls from receiving an education.
“People are crazy,” said Razia Jan, founder of a girls’ school outside Kabul. “The day we opened the school, (on) the other side of town, they threw hand grenades in a girls’ school, and 100 girls were killed.
There were at least 185 documented attacks on schools and hospitals in Afghanistan last year, according to the United Nations. The majority were attributed to armed groups opposed to girls’ education.
“It is heartbreaking to see the way these terrorists treat … women,” said Jan, 68. “In their eyes, a women is an object that they can control. They are scared that when these girls get an education, they will become aware of their rights as women and as a human being.”
Despite the threat of violence, Jan continues to open the doors of her Zabuli Education Center, a two-story, 14-room building where 354 area girls are receiving a free education.
“Most of the (local) men and women are illiterate,” Jan said. “Most of our students are the first generation of girls to get educated.”
Seven small villages make up Deh’Subz, where the school is located. Though Deh’Subz is not Taliban-controlled, Jan has still found it difficult to change the deep-rooted stigma against women’s education.
On the evening before the school opened in 2008, four men paid her a visit.
“They said, ‘This is your last chance … to change this school into a boys’ school, because the backbone of Afghanistan is our boys,’ ” Jan recalled. “I just turned around and I told them, ‘Excuse me. The women are the eyesight of Afghanistan, and unfortunately you all are blind. And I really want to give you some sight.’ “
Jan has not seen the men since.
“You can’t be afraid of people,” she said. “You have to be able to say ‘no.’ Maybe because I’m old, the men are kind of scared of me, and they don’t argue with me.”
The Zabuli Education Center teaches kindergarten through eighth grade. Without her school, Jan says, many of the students would not be able to receive an education.
“When we opened the school in 2008 and I had these students coming to register, 90% of them could not write their name. And they were 12- and 14-year-old girls,” Jan said. “Now, they all can read and write.”
Jan’s school teaches math, science, religion and three languages: English, Farsi and Pashto. It recently added a computer lab with Internet access.
“They can touch the world just sitting in this house,” Jan said. “The knowledge is something that nobody can steal from them.”
To shield the students from attacks, Jan has built a new stone wall to surround the school. She also employs staff and guards who serve as human guinea pigs of sorts.
“The principal and the guard, they test the water every day,” Jan said. “They will drink from the well. If it’s OK, they’ll wait. … Then they’ll fill (the) coolers and bring it to the classroom.”
Jan says she is so scared of poisoning that school staff members accompany children to the bathroom and make sure the children don’t drink water from the faucet. Additionally, the day guard arrives early each morning to check for any gas or poison that might be leaked inside the classrooms. The guard opens doors and windows and checks the air quality before any children are allowed to enter.
“People are so much against girls getting educated,” Jan said. “So we have to do these precautions.”
Born in Afghanistan in the 1940s, Jan traveled to the United States in 1970 to attend college. Much of her family was killed or fled Afghanistan during the Russian invasion. She stayed in the U.S., raised a son and opened a small tailoring business. She became an American citizen in 1990.
Jan was always involved in various philanthropic efforts and community organizations in Duxbury, Massachusetts. She worked for many years to forge connections between Afghans and Americans.
Then the events of September 11 shook her to the core.
“I was really affected personally by what happened to the innocent in the U.S.,” she said. “It’s something that you cannot imagine for a human being to do to other human beings.”
Almost overnight, Jan turned her small store into a workshop and launched an exhaustive campaign to help victims, first responders, U.S. soldiers and Afghan children. Jan and community volunteers sent 400 homemade blankets to rescue workers at ground zero and assembled and shipped nearly 200 care packages for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. When she heard that U.S. soldiers needed shoes to distribute to Afghan children, Jan and her volunteers sent them more than 30,000 boxes of shoes.
Still, in the back of her mind was a bigger dream. On a visit to her homeland in 2002, she noticed that women and girls were struggling from years of Taliban control.
“I saw that the girls had been the most oppressed,” she said. “The Taliban regime was very brutal, brutal in the way that the woman had no place in their book. The woman had no right. No say in anything.”
Jan said that while her life in America was fulfilling and rich, her dream was “to do something for Afghanistan and to educate the girls.”
So in 2004, she began searching for land on which to build a school. In 2005, she began fundraising through her Massachusetts-based nonprofit, Razia’s Ray of Hope. Then, on a visit to Afghanistan, Jan was able to negotiate with the Ministry of Education to secure the land where the Zabuli Education Center now stands.
“After five years now, (the men) are shoulder to shoulder with me, which is such a great thing,” Jan said. “It’s unbelievable how much they are proud of the girls.”
The school is entirely free. Jan says it costs $300 to teach each girl for an entire year. Those fees are covered by donations to her nonprofit.
Although she isn’t there every day of the week, Jan spends as much time at the school as possible. She meets with her students’ fathers and grandfathers two or three times a year to address any issues and make sure she still has their buy-in. She also deals with community elders and locals to ensure that the school has local support.
Jan, who takes no money for her work with the school, believes the education her students receive will benefit not only future generations of Afghan women but the country as a whole.
“My school is very small. It’s nothing big. But for this to start here, I think it’s like a fire. And I think it will grow,” she said.
“I hope that one day these girls … will come back and teach, because I’m not going to be there all my life. I want to make this school something that will last 100 years from now.”
Want to get involved? Check out the Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation website at www.raziasrayofhope.org and see how to help.
RT.com doesn’t seem like legitimate news source to me. I am reading through some of their articles which are slanted toward the Baathist regime in Syria (aligning with Putin’s foreign policy aims), and their coverage of Russia’s campaign in Georgia in 2008 was unashamedly supportive of Putin in that intervention.
I am thinking Antiwar, Reason, Al Jazeera, Mises, the Guardian, BBC News, and the Telegraph are just better sources all around.
It seems kind of fuzzy to me because two of the libertarians news sites I listed always cover abuse of government authority. I could be wrong.