Iran thanks Saudi Arabia for not harming its Hajj pilgrims! A new reconciliation effort?

 

Iran thanks Saudi Arabia for not harming its Hajj pilgrims! A new reconciliation effort?

-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

____

 

Artificial dichotomy

 

Saudi Arabia is a Sunni Islamic kingdom with a tradition of close ties with the USA, the UK and France. Iran is a Shia Islamic Republic founded in an anti-Western revolution with close ties to Russia and China. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran are seen to have aspirations for leadership of Islam, and have different visions of stability and regional order. In the Syrian Civil War Iran has supported the Bashir Al-Asad regime militarily and with billions of dollars of aid, while Saudi is a major supplier of aid to rebel groups.

Relationship Islamic Republic of Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has historically been strained over different geo-political issues such as the interpretations of Islam, aspirations for leadership of the Islamic world, oil export policy and relations with the USA and other Western countries.

Although Saudi Arabia and Iran are both Muslim-majority nations and follow and rule through Islamic scripture, their relations are fraught with hostility, tension and confrontation, due to differences in political agendas that are strengthened for their differences in faith.

Bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran have never been normal or smooth. Strains, tensions, diplomatic rejections dominated their ties and in recent times tensions have accelerated thanks to interferences from USA and Israel- leaders of other major religions treating Islam their common foe.

One gets the impression even if Judaism and Christianity merge together,  Iran and Saudi would still continue for furthering their “influence and  domination” in the Islamic world. Obviously, there is something wrong with their perception of Islam and in their own faith.

Both want to severe their ties for some at times vague reasons. The two countries severed diplomatic relations last after Iranians stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran in January 2016 in response to Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shia cleric.

 

Thank you Sirs!

Some 86,000 Iranian pilgrims took part last week in the Hajj and Iranian government is gratified that Riyadh protected and helped Iranian pilgrims. .

As a possible new phase of relations, Iran thanked Saudi Arabia on September 05 for its handling of the Hajj arrangements and operations this year, saying it opened the way for negotiations between the regional rivals. “We thank Saudi Arabia… for adopting a new approach in dealing with Iranian pilgrims,” said Ali Ghazi-Askar, the head of the Hajj organisation in Tehran.

Iranians were unable to attend in 2016 after talks collapsed over security concerns. Iran had been highly critical of Saudi Arabia’s organisation efforts in the wake of a stampede during the 2015 Hajj that killed up to 2,300 people, including hundreds of Iranians. The 2015 incident happened because of mismanagement, but Saudis seem to have fixed that,” he told Reuters in a phone interview from Mecca.

“There are always differences arising among countries but the important thing is for the parties to resolve differences through dialogue and negotiation,” said an official Ghazi-Askar. “Right now, after holding a successful Hajj, it is a good time for both parties to negotiate to resolve their bilateral issues in other fields.”

Just before the Hajj journey last month: “If our pilgrims come back satisfied, and if Saudi Arabia’s behavior is within religious and international frameworks, I think the situation would be more convenient to resolve the issues,” Iranian official was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

As both continued to strain ties, on February 14, 2016, the government of Switzerland announced that it will represent Saudi interests in Iran and Iranian interests in Saudi Arabia. Switzerland has recently been the protecting power for Egypt and the USA since diplomatic relations were strained following the 1979 Islamic Revolution. After the Saudi diplomatic missions in Tehran and Mashhad were ransacked by Iranian protesters, Saudi Arabia broke off diplomatic relations with Iran on January 3, 2016.

The ‘thanks-giving’ news gives, rather misleads the world about a new era of bilateral relations between them. But Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif remained circumspect, however, saying he had yet to see “a clear prospect for change” in the bilateral relationship. “If such a development occurs in the Saudis’ mentality, it will definitely be a positive development and will be met with Iran’s positive reaction,” he told Khabar Online newspaper.

Generally, Iran and Saudi Arabia are on a collision course thanks to US-Israeli intervention in West Asian politics. Saudi Arabia is seen moving closer to Israel, the common enemy of Arab as well as Iambic world, to defeat Iran.

Possibly as a follow up of hajj pilgrimage, there seems to be a mutual appreciation between the two powers. A Saudi Arabian delegation will visit Iran for the first time after Riyadh severed ties with Tehran last year, Iran’s foreign ministry confirmed. “The Saudi delegation simply comes to visit diplomatic buildings because the buildings have been empty after the two countries broke off relations. At the same time, we will visit our buildings in Saudi Arabia,” Press TV quoted foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying. Qasemi confirmed that the visas for the Saudis have been issued long before, but for “reasons that are related to them, they have not come yet, and their travel has likely been postponed until after annual Muslim Hajj ceremonies. He added that the date for the Iranian delegation’s visit has not been set yet. “To be honest, the Saudis are doing a great job, working hard to deliver the best service,” said Pir-Hossein Kolivand, head of Iran’s Emergency Medical Services.

 

Saudi and Iran compete for global leadership. In a wide-ranging interview, Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman said there was no space for dialogue with rival Iran due to its ambitions “to control the Islamic world.” Framing the tensions with Iran in sectarian terms, the prince said the Saudis would not sit and wait for war but would “work so that it becomes a battle for them in Iran and not in Saudi Arabia.”

That the language of hatred for Islam. Very recently before the Hajj, on May 08, 2017, Iran’s defence minister lashed back at Saudi Arabia, slamming the kingdom’s deputy crown prince over belligerent comments that underscored the deep rivalries between the two powers.

Western media is fueling a war psychology between Iran and Saudi Arabia that could destroy the combined economy of Arab nations. Iran’s defence minister General Hossein Dehghan was quoted as saying that Iran would advise against “such a stupidity” of war on Iran because in that case, nothing would be “left in Saudi Arabia except Makkah and Madina,” the two holy cities.  Referring to a possible Saudi attack or invasion of Iran, he said he doesn’t “understand how they would attempt to do something like that… they must imagine they have a powerful air force to do so.”

Earlier, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani ordered the arrest and prosecution of individuals involved in the embassy attack, while also condemning the execution of Nimr. Asked at the press conference what other steps the Saudis would take against Iran, Jubeir said “we will cross each bridge when we will get to it”.  “We are determined not to allow Iran to undermine our security,” he said.

Ellie Geranmayeh, an Iran expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said the Saudi decision was likely to have repercussions for the region, particularly concerning the Syrian negotiations. Western powers must increase efforts to safeguard this process and encourage the Saudis and Iran to continue their participation in the Syria peace talks. “These events further set back the urgently needed rapprochement between Tehran and Riyadh, and spell further trouble for an already fragile region.”

 

Severing ties & tensions

 

Ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran have been strained since Iran’s 1979 revolution, and significantly escalated last year as Riyadh executed a leading Shia cleric in the kingdom. This sparked the ransacking of the Saudi Embassy in Iran by protesters, after which the two countries severed diplomatic and trade ties. The tensions between the two countries have now sharply escalated with Saudi Arabia severing ties with the Islamic Republic following attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran.

Diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have been tense since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, though there have been occasional thaws between the two rivals. The tensions have now sharply escalated with Saudi Arabia >severing ties with the Islamic Republic following attacks on Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran. Here’s a look at how relations between the two Mideast powers have shifted over the last decades.

Under the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Iran had rocky relations with Saudi Arabia, though they improved toward the end of his reign. Both were original members of the oil cartel OPEC.

After the overthrow of the Shah and the takeover of the US Embassy in Tehran, Saudi Arabia quickly became America’s top ally in the region. In the ensuing 1980s war between Iran and Iraq, Saudi Arabia backed Iraq despite its concerns about President Saddam Hussein. That war would go on to kill one million people.

In 1988, Saudi Arabia severed ties with Iran, citing the 1987 Hajj rioting and Iran’s attacks on shipping in the Persian Gulf. Iranians responded by boycotting Hajj in 1988 and 1989. The two countries restored diplomatic ties in 1991.

Relations between the two nations improved after Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, a political moderate, took office in 1997. Ties warmed further after historic visits by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah to Tehran in December 1997 and Khatami to the kingdom in May 1999.

There have been issues that strained the relations between Saudi (Gulf-states) and Iran.

1987 Hajj riots

 

The annual pilgrimage to Islamic holy sites in Saudi Arabia, required of all able-bodied Muslims once in their life, saw bloodshed when Iranians held a political demonstration. Iranian pilgrims later battled Saudi riot police in violence that killed at least 402 people. Iran claimed 600 of its pilgrims were killed and said police fired machine guns at the crowd. In Tehran, mobs attacked the Saudi, Kuwaiti, French and Iraqi embassies, ransacking the first two.

2015 Hajj disaster: On September 24, a stampede and crush struck the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. While the kingdom said 769 pilgrims were killed, an Associated Press count shows over 2,400 people were killed. Iran said at least 464 of its pilgrims were killed and blamed Saudi Arabia’s “incompetence” for the deaths.

 

Execution

 

On January 2, Saudi Arabia executed Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr and 46 others the largest execution carried out by the kingdom in three and a half decades. The execution of al-Nimr, a central figure in Arab Spring-inspired protests by Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority, sparked protests across the Mideast and attacks on Saudi diplomatic facilities in Iran. Saudi Arabia responded by announcing it was severing diplomatic ties with Iran over the attacks.

Dehghan expressed suspicions over what he described as Riyadh’s close ties with the United States and also Israel, suggesting such ties go against “interests of Muslim nations.”

The Saudis seek to “please” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the “purpose of provoking Netanyahu’s action against us.” Dehghan also urged Saudi Arabia to withdraw from Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition of mostly Arab states has been fighting the Houthi rebels.

The conflict has worsened an already dramatic humanitarian crisis in Yemen and killed thousands of civilians, mostly by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes.

In January 2016, Saudi Arabia has announced it is severing diplomatic ties with Iran following Saturday’s attack on its embassy in Tehran during protests against executions in the kingdom. Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, made the announcement on Sunday while the foreign ministry said it was asking Iranian diplomatic mission to leave the kingdom within 48 hours. The Saudi foreign ministry also announced that the staff of its diplomatic mission had been evacuated and were on their way back to the kingdom. Later reports said the flight carrying the Saudi embassy staff had landed in Dubai in the UAE.

Saudi Arabia’s interior ministry announced the execution of 47 people on terrorism charges, including a convicted al-Qaeda leader and a Shia religious leader. Many of the men executed had been linked to attacks in Saudi Arabia between 2003 and 2006, blamed on al-Qaeda.

Four of those executed were said to be Shia. Nimr al-Nimr, the Shia leader, was accused of inciting violence and leading anti-government protests in the country’s east in 2011. He was convicted of sedition, disobedience and bearing arms. He did not deny the political charges against him, but said he never carried weapons or called for violence. Nimr spent more than a decade studying theology in predominantly Shia Iran. His execution prompted demonstrations in a number of countries, with protesters breaking into the Saudi embassy in Tehran late on Saturday night and starting fires.

At a press conference in Riyadh, Jubeir said the Saudi diplomatic representative had sought help from the Iranian foreign ministry when the building was stormed, but the requests were ignored three times. He accused the Iranian authorities of being complicit in the attack, saying that documents and computers were taken from the embassy building. Calling the incident an act of “aggression”, he said Iran had a history of “violating diplomatic missions”, citing the attacks on the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and the British embassy in 2011. “These ongoing aggressions against diplomatic missions are a violation of all agreements and international conventions,” he said, calling them part of an effort by Iran to “destabilize” the region.

The Saudi decision was “quite a surprise” causing the latest developments. “This is an escalation that will create havoc in the region.”

Nuclear dispute

 

Worries about Iran resumed in Saudi Arabia amid international sanctions against Tehran over its contested nuclear program and the increasingly harsh rhetoric of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iran and Saudi Arabia each backed opposite sides in Syria’s civil war, as well as in the civil war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia also grew increasingly suspicious of Iran as it reaches a deal with world powers over its nuclear program. Riyadh has not yet fully recovered from the shock of Iran-US compromises.

 

Roots of tensions

 

Apart from divisions like Sunni and Shia, the difference of political ideologies and governance also divided both countries. USA and Israel play divisive role in making Sunni and Shia fight and kill each other.

After the Iranian Revolution, relations deteriorated considerably after Iran accused Saudi Arabia of being an agent of the USA in the Persian Gulf region, representing US interests rather than Islam. Saudi Arabia is concerned by Iran’s consistent desire to export its revolution across the board to expand its influence within the Persian Gulf region—notably in post-Saddam Iraq, the Levant and within further south in addition to Iran’s controversial, much debated nuclear program.

The founder of the Iranian revolution in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini, was ideologically opposed to monarchy, which he believed to be unIslamic. Saudi Arabia’s monarchy, on the other hand, remains consistently conservative, not revolutionary, and politically married to age-old religious leaders of the tribes who support the monarchy and the king (namely the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques) is given absolute obedience as long as he does not violate Islamic sharia law. Saudi Arabia has, however, a Shia minority which has recently made bitter complaints of institutional discrimination against it, specifically after the 2007 change in Iraqi governance and particularly after the 2011 events that spanned the region. At some stages it has gone as far as to call for overthrowing the king and the entire system.

Tensions between the two countries have waxed and waned. Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran soured particularly after the nuclear program, the 2011 alleged Iran assassination plot and more recently the execution of Nimr al-Nimr. There have also been numerous attempts to improve the relationship. After the 1991 Gulf war there was a noticeable thaw in relations. In March 2007 President Ahmadinejad of Iran visited Riyadh and was greeted at the airport by King Abdullah, and the two countries were referred to in the press as “brotherly nations”.

 

After March 2011, Iran’s financial and military support for Syria during the Syrian Civil War has been a severe blow to the improvement of relations. On January 3, 2016, Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tehran, Iran was ransacked following the execution of Saudi-born Shia Islam cleric Nimr al-Nimr. The execution prompted widespread condemnation within the Arab World as well as other countries, the European Union and the United Nations, with protests being carried out in cities in Iran, Iraq, India, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey. Following the attack on its embassy in Iran, Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic relations with Iran and the Saudi foreign minister said that all Iranian diplomats are to leave the country within 48 hours.

The difference of political ideologies and governance has also divided both countries. The Islamic Republic of Iran is based on the principle of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists, which holds that a faqīh (Islamic jurist) should have custodianship over all Muslim followers, including their governance and regardless of nationality. Iran’s Supreme Leader is a Shia faqīh.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is based on the principle of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists, which hold that a faqīh (Islamic jurist) should have custodianship over all Muslims, including their governance. Iran’s Supreme Leader is a Shia faqīh. The founder of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, was ideologically opposed to monarchy, which he believed to be unIslamic. Saudi Arabia’s monarchy, on the other hand, is conservative, not revolutionary, and its religious leaders have long supported monarchy were the king was given absolute obedience as long as he did not violate Islamic sharia law Saudi Arabia has, however, a Shia minority which has made bitter complaints about institutional discrimination against it, and whom at times has been urged to overthrow the king. Both countries are major oil exporters but have clashed over energy policy. Saudi Arabia, with its large oil reserves and smaller population, has a greater interest in taking a long-term view of the global oil market and incentive to moderate prices. In contrast, Iran is compelled to focus on high prices in the short term.

As far as the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. is concerned, both countries have been strategic allies for more than sixty years. Saudi Arabia sees itself as a firm and generous partner of the USA in the cold war and in other international conflicts. The visits by US President George W. Bush to the Kingdom in 2008 reaffirmed these ties. Yet Saudis have always distanced themselves from American foreign policy, particularly with regards to Iran. Even when there was growing criticism against the former Iranian President, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, for his alleged hostile foreign policy in connection to Israel, Saudi Arabia recognised that Iran was a potential threat, and a regional power that was in position to create trouble within their borders. Therefore, Saudi Arabia’s security over time required accommodation and good relations with its geographic neighbors notably Iran. Saudi Arabia has long since looked to the United States for protection against Iran.

Prior to this visit, Saudi National Security advisor Prince Bandar bin Sultan, seen as one of the most pro-American figures in the region, had made a trip to Tehran to voice his government’s interest in building harmonious relations with Iran. During Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s 3 March 2007 visit, he discussed with King Abdullah the need to protect the Islamic world from enemy “conspiracies.”

In 2007, President Ahmadinejad of Iran attended the first-ever annual summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which was established in 1980 in part to contain the ambitions of revolutionary Iran. This visit by the President of Iran was an event which signaled a possible change in relations. Yet soon after the meeting, Saudi Arabia, the most senior member of the six GCC member states invited Ahmadinejad to Saudi Arabia to take part in the annual Hajj (pilgrimage) to Mecca.

In 2009, Saudi Prince Faisal said in a press conference with Hillary Clinton that the “threat posed by Iran demanded a more immediate solution than sanctions.” This statement was condemned by Iranian officials. On 11 October 2011 US Attorney General Eric Holder accused Iran of planning to assassinate the Saudi-Arabian ambassador to the United States Adel Al-Jubbair. In 2013, Saudi Ambassador to Britain Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz Al Saud wrote an editorial in The New York Times criticizing Saudi Arabia’s Western allies for not taking bold enough measures against Syria and Iran, thus destabilizing the Middle East and forcing Saudi Arabia to become more aggressive in international affairs. The Obama administration continues to reassure the Persian Gulf states that regional security is a U.S. priority, but, as of December 2013, the Gulf States express skepticism

 

Iranian action

 

Relations between Shi’ite-led Iran and Sunni power Saudi Arabia are at their worst in years, with each accusing the other of subverting regional security and supporting opposite sides in conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Iranian protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran in January 2016 after a prominent Saudi Shi’ite cleric was executed, prompting Riyadh to close the embassy.

Saudi Arabia severed its diplomatic relations with Iran in January 2016, following demonstrations held in front of the Saudi embassy in Tehran and its consulate in the city of Mashhad by angry protesters who set the diplomatic missions ablaze for the execution of top Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr by Saudi Arabia Iranian pilgrims returned to Hajj this year for the first time since a deadly crush in 2015, in what could be an important confidence-building measure for dialogue on other thorny issues between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia and several other Arab governments severed ties with Qatar in June, citing its support for Iran as one of the main reasons. Iran accused Saudi Arabia of being behind deadly attacks in Tehran claimed by Islamic State, something Riyadh denied.

Until now, no Saudi report on the 2015 crush has been published, and the bodies of dozens of Iranian victims remain unidentified. Family members of 11 Iranians whose bodies are still missing are traveling to Mecca later this year for DNA tests

Nearly 800 people were killed, according to Riyadh, when two large groups of pilgrims arrived at a crossroads east of Mecca. Counts by countries of repatriated bodies showed over 2,000 people may have died, including more than 400 Iranians. Iran’s Supreme Leader has said his people would never forget that “catastrophe”, but President Hassan Rouhani suggested a trouble-free Hajj this year could help build confidence in other areas of dispute between the arch-rivals. So far, Iranian pilgrims say they are satisfied.

This year, Iran issued its nearly 90,000 pilgrims blue electronic bracelets to help organizers trace and identify them. Dozens of Iranians clad in traditional white clothes and a distinctive red mark arrived in orange buses on Thursday at their encampment in Mount Arafat.

Iranian pilgrims participated without incident in the symbolic stoning of the devil on Friday, the riskiest part of the Hajj because of the large crowds involved. More than 2.3 million pilgrims participated in the five-day ritual, a religious duty once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford the journey. Tehran had sent pilgrims to Hajj based on Saudi promises of safety.

Pilgrims with previous experience at the Hajj say their facilities and treatment by the Saudi authorities are better than in past years and include air conditioned tents. “The way that security handled the Iranian pilgrims until now has been good,” said Samir Shuahni, an Iranian journalist with the delegation. “This is what I’ve noticed for the nearly month that I’ve been in Mecca and Medina: there is good cooperation and the pilgrims are moving freely.”

Iranians said the Saudi authorities had asked them not to hold a traditional Shi’ite prayer in an open space in Medina, citing it as a potential target for Islamic State militants. Such restrictions have not troubled Iranians still in shock from the IS attack in Tehran which killed at least 18 people.

 

Observation

Both Islamic leaders do not show real inclination for a peace and friendship deal in order to protect themselves as well as a unified Islam.

However, it is indeed puzzling to know who between the two is eager to sustain the tensions and why.

Clearly, the off repeated Saudi-Iran tensions unnecessarily delay the resolution of Palestine issue as Israel and USA continue to prolong the Zionist occupation of and genocides in Palestine territories. Both should share the guilt and blame for the genocides and hardship of people of Palestine.  Israelis and Americans relish Islamic blood but do Saudi and Iran also do the same?

Needless to ascertain that mutual suspicion forces them to knock at the doors of enemies of Islam as Saudi Arabia is strenuously doing by trying for joint action against Iran systematically.  Will that help Saudi Arabia at least in the long run improve its global standing or Islamic status?

