An opportunity for a full discussion of the current state of the Middle East North Africa (MENA) swamp!
What do leftists now think is going on.

Tom Griffiths
February 7 at 8:31 PM ·

As some may gather I keep an eye on events in Turkey courtesy of the Turkish Bianet news service and my friendship with one of the initial organizers in the mid 90’s of Saturday Mothers, a weekly gathering of mothers, wives and friends of the ‘disappeared’. My friends husband was one of the ‘disappeared’ and she came very close to ‘disappearing’ herself. Their spirit of resistance and determination, then, now and in the years in between, is beyond admirable – they are inspiring, which is why the Turkish regime is subjecting them to new rounds of intimidation and harassment. I’d like to ask people to subscribe to Bianet and keep a supportive eye on the Saturday Mothers and all others resisting the dead weight of the regime.

Yoleri briefly detained

Yoleri briefly detained

Susan Geraghty How can we help??

Tom Griffiths Good question Susan. Otherwise known as – how can we assist/support the Turkish people to give Erdogan the flick? From here not a lot. However messages of support/solidarity is something we can do – to Bianet (I’d assume they’d pass them on) and I can pass them on through my friend in Turkey. You’ve got me thinking…

Ruth Frances It’s very distressing to see what this man is doing to Turkey .

Patrick Muldowney I presume you are not objecting to the Turkish government providing shelter for the almost 8 million Syrians that it is now involved in doing. So I guess this is just a pro PKK post and not pro Assad and Putin. as if the war with the PKK has not been going for many decades and was under Erdogan making progress via the democratic solution to the Kurdish issues that brought on war in the first instance.

Patrick Muldowney I would say that Erdogan is currently the most important political leader by a long shot and so I think we ought to talk about this issue and see what we actually think. Syria is very confusing and even Arthur and Barry and Dave completely misunderstood what Putin was up to back in 2015. They don’t talk about it these days but believe me I still do and it is even more complicated than it was when I first started to investigate it back in 2011. As you know No investigation no right to speak and I have earned that right.

Patrick Muldowney
I have opened a thread at called MENA if that would help people keep track of where any investigation takes us. I expect this to be quite a difficult investigation and do not assume that people have any current background understanding but just a good will attitude to investigating the issues.

8 Responses to “MENA”

  1. 1 patrickm

    Just to start this I will remind everyone that others have long ago shut up about Syria and the MENA generally.

    I’m not buying their method as anything to do with Marxism.
    People can just review this dead end thread to see what former comrades are up against in facing up to their errors. They were wrong then and have simply shamed themselves every year since. I have no explanation for any of their former conduct and expect no better now!

    They obviously got it wrong and can’t face up to being wrong.

    Perhaps Tom G will in 2020 be able to explain how the swamp is to be drained. Arthur and the rest of us had that big picture part broadly right back in 2002. But now, in 2020, who are the democratic Islamists if not Erdogan?

    Being Irish my initial sympathy is with the Kurdish peoples so I am pretty annoyed at the current leadership of the PKK. I say they have a way forward without a war with the Turkish democrats. But I am keen to understand other former comrades POV and see how we can conduct our modern ‘teach in.’

    What I have known from the moment I realized that a very big war was going to unfold in Syria was that this is very complex. So best we plan for several topics to develop. But this is for the big picture of the swamp called the MENA.

    Tom is busy at the moment so we will have to wait to see just where his thinking’s at, but given how big this issue has been for the last 18yrs and how important, and what a similar attempt at a discussion did to this site I think it won’t be very long before we can make some opening observations that might explain the above facebook thinking.

  2. 2 patrickm

    This would be the starting point I think to a current understanding. ‘the largest displacement of people in the whole history of the Syrian war’

    What do people say the Turks are doing and what do they think they ought to be doing?

    What is the roll of the PKK and what options are now possible for the Kurdish peoples on all sides of the Syrian borders?

    Kurdish people that are favorably disposed to the PKK are hostile to Erdogan but that can’t take us very far in this complex war.

