Thursday, April 17, 2014

Re: Turkish Premier Ecevit consulted Bhagavad Geeta both in war and peace




                                                                

Turkish Premier Ecevit consulted Bhagavad Geeta both in war and peace                       

 

Note ;In early 21 century ,with the rise of religious fundamentalism and obscurantism ; in the wake of collapse of the Soviet Union aka scientific socialism and even moderate socialism ,with Islamic fundamentalism tearing into the core of Pakistan and the rise of Hindutva in India, under the command of Narendra Modi ,who let lose a pogrom against Muslims ,Bharat is inching towards his becoming India's prime minister .God forbid .In Ataturk's Jacobean secular Turkey ,an authoritarian dictator and Islamist Tayep Erdogan is ruling in Ankara  ruthlessly since ten years .It would be therefore difficult for Indians to believe , specially hardliners that Turkey had a liberal , socialist and multi-culture loving prime minister in Bulent Ecevit, just over a decade ago.

 

 

In 1974, on a visit to London from Paris , where I was then posted ,I switched on the BBC TV and saw Bulent Ecevit, then Prime Minister for the first time ,who had just sent the Turkish troops to Cyprus, where they still stay put, being interviewed. When asked what gave him the courage to send in the troops, which many other Turkish Premiers in the past would have loved to do but dared not. Apart from other reasons Ecevit responded that he was inspired by the teachings of Bhagavad Geeta; if one was morally in a correct position, one should not hesitate to fight injustice, against mighty and even against ones near and dear ones. Earlier I had read an interview in the International Herald Tribune, in which the interviewer remarked on the books in Ecevit's library; among others, he prominently pointed out the Geeta and Nehru's Glimpses of World History. Ecevit said they had influenced him profoundly.

 

In spite of stereotyped  , West promoted notion of the terrible Turk, following centuries of Crusades and Jihad between them, Turks are no different than other people .Having never been enslaved ,they are a  proud people .They hold India and its leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Lal Nehru, Indira Gandhi , Indian civilisation and culture and the democratic system in the highest regard, not withstanding their having  been on the opposite side during the Cold War and their quid pro quo support to Pakistan on Kashmir, for New Delhi's support for Archbishop on  Cyprus.

 

When I returned to Ankara in 1992 as Ambassador, (having been earlier posted in Turkey from 1969 to 1973) I requested Ecevit to elucidate his views on Geeta's role in his decision to invade the Republic of Cyprus. He said that Turkey along with UK and Greece was one of the Guarantor Powers of the Cypriot Constitution, according to which if a change was brought about in the status of Cyprus, it could act with them to restore back the situation. The Greek Cypriot leadership, after a coup, in league with Greece, had declared unity with Greece (Enosis) and as Britain was dithering (to take any action); Turkey had no option but to protect Turkish Cypriot community and its own strategic interests. 

 

Ecevit added that he abhorred violence in internal politics and also in international relations, but he was convinced that the situation created by the Greek Cypriots enlarged the Greek border with Turkey to include Cyprus. It would have led to constant tensions and perhaps a full scale war between Turkey and Greece. So with a heavy heart he ordered the military strike as he felt that he was morally right and the action would ultimately produce less strife and violence in the long run. (He has been proved correct.)While he was quoting Geeta in international media, India, of course, because of our foreign policy compulsions were denouncing Turkish invasion in the UN and elsewhere.

 

In a military exercise in 1979, Ecevit was greatly pained and concerned with the agony of an injured horse, much to the disgust and chagrin of his Military Chief, Gen. Kenan Evren.

 

Ecevit mentioned Bhagavad Geeta again when I recalled his defeating in 1972 the legendary and venerable leader Ismet Inonu  (who had warned Nehru during the 1960 visit to Turkey , not to trust the Communists aka China and against opposition sent some mountain guns to India after 1962.) Ecevit stood for the Republican Peoples  party leadership against Inonu who was the right hand man of Kemal Ataturk, Turkey's liberator, founder and  modernizer  .After Ataturk' death in 1938 Inonu became president .Earlier he was most of the time prime minister .Inonu on Ataturk's advice adroitly kept Turkey out of World War II. He then played a vital role in Turkey's transition from one party rule to multiparty democracy.

 

After the 1971 Army ultimatum which forced Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel to resign, Ecevit and Inonu, though together in opposition, had different perceptions of the political situation. Ecevit had opposed the ultimatum, while Inonu had acquiesced in, not to exacerbate the situation at that juncture. Ecevit said that he had the greatest regard for Inonu, a father figure (Bulent's father was Inonu's personal physician and close friend) and who was his teacher and leader (like Dronacharya!), but he differed from his teacher very strongly and in order to make up his mind and choose the right path, he again studied Geeta before taking up the political fight against Inonu. Inonu lost and resigned from the party .He died a year later at the age of 89.

 

As a result of Ecevit's stand against military intervention, his party did well in elections in 1973, as I had predicted to Mrs Ecevit .He formed a coalition government with the National Order party of Najemettin Erbakan, thus giving a foot hold to an Islamist party for the first time .Now Erbakan's protégé Islamist Tayep Erdogan is ruling Turkey with a strong hand since 2002.

 

Ecevit was born at Istanbul in 1925 and as a young man took some Sanskrit lessons at the Indology department of Ankara University. When posted as Cultural Attache at the Turkish Embassy in London, his love for poetry and philosophic bent of mind drew him to study Rabindra Nath Tagore's Geetanjali and Bhagvata Geeta... He learnt Sanskrit to better understand Geeta and Bengali to appreciate and translate Tagore's writings .He was surprised to find similarities between Turkish and Sanskrit and Bengali, not only in the vocabulary but in the syntax also. He repeated this when I presented to him my essay on the influence of Turkish on Hindustani languages. He said that he had translated only a few poems from Geetanjali. He would like to do more but his profession gave him little respite. He also translated Ezra Pound and TS Elliot.

 

Tagore's works, Geetanjali ( in full), Gora, Hungry Stones, the Gardener, Chitra, Stray Birds etc, perhaps more than 20 works have been translated into Turkish , most longtime ago, some later. In 1971, after the military crackdown on leftists, mysteriously Upanishads, Geeta, Geetanjali etc were banned. On enquiries, it was revealed that these books were found along with writings of Karl Marx, Engels and Lenin in a leftists den .In the maze of the bureaucracy as no one went through them, all were banned. The ban on Indian writings was soon lifted. The leftist students apart from Karl Marx and Mao also studied the Naxalbari movement of Charu Majumdar and Kanu Sanyal.             

 

During president Shankar Dayal Sharma's visit to Turkey in 1993 Ecevit was invited to visit India .In 2000 he also fulfilled his dream of going over to Shantiniketan, where he was honoured for promoting Bengali literature.

 

Bulent Ecevit, five times Turkish Prime Minister and a key political player for almost half a century died on 6 November, 2006 aged 81 after a long illness . Apart from 1974, he was twice premier from 1977 to 1979, with his last stint from 1999-2002. Representing the coalminers of Black Sea coast town of Zonguldak, as labour minister he gave the Turkish workers the right to strike for the first time in Turkey. Apart from being a poet, Ecevit had also worked as a journalist.

 

K Gajendra Singh, served as ambassador to Turkey from August 1992 to April 1996. Prior to that, he served terms as ambassador to Jordan, Romania and Senegal. He is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies.

 


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Rise of religious fundamentalism bodes ill for the subcontinent ( Complete)

 Full version

Rise of religious fundamentalism bodes ill for the subcontinent

In the clutches of extremists and Taleban, Pakistan poses grave danger to India

 

In our era ,a very unfortunate , regressive and game changer development in the last quarter of 20th-century has been the rise of religious fundamentalism and obscurantism ; and the regression of rationalism and scientific thought in the wake of collapse of the Soviet Union aka scientific socialism and even moderate socialism. U.S.-led West, uses Christianity as a counter to Islamic fundamentalism, but which it has encouraged and supported  with training ;but major finances has been provided by obscurantist Saudi Arabian medieval state . Pakistan’s armed forces have acted as pawns and cannon fodder in Washington’s objective to control the strategic space in South West Asia and South Asia and its resources in exchange for an overall guarantee of the luxury lifestyle of the Saudi ruling princes oligopoly. Most Pak rulers are beholden to and controlled by Riyadh.

 

Since the theory of survival of the fittest, US led West believes in naked brutal power and exploitation of its own people and other people for the enrichment of the few. To say that USA is a democratic Republic is a cruel joke on its people and the world. It is an oligopoly and represents tyranny, a state of polity between absolute kingdom and democracy as defined in Greek history and thought. US believes that it will escape the backlash of extremism which it has stirred ,encouraged ,financed and created since its support to extremists and terrorists, in Afghanistan since 1979 against the leftist Afghan government supported by the Soviet Union, which ultimately led to the collapse of Russian communist state .

 

The extremism and terrorism, which U.S.-led West, Saudis and other Muslim states and Pakistan have midwifed and nurtured since 1979 has come home to roost in the region. Pakistan seems to be edging towards a state of lawlessness and terror like in Iraq, where everyday extremists, terrorists and Taleban are openly attacking government institutions and killing innocent people.

 

Khaled Ahmed articles , below ,explain how the extremists have put the government on the defensive .There appears little hope of victory over the extremists and normality in Pakistan and the region. But Pakistan is in a state of denial .As for naval watcher Indians; less said the better .It sad and tortured history is a proof. They also remain in a state of denial.

 

Along with the rise of Islamic extremism in north-west of Indian subcontinent, there appears to be reciprocal rise of Hindu extremism and fanaticism in India, with BJP's Prime Minister Candidate Narendra Modi at the head, with unsavory and terrible consequences for the polity and well-being of the people of India. Under Modi in 2002 in Gujarat , a pogrom against Muslims was allowed to happen ,in fact encouraged , whose noxious consequences  continue to simmer and fester with no regret from both Modi or his followers .Many have joined him for power, without realizing the ramification of what could follow.