Therefore, Iran still lacked confidence in Riyadh but hoped it would build goodwill.

Question is how far faithful and devoted Muslims they are! Whether they believe in God or in their own relative wealth!

Hopefully, logic and good thinking on the part of both Saudi and Iran would help the Palestinians regain their lost sovereignty to Zionist fascists and western imperialist and also promote unity among Muslims.

These Muslim leaders are accountable for their foolish and hypocritical actions and answerable elsewhere….

 

Advertisements

India: Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit draws fire for meeting district officials!

India: Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit draws fire for meeting district officials!

– Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

_____

 

 

 

Tamil Nadu governor’s action of talking directly to the officals has been criticized by political leaders in the state who argue Governor cannot do that as there is an elected government, MLAs, MPs, ministers, who would do that job and Governor should not have assumed the role assigned for the state government

 

Tamil Nadu’s newly appointed Governor Banwarilal Purohit seems to have departed from the usual practices of governors in India who just enjoy life at the high bungalows, attend important meetings, inaugurate conferences, etc,  and sign the necessary documents.

 

Governor Purohit on November 14 held review meetings with top district officials in Coimbatore. However, this did not go down well with the opposition, with some politicians objecting to it.  The Governor had arrived in Coimbatore to attend the convocation ceremony of Bharathiar University.

 

Later, in the day, he held meetings with the district officials, including the collector, city police commissioner and corporation commissioner and other senior officials. This has set off a debate over whether the Governor overstepped his Constitutional remit and was interfering in the affairs of the district administration.

 

Informal meeting

 

Governor of a state is constitutional head of that state and the real ruler who governs the state with the help of an elected government. In fact, Governor appoints the cabinet with a team of ministers along with a CM to lead the government and reports to the Governor its performance on a regular basis. If the Governor is not satisfied with the performance of the government he or she can take action to replace it with another ministry.  Governor needs the approval of the federal government for any major change. .

 

The informal meeting of government officials convened by Tamil Nadu’s new Governor, Banwarilal Purohit, in Coimbatore raised eyebrows, as the meeting was ostensibly meant to get a briefing on activities and governance in the district, usually not part of the Governor’s role. The meeting reportedly included Powerpoint presentations by Coimbatore District Collector T N Hariharan and about a dozen senior officials, inviting criticism from several opposition parties in the state.

 

Besides the collector, among the top officials in Tuesday’s meeting with Purohit were the Superintendent of Police, city police commissioner, senior Revenue, PWD, Highways and Health officials and the Coimbatore corporation commissioner, sources said.

 

 

A secretary in the government said that usually the collector and the SP meet the Governor during his/her visit to districts. “Such meetings may also include informal conversations about the district. But a Governor meeting officials and formally demanding a briefing or presentation is unusual,” the officer said.

 

While former Governors confined most of their meetings to the Raj Bhavan in Chennai, Purohit’s office said he will attend more programmes in Coimbatore on Wednesday, overseeing progress of Swachh Bharat scheme in the district, among others.

 

Collector Hariharan said, “It was not a review meeting. He is a new Governor. Unless he knows about the district, he cannot contribute in development.” Hariharan added that Purohit had worked in a similar manner during his earlier stints at Governors of Assam and Meghalaya. Asked whether the meeting was part of usual protocol and briefings formal, Hariharan said, “It was an official but informal meeting.”

 

Reaction

 

Politicians and officials in Tamil Nadu are mindful of the fact that Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi neighbouring Puducherry has already challenged the elected government on several policy and administrative decisions.

 

 

State Congress chief S Thirunavukkarasar said, “When we have an elected government, with a Chief Minister and ministers, the Governor need not to go to districts and meet officials.” The CPI (M) and Dalit party VCK were among other parties that criticised Purohit’s decision to reportedly demand briefing from officials.

Asked about Purohit’s approach, a senior jurist said that there is “nothing unusual” in a Governor meeting officials, as he is the head of the state.

 

Fringe political outfits like Thanthai Periyar Dravida Kazhagam, led by its chief K Ramakrishnan, tried to hold a black flag demonstration and were removed by the police.

 

All opposition leaders have condemned the Governor’s action as ‘silly’. Objecting to Governor Purohit’s meetings in Coimbatore, CPI (M) G Ramakrishnan said, “This only proves, yet again, that the government here is under the control of the BJP and is acting as its handmaiden”.

 

VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan said: “It is unconventional and unnecessary for the governor to intervene in administration. In Delhi and Puducherry, at least there is a justification for governors intervening in government administration since they are Union territories.”  Congress functionary A Gopanna said: “As far as our constitutional scheme of things is concerned, the Governor, when he or she has any issue to take up with the State government, can get it done through the council of Ministers. It would not be healthy for him to interfere in the functioning of the administration.”

 

But a senior IAS officer recalled that when he was the collector of Tindivanam, he received specific directions to ignore the visit of then Governor M Chenna Reddy, whose power tussles with the then J Jayalalithaa government were infamous. “We used to get directions from the government  not to meet or listen to his (Chenna Reddy’s) instructions. I have never seen such a crisis after the tenure of Governor Reddy,” the IAS officer recalled.

 

 

A bureaucrat TNM spoke to said that it was an abnormal move. Another said, “In the last few decades, TN Governors and Chief Ministers have had an amicable relationship. But I wonder if a CM like Karunanidhi or Jayalalithaa would have allowed this?”. Another bureaucrat however disagreed. “The Governor is not familiar with the scenario in TN. Also, it is important that he is familiar with the bureaucracy. As long as he didn’t give them instructions on what to do, such a meeting is well within his rights,” the bureaucrat said.

 

DMK MP and organizing Secretary RS Bharati alleged that the BJP was trying to repeat in Tamil Nadu what it has done in other states while saying, “It is completely unacceptable.”

 

Meanwhile, BJP state president Tamilisai Sounderajan defended the governor and said, “We should look at the meetings in a positive manner. Just because there is no precedent, it doesn’t stop a governor from meeting officials for the welfare of the state.”

 

Unusual Governor

 

Banwarilal Purohit is a public personality inseparably involved in social, political, educational and industrial fields of Vidarbha in Maharashtra.Purohit entered the field of politics in 1977. He had won Maharashtra Assembly election for the first time in 1978 from Nagpur east seat. Soon after, he was re—elected in 1980 from Nagpur south and became a minister in 1982. In 1984 and 1989, Purohit was elected to the Lok Sabha from Nagpur-Kamptee seat and was a member of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee of Defence Ministry. He was re-elected from the Lok Sabha seat in 1996 and served as a member of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Home Affairs, Member of Standing Committee on Defence and Member of Public Sector Undertaking Committee. Switching between BJP and Congress, he was under criticism and had a difficult time, especially after 2000. He was appointed as the Governor of Assam in 2016, along with the additional charge of Meghalaya. Purohit is also credited with revival of ‘The Hitavada’, an English daily founded by Gopal Krishna Gokhale, the mentor of Mahatma Gandhi. Under him ‘The Hitavada’ became a leading newspaper of central India and apart from its headquarters edition at Nagpur the daily also launched editions from Jabalpur, Raipur, and Bhopal.

 

As a full-time Governor, Banwarilal Purohit, who was appointed as TN governor when he was Governor of Assam, was expected to face the challenge of handling the volatile political situation in the state following the unexpected death of CM Jayalalithaa. .

 

Divisions in the ruling AIADMK created problems for the former Tamil Nadu Governor C Vidyasagar Rao but he handled well the delicate issue of putting a new government in office. He very tactfully denied Sasikala’s strenuous efforts to become the chief minister after managing the show of taking over the party. Many Party leaders have close financial links with her and hence they supported her. Rao waited for the judgment of Supreme Court on the s disproportionate assets case and his decision has been validated as Sasikala was sent to jail, instead of Madras Fort about which she possibly had been dreaming for years as Jayalalithaa was ill.

 

Later after Palanisamy was sworn to power as CM of Tamil Nadu, O. Pannerselvam also joined his government; there has been a demand from the opposition DMK and Dinakaran, a AIADMK rebel leader and nephew of jailed Sasikala to ask the Palanisamy to prove  hi s majority n the assembly, but Governor Rao did not oblige them as he did not think   Dinakaran and his supporting MLAs oppose the AIADMK government and  that he is angry maybe because  EPS had not made him a minister.

Dinakaran himself told reporters in Chennai he still believed that the Governor would take a “good” decision on the demand of the 19 MLAs owing allegiance to him on the removal of the Chief Minister. He said he was giving time for Palaniswamy to step down on his own.

 

Following the development, the DMK and other Opposition parties in Tamil Nadu accused the Governor of playing a “partisan” role and “passing the buck” by refusing to convene a meeting of the Assembly for the AIADMK government to prove its majority. They demanded a full time Governor for the state.  Indian Home minister Rajnath Singh is believed to have told them that the issue was now within the ambit of “internal affairs” of the AIADMK and the Governor had nothing to do with it.

Reacting to the reported remarks of the Governor, DMK leader MK Stalin alleged that Rao was behind the coming together of the two factions of the AIADMK as he was acting at the behest of the Modi government which was using agencies like the Income Tax department and Enforcement Directorate to threaten AIADMK leaders. Stalin said the Governor was playing politics.

 

The BJP in Tamil Nadu strongly defended the role of the Governor, saying opposition parties were trying to politicize the issue.

 

Tamil Nadu politicians should think beyond vote bank politics and consider the problems people face in the state and think about how to help the people. They must sympathetically consider the d efforts of the Governor Purohit for the state and support him all through.

 

Clearly, TN Governor Purohit is an unusual governor who is eager to play his role in streamlining the state politics and policies of Tamil Nadu government. Possibly he aims at speed up administrative works and attack corruption as Tamil Nadu is one of leading corrupt states in the country with a lot of poverty and illiteracy.

 

Hopefully Tamil Nadu and India as a whole would benefit from Governor Purohit’s earnest efforts to help the Tamils.

USA should focus on global denuclearization and not just target North Korea and Iran!

USA should focus on global denuclearization and not just target North Korea and Iran!

Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

______

 

President Trump has used dirty expressions to belittle North Korea forgetting that it not a weak nation like Pakistan. Though Trump already claims victory in forcing North Korea to shelve its nuke ambitions, it is now clear that he would return to USA empty handed on that issue.

 

Doublespeak and double standards are the basis of US foreign policy and this has harmed the course of international relations as it seeks to impose its will on every nation on earth, threatening those it does not like.

America threatened Iran on behalf of its terror fascism ally Israel illegally possessing WMD obviously from USA and seeks monopoly of nukes in West Asia. USA has already empowered Israeli fascist regime as the regional super power.

In North Korea’s case USA is just taking the side of South Korea and Japan. Not only it threatens North but also asked Japan and South to attack North.

Apparently, US president Donald Trump  has planned his Asia tour keeping in view  the challenge is facing as  the superpower from a third world North Korea hat refuses to toe the US line of thinking and operations as Israel has been doing.

As the longest tour of Asia by a US president in 25 years, US President Donald Trump has embarked on a 12-day trip to Asia starting on Friday the 3rd November during which he would five countries: Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. In his shuttle diplomatic voyage, President Trump is expected to show a united front with South Korea and Japan while pressing China to take a stronger line with Pyongyang.

Donald Trump has kicked off his 12-day tour of the Asia-Pacific region in Japan. Trump will then visit South Korea and China before traveling south to Vietnam and the Philippines.

Ahead of a trip to Asia starting from Japan, Trump urged Saudi Arabia to choose Wall Street as a venue for the initial public offerings (IPO) of shares of oil giant Aramco in 2018. He tweeted from Hawaii, “Would very much appreciate Saudi Arabia doing their IPO of Aramco with the New York Stock Exchange. The Aramco IPO is expected to be the largest in history, raising around $100 billion in much-needed revenue for the Saudi kingdom. Saudi Arabia has posted $200 billion in deficits in the past three fiscal years due to the slump in global oil prices. Aramco, which controls Saudi Arabia’s massive energy assets, plans to list nearly 5 per cent of its shares in the stock market. Plans are to list the offering in the second half of 2018 on the Saudi stock market as well as an international exchange, with markets in New York and London vying for the offering.

USA and UK have promoted their policy of rampant corruption in Saudi system, quickly duplicated by all other Arab nations.

 

Donald Trump’s tour of Asia offers plenty to keep the US president cheerful, from lavish state banquets to honour-guard pomp and even a chummy round of golf with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Upon arrival in Japan, Trump resumed his characteristic aggressive rhetoric targeting his “foes” like North Korea, Iran and Pakistan warning them of destruction saying that they are on a suicide mission.

 

Challenge of Asia-Pacific policy

Fake news, fictitious threat perception concerning their security by the government makes both USA and Israel strong militarily. USA and Israel always fix their imagined foes trying to target and destroy them, though it remains a fact both cannot be destroyed because of their anti-missile shield and WMD.

Thus any country seeking nuclear energy and WMD to defend their nations and populations from possible enemy attacks is viewed as being the cause of destructive trouble for the super power of USA and Israel.  Of course that is only a known gimmick to threaten and bully the weak nations seeking WMD.

Thus Iran and North Korea are seen as their enemies because USA says they are developing nukes to destroy only USA and Israel.

Former US President Barack Obama tried to “rebalance” the US’ defence and economic policy to counter China’s rise, including with a 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal that excluded Beijing.

Trump scrapped TTP almost as soon as he entered the White House in January. Amy Searight, a former Pentagon official, told Al Jazeera the “lack of any replacement with a proactive trade policy or economic agenda” has left Washington’s Asian partners feeling anxious.

Trump the property magnate is expected to unveil a new framework at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, on November 10. White House officials talk up plans for a “free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Although big questions about the policy remain, a recommitment to rules-based economic fairness may be a solid message, Lindsey Ford, a former Department of Defense official, told Al Jazeera.  “It’s important for people to hear that America First does not mean Asia last; that American prosperity can go hand in hand with Asian prosperity,” said Ford, an analyst at the Asia Society Policy Institute, a think-tank.

Trump’s biggest challenge could be the one thing he cannot seem to change: himself.  He is prone to undiplomatic language that plays badly with buttoned-down Asian officials. Previously on Twitter, he accused South Korea of trying to “appease” its northern neighbour, and criticised Xi for not doing enough to rein in Pyongyang.

The trip is longer and tougher than his first foreign venture to the Middle East in May. He may get irked by Japanese resentment over a US military base in Okinawa, or rallies against the “war maniac” US president on the streets of South Korea. “Among government officials, there are going to be a lot of white-knuckles and held breath throughout the two days of his time in South Korea,” Scott Snyder, a scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations, a think-tank, told Al Jazeera.

There is a risk of clashing egos when Trump meets Rodrigo Duterte, the hard-boiled president of the Philippines, on November 13. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend APEC, shifting the spotlight back on to the troublesome probe of election collusion.

China is a safer bet.

 

WMD as deterrent

The US President Donald Trump’s two-week visit to the Asia-Pacific region as  the threat of a military confrontation with North Korea will be high on the agenda in Japan, South Korea, and China.

North Korea is developing its nuclear weapons to defend itself against any future US aggression so it doesn’t endure “the tragic situation of the war-torn non-nuclear countries which became the targets of invasion and plunder by the USA.

North Korea needs nuclear weapons as a deterrent to prevent “invasion and plunder” by the unilateral USA. It is indeed scared of US militarism and condemned the USA and its allies’ “crazy escalation of sanctions, pressure, and military threats” against the communist country that “will get them nowhere”.

The nuclear force of the DPRK has become a strong deterrent for firmly protecting peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and the rest of Northeast Asia and creditably guaranteeing the sovereignty and the rights to existence and development of the Korean nation, using the acronym for the country’s official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The Uriminzokkiri commentary denounced the military build-up near North Korea. “It is ridiculous for the US to try to browbeat the DPRK through such muscle-flexing as deploying nuclear aircraft carriers and submarines near the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity and flying nuclear-capable strategic bombers on it,” it said.

The USA has said it will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea and Trump has threatened to “totally destroy” the country. In response, Kim Jong-un’s leadership said it may conduct an atmospheric nuclear weapons test. North Korea dared USA to make the first military move.

In advance of Trump’s visit, three American aircraft carrier strike groups have been deployed to the region, a move military analysts have described as unusual. Stratfor, a US-based intelligence analysis company, noted in a report that the US Air Force also will send a dozen F-35A stealth fighter jets to a base in Japan in early November.

The gathering is a rare occurrence – the last time three US aircraft carrier strike groups convened for a combined exercise was in 2007 – and will give the United States a powerful force within striking distance of North Korea,” Stratfor said.”Taken together, these developments suggest that the United States is preparing for a confrontation. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Washington is gearing up to start a war with Pyongyang,” a report concluded.

Michael T Clare, a professor of peace and world-security studies at Hampshire College in the US, wrote: “There can be only two plausible explanations for this extraordinary naval buildup: to provide Trump with the sort of military extravaganza he seems to enjoy; and/or to prepare for a pre-emptive military strike on North Korea.”

Tensions remain sky high after North Korea’s sixth and most powerful underground nuclear test in September, and a flurry of ballistic missile tests in recent months.

Target North Korea

Trump has previously exchanged some fiery rhetoric with North Korea over its ballistic missile tests but aides said earlier last week that he would not go to the heavily fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ) on the border between the South and North. He is, however, to visit Camp Humphreys, a US military complex south of the capital, Seoul. Trump’s visit to China was incorporated into his itinerary to make Beijing get North Korea on board.

The way the Trump government tells it, the totalitarian regime in Pyongyang is rapidly developing nuclear warheads and the intercontinental ballistic missiles to carry them to a US West Coast city such as Seattle or Los Angeles.

The White House counter-strategy seems to be assuring allies such as South Korea and Japan that the USA still has their back, while getting North Korea’s main ally, China, to economically pressure Pyongyang back to the bargaining table.

That’s a recipe for trouble at Trump-Xi talks from November 8 onwards. Many Trump’s officials believe that Beijing has to help solve the North Korea problem. Not be helpful, but solve the problem. And there’s no easy solution to this, certainly not one that China will find acceptable and low cost.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s calculus is different. Beijing-Pyongyang relations have troughed, but a collapse of the hermit nation could send refugees spilling northwards and land American troops on China’s doorstep.

That’s where the fun stops. These are big tests for a commander-in-chief who does, on occasion, follow the teleprompter and stay “on message”, but at other times becomes frustrated and fires off salvos of brusque, early morning Twitter missives.  It also represents a grueling 12-day slog of speech-making, summits, and tricky sit-downs on a range of trade disputes – and the intractable policy headache of North Korea’s nuclear arms program.

While Trump has skimped North Korea in his maiden trip to the region of Asia Pacific, the trip is indeed focused on that country as he wants to deny nuclearization of that nation. He wants to make a united front among the regional powers including China against North Korea.

Trump has spoken of raining “fire and fury” on North Korea – rhetoric that nudges the region towards a potentially calamitous conflict. He may well tone that down a notch when addressing the National Assembly in Seoul on November 8. He may also be wise to offer some goodies. The US pull-out from TPP came as China was rolling out its multibillion-dollar “Belt and Road” infrastructure development plan across Asia and beyond.  According to Ford, the expected Asia policy must provide a new “economic vision, post-TPP”. Simply renegotiating a bilateral trade with South Korea, and vaunting new ones with Japan and Vietnam, is not enough.

Will there be a war on the Korean Peninsula?

Absolutely there is no chance for a direct US war with North Korea, a close ally of China and Russia –veto members.  Russia and China would reject any US proposal in UN for a war with NK. USA would not dare attack North Korea on its own or under the NATO banner since Russia and China might as well enter the war, making it a beginning of an official WW-III.

There could be possible triggers for war with North Korea that need to be carefully watched. The first possible trigger is a declaration of war by North Korea, especially since the USA has made clear it has not declared war. This won’t happen because Russia and China would not support it. The idea that countries would formally declare war against each other, before commencing hostilities, is a relic of the early 20th century. Although remnants of the practice remain, it was largely outdated by the Second World War as the military advantages of surprise as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour and the Nazi attack on Soviet Russia, made clear.

The second possible trigger is the North Korea threat of a possible detonation of a nuclear device in the atmosphere over the Pacific. Although the aesthetics of such an act would shock the world as humanity has not seen a nuclear airburst since that done by China in 1980, this would not be the beginning of hostilities. However, if Kim explodes it in international territory, such as the high seas, he faces different rules, such as when Australia and New Zealand took France to the International Court of Justice after French atmospheric testing caused radiation pollution to fall on them, downwind. It was for this reason of pollution that most of the global community concluded an international agreement prohibiting such atmospheric nuclear testing. The third possible trigger is the North Korea threat to shoot down aircraft in international airspace as in, mirroring the territorial sea, 12 nautical miles/22.2km out from the land. Previously in 1969, North Korea did shoot down an American spy plane, killing all 31 members aboard when it was operating in international airspace. At that point, President Nixon did not respond with violence due to a fear of how the Soviet Union and China would react.