  3. 3 patrickm this type of article points to a very big part of the PKK – SDF problem. They are prepared to work with the big problem and that is Assad and his Russian backers.

    I say the PKK ought to be doing deals with the Turks and the rebels.

  4. 4 patrickm

    This is worth a reminding look back when considering the looming role of the Turkish army!

    This from some months back is also important background

    and there is this from back in Janurary 2016

  5. 5 patrickm

    No one is talking yet!

    Right now Syria has exploded with perhaps 800,000 on the move in winter and we are all silent! Turkish troops are flooding in and we are wordless. The SAA are having their helicopters shot down and Turkish artillery targeting them and even the US is backing the Turks. An ultimatum has been issued to the SAA to withdraw to behind the Sochi agreed lines or be prepared to be hit anywhere in Syria by the Turkish army and we say zip.

    I’m just picking up from Tom G on FB how he is now in almost total La La land in a gut support for the PKK and opposition to Erdogan, yet, it seems to me, not prepared to talk and I am not a bit surprised. It’s all too hard given that it’s the MENA we would be thinking about; So I suppose people will pretend there was a discussion and I just wasn’t involved!

    What a sad end to people who thought they had a Maoist tradition to guide them forward.

    Well here is an open honest thought. Speak up! What has become of people’s Syrian understandings? The silence has now broken yet with Tom understanding virtually nothing except that he has sympathy for the PKK. What I think he has is sympathy towards the Kurdish peoples struggle for democracy and so he might find that he is critical of the current PKK policies if he thought about them. The consequence for bad leadership is born by the people.

    Is anyone prepared to tell Tom G that Erdogan is part of the solution or is it more silence?

  6. 6 patrickm

    Obviously still no comments and after all these decades of proclaiming exactly this process as a way to work out what is happening…

    Nothing on FB as far as I can tell either. 21stC is silent as has been the case for some years now.

    So what do people expect from Syria other than Turkey to go in and cut out an enclave as a starter?

    Who will be first to say the Turks have been right to shoot down these three airplanes? The Turks have a role to play.

    All this and the world is looking economically feeble. Perhaps we live in interesting times after all.

  7. 7 patrickm

    What has the last 15 yrs brought forth? Below is an article we have on the old Lastsuperpower site and any western leftist ought to be able to build on this type of foundation. A big war is now near ten years old and there is a lot to sum up!

    I would think that events are proving day after day that Turkish leadership is now indispensable in the struggle against tyranny.

    For a start Europe’s borders are not so open as Putin and Assad would like and there are another million just inside Syria’s border with Turkey.

    The Turks are saying enough we are now at war to settle the issue of where Syrian’s will live without being driven out by Putin’s terror bombing. It means war with Assad and those that fight alongside his smallish number of troops. It means Aleppo will have to be liberated and it means -like it or not- that Russian aggression will have to be dealt with by the worlds democracies.


    The Kurds, Turkey’s metamorphosis to a European state

    Date: 13 November 2004

    By Adil Al-Baghdadi

    Turkey’s bid and eagerness to join EU is a welcome sign that the country wants to change and shake off its not so glamorous 80 years past of either direct tyrannical military rule or intermittent military-controlled civilian governments.

    The heirs of Ataturk and the despotic Ottoman rule, which fought the Europeans for centuries and stopped the flow of renaissance to reach and change the regions within its domain – especially the Middle East – are now knocking at every European door and begging for an admission.

    However, it seems that Turkey’ military and civilian leaders do not realize, just like Ataturk didn’t, that being a European means more than wearing a suit and a tie.

    And acting like one is nothing to do with the fact that their country has a bit of a territory within the European continent, which in fact was an integral part of Greece.

    To be part of Europe and declare one is European is not also by joining the Eurovision contest and parade scantly clad and beautiful young Turkish women.

    There is more to it than that, in fact there are more than 600 years of it to be precise.

    As throughout many centuries of the despotic Ottoman rule Europe went through complete social, political and cultural transitions especially during the renaissance era, the likes of which have not yet being tried in Middle East let alone Turkey.