 

India’s  ill-equipped and slow moving judicial machinery  has yet to conclude hearings for many a final decision on major onslaught on Gujarat Muslims. Modi himself and his right hand Amit Shah are under trial in various courts and the final verdict is still to come. How come so many police officers with Hindutva bent of mind in Gujarat, have been convicted for false encounters , extortion etc and others who refused to join Amit Shah in his cover-up are behind bars.

 

That Modi is authoritarian and dictatorial is crystal clear.Before being catapulted as the ruler of Gujarat in 2000 he had little experience of administration accept as a ‘pracharak ‘aka preacher of Hindu hard line ideology and philosophy . He has ruled the state with an iron hand without any other centre of power being allowed to come up. Muslims are quite clearly cowed down and subdued as Christians and others are in orthodox Muslim and Wahabi ruled states. In this task of polarization Amit Shah has been Modi’s right-hand collaborator, hatchet man and executioner. There are many cases pending against him which had to be shifted from Gujarat to neighboring states and Amit Shah ordered to remain outside Gujarat. He has survived like many accused criminals / political leaders because of India's slow moving judiciary, which can sometimes be pressurized or can even be bribed .Many in the police, are Hindutva types or can even be bribed.

 

For his campaign to become Prime Minister of India Modi retained Amit Shah as the major domo to spread the poison of hatred between Hindus and Muslims in order to create polarization between the two communities for Hindu votes. As a recently minted BJP sec general in charge of UP, Amit Shah has succeeded brilliantly by helping organise communal violence between Jats and Muslims in Muzaffarnagar. UP sends 80 members to the lower house of Parliament out of nearly 550 and is very crucial for any party hoping to be a major partner of a ruling coalition, which is most likely to emerge after 16 May 2014. UP’s Muslim population is around 19 – 20% Therefore there is a counter reaction and statements have been made by the pro-Muslim Samajwadi party and its Muslim face Azam Khan.

 

At the behest of the central election commission both Amit Shah and Azam Khan have been charge sheeted and debarred from holding any rallies and road shows in UP. But imagine what will happen if Modi becomes the Prime Minister, then Amit Shah will surely occupy a very crucial and powerful position .They both will continue to pursue policies against Muslims as they have done in Gujarat during the last 12 years. There are many Muslim leaders like Azam khan who will stand up and fight .There will be chaos, fighting and communal violence, you name it.

 

Pak extremists and Taleban would fish in troubled Indian waters

 

Quite obviously extremists and Taleban of Pakistan would fish in troubled Indian waters and whatever the colour of the Pakistani government, they will be helpless and quite happy to let the extremists carry out operations in Kashmir and rest of India like 26/11 and elsewhere. This has been Pak policy since decades, with Washington, Riyadh and others looking on.

 

In the old days, the Khyber Pass used to be the dividing line for invaders beyond North West who came down to kill, rob and plunder,  now the line passes through the Wagah border. Of course farseeing emperors like Akbar kept a watch beyond the Khyber Pass. Argumentative and chattering Indians remain obsessed with petty issues and themselves. Barring some rare articles very little comes in India media on Pakistan or is analyzed. Even the educated Indians and diplomats who should know better seem to rely on the God residing in White House, hoping that US forces would somehow manage to stay on in Afghanistan and keep the Taleban engaged along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Like the Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, president Karzai, in spite of his many faults, but with many good qualities is proving to be a proud Afghan leader and has refused to provide bases and other protections for American forces to stay on Afghan soil. In 13 years long US led war ,Afghanistan has been devastated and hundreds of thousands killed and daily continue to be killed by US troops and drones, the latter make little distinction between a warrior and an innocent child or woman.

 

Below are two very concise but disturbing articles from Pakistan Newsweek about the grave and deteriorating situation in Pakistan where extremists and terrorists seem to be having a field day , increasing their hold, activities and influence everyday .The subcontinent is certainly in for some violent and unsettling times.

 

K.Gajendra Singh 12April, 2014.

 

Sleepwalking to surrender

Khaled Ahmed | April 11, 2014

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/sleepwalking-to-surrender/99/

 

As the Pakistani state embraces the Taliban, the chorus of the clerics drowns out liberal voices.

 

TV talk show journalist Raza Rumi was attacked and nearly killed in Lahore in the last week of March because a) he was seen as a liberal, or b) working for an Ismaili-owned TV channel, or c) for visiting India and writing a book about shrines in Delhi that the non-state actors of Pakistan don’t like. Meanwhile, Pakistan is talking peace.

 

As Pakistan smokes the peace pipe with the Taliban after yielding 60,000 civilians and 5,000 troops dead to them, the media is measuring the impact. The clerics who never get votes and therefore don’t contest elections have become empowered and appear scary in their aggressive rhetoric. The TV anchor has become anti-American and anti-NGO and warns about “liberals who get paid by America to oppose Islam”.

 

The Taliban see the tide turning. And they are outspoken in their preferences and discrimination about a nation they have been massacring without distinction. They say the “secular” Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) are their enemies and the rest can be spared. The high-value persons they have kidnapped belong to the PPP and ANP. Out in the street, Islamic practices are in full force; nobody dare stop the illegal use of the loudspeaker blaring the name of Allah. The common man uses speech habits that highlight his faith.

 

The state is ready to hang Pervez Musharraf, subliminally bending the knee to the Taliban decree of death against him. Little girl Malala, shot in the head by the Taliban, has been rejected now even by girls who perceive insult to the Holy Prophet in her book, which has been banned in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

 

Listen to the BBC reporting on the Nigerian common man in areas under attack from the Boko Haram, who attack schools and colleges just like the Taliban and behead Nigerian troops together with innocent Muslim civilians. Last month, in one such reportage, pre-teen Nigerian laborers telling how they ended up in the street, peppered their sad account with references to Allah to an extent that Pakistanis don’t yet. People in the Islamic world are preparing themselves for the slaughter that is coming from their own brothers.

 

The Arab Spring has not led to democracy but to the rise of jihad. Elections threaten to bring Islamists to power, whose ideology is based on a pre-modern hatred of what is going on, like banks, global dress codes, cinema-TV entertainment and culture in general. In Lahore, all rickshaws carry threatening messages against purveyors of entertainment.

 

Some Arab scholars have suppressed their anti-Westernism to reveal that military dictatorships nursed the jihadists to scare the world into maintaining them in power; some used them to carry out proxy jihad as the regular armies were either too used to peacetimes or too bruised by repeated defeats to fight their wars. Democracy was postponed and people fighting for freedom and representation were brutalised, put in jail or pushed into exile. One analysis says: “The regimes released jihadist leaders and elements from prison, facilitated their activities and sometimes secretly provided them with the necessary financial and media support.” Pakistan nurtured its own jihadis and borrowed some from the Arab world, leveraged with Islamist funds.

 

The dictators at times used the jihadis to kill their civilian rivals. The Pakistani state is in trouble as more and more researchers and analysts point to assassinations found to have been “devolved” to the Taliban-al-Qaeda combine. If the dictators thought they could use the jihadis and their priestly leaders without getting flecked with their blood-thirsty creed, they were seriously in error. Now, “normal” officers promoted to top ranks in the army have to accept the status quo in which an “inspired” rank-and-file can kill them in the name of Allah.

 

Nurturing jihadis has led to the rise of sectarianism and states hitherto free of religious infighting are concentrating on decimating their Muslim minority sects. Pakistan had started doing this long ago, putting the world on notice by declaring its minuscule Ahmadi sect non-Muslim. Now this hapless community is labelled apostate, with serious disabilities inside Pakistan. (They become normal Muslims the moment they step out of the country.) Today, Arabs too are enjoying themselves as their Muslim minorities go as lambs to the slaughter. In Pakistan, the Shia and the Barelvi Sunnis are feeling the coming doom in their bones. In some evils, Pakistan has scored a first, but if the entire Muslim grand nation (umma) likes it, so what?

 

The Arab Islamists, a little this side of the red line of jihadism, won their elections after the dictators left the scene, but soon fell from grace. A scared population forced them to leave the scene, but a stark lesson has been learned: next time, use terror. That is the point where Ayman al-Zawahiri disagreed with the Muslim Brotherhood and quit Egypt, to demonstrate the right way of conquering in the name of Islam in Pakistan.

 

One way a Muslim state can get ready for jihadism is by embracing extremism. That is what Pakistan has done as the pax of the Taliban looms on the horizon. A splenetic TV intellectual in Lahore has written a long column justifying the taking of enemy women as sex-slaves after killing their husbands. Instead of tempering this rather unreasonable Islamic practice allowed by great Islamic thinkers like Maududi, he argued that a slave thus taken will have to be married with morganatic rights, as opposed to what the World War II armies did to women in enemy lands. Tragically, he ignored the international law in the 21st century that criminalises this practice. Muslim extremism lays down indefensible laws no sane person can live under.

Some Arab optimists say the “Islamist phenomenon is in a chronic crisis and at a dead end because of the failure of their project in Afghanistan and its inability to be a desirable example or model for a state that can apply the true Islam and save Muslims from their current situation”. Soon, in Afghanistan, all this will be proved wrong. Last time, the Americans had responded to 9/11 and driven the Taliban into exile; this time, the Americans will be driven out. Pakistan, already prostrate in body and mind, will gift to the religious killers a Caliphate and an “Army of Khorasan” complete with territory, money and manpower. And possibly nuclear weapons.