Interestingly, upon arriving Tokyo, Trump has asked Japan to attack North Korea by firing missiles to that nation. Japan is yet to respond to US demand. .

After the Second World War, the UN seeking global peace hoped that all members would refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, to which Declarations of War by individual states would become redundant. However, when the North Korean armed forces advanced over the 38th parallel on June 25, 1950, without a declaration of war, it was shown how in vain this hope was. The response to this act of aggression by North Korea was the 84th resolution of the Security Council (when the Soviet Union was absent from the vote) to defend South Korea under the UN flag but with the leadership of the US.

Today, the situation is even more complicated as the North Korean rhetoric of declaring war is not uncommon. Following the 2013 sanctions approved by the Security Council against North Korea for their nuclear test, Kim Jong-un promised a pre-emptive strike against the USA with its nuclear weapons. This was followed by a “Full War Declaration Statement”. This was all part of their assertions that North Korea had scrapped the armistice that ended the first Korean War in 1953.

To show their determination in 2013, North Korea also cut the hotline that enabled direct communication between North and South Korea. Although the hotline was reconnected a few months later, when South Korea closed down the joint Kaesong industrial complex following Kim Jung-un’s fourth nuclear test in early 2016, North Korea condemned the act as a Declaration of War, and then cut the hotline again.

Cutting the hotline is more dangerous than the rhetoric. Hotlines prevent accidental war. South Korea, which has a hotline to China, has been trying to have its hotline to North Korea reconnected. However, the line that is really needed is one between North Korea and Washington. Such best practice has been evident since 1963, following the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the two superpowers recognised the necessity to be able to talk directly, at short notice, whenever required so as not to stumble into nuclear war.

Today, war planes of both USA and Russia keep flying over very close to  each other’s space. Russian military aircraft have flown over 60 times close to Alaska or down past the edge of Western Europe in the past 10 years have shown, no matter how unpleasant such acts may be, such planes may be intercepted and followed, but they may not be shot down if they do not cross into territorial airspace. To ensure that no mistakes are made in this carefully choreographed sabre rattling, certain rules need to apply – primarily, the planes should not be invisible.

If Kim decides to take down one of the American planes flying in international airspace, as his grandfather Kim Il-sung did in earlier times, he would be gambling against the odds that President Trump will not respond with violence.

However, if USA would declare war on North Korea is a trillion dollar question. Will Trump order the Pentagon to attack North Korea disregarding the worst, devastating consequences?

One important question puzzles everyone.  Is USA really sincere about denuclearization? Not at all! It does not want to destroy its own nukes. All it seeks is to force every other country to denuclearize themselves so that entire world fears the superpower. While it is not sincere about global denuclearization, it now asks for denuclearization Korean Peninsula. .

Doublespeak and double standards are the basis of US foreign policy. President Trump has used dirty expressions to belittle North Korea forgetting that it not a weak nation like Pakistan. Though Trump already claims victory in forcing North Korea to shelve its nuke ambitions, it is now clear that he would return to USA empty handed on that issue.

USA should know that piecemeal approach won’t work to achieve denuclearization and it needs to be applied b globally. So long as Israel is allowed to have nukes that too without any legal basis, there is no chance for denuclearization to succeed and win recognition of global nations.

Angry rhetoric against the nations aspiring for their legitimate nuclear faculty won’t work too.

King Salman reform: Saudi Arabia attacks high level corruption: princes arrested, ministers dismissed!

King Salman reform: Saudi Arabia attacks high level corruption: princes arrested, ministers dismissed!

–       Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

_______

 

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace as well as spiritual home of Islam, has been in news in recent years as it makes strenuous efforts to enhance its global profile as a leader of (Sunni) Islamic world. It managed the Arab Spring so well that though the phenomenon had struck entire Arab world, starting from Tunisia, just passed by that nation without making any real impact on the Saudi life and politics. However, Saudi government and the king himself were in anxiety and despair until the “spring” died down.

Saudi king Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is now seen taking bold steps to cleanse the system off corruption. That Saudi Arabians and royal families are corrupt has shocked the world that thought Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of holy Prophet of Islam, as free from bribery and corruption.

All of a sudden Saudi government decided to check growth of corruption in the Islamic nation, found even many of the royal families within the government corrupt, arrested and put them in jail.  According to initial report, at least 11 princes, four current ministers and several former ministers had been detained in the anti-corruption probe.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has dismissed a number of senior ministers and detained nearly a dozen princes in an investigation by a new anti-corruption committee on Saturday. Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire businessman who owns investment firm Kingdom Holding, was among those held. The senior ministers who were sacked include Prince Mitaab bin Abdullah, the head of the National Guard.

Those involved in  the historic corruption scandal of Saudi kingdom include: Alwaleed bin Talal, owner of Kingdom Holding group; Prince Mitaab bin Abdullah, minister of the National Guard; Prince Turki bin Abdullah, former governor of Riyadh ; Prince Turki bin Nasser, former head of meteorology, environment; Waleed al-Ibrahim, chairman of MBC media group; Khaled al-Tuwaijri, former president of the Royal Court; Adel Faqih, minister of economy and planning; Amr al-Dabbagh, former president of the General Investment Authority; Saleh Abdullah Kamel, chairman of Dallah al Baraka Group; Saud al-Tobaishi, head of Royal ceremonies and protocols; Ibrahim al-Assaf, state minister and executive of Saudi Aramco; Bakr Binladin, owner of construction company Saudi Binladin Group; Saud al-Dawish, former CEO of Saudi Telecom Company; Khaled al-Mulhem, former director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines.

In a statement King Salman alluded to the “exploitation by some of the weak souls” who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to, illicitly, accrue money” for the creation of the anti-graft committee.

The detentions follow a crackdown in September on political opponents of Saudi Arabia’s rulers that saw some 30 clerics, intellectuals and activists detained. Prince Alwaleed, a flamboyant character, has sometimes used his prominence as an investor to aim barbs at the kingdom’s rulers. In December 2015, he called then-US presidential candidate Donald Trump a “disgrace to all America” and demanded on Twitter that he withdraw from the election.

The arrested officials are believed to be being housed in the five-star Ritz Carlton Hotel, which two weeks ago held a high-profile investment summit under the auspices of Prince Mohammed. The convention centre next door was used to receive Donald Trump in May, when the US president travelled to Saudi Arabia to reset relations with his country’s long-term ally, which had deteriorated under the Obama administration that had pivoted to Iran.

Saudis really are on the brink of dramatic changes.  In 2015, Mohammed bin Salman became minster of defence. Just a few months ago, he became the head of all the internal security forces because they got rid of the Mohammed bin Nayef, then crown prince. Now he’s taken control of the third most important security apparatus within the country, so he has defence, he is in control of interior and now he is in control of the guards.

Clearly he has the stage set. Clearly all the heads of all the major media networks, newspapers, and commentators were all already groomed, set in motion in order to defend the crown prince and his policies. There are already new songs for the crown prince and his glory, so internally they are definitely setting the stage in terms of the three security apparatuses, the media and so on.

President Trump has given his blessings and support to the crown prince with the hundreds of billions of dollars of promised contracts, so he’s certainly supporting his various ambitions in the region, most importantly that of the confrontation with Iran in the region. This is something that Trump really wants as well as apparently a promised rapprochement with Israel.

 

Rise of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is geographically the fifth-largest state in Asia and second-largest state in the Arab world after Algeria. Saudi Arabia is bordered by Jordan and Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman to the southeast and Yemen to the south. It is separated from Israel and Egypt by the Gulf of Aqaba. It is the only nation with both a Red Sea coast and a Persian Gulf coast and most of its terrain consists of arid desert and mountains.

Saudi Arabia is called in the West as a monarchical autocracy.  Saudi Arabia is considered a regional and middle power.  Saudi Arabia was the world’s second largest arms importer in 2010–2014. By 1976, Saudi Arabia had become the largest oil producer in the world. King Khalid’s reign saw economic and social development progress at an extremely rapid rate, transforming the infrastructure and educational system of the country; in foreign policy, close ties with the USA were developed.

Saudi Arabia’s command economy is petroleum-based; roughly 75% of budget revenues and 90% of export earnings come from the oil industry. Saudi Arabia officially has about 260 billion barrels (4.1×1010 m3) of oil reserves, comprising about one-fifth of the world’s proven total petroleum reserves It is strongly dependent on foreign workers with about 80% of those employed in the private sector being non-Saudi.

Discovery of oil greatly enhanced the economic and financial prowess of Saudi kingdom. Petroleum was discovered on 3 March 1938 and followed up by several other finds in the Eastern Province. Saudi Arabia has since become the world’s largest oil producer and exporter, controlling the world’s second largest oil reserves and the sixth largest gas reserves. The kingdom is categorized as a World Bank high-income economy with a high Human Development Index and is the only Arab country to be part of the G-20 major economies. However, the economy of Saudi Arabia is the least diversified in the Gulf Cooperation Council, lacking any significant service or production sector, apart from the extraction of resources.

Saudi Arabia is heavily dependent on oil for income and has been suffering since oil prices crashed from more than $100 a barrel in 2014. The kingdom has been desperately trying to diversify its economy away from the commodity, but is still focused on trying to raise oil values and restore its main income source. Saudi Arabia’s risky plot to raise oil prices to save its economy has failed sending the country into crisis. The kingdom tried to manipulate prices by slashing output to increase demand, but the plan backfired as US shale producers continued to pump more oil. Prices have fallen as low as $43 a barrel and remained well below $50 since the end of May when OPEC announced its plans to tackle oversupply. OPEC members Libya and Nigeria were previously exempt from the cap announced in May, but desperate OPEC and Saudi could now pressure the two countries to comply in the hope of denting supply. Russia has already called on OPEC to cap output from Nigeria and Libya in the near future and it will be interesting to see if any new agreements are proposed for both nations to join the oil production cut agreement.

Among the challenges to Saudi economy include halting or reversing the decline in per capita income, improving education to prepare youth for the workforce and providing them with employment, diversifying the economy, stimulating the private sector and housing construction, diminishing corruption and inequality.

In addition to petroleum and gas, Saudi also has a small gold mining sector in the Mahd adh Dhahab region and other mineral industries, an agricultural sector, especially in the southwest, based on dates and livestock, and large number of temporary jobs created by the roughly two million annual Hajj pilgrims. Virtually all Saudi citizens are Muslim (officially, all are), and almost all Saudi residents are Muslim. Estimates of the Sunni population of Saudi Arabia range between 75% and 90%, with the remaining 10–25% being Shia Muslim. The official and dominant form of Sunni Islam in Saudi Arabia is commonly known as Wahhabism.

According to estimates there are about 1,500,000 Christians in Saudi Arabia, almost all foreign workers. Saudi Arabia allows Christians to enter the country as foreign workers for temporary work. Americans enjoy special status in Saudi as they are not punished there for their crimes and there could be some CIA agents too among them who promote corruption and create challenges for Islam as part of their mission. In 1980, Saudi Arabia bought out the American interests in Aramco.

In 1979, two events occurred which greatly concerned the government, and had a long-term influence on Saudi foreign and domestic policy. The first was the Iranian Islamic Revolution. It was feared that the country’s Shi’ite minority in the Eastern Province which is also the location of the oil fields might rebel under the influence of their Iranian co-religionists. There were several anti-government uprisings in the region such as the 1979 Qatif Uprising. The second event was the Grand Mosque Seizure in Mecca by Islamist extremists. The militants involved were in part angered by what they considered to be the corruption and un-Islamic nature of the Saudi government. The government regained control of the mosque after 10 days and those captured were executed. Part of the response of the royal family was to enforce a much stricter observance of traditional religious and social norms in the country (for example, the closure of cinemas) and to give the Ulema a greater role in government. Neither entirely succeeded as Islamism continued to grow in strength.

This partly explains why Saudi kingdom is touchy of Sunni branch of Islam opposes Iran.

King Khalid died of a heart attack in June 1982. He was succeeded by his brother, King Fahd, who added the title “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” to his name in 1986 in response to considerable fundamentalist pressure to avoid use of “majesty” in association with anything except God. Fahd continued to develop close relations with the USA and increased the purchase of American and British military equipment. Saudi used a good part of its income from oil sales on terror goods from USA, UK and other western countries.

In the 1980s, Saudi Arabia spent $25 billion in support of Saddam Hussein in the Iran–Iraq War. However, Saudi Arabia condemned the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and asked the US to intervene.[55] King Fahd allowed American and coalition troops to be stationed in Saudi Arabia.

As the USA began pushing its own religious and capitalist agenda in the nation of Islam, many Saudis opposed Washington and Saudi Arabia’s relations with the West began to cause growing concern among some of the ulema and students of sharia law and was one of the issues that led to an increase in Islamist terrorism in Saudi Arabia, as well as Islamist terrorist attacks in Western countries

The vast wealth generated by oil revenues was beginning to have an even greater impact on Saudi society. It led to rapid technological modernisation, urbanization, mass public education and the creation of new media. This and the presence of increasingly large numbers of foreign workers greatly affected traditional Saudi norms and values. Although there was dramatic change in the social and economic life of the country, political power continued to be monopolized by the royal family leading to discontent among many Saudis who began to look for wider participation in government

 

Hidden economy and rampant corruption

Oil made many poor Arabs rich and billionaires in a few years. Now Arab government seriously consider  multi-pronged approach to diversify its economy from oil into other fields of economy, including industries, agriculture, services, military equipment production, modernization, etc.

Arabs make huge sums and wealth, both legitimate and illegal. The line between public funds and royal money is not always clear in Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy ruled by an Islamic system in which most law is not systematically codified and no elected parliament exists. WikiLeaks cables have detailed the huge monthly stipends that every Saudi royal receives as well as various money-making schemes some have used to finance lavish lifestyles.

Most of rich Arabs keep their wealth in USA and UK. Trump responded in typically combative terms accusing the prince of wanting to control “our politicians with daddy’s money”. Trump tweeted: “Dopey Prince Alwaleed_ Talal wants to control our US politicians with daddy’s money. Can’t do it when I get elected.” His father, Prince Talal, is considered one of the most vocal supporters of reform in the ruling Al Saud family, having pressed for a constitutional monarchy decades ago.

Al-Waleed had in fact recently promised to donate all his wealth to charity – although he had years earlier purchased a yacht from Trump, and according to Forbes’s profiles, shares the president’s predilection for mocked-up Time magazine covers apparently featuring his exploits.

The highest profile arrest in Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption purge is Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, a multibillionaire with huge investments in western firms.  Prince Al-Waleed, 62 and one of the world’s richest men, has become one of the most familiar – and progressive – faces of Saudi in western media. While he has the lifestyle, jets, yacht and palace of a stereotypical Saudi billionaire, he has burnished a different image with interventions such as backing rights for Saudi women and denouncing President Trump on Twitter.

The prince, a grandson of Saudi’s first ruler and son of a Saudi finance minister, has an estimated net worth of $17bn (£13bn), according to Forbes magazine – although he has sued them for underestimating his wealth. He came to prominence internationally as a major backer of Citigroup in the 1990s, and more so when continuing to back the firm as its value evaporated during the financial crisis. His investments extended into major media groups, with substantial stakes in Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp, Apple, Time Warner, Twitter, and owning Rotana, whose TV channels broadcast widely across the Arab-speaking world.  He has reduced his share in NewsCorp, but his clout was such that an intervention in 2011 in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal was seen as the coup de grace for News International’s Rebekah Brooks, telling the Murdochs from his superyacht in Cannes that “she has to go”.

The investment group he set up in 1980, rebranded as the Kingdom Holding Company in 1996, also owns several global luxury hotel chains, as well as landmark properties such as London’s Savoy Hotel and the George V in Paris. More recently it has backed Uber’s rival ride-hailing firm Lyft. On Twitter in 2015 he called Donald Trump a “disgrace to America” after the Republican candidate floated the idea of a ban on Muslims, and he urged Trump to quit the campaign.

Prince Al-Waleed was an early advocate of women’s employment in Saudi Arabia – hiring a female pilot for his jets, at a time when there was no prospect of women driving on the ground, and speaking out against the driving ban before the regime agreed this year to lift it. His wife, Ameera, who he divorced in 2013, usually appeared unveiled.

Al-Waleed’s international profile was extraordinary – frequently seen with top politicians, Wall Street executives and British royals. But he was an unofficial public face of the Saudi kingdom rather than a key part of the ruling elite – a status underlined by his arrest in King Salman’s crackdown.

His vision has not always matched reality: in a 2013 court case in London, a judge said that Prince Al-Waleed’s evidence in the witness box was “confusing and too unreliable” as he was forced to pay out in a business dispute. And while the prince already owns a Boeing 747 for his personal use, complete with throne, his ambition to have the world’s biggest superjumbo, the A380, refitted with a concert hall, Turkish baths, luxury suites and a parking bay for his Rolls Royce, remains unfulfilled. Despite placing an order with manufacturer Airbus in 2007 at the Dubai airshow, the plane remains on the tarmac in Toulouse to this day.

Hidden economies promote corruption more than the open ones. Transparency deficit automatically causes corruption on a large scale as it had happened in Russia and now happening in China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan etc are ordinary third world countries without any definition of good governance and so corruption is the order of the system in these countries.

The regime and system promote and encourage corruption as a state policy.

Anti-corruption probe and purge for accelerated change

Earlier, former British PM Tony Blaire had to resign for serious charges, including ones related to bribery scandals involving top Saudi officals and ministers. But the issue was never raised in Saudi Arabia or Arab world. Saudi government and king himself were keen not to publicize the corruption sandals of their ministers or officals because that would bring bad name for the nation with Holy sites. But the king or government did  not purse anti-corruption drive to cleanse the system and  present a positive image of  Saudi Arabia.

Now for the first time in modern Arabian history a King, namely Salman has ventured to contain corruption prevalent in Saudi life by his launch of the anti-corruption drive and catching the top culprits in the royal dynasty itself red handed. Well done.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has tightened his grip on power through an anti-corruption purge by arresting royals, ministers and investors including billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal who is one of the kingdom’s most prominent businessmen. Prince Alwaleed, a nephew of the king and owner of investment firm Kingdom Holding, invests in firms such as Citigroup and Twitter. He was among 11 princes, four ministers and tens of former ministers detained.

The purge against the kingdom’s political and business elite also targeted the head of the National Guard Prince Miteb bin Abdullah who was detained and replaced as minister of the powerful National Guard by Prince Khaled bin Ayyaf. News of the purge came after King Salman decreed the creation of an anti-corruption committee chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his 32-year-old favourite son who has amassed power since rising from obscurity three years ago.

The new anti-corruption body was given broad powers to investigate cases, issue arrest warrants and travel restrictions, and seize assets. “The homeland will not exist unless corruption is uprooted and the corrupt are held accountable,” the royal decree said.

King Salman issued a statement saying that the committee shall “identify offences, crimes and persons and entities involved in cases of public corruption”. The committee has the power to issue arrest warrants, travel bans, disclose and freeze accounts and portfolios, track funds and assets, and “prevent their remittance or transfer by persons and entities, whatever they might be”, according to the statement.

The shake-up of the Saudi government comes just months after King Salman replaced his nephew Mohammed bin Nayef with his son Mohammed bin Salman as the kingdom’s crown prince. Mohammed bin Salman has been responsible for pushing through a number of changes both at home and abroad since he became first in line to the Saudi crown. Ian Black of the London School of Economics said the move fit a “pattern of accelerated change” since Mohammed bin Salman became heir. “We’ve seen since June this year, very far-reaching changes,” he said, adding: “That was when Mohammed bin Salman, the son of King Salman, was appointed crown prince.”Since Mohammed bin Salman became the crown prince in June, we’ve seen a lot of upheaval. We’ve seen the announcement of this very ambitious Saudi plan to transform the country the Saudi economy, Vision 2030.”

The dismissal of Mitaab bin Abdullah as National Guard minister came shortly after a missile attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on Riyadh’s King Khaled International Airport. However, Black said the two were probably not related as the sacking came bundled with changes to other ministerial portfolios.

In recent weeks, Saudi Arabia has announced an end to its long-standing ban on allowing women to drive, and Mohammed bin Salman has also promised to return the country to a “moderate” form of Islam. Since 2015 Saudi Arabia has been at war against Houthi rebels, who control much of northern Yemen on the kingdom’s southern border.

