But the unscheduled visit of a few hours late in the evening last Thursday to the Turkish capital of Ankara was a daunting mission to pin Turkey down to a favorable stance on the momentous developments in the region. Ankara, whose ties with Tehran dramatically improved in the recent past, had begun treading on the first circle of Saudi interests...
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had just characterized the Saudi intervention in Bahrain as "a new Karbala". The reference was to the battle that took place in 680 between the forces of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson Husain ibn Ali and Umayyad caliph Yazid II.
Erdogan demanded a withdrawal of the Saudi forces from Bahrain, whereas Riyadh visualized a prolonged military presence as the only guarantee against a Shi'ite takeover of power in Manama.
Faisal once lamented about his own legacy in a memorable interview with New York Times when he reportedly said:
We have not yet seen moments of joy in all that time [past 36 years] ... You see the amount of water, you think you can hold something in your hand, but it falls away. Sand is the same thing. So unless there is something to hold in your hand and to point to success and as an achievement, then you have done nothing.
Erdogan has since back-tracked from his Karbala statement. Two days later, Turkey force-landed an Iranian aircraft en route to Syria and confiscated materials that breached United Nations sanctions on Tehran - rocket launchers, mortars, Kalashnikov rifles and ammunition. A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said, "The plane was allowed to leave ... without the banned material." The point being stressed is an "incident" has occurred involving Tehran, and Turkish diplomatic practices are extremely sophisticated.
What emerges is that there has been a steady shift in the past week in the way in which the Turkish leadership is viewing the regional situation. Thus far, Turkey has done well by placing itself on the right side of history in the New Middle East. The Muslim Brotherhood's tacit equations with the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces, the Brotherhood's co-option of Salafis and its surge as the only organized force in the society and the resounding victory of the constitutional referendum (which the Brotherhood robustly backed) - these are positive trends as far as Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is concerned as they provide a new Islamic ideological basis for closer Turkish-Egyptian relations.
The Arab awakening seems to hold the potential to advance Erdogan's ambitious drive to secure for Turkey what his detractors call a "neo-Ottoman" leadership role in the region.
Libya, therefore, poses a challenge for Erdogan. First, the international community's intervention in Libya sets a precedent. It is not lost on Ankara that there are stirrings of mass protest in next-door Syria. Besides, Ankara realizes that international intervention in Libya is creating a fait accompli that Turkey has no say in. Ankara began rationalizing that it is in Turkey's all-round interests to cut a role for itself in political terms in the international intervention in Libya rather than to stay aloof. Faisal's advice would have helped.
However, Turkey has to work for gaining such a role. Ankara was upset that it wasn't invited to the summit meeting in Paris on Monday to choreograph the political approach to the Western intervention in Libya. French President Nikolas Sarkozy was keen to highlight his lead role in the intervention in Libya and probably punctured Turkey's aspirations as a regional power in North Africa. Turkey reacted strongly by questioning the locus standi of the intervention and the ferocity of the French air strikes.
Following a crucial strategy session in Ankara on Monday night, Turkey concluded that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would be the best antidote to Sarkozy's vanity fair; and if the alliance were to take a lead role in the operations, Turkey would also have its say. (All NATO decisions are taken by consensus and Turkey is a major member country.)
Turkey hopes to secure a role similar to what it has been playing in Afghanistan - participation in the International Security Assistance Force except in combat operations. Ankara also argues that like in Afghanistan, NATO operations ought to have a mandate from the UN Security Council. Finally, Turkey would want NATO operations to stay within the ambit of UN resolution 1973, which means enforcing a ceasefire, implementing a no-fly zone and rendering relief and humanitarian assistance.
Turkey has calibrated for developments on the ground creating a dynamic of their own. For example, the air strikes may fail to bring desired results in terms of Muammar Gaddafi losing control. Then what? A de facto division of Libya may ensue. This may turn out to be a long and difficult war and at some stage deployment of ground troops may become necessary. On the contrary, if Gaddafi gets ousted in the near term, who will assume power? To quote Sami Cohen, a veteran Turkish commentator wired to the establishment's thinking, "No one knows this. There is no prepared plan for it. It's just another indication of an open-ended period of uncertainty."
In sum, Turkish ambitions as a regional power - like Sarkozy's - are cruising without a compass. Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama spoke to Erdogan on Tuesday evening to ensure Turkish participation in any NATO operations. NATO officials have since revealed that Turkey will be one of the seven members of the alliance to participate in the naval operations to enforce the UN's arms embargo and that four Turkish frigates, one submarine and one reserve ship have been deployed. (Canada, Spain, UK, Greece, Italy and US contributed one frigate each so far.)