 

Writing in Dawn on April 2, Zahid Hussain mused: “What is most disturbing, however, is that the government’s policy of appeasement has divided the country on provincial, ethnic and sectarian lines. The much-touted consensus among the political parties on talks with the Taliban is all but broken…

 

“The militants have cleverly exploited this divide and selectively target only those political parties that are actively resisting them. The TTP has refused to release the sons of late governor Salmaan Taseer and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani because the PPP government in Sindh is cracking down on the group.

 

“Legitimizing the TTP has, in fact, increased the sense of insecurity not only among the minority sects, but is also of concern to the majority Sunni Muslims who believe in a more tolerant Islam. Any deal on the TTP’s terms will plunge the country into civil strife destroying its social fabric.”

 

The writer is consulting editor, ‘Newsweek Pakistan’

 

Khaled Ahmed .

 

No terrorists here

Khaled Ahmed | April 6, 2014 11:05 pm

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/no-terrorists-here/99/

SUMMARY

Carlotta Gall’s book will be met by the same denialism that has gripped Pakistan for many years.

 

Pakistan, where over 80 per cent of people hate America, is greatly upset over the yet-to-be-published book by reporter Carlotta Gall — a woman and a Jew — who has written in The New York Times that Pakistan was keeping Osama bin Laden in a safe house in Abbottabad; and that it actually faked shock followed by populist rage at “discovering” him there after America’s dastardly attack to kill him on Pakistani soil.

We say her lies are myriad, typical of a Jewish hater of Pakistan and Islam. She says “the madarsas in Quetta are a cover, a camouflage. Behind the curtain, hidden in the shadows, lurks the ISI. The Pakistani government, under President Pervez Musharraf and his intelligence chief, Lt Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, was maintaining and protecting the Taliban, both to control the many groups of militants now lodged in the country and to use them as a proxy force to gain leverage over and eventually dominate Afghanistan.”

She goes on to indict Pakistan further as an abettor of terrorism through proxy warriors it pretends not to know and claims to be helpless to curb. It pretends to “apparently” cooperate with America but covertly trains militants through its dreaded ISI to go to Afghanistan and kill Americans. She says Americans knew what its great ally was doing but refused to face up to it “for fear of setting off a greater confrontation with a powerful Muslim nation”.

She quotes a former chief of the ISI, Ziauddin Butt — a simple soldier, if you run into him at the Lahore Gymkhana, you will see him stuffing the heads of rich shopkeepers with stories of great derring-do against enemy America — as saying that “he thought Musharraf had arranged to hide bin Laden in Abbottabad”.

Of course, Butt has quickly denied what he said to Gall but he had already told a lot of foreign reporters about how Musharraf and the ISI’s Brigadier Ijaz Shah and ISI chief Shuja Pasha had actually placed him in Abbottabad.

Then Gall turns to the 2007 Lal Masjid affair in Islamabad when Musharraf ordered the attack on this al-Qaeda-linked mosque — and thus dug his grave by daring to go against the hardcore establishment within the army and represented in the ISI. She quotes a cabinet minister on the affair: “One hundred per cent they knew what was happening. The ISI allowed the militants to do what they wanted out of sympathy. The state is not as incompetent as people believe.”

More dangerously, she states: “In 2007, a former senior intelligence official who worked on tracking members of al-Qaeda after September 11 told me that while one part of the ISI was engaged in hunting down militants, another part continued to work with them.” We say officers who don’t have the stomach to play double often spill dangerous beans to foreign journalists. If it weren’t for these cowards, Pakistan would be floating on the mists of a utopia at whose gates America and India — the latter with its hands clasped together in supplication — would beg entry.

We say Butt is a military genius because he was the first head of the army’s Strategic Plans Division, which controls nuclear weapons, and that Nawaz Sharif made him director general of the ISI in 1997, and promoted him to army chief in 1999. (Whisper: Sharif was overthrown by the army after this.)

Pakistani journalist Amir Mir, who is not yet convinced that terrorism in Pakistan is carried out by America and India working in tandem, has revealed more juice: “It was in December 2011 that General Ziauddin Butt was quoted by the Western media for the first time saying that Osama was kept in an Intelligence Bureau safe house in Abbottabad and Musharraf knew about it. He was quoted in an article on the well-known Jamestown Foundation website, saying: ‘General Ziauddin Butt said Osama bin Laden was kept in Abbottabad under the instructions of IB Director Brigadier Ijaz Shah’.”

Ijaz Shah is the same brave man who clairvoyant Benazir Bhutto predicted would be instrumental in killing her. Shah was also “responsible” for hiding Omar Saeed Sheikh, who had killed American journalist Daniel Pearl. General Butt stated that “former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had set up a 90-man commando team to track and kill Osama bin Laden but it was disbanded after he was ousted in a military coup.”

The American diplomats in Islamabad were sending a lot of dastardly information back home. WikiLeaks claimed, while citing secret documents seized from the Abbottabad compound of bin Laden, that the al-Qaeda chief was in routine contact with up to 12 ISI officials. We say, all lies! As the chief priest of Makka said, it is an international conspiracy to make Muslims fight each other.

Late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, in her book Reconciliation, mistakenly linked the deep state with terrorism and feared she would be eliminated through this dark nexus. According to her, Pakistan’s establishment comprised the army, the intelligence agencies, religious leaders piously building political muscle through proxy warriors and those brainwashed with textbook nationalism favoring the Islamic state.

She was attacked in Karachi by one of the three assassination squads she had listed in her book. No special security was provided to her. Her book referred to Saifullah Akhtar, a specially favoured jihadi leader in Pakistan who, together with General Zaheerul Islam Abbasi, nearly toppled the Bhutto government in 1995. But all these “facts” are in abeyance, so to speak, while the case of Bhutto’s assassination is being investigated. And India must have arranged the murder of the man who was investigating it, senior police officer Chaudhry Zulfiqar Ali, who was gunned down in a street in Islamabad in broad daylight.

Assistant secretary general at the United Nations, Chilean diplomat Heraldo Munoz, who headed a UN inquiry commission on Bhutto’s assassination, writes: “Akhtar had joined hands with Major General Zaheerul Islam Abbasi, a former intelligence officer, not only in an attempted coup against Benazir Bhutto in 1995 but also in an attempt to remove the army leadership. After Akhtar spent five months in jail, he was released from detention. Years later, arrested in the United Arab Emirates for plotting to murder Musharraf, he was handed over to Pakistan; but after being held in jail for a couple of years, he was quietly released by the government after the Supreme Court inquired as to his whereabouts.”

Who did Bhutto name as her potential killers in her book? In a letter sent to then president Musharraf, she named former ISI director general Hamid Gul, the Intelligence Bureau’s retired chief, Brigadier Ijaz Shah, and the then-chief minister of Punjab, Pervaiz Elahi, plus former Sindh chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim. Surely, she was brainwashed by the enemies, you know who, of Pakistan; therefore the letter was ignored.

Major General Zaheerul Islam Abbasi, who attempted a coup in 1995, was a soldier of Islam. Now dead, as Brigadier Abbasi, he was once Pakistan’s military attaché in New Delhi and believed that “India will soon be destroyed because of its obscene movies,” as he told me once when I was visiting Delhi. He got thrashed by RAW in a sting operation and was repatriated, only to be promoted and sent to Gilgit to challenge India on the Siachen. As Allah willed it, he got a large number of troops killed by mounting an unauthorised operation.

We hold that obscene movies will be the end of India. Good riddance. Dastardly America is dying anyway.

The writer is consulting editor, ‘Newsweek Pakistan’

 

 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Rise of religious fundamentalism bodes ill for the subcontinent

 

Rise of religious fundamentalism bodes ill for the subcontinent

In the clutches of extremists and Taleban, Pakistan poses grave danger to India

 

In our era ,a very unfortunate , regressive and game changer development in the last quarter of 20th-century has been the rise of religious fundamentalism and obscurantism ; and the regression of rationalism and scientific thought in the wake of collapse of the Soviet Union aka scientific socialism and even moderate socialism. U.S.-led West, uses Christianity as a counter to Islamic fundamentalism, but which it has encouraged and supported  with training ;but major finances has been provided by obscurantist Saudi Arabian medieval state . Pakistan’s armed forces have acted as pawns and cannon fodder in Washington’s objective to control the strategic space in South West Asia and South Asia and its resources in exchange for an overall guarantee of the luxury lifestyle of the Saudi ruling princes oligopoly. Most Pak rulers are beholden to and controlled by Riyadh.

 

Since the theory of survival of the fittest, US led West believes in naked brutal power and exploitation of its own people and other people for the enrichment of the few. To say that USA is a democratic Republic is a cruel joke on its people and the world. It is an oligopoly and represents tyranny, a state of polity between absolute kingdom and democracy as defined in Greek history and thought. US believes that it will escape the backlash of extremism which it has stirred ,encouraged ,financed and created since its support to extremists and terrorists, in Afghanistan since 1979 against the leftist Afghan government supported by the Soviet Union, which ultimately led to the collapse of Russian communist state .

 

The extremism and terrorism, which U.S.-led West, Saudis and other Muslim states and Pakistan have midwifed and nurtured since 1979 has come home to roost in the region. Pakistan seems to be edging towards a state of lawlessness and terror like in Iraq, where everyday extremists, terrorists and Taleban are openly attacking government institutions and killing innocent people.

 

Khaled Ahmed articles , below ,explain how the extremists have put the government on the defensive .There appears little hope of victory over the extremists and normality in Pakistan and the region. But Pakistan is in a state of denial .As for naval watcher Indians; less said the better .It sad and tortured history is a proof. They also remain in a state of denial.

 

Along with the rise of Islamic extremism in north-west of Indian subcontinent, there appears to be reciprocal rise of Hindu extremism and fanaticism in India, with BJP's Prime Minister Candidate Narendra Modi at the head, with unsavory and terrible consequences for the polity and well-being of the people of India. Under Modi in 2002 in Gujarat , a pogrom against Muslims was allowed to happen ,in fact encouraged , whose noxious consequences  continue to simmer and fester with no regret from both Modi or his followers .Many have joined him for power, without realizing the ramification of what could follow.