It is not clear if the Trump visit emboldened the kingdom, which has been locked in a decades-long tussle with Iran for power and influence across the region. Since then, a swath of economic policies has been launched, along with cultural reforms unprecedented in Saudi history. By mid next year, women are expected to be allowed to drive, to enter sports stadiums and travel abroad without the endorsement of their male guardians.

It is also said the arrests were another pre-emptive measure by the crown prince to remove powerful figures as he exerts control over the world’s leading oil exporter. The round-up recalls the palace coup in June through which he ousted his elder cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef, as heir to the throne and interior minister. MbS, as he is known, was expected to follow at least by removing Prince Miteb from leadership of the National Guard, a pivotal power-base rooted in the kingdom’s tribes. Over the past year MbS has become the ultimate decision-maker for the kingdom’s military, foreign, economic and social policies, causing resentment among parts of the Al Saud dynasty frustrated by his meteoric rise.

Saudi Arabia’s stock index was dragged down briefly but recovered to close higher as some investors bet the crackdown could bolster reforms in the long run. The royal decree said the arrests were in response to “exploitation by some of the weak souls who have put their own interests above the public interest, in order to, illicitly, accrue money.”

Many ordinary Saudis praised the crackdown as long-awaited.

 

Reforms

King Salman’s purge should be seen as a part of his reform policy.

In September, the king announced that a ban on women driving would be lifted, while Prince Mohammed is trying to break decades of conservative tradition by promoting public entertainment and visits by foreign tourists.

The crown prince has also slashed state spending in some areas and plans a big sale of state assets, including floating part of state oil giant Saudi Aramco (IPO-ARMO.SE) on international markets. Prince Mohammed also led Saudi Arabia into a two-year-old war in Yemen, where the government says it is fighting Iran-aligned militants, and a row with neighbouring Qatar, which it accuses of backing terrorists, a charge Doha denies. Detractors of the crown prince say both moves are dangerous adventurism.

The most recent crackdown breaks with the tradition of consensus within the ruling family. Prince Mohammed, rather than forging alliances as the usual strategy, is extending his iron grip to the ruling family, the military, and the National Guard to counter what appears to be more widespread opposition within the family as well as the military to his reforms and the Yemen war.

In September, Prince Mohammed authorised the detention of some of the country’s most powerful clerics, fearing they may not be loyal to his agenda and supportive of his boycott of Qatar, which Saudi leaders accuse of destablising the region. The state moves on the home front followed a striking foreign policy stance earlier in the day that appeared to put the kingdom on a political collision course with Iran. Under Saudi pressure, the Lebanese prime minister, Saad al-Hariri, unexpectedly quit his job, citing Iranian interference across the Middle East. Hariri made his statement in Riyadh after twice being summoned to the Saudi capital during the week.

The attorney general, Saud al-Mojeb, said the newly mandated corruption commission had started multiple investigations. The decree establishing the commission said: “The homeland will not exist unless corruption is uprooted and the corrupt are held accountable.”  “The suspects are being granted the same rights and treatment as any other Saudi citizen,” he said. “During the investigation, all parties retain full legal privileges relating to their personal and private property, including funds.”

Prince Mohammed will oversee the corruption commission, adding to his already formidable list of responsibilities, including his role as defence minister and champion of the economic transformation, dubbed Vision 2030, that aims to revolutionize most aspects of Saudi life within 12 years. Prince Mohammed told the Guardian last month that the kingdom had been “not normal” for the past 30 years and pledged to return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam.

According to Al Arabiya, the new committee, which is headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is looking into the 2009 floods that devastated parts of Jeddah, as well as the government’s response to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus outbreak.

The interests of the Al Saud would remain protected. Both King Salman and heir apparent Mohammed bin Salman are fully committed to them. What they wish to instill, and seem determined to execute, is to modernize the ruling establishment, not just for the 2030 horizon but beyond it too.

 

Observation: A step in the right direction

Corruption is alien to Islam. The action against corruption shocked the world- not just the Arab nations or Islamic world alone. The world is under the impression, rather illusion that as the Islamic nation Saudi Arabia would not at all allow corruption in any meaner and that Saudis as the decedents of the first ever Muslims of the world would care for projecting a positive way of thinking and living.

The evil of corruption is deep in Saudi Arabia but without any state efforts to contain and reduce corruption the malice has become large scale corrupt practices. The kingdom’s top council of clerics tweeted that anti-corruption efforts were “as important as the fight against terrorism”, essentially giving religious backing to the crackdown.

The state attack on Saudi corrupt machinery at the top level is a well thought out step to root out corruption from the land of birth of Islam and of Holy Prophet of Islam and His infallible companions.

Nearly six months into his tenure as crown prince, which will eventually see him succeed his father as monarch, Prince Mohammed has launched a dizzying series of reforms designed to transform the kingdom’s moribund economy and put the relationship between the state and its citizens on a new footing.

Saudi arrests show crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is a risk-taker with a zeal for reform but the move would enormously strengthen his place in the governance. The move strengthens Prince Mohammed’s control of the kingdom’s security institutions, which had long been headed by separate powerful branches of the ruling family.

Crown Prince is raising the leverage of power in Saudi Arabia. He certainly has the blessings of his father King Salman and he’s determined to make all kinds of changes in Saudi Arabia itself and in Saudi foreign policy, which led to the war in Yemen and the Gulf crisis. But on domestic front, this is new. Not only do we have a new chapter opening up in Saudi Arabia, we have a whole new book: it’s still all done in secrecy. Why those 11 princes, why those four standing ministers? Is it really just to consolidate power or is there more to it?

In the tradition of Saudi Arabia, revolting against the royals is not a good idea. It’s never been recommended. But does it all end with this or will it lead to more?  There have been signs over the last two and a half years that more of this is coming.

Corruption has been rampant in recent generations in Saudi Arabia and Prince Mohammed had vowed to make business dealings more transparent. The spectacle of royal family members being arrested would add weight to claims of a crackdown on graft. However, such is the manner in which business is done in the kingdom, there would be few senior figures not connected to contract deals that would be considered corrupt in many other parts of the world.

Saudi Arabia’s leadership has pulled off its boldest move yet to consolidate power around its young crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, arresting 11 senior princes, one of the country’s richest men and scores of former ministers in what it billed as a corruption purge. The move aimed to reshape public behavior in a kingdom where patronage networks often determine business deals and prominent families secure substantial cuts from lucrative contracts.

However, some in the Saudi capital describe the move as a naked attempt to weed out dissent, and political rivals, as the ambitious heir to the throne continues to stamp his authority across most aspects of public life in Saudi Arabia.

The purge aimed to go beyond corruption and aimed to remove potential opposition to Prince Mohammed’s ambitious reform agenda which is widely popular with Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning youth population but faces resistance from some of the old guard more comfortable with the kingdom’s traditions of incremental change and rule by consensus.

 

President Erdogan’s visit to Iran and emerging Turkey-Iran relations!

President Erdogan’s visit to Iran and emerging Turkey-Iran relations!

– Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

______

 

 

Even as it is losing intentional prestige and credibility as a real mediator for peace anywhere in the world, USA is committed to shield terrorist Israel by misusing its veto from any punishment international community at UN.

 

As the Turkish diplomatic profile taking a final shape in recent times, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Iran on October 04 to hold crucial talks with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on the outcome of the Iraqi Kurdish referendum and other regional security issues.

 

 

 

Part -1: Common challenges

 

 

Important visit

 

As USA is still considering further sanctions on Iran, Turkish and Iranian analysts agree that while Erdogan’s visit is important for both countries but Ankara has much more at stake on its outcome than Tehran. Accordingly, Turkey could leverage its warming relations with Iran to put more pressure on the KRG to backtrack from its plan to declare an independent state.

 

Erdogan’s visit to Tehran has been expected since August. But his original agenda focusing on military cooperation to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), and the establishment of a de-escalation zones in Syria, has since been overshadowed by a new regional crisis following the Kurdish referendum.

 

Erdogan’s visit to Tehran comes as Ankara continues to seek regional consensus on how to block efforts by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to split from Iraq – a move Turkey fears would have a domino effect on its own 15 million ethnic Kurdish populations.

 

Iran also has got similar apprehensions.

 

Political relations between Iran and Turkey have continued steadily since the 1979 Islamic Revolution despite the existence of structural differences between them. It is worth mentioning though that their bilateral interests in maintaining regional stability and their commitment to containing and controlling Kurdish separatist movements in the Middle East, i.e. their security cooperation, are two other important factors contributing in the consolidation of their political relations. However, the contribution that economy has made to the two countries’ relations has been very huge.

 

From a military and security perspective, Erdogan’s visit to Iran is very important, as Turkey considers more sanctions on the KRG and its regional capital Erbil, including the shutting of its borders.

In the last week following the Kurdish referendum, Turkey has held joint military exercises with Iraq. Separately, Iraq also announced joint military exercises with Iran. But so far, there have been no agreement reached on military exercises between Turkey and Iran.

The Turkish president stressed the need for joint and simultaneous actions by Iran, Turkey and Iraq on the issue of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Imam Sayyed Ali Khameni told visiting Turkish President Erdogan that the USA is seeking to create new ‘Israel’ in the Middle East through the Kurdish secession bid. The Leader warned that holding referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan is a betrayal of region and a threat to its future that will entail long-term repercussions for the neighboring states.

Recently, President Erdogan had told parliament members in Ankara that he expects to draw up an agreement with Iran, on how to respond to the KRG referendum. Erdogan dispatched Gen. Hulusi Akar, the military Chief of General Staff, to Tehran, the first ever visit for a top Turkish military official since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. At their meeting, Akar and Iran’s military chief, Mohammed Hussein Bagheri, condemned the Kurdish referendum as unconstitutional. (In August, Bagheri became the first ever top military official of Iran to visit Ankara since 1979)  Akar also held separate talks with President Rouhani, who at the meeting warned that the deterioration of geographical boundaries, in the event of a KRG split from Iraq, would harm regional security and stability.  Akar said that Turkey and Iran, “will play an important role in the region’s stability and peace with improving cooperation”, following the Kurdish referendum.

 

 

Uneasy alliance

 

The terror war in Kabul launched by the USA following the Sept-11 hoax under NATO terror banner is still on and it has spread its poisonous tentacles  into other Muslim nations;  The foes of Islam are interested in killing more and more Muslims and loot the resources in Arab world, secure energy routes and other trade routes for the superpower USA.

 

Unfortunately, Islamic world is being controlled by economically, technologically and militarily advanced West where the rulers of Islamic nations keep their wealth for safety. .

 

Like in bilateral relations between any two Muslim nations, Iran and Turkey have conducted uneasy relations as each looked up to Uncle Sam for help and support. Experience taught a few lessons to both Istanbul and Tehran to  see through the hidden agenda of anti-Islamic world, led by USA, Israel and Germany and accordingly reset their policy towards the enemies of Islam.

 

After bad experience with its former military ally Israel, Turkey’s raising mode of diplomatic resources is tremendously good news for the people of the Middle East. The two remaining strong, independent, sovereign nations have united to stop the nefarious plans of Israel and their US supporters to further destabilize and Balkanize the region.

The strategy of disintegrating the regional countries is the US-Israeli plan to sustain Sunni-Shiite divide intact. Like Israel, there are many in Syria and Iraq, who simply do not fully trust Iran, and they do not trust Turkey at all; they fuel Saudi Arabia to fight Iran and think Erdogan is a ‘slippery customer’ who changed sides as it suited him and he rules Turkey with an iron fist.

The enemies of Islam pretend to be great democrats but worried about deficit of freedoms in Muslim nations and are annoyed that Erdogan did not allow the enemies of Islam in and outside Turkey to destabilize the Islamist nation in Europe and kill the leaders there, including President Erdogan and view the unsuccessful coup a lost opportunity to make Turkey anti-Islamic. They also made loud noise as the Erdogan government began acting swiftly against the coup plotters.

The ISIS project, like Taliban and Al Qaeda, belongs to Washington and the idea behind its introduction is to divide the West Asia. One of prime objectives of Sept-11 hoax had much to do with that.

 

Iran’s response to coup in Turkey

Turkey is a neighboring state where the coup plot happened. The whole establishment was too concerned.  President Erdogan and his government are strong partners of Iran. It’s not a secret anymore that Zarif, Shamkhani and Soleimani were executing higher orders. “Our nations enjoy strong brotherly ties, so it’s the least we can do to show solidarity and try to offer any help they might need in such critical times.”

In July Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was on the phone with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu, whose government was under the threat of being overthrown by a military coup. Meanwhile, Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), was on another line with security officials in Ankara. All the while, Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, Iran’s regional military arm, was busy pursuing and reviewing various scenarios that might emerge.

Within hours after the coup attempt began late July 15, the SNSC convened to discuss developments in Turkey. Following the meeting, which was chaired by President Hassan Rouhani, Shamkhani publicly condemned the coup attempt, telling local media outlets, “We support Turkey’s legal government and oppose any type of coup — either initiated domestically or supported by foreign sides.” Shamkhani said, “What determined the fate of developments in Turkey were the will and presence of the Turkish nation and the vigilance of political parties, whose contribution thwarted this coup. Shamkhani concluded, “Our stance is not exclusive to Turkey either. We have pursued the same stance in Syria too. Our position toward all regional countries is that we always prefer people’s votes to decide governments rather than tribal, sectarian and hereditary governments, and this means democracy.”

A coup in Turkey with regional implications isn’t something Iran can tolerate. “It’s true that there are differences over Syria, and sometimes in Iraq. Yet the fact is that there is no direct problem between Iran and Turkey; on the contrary, bilateral relations are always advancing for the better. Besides, Iran is opposed to any kind of change by force, and especially when the government in question is democratically elected… The most important thing is that this experience of coup attempt might be an opportunity for Erdogan to understand the situation in neighboring Syria.”

Indeed, multiple Iranian officials, including Ali Akbar Velayati — foreign policy adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei — brought up Syria in their condemnation of the coup attempt in Turkey. While condemning the coup, Velayati — a former foreign minister — said he hopes “the Turkish government will respect the views and votes of the Syrian people and allow them to decide their own government.” It was a clear message from Iran to Turkey regarding Syria and the future of the struggle in the region. For five years now, Iranian officials have on repeated occasions stated that they have been trying to engage the Turks on a path to address the situation in Syria, and while unsuccessful, have never given up on this approach.

The coup in Turkey brings Iran closer

Turkey is a major regional player. With an Islamic-oriented government in power in Ankara, bilateral relations have improved in the past decade, paving the way for common ground despite differences over regional developments. The latter has been possible thanks to Iranian-Turkish proximity in terms of grander objectives and also similarities in their ways of thinking.

The stability of the region would have been seriously threatened if the coup attempt had succeeded. Besides, there is the fear that such a move might trigger internal strife, weakening the state. Given the past five bloody years in the region, any such development in Turkey would shake the whole region” in addition to “Europe, Iran and the Caucasus.” Besides, the already shaken Arab countries following the Arab Spring, sponsored by Israel-USA-Germany trio, would face more troubles. What the various ethnic groups within Turkey might do when the enemies of Islam and Islamist Turkey were eager to create problems within?

The Iranian government reacted to the Coup in Turkey before any other government in the whole world and backed strongly the legitimate Turkish government.

Some conservative figures in Tehran have shown a different reaction toward development in Turkey, influenced mainly by the crisis in Syria. There was not a gap between the public and the government with respect to what was going on in Turkey. Many who oppose Islam and without any understanding of the region is influenced by the war in Syria think the fall of Erdogan would have been a positive development — not only in Iran but also in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. But such an argument has no validity.

It is important to bear in mind the other important reasons why Iran sees the security and stability of Turkey as pivotal to its own national security.  Indeed, at the height of the nuclear-related sanctions on Iran, Turkey played a vital role in easing the pressure on its eastern neighbor. Erdogan certainly paid the price for ignoring the direction from USA on US sanctions imposed on Iran though his “gold-for-oil scheme” — even while economic ties between the two countries greatly expanded in the sanctions era.

Reports suggest, Iran also played a role in directly thwarting the coup, for instance, by sharing intelligence that helped Erdogan preserve his reign. This vital intelligence tip helped President Erdogan to undertake quick measures to thwart the chances for repeats of the failed coup. He launched quick punitive measures ignoring the calls from USA and Germany, EU to be “democratic” and not to punish their plotters of coup.

An Iranian official saw parallels between the successful coup against Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 and the failed coup attempt in Turkey. “What we know is that this coup move was triggered by foreign hands. We went through the same in the past, and because Erdogan is today looking forward to playing a better role in the region, they want him down.” There was a message that was conveyed to Turkish security officials: This coup might be made up of several waves; it happened in Iran in 1953. When the first coup failed, they had another one ready — and they succeeded in Iran.”

However, a number of politicians and experts in Iran who work against Saudi-Iran ties and  have argued that Tehran should not react “too harshly” like Erdogan did in recent days as reaction to coup attempt.

Cooperation, sympathy, unified and serious political and economic decisions by Iran and Turkey regarding the move is very important.  Iranian spiritual leader Imam Khamenei said that Iran and Turkey should do everything possible to counter the coup issue and the Iraqi government should take decisions seriously and take measures to that effect.

The Leader Imam Khamenei stressed the need to enhance economic cooperation between these two countries, he stressed importance of cooperation between Tehran and Ankara regarding serious problems faced by the Islamic world from East Asia and Myanmar to North Africa. He described such cooperation as very significant and effective, saying it will benefit both nations as well as the Islamic world. “Unfortunately, despite numerous capacities, level of economic collaboration has not increased at all and more needs to be done in the field,” Imam Khamenei said.

The Leader expressed pleasure over Iran-Turkey cooperation in Astana talks and improving trend of Syrian issues as a result of the collaboration. But the issue of ISIL will not end this way; rather it requires a long-term actual plan.

So while, today on the face of it, this Turkey-Iran alliance against the Israeli-US agenda is a good thing, few in the Middle East will view it without strong suspicions, especially about Turkey’s role.

It is indeed a positive development that Iran and Turkey have identified their common foes and forged a solid foundation in regional unity that would be a model for all Arab nations as well.

 

Saudi-UAE-Egyptian axis

 

It looks as if the core Sunni alliance Saudi-UAE-Egyptian axis is trying to establish a new regional order targeting Iran and supported by the Trump government and Israel, and condoned by countries like Jordan. The logical part of this alliance is political Islam and they are also eager to rope in Islamist Turkey as well but Turkey has a larger goal in the WA region. Since they publicly announced their main enemy is Iran, Turkey stays away from any anti-Iran or anti-Islamic alliance. .

 

Turkey considers Tehran its trust worthy partner in containing Israeli criminal operations in Palestine, Arab world. Therefore, this new Saudi led regional order, if imposed, would be detrimental to Islam, to the legitimate interests of both regional powers and eventually work against the trio as well. But Riyadh is eager to gt SA attack Iran – a goal of Israel too and hence Saudi moves towards Israel. .

 

Saudi Arabia wants to oblige Washington by targeting Qatar. The most obvious manifestation of the trio struggle for regional order to be dominated by Riyadh was on full display during the latest Gulf crisis targeting Qatar.

 

Neither Iran nor Turkey regarded this crisis as an isolated confrontation between Qatar and the Gulf-Arab coalition. Both consider the Saudi move a dangerous twist against genuine interests of Islam and regional powers.

 

Turkey and Iran both opposed the Saudi-led block’s moves against Qatar. In fact, during the initial phase of the crisis, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif paid a rare visit to Turkey to discuss, among other issues, what was happening in the Gulf.

 

Further, Iran and Turkey have decided to adopt joint mechanism to contain Zionist criminal designs. Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami said that Iran and Turkey, as two influential countries in the Mideast region, will stop new scenario of the Zionist regime of Israel and that protecting the regional countries’ territorial integrity is Iran’s principled policy.

The emergence of the Syrian Kurdish bloc led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) as a major player in Syria has pushed Turkey to re-evaluate its Syrian policy. It has prioritized pushing back against the gains of the Syrian Kurds over regime change in Syria and this new strategy has become the thorniest issue in Turkish-American relations. Erdogan stressed the need for establishment of a powerful unity between Iran and Turkey in the region. “We managed to reach a conclusion during negotiations with the Iranian president on Syria and Iraq.”

 

Cooperation among Iran, Turkey and Iraq can be effective and helpful in establishing stability and security in the region and countering division seeking actions.  Iran attaches great importance to Turkey in its foreign policy.