    This era has shaped Europe to what it has become now, a collection of countries which has strong adherence to democratic principles, unwavering conviction in human rights and above all tolerance towards anything that is different, be it ethnic and religious groups, equal rights for women, homosexuals and others.

    In contrast, the present Turkey, which is a by-product of Ataturk supremacist, Kurdish-hating and jingoistic mentality still has a very long way to go to convince even its ardent supporter in Europe that it has changed, but not on the cosmetic level.

    Many reports in Turkish dailies frequently caries news about the Turkey that everyone has come to know, that’s to say a Turkey that is intolerant towards the Kurdish population in northern Kurdistan and Kurdish gains in southern Kurdistan.

    The underlying tone of such articles and reports describe the inexplicable derision and mistrust towards people who contributed greatly to creating Turkey – which afterwards denied their existence for more than 80 years – and who will yet again will contribute to Turkey’s accession to European Union.

    In one such report the Turkish Human Right Organization head, Yusuf Alatas, describes the current situation in Turkey regarding the supposedly newly found rights for Kurds to broadcast and teach Kurdish.

    In it he says: “Has the problem of broadcasting in native language been solved with a half-hour broadcast, when in fact watching private TV channels in the same native language is not allowed? And will people attend Kurdish courses where they have to undergo interrogation?

    Are people asked personal questions when enrolling in English language courses? After all they pay money to attend these courses”. Turkey should not expect that by applying a trimmed down versions of EU adaptation packages it could qualify to the much-prized club membership.

    What’s more, it should not assume to be treated like a European state when it still relapses back to its tyrannical past in between now and then.

    To behave, act and think like a European takes centuries. It would be a tall order and implausible demand, however desirable and beneficial that maybe, to ask Turkey to enrol en-masse all of its military and civilian leaders in courses ranging from studies in European history, human rights, multi-ethnic societies in democracies and rights of nations for self-determination. They even may find it useful to enrol in courses in basic decorum such as tolerance and respect towards others.

    Also it would be a far-fetched request to ask Turkey’s establishment and its military leaders to take long sessions with European psychiatrists to rid themselves from the Kurdo-phobia, which has besotted them and has gripped Turkey for centuries and up until now.

    However, heaven to be hold, there is a short cut for Turkey to become a modern European entity that is by embracing and helping the Kurds in Northern Kurdistan to achieve political and cultural rights.

    And by owning up to the genocide of Armenians and by granting cultural and political rights to Turkey’s substantial Arab, Greek, Assyrians and Laz population and others.

    This would convince even its staunchest opponent in Europe and millions of Kurds that Turkey is on the right track to become a true European country.

    The travesty of justice for Turkey is that the very people whom she disowned, decimated, humiliated and culturally annihilated for more than 80 years are now the most critical factor in deciding whether Turkey can be part of Europe or not.

    Adil Al-Baghdadi
    12 November 2004

  8. 8 patrickm

    When we had a bit to say we published material like this…

    Christopher Hitchens Monday, March 22, 2004

    “Article URL”:

    Over last weekend, I had the honor of being an invited speaker at the American Kurdish Congress, held in Arlington, Va. There was a good deal to celebrate, as against the same time last year. The three Kurdish-majority provinces of Iraq have consolidated their hard-won prosperity and autonomy, and Kurdish has been recognized as an official language of the new state. Kurdish security forces played a crucial role in isolating and capturing Saddam Hussein and in arresting the courier who was bearing the now-notorious Zarqawi manifesto, calling for Sunni-Shiite fratricide as the latest strategy of fundamentalism, across the Iranian border. There is some resentment and suspicion among Kurds at the seeming willingness of Americans to take them for granted. (Colin Powell, on his flying visit to the annual commemoration of the chemical weapons massacre at Halabja, had not seen fit to mention that the victims were Kurdish. If you want to know how to offend an Iraqi Kurd, by all means refer to him or her as one of those victimized when Saddam murdered “his own people.” “His own people” they decidedly were and are not.)