 

India’s  ill-equipped and slow moving judicial machinery  has yet to conclude hearings for many a final decision on major onslaught on Gujarat Muslims. Modi himself and his right hand Amit Shah are under trial in various courts and the final verdict is still to come. How come so many police officers with Hindutva bent of mind in Gujarat, have been convicted for false encounters , extortion etc and others who refused to join Amit Shah in his cover-up are behind bars.

 

That Modi is authoritarian and dictatorial is crystal clear.Before being catapulted as the ruler of Gujarat in 2000 he had little experience of administration accept as a ‘pracharak ‘aka preacher of Hindu hard line ideology and philosophy . He has ruled the state with an iron hand without any other centre of power being allowed to come up. Muslims are quite clearly cowed down and subdued as Christians and others are in orthodox Muslim and Wahabi ruled states. In this task of polarization Amit Shah has been Modi’s right-hand collaborator, hatchet man and executioner. There are many cases pending against him which had to be shifted from Gujarat to neighboring states and Amit Shah ordered to remain outside Gujarat. He has survived like many accused criminals / political leaders because of India's slow moving judiciary, which can sometimes be pressurized or can even be bribed .Many in the police, are Hindutva types or can even be bribed.

 

For his campaign to become Prime Minister of India Modi retained Amit Shah as the major domo to spread the poison of hatred between Hindus and Muslims in order to create polarization between the two communities for Hindu votes. As a recently minted BJP sec general in charge of UP, Amit Shah has succeeded brilliantly by helping organise communal violence between Jats and Muslims in Muzaffarnagar. UP sends 80 members to the lower house of Parliament out of nearly 550 and is very crucial for any party hoping to be a major partner of a ruling coalition, which is most likely to emerge after 16 May 2014. UP’s Muslim population is around 19 – 20% Therefore there is a counter reaction and statements have been made by the pro-Muslim Samajwadi party and its Muslim face Azam Khan.

 

At the behest of the central election commission both Amit Shah and Azam Khan have been charge sheeted and debarred from holding any rallies and road shows in UP. But imagine what will happen if Modi becomes the Prime Minister, then Amit Shah will surely occupy a very crucial and powerful position .They both will continue to pursue policies against Muslims as they have done in Gujarat during the last 12 years. There are many Muslim leaders like Azam khan who will stand up and fight .There will be chaos, fighting and communal violence, you name it.

 

Pak extremists and Taleban would fish in troubled Indian waters

 

Quite obviously extremists and Taleban of Pakistan would fish in troubled Indian waters and whatever the colour of the Pakistani government, they will be helpless and quite happy to let the extremists carry out operations in Kashmir and rest of India like 26/11 and elsewhere. This has been Pak policy since decades, with Washington, Riyadh and others looking on.

 

In the old days, the Khyber Pass used to be the dividing line for invaders beyond North West who came down to kill, rob and plunder,  now the line passes through the Wagah border. Of course farseeing emperors like Akbar kept a watch beyond the Khyber Pass. Argumentative and chattering Indians remain obsessed with petty issues and themselves. Barring some rare articles very little comes in India media on Pakistan or is analyzed. Even the educated Indians and diplomats who should know better seem to rely on the God residing in White House, hoping that US forces would somehow manage to stay on in Afghanistan and keep the Taleban engaged along the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Like the Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, president Karzai, in spite of his many faults, but with many good qualities is proving to be a proud Afghan leader and has refused to provide bases and other protections for American forces to stay on Afghan soil. In 13 years long US led war ,Afghanistan has been devastated and hundreds of thousands killed and daily continue to be killed by US troops and drones, the latter make little distinction between a warrior and an innocent child or woman.

 

Below are two very concise but disturbing articles from Pakistan Newsweek about the grave and deteriorating situation in Pakistan where extremists and terrorists seem to be having a field day , increasing their hold, activities and influence everyday .The subcontinent is certainly in for some violent and unsettling times.

 

K.Gajendra Singh 12April, 2014.

 

Sleepwalking to surrender

Khaled Ahmed | April 11, 2014

http://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/sleepwalking-to-surrender/99/

 

As the Pakistani state embraces the Taliban, the chorus of the clerics drowns out liberal voices.

 

TV talk show journalist Raza Rumi was attacked and nearly killed in Lahore in the last week of March because a) he was seen as a liberal, or b) working for an Ismaili-owned TV channel, or c) for visiting India and writing a book about shrines in Delhi that the non-state actors of Pakistan don’t like. Meanwhile, Pakistan is talking peace.

 

As Pakistan smokes the peace pipe with the Taliban after yielding 60,000 civilians and 5,000 troops dead to them, the media is measuring the impact. The clerics who never get votes and therefore don’t contest elections have become empowered and appear scary in their aggressive rhetoric. The TV anchor has become anti-American and anti-NGO and warns about “liberals who get paid by America to oppose Islam”.

 

The Taliban see the tide turning. And they are outspoken in their preferences and discrimination about a nation they have been massacring without distinction. They say the “secular” Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) are their enemies and the rest can be spared. The high-value persons they have kidnapped belong to the PPP and ANP. Out in the street, Islamic practices are in full force; nobody dare stop the illegal use of the loudspeaker blaring the name of Allah. The common man uses speech habits that highlight his faith.

 

The state is ready to hang Pervez Musharraf, subliminally bending the knee to the Taliban decree of death against him. Little girl Malala, shot in the head by the Taliban, has been rejected now even by girls who perceive insult to the Holy Prophet in her book, which has been banned in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

 

Listen to the BBC reporting on the Nigerian common man in areas under attack from the Boko Haram, who attack schools and colleges just like the Taliban and behead Nigerian troops together with innocent Muslim civilians. Last month, in one such reportage, pre-teen Nigerian laborers telling how they ended up in the street, peppered their sad account with references to Allah to an extent that Pakistanis don’t yet. People in the Islamic world are preparing themselves for the slaughter that is coming from their own brothers.

 

The Arab Spring has not led to democracy but to the rise of jihad. Elections threaten to bring Islamists to power, whose ideology is based on a pre-modern hatred of what is going on, like banks, global dress codes, cinema-TV entertainment and culture in general. In Lahore, all rickshaws carry threatening messages against purveyors of entertainment.

 

Some Arab scholars have suppressed their anti-Westernism to reveal that military dictatorships nursed the jihadists to scare the world into maintaining them in power; some used them to carry out proxy jihad as the regular armies were either too used to peacetimes or too bruised by repeated defeats to fight their wars. Democracy was postponed and people fighting for freedom and representation were brutalised, put in jail or pushed into exile. One analysis says: “The regimes released jihadist leaders and elements from prison, facilitated their activities and sometimes secretly provided them with the necessary financial and media support.” Pakistan nurtured its own jihadis and borrowed some from the Arab world, leveraged with Islamist funds.

 

The dictators at times used the jihadis to kill their civilian rivals. The Pakistani state is in trouble as more and more researchers and analysts point to assassinations found to have been “devolved” to the Taliban-al-Qaeda combine. If the dictators thought they could use the jihadis and their priestly leaders without getting flecked with their blood-thirsty creed, they were seriously in error. Now, “normal” officers promoted to top ranks in the army have to accept the status quo in which an “inspired” rank-and-file can kill them in the name of Allah.

 

Nurturing jihadis has led to the rise of sectarianism and states hitherto free of religious infighting are concentrating on decimating their Muslim minority sects. Pakistan had started doing this long ago, putting the world on notice by declaring its minuscule Ahmadi sect non-Muslim. Now this hapless community is labelled apostate, with serious disabilities inside Pakistan. (They become normal Muslims the moment they step out of the country.) Today, Arabs too are enjoying themselves as their Muslim minorities go as lambs to the slaughter. In Pakistan, the Shia and the Barelvi Sunnis are feeling the coming doom in their bones. In some evils, Pakistan has scored a first, but if the entire Muslim grand nation (umma) likes it, so what?

 

The Arab Islamists, a little this side of the red line of jihadism, won their elections after the dictators left the scene, but soon fell from grace. A scared population forced them to leave the scene, but a stark lesson has been learned: next time, use terror. That is the point where Ayman al-Zawahiri disagreed with the Muslim Brotherhood and quit Egypt, to demonstrate the right way of conquering in the name of Islam in Pakistan.

 

One way a Muslim state can get ready for jihadism is by embracing extremism. That is what Pakistan has done as the pax of the Taliban looms on the horizon. A splenetic TV intellectual in Lahore has written a long column justifying the taking of enemy women as sex-slaves after killing their husbands. Instead of tempering this rather unreasonable Islamic practice allowed by great Islamic thinkers like Maududi, he argued that a slave thus taken will have to be married with morganatic rights, as opposed to what the World War II armies did to women in enemy lands. Tragically, he ignored the international law in the 21st century that criminalises this practice. Muslim extremism lays down indefensible laws no sane person can live under.

Some Arab optimists say the “Islamist phenomenon is in a chronic crisis and at a dead end because of the failure of their project in Afghanistan and its inability to be a desirable example or model for a state that can apply the true Islam and save Muslims from their current situation”. Soon, in Afghanistan, all this will be proved wrong. Last time, the Americans had responded to 9/11 and driven the Taliban into exile; this time, the Americans will be driven out. Pakistan, already prostrate in body and mind, will gift to the religious killers a Caliphate and an “Army of Khorasan” complete with territory, money and manpower. And possibly nuclear weapons.