 

 

 Kurdish ‘threat’

 

Two issues cause particular concern in Turkey and Iran: the perceived opacity of US policy and the political ambitions of the Kurds for a soverign nation.  Iran is anxiously awaiting whether the USA, coerced by Israel, economically powerful US Jewish community, will switch its regional policy from ISIL-first to Iran-first policy in the near future. Turkey is disturbed by the fact that it can’t figure out the durability of USA for the Kurds in Syria and the end goal of this partnership in Syria.

 

 

Both countries are also concerned about the overall aims of the US Syria policy especially with regard to Kurds. The prospect of Kurdish statehood in Iraq and of autonomy in Syria and the potential spillover effect these could have on the Kurdish population in Turkey and Iran generate much anxiety in both capitals.

 

US strategy is to divide the emerging Turkey-Iran equations and splitting the Arab world by using Israel that is ever ready to play its devastating role in west Asian crises. Both USA and Israel, killing the besieged Palestinians, including children and women, like wild owls, watch every move Arab leaders and Iran and take “precautionary steps” to keep them divided on a permanent basis.

Ahead of Erdogan’s visit, the Turkish foreign ministry announced that it wants Baghdad to take over from the KRG the control of the border between Turkey and the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq. On September 25, voters in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq voted overwhelmingly to back a split from Baghdad, setting off a regional crisis. Neighbouring Turkey and Iran, as well as Iraq’s central government in Baghdad have opposed the referendum, and have threatened to impose sanctions on the KRG should it decide to go ahead with its decision to declare an independent state. The UN and the USA, have also opposed the Kurdish referendum, saying it would distract operations against ISIL, as well as the civil war in Syria.

 

Turkey has been in alignment with the Kurdish conservative nationalist current, whereas the Marxist-nationalist current led by the PKK has had working ties with Iran and its allies such as the Iraqi central government until recently.

 

KRG is Turkey’s largest trading partner next to Europe. Turkey stands to lose a lot more if its relations with Iraqi Kurdistan deteriorate. Last year trade between the two countries was estimated to be at least $7bn, and it is expected to increase to $14bn this year. That is why until now Turkey has not shut down the borders.

 

Within Iran, there are an estimated six to eight million ethnic Kurds, but there have been no significant separatist movement among the ethnic population within its own border. The KRG President Masoud Barzani was born in the Kurdish region of Iran. Iran has maintained longstanding relations with Iraqi Kurds, supporting Kurdish armed groups during the rule of the Shah before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. During the Iran-Iraq war, the Kurds sided with Iran against Saddam Hussein, and Iran opened its doors to the families of Kurdish leaders during that conflict. Saddam also targeted both the Iranian and the Kurds supposedly with chemical weapons.

 

However, Iran, too, is concerned with Kurdish political ambitions, particularly those of the Iraqi Kurds. The independence of Iraqi Kurdistan would diminish the status of Iraq – a Shia-majority country over which Iran has a significant level of influence – in terms of population, geography, hydrocarbon wealth, and water resources. An independent Iraqi Kurdistan is also likely to be closer to the West, Turkey, Israel, and arguably Gulf states than to Iran. Despite Iran’s anxiety about PYD’s expanding partnership with the USA and territorial control, it still keeps its cold peace with the group. The reflection of this policy is that Iran and the PKK’s Iranian offshoot PJAK have kept the ceasefire they concluded in 2011.

 

Kurdish statehood could also create plenty of domestic trouble for Iran. The ties of the Iranian Kurdish population and parties with their Iraqi Kurdish brethren are more solid than those with Turkish Kurds. Most Iranian Kurdish parties have deep historical ties with the Iraqi Kurdish parties. In fact, the leadership of the Iranian Kurdish parties, Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDP-I) and the left-wing Komala are active in Iraqi Kurdistan. These shared concerns don’t translate into shared interests in Turkish-Iranian relations.

 

Although Turkey and Iran are worried about Kurdish statehood, Turkey’s interests lie in minimizing the PKK-PYD threat, while the political projections of Iraq’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) are rather tolerable (even if Ankara opposes its latest push for independence, it is still much less of a threat than an autonomous pro-PKK body in northern Syria).

For Iran, it is the opposite: The break-off of Iraqi Kurdistan bodes ill for its policies in Iraq and it would do anything to prevent it; the PKK and PYD’s presence in Syria and Iraq, however, is no more than a nuisance.

 

Apart from the Kurdish issue in Iraq, Iran and Turkey have other diverging interests. Ankara has been disturbed by the twin processes of the centralization and sectarianization of the Iraqi state. In principle, Ankara supports the strengthening of the central government in order to curb the irredentist aspirations of Iraqi Kurdistan, but this could mean the domination of sectarian politics as the Shia groups retain more state power – a trend already in place in the country’s security architecture.

 

This process was in full force under the pro-Iranian premiership of Nouri al-Maliki between 2006 and 2014 and his policies were arguably largely supported by Iran. Tehran now also supports the Iraqi central government’s sectarian policies and use of Shia militias in the areas that have been cleared from ISIL. This runs the risk of further aggravating Turkey’s allies in Iraq – the Iraqi Sunnis and the KDP. Ankara and Tehran have divergent interest in Syria as well. Although Turkey has stopped calling for regime change in Damascus, it is still not in a position to condone the total elimination of the opposition. Like the regime, Iran seems to favour inflicting as much destruction on the opposition as possible. At the same time, it is striving to convince Turkey to open channels with the regime, using the Syrian Kurdish territorial expansion as a pretext.

 

Developments in the West Asian region during the past years have served the interests of the Zionist regime and harmed the world of Islam and have marginalized the issue of Palestine.

Arab world depends too much on the support USA that is visibly n a permanent war on Islam with Islamic world, Muslims for their lives and resources. Now Trump, who gets tips from his Jewish son in law on foreign policy, seems to have forces Saudi Arabia to “listen” to Israel as well. Saudi Arabia is under illusion about US support for Sunni led Islamic world.

 

Some common concerns have recently emerged between Turkey and Iran, which has facilitated the recent thaw in relations. Two factors have been particularly important. First, the struggle to establish a post-Arab Spring regional order has generated anxiety in both Ankara and Tehran. Second, the struggle for the post-‘Arab Spring’ regional order as per the wishes of Saudi kingdom has coincided with the post-ISIL futures of Iraq and Syria.

 

 

 

Part-2:  Economics and Prospects

 

 

 

Economic ties

Iran is a major oil and gas exporter, while Turkey is entirely dependent on oil and gas imports. In addition, the international sanctions that have led to Iran’s economic isolation have brought that country closer to Turkey for purposes of investment and trade in non-oil goods. The expansion of economic relations with Iran is part of Turkey’s initiative to expand trade relations with its Middle Eastern neighbors.

Iran provides Turkey with the energy it needs for economic development. Iran has been viewing Turkey as a country through which it can break the spell of western sanctions, especially since 2011 when financial sanctions caused a serious challenge to Iran’s banking. Since then Turkey has emerged as Iran’s economic lifeline.

Turkey imports about 10 billion cubic meters a year of gas from Iran, about 30 percent of its needs Turkey plans to invest $12 billion in developing phases 22, 23 and 24 of South Pars gas field, a senior Iranian oil official told Shana.ir. Two-way trade is now in the range of $10 billion (2010), and both governments have announced that the figure should reach the $20 billion mark in the not too distant future. 50 percent of the gas from three phases of Iran’s South Pars gas field will be re-exported to Europe. Turkey has won the tender for privatization of Razi Petrochemical Complex valued at $650 million.

Turkey is a transit route for energy to European customers. Actually, Turkey is a crucial transit route for Iranian imports from Europe. Also, Iran is the third largest provider of Turkey’s natural gas, after Russia and Iraq. Energy trade between Iran and Turkey serves the interests of both states. That means Turkey is facing an increasing local demand for energy, and Iran considers Turkey as a developing foreign market for energy.

Bilateral trade between Iran and Turkey has indeed increased steadily in the past ten years in close conjunction with improved diplomatic relations. Iran has emerged as a major supplier of oil and gas to Turkey: In the first quarter of 2011, Iran was the leading exporter of crude oil to Turkey, with a 30 percent share of Turkey’s total oil imports, while it was also the third largest provider of Turkey’s natural gas, after Russia and Iraq. Turkey’s increasing energy imports, along with the higher price of oil and natural gas, have increased the value of Turkey’s imports from Iran from $1.9 billion (2 percent of total imports) in 2004 to $6.9 billion (3.9 percent of the total) in 2010

Emerging economic ties promote common political identity.  Iran and Turkey have interdependence economic relations in the five areas of energy, transit, border trade, economic crises and commercial ties. Trade and energy cooperation based on interdependence with close neighbors, especially a powerful neighbor such as Turkey, would be safest way for Iran to ward off the impact of Western sanctions. And this practical approach has turned Turkey into an important trade partner for Iran. Turkey is energy. Iran is at the top on the list of countries selling oil to Turkey.

Iran and Turkey have very close trade and economic relations. Both countries are part of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). Iranian First Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi announced in October 2012 that the speed of trade exchanges between Iran and Turkey has accelerated and was close of reaching the goal of 30 billion dollars per year. He added that the growing trade relations between Tehran and Ankara indicate the two countries’ willingness to strengthen mutual ties

With the implementation of the nuclear deal, the two countries now plan to triple their trade volume to $30 billion. Turkey seeks good relations with Iran; Turkey has also tried to maintain good relations with the GCC States and with the United States, which are at odds with Iran over numerous issues. Turkey and Iran have also experienced some tensions in recent months because of their opposite stands on the Syrian conflict. While Iran has strongly supported the Bashar Assad regime, Turkey has joined the United States and the GCC states in expressing support for the uprising.

A factor that’s lead to an expansion of bilateral relations is the “economic crisis and war” factor. After Iran’s Islamic Revolution and during the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq, Iran was in a state of political and economic isolation and dealing with aftermath of the war, while doing trade with Iran was lucrative for Turkey.

When the big banks in Europe, and Asia, especially the ones in Dubai refused to transfer money into and out of Iran, a number of Turkish financial institutes rushed to Iran’s rescue. For instance, Halkbank, 75% of which is owned by the Turkish government, started to pay the Indian oil company to buy its oil from Iran

The Islamist AKP gave top priority to improving Turkey’s relations with Middle Eastern countries—particularly Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Iran welcomed the rise of the AKP, which significantly reduced the secular-Islamic ideological tensions that had often led to heated accusations between Iranian and Turkish politicians after the 1979 revolution.

Bilateral trade between the nations is increasing. In 2005, the trade increased to $4 billion from $1 billion in 2000. Iran’s gas export to Turkey is likely to be increased. At present, the rate is at 50mm cm/d. The year 2002 is significant in Turkish-Iranian relations for another, even more important, reason: The moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power that year after scoring a major success in Turkish parliamentary elections.

Bilateral economic relations between Turkey and Iran have grown at a rapid pace during the past decade, and both economies now depend heavily on these relations. In addition, Turkish-Iranian relations are not only important to both countries, but have assumed a geopolitical significance for Western powers and Middle Eastern countries alike because of the impact that they might have on the success or failure of Western sanctions against Iran. In the past decade, Iran’s strong economic relations with Turkey have helped partially offset the pressure of unilateral Western sanctions.

Iran and Turkey also shared common objectives with respect to the Kurdish region of Iraq and the Kurdish separatist movements in both countries. Through diplomatic negotiations they agreed to work to prevent the disintegration of Iraq, which might have led to the creation of an independent Kurdish homeland. They also agreed to cooperate in the fight against separatist and terrorist movements along their common borders

Turkey has also tried to maintain good relations with the GCC States and with the United States, which are at odds with Iran over numerous issues. Turkey and Iran have also experienced some tensions in recent months because of their opposite stands on the Syrian conflict.

The US government warned Turkish firms and financial institutions about the possibility of losing access to the American market if they continued to deal with Iran. Yet, the Turkish government has so far refused to implement any of the unilateral sanctions that the U.S. and the European Union have imposed on Iran.

The sanctions have prompted Iran to shift its foreign investments from Dubai to Turkey, so much so that the number of Iranian firms in Turkey increased from 319 in 2002 to 2072 in 2011. Furthermore, the two countries have announced plans to increase the volume of their economic transactions to 30 billion dollars by 2015.

The economy factor is one of the reasons that has facilitated the political relations between the two countries to continue since the Islamic Revolution in Iran. A case in point is Turkey’s support for Iran’s peaceful nuclear activities in 2007 (political cooperation). On the other hand, high-ranking diplomatic visits by the two countries’ political figures are an example of the continued political relations between the two neighbors. A case in point is President Rouhani’s two-day trip to Turkey on June 19 of this year. Accompanying Dr. Rouhani to Ankara were the Iranian Central Bank Manager and a number of private sector Chambers of Commerce representatives. At the same time as President Rouhani’s trip to Turkey, the two countries signed around 10 cooperation documents for investment in bilateral infrastructural projects such as transportation, transport and export of gas, industrial borderline regions, and commercial development.

Thus, economic relations, is among important factors that has prevented Iran and Turkey from cutting relations over occasional tensions like the Syrian crisis.

 

 

Is there really a Turkey-Iran rapprochement?

 

 

Undoubtedly! Turkey-Iran rapprochement is real.

 

Obviously, there has been a sort of trust deficit in the bilateral relations as the foes of Islam continue to confuse both Islamic nations. USA, Israel and Germany are keen to disrupt emerging alliance of Turkey, Iran, Russia and Saudi Arabia. One of the key objectives of NATO is to see Islamic world is not united and it does not come under Russian influence.

Turkish-Iranian relations have always defied any general characterization. The two neighbours have never had a straightforward alliance, feud, cooperation or rivalry. Instead, their relationship always carried all these elements simultaneously. There have been times in which the relationship has seemed to be tilting one way or another, and this has generated more debate, controversy and confusion about the nature and future course of the relations between the two countries.

Despite the warming up of relations, there remains a mutual mistrust between Tehran and Ankara. They are actually saying that Erdogan could not be trusted and we shouldn’t follow Turkey’s footsteps for countering Kurdistan, by showing muscles and military power. Such misgivings must be ironed quickly and new dynamism in bilateral relations must be ensured.

As a NATO member and a military ally of the USA, Turkey cannot support USA against Iran as that will be highly unpopular among AKP supporters, general public. Turkey might be asked to provide logistical support to the US Army. In case of a war between the superpower and Persia and Turkey would only play pivotal role in neutralizing tensions between them. It is no wonder therefore that Turkey is opposed to military action against Iran and is trying very hard to facilitate a negotiated settlement to Iran’s nuclear dispute with the West.

The Kurdish referendum crisis has pushed Turkey and Iran to set aside their differences for the time being.  There have been no sign of secessionism seen in Iran in the two past decades. But when a crisis occurs next to Iran’s borders, it is natural for Tehran to get worried about them.

 

In response to the referendum, Erdogan warned of military action to stop the KRG splitting from Iraq and “ethnic and sectarian war”.

The main reason behind Iran’s opposition, perhaps, is that cessation of Kurdistan will harm the integrity of Iraq, and can create a new conflict near Iran’s borders and will also distract everyone from combating ISIL.

 

 

The question being asked in the media is: Can common concerns about US policies in the Middle East and Kurdish statehood ambitions bring Turkey and Iran together?

 

Turkish-Iranian relations are now being seen as moving towards cooperation, if not alliance-building. Such a characterization, however, is premature and is reading too much into diplomatic niceties.

In recent times, the diplomatic traffic between Ankara and Tehran seems to have intensified. As recently as August, a large Iranian military delegation headed by military chief of staff Mohammad Hossein Bagheri visited Ankara, meeting their military counterparts as well as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The latter is also expected to pay a visit to Tehran soon.
This recent uptick in diplomatic activity should be seen in the context of a recent convergence of concerns and threat perceptions in the Middle East. However, it should not be interpreted as anything more than that, as USA-Israel duo is ill-focused on Arab nations and as Turkey and Iran continue to have diverging, if not conflicting, interests, especially in Iraq and Syria.

 

 

 

Observations: Perspectives

Unity in purpose has brought Iran and Turkey closer. Comprehending the challenges and conspiracies of enemies of Islam and the anti-Islamic people of their own respective country, being promoted by USA, Germany, Israel, India among others has indeed helped European Turkey and Asian Iran to realize their unified role in the region and world at large.

Like Turkey, Iran also takes a proper and positive view of regional issues – unlike official narrow-mindedness of Saudi Arabia seeking to US-Isreali support to destroy Iran, and consider even truly fascist anti-Islamic Israel as an ally fight Shiite Iran. Emerging realignment between them in fact bring the major branches of Islam (Sunni and Shiia) to view each other as their brethren and not as the prime foe. Turkey a Sunni nation has evolved a pragmatic policy towards Iran and Saudi Arabia, tying to being all Arab nations work together, though Riyadh continues to be controlled by Washington.

Today, Islamic world and even in West Asia, is in deadly division and there is no coherent Islamic policy by al of them that, if implemented, would benefit Islam and Muslim nations. Muslim nations like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia foolishly believe that USA and Israel would help them reach the heaven if they align with them.

Hypocrisy, cowardice and foolishness cannot be the Islamic policy.

True, against the flow of anti-Islamism and Islamophobia, Turkey’s ties with Iran have been fluctuating as issues continue to dominate and check their strong bond from progressing in a big way. The fuel for Turkish-Iranian rapprochement was provided by their shared concerns. Nevertheless, the level at which they can cooperate remains conditional and constrained by their divergent interests in the region.

 

Over the past ten years, Iran and Turkey have managed to expand their diplomatic and economic relations to a heretofore unprecedented level. This transformation was, in no small part, a result of the political ascent in Turkey, since 2002, of the moderate Islamist AKP party. The AKP’s interest in closer relations with Iran has both ideological and economic roots. Unlike previous secular Turkish governments, the AKP is not worried that closer relations with Iran might result in the spread of radical Islam within Turkey.

Although economic ties are rapidly growing, some tensions and conflicts of interest still exist between the two nations. Iran and Turkey have emerged as the two main competitors for trade and foreign investment in Iraq, and they are both entangled in the Syrian civil war. So far both sides have prevented these tensions from affecting their bilateral economic relations. High-level negotiations and agreements on economic issues are likely to continue in the coming months.

 

The USA and Israel have put strategy of disintegrating the regional countries on agenda after failure of Daesh scenario, but Iran and Turkey, as two important and influential regional countries, will not let them enact the new scenario. Iran has vigorously sought to expand economic ties with Turkey in the face of growing Western sanctions—to such a high level that it will be costly for Turkey to cooperate with Western sanctions. As one of the immediate outcomes of Turkish diplomatic upsurge, its military ally USA, obviously pushed by Israel, has created via restrictions on Turks which President Erdogan calls unfortunate.

Iran-Turkey cooperation can heavily help the regional peace and stability. Turkey also supports territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria and is against any move to change borders. The ruling AKP’s vision for Turkish foreign policy, as developed by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, has put great emphasis on improving relations with all of Turkey’s neighbors, particularly in the Middle East.

On Kurdish question Turkey and Iran have similar views. Based on undeniable documents and evidence, the USA and Israel have reached a general agreement regarding the Iraqi Kurdish subject and, President Erdogan said President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani made an unforgivable mistake by holding the referendum. Unless and until Turkey believes that it is establishing some balance of interests or influence vis-a-vis Iran in Iraq and Syria, any cooperation with its eastern neighbour will remain fraught with latent or overt tensions and grievances. While the Kurdish issue has drawn Turkey and Iran together, Iran has the least concern about Kurds.

 

The open US support for the Syrian Kurds is what is primarily motivating Turkey to seek closer relations with Iran as well as Russia. Any change in US policy towards the Syrian Kurds will have a direct impact on Ankara’s relations with Tehran.

 

However, anti-Islamic devils do not stop scheming against Islam, Arab world, Turkey and Iran, among others. All strenuous efforts by USA-Isreali twins to disallow any real alliance between Russia and Turkey failed badly in the face of the US-Israel-EU scheming for the failed coup in Turkey, targeting President Erdogan and Islamist government of ruling AKP. The Turkish government would continue its balancing act between Iran and the USA.

Like wild owls and vultures seeking flesh and blood for their survival, Israel-USA fascist fanatics are keen to dismantle any positive development in Islamic relations globally, especially in West Asia. They view unity of Islamic world, particularly among Iran and Saudi Arabia and Turkey in West Asia, would make these civilizational rogue states irrelevant internationally.

All said and done, there is a win-win situation for Turkey-Iran relations to grow further in strength and purpose.

State war crimes: UN urges Sri Lanka to quickly begin investigation!