    Amid all the discussions and debates about the disputed role of Kurds in the new Iraqi constitution, one could feel and hear another hot topic as it rushed around the periphery of the meeting. Many of those present had relatives and friends in northern Syria and were in cell-phone contact with them hour by hour. In and around the city of Kamishli, in the past few days, several dozen Kurdish protesters have been shot down by Baathist police and militia for raising the Kurdish flag and for destroying pictures and statues of the weak-chinned hereditary ruler, Bashar al-Assad. In tussling with local party goons who shout slogans in favor of the ousted Saddam, it is clear, they are hoping for a rerun of regime change.

    It is early to pronounce, but this event seems certain to be remembered as the beginning of the end of the long-petrified Syrian status quo. The Kurdish population of Syria is not as large, in proportion, as its cousinly equivalent in Iraq. But there are many features of the Syrian Baath regime that make it more vulnerable than Saddam Hussein’s. Saddam based his terrifying rule on a minority of a minority—the Tikriti clan of the Sunni. Assad, like his father, is a member of the Alawite confessional minority, which in the wider Arab world is a very small group indeed. Syria has large populations of Sunni, Druze, and Armenians, and the Alawite elite has stayed in power by playing off minorities against minorities. It is in a weak position to rally the rest of society against any identifiable “enemy within,” lest by doing so it call attention to its own tenuous position.

    There are many Kurds in the major cities of Syria, and their prestige as a minority is quite high since they originally came to the country as the soldiers of their fellow Kurd Saladin (oddly enough, born in Tikrit) during his victorious war against the Crusaders. When he died and was buried in Damascus, they elected to stay. The most successful Communist leader in the Arab world, Khaled Baqdash, was a Syrian Kurd. As many reporters have been noting in the last few days, the nascent human and civil rights movement in Syria has been galvanized by the events in the Kurdish north, which illustrate in sharp relief the general bankruptcy of the regime

    Until recently, it was official Syrian policy to sponsor a Kurdish insurgency in neighboring Turkey, albeit an insurgency led by the Pol Pot of Kurdish politics, Abdullah Ocalan of the “Kurdish Workers Party” or PKK. That opportunist moment came to an end when the Turkish army threatened to invade Syria, causing the senior Assad to expel Ocalan from Syrian-occupied Lebanon (which also has its restless Kurdish underclass). But a steady official propaganda in favor of Kurdish militancy elsewhere has now partly come back to haunt its insincere authors.

    The Syrian regime never had the ruthless self-confidence of its Iraqi neighbor, though it did bloodily crush a rebellion by the Muslim Brotherhood in the city of Hama about a quarter-century ago. At present, it is in power mainly to be in power and doesn’t pretend to have any much grander aim. Its pan-Arab rhetoric is threadbare, its attitude to Islam necessarily compromised, its armed forces fifth-rate, its treasury a joke, and its occupation of Lebanon a thing of shreds and patches. It has made the huge mistake of promising “reforms” and then failing to produce them: always a sign of a moribund system. It has helped the CIA to identify and track down al-Qaida sympathizers, while continuing to flirt, somewhat unconvincingly, with the military wings of Hezbollah and Hamas. The last thing it needs is a rebellion by people who are sure that they are on the winning side. It can neither extirpate the Kurdish rebels nor satisfy them.

    This indecision is partially replicated in Washington, which is in no hurry to alarm its Turkish ally with too much talk of Kurdish self-determination in either Iraq or Syria. But “regime change,” as those of us who favor it have always maintained, is not something that can too easily be manipulated. Colin Powell, who has always detested the policy, may have spent the past few days trying to reassure the Saudis that nothing too revolutionary is intended by American pronouncements about democracy. As usual, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. In Syria, and tomorrow in Iran, there are forces at work who intend to take these pronouncements with absolute seriousness. It would be nice if American liberals came out more forcefully and demanded that the administration live up to its own rhetoric on the question.

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