The challenges to a "grand Kurdish project" go beyond Ankara. The first is over the crisis in Syria --- indirectly involving Iran --- where the Erdogan Government has no intention of repairing times with Syrian Kurds of the Democratic Union Party. The second is the inclusion of Iraq's Massoud Barzani in a political process: it is unclear what incentive Ankara has to acknowledge, let alone accept, the demand of the pro-Kurdish opposition party BDP.
Entries in Iran (100)
Syria and Iran Feature: 2130 Civilian Prisoners To Be Released in Exchange for 48 Iranian "Pilgrims"
EA Special: 10 Predictions for 2013 --- Assad Gone, an Angry Middle East, and Little Change on "Human Rights"
1. Syria --- The Assad Regime Will Fall It remains unclear what happens once President Assad is gone, but his regime will crumble in 2013. It may find some corner of Lattakia or Tartous to claim as a new capital for some time, but this will not last.
Assad's presence in the east has been reduced to a single airbase near Deir Ez Zor. Insurgents, led by Islamists, are also moving into Raqqa Province, and Hassakah will soon be cut off. The regime's supply lines to Aleppo are completely cut, with insurgents picking off military bases outside the city.
Eventually, Aleppo will fall. Insurgents will march south from Idlib Province, first taking Hama, then Homs, and then on to Damascus. If the Assad regime survives and is not overtaken by a surge in the capital before this, then the regime will have its back against the wall. The majority of Syria will already be in someone else's hands.
But whose hands?
The Question We Asked Last Year: A Reliable Prediction? --- Right to Left: Tunisia's Ben Ali, Egypt's Mubarak, Libya's Qaddafi, Yemen's Saleh, Syria's Assad, Iran's Khamenei
On 1 January, I offered some predictions about the year ahead. How did they turn out?...
4. Speaking of Syria, things will get worse before they get better. The Arab League observers will produce a middling report, one that speaks of a crisis that needs fixing but will be slow to blame the highest levels of the Assad regime. International outcry will be loud. Eventually, someone will crack, and there will be intervention.
However, I would be shocked if this happened before April, and absolutely bewildered if it happened before March. The opposition is still, in the eyes of the world, not organised enough to serve as a skeleton upon which the international community can build a mission.
In the meantime, the protests will not go away, and more and more people will defect. Those defections, however, will not reach a tipping point for a long time for the regime, unless that international intervention happens.
RT: There are many people who were convinced a year ago that you would not make it this far. Here again you are sitting in a newly renovated presidential palace and recording this interview. Who exactly is your enemy at this point?
BA: My enemy is terrorism and instability in Syria. This is our enemy in Syria. It is not about the people, it is not about persons. The whole issue is not about me staying or leaving. It is about the country being safe or not. So, this is the enemy we have been fighting as Syria.
An intervention from the US Ambassador, a challenge from Washington's top military commander --- what is “Erdogan’s country” to do now? Facing the Americans, Iraq's Barzani, and the PKK --- all in the context of the evolving Syrian crisis --- will Ankara change its tough-on-Kurds inside Turkey? Will it make a move regarding Syria's Kurds? Or will it try to gain time until Ankara can see a clearer message from Washington following the US elections?
1830 GMT: In a ceremony attended by Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, the former laid the foundation stone for Hamad Medical City project in the Gaza Strip.
1825 GMT: A rocket fired from Gaza hits Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries reported.
1740 GMT: The IDF says the army is better than the intercepted Finnish-flagged Gaza-bound civilian vessel when it comes to efficiency.
1615 GMT: Greek activists who were arrested aboard the Finnish-flagged Estelle by Israeli commandos on Saturday denounced the Israeli army's action.
Vaguelis Diamantopoulos, a Greek MP, said: "The balaclava-clad commandos from the Israeli marine carrying heavy weapons came aboard the boat and acted like a militia."
The boat's captain Vangelis Pissias said: "They sent out the army for 30 activists."
Activists claimed that Israeli soldiers had used tasers on board. However, Israeli officials denied such accusations.
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The Latest from Israel-Palestine (16 October): Netanyahu's Threats That Will Dominate the Elections
1921 GMT: Syria. Another plane shot down? This video was reportedly filmed over Hanano, Aleppo. At least one parachute is clearly visible:
We'd like to see multiple angles, just so we can compare it to other videos of planes being shot down. However, if confirmed, this is another sign of how weak Assad's air forces are becoming.
The Guardian and C.J. Chivers think so too.
Last August, Chivers wrote that Syria’s fleet of Mi-25 Hind-D attack helicopters, which numbered 36 at the start of the conflict, was insufficient to hold back the rebels.
He also cited estimates that only half the regime's helicopter fleet may be operational at any given time – "maintenance technicians are struggling to keep the machines aloft" – and that some of the original 36 helicopters have been cannibalised for spare parts.
That was late August --- but Assad is now losing helicopters and airplanes at a rate of one to two per day.
1945 GMT: The State Attirney's Office announced that it is appealing the acquittals of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in the Jerusalem District Court corruption case to the Supreme Court. At a time when Olmert was mulling a political comeback, he could go to jail if the appeal is rejected.
1900 GMT: Israel Defense Forces have confirmed that a Strela (SA-7) anti-aircraft missile was fired at an Israeli helicopter over the Gaza Strip for the first time last week.
1825 GMT: A rocket fired from Gaza hits Hof Ashkelon Regional Council in southern Israel. No injuries reported.
1730 GMT: The Palestinian Authority's public workers union has called for full strike Wednesday, Thursday and again next week in protest of the government's failure to pay salaries.
1645 GMT: After Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah' acknowledged that the group sent the downed drone into Israeli airspace, the Gaza-based Palestinian groups praised Hezbollah.
Al-Mujahideen Brigades described Hezbollah's operation as "unprecedented", whilst Salah al-din Brigades, the military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees, said Hezbollah's improved capabilities would strengthen the resolve of the Palestinian people and deter Israel from attacking them and their holy places.
1430 GMT: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denies that he agreed on Israel giving up the Golan Heights in return of a peace deal in the US-mediated secret talks with the Assad regime.
1045 GMT: Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Ehud Barak had secret talks with the Assad Bashar government in the late 2010. It is claimed that Israeli leaders agreed to a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights in exchange for a peace agreement.
In September 2010, it was Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who publicly asked the Netanyahu government to restart indirect talks between Israel and Syria, through the Turkish mediation. However, the Israeli government denied such reports.