 

Writing in Dawn on April 2, Zahid Hussain mused: “What is most disturbing, however, is that the government’s policy of appeasement has divided the country on provincial, ethnic and sectarian lines. The much-touted consensus among the political parties on talks with the Taliban is all but broken…

 

“The militants have cleverly exploited this divide and selectively target only those political parties that are actively resisting them. The TTP has refused to release the sons of late governor Salmaan Taseer and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani because the PPP government in Sindh is cracking down on the group.

 

“Legitimizing the TTP has, in fact, increased the sense of insecurity not only among the minority sects, but is also of concern to the majority Sunni Muslims who believe in a more tolerant Islam. Any deal on the TTP’s terms will plunge the country into civil strife destroying its social fabric.”

 

The writer is consulting editor, ‘Newsweek Pakistan’

 


 

 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Is US Shale Gas Bonanza a Charade!

Is US Shale Gas Bonanza a Charade!

 

Since quite some time, Americans have been proclaiming, now that the they are being squeezed out slowly but surely from oil resources, that US shale and tar sands will make it not only self-sufficient in energy, but even a major exporter pretty soon, even to EU. This is being repeated in connection with the crisis in Ukraine and Crimea and Putin’s resolve to charge market prices for its gas from Ukraine and demand payment of old gas dues. Europe depends on its gas supply largely on Russia, Algeria, Qatar and some others.

 

Of course, there is very little mention about these matters in India’s info challenged, idiotic, trivia and celebrity obsessed so-called national TV channels, almost all owned and controlled by India's robber barons, led by the Ambani and Adanis. The US corporate media whores and so-called policy conflict resolution and other think tanks in India funded by US, promote the line of self-sufficiency and export of shale LNG by Washington. Unfortunately, even those who should know better and are associated with Indian policy making repeat what the Americans say about their self-sufficiency and export of shale gas.

 

I reproduce at the end a recent short article by well known and reputed expert on the energy question, William Engdahl.

 

Indian Energy Security Efforts!

 

In India IMF pensioners led by MMS and others and Ambani agents as ministers have short circuited efforts for energy self sufficiency policy .Minister for gas and oil Mani Shankar was even dismissed at the public behest of US ambassador in New Delhi. If elected N Modi will be even more subservient to Ambani and USA (Continued denial of visa is clever sleight of hand .Online propaganda for Modi is being orchestrated from USA)

 

A book on the subject GAS WARS: CRONY CAPITALISM AND THE AMBANIS by PARANJOY GUHA THAKURTA,SUBIR GHOSH AND JYOTIRMOY CHAUDHURI to be released soon would expose the role of the oily corrupt ministers and babus in making Ambanis controller and arbiter of India’s gas resources , a property of the Indian people.

 

K Gajendra Singh.11 April, 2014

 

Replacing Russian Gas Deliveries with US Shale Gas? Washington Lies to the EU

Shale revolution a failure

 

By F. William Engdahl

www.williamengdahl.com April 2014

 

The White House and State Department have engaged in brazen lying to EU governments regarding the ability of the US to supply more than enough natural gas to replace Russian gas deliveries. Recent statements by US President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are so patently false that it betrays an incredible desperation in Washington over the situation in Ukraine versus Moscow. Or it suggests that Washington is so out of touch with any factual reality she simply doesn’t care what she says. Either way, it suggests an unreliable diplomatic partner for the EU. 

 

 After his recent meeting with EU leaders Obama issued the incredible statement that the secret Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that is being secretly negotiated behind closed doors by the major private multinational companies would make it easier for the United States to export gas to Europe and help it reduce its dependency on Russian energy: “Once we have a trade agreement in place, export licenses for projects for liquefied natural gas destined to Europe would be much easier, something that is obviously relevant in today’s geopolitical environment,” Obama stated.

 

That bit of political opportunism to try to push the stalled TTIP talks by playing on EU fears of Russian gas loss after the US-orchestrated Ukraine coup of February 22 ignores the fact that the problem in getting US shale gas to the EU does not lie in easier LNG licensing procedures in the USA and EU. 

 

In other recent statements, referring to the recent boom in unconventional US shale gas, Obama and Kerry have both stated the US could more than replace all Russian gas to the EU, an outright lie based on physical realities. At his Brussels meeting Obama told EU leaders they should import shale gas from the US to replace Russian. There is a huge problem with that.

 

Shale revolution a failure

Number one, the “shale gas revolution” in the USA has failed. The dramatic rise in US natural gas production from “fracking” or forcing gas out of shale rock formations is being abandoned by the largest energy companies like Shell and BP as uneconomical. Shell has just announced a huge reduction of its exposure to US shale gas development. Shell is selling its leases on some 700,000 acres of shale gas lands in the major shale gas areas of Texas, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Kansas and says it may have to get rid of more to stop its shale gas losses. Shell’s CEO, Ben van Beurden stated, “Financial performance there is frankly not acceptable … some of our exploration bets have simply not worked out.”

 

A useful summary of the shale gas illusion comes from a recent analysis of the actual results of several years of shale gas extraction in the USA by veteran energy analyst David Hughes. He notes,

 

“Shale gas production has grown explosively to account for nearly 40 percent of US natural gas production. Nevertheless, production has been on a plateau since December 2011; eighty percent of shale gas production comes from five plays, several of which are in decline. The very high decline rates of shale gas wells require continuous inputs of capital—estimated at $42 billion per year to drill more than 7,000 wells—in order to maintain production. In comparison, the value of shale gas produced in 2012 was just $32.5 billion.”

 

 So Obama is either being lied to by his advisers on the true state of US shale gas supplies, or he is willfully lying. The former is most likely. 

 

 The second problem with the US “offer” of gas to the EU to replace Russian gas is the fact that it requires massive, costly infrastructure in the form of construction of new Liquefied Natural Gas terminals that can handle the huge LNG supertankers to bring it to similar huge LNG terminal harbors in the EU.

 

The problem is that owing to various US laws on export of domestic energy and supply factors, there exist no operating LNG liquefaction terminals in the US. The only one now under construction is the Sabine Pass LNG receiving terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, owned by Cheniere Energy, where John Deutch, former CIA head, sits on the board. The problem with the Sabine Pass LNG terminal is that most of the gas has been pre-contracted to Korean, Indian and other Asian LNG customers, not to the EU.

 

The second problem is that even were a huge port capacity installed to satisfy EU gas needs to replace Russian supplies that would push domestic natural-gas prices higher and cut short the mini-manufacturing boom fueled by abundant, cheap shale gas. The ultimate cost to EU consumers of US LNG would have to be far more than current Russian gas pipelined over Nord Stream or Ukraine. The next problem is that the specialized LNG supertankers do not exist to supply the EU market. All this takes years, including environmental approvals, construction time, perhaps seven years on average in best conditions. 

 

 The EU gets some 30% of its gas, the fastest-growing energy source there, from Russia today. In 2007, Russia’s Gazprom supplied 14 percent for France, 27 percent for Italy, 36 percent for Germany, with Finland and the Baltic states receiving as much as 100 percent of gas imports from Russia.

 

The EU has no realistic alternative to Russian gas. Germany, the largest economy, has foolishly decided to phase out nuclear power and its “alternative energy”—wind power and solar–is an economic and political disaster with consumer electricity costs exploding even though alternatives are a tiny share of the total market. 

 

 In short, the chimera of shutting Russian gas and turning on US gas instead is economic, energy and political nonsense.

 

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”

 

 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Re: Seymour Hersh on Erdogan's role in Syrian Sarin attack




Seymour Hersh on Erdogan's role in Syrian Sarin attack

Obama Blinked in US Russia stand-off.

"(Obama's) The Red Line and the Rat Line," exposed

 

"--some  in the Turkish government, - believed they could get Assad's nuts in a vice by dabbling with a Sarin attack inside Syria — and forcing Obama to make good on his red-line threat, " a former senior US intelligence official.

 

"After Hersh's piece, Turkey's alleged relations with groups like Jabhat al-Nusra and other jihadist Islamist insurgent groups will be under even greater international scrutiny, and perhaps the United States will think harder about providing armed assistance to the Syrian opposition via Turkey," Cengiz Candar , a Turkish journalist

 PS My blog has been hacked again


During three years, over 150,000 Syrians have lost their lives and millions have been rendered homeless and refugees in Syria and neighboring countries like Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and others as a result of open foreign intervention by U.S and NATO states, Turkey, Jordan Saudi Arabia and some other Sunni Gulf kingdoms .This has been well covered by international analysts and writers including the author.

 

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, in a concealed and unconcealed Cold War between U.S.-led West and Russia, the latter sometimes supported by China, has become a loser say in spite of the promises made at the time of reunification of Germany, permitted by USSR. The financiers ,warmongers ,Military-Industry and other corporate interests in USA never looked  back in trying to reduce the influence and even undermine very the vital security perimeters of the Russian Federation after transferring half to one trillion dollar wealth from USSR to the West. Regime change has been carried out through US franchised revolutions, publicly assisted by US Missions, think tanks and other organisations, pretending promotion of democracy, in order to bring more and more states under US heels. Washington succeeded in breaking up Yugoslavia, changed regimes in Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine, but failed in Belarus and Uzbekistan, and only partly succeeded in Kyrgyzstan.

 

Washington tested Moscow's resolve in 2008, but Moscow battered Georgia. Western interests and lobbies, led by Washington and European Union have been trying to destabilize Ukraine and have succeeded, as they have all around the world. But Putin has adroitly used this opportunity to take back Crimea from Ukraine after a clean and safe referendum. Consequent events in West and East Ukraine are unfolding, in which certainly the West Ukrainians and even the East-South Ukrainians would suffer .But it is no concern to USA or EU.

 

My blogs and articles on the brinkmanship by Washington with Russia on the use of Sarin gas in Syria were covered in the following articles and blogs.

