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Saturday
Jul302011

Turkey Latest: "State Crisis" as Nation's Top Military Officers Resign (Hurriyet)

Turkey’s military command echelon resigned late Friday from their posts amid an ongoing spat with the government over the growing number of arrested generals. The mass resignations, which marked a first in the country’s history, immediately caused a state crisis.

Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner, Land Forces Commander Gen. Erdal Ceylanoğlu, Air Forces Commander Gen. Hasan Aksay and Naval Forces Commander Adm. Eşref Uğur Yiğit quit their posts days before the Supreme Military Council, or YAŞ, was supposed to meet to discuss key military promotions. Koşaner had another two years left in the office.

Gendarmerie Forces Commander Necdet Özel did not resign.

The resignations came hours after a prosecutor demanded the arrest of a top military official, Gen. Hüseyin Nusret Taşdeler, the commander of the Aegean Army. Sources said disagreements over promotions and the arrests of numerous generals peaked to an unacceptable level following the legal action against Taşdeler.

Tensions between the military and the government have been high in recent years as hundreds of high-ranking officers were put behind bars in the ongoing “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) and Ergenekon coup-plot cases.

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Saturday
Jul302011

The Latest from Iran (30 July): Watching Out for Enemies

1700 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch (cont.). And for the most distinctive source of criticism today, consider the head of Iran's armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi, who has told Fars, "Subsidy refunds and justice shares should not be abused for campaigning."

That is a pointed jab at President Ahmadinejad, accused of using "justice shares" --- dividends from state holdings handed out to the public --- to influence votes in the 2009 Presidential election, and his allies, accused of wanting to do the same in the 2012 and 2013 Parliamentary and Presidential ballots.

1600 GMT: Ahmadinejad Watch. Even amidst the frequent criticism of the President these days, this blast from Ahmad Salek of the Society of Militant Clergies is rather special:

Hopefully the djinns around Ahmadinejad aren't British, Israeli, and Russian....Obama & Netanyahu supported him because Ahmadinejad shares the same beliefs....Ahmadinejad sat at home with 25 million votes [in the disputed 2009 election], but people didn't support him because the Islamic Republic has its own management."

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Saturday
Jul302011

US Politics & Economy Analysis: It's Not the "Bizarro" Tea Party That is the Problem

There is an interesting narrative emerging from the contentious debt limit discussions in Washington: tesponsible politicians from both sides of the aisle have been blocked in their attempts to craft a successful deal by irresponsible, or in Senator John McCain's language, "bizarro" Tea Party politicians.

In the short term that is a fair assessment, possibly without the "bizarro", but in the long term it is a woeful explanation of the present inadequacies of Congress and the President in facing America's debt and deficit problems.

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Saturday
Jul302011

Syria Analysis: An Opposition Without a Leadership...or a Strategy...or Organisation (Sly)

That ordinary Syrians have braved bullets and tanks to take to the streets for 18 consecutive weeks seeking the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad is an indicator of their movement’s resilience. Courage is one quality the protesters do not lack.

Just about every other ingredient that usually goes into building a revolution — organization, strategy or leadership — is still missing, however.

The nationwide uprising that erupted spontaneously on the streets of Syrian cities remains a largely ad hoc affair, inspired by the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, driven by anger and frustration with decades of dictatorship, but lacking a clear direction or structure beyond the unanimous demand that Assad should go.

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Saturday
Jul302011

Iran Analysis: The Supreme Leader, Political Conflict, and the "Arbitration Committee" (Farhi)

I do not know if Khamenei has made a decision that something needs to be done to reduce his workload and develop processes that can resolve at least some of the issues without him, or if he is just trying to give the impression that he is doing something while enjoying the dynamics that give his office all the powers of the world --- even at the cost of institutional degradation and administrative chaos in the country.

On this one we just have to wait and see.

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Friday
Jul292011

Latest Syria Videos: Friday's Protests Across the Country --- Set 2

Midan section of Damascus

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Friday
Jul292011

Latest Syria Videos: Friday's Protests Across the Country

Friday
Jul292011

The Latest from Iran (29 July): And Now We Bring You This Diversion....

Atiyah Abd al-Rahman (0615 GMT)1905 GMT: Oil and Politics. Even though he has not been approved as Minister of Oil by Parliament, Rustam Qassemi --- Revolutionary Guards commander and head of its engineering branch, Khatam al-Anbia --- has called a Saturday meeting of the Ministry's staff and experts in the industry.

Why such a hurry? An EA correspondent observes that a Tehran conference has noted that Qatar is taking 450,000 barrels of oil per day from the South Pars field --- and Iran is taking 0.

Our correspondent mischievously follows up, "[Qassemi is] trying to save his assets after yesterday's conference."

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Friday
Jul292011

Libya, Syria (and Beyond) LiveBlog: The Opposition's Military Commander is Assassinated

Also see our latest video entry: Latest Syria Videos: Friday's Protests Across the Country - Set 1 AND Set 2

2026 GMT: An important update from an activist in Sana'a, Yemen. Loud explosions could be heard coming from north of the city, presumably fresh government airstrikes against a base that was captured by opposition tribesmen yesterday. (see update at 0920)

1959 GMT: A huge Conservative Islamist rally took place in Alexandria, Egypt, as well. Members of the 6th April Group, a liberal pro-democracy organization, were reportedly harassed and left the crowd:

1948 GMT: An important eyewitness account from a Kurdish neighborhood of Damascus:

In the Damascus neighbourhood of Rukin Aden, home to the capital’s largest Kurdish community, an eye-witness told Al Jazeera there were several hundred protesters gathered around the Saad Basha Mosque, calling for the toppling of the regime.

Anti-riot police and secret police blocked off the neighbourhood's main streets, arresting dozens of protesters and driving them off in large buses.

Protesters also reported land lines and internet had been cut since the morning.

“After four months, we are demonstrating every night despite the big security crackdown on us,” Ammar, a 28-year-old protestor told Al Jazeera.

“About 200 pro-democracy advocates and protesters were arrested but this will not stop our uprising. The regime is trying hard to finish the uprising before Ramadan. We are preparing ourselves for the Ramadan and we will organise big evening demonstrations every day, especially Rukin Adeen which has well-known religious figures and big mosques.”

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Friday
Jul292011

Iran Feature: Taking Apart the US Innuendo on Tehran and Al Qa'eda (Pillar)

Despite the provocative phrase “secret deal", Treasury's announcement says nothing else about any such agreement. The only dealings it describes all seem to have to do with the imprisonment of al-Qa'ida members. Only one of the six designated individuals, named Ezedin Abdel Aziz Khalil, is described as “Iran-based”; the other five all live and operate somewhere else and are included in the announcement because they are part of the same network as Khalil. The one bit of business Khalil is said to have with Tehran is that he “works with the Iranian government to arrange releases of al-Qa'ida personnel from Iranian prisons.” One of the other five is said to have “petitioned Iranian officials on al-Qa'ida's behalf to release operatives detained in Iran”—with no indication whether he succeeded. Any connection between the Iranian regime and the group's other activities involving movement of money and operatives is all a matter of innuendo, at least as far as Treasury's announcement is concerned.

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