 

State war crimes: UN urges Sri Lanka to quickly begin investigation!
-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal
________

 

Sri Lanka is a soverign island nation in South Asia and claims its prerogative to kill its minority populations mainly Tamils in a sustained manner in order to appease the rich majority Singhalese people – most of them are now have the remote control over the parliament and government

Since it is the prerogative of the Lankan regime to kill its minority community for whatever reasons like Israel that keep killing the defenseless Palestinians,  it claims its carnal operations against the sections of population are not illegal at all. Lankans also say they cannot be punished by any international court. It said it would investigate the war crimes on its own and UN need to unnecessarily worry about the issue, but it has not yet begun the work even after years of peace in the Island nation.

Time is now fast running out for Srilankan regime to prove to the world that its military-police apparatus had not committed war crimes against the minority Tamil community as a part of its military campaign to weaken Tamil movement for equality.

When the UN had announced the possibility of appointing a war crime tribunal to try the war criminals of Sri Lanka, the new government of Sirisena approached the UN – directly and through USA- pleading to give up the war criminal infestation and that Lankan government itself would investigate the war crimes and submit a report to UN.

But till now Sirisena has failed to keep his word given to UN and USA.

A United Nations expert Pablo de Greiff warned that Sri Lanka must speed up its own long-stalled investigation into war crimes by troops or risk action by the international community, Pablo de Greiff, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion of justice and reparation, said Sri Lanka had been slow to deliver on its promise of justice for atrocities during the island’s bloody 37-year civil war.
De Greiff criticised a public assurance given to troops that committed serious crimes by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, who along with the former dictator Rajapakse is making strenuous efforts to save the Singhalese military criminals and not to get them punished by International Courts for their excessive war crimes, that he would not allow “war heroes” to be prosecuted for alleged atrocities.
Greiff said allegations of war crimes levelled last month against Sri Lanka’s then-ambassador to Brazil, who was a general during the war era, underscored the risks faced by senior military officers past and present. “As the recent case presented in Brazil against a former member of the armed forces demonstrates, accountability will be sought either here or abroad,” de Greiff said in Colombo on Monday.

The case in Brazil against retired general Jagath Jayasuriya was just the “tip of the iceberg”, de Greiff said. He said Sri Lanka could expect similar efforts by foreign jurisdictions until it had taken steps to ensure a credible investigation of its own. Jayasuriya left Brazil two days after the International Truth and Justice Project, a South Africa-based rights group, filed a case against the former general.
De Greiff said the government’s pledge to pay reparations and prevent future atrocities was no substitute for accountability for past injustices. He urged it to adopt a timeline for achieving this and encouraged closer interaction with the UN human rights chief’s office.

Defeat of LTTE and not of Tamils

Lankan military defeated the LTTE but Sri Lanka’s Singhalese majority and regime itself  think they have defeated the Tamil community in the country and can now ill treat them the way they want. They attack, arrest along with their boats, and even kill Indian fishermen who come to fish at Katchatheevu- their traditional fishing zone. .

Sri Lankan forces that still claim to be totally innocent and committed no crimes, had defeated Tamil Tiger rebels in May 2009 after a brutal guerrilla war which claimed the lives of at least 100,000 people. The military was accused of massacring up to 40,000 ethnic Tamil civilians in their no-holds-barred offensive.
Sri Lanka’s former Rajapaksha regime, responsible for the crimes committed against humanity in the name of “war on terror” refused even to acknowledge the civilian toll of its wartime campaign, drawing censure from the international community.
Sirisena’s government came to power in January 2015 promising justice for war victims, but his government has been accused of dithering ever since. Sirisena, unlike his predecessor Mahinda Rajapakse, in order possibly to fool the world, agreed to investigate war crimes but has yet to take the necessary steps to do so.he said so as a part of his “reconciliation move” with the Tamil minority community serving the Singhalese for centuries. The British Empire had taken these Tamils from the then Madras state to work in tea estates in Lanka to increase productivity and profits. Once independent, the Sinhalese majority community began targeting the Tamils denying them even basis rights. Perpetual persecution of Tamils by the Singhalese government gave birth to LTTE to defend the Tamils.
Britain refused to step in to save the Tamils when the Singhalese majority and their government began attacking Tamils and threw them out of work, thereby making them to starve. LTTE began demanding more human rights for Tamils. This led to conflict.
Sri Lanka must know there is no escape from punishment for the crimes it committed against the minority community. Colombo must wake up from sound sleep dreaming about the crimes it committed to win a war against the hapless minority community and institute impartial investigation. Meanwhile UN itself must investigate the war crimes on its own and punish the guilty without any sympathy.
Sri Lankan state crimes
The civil war that began in 1983 between Sri Lanka’s largely Buddhist Sinhalese majority and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (more commonly known as the Tamil Tigers), a separatist insurgent force from the predominantly Hindu Tamil minority, saw atrocities carried out by both sides, and forced over 100,000 Tamils to seek refuge in India.
The exodus was meant to come to an end in 2009, when government forces conclusively defeated the Tigers which ended the civil war. But ongoing human rights abuses against Tamils means there’s still a flow of desperate people prepared to take the huge risks necessary to find sanctuary in India.
After the end of a three-decade-long civil war, some Tamils are still suffering human rights abuses at the hands of the government – desperate to find an escape route. The fishermen of Rameswaram provide a lifeline for Sri Lankan Tamil refugees by smuggling them to safety in India. Some of the boats were involved in transporting Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, and many of those working the boats were Tamils themselves who had come to India through similar means.
A fisherman’s life anywhere in the world is a tough one. But the fishermen of Rameswaram live a particularly precarious existence. The boats are forced to play a sometimes deadly game of cat and mouse with the Sri Lankan navy, who often seize fishing boats they accuse of transporting refugees. The navy sometimes fires on fishing boats it deems encroaching on Sri Lankan waters and over 730 fishermen have been killed in the last 30 years.
Thousands of Tamils are believed to have gone missing during the conflict’s bloody final phase. After the war’s end, journalists, activists and government critics have been abducted by men in white vans in Colombo, the capital, and there are allegations that former Tamil rebels have been tortured in secret detention centres.
Of the 100,000 Tamils in India, 64,000 still live in refugee camps in Tamil Nadu, where they receive an allowance, food and education but have no right to work. The Tamil are an ethnic group native to southern India, but Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka are still often looked down upon. Due to lack of proper documentation they are barred from all but the most menial jobs in the shadow economy.
While the Indian government has been dragging its feet for years over granting full rights to Tamil refugees (even to those who have lived there for over 30 years), Mark and Elliott hope that, at the very least, their project represents the fishermen they discovered eking out a living in the shadows of Rameswaram with dignity.
Systematic genocides
Although the civil war between the government and the LTTE officially began in 1983 and ended in 2009, the ethnic conflict has a longer history. The Tamil Centre for Human Rights (TCHR) found that from 1956 to 2004, about 79,319 Tamil civilians were subjected to killings (54053) and enforced disappearances (25266) by Sri Lankan security forces, state backed Sinhalese mobs and the IPKF.
As it can be seen, Tamil civilians who were killed (35323) and disappeared (2483) by Sri Lankan forces, Sinhalese mobs and the IPKF from 1977 to 2004 totals 37,806. This leaves out pogroms before 1977 and massacres and disappearances after 2004. In the Inginiyakala massacre ­of 1956, 150 Tamils were killed. In the 1958 pogrom, more than 300 Tamils were killed. In the Tamil Research Conference massacre of 1974, 9 Tamils were killed. So in total, about 459 Tamils were killed from 1956 to 1974. All in all, 38,265 Tamil civilians were killed from 1956 to 2004. If that figure is added to post-2004 figures (514 + 1102 + 70,000), about 10, 9881 Tamils were mass murdered and forced to disappear by Sri Lankan state and the IPKF from 1956 to 2009.
According to figures published by the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka in the middle of 2006, 419 persons had disappeared in the Jaffna peninsula since December 2005. … According to a list published on 31 October 2007 by three NGOs, which specified it was not exhaustive, there were 540 cases of enforced disappearance from January to August 2007 … Again, in its 2008 annual report, WGEID stated it was “alarmed” by the large number of cases of enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka, noting it had transmitted 43 cases concerning people who had disappeared between February and October 2008 under its urgent procedure. In its report issued in 2012, WGEID cited renewed allegations that more than 500 persons had disappeared between January and August 2007, in Jaffna District, and around 100 persons were alleged to have disappeared between 2008 and 2009 in Mannar District.”
Hence from December 2005 to 2009, around 1102 (419 + 540 + 43 + 100) Tamils were subjected to enforced disappearance, all probably dead. The last phase of the war in 2009 saw an unprecedented scale of mass murder of Tamil civilians within a matter of several months.
The Amnesty International reported in 1998: “In 1995, 55 cases of “disappearances” were reported, particularly from the east of the country and from the capital, Colombo. In 1996, after the army regained control over the northern Jaffna peninsula from the LTTE, an estimated 600 “disappearances” were reported from that area of the country. During 1997, approximately 100 cases of “disappearances” were reported, mainly from Jaffna, Batticaloa, Mannar and Kilinochchi.”
Hence from 1995 to 1997 about 755 (55 + 600 + 100) Tamils were subjected to enforced disappearances. Based on these reports, the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal reviewed that from June 1956 to June 2008, at least 10,617 Tamils died from 149 cases of state sponsored pogroms, massacres and bombings. These lists do not include IPKF atrocities.
Regarding enforced disappearances, the Amnesty International reported in 1994: “In the northeast the number who have “disappeared” or been extra judicially executed to date runs to thousands. From 1984 to mid-1987, Amnesty International documented over 680 “disappearances” in the custody of Sri Lankan security forces in the northeast. From mid-1987 to March 1990 the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was responsible for the security of the northeast under the terms of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord. During this period, Amnesty International documented 43 “disappearances” there for which the IPKF were believed responsible. After the IPKF had withdrawn, armed conflict resumed in June 1990 between Sri Lankan government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the main armed Tamil group fighting to establish a separate Tamil state in the northeast of Sri Lanka. Within months, the reported number of extrajudicial executions and “disappearances” reached thousands. In Amparai District in the east, it was estimated that between June and October 1990 alone, some 3,000 Tamil people were killed or “disappeared”.
In another report covering the year 1990, the Amnesty International wrote that, “In Batticaloa town alone over 1,200 people reportedly “disappeared” between June and October.” From these figures we can infer that from 1984 to 1990, around 4880 (680 + 3,000 + 1,200) Tamils were “disappeared” by the Sri Lankan government forces, if IPKF atrocities are excluded (although they were working for the Sri Lankan government’s interests, whether they had intended it or not. In total, about 87,354 (= 10,617 + 4880 + 755 + 1102 + 70,000) Tamil civilians were mass murdered and forced to disappear by Sri Lankan government forces and state backed Sinhalese mobs from 1956 to 2009.
If I count from the TCHR’s report which puts the 1956–2004 figure at 79,319 (including IPKF atrocities), and add post-2004 figures provided by other sources (79,319 + 514 + 1102 + 70,000) about 150,935 Tamil civilians died and disappeared at the hands of Sri Lankan and Indian government forces.
However these figures are incomplete, as some are based on rough estimates and many other atrocities went unreported or not included here. For example, economic embargo (1990–2002) imposed by the government on LTTE controlled areas which resulted in restriction of food and medical supplies had negative impacts on the local economy and health condition of the people and violated the international norms. This can be considered violence against civilians, although it’s not included in these figures.
According to an UN’s internal review report published in 2012, the estimates of the civilian casualties in 2009 run in the tens of thousands: “The Panel of Experts stated that “[a] number of credible sources have estimated that there could have been as many as 40,000 civilian deaths”. Some Government sources state the number was well below 10,000. Other sources have referred to credible information indicating that over 70,000 people are unaccounted for.

Vaiko attacked in USA by Sri Lankan squad

Sri Lankan regime, like any other nation having committed serious crimes against humanity is scare of punishment and watches through its agents abroad used by its foreign missions to deny any talk of its crimes against Tamils. Tamils are attacked abroad, too.

Lankan state atrocities against minorities are meant to end. A senior Dravidian politician and orator who always protested Singhalese crimes against Tamils, the MDMK chief Vaiko addressed the UNHRC meeting in September and accused the Sri Lankan Government of presiding over sustained “genocides” of Tamils. He also lamented about the lack of any progress in investigations into the atrocities committed allegedly by the Sri Lankan army. A group of Sri Lankans, allegedly former defence personnel, heckled MDMK general secretary Vaiko soon after he completed his address during a debate at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

After concluding his address for the second time, a group of Sri Lankans allegedly encircled him. A woman in the group yelled at Vaiko, saying that he was not a Sri Lankan Tamil to raise the Sri Lankan issue. Then who should raise such carnal attacks on minorities in Sri Lanka?
Colombo in denial mode

Sri Lanka still claims no harm done to Tamils and Indians and they committed no war crimes. . India never questions them, emboldening them to assert their lies. .

Sri Lankan Navy denies killing Indian fisherman K. Britjo. ‘No Navy personnel has the permission to shoot at poaching fishermen,’ Sri Lankan navy spokesperson said. Sri Lanka has assured India of cooperation in the investigation into the shooting of a Rameswaram-based fisherman K. Britjo.
A group of fishermen returned to the Rameswaram jetty with the body of 21-year-old fisherman K. Bristo, and pointed to an apparent bullet injury on his neck. Fishermen leaders based in Tamil Nadu said he was among the six fishermen on board a mechanized trawler that the “Sri Lankan Navy targeted”.
In 2011, a similar shooting incident claimed two Tamil fishermen’s lives at the Palk Bay. Tamil Nadu fishermen accused the Sri Lankan Navy of opening fire, which the navy denied.
The death of Britso of Thangachimadam made the state as well as central government wake up face the Lankan challenge Saron is getting treatment at Ramanathapuram government hospital. I have ordered the district administration to offer high class treatment to him,” Palaniswami said in a statement
DMK president MK Stalin also condemned the killing of the fisherman and urged Centre to take strong action. “It’s high time the Central Government reacts strongly to this problem. The Central Government cannot be a mute spectator. It should take up this issue with Indian ambassador in Sri Lanka or the High Commission of Sri Lanka in India,” Stalin said.
India’s weak reaction
On June 27, 2017, the Tamil Nadu government expressed concern over the “alarming increase” in number of “attacks” on Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy and sought the centre’s intervention for release of 42 of them. Referring to a spate of “distressing” arrests of Indian fishermen from his state in the last few days, Chief Minister K Palaniswami said such apprehensions have a “demoralising impact” on fishermen as well as the people of the state.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he raised the issue of arrest of 14 fishermen in two separate instances by the Lankan navy. “In spite of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) between India and Sri Lanka being sub-judice due to the ceding of Katchatheevu islet, the Sri Lankan Navy is continuing its marauding attacks on and abductions of our fishermen,” he said.
He recalled the state urging the Centre to use diplomatic measures to “prevail” upon Colombo “and reverse this trend”. “These instances, occurring on an everyday basis, in which our boats with innocent fishermen are being apprehended with impunity by the Sri Lankan Navy has a demoralising impact not just on the fishermen, but also on people of Tamil Nadu,” he said in the letter.
The people of the state “strongly believe” that the fishermen have a genuine claim to the Palk Bay fishing grounds from where they “are being apprehended,” he added.
The Chief Minister also pointed out that Sri Lanka has not released any of the fishing boats apprehended since January 2015, adding, that this “inhumane strategy” was causing great loss of livelihood to the fishermen. “There was wide expectation among the people of Tamil Nadu that the boats apprehended since 2015 would be released as an outcome of your meeting with the Sri Lankan prime minister in April,” Palaniswami said, referring to Modi’s meeting with Ranil Wickremesinghe in Delhi. “The alarming increase in the frequency of abductions by the Sri Lankan Navy is a matter of utmost concern for the (state) government and the people of Tamil Nadu. An immediate intervention at the highest level is sought to resolve this long standing livelihood issue of our fishermen,” he said.
The Tamil Nadu government was taking “multifarious” steps to convert trawling boats to long liners and gill netters in the shortest possible period, Mr Palaniswami said, adding all transitions take time. “The Sri Lankan policy of abduction of boats in this transition period without respite only indicates its increasing intolerant attitude and the scant respect for the Indian diplomatic efforts,” he said. The Chief Minister urged PM Modi to take the matter up with the highest authorities in the Sri Lankan government and ensure the immediate release of a total of 42 fishermen and 141 boats.
Recently, Indian government on Mar 7, 2017 expressed its concern to the Sri Lankan government over the killing of an Indian fisherman by the Sri Lankan Navy. “Government of India is deeply concerned at the killing of an Indian fisherman. Our High Commissioner to Sri Lanka has taken up the matter with the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka,” highly placed sources in the government told TOI. The source added that Sri Lankan Navy has promised a full and thorough investigation into the incident.
Meanwhile, protests erupted in Tamil Nadu’s Rameswaram after 22-year-old Britso, a fisherman from Thangachimadam, was shot dead o, allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy personnel while he was fishing in a mechanized boat at a short distance off Katchatheevu islet. Two more fishermen reportedly suffered injuries in the firing.
Hundreds of fishermen staged a demonstration at Thangachimadam, demanding the arrest of the Lankan navy men involved in the incident. The protesting fishermen also refused to accept Britso’s body unless foreign minister Sushma Swaraj visits the island and gives them assurance that such incidents will not happen in the future.
Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami announced Rs 5 lakh ex gratia for the victim’s family and Rs 1 lakh for the fishermen injured in the shooting. In a statement, the chief minister said the fishermen set out for fishing on Monday in a mechanized boat from Rameswaram fishing base. The Lankan Navy opened fire on the innocent fishermen, without any warning or provocation.
Observation: Will India act or will not?
The issue of Tamil Nadu fishermen allegedly poaching in Sri Lanka’s territorial waters has been an ongoing conflict, with Sri Lanka’s northern fishermen repeatedly raising concerns over their falling catch and the serious environmental damage caused by trawlers originating from India.
As of now, as many as 85 Indian fishermen charged of poaching are in Sri Lankan custody. A total of 146 trawlers seized by the navy have also been held, officials said.
Sri Lanka continued to be arrogant and deals on criminal intent with Indian Tamil fishermen fishing at Katchatheevu because India still refuses to step in to set things right for the Indian fishermen making livelihood at Katchatheevu- their traditional zone for ages. Occasionally, Indian High Commissioner in Colombo meets the Lankan President and other top officals requesting them, on behalf of Indian PM, to be good to Indian fishermen. But that is considered by Lankan regime as Indian weakness.
Meanwhile, in September PM Modi has picked a Tamilian Nirmala Sitaraman to hold the top slotted and heavily leaded Defence ministry of government of India, obviously, signaling a new shift in Indian policy towards Sri Lanka. However, Colombo doesn’t give any importance to the move ans considers it another gimmick of Modi.
Apparently, PM Modi’s choice of a Tamilian for the defence ministry talks a lot for Sri Lankan regime. Sri Lankan military knows if India decides to teach a lesson to Sri Lanka, it won’t take more than a couple of hours to deform that island nation.
One is not very sure what exactly the Indian government is planning in Sri Lanka to settle the fisherman issue. But if a brief attack is preferred by New Delhi and executed, then, it is quite likely that India would control not only Katchatheevu but also Sri Lanka. Then Lankans would cry loud pleading to India not to take Lanka but take away only Katchatheevu. Once India enters Srilanka, an Indian rule would be ensuing as the plight of Singhalese would be the same Tamils have faced all these years. .
Ms. Niramal Sitharaman, who oversaw the commerce and trade portfolio as a junior minister, has joined five other women in India’s cabinet. The prestigious foreign affairs portfolio is also held by a woman, Sushma Swaraj.. . Prime Minister Indira Gandhi also acted as defence minister on two occasions between the mid-1970s and early 1980s. She was assassinated in 1984. Sitharaman’s appointment comes just days after India and China agreed to end a months-long military stand-off at a strategically important disputed area in the Himalayas. New Delhi said both sides agreed to withdraw troops from an area near the Indian border that is claimed by both China and India’s ally Bhutan.
The reshuffle has been cast as Modi laying the groundwork before national elections in 2019, where he is widely tipped to defeat a diminished opposition. His nationally ruling party also governs 18 of India’s 29 states, either directly or in alliance with regional parties.
In the appointment of a Tamilian as defence minister, Tamils expect a massive operation by Indian government in Sri Lanka at least at Katchatheevu to restore the Indians their traditional rights to profess their profession of fish there. If Indian regime refuses any action against Sri Lanka on behalf of Indian fishermen community, that won’t be in the interests of India in the long term.
________
References: 1. Genocides of Tamils and Indo-Sri Lanka relations (Modern Diplomacy) http://moderndiplomacy.eu/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=2418:genocides-of-tamils-and-indo-sri-lanka-relations. 2. Katchatheevu should be brought back to Indian control in order to ensure safe fishing by Indians! March 16, 2017 Abdul Ruff , south Asia Journal–http://southasiajournal.net/katchatheevu-should-be-brought-back-to-indian-control-in-order-to-ensure-safe-fishing-by-indians/

 

——-

Venezuela’s Maduro mocks US criticism of democracy!