 

1.Mr. Obama; Ask ally Erdogan about 2 kilos of Sarin found with Saudi Al- Nusra group in South Turkey; August30, 2013

http://tarafits.blogspot.in/2013/08/mr-obama-ask-ally-erdogan-about-2-kilos.html

 

Some months ago I (K.Gajendra Singh) had read in Turkish media that 2 kg of Sarin gas was found with seven members of Al- Nusra group, supported by Saudi Arabia, in Mersin and Adana in south Turkey (I have visited both these cities many times both in 1970s and 1990s ). I have followed Turkish media since 1967 including during two tenures as diplomat and two years as a journalist (Turkish Daily News, now Hurriyet Daily News, Zaman online line, Cumhuriyet had used many of my articles, 

 

Report: Police foil al-Nusra bomb attack planned for Adana

 

30 May 2013 /TODAY'S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL

http://www.todayszaman.com/news-316966-report-police-foil-al-nusra-bomb-attack-planned-for-adana.html

 

Seven members of Syria's militant al-Nusra group were detained on Wednesday after police found Sarin gas, which was reportedly going to be used in a bomb attack, during a search of the suspects' homes, Turkish media have reported.

 

Newspapers claimed on Thursday that two kilograms of Sarin gas, which is usually used for making bombs and was banned by the UN in 1991, had been found in the homes of suspects detained in the southern provinces of Adana and Mersin. Twelve suspects were caught by the police on Monday. The reports claimed that the al-Nusra members had been planning a bomb attack for Thursday in Adana but that the attack was averted when the police caught the suspects. Along with the Sarin gas, the police seized a number of handguns, grenades, bullets and documents during their search. Five of the suspects were released later on Thursday.

 

In another incident in Adana, the police received intelligence that a bomb-laden vehicle had entered Adana, the bombs being of the same type used in a recent attack in Hatay's Reyhanlı town, the Taraf daily reported on Thursday.

 

Security measures in Adana have been tightened in line with intelligence gathered. The Hatay National Provincial Police Department said that police officers are guarding the roads in and out of the province and are keeping an eye out in the province for the vehicle mentioned in the intelligence.

 

2. Putin's"utter nonsense" to US claims on Syria chemical attack deters Obama

Affected Ghouta Syrians Blame Saudi-supplied Rebels- 1 September, 2013

http://tarafits.blogspot.in/2013/09/putinsutter-nonsense-to-us-claims-on.html

 

 

3. Did the world escape Armageddon during US –Russia Stand off on Syria! October 30, 2013

http://tarafits.blogspot.in/2013/10/did-world-escape-armageddon-during-us.html

The news trickling out from various sources in September and October about the standoff on Syria in Eastern Mediterranean appeared confused and sometimes even simplistic and looked like a table top nuclear war exercise with lurking Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) if it was played out.

 

But it marked and proclaimed a historic and epochal watershed between US led West and Russia-China led East and anti- Sunni Iran led allies against Saudi led Gulf Council members .The third dimension was for control over energy and its routes and strategic space .It was perhaps a touch and go moment which could have initiated Armageddon as is being revealed now in layers of information coming up from various sources.

 

Now Seymour Hersh, the respected  US investigative journalist known for his unambiguous and sources supported pieces has written a long essay on how the Sarin use crisis on Syria developed and unfolded and was resolved (for the time being).

 

Hersh, based in Washington gained worldwide recognition in 1969 for exposing the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and received the 1970 Pulitzer Prize. His reports on the US military's mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison gained much attention as well, landing him the 2004 George Orwell award. He is recipient of numerous journalism awards.

 

The New Yorker and The Washington Post declined to publish "The Red Line and the Rat Line," The London Review of Books, an equally prestigious venue, decided to run it as a serious and important piece.

Naturally Turkey, a major Sunni state north of Syria and NATO member has hotly denied

Hersh's claims that Ankara was behind the August 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria, while in particular referring to an earlier statement of denial by the White House. 

"It is completely a lie and slander," Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said late on April 7 in response to a question at a press conference held after a Cabinet meeting. Arınç, also the spokesperson for the government, rushed to respond the question when he noticed that it referred to Hersh's report, without even waiting for the
 journalist to finish her question sentence. 

Apparently prepared for the question, Arınç said he would like to read a statement on the issue which he received from the Turkish Foreign Ministry. "It is definitely not true," Arınç quoted the statement which referred to a White House statement which was issued earlier.
 


Arınç cited the Turkish Foreign Ministry's statement as underlining that, in addition to denying the claims by Hersh, the White House statement has actually confirmed the Syrian regime was behind the August 21 attack. The report is solely based on information and hearsays the sources of which could not be named by Hersh, Arınç added.

Earlier, the White House had reacted. "We have seen Mr. Hersh's latest story, which is based solely on information from unnamed sources and which reaches conclusions about the Aug. 21, 2013 chemical weapons attack in Syria that are completely off-base," National Security Council (NSC) Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said April 6.

Hersh has suggested the Sarin gas attack on a Damascus suburb on Aug. 21 was actually carried out by Syrian rebels, acting at the behest of Turkey, for the purpose of providing a pretext for a U.S. attack on Syria. "We now know it was a covert action planned by [Prime Minister Recep Tayep] Erdogan's people to push [U.S. President Barack] Obama over the red line," Hersh quoted a former intelligence official.

"Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the Sarin was supplied through Turkey – which it could only have gotten there with Turkish support. The Turks also provided the training in producing Sarin and handling It." the official reportedly said.

When the chemical attack took place in Syria on Aug. 21, Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up plans for bombing Syria, Hersh quoted a former intelligence official. "The White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the Joint Chiefs of Staff as being insufficiently 'painful' to the al-Assad regime."

But, Obama changed his mind and relied on Congress approval over concerns among some U.S. military and intelligence officials that the Turkish government could have supported "dabbling with a Sarin attack inside Syria—and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat."

Below is the full essay.

 

Amb (retd) K.Gajendra Singh 8 April, 2014, Mayur Vihar, Delhi-92

http://tarafits.blogspot.com/2011/08/amb-rtd-k-gajendra-singh-cv-post.html

 

 

The Red Line and the Rat Line
Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels
By Seymour M. Hersh

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38142.htm

 

April 06, 2014 "Information Clearing House - "LRB" -- - In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the Sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the 'red line' he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.

 

Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad's offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

 

Obama's change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn't match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army's chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn't hold up was quickly relayed to the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria's infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.

 

For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria's neighbors, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. 'We knew there were some in the Turkish government,' a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, 'who believed they could get Assad's nuts in a vice by dabbling with a Sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.'

 

The joint chiefs also knew that the Obama administration's public claims that only the Syrian army had access to Sarin were wrong. The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons. On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page 'talking points' briefing for the DIA's deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a Sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was 'the most advanced Sarin plot since al-Qaida's pre-9/11 effort'. (According to a Defense Department consultant, US intelligence has long known that al-Qaida experimented with chemical weapons, and has a video of one of its gas experiments with dogs.) The DIA paper went on: 'Previous IC [intelligence community] focus had been almost entirely on Syrian CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles; now we see ANF attempting to make its own CW … Al-Nusrah Front's relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group's CW aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future.' The paper drew on classified intelligence from numerous agencies: 'Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators,' it said, 'were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.' (Asked about the DIA paper, a spokesperson for the director of national intelligence said: 'No such paper was ever requested or produced by intelligence community analysts.')

 

Last May, more than ten members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in southern Turkey with what local police told the press was two kilograms of sarin. In a 130-page indictment the group was accused of attempting to purchase fuses, piping for the construction of mortars, and chemical precursors for sarin. Five of those arrested were freed after a brief detention. The others, including the ringleader, Haytham Qassab, for whom the prosecutor requested a prison sentence of 25 years, were released pending trial. In the meantime the Turkish press has been rife with speculation that the Erdoğan administration has been covering up the extent of its involvement with the rebels. In a news conference last summer, Aydin Sezgin, Turkey's ambassador to Moscow, dismissed the arrests and claimed to reporters that the recovered 'sarin' was merely 'anti-freeze'.

 

The DIA paper took the arrests as evidence that al-Nusra was expanding its access to chemical weapons. It said Qassab had 'self-identified' as a member of al-Nusra, and that he was directly connected to Abd-al-Ghani, the 'ANF emir for military manufacturing'. Qassab and his associate Khalid Ousta worked with Halit Unalkaya, an employee of a Turkish firm called Zirve Export, who provided 'price quotes for bulk quantities of sarin precursors'. Abd-al-Ghani's plan was for two associates to 'perfect a process for making sarin, then go to Syria to train others to begin large scale production at an unidentified lab in Syria'. The DIA paper said that one of his operatives had purchased a precursor on the 'Baghdad chemical market', which 'has supported at least seven CW efforts since 2004'.

 

A series of chemical weapon attacks in March and April 2013 was investigated over the next few months by a special UN mission to Syria. A person with close knowledge of the UN's activity in Syria told me that there was evidence linking the Syrian opposition to the first gas attack, on 19 March in Khan Al-Assal, a village near Aleppo. In its final report in December, the mission said that at least 19 civilians and one Syrian soldier were among the fatalities, along with scores of injured. It had no mandate to assign responsibility for the attack, but the person with knowledge of the UN's activities said: 'Investigators interviewed the people who were there, including the doctors who treated the victims. It was clear that the rebels used the gas. It did not come out in public because no one wanted to know.'

 

In the months before the attacks began, a former senior Defense Department official told me, the DIA was circulating a daily classified report known as SYRUP on all intelligence related to the Syrian conflict, including material on chemical weapons. But in the spring, distribution of the part of the report concerning chemical weapons was severely curtailed on the orders of Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff. 'Something was in there that triggered a shit fit by McDonough,' the former Defense Department official said. 'One day it was a huge deal, and then, after the March and April sarin attacks' – he snapped his fingers – 'it's no longer there.' The decision to restrict distribution was made as the joint chiefs ordered intensive contingency planning for a possible ground invasion of Syria whose primary objective would be the elimination of chemical weapons.