Thus, Turkey has moved into the tent, finally. Turkey has now been included in the "contact group" of NATO participating countries, which will meet in London on Tuesday to "take stock" of the implementation of resolution 1973 so far and to "take forward this work", according to a British foreign office statement.
Turkey may also have won a point by forcing France to concede that NATO be given a role in the planning and execution of the campaign. (But France has also dug in by insisting that the political leadership will lie with "contact group", which will also include representatives from the Arab League and African Union).
For all appearances, Turkey continues to ride a high horse. A columnist in the pro-government, Islamist-oriented daily Zaman, Abdulhamit Bilici wrote:
So, where does Turkey currently stand? Ankara is still behind the US resolution ... [But] Turkey is uneasy about the poor planning and one-sided nature of the operation. It is also upset with NATO secretary general Anders Fogh-Rasmussen's "we-decided-you-can-join-us" attitude ... It's unthinkable for a Turkish soldier to attack a Muslim country. But if it is included in the planning process properly, the Turkish military is ready to offer support in every platform, including NATO regarding non-combat issues. Let's see if the West will choose to help itself and the region by cooperating with Turkey or do the complete opposite by excluding Turkey.
This seems to have been one mission at least where Faisal probably went wrong in his harsh self-appraisal during the New York Times interview an year ago that his legacy might be defined by "profound disappointment than by success"....? Time will tell....LOL
"... Veteran US officials, already concerned about the unpredictable course of events throughout the Middle East, have become increasingly uneasy about the way the Administration is course, Libya. While acknowledging the rapidly changing situation on the ground can make for hurried change of plans, these officials, nonetheless argue that a combination of inexperience and ideology has characterized White House decision making from the beginning. "The President should never have called upon Qaddafy to go before knowing whether his urging or forces on the ground would do the trick," said one US Middle East expert. Moreover, this official says that the Administration has little idea of who makes up the opposition. They know it is based in the always recalcitrant eastern part of Libya but its claim to having adherents in other parts of the country, even the leadership in Benghazi admits, cannot be named, due to fear that they will be targeted by forces loyal to the Libyan dictator.
Much of the criticism is directed at National Security Council ["NSC"] staffers, including National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, his Deputy Denis McDonough and especially staffers Ben Rhodes and Samantha Power. Donilon and McDonough are seen as having little hands-on foreign policy experience, while Rhodes and Power are considered ideologically driven. Power [Who achieved some notoriety and a demotion during the Presidential primary season for calling Hillary Clinton a "monster"] is widely regarded as advocating armed intervention in humanitarian crisis situations. With NSC meetings scheduled with little or no advance notice, officials in various Departments find themselves struggling to create a coherent strategy. "Everything seems to be geared to a 24 hour news cycle," complained one State Department official.
Somewhat ironically, the one person State Department officials see as potentially providing what one calls "adult supervision" is Dennis Ross, ...... Yet, today it appears that Ross has been somewhat marginalized by other NSC staffers, much to the chagrin of others in the Administration who argue that current policy lacks coherence.
While Libya is the "front burner" issue in the words of one US official, most US Middle East experts are more concerned about events in the Persian Gulf, specifically the uprising in Bahrain..... While US officials discount an Iranian role in the current troubles there, Saudi Arabia, by far the most important GCC member, does not. More important, the Saudis see their archrival, Iran, now two hundred miles away across the Gulf, with the Fifth fleet in between. Should a Shia led government emerge in Bahrain, in their view, the Saudis would be looking at a Iran only 12 miles away with no US fleet as a buffer [One senior State Department officials demurs, noting slyly "What the Saudis fear is a Shia Bahrain friendly to and dependent on the US, not them"].
While the situation in Bahrain is the most "delicate" to quote one Administration insider, ongoing events in Egypt remain the most important. The referendum overwhelmingly approved this week, which provides for constitutional changes and the election of a new President, has proved to be a disappointment to many reformers, both here and in Egypt. "This outcome almost precisely mirrors the one offered by [ousted President] Mubarak, says one State Department official. In the view of many, the young secular rebels who led the non-violent overthrow of Mubarak were outmaneuvered by the more savvy (Saudi influenced) Moslem Brotherhood and especially the Egyptian military. "The `Goodniks' never had a chance," says one veteran US analyst. "Their strength was mobilization not negotiations, especially with the army." In the meantime, the army has moved to consolidate its power. Among those now on trial for corruption are some businessmen who stand in the way of the military expanding its role in the Egyptian economy, say US experts. The leading military figure, Defense Minister Muhammed Tantawi, is no advocate of free market democracy, say US officials. "Tantawi is a Soviet trained general who makes Mubarak look like George Washington," cracks one veteran State Department official.
