Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

 

One of the most violent clashes with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) took place in Turkey, near the south-eastern border with Syria and Iraq. Despite the deteriorating border situation and protests of Turkey’s civilian population, Prime Minister Erdogan continues to support the Syrian opposition and predicts that Assad will be shortly toppled.

Today nine Turkish soldiers and policemen were killed in clashes with PKK rebels in the province of Sirnak. Kurds attacked from four directions, using heavy machine guns. The battle lasted several hours, and a total of 20 attackers were killed.

In another Turkish province the Kurds have kidnapped a regional leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party. His location is currently unknown. This is not the first time a prominent Turkish politician is kidnapped by the  Kurdish separatists.

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is on the air of one private TV channel, predicting Assad’s imminent resignation:

“In my opinion, Bashar al-Assad ended his political life. At the moment, Assad does not work as a politician in Syria. He’s just an actor or a buffoon in the Syrian civil war. Turkey is close to the Syrian people, but does not support Assad’s ruthless regime. The Syrian people are our brother nation. And it is with this feeling that we have established ties with the Syrian people, when Turkey’s ties with Assad were severed.”

The Telegraph informs that Turkey houses centers for training of the Syrian opposition for non-lethal struggle. Activists are trained to build information networks to spread provocative news and propaganda. In one such example they have printed self-adhesive leaflets depicting a caricature of Assad. According to the organizers, distribution of such leaflets in Syria will allow supporters of the acting president to side more quickly with the revolution.

However, not all Turkish citizens support Erdogan’s position. The other day thousands of protesting supporters of President Assad took to the streets in the city of Antakya (southern Turkey). Demonstrators called for the government to stop supporting the Syrian opposition, which creates tension in the region.

Obviously, the longer the conflict in Syria, the worse the domestic situation in Turkey will become. But the bigger problem is that, in the event Assad is overthrown and Islamists come to power, Turkey will become the next target. Israeli intelligence has repeatedly noted this in the past. In other words, whatever scenario is finally played out in Syria, it does not bode well for Turkey as it gets further entangled in this Middle Eastern mess.

 

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Another live bomb exploded yesterday in Dagestan, killing a religious leader and six other people. Meanwhile, the Derbent region saw fatal shootings by a contract soldier, who killed several of his colleagues before being gunned down. These murders fit perfectly in a series of provocations aimed at destabilizing the situation not only in the Caucasus, but throughout the whole country.

Two tragedies

Yesterday in the Chirkey village of the Buinaksk district a suicide bomber came seeking audience with a religious figure, Said Afandi. To jump the queue, she said she was pregnant. Said Afandi was busy talking to a blind man and his 12-year-old son, but ordered the guards to let the woman pass. The murderer was not stopped by the presence of the child and activated her explosive device, which was stuffed with chopped nails. As a result, 7 people were killed, including Said Afandi. The bomber was identified only by her decapitated head.

The murder shocked the republic. Said Afandi had unquestioned authority and thousands of students. In the religious environment he was known as an opponent of radical Islam who made every effort to stabilize the situation in the republic. Afandi’s funeral in the village Chirkey was attended by tens of thousands of people, and Dagestan was officially in mourning.

Magomedsalam Magomedov, Head of Dagestan, comments:

“The killing of Sheikh Said Afandi al-Chirkey is yet another inhuman and cynical crime against outstanding personalities, religious figures of our society, which even today remain as role models for all of Dagestan’s people. It is these people that ideologists of terrorism are mortally afraid of.”

The Criminal Investigations Committee considers the murder to be connected with Afandi’s religious activity as the main motive.

But Dagestan was jolted by another tragic even on the same day. Contractor soldier Ramzan Aliyev of the local border police, shot two of his colleagues while on daily duty. He then proceeded to the barracks, where he killed five other privates and wounded four Special Rapid Response team members. He was killed by return fire. According to one theory, the killer could have been recruited by Wahhabimilitants.

Versions and consequences

All experts who comment the murder of Said Afandi indicate that, as an opponent of radicalism, he tried to establish dialogue between the traditionalists (to whom he belonged) and the Salafis. And to the surprise of many in this field he had achieved some success. Recently, with his assistance an agreement was reached between the Muslim Spiritual Board and the Ahl Sunnah Muslim organization, which consists of legal Salafis who do not approve of terror. Naturally, Afandi’s death dealt a serious blow to this agreement, as well as all future attempts to reconcile religious movements of the Caucasus.

Many experts, as well as the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation suggest that the terrorist Doku Umarov  is behind the murder as someone who is interested in maintaining  the terrorist threat in the Caucasus. It is also possible that the Arab monarchies had a hand in this tragedy. Afandi made no secret of his opposition to Wahhabism, the official religion of Saudi Arabia.

Be it as it may, the murder led to severe aggravation of the situation in Dagestan. Given that  Afandi had a very large number of followers, riots seem likely. So much so that even Magomedsalam Magomedov ordered the creation of self-defense units to patrol the streets.

“In every city, in every district we will organize self-defense units, squads of young people who are ready, under the direction and with guidance from the internal affairs authorities, to work to ensure public security, to punish these criminals and terrorists. This is an order to all heads of cities and regions,” – said Magomedov.

Some parallels

To those who are closely following these events it should probably be apparent that a wide spread offensive is unfolding before our very eyes, on the basis of spiritual life of the country. Its purpose is to fragment the fabric of society, impose mutual hatred and sow fear. Looking closely one can easily see that the same methods are used in the Caucusus and other regions of Russia. True, the Caucasus “Pussies” do not dance in mosques but rather blow them up, but such dances would be suicide in local conditions anyway. And in any case, they achieve the same result (incite hatred and fear) and are similarly rewarded (some obtain world fame, others – eternal life in heaven).

Another thought cannot leave out mind: the parellels with Syria are more than just coincidence. On the day of the terrorist attacks in Dagestan a double bombing took place in the suburbs of Damascus, killing dozens of people. One of the explosions thundered during a funeral ceremony, just like last weekend in Ingushetia. We are aware of strengthening ties between the Middle East and the Caucasus terrorist groups. For example, according to our latest information, Syria-based Islamists have announced partial transfer of their activity from Syria to the Caucasus, in particular to fight for the “liberation” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, is far from tranquility. Recent high-profile murders did not lead to a show of force spanking of the radicals by the authorities, which led them to increase in their activity. There is information about an upcoming series of mass demonstrations of Tatarstan nationalists and Islamists.

All of this suggests that these events are interconnected, and are a part of a wider onsluaght on the country. And, also as expected, this activity is increasing the closer we get to the anticipated “marches of millions” in the fall.

We are hearing increasing criticism of the authorities who allowed this situation to arise. It is difficult to argue with such critics, however, many readers do not understand that no authority, no one power can control everything at once. We need to take into account the fact that Russia is not being rocked by a single psychopath, but rather by networks with extensive financial and informational control. So the main question at the moment is not “how they have allowed this?” but rather “what will they do next?” We will follow and comment on these developments with utmost care.

 

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In July we advised a friend against traveling to the UAE for a family vacation. Thankfully, he listened. But vacation season is in full swing, holiday money is aching to be spent, and social networks still need to be updated with new pictures. So this time our buddy approached the problem of choosing a holiday destination in a much more responsible manner, even going as far as doing a little safety analysis of several resorts. Thus, he figured it was best not to go to Turkey because of all the recent terrorist attacks (and in any case, he’s been there too many times already), Egypt is politically very unstable (and the waiters are lazy), but Israel seems to be a great option, highly praised by everyone (and recommended by the travel agent). Or is it?

Dear Friend! Israel is a great holiday destination. It steals your heart in a manner no other country can, and creates memories that last a lifetime. On this we fully agree with your travel agent (good sales job, by the way). But is it worth going there now? Let’s have a look at our trusty old map for advice.