The former intelligence official said that many in the US national security establishment had long been troubled by the president's red line: 'The joint chiefs asked the White House, "What does red line mean? How does that translate into military orders? Troops on the ground? Massive strike? Limited strike?" They tasked military intelligence to study how we could carry out the threat. They learned nothing more about the president's reasoning.'

 

In the aftermath of the 21 August attack Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up targets for bombing. Early in the process, the former intelligence official said, 'the White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the joint chiefs of staff as being insufficiently "painful" to the Assad regime.' The original targets included only military sites and nothing by way of civilian infrastructure. Under White House pressure, the US attack plan evolved into 'a monster strike': two wings of B-52 bombers were shifted to airbases close to Syria, and navy submarines and ships equipped with Tomahawk missiles were deployed. 'Every day the target list was getting longer,' the former intelligence official told me. 'The Pentagon planners said we can't use only Tomahawks to strike at Syria's missile sites because their warheads are buried too far below ground, so the two B-52 air wings with two-thousand pound bombs were assigned to the mission. Then we'll need standby search-and-rescue teams to recover downed pilots and drones for target selection. It became huge.' The new target list was meant to 'completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had', the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.

 

Britain and France were both to play a part. On 29 August, the day Parliament voted against Cameron's bid to join the intervention, the Guardian reported that he had already ordered six RAF Typhoon fighter jets to be deployed to Cyprus, and had volunteered a submarine capable of launching Tomahawk missiles. The French air force – a crucial player in the 2011 strikes on Libya – was deeply committed, according to an account in Le Nouvel Observateur; François Hollande had ordered several Rafale fighter-bombers to join the American assault. Their targets were reported to be in western Syria.

 

By the last days of August the president had given the Joint Chiefs a fixed deadline for the launch. 'H hour was to begin no later than Monday morning [2 September], a massive assault to neutralize Assad,' the former intelligence official said. So it was a surprise to many when during a speech in the White House Rose Garden on 31 August Obama said that the attack would be put on hold, and he would turn to Congress and put it to a vote.

 

At this stage, Obama's premise – that only the Syrian army was capable of deploying sarin – was unraveling. Within a few days of the 21 August attack, the former intelligence official told me, Russian military intelligence operatives had recovered samples of the chemical agent from Ghouta. They analyzed it and passed it on to British military intelligence; this was the material sent to Porton Down. (A spokesperson for Porton Down said: 'Many of the samples analyzed in the UK tested positive for the nerve agent sarin.' MI6 said that it doesn't comment on intelligence matters.)

The former intelligence official said the Russian who delivered the sample to the UK was 'a good source – someone with access, knowledge and a record of being trustworthy'. After the first reported uses of chemical weapons in Syria last year, American and allied intelligence agencies 'made an effort to find the answer as to what if anything, was used – and its source', the former intelligence official said. 'We use data exchanged as part of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The DIA's baseline consisted of knowing the composition of each batch of Soviet-manufactured chemical weapons. But we didn't know which batches the Assad government currently had in its arsenal. Within days of the Damascus incident we asked a source in the Syrian government to give us a list of the batches the government currently had. This is why we could confirm the difference so quickly.'

 

The process hadn't worked as smoothly in the spring, the former intelligence official said, because the studies done by Western intelligence 'were inconclusive as to the type of gas it was. The word "sarin" didn't come up. There was a great deal of discussion about this, but since no one could conclude what gas it was, you could not say that Assad had crossed the president's red line.' By 21 August, the former intelligence official went on, 'the Syrian opposition clearly had learned from this and announced that "sarin" from the Syrian army had been used, before any analysis could be made, and the press and White House jumped at it. Since it now was sarin, "It had to be Assad."'

 

The UK defence staff who relayed the Porton Down findings to the joint chiefs were sending the Americans a message, the former intelligence official said: 'We're being set up here.' (This account made sense of a terse message a senior official in the CIA sent in late August: 'It was not the result of the current regime. UK & WE knows this.') By then the attack was a few days' away and American, British and French planes, ships and submarines were at the ready.

 

The officer ultimately responsible for the planning and execution of the attack was General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs. From the beginning of the crisis, the former intelligence official said, the joint chiefs had been skeptical of the administration's argument that it had the facts to back up its belief in Assad's guilt. They pressed the DIA and other agencies for more substantial evidence. 'There was no way they thought Syria would use nerve gas at that stage, because Assad was winning the war,' the former intelligence official said. Dempsey had irritated many in the Obama administration by repeatedly warning Congress over the summer of the danger of American military involvement in Syria. Last April, after an optimistic assessment of rebel progress by the secretary of state, John Kerry, in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee that 'there's a risk that this conflict has become stalemated.'

Dempsey's initial view after 21 August was that a US strike on Syria – under the assumption that the Assad government was responsible for the sarin attack – would be a military blunder, the former intelligence official said. The Porton Down report caused the joint chiefs to go to the president with a more serious worry: that the attack sought by the White House would be an unjustified act of aggression. It was the joint chiefs who led Obama to change course. The official White House explanation for the turnabout – the story the press corps told – was that the president, during a walk in the Rose Garden with Denis McDonough, his chief of staff, suddenly decided to seek approval for the strike from a bitterly divided Congress with which he'd been in conflict for years. The former Defense Department official told me that the White House provided a different explanation to members of the civilian leadership of the Pentagon: the bombing had been called off because there was intelligence 'that the Middle East would go up in smoke' if it was carried out.

 

The president's decision to go to Congress was initially seen by senior aides in the White House, the former intelligence official said, as a replay of George W. Bush's gambit in the autumn of 2002 before the invasion of Iraq: 'When it became clear that there were no WMD in Iraq, Congress, which had endorsed the Iraqi war, and the White House both shared the blame and repeatedly cited faulty intelligence. If the current Congress were to vote to endorse the strike, the White House could again have it both ways – wallop Syria with a massive attack and validate the president's red line commitment, while also being able to share the blame with Congress if it came out that the Syrian military wasn't behind the attack.' The turnabout came as a surprise even to the Democratic leadership in Congress. In September the Wall Street Journal reported that three days before his Rose Garden speech Obama had telephoned Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democrats, 'to talk through the options'. She later told colleagues, according to the Journal, that she hadn't asked the president to put the bombing to a congressional vote.

 

Obama's move for congressional approval quickly became a dead end. 'Congress was not going to let this go by,' the former intelligence official said. 'Congress made it known that, unlike the authorization for the Iraq war, there would be substantive hearings.' At this point, there was a sense of desperation in the White House, the former intelligence official said. 'And so out comes Plan B. Call off the bombing strike and Assad would agree to unilaterally sign the chemical warfare treaty and agree to the destruction of all of chemical weapons under UN supervision.' At a press conference in London on 9 September, Kerry was still talking about intervention: 'The risk of not acting is greater than the risk of acting.' But when a reporter asked if there was anything Assad could do to stop the bombing, Kerry said: 'Sure. He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week … But he isn't about to do it, and it can't be done, obviously.' As the New York Times reported the next day, the Russian-brokered deal that emerged shortly afterwards had first been discussed by Obama and Putin in the summer of 2012. Although the strike plans were shelved, the administration didn't change its public assessment of the justification for going to war. 'There is zero tolerance at that level for the existence of error,' the former intelligence official said of the senior officials in the White House. 'They could not afford to say: "We were wrong."' (The DNI spokesperson said: 'The Assad regime, and only the Assad regime, could have been responsible for the chemical weapons attack that took place on 21 August.')

*

The full extent of US co-operation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in assisting the rebel opposition in Syria has yet to come to light. The Obama administration has never publicly admitted to its role in creating what the CIA calls a 'rat line', a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorized in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida. (The DNI spokesperson said: 'The idea that the United States was providing weapons from Libya to anyone is false.')

In January, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the assault by a local militia in September 2012 on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others. The report's criticism of the State Department for not providing adequate security at the consulate, and of the intelligence community for not alerting the US military to the presence of a CIA outpost in the area, received front-page coverage and revived animosities in Washington, with Republicans accusing Obama and Hillary Clinton of a cover-up. A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi's arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn't always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer. (A spokesperson for Petraeus denied the operation ever took place.)

 

The operation had not been disclosed at the time it was set up to the congressional intelligence committees and the congressional leadership, as required by law since the 1970s. The involvement of MI6 enabled the CIA to evade the law by classifying the mission as a liaison operation. The former intelligence official explained that for years there has been a recognized exception in the law that permits the CIA not to report liaison activity to Congress, which would otherwise be owed a finding. (All proposed CIA covert operations must be described in a written document, known as a 'finding', submitted to the senior leadership of Congress for approval.) Distribution of the annex was limited to the staff aides who wrote the report and to the eight ranking members of Congress – the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate, and the Democratic and Republicans leaders on the House and Senate intelligence committees. This hardly constituted a genuine attempt at oversight: the eight leaders are not known to gather together to rise questions or discuss the secret information they receive.

 

The annex didn't tell the whole story of what happened in Benghazi before the attack, nor did it explain why the American consulate was attacked. 'The consulate's only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,' the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. 'It had no real political role.'

 

Washington abruptly ended the CIA's role in the transfer of arms from Libya after the attack on the consulate, but the rat line kept going. 'The United States was no longer in control of what the Turks were relaying to the jihadists,' the former intelligence official said. Within weeks, as many as forty portable surface-to-air missile launchers, commonly known as manpads, were in the hands of Syrian rebels. On 28 November 2012, Joby Warrick of the Washington Post reported that the previous day rebels near Aleppo had used what was almost certainly a manpad to shoot down a Syrian transport helicopter. 'The Obama administration,' Warrick wrote, 'has steadfastly opposed arming Syrian opposition forces with such missiles, warning that the weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists and be used to shoot down commercial aircraft.' Two Middle Eastern intelligence officials fingered Qatar as the source, and a former US intelligence analyst speculated that the manpads could have been obtained from Syrian military outposts overrun by the rebels. There was no indication that the rebels' possession of manpads was likely the unintended consequence of a covert US programme that was no longer under US control.

 

By the end of 2012, it was believed throughout the American intelligence community that the rebels were losing the war. 'Erdoğan was pissed,' the former intelligence official said, 'and felt he was left hanging on the vine. It was his money and the cut-off was seen as a betrayal.' In spring 2013 US intelligence learned that the Turkish government – through elements of the MIT, its national intelligence agency, and the Gendarmerie, a militarized law-enforcement organization – was working directly with al-Nusra and its allies to develop a chemical warfare capability. 'The MIT was running the political liaison with the rebels, and the Gendarmerie handled military logistics, on-the-scene advice and training – including training in chemical warfare,' the former intelligence official said. 'Stepping up Turkey's role in spring 2013 was seen as the key to its problems there. Erdoğan knew that if he stopped his support of the jihadists it would be all over. The Saudis could not support the war because of logistics – the distances involved and the difficulty of moving weapons and supplies. Erdogan's hope was to instigate an event that would force the US to cross the red line. But Obama didn't respond in March and April.'

 

There was no public sign of discord when Erdoğan and Obama met on 16 May 2013 at the White House. At a later press conference Obama said that they had agreed that Assad 'needs to go'. Asked whether he thought Syria had crossed the red line, Obama acknowledged that there was evidence such weapons had been used, but added, 'it is important for us to make sure that we're able to get more specific information about what exactly is happening there.' The red line was still intact.

An American foreign policy expert who speaks regularly with officials in Washington and Ankara told me about a working dinner Obama held for Erdoğan during his May visit. The meal was dominated by the Turks' insistence that Syria had crossed the red line and their complaints that Obama was reluctant to do anything about it. Obama was accompanied by John Kerry and Tom Donilon, the national security adviser who would soon leave the job. Erdoğan was joined by Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, and Hakan Fidan, the head of the MIT. Fidan is known to be fiercely loyal to Erdoğan, and has been seen as a consistent backer of the radical rebel opposition in Syria.

 

The foreign policy expert told me that the account he heard originated with Donilon. (It was later corroborated by a former US official, who learned of it from a senior Turkish diplomat.) According to the expert, Erdoğan had sought the meeting to demonstrate to Obama that the red line had been crossed, and had brought Fidan along to state the case. When Erdoğan tried to draw Fidan into the conversation, and Fidan began speaking, Obama cut him off and said: 'We know.' Erdoğan tried to bring Fidan in a second time, and Obama again cut him off and said: 'We know.' At that point, an exasperated Erdoğan said, 'But your red line has been crossed!' and, the expert told me, 'Donilon said Erdoğan "fucking waved his finger at the president inside the White House".' Obama then pointed at Fidan and said: 'We know what you're doing with the radicals in Syria.' (Donilon, who joined the Council on Foreign Relations last July, didn't respond to questions about this story. The Turkish Foreign Ministry didn't respond to questions about the dinner. A spokesperson for the National Security Council confirmed that the dinner took place and provided a photograph showing Obama, Kerry, Donilon, Erdoğan, Fidan and Davutoglu sitting at a table. 'Beyond that,' she said, 'I'm not going to read out the details of their discussions.')

But Erdoğan did not leave empty handed. Obama was still permitting Turkey to continue to exploit a loophole in a presidential executive order prohibiting the export of gold to Iran, part of the US sanctions regime against the country. In March 2012, responding to sanctions of Iranian banks by the EU, the SWIFT electronic payment system, which facilitates cross-border payments, expelled dozens of Iranian financial institutions, severely restricting the country's ability to conduct international trade. The US followed with the executive order in July, but left what came to be known as a 'golden loophole': gold shipments to private Iranian entities could continue. Turkey is a major purchaser of Iranian oil and gas, and it took advantage of the loophole by depositing its energy payments in Turkish lira in an Iranian account in Turkey; these funds were then used to purchase Turkish gold for export to confederates in Iran. Gold to the value of $13 billion reportedly entered Iran in this way between March 2012 and July 2013.

 

The programme quickly became a cash cow for corrupt politicians and traders in Turkey, Iran and the United Arab Emirates. 'The middlemen did what they always do,' the former intelligence official said. 'Take 15 per cent. The CIA had estimated that there was as much as two billion dollars in skim. Gold and Turkish lira were sticking to fingers.' The illicit skimming flared into a public 'gas for gold' scandal in Turkey in December, and resulted in charges against two dozen people, including prominent businessmen and relatives of government officials, as well as the resignations of three ministers, one of whom called for Erdoğan to resign. The chief executive of a Turkish state-controlled bank that was in the middle of the scandal insisted that more than $4.5 million in cash found by police in shoeboxes during a search of his home was for charitable donations.

Late last year Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz reported in Foreign Policy that the Obama administration closed the golden loophole in January 2013, but 'lobbied to make sure the legislation … did not take effect for six months'. They speculated that the administration wanted to use the delay as an incentive to bring Iran to the bargaining table over its nuclear programme, or to placate its Turkish ally in the Syrian civil war. The delay permitted Iran to 'accrue billions of dollars more in gold, further undermining the sanctions regime'.

*

The American decision to end CIA support of the weapons shipments into Syria left Erdoğan exposed politically and militarily. 'One of the issues at that May summit was the fact that Turkey is the only avenue to supply the rebels in Syria,' the former intelligence official said. 'It can't come through Jordan because the terrain in the south is wide open and the Syrians are all over it. And it can't come through the valleys and hills of Lebanon – you can't be sure who you'd meet on the other side.' Without US military support for the rebels, the former intelligence official said, 'Erdogan's dream of having a client state in Syria is evaporating and he thinks we're the reason why. When Syria wins the war, he knows the rebels are just as likely to turn on him – where else can they go? So now he will have thousands of radicals in his backyard.'

 

A US intelligence consultant told me that a few weeks before 21 August he saw a highly classified briefing prepared for Dempsey and the defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, which described 'the acute anxiety' of the Erdoğan administration about the rebels' dwindling prospects. The analysis warned that the Turkish leadership had expressed 'the need to do something that would precipitate a US military response'. By late summer, the Syrian army still had the advantage over the rebels, the former intelligence official said, and only American air power could turn the tide. In the autumn, the former intelligence official went on; the US intelligence analysts who kept working on the events of 21 August 'sensed that Syria had not done the gas attack. But the 500 pound gorilla was, how did it happen? The immediate suspect was the Turks, because they had all the pieces to make it happen.'

As intercepts and other data related to the 21 August attacks were gathered, the intelligence community saw evidence to support its suspicions. 'We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdogan's people to push Obama over the red line,' the former intelligence official said. 'They had to escalate to a gas attack in or near Damascus when the UN inspectors' – who arrived in Damascus on 18 August to investigate the earlier use of gas – 'were there. The deal was to do something spectacular. Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the sarin was supplied through Turkey – which it could only have gotten there with Turkish support.

 

The Turks also provided the training in producing the sarin and handling it.' Much of the support for that assessment came from the Turks themselves, via intercepted conversations in the immediate aftermath of the attack. 'Principal evidence came from the Turkish post-attack joy and back-slapping in numerous intercepts. Operations are always so super-secret in the planning but that all flies out the window when it comes to crowing afterwards. There is no greater vulnerability than in the perpetrators claiming credit for success.' Erdogan's problems in Syria would soon be over: 'Off goes the gas and Obama will say red line and America is going to attack Syria, or at least that was the idea. But it did not work out that way.'

 

The post-attack intelligence on Turkey did not make its way to the White House. 'Nobody wants to talk about all this,' the former intelligence official told me. 'There is great reluctance to contradict the president, although no all-source intelligence community analysis supported his leap to convict. There has not been one single piece of additional evidence of Syrian involvement in the sarin attack produced by the White House since the bombing raid was called off. My government can't say anything because we have acted so irresponsibly. And since we blamed Assad, we can't go back and blame Erdoğan.'

 

Turkey's willingness to manipulate events in Syria to its own purposes seemed to be demonstrated late last month, a few days before a round of local elections, when a recording, allegedly of Erdoğan and his associates, was posted to YouTube. It included discussion of a false-flag operation that would justify an incursion by the Turkish military in Syria. The operation centered on the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the revered Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire, which is near Aleppo and was ceded to Turkey in 1921, when Syria was under French rule. One of the Islamist rebel factions was threatening to destroy the tomb as a site of idolatry, and the Erdoğan administration was publicly threatening retaliation if harm came to it. According to a Reuters report of the leaked conversation, a voice alleged to be Fidan's spoke of creating a provocation: 'Now look, my commander [Erdoğan], if there is to be justification, the justification is I send four men to the other side. I get them to fire eight missiles into empty land [in the vicinity of the tomb]. That's not a problem. Justification can be created.' The Turkish government acknowledged that there had been a national security meeting about threats emanating from Syria, but said the recording had been manipulated. The government subsequently blocked public access to YouTube.

 

Barring a major change in policy by Obama, Turkey's meddling in the Syrian civil war is likely to go on. 'I asked my colleagues if there was any way to stop Erdogan's continued support for the rebels, especially now that it's going so wrong,' the former intelligence official told me. 'The answer was: "We're screwed." We could go public if it was somebody other than Erdoğan, but Turkey is a special case. They're a NATO ally. The Turks don't trust the West. They can't live with us if we take any active role against Turkish interests. If we went public with what we know about Erdogan's role with the gas, it'd be disastrous. The Turks would say: "We hate you for telling us what we can and can't do."' 4 April, 2014.