The latest and perhaps the most unexpected uprising is taking place in the Syrian town of Dara'a.... But US officials note that this massacre (Hamah) was orchestrated by the current Syrian leader's father Hafez al-Assad and his son, Bashar, has shown none of his father's ruthlessness nor, for that matter, political skills.
Meanwhile, US officials also look anxiously at the results of a similar scale of bloodletting in Yemen, which has led its previously durable leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to the brink of resignation. Until last Friday's shootings which are estimated to have taken the lives of upwards of 50 protestors, most analysts were predicting that Saleh would be able to ride out the political storm. As one veteran non-governmental observer put it several weeks ago, "Saleh has too many levers at his disposal to be ousted anytime soon." US officials who agreed with that assessment began to change their calculations.
Even the Israeli-Palestinian conflict took an uptick this week as shelling on Israeli towns and cities from Gaza dramatically increased.... However, US officials believe that considering the volatility of events in the region, especially in Egypt, the Israeli response will be "measured". As one key US official put it, "The Israelis are already nervous about who will replace Mubarak. And as distasteful as someone like Amr Mousa might be, at least he `buys into' the Camp David process." The same cannotbe said for his likely opponents."
"The United States and Saudi Arabia — whose conflicted relationship has survived oil shocks, the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the U.S. invasion of Iraq — are drifting apart faster than at any time in recent history, according to diplomats, analysts and former U.S. officials. The breach, punctuated by a series of tense diplomatic incidents in the past two weeks, could have profound implications for the U.S. role in the Middle East, even as President Barack Obama juggles major Arab upheavals from Libya to Yemen. The Saudi monarchy, which itself has been loathe to introduce democratic reforms, .... "We're not going to budge. We're not going to accept a Shiite government in Bahrain," said an Arab diplomat, who spoke frankly on condition he not be further identified.Saudi Arabia has registered its displeasure bluntly. Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates were rebuffed when they sought to visit the kingdom this month. The official cover story was that aging King Abdullah was too ill to receive them....... In a speech Sunday in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former ambassador to Washington, said the Gulf countries now must look after their own security — a role played exclusively by the United States since the 1979 fall of the Shah of Iran. "Why not seek to turn the GCC into a grouping like the European Union? Why not have one unified Gulf army? Why not have a nuclear deterrent with which to face Iran — should international efforts fail to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons — or Israeli nuclear capabilities?" Turki said, according to a translation of his remarks by the UAE's state-controlled Emirates News Agency. U.S. relations with the Saudis and other Gulf monarchies "are as bad as they were after the fall of the Shah," said Gregory Gause, an expert on the region and political science professor at the University of Vermont. "The whole idea that Saudi Arabia still needs U.S. protection for anything ... we've already moved beyond that," the Arab diplomat said. He termed it "not necessarily a divorce, (but) a recalibration." ..... Despite the falling out, experts say there are limits to the U.S.-Saudi disaffection, if only because both countries share a common interest in oil flows, confronting Iran and countering al Qaida and other violent Islamic extremist groups....... Saudi Arabia is moving on its own to secure its interests in neighboring Yemen, where Saudi-and-U.S.-backed President Ali Abdullah Saleh is barely clinging to power after weeks of protests..... U.S. officials acknowledge stark differences with the Saudis over Egypt and Bahrain. Washington does not see Iran's hand behind the protests in Bahrain, they said, nor does it view the entire region through the sectarian lens that the Gulf monarchies do...."
The fact that EVERY militant "Islamist" group involved in the US terror war is being led by local terrorists, who have spent several years being broken and then reconditioned at either Guantanamo or Bagram, should not be taken lightly. Like I have been saying for a long time, the established pattern of American-supported terrorism in the Middle East/AfPak regional war front is proof of far greater crimes than the CIA bombing of the American homeland on 911. (I say "CIA bombing," because EVERY murderous act by CIA created "Al-Qaeda" terrorist groups, is an act committed on behalf of the agency.)
Every anti-Imperialist patriot, who currently devotes his or her efforts towards prosecuting the 911 conspirators, is spinning his wheels, looking for proof of crimes years after the fact, from evidence which has all been turned to dust, or melted-down for scrap. The real criminal conspiracy preceded that attack by several decades, extending all over the world, leaving bits and pieces of real evidence wherever the tentacles of the secret overlords has reached. The history of each reconditioned leader, like this al-Hasidi fellow, is part of our international tapestry of terror. Unraveling each thread is the path to exposing the grand design. This is our proof of exactly who, or what we are dealing with, sitting in the seats of power in Washington and London.
This Libyan Manchurian candidate, al-Hasidi has a well-known history that is spread-out too far for the Internet sweepers to eliminate...This is where we find the real evidence of fascist crimes against humanity. Obama's plan to take America's secret guerrilla armies out into the open and to embrace them publicly (more or less) proves to the world who he really is and exactly the type of "change" that he had in mind. It also exposes the secret network that connects the CIA/US military to "al-CIAda" and the sordid history of military efforts to assist the "al-Qaeda" penetration of multiple countries, moving huge quantities of men and materiel into each terror zone, usually under the cover of darkness. More and more often, the military operations take place under the cover of "private security" companies, composed mostly of both "retired" and active Special Forces and Delta Force soldiers.
The military is accustomed to lying to the public about everything that they are doing, under cover of "the greater good." The key to deniability has been solved by "contracting out" the work that is criminal or too dirty for the real military to be associated with to a network of secret private armies, composed of hardened military experts who are eager to kill, earning ten times the military's salary for the same murder. Working far beyond the scope of these private security companies, you find the terrorist outfits, like the ones now destroying Libya and Pakistan and a dozen other countries, run by brainwashed former "Islamists," who also earn enormous amounts of money, far beyond their wildest dreams, killing the Libyans, Pakistanis, Afghans, or whoever stands in the Empire's way.
The Bosnian rescue mission, to save the "Islamist" army (some elements of future "Al Qaida" among them) that had been thrown together by Bill Clinton and his cohorts to advance American foreign policy as he saw fit, in spite of Congressional opinion or U.N. resolutions (Resolution 713). The organization created for this purpose, Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), was a new variation of a previous subversive organization also constructed for the purpose of subverting the will of Congress in a war zone (Boland Amendment), which media personality Oliver North referred to mischievously as "The Enterprise."
Then, as now, American entities, composed of thousands of former and active intelligence and military services, supervised an international network (pipeline) of transportation and communication which facilitated the movement of "Islamic" militant armies and their arsenals, in a massive illegal operation, which operated beyond American and international law. This is "al-Qaida," ladies and gentlemen. Those crazy Arabs and Muslim terrorists behind the 911 attacks were trained by us and acted under American direction; they all do.
There would be no international "Islamist" terrorism if not for its American state sponsor....
We are following up on our March 24-25 report on how the selective release of US State Department cables from the US embassy in Jakarta was being used to damage President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of majority Muslim Indonesia and even incite a revolution against him....
In what appears to be a concerted effort to create more political havoc in Muslim nations, we have now learned that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange passed cables sent by the then U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Eric Edelman, a notorious neocon and Israel supporter, to the Turkish newspaper Taraf in order to damage the election chances of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party. The leaked cables were then translated into Turkish and published by the newspaper. The cables mainly consisted of criticisms of the AK Party and Erdogan by Edelman, particularly of the AK Party's more independent foreign policy on the Middle East...
We have learned from knowledgeable Turkish sources that Turkish intelligence suspects that Assange has been working for some time for Israel's Mossad and the CIA in using selectively-leaked classified State Department cables, most of which contain information gleaned from diplomatic cocktail receptions and translations of local newspapers, to bring about rebellions against leaders of Muslim and Arab nations...
The WikiLeaks cable release operation, from the outset, targeted the government of a number of countries, but not Israel...
Interference in Turkish domestic politics by the United States and Israel has prompted severe criticism from a number of Turkish leaders. At a Turkish-American Friendship dinner held in midtown Manhattan on March 24, Mehmet Ali Sahin, speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, said that a year ago, in March 2010, "groups in the U.S. were working against Turkey." Sahin was referring to the Israeli attack on the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara, which was transporting aid to Gaza and was attacked by Israeli military forces in international waters. A Turkish-American citizen, Furkan Dogan, was killed in the attack. Neither President Obama or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ever called Dogan's family and offered condolences... The Israel Lobby, among the "groups" to whom Sahin was obviously referring, launched a vicious propaganda campaign against the organizers of the Gaza aid fleet -- largely through the auspices of the Israeli-influenced corporate media...
Sahin stated that "no country has the right to impose its policies on other countries," a remark that may also echo Turkey's thoughts on the current Western military attacks on Libya....