There’s a neighbor in the north with a lot of issues – Syria. You have no doubt heard that there is a war out there. Sure, the media downplays it by calling it a “conflict”, a “struggle for democracy”, “social unrest” and so on, but we prefer to call a spade a spade. There is a very real civil war in Syria, and it has been going on for many months now, with no end in sight. This mess is happening right now on Israel’s border, and the whole world is waiting with bated breath for Turkey, the US and the Europeans to join the fray. President Obama recently announced that he is concerned about the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria, as this may lead to “serious consequences.”

Translated into <insert your native tongue here>, it means that President Obama has found an excuse for a military strike against Syria. But for the people of Israel this isn’t news. Gas masks are very popular here, but we doubt they will be of any use against waves of refugees and bearded gunmen in case of an international military operation in Syria.

What about Israel’s other neighbor, Lebanon? Alas, it’s no good either. The Syrian blight has now spread to its territory as well. And it’s not just me trying to scare you, it’s the Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati. His army cannot cope with the burgeoning religious strife that has already claimed numerous victims. If Lebanon is not pacified in the nearest future, then things can get really ugly for Israel, really soon. Some knowledgeable people even talk about the likelihood of a Third Lebanese War (yes, Israel has already been at war twice with Lebanon, most recently in 2006).

Obviously, the north of Israel is, to put it mildly, rather unsettled right now. But you can always take to the south, right? They say Eilat is the perfect place to stay: it’s got a unique climate, ancient history, beautiful coral reefs in the Red Sea, etc. Again, it’s pretty far from the troublesome northern neighbors and their pesky issues, so what else could you need?

But again, lets look at the map. Southern Israel shares a border with Egypt. Yes – the one with the pyramids, lazy waiters and a recent revolution. Relations between the two countries have always been rather strained, but the former Egyptian President Mubarak somehow managed to keep them from deteriorating. After his ousting and the advent of Mursi, no one knows what to expect next. But let’s consider some facts.

Right now the Egyptian security forces are unfolding a military operation against radical Islamists in the Sinai Peninsula. About three thousand radicals are hiding in the mountains, and smoking them out is no walk in the park. The Egyptians brought heavy military equipment into the Israeli borderlands, promising to backup the operation with its air force. Just in case, Israel any case covered Eilat with an “Iron Dome” – a missile defense system capable of destroying up to 80% of rockets entering the area’s airspace. This means that when you’re lying in a deck chair somewhere on of the Red Sea, nursing a margarita or a mojito, you can rest assured that out of the 10 missiles fired, 8 will definitely not reach you…

Oh and we almost forgot about Jordan, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, neither of which add a whit of stability and peace to the region. In other words, it’s a bad case of SOL* for Israel when it comes to nice peace-loving neighbors. With the heat turning up higher and higher across all of the Middle East, Israel is finding itself in a very vulnerable position.

And one more thing: Iran! Though it shares no border with Israel, it is still a key adversary. Last week, President Ahmadinejad called Israel a “cancerous tumor” and said that it should be surgically removed  from the body of the planet. Of course, he sounds like a broken record every other week when it comes to anti-Israel rhetoric, but somehow this time he seems a bit more serious than usual. Israeli politicians are also adding fuel to the fire; every other day they either threaten to strike Iran, or scare the population with terrible consequences of such a war.

And even though many do not believe in the reality of the worst case scenario, everyone is preparing for war, without exception. Some by building up their pile of guns, while others, most notably the European countries, by stacking up on oil reserves. And we don’t think its just a coincidence, either.

We don’t know if we’ve managed to convince you this time around, but before you make a final decision, gives us the benefit of the doubt and visit some public Israeli forums. See what are the things the locals discuss the most, and then make your choice.

After all, that is the beauty of the web – it gives you plenty of options for research and insight – should you wish to do so.

E.Super