Venezuela’s Maduro mocks US criticism of democracy!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

 

__________

 

 

US democracy drama

 

Democracy and human rights are the two issues on which USA claims advantages and therefore criticizes the weak or anti-capitalist –imperialist nations and, whenever possible, it attacks to further weaken and destabilize them.

Destabilization of entire world except USA thus is basis of US democracy that USA seeks especially in the Islamic world.

It is indeed a perfect anomaly that the super nation which has killed maximum people across the globe during its existence after “discovery” as the closest ally of its English master UK and has also terrorized the humanity, is still talking about democracy, human rights and rule of law.

USA can still talk because it is the super nation effectively controlling entire world, including the nations that oppose US domination.

Though these days Washington does not speak much about democracy deficits in other nations as many human rights are denied to American citizens on some flimsy grounds, recently it did criticized democracy of Venezuela in Latin America where, like in West Asia, it does not have many friends or allies.

Seeking to make the world of global US colonies to help advance military supremacy forever, USA, even after the fall of the mighty Soviet Russia and weakening of non committed China,  still hates socialism and communism, though both themselves have not been able to provide safety, security and prosperity to the common global people.

The atomic bomb is too dangerous to be loose in a lawless world. That is why Great Britain, Canada, and the USA that have the secrets about its production, do not let others make nukes and do not intend to reveal that secret until means have been found to control the bomb so as to protect ourselves and the rest of the world from the danger of total destruction.

The USA, which intervenes in the domestic affairs of any weak or totally independent nation which does not promote US interests in the region, refuses to let them advance their legitimate interests if that does not toe the US line, has a long sordid history of interventionist meddling and regime change in Latin America and around the world, and that is what’s going on in Venezuela.

 

Maduro wins Venezuela

 

Venezuela is one the few remaining countries that claim to be socialist but continue to ignore the popular concerns while the super power USA considers them as shame nations without essential human rights. The main concern of Venezuela is to save the nation from the western propaganda manipulative tactics to showcase Socialism as anti-human.

Last week Venezuela’s socialist government won a popular mandate with all seats having been won to dramatically recast the country’s political system against the will and fancies of capitalist USA. Electoral authorities said more than 8 million people voted July 30 to create a constitutional assembly endowing President Nicolas Maduro’s ruling party with virtually unlimited powers, while opposition members and independent analysts put the total number from between 2 to 4 million.

The official result would mean the ruling party won more support than it had in any national election since 2013, despite a crisis ridden economy, spiraling inflation, shortages of medicine and malnutrition. President Nicolás Maduro has suggested the constitution needs to “restore peace” to the country so that measures could be implemented to  improve the living conditions of the people. .

A newly-elected body, consisting mostly of Maduro allies and even his wife, will be given the ability to dissolve state institutions and possibly rewrite the constitution. The people have delivered the constitutional assembly,” Maduro said on national television. “More than 8 million in the middle of threats.  It’s when imperialism challenges us that we prove ourselves worthy of the blood of the liberators that runs through the veins of men, women, children and young people.”

Maduro said he had received congratulations from the governments of Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua, among many others. Maduro and his supporters have dismissed criticism of the assembly as merely the latest in Washington’s attempts to interfere in Venezuela and other Latin American countries.

Maduro promised that the new assembly would quickly “restructure” the office of the chief prosecutor.

 

Rejection

 

Maduro called the vote for a constitutional assembly in May after a month of protests against his government, which has overseen Venezuela’s descent into a devastating crisis during its four years in power. Due to plunging oil prices and widespread corruption and mismanagement, Venezuela’s inflation and homicide rates are among the world’s highest, and widespread shortages of food and medicine have citizens dying of preventable illnesses and rooting through trash to feed themselves.

Venezuela is in turmoil following the contentious vote over the weekend which critics say is an attempt by Maduro to consolidate power. More than 120 people have died this year in clashes protesting the Venezuelan president’s rule, including a candidate for the assembly killed in the night of the election.

The opposition, which the USA considers as its own ally against the regime, estimated only 2.5 million ballots were cast. Opposition leaders estimated the real turnout at less than half the government’s claim in a vote watched by government-allied observers but no internationally recognized poll monitors.  Opposition leader Henrique Capriles, the governor of the central state of Miranda, urged Venezuelans to protest against an assembly that critics fear will effectively create a single-party state.

Opposition leaders had earlier called for a boycott of the vote, declaring it rigged for the ruling party. Ahead of the vote, the opposition organized a series of work stoppages as well as a July 16 protest referendum that it said drew more than 7.5 million symbolic votes against the constitutional assembly.  The president of the opposition-led National Assembly, Julio Borges, told Venezuelan news channel Globovision that Maduro’s foes would continue protesting until they won free elections and a change of government. He said Sunday’s vote had given Maduro “less legitimacy, less credibility, less popular support and less ability to govern.”

Opposition decried the vote as a fraud and called on supporters to protest again as of midday.  “The constitutional assembly will not resolve any of the country’s problems, it just means more crisis,” opposition leader Henrique Capriles said. “As of tomorrow, a new stage of the struggle begins.”

Several countries refused to recognize the results, while Spain and Canada joined in the condemnation. Latin American nations from Argentina to Mexico, which are historically wary of siding with Washington in hemispheric disputes, sharply condemned the vote.  The EU said the constituent assembly could not be part of the negotiated solution to the country’s crisis, noting it was elected under doubtful and often violent circumstances.

Throughout these past four months of often violent protests in Venezuela, the country’s army has, several times, reaffirmed its “unconditional loyalty” to President Maduro. Despite the incident as well as demonstrations, the situation appears to be calm in the country. Meanwhile a search is under way in Venezuela for 10 men who escaped with weapons after an attack on a military base, according to President Nicolás Maduro.

 

Protests

Venezuela has been rocked by months of protests against the government of Maduro, who was elected in 2013 following the death of Hugo Chavez, and there have been at least 125 deaths. Opposition leaders call the election a naked power grab meant to keep the Socialist Party in office despite anger over an economic crisis that has spurred malnutrition and left citizens struggling to obtain basic consumer products.

Countries across the Americas, as well as the European Union, denounced the creation of the assembly, which will have the power to rewrite the constitution. The USA – the top market for the OPEC oil – called the vote a sham, and officials in Washington said they were preparing oil-sector sanctions. “A spokesperson for Emperor Donald Trump said that they would not recognize the results of Venezuela’s constituent assembly election,” Maduro told a crowd of cheering supporters following the completion of the vote. “Why the hell should we care what Trump says?” he added. “We care about what the sovereign people of Venezuela say.”

Opposition leaders call the election a naked power grab meant to keep the Socialist Party in office despite anger over an economic crisis that has spurred malnutrition and left citizens struggling to obtain basic consumer products. Opposition leaders decried the vote as a fraud and called on supporters to protest again as of midday.  “The constitutional assembly will not resolve any of the country’s problems, it just means more crisis,” opposition leader Henrique Capriles said. “As of tomorrow, a new stage of the struggle begins.”

Meanwhile, the Vatican has urged Venezuela’s president not to proceed with a controversial new assembly that his critics say would give him unprecedented power. In a statement issued on the day  Maduro was set to install the new assembly – a vote for which last week was boycotted by the opposition parties and denounced as “rigged – the Vatican called on “all political actors, and in particular the government, to ensure full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the existing constitution”. “The Holy See appeals firmly to all of society to avoid all forms of violence and invites, in particular, the security forces to refrain from excessive and disproportionate use of force,” it said. The statement also it urged the government of Maduro “to prevent or suspend ongoing initiatives such as the new Constituent Assembly which, instead of fostering reconciliation and peace, foment a climate of tension”.

At least 10 people were killed in protests against the unpopular Maduro, who insists the new body known as the constituent assembly will bring peace after four months of protests that have killed more than 120 people. Countries across the Americas, as well as the European Union, denounced the creation of the assembly, which will have the power to rewrite the constitution.

Maduro has also said he would use the assembly’s powers to bar opposition candidates from running in gubernatorial elections in December unless they sit with his party to negotiate an end to hostilities that have generated four months of protests that have killed at least 125 and wounded nearly 2,000. Maduro says a new constitution is the only way to end such conflicts.

 

US agenda

 

USA has a major agenda globally – to ferment troubles in every region by suing the opposition parties. It obstructs peaceful environment everywhere and invades energy rich Arab nations, among others, maintain military superiority. It uses  major powers even in Mideast to its own advantage and help sustain the tensions in every region.

As the super power, the USA has a vast nuclear arsenal capable of blowing up the planet several times. The World commemorates the 72nd anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (August 6, 9, 1945)- the worst  human tragedy ever inflicted upon the people of Japan by the corporatist American regime. .

Fishing in the troubled regional waters has been the key foreign policy parameter of USA and every president- white or black- dutifully pursued imperialist policies by promoting global capitalism. . .

USA badly wants a regime change in Venezuela in order to make entire Latin America pro-American. Opinion polls highly influenced by outside forces showed 85 percent of Venezuelans disapproved of the constitutional assembly and similar numbers disapprove of Maduro’s overall performance.

Maduro said the opposition had been backed by anti-government leaders based in the USA and Colombia. Maduro has threatened that one of the constitutional assembly’s first acts would be jailing opposition leader Freddy Guevara inciting violence.

The USA quickly pledged potentially devastating oil sanctions and condemnations of the process poured in from governments around the capitalist world and the opposition at home. Many capitalist countries, among them the USA, the UK, and Mexico, have denounced the move by Maduro, claiming it is a move to seize additional power for his party at a time when his approval rating stands at just 20 per cent. The USA has issued sanctions against Maduro and 13 of his close advisors and threatened more.

The European Union and nations including Argentina, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Spain, Britain and the USA criticized Sunday’s vote. The Trump government promised “strong and swift actions” against Venezuelan officials, including the 545 participants in the constitutional assembly, many of them low-ranking party members.

Crippling sanctions are indeed economic terrorism being imposed by USA and its powerful western allies on weak nations that do not subscribe to US agenda. After Iran and North Korea now USA and its cohorts seek to impose sanctions on Venezuela with which it has problems.

Politicians throughout the Americas, as well as leaders from the UN, expressed concern with the decision and demanded its reversal, though the Venezuelan government justified its decision as a reaction to “coup-like actions” allegedly performed by the opposition. On 1 April 2017, the TSJ reversed its decision, thereby reinstating the powers of the National Assembly.

Under pressure from USA, Latin American nations from Argentina to Mexico, which are historically wary of siding with Washington in hemispheric disputes, sharply condemned the vote. Several refused to recognize the results, while Spain and Canada joined in the condemnation. The EU said the constituent assembly could not be part of the negotiated solution to the country’s crisis, noting it was elected under doubtful and often violent circumstances. ‘Nobody can escape the food shortages and spiraling inflation faced by millions every day’.

 

Perspective and Problems

Like Turkey, Venezuela is also facing troubles from outside especially USA that uses the opposition to advance its capitalist and anti-national objectives.

The people of Venezuela are struggling with food shortages, economic hardship and an inflation rate of around 600 per cent. If the US goes ahead with its threat to sanction the oil industry – Washington currently purchases 700,000 barrels a day from Venezuela – the situation would likely worsen considerably. Many supporters of Chavez appear to have lost faith in Maduro, yet reports suggest most of them are still supporting him in fear of what might follow him. The conservative opposition parties in Venezuela have long had ties to Washington, and some of their leaders were involved in a 2002 coup that briefly unseated Chavez.

America believes economic terrorism in the form of sanctions would weaken the Venezuela and make people fight against the regime.

The US sanctions are planned to cripple the economy of Venezuela, make the life of common peole miserable so that they oppose the elected government.  In a strike at Venezuela’s already flailing economy, the Trump government is preparing to levy new sanctions on Venezuela, following through on threats to impose penalties if the country went through with the weekend election. The new sanctions could be imposed and will likely target Venezuela’s oil sector, including possibly its state owned petroleum company. One official said an announcement was imminent. The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Many experts believe the US has been seeking a change of government in Caracas since Chavez was elected in 2002. During  past years, Venezuela has been facing serious crisis alongside protest era.

Following the death of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuela faced a severe socioeconomic crisis during the presidency of his successor, Nicolás Maduro, as a result of their policies. Due to the country’s high levels of urban violence, inflation, and chronic shortages of basic goods attributed to economic policies such as strict price controls, civil insurrection in Venezuela culminated in the 2014–17 protests. Protests occurred over the years, with demonstrations occurring in various intensities.

The discontent with the Bolivarian government saw the opposition being elected to hold the majority in the National Assembly for the first time since 1999 following the 2015 parliamentary election. As a result of that election, the lame duck National Assembly consisting of Bolivarian officials filled the TSJ with allies. Into early 2016, the the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ) of Venezuela alleged that voting irregularities occurred in the 2015 parliamentary elections and stripped four lawmakers of their seats, preventing an opposition super-majority in the National Assembly which would be able to challenge President Maduro. The TSJ court then began to approve of multiple actions performed by Maduro and granted him more powers.

After facing years of crisis, the Venezuelan opposition pursued a recall referendum against President Maduro, presenting a petition to the National Electoral Council (CNE) on 2 May 2016. The opposition organized an unofficial referendum over Maduro’s plan earlier in July, when more than 7 million voters overwhelmingly rejected his constituent assembly and voted in favor of early elections. On 21 October 2016, the CNE suspended the referendum only days before preliminary signature-gatherings were to be held. The CNE blamed alleged voter fraud as the reason for the cancellation of the referendum. Western observers criticized the move, stating that CNE’s decision made Maduro look as if he were seeking to rule as a dictator.

Days after the recall movement was cancelled, 1.2 million Venezuelans protested throughout the country against the move, demanding President Maduro to leave office, with Caracas protests remaining calm while protests in other states resulted in clashes between demonstrators and authorities, leaving one policeman dead, 120 injured and 147 arrested. That day the opposition gave President Maduro a deadline of 3 November 2016 to hold elections, with opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

Days later, then National Assembly President and opposition leader Henry Ramos Allup announced the cancellation of 3 November march to the Miraflores presidential palace, with Vatican-led dialogue between the opposition and the government beginning. By 7 December 2016, dialogue halted between the two and two months later on 13 January 2017 after talks stalled, the Vatican officially pulled out of the dialogue. Further protests were much smaller due to the fear of repression, with the opposition organizing surprise protests instead of organized mass marches.

Actions by President Maduro and his Bolivarian officials included a 7 February 2017 meeting which announced the creation of the Great Socialist Justice Mission which had the goal of establishing “a great alliance between the three powers, the judiciary, the citizen and the executive”, with Maduro stating that “we have been fortunate to see how the judicial power has been growing and perfecting, carrying a doctrine so complete with the constitution of 1999” while stating that the opposition-led National Assembly “took power not for the majority not for the people but for themselves”.

On 29 March 2017, the TSJ took over legislative powers of the National Assembly. The Tribunal, mainly supporters of President Nicolás Maduro, also restricted the immunity granted to the Assembly’s members, who mostly belonged to the opposition. The dissolution of assembly was termed as a “coup” by the opposition while the Organization of American States (OAS) termed the action a “self-coup”. The decision was condemned by some media outlets, characterizing the move as a turn towards authoritarianism and one-man rule.

 

Observation

 

USA is eager to unseat President Nicolás Maduro. American worry is compounded by a communist model poll in Venezuela as allies of the Socialist Party won all 545 seats in the new assembly, which will also have the power to dissolve state institutions such as the opposition-run Congress and sack dissident state officials.

The electoral council’s vote counts in the past have been seen as reliable and generally accurate, but the widely mocked announcement appeared certain to escalate the polarization and political conflict paralyzing the country.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro celebrated the election of a new legislative superbody that is expected to give the ruling Socialist Party sweeping powers and mocked US criticism that the vote was an affront to democracy. Venezuela’s socialist government says a national election has given it a popular mandate to dramatically recast the country’s political system even as condemnations of the process have poured in from nations abroad and the opponents at home.

The 545-seat constituent assembly will have the task of rewriting the country’s constitution and will have powers above and beyond other state institutions, including the opposition-controlled congress.

On Friday, the new 545-member assembly was formally opened. Maduro promised that the new assembly would quickly “restructure” the office of the chief prosecutor.   The assembly unanimously elected well-known Socialist Party leaders to its leadership, with former Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez to serve as the president and former Vice President Aristobulo Isturiz as First Vice President. The constituent assembly would hold sessions in the same legislative palace as the existing congress, which the opposition took over in a landslide 2015 victory.

Calling itself “The Binary Guardians”, a hacking group has attacked Venezuelan government websites in an operation targeting the “dictatorship” of President Nicolás Maduro. The group posted messages appearing to support the actions of a group of armed men who attacked a military base in the central city of Valencia on Sunday.

Meanwhile, supporters of President Maduro marched in the capital Caracas. They called for an end to months of opposition protests and unrest.

Interestingly, Americans, while criticizing polls in countries like Russia, China, Venezuela, are unable to control their own presidential poll.  Americans blame Russia for interference in US presidential poll that demolished the hopes of Democratic Party’s Madam Clinton just like the besieged Palestinians and their children have real hopes of a future under the continued attacks and genocides by Israel which keeps the occupational crimes and control mechanism to squeeze the youth of Palestine.

Maduro made it clear in a televised address that he intends to use the assembly not just to rewrite the country’s charter but to govern without limitation. Describing the vote as “the election of a power that’s above and beyond every other,” Maduro said he wants the assembly to strip opposition lawmakers and governors of constitutional immunity from prosecution — one of the few remaining checks on ruling party power. Declaring the opposition “already has its prison cell waiting,” Maduro added: “All the criminals will go to prison for the crimes they’ve committed.”

Any country, and particularly any socialist governed country, that nationalizes their oil industries (or any other US corporate interests, i.e., United Fruit Company in Guatemala and Honduras) become targets for regime change by the USA by using the opposition parties. Iran, Iraq, Libya, Venezuela, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Pakistan et al are living examples. The methods begin with economic warfare, destabilizing their economies via sanctions and withholding of investments and loans, denial of access to markets and imposition of punitive tariffs. When the people feel the economic pain they blame the government and this is exacerbated by covert CIA teams and CIA fronts like National Endowment for Democracy (see Ukraine) who infiltrate and organize, fund and foment “democratic” opposition.  USA achieves total destabilization thanks to Neocon plans.

It is unfortunate that any independent nation must also obey the “democratic” US dictates in order to survive in the comity of nations. Any refusal to dance according to the CIA-Pentagon muse should be ready for a terror attacks.

Who can tie the ball around US neck?

Only in fairy tales a super hero emerges to save the weak ones from monsters!

Post coup foreign policy of Turkey!

Post coup foreign policy of Turkey!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

_____

 

 

Foreign policy of Turkey under president Erdogan has been both prudent and assertive, tactfully protecting all genuine national interest of the former Ottoman Empire by linking domestic with foreign policy in the background of an anti-Islamic environment across the world where the GST (Global State Terror) forces led by USA, Israel and India in the guise of fighting terrorism, are very active.  Turkey pursues fruitful polices even with anti-Islamic nations like USA and Israel.

It is now one full year when Turkey and its ruling AKP government faced the biggest challenge in recent times on July 15, 2016 to them from the foes of Islam and Turkey. The disastrous coup forced the Islamist government President Erdogan to change the Turkish policies both at home and abroad as in the aftermath of terrific 7/15 Turkey encountered new challenges that are increasing daily and hence  found dangerous to keep its foreign policy that harmed the nation by allowing all anti-Turkey elements unchanged.

It appears, entire anti-Islamic world is targeting Islam and Islamist government in Turkey. They have already removed Egypt’s first ever elected President Mohammad Morsi of Brotherhood party and jailed him to formally murder him, thereby insulting democracy, and dismantled the party. This shows how cruelly dangerous the anti-Islamic moment across the globe.

USA and its CIA plus global allies would not let Islamic world work for the welfare of humanity.  They have crated all so-called Islamic terrorist  groups in order to insult Islam and terrorize the Muslims and world at large.

If earlier, the ruling AKP could not distinguish between true friends and real allies that resulted in the failed attempt of coup cum assassination of President Erdogan, the post coup era let the government identify its foes that work against the Islamist government and Islam.

n the past too, the country has witnessed several failed and successful coup attempts in its political history, but July 15 was different as the failed coup attempt in Turkey claimed the lives of 249 and injured 2,000 on July 15. The people’s unprecedented stance against this bloody attempt is unforgettable, marking the first time in history that a coup was stopped by popular anguish and resentment of Turks.

Syria was the first front in which Turkish foreign policy radically shifted. Turkey launched a military operation in Syria on Aug. 24, 2016, following a Daesh suicide attack that killed 59 civilians in the border city of Gaziantep on Aug. 20. The attack was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Operation Euphrates Shield, aimed at driving Daesh and Kurdish fighters back from its border, was Turkey’s biggest intervention in Syria since the war began.

Nobody expected such a major operation at a time when the strength of Turkey’s army after the coup attempt was being questioned. Under the operation, which ended in March, Turkey took the border town of Jarablus, cleared Daesh from a roughly 100-km stretch of the border, then moved south to the strategic town of Al-Bab.

One of the positive outcomes of the coups is the greater ties between Turkey with Russia and Arab world. The failed coup attempt has not only shaped domestic politics but also Turkey’s foreign policy, including on Syria and relations with regional and global actors (particularly the US and Russia), the West, NATO and the EU.

USA has been at work to delink Moscow from other big powers, including Turkey and China. While it achieved much in its objective, China and Turkey remained stubborn with their external policies. Astoundingly, Russian-Turkish relations had started normalizing before July 15, and were cemented after a phone call between the countries’ presidents following the coup attempt. Putin and Erdogan decided to further strengthen their ties against the will of Washington.

Many thought the “arranged” assassination of Russia’s ambassador Karlov to Turkey on Dec. 19 by a Turkish police officer would hamper normalization, but it brought Moscow and Ankara closer. Further, they and Tehran have been instrumental in the crucial Astana talks on Syria, and are in close contact regarding the war.

The coup attempt added new issues to strained Turkish-American relations, which were not majorly improved by a regime change in the USA in January with the arrival of Donald Trump. The most controversial issue is Turkey’s vehement objections to the US decision to arm and equip the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). USA deliberately supports Kurdish movement to make Turkey dependent on USA.

Israel also follows similar strategy. In a bid to end six years of diplomatic impasse, months after the coup attempt Turkey and Israel sent their ambassadors to Tel Aviv and Ankara respectively as part of their reconciliation deal. Promisingly, Turkey’s energy minister is set to visit Israel by the end of this year to conclude a deal to build a natural gas pipeline from the Jewish state to Turkey.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently said the Trump government is starting to repair ties with Turkey, yet Washington still pursues policies that have caused only tensions. The US intentions and rhetoric are at variation.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said Turkey gives its ties with Russia and the US equal status. Amid these tensions, Ankara engaged in talks with Moscow without the White House’s knowledge.

Turkish-EU relations were already suffering before the coup attempt, but European countries’ belated condemnation of the attempt caused a deep crisis of confidence from Ankara’s side. Relations worsened further after several European countries canceled rallies planned by Turkish officials to garner support from Turks living in Europe for a constitutional referendum that took place in April.

Moreover, last week the European Parliament advised the European Council to suspend membership negotiations with Ankara, and the recent failure of talks on Cyprus has further widened the Turkish-EU gap. But despite these problems, both sides seem to agree that they cannot do without one another in a politically fragile environment. Amid all this is the ongoing Gulf crisis.

Growling ties

In June, Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed Alexei Yerkhov, the former consul general in Istanbul,  as Russia’s ambassador to Turkey. Russia’s newly appointed ambassador to Ankara said that Turkey is an important partner of Russia in solving the Syrian crisis and increasing the trade volume between two countries to $100 billion is a “possible goal.”

The veteran Russian diplomat spoke to Turkish media outlets regarding his new duty and recent issues between the two countries. Indicating that many of Ankara and Moscow’s interest were overlapping, Yerkhov said that Russia’s cooperation with Turkey has reached the highest level “in all aspects and degrees.” “Ankara has always held a special place in Moscow’s foreign policy,” he said, adding that he will work hard to improve the bilateral relations of the two countries during his time as ambassador.

The new ambassador said that the goal of increasing trade volume between the two countries to $100 billion, which was set by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin, is a “tough and assertive task but an achievable” goal.

Yerkhov indicated that all states have their own priorities while developing their internal and foreign policies and said that it is normal to have different opinions in Syria. However, he stressed, talks for a solution to the Syrian crisis will continue in Astana and negotiations for de-escalation zones, cease-fire agreements and other major issues are also ongoing. “Turkey and Russia have similar interests in Syria,” he said.

Russia emphasized the legal process of the assassination of previous Russian ambassador Karlov to Turkey Andrey Karlov, adding that Turkish and Russian officials are in close contact regarding the issue. Karlov was killed last December following an attack by a gunman at the opening of an art exhibition in the Turkish capital. Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, 22, an off-duty policeman, shot the ambassador nine times in the back while he was delivering a speech.

The assassination was meant to spoil any possible relations between Turkey and Russia came amid efforts to rejuvenate Turkish-Russian relations after the 2015 jet crisis and establishing a nationwide cease-fire in Syria.

There is also a strong indicator of the level of bilateral relations as 3 million Russians are expected to vacation in Turkey until the end of the year. The ambassador also said that he works hard to learn Turkish and that he will “overcome it sooner or later.” Verbs are very hard to learn in Turkish. Now, I am working on it again. I will achieve it sooner or later,” the diplomat said.

Credit for the success of Turkish foreign policy goes to the experience of Turkish president Erdogan and his ruling AKP party in dealing with foes within and abroad during his long tenure as Premier and President.

Having realized the undercurrents trying to destabilize their relations, both Russia and Turkey would move very cautiously to integrate their efforts for peace in Mideast.  Their role in establishment of Palestine is very crucial as President Trump is seen trying to get a credible Mideast peace deal in place as early as possible  and he is pulling the strings in Tel Aviv which is now busy selling its terror goods to third world terror hungry nations including an innocence claiming India, continues to resist the US move for peace in Mideast.

Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal

Russia begins withdrawal of forces from Syria!

Russia begins withdrawal of forces from Syria!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff

______

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced out of the blue on March 14 that the main part of Russian armed forces in Syria will start to withdraw, telling his diplomats to step up the push for peace as UN-mediated talks resumed on ending the five-year-old war. Putin said at the Kremlin meeting he was ordering the withdrawal from March 14 of the main part of “our military contingent” from Arab Syria. Putin made his surprise announcement at a meeting with his defence and foreign ministers.

 

As a result, Russian forces are already leaving Syria, surprising USA, President Assad, the opposition and the entire world because no one knew for sure how many years the Russian forces would stay in Syria. Russia said its first jets have left Syria and are on their way back to Russia. Speculation was that Russia would keep is forces in Syria as USA is doing the same in Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan and Iraq.

 

Vladimir Putin said he instructed his armed forces to start pulling out of Syria, over five months after he ordered the launch of a military operation that shored up his ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Putin said at a Kremlin meeting with his defence and foreign ministers that Russian forces had largely fulfilled their objectives in Syria. But he gave no deadline for the completion of the withdrawal and said forces would remain at a seaport and airbase in Syria’s Latakia province.

 

Russia, on instruction from President Putin, had launched air strikes in September followed by a massive troop deployment, turning the tide of a long and brutal war in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s favor, rescuing his regime from the brink of collapse. Putin’s announcement appeared timed to coincide with peace talks in Geneva that have been dominated by a disagreement over Assad’s fate.

 

Putin said the decision was discussed and coordinated with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, adding that “the fundamental tasks set for the Russian armed forced in Syria were resolved.  “It was agreed to withdraw main body of the Russian air forces. At the same time Russia would preserve an air flight control center in Syrian territory to monitor the ceasefire regime,” according to an online Kremlin press release.

 

Earlier, Putin had ordered an intensification of Russia’s diplomatic efforts to achieve a peace deal to end the civil war in Syria that has dragged on for five years, killed thousands of people and displaced millions, many of them seeking refuge in Europe.  As ceasefire effort did not work out well, the western diplomats speculated President Putin may be trying to press Assad into accepting a political settlement to the war, which has killed over 250,000 people, although US officials saw no sign yet of Russian forces preparing to pull out.

 

Syrian war has displaced half the population, sent refugees streaming into Europe and turned Syria into a battlefield for foreign forces and jihadis. The limited truce, which excludes the powerful Islamic State and Nusra Front groups, is fragile. The warring sides have accused each other of multiple violations and they arrived in Geneva with what look like irreconcilable agendas. The Syrian opposition says the talks must focus on setting up a transitional governing body with full executive power, and that Assad must leave power at the start of the transition. Damascus says Assad’s opponents are deluded if they think they will take power at the negotiating table. The talks must focus on political transition, which is the “mother of all issues”, the UN envoy said.

 

The Russian withdrawal move was announced on the day UN-brokered talks involving the warring sides in Syria resumed in Geneva. The Geneva talks are the first in more than two years and come amid a marked reduction in fighting after last month’s “cessation of hostilities”, sponsored by Washington and Moscow and accepted by Assad’s government and many of his foes. In Geneva, United Nations mediator Staffan de Mistura told the warring parties there was no “Plan B” other than a resumption of conflict if the first of three rounds of talks which aim to agree a “clear roadmap” for Syria failed to make progress.

 

US President Barack Obama and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have discussed Moscow’s planned military drawdown in Syria and next steps required to fully implement the cessation of hostilities. The White House announced this on March 14, hours after a shock announcement that signals a new phase in the five-year-old conflict.

Russia has remained steadfast in its public support of Assad, while opposition groups — the United States and key European countries — have called on Assad to go as part of a negotiated transition. “A political transition is required to end the violence in Syria,” Obama said.

Russia’s military intervention in Syria in September helped to turn the tide of war in Assad’s favour after months of gains in western Syria by rebel fighters, who were aided by foreign military supplies including US-made anti tank missiles. The anti-Assad opposition which lost hopes of removing Assad from power, simply expressed bafflement, with a spokesman saying “nobody knows what is in Putin’s mind”. Syria regards all rebel groups fighting Assad as terrorists. Rebels and opposition officials alike reacted skeptically.

Opposition spokesman Salim al-Muslat demanded a total Russian withdrawal. “Nobody knows what is in Putin’s mind, but the point is he has no right to be in be our country in the first place. Just go,” he said. A European diplomat was also sceptical. “It has the potential to put a lot of pressure on Assad and the timing fits that,” the diplomat said.

Syrian government rejected any suggestion of a rift with Moscow, saying President Bashar al-Assad had agreed on the “reduction” of Russian forces in a telephone call with Putin Moscow had promised to continue support for Syria in “confronting terrorism”.

 

Moscow gave Washington no advance warning of Putin’s announcement. Even Americans had seen no indications so far of preparations by Russia’s military for the withdrawal. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin had telephoned the Syrian president to inform him of the decision, but the two leaders had not discussed Assad’s future – the biggest obstacle to reaching a peace agreement.

 

Russia has said it was in Syria to fight Islamist terror groups, but a large part of its air strikes were on anti-Assad groups which Washington and its allies designate as moderate opposition groups. Opposition fighters have alleged that Russia had combat troops on the ground fighting anti-Assad forces, but the Kremlin has never acknowledged this and so it was unclear if such forces would be covered by the withdrawal.

 

Continuing offensive actions by Syrian regime forces risk undermining both the cessation of hostilities and the UN-led political process. A recent “cessation of hostilities” has been frequently breached but, Obama said, led to a “much-needed reduction in violence”. The White House sought to turn the screws on Assad, just as his backing from Russia was called into question.

 

By signaling the start of a withdrawal, Russia is likely to soothe tense relations with the USA, which has accused the Kremlin of inflaming the Syrian conflict and pursuing its own narrow interests. “I think we did it to show the Americans that we do not have military ambitions and don’t need unnecessary wars,” said Ivan Konovalov, director of the Center for Strategic Trend Studies in Moscow. “They have been accusing us of all kinds of things and this is a good way of showing them they are wrong.”

Through its intervention in Syria, Putin has restored Russia status as a major international player capable of exerting its influence far from its borders, and forced the United States to reckon with Moscow’s interests. But there was also recognition in Moscow that pressing ahead any further with the military operation would produce diminishing returns. Russian officials have said it is unrealistic to try to restore Assad’s control over all of Syria and the time had come to negotiate a peace. Putin said at the Kremlin meeting, “With the participation of the Russian military … the Syrian armed forces and patriotic Syrian forces have been able to achieve a fundamental turnaround in the fight against international terrorism and have taken the initiative in almost all respects,” Putin said.

 

Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin confirmed some forces would stay in Syria. “Our diplomacy has received marching orders to intensify our efforts to achieve a political settlement in Syria.”  But the Russian leader signaled Moscow would keep a military presence: he did not give a deadline for the completion of the withdrawal and said Russian forces would stay on at the port of Tartous and at the Hmeymim air base in Syria’s Latakia province, from which Russia has launched most of its air strikes.

Questions remained about the practical implications of Putin’s announcement. It was not clear if Russian air strikes would stop. Russia will retain the capability to launch them, from the base in Latakia province.

Russia has shown the road map to all colonial powers to follow suit and emulate. NATO and its leader USA, Israel and India must respect the path shown by the Kremlin to quit occupations and let the nations under their occupation to gain sovereignty.

Millions of people have been slaughtered, severely wounded, driven out of their nations by these colonialist powers.  Fake threat perceptions of anti-Islamic nations, following the Sept 11 hoax, have harmed the humanity.

Peace and democracy are not mere slogans, for, sustained efforts are necessary to achieve these objectives.

 

Aung San Suu Kyi cannot be president in Myanmar!

Aung San Suu Kyi cannot be president in Myanmar!

-Dr. Abdul Ruff

_______

 

Myanmar on March 15 started its presidential election in the Union Parliament comprising two Houses. The country’s new president will be elected among three vice presidents. Myanmar’s National League for Democracy (NLD) has named its candidates to be president, confirming that its elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi is not a contender.  The three vice presidents are U Htin Kyaw of the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party, who was elected by the group of presidential electoral college of the House of Representatives (Lower House), U Henry Van Htee Yu also from NLD, who was elected by the House of Nationalities (Upper House), and U Myint Swe from the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), who was directly assigned by the military.

The candidate thought most likely to become president, Htin Kyaw, is a close aide. It is however of no consequence as to who win the presidency as Suu Kyi still control the president and his powers. Ms Suu Kyi failed to persuade the military to allow a clause barring her from the presidency to be overruled.  But she has vowed to lead from the sidelines instead.

Ms Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy will control parliament, although a quarter of the seats as well as key government ministries remain in the hands of the military. One of the new parliament’s first jobs will be to choose a president to replace Thein Sein who steps down at the end of March. Ms Suu Kyi, who spent 15 years under house arrest by the army rulers, is constitutionally barred from standing because her sons are British not Burmese.  There was speculation that a deal may have been done with the military to allow her to take the job

The new government will take power on 1 April – the first freely elected government after more than 50 years of military rule and then five years of military-backed civilian government.
The generals’ inflexibility, in the face of a huge popular mandate, has set the tone for what looks likely to be a period of confrontation between them and the newly elected democrats. It was in November last year that Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), swept the board in the long-awaited general election.

The NLD won nearly 80% of the contested seats and everyone, even the army, agreed that the Burmese people had not just voted for change, they had voted for Suu Kyi to lead. Emboldened by the result, the former political prisoner reached out to her long-time adversaries. In the past four months she has held three meetings with Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing. Suu Kyi was exploring the possibility of a grand deal. What the NLD leader needed was the army’s approval for a legally dubious move. She wanted parliament to temporarily suspend the part of the constitution that bars her from becoming president.

 

The NLD won the majority of non-military seats available in parliament in last year’s historic general election, although the army – which still controls a quarter of all parliamentary seats and key security ministries – remains a significant force in Burmese politics. The NLD, which won a landslide in November, has named Htin Kyaw as its lower house nominee for vice president, and Henry Van Thio, an MP from the Chin ethnic minority, as its upper house nominee. Both houses will choose between the NLD’s candidates and those from other parties, but because the NLD holds a majority in both houses, its candidates are likely to be chosen. The winner from each house will then enter a second vote to decide the president of the country. A military nominated candidate will also compete in this vote. The two losing candidates will become vice-presidents.

Suu Kyi  tried right to the last. But there was no deal. Despite a huge win in the election, Aung San Suu Kyi failed to convince the army that her destiny was the presidency. Clause 59F of the constitution which bars her because her sons have British not Burmese passports remains in place, and she has now chosen someone else. It’s Htin Kyaw, who she’s known all her life. He’s a committed member of the party and was by her side when Ms Suu Kyi was released from house arrest in 2010. His most important quality may be the ability to take orders.

Aung San Suu Kyi has made it clear that though she does not have the title – she will still be in charge.  Ms Suu Kyi’s close aide Htin Kyaw, 70, is a quietly spoken man who attended university in the UK. He has a reputation for honesty and loyalty, and has kept a low profile. His father, the writer and poet Min Thu Wun, won a seat for the party at the 1990 election. His wife, Su Su Lwin, is the daughter of an NLD founder, as well as being a sitting MP, and a prominent party member. He has played a senior role at the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation, the charity founded in honour of Suu Kyi’s late mother, and has been frequently seen at the NLD leader’s side, serving as her driver from time to time.
The chances of Aung San Suu Kyi becoming Myanmar’s next president have been receding for months. But as parliament puts forward its nominations for the top job, the situation is clear: there will be no last-minute deal, no President Suu Kyi. Those expecting a Nelson Mandela ending to this incredible story will be disappointed. But for Suu Kyi and her many supporters little has actually been lost. This anticlimactic outcome strengthens her politically and diminishes the military in the eyes of the Burmese people.

Clause 59F famously disqualifies anyone whose spouse, children, and even spouses of children, have foreign passports. Suu Kyi’s two children by Oxford academic Michael Aris are British. Supporters of the clause say it protects the country’s sovereignty, but many believe it was drafted by the military to close the door on Suu Kyi. To open that door, the Burmese army would have demanded concessions. That could have meant giving the military the right to choose the chief ministers of several states, and securing promises that the army’s many business interests would be left alone.

So what, then, will the new political landscape of Burma look like?

Suu Kyi famously said before the election that she would be “above” whoever she picks to be president. All Suu Kyi will have to do is pick up a phone to flex her presidential power by proxy. She has lost nothing there. Unencumbered by any deal with the army, Suu Kyi will be freer to pursue her campaign platform from the 2015 election. Her authority is unchallenged within her party and she will now remotely command both presidency and parliament. One of her priorities is likely to be a renewed bid to change the constitution to reduce the army’s power.

The unelected army representatives have already sampled the new order. Suu Kyi’s MPs are demanding that deals made by the army and the former government be re-examined. In a rare moment of drama, all the men in green uniform stood up in the house in protest. In the immediate aftermath of the election, Suu Kyi spoke of being inclusive and creating a government of national unity. That was before the army rejected her overtures. It is expected that the government Suu Kyi leads will be a mix of NLD officials and technocrats.

The 2008 constitution will be the main limit on Suu Kyi’s power. Drafted by the generals, and approved in a sham referendum, it ensures the military retains its political role. The key security ministries (home, defence, border affairs) are appointed not by the president but by the army commander-in-chief. A quarter of the seats in parliament are also reserved for soldiers. That is not enough for them to block legislation, but sufficient to scupper any attempts to amend their constitution. Most importantly, the military is almost certain to have insisted that attempts to chip away at its political power be put on the back burner. So beneath the feel-good headline of “President Suu Kyi”, the army would have consolidated its political role. It’s not clear why the grand deal didn’t happen. Perhaps the army just couldn’t stomach the idea, or maybe Suu Kyi refused to concede enough. For whatever reason, the talks broke down.

 

Much has changed in Myanmar, but the Burmese army has not budged one inch from the red lines it put into the constitution. The democratic experiment, economic reforms and the emboldened Suu Kyi remain in a controlled space that the military designed and now seem intent on preserving.  Myanmar’s independence hero, Gen Aung San, assassinated in July 1947 when Suu Kyi was only two years old was her father. From 1964, studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University, where she met her future husband, academic Michael Aris. She returned to Rangoon in 1988 to look after her critically ill mother during the midst of a campaign for democratic reform.

Suu Kyi organised rallies and travelled around the country, calling for peaceful democratic reform and free elections. Demonstrations brutally suppressed by the army, which seized power in a coup in September 1988, placing Suu Kyi under house arrest the following year. Her party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won a national election in 1990 – but the military junta refused to relinquish power. Suu Kyi spent protracted periods under house arrest until she was finally released unconditionally in 2010. Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. She led the NLD to a majority win in Myanmar’s first openly contested election in 25 years in November 2015.

Suu Kyi will control both the parliament and presidency without being the country’s president.

 

%d bloggers like this: