Coastal Breeze News » Beyond the Coast http://www.coastalbreezenews.com Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:18:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/07/25/40371/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/07/25/40371/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 14:33:11 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=40371 BEYOND THE COAST
Tarik Ayasun
tayasun@taray.com

An al-Qaeda-inspired militant stands guard at a checkpoint captured from the Iraqi army outside Beiji refinery on June 19.

An al-Qaeda-inspired militant stands guard at a checkpoint captured from the Iraqi army outside Beiji refinery on June 19.

As we wake up to a beautiful Marco Island Saturday morning, basking in the hot rays of a summer sun, the rest of the world slowly but surely moves towards a world-wide confrontation of good against evil as violence escalates in the absence of true world leaders and true world leadership.

There are those amongst us who still do not think that evil exists, and there are also those who believe strongly that we, the Americans, are the evil force around the world. How unfortunate of them! Today, I firmly believe that a lack of leadership, not just here in America in particular but the rest of the world in general is causing evil to take root and surround us.

How can anyone explain the shooting down of a civilian airplane flying at 33,000 feet above earth using a very sophisticated weapon system which must be operated by highly trained personnel? There will be many apologists on behalf of Vladimir Putin, the Dictator of the Evil Empire, finding reasons why he would not have allowed such an evil act. This is one instance I find no reason to be doubtful that Putin has blood on his hands. He is a murderer who someday will be standing in front of a firing squad facing red hot bullets flaying through the air towards his evil face. You can never be flexible in your dealings with such a murderer as some of us are finding out the hard way.

Putin had an evil and sneaky strategy to take over Ukraine. Using so-called Ukrainian separatists and arming them with sophisticated weapons they did not truly understand how to use; he was slowly but surely infiltrating the country from the east. The results of his faulty strategy were deadly. Shooting down a civilian aircraft with nearly 300 innocent men, women and children aboard deliberately cannot be forgiven or excused under any and all circumstances. SA-11 missile otherwise known as BUK or GADFLY in the West is part of a very sophisticated weapon system. It can’t be operated by members of a militia of separatists or amateurs. It requires a radar guiding system which operates separately from the weapon itself to lock-on to the target. Once the radar is locked on the target, an order will be given from the commander on the field to fire the missile, and in the opinion of experts, that commander had to be someone other than the so called “Ukrainian separatist.”

The sun continues to rise over the horizon and it is getting hotter and muggier by the minute. Marco Island is still peaceful; I do not hear any explosions in the distance or see tracer bullets flying over my head.

Yet, few hundred miles to the east of Ukraine in Iraq, ISIS is forming the first Islamic Caliphate in the world in what was once known as the country of Iraq where we spent blood and treasure to establish Democracy. The last Caliphate in the Middle East ended when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk established a secular Republic in Turkey and sent the last Caliph packing with only the clothes on his back off to Italy where he died in poverty. Once again, due to a massive lack of leadership, America left Iraq prematurely and gave way to the Radical Islamic thugs to operate with impunity, killing, beheading and otherwise destroying anything or anyone that stood in their way. As of this morning, they have surrounded the oil rich city of Mosul and issued an ultimatum to all Christians in the city to leave or face death! Is anyone surprised that no one gives a damn that there will be an Islamic Caliphate with access to some of the richest oil fields in the world? Oil is money; money is weapons; and weapons are power in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world.

It is really hot now in Marco Island, but not as hot as it is in Israel where 80 percent of the population is experiencing exploding rockets above their heads. Hamas, the most evil force on the border of Israel, recently kidnapped, killed and buried three Israeli boys (one with an American passport), and when some angry Israelis retaliated, started to send rockets into populated areas of Israel. Hamas received very sophisticated weapons through Egypt via tunnels in the desert and turned Gaza into an armed camp. When the Muslim Brotherhood ruled Egypt for a brief but most unfortunate time, massive amounts of weapons were smuggled into Gaza on a daily basis. Hamas also established tunnels into Israel and were beginning to make incursions into areas where settlers lived. As of this morning, almost 70,000 Israeli Defense Forces are participating in an operation to rid the area of the Hamas murderers — a daunting task at best of times! What is the reaction from our government and the West? Tell the Israelis to show restraint! How would my fellow Americans react if Mexico and Canada started shooting rockets into major American cities? The readers should have no doubts whatsoever in their minds. Israel is only the immediate and convenient target for these radical thugs; America is the real main target. They want to destroy America at any cost, and they are working hard at it, taking full advantage of the lack of leadership in our country. When the thugs of the world decide America is weak (real or perception), they will attack us again and again and again.

It is now nearly noon on Saturday; pretty soon the clouds will roll in from the east. We will start hearing the thunder in the distance and seeing the flashes of lightning followed by brief but cool showers of relief later in the afternoon.

In Afghanistan, it is almost midnight with temperatures over 100 degrees; few brave American military personnel are busy taking down bases, packing up equipment and getting ready to leave the country completely by Nov. 1 this year. Once again, with the best of intentions to save a country from the Radical Islamic thugs of Taliban and to give a chance to the oppressed, we spent blood and treasure, only to end up having to dismantle everything we worked and paid for and come home, victims of a lack of real leadership and understanding of the real world at home. As soon as the last American soldier or Marine leaves Afghanistan, Taliban will be back in full force, worse than ever, oppressing the women, killing non-Muslims, attacking and destroying the schools we built one brick at a time, and turning the country back to the ninth century.

Here is a brief summary of why this story is called “A Very Dangerous Time.”

Russia under Vladimir Putin’s dictatorship continues their expansionist dreams to bring back the glory of the demised Soviet Union, which ruled a third of Europe in the second part of the last century. ISIS is fast establishing an Islamic Caliphate in Iraq, rich in oil and money with plans to attack the Western world. Iran is fast approaching the moment of truth when they will have nuclear weapons in their arsenal and will undoubtedly try to “wipe Israel off the map of the world.” Taliban is taking over Afghanistan and bringing that country back to the ninth century.

And, on this Marco Island Saturday afternoon, I am thinking of how WWI started 100 years ago from the assassination in Sarajevo of the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. That is all it took to ignite the fire which resulted in the total number of military and civilian casualties of more than 37 million, the deadliest conflict in human history.

I hope and pray we are not going in that direction again…

About The Author

Tarik Ayasun is President of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations. Tarik Ayasun?turk1949@comcast.net

 


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Independence Day 2014 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/07/11/independence-day-2014/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/07/11/independence-day-2014/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 15:20:03 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=40129 BEYOND THE COAST
Tarik Ayasun
tayasun@taray.com

A17-CBN-7-11-14-11I am writing this article on July 4, 2014. Today is Independence Day. A very special day when we as Americans commemorate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring our independence from the kingdom of Great Britain, when a number of patriots said “NO” to a king and “YES” to freedom and established a representative Republic. As a naturalized citizen, one of millions who chose to pledge their allegiance to this great country, I am full of pride, happiness and patriotism. Seeing the stars and stripes fly against a perfectly blue July sky all over our beautiful Island fills me up with pride and brings tears to my eyes. Despite some polling data indicating that a large number of Americans believe that this is not the greatest country in the world, I have never doubted it, not once — not even for a fleeting moment.

Going back to World War I, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, millions of Americans unselfishly gave their lives, limbs, families and all comforts of life in pursuit of helping those in need and in the process freeing millions upon millions of enslaved people around the world, and continue to do so.

I have often asked my readers in this column over the past few years to read what I and others have written and then connect the dots. I am afraid the dots are now connecting themselves. America spent blood and treasure in Iraq getting rid of a ruthless dictator, only to leave prematurely and allow a group of radicals and terrorists to establish an Islamic Caliphate to take hold in the Middle East which will rule millions according to Sharia Law. They will attack their neighbors ruthlessly, destroy their countries in pursuit of more and more power and land grab, behead their enemies, put innocent men and women in ditches and shoot them over and over until they make sure everyone is dead. By letting this happen, we look weak; we look disorganized; we look disengaged and silly.

We are going to leave Afghanistan by year’s end, leaving the country in the hands of the Taliban who will enslave women, destroy historical sites, kill those who do not agree with them and menace their neighbors.

We let Al-Qaeda in Benghazi attack our Consulate facility; assassinate our Ambassador and three brave Americans; and we did absolutely nothing to help them. Our leaders in the government chose to spend months and months trying to cover up our lack of action for political reasons instead of going after the attackers and the killers who roamed the streets of Benghazi as though they were tourists from a foreign country.

We allowed the brutal Syrian dictator Assad kill his own people, attack his own cities from the air and cause massive death and destruction. We did draw an imaginary line in the sand and threatened him with the declaration: “If you use chemical weapons on your own people, there will be consequences.” He used chemical weapons on his own people and killed hundreds, and there were no consequences!

An American Marine Sergeant who served two tours in Iraq in the service of our country made a wrong turn and ended up in Mexico. He had legal weapons in the trunk of his car which caused him to be arrested and put in a filthy jail in Mexico and held captive by the Mexican government for the past three months. We as Americans were frustrated but our elected leaders in our government did absolutely nothing to get him freed. He spent this Independence Day in jail, not knowing what the next day will bring.

We are now allowing thousands of young children shipped from Central and South America via Mexico by human traffickers enter our country illegally because our elected government refuses to secure our borders and allows this potentially dangerous situation to continue.

Nearly 300 young girls were abducted by Boko Haram Islamic Terror group in Nigeria over two months ago; our politicians made passionate speeches and screamed “we want our girls back.” The girls are still missing, and we have done nothing except give speeches.

Five hard-core Al Qaeda terrorists were released to Qatar in order to get back a deserter who left his fellow soldiers in harm’s way and joined the enemy indicating “he hated America and all that she stands for.”

Our sensibilities as Americans are being tested every day.

I believe in America and being an American. I believe that America is an exceptional country. I believe that Americans are exceptional people. Americans are giving people. Americans are humane people. Americans are loving people. Americans are ready to die protecting our principals — to preserve our freedoms as well as other’s freedoms. Americans are ready to protect the weak and help the down-trodden.

One thing we are not is we are not stupid people, and we as a nation will finally see the light. We will see the failure of the leadership and make sure they are no longer in leadership positions. Once again we will lead from the front and not from behind.

Today, as I rejoice in being a citizen of the greatest country in the history of the world, I recall the immortal words of the greatest American President in my life time, Ronald Reagan. They ring true today as they did all those years ago.

“The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound, moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest. You were here to liberate, not to conquer, and so you and those others did not doubt your cause. And you were right not to doubt. You all knew that some things are worth dying for. One’s country is worth dying for, and democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.” — Ronald Reagan, 40th anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Normandy, France

Mr. Reagan, your prayers have been answered; there are many of us who have not lost it; and when called, we will go. When bullied, we will fight, and when asked, we will die for our country and the principals it stands for. And on this exceptional day in America, I will stand on my porch when the fireworks light up the sky and scream at the top of my voice: GOD BLESS AMERICA!

About The Author

Tarik Ayasun is President of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations. Tarik Ayasun turk1949@comcast.net

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D-Day to Disgusting day… http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/06/13/d-day-to-disgusting-day/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/06/13/d-day-to-disgusting-day/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 14:33:30 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=39535 On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. My father-in-law was amongst these men who accepted his duty to his country without hesitation, without question and with deep commitment to the United States of America, his country. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “We will accept nothing less than full victory.”

More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe. More than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded that day, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 soldiers to begin the slow, hard march across Europe to defeat Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Germany.

On the 70th anniversary of this heroic event which changed the history of the world, the United Sates government in a totally disgusting decision negotiated with known terrorists and traded five top Taliban Jihadists from Gitmo in order to win the freedom of a U.S. Army deserter in time of war. These five will without a doubt in my mind return to the battlefield in no time to kill and maim Americans in and out of uniform.

I am totally disgusted, angry and beyond any consolation. I am unable to find the right words to describe my feelings, let alone contribute an article to the Coastal Breeze. Instead, I am going to share the following facts with our readers:

 

Articles of the Unified Code of Military Justice:

Article 85—Desertion

(a) Any member of the armed forces who—

(1) without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently;

(2) quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service; or

(3) without being regularly separated from one of the armed forces enlists or accepts an appointment in the same or another one of the armed forces without fully disclosing the fact that he has not been regularly separated, or enters any foreign armed service except when authorized by the United States, is guilty of desertion.

(b) Any commissioned officer of the armed forces who, after tender of his resignation and before notice of its acceptance, quits his post or proper duties without leave and with intent to remain away therefrom permanently is guilty of desertion.

(c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, but if the desertion or attempt to desert occurs at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct.”

 

Bowe Bergdahl is a deserter and a traitor:

“The US army is the biggest joke the world has to laugh at,” wrote Sergeant Bergdahl in an email in 2009 as published by “Rolling Stone” magazine. “It is the army of liars, backstabbers, fools, and bullies. The few good sergeants are getting out as soon as they can, and they are telling us privates to do the same.”

In the messages, quoted by “Rolling Stone” magazine, he tells his parents: “The future is too good to waste on lies.” He further wrote, “And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong.”

Three days before he went missing, he told his parents: “These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid.”

Bergdahl, who mailed home boxes containing his uniform and books, later added: “I am ashamed to be an American(*). And the title of U.S. soldier is just the lie of fools,” (*The word American was spelled with small letter “a” instead of a capital letter.)

 

What was given up:

To get this America-hating deserter back for reasons we are yet to find out, we sent back the following war criminals and murderers to Qatar:

• Abdul Haq Wasiq: Taliban deputy minister of intelligence

• Mullah Norullah Nori:Senior Taliban commander in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif who commanded insurgents fighting U.S. forces in late 2001

• Khairullah Khairkhwa: Senior Taliban official believed to have ties to Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s founder

• Mohammed Nabi: A regional Chief of Security for the Taliban and eventual radio operator

• Mohammed Fazi: Believed to have overseen the mass extermination of Shiite Muslims during the 2000 – 2001 war that saw the Taliban rise to power in Afghanistan.

The readers will make up their minds as to why this happened.

70 years ago, we were dealing with heroes at every level of our society.

70 years after D-Day, we are dealing with cowards, deserters and traitors at every level of our society.

God Bless America. We shall overcome this too.

 

Tarik Ayasun is president of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations. Tarik Ayasun at turk1949@comcast.net

 


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Boko Haram in Nigeria http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/05/16/boko-haram-in-nigeria/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/05/16/boko-haram-in-nigeria/#comments Fri, 16 May 2014 15:43:20 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=39022 BEYOND THE COAST
Tarik Ayasun
tayasun@taray.com

A10-CBN-5-16-14-16It was April 14, 2014. In the small town of Chibok, Nigeria there was only a small contingent of poorly armed police and soldiers when approximately 200 Boko Haram fighters on motorcycles attacked and raided the Government Girls Secondary School. Vastly outnumbered and badly outgunned, the so called “security forces” fled. Boko Haram forces entered the school and loaded approximately 300 innocent school girls, some as young as nine, into buses and trucks and disappeared into the dark of night. Along the way to the hideout, a number of girls bravely escaped by running away. As of today, 247 young girls remain in the hands of these savages whose leader, Abu-Bakr Shekau, posted a video on YouTube announcing “Allah ordered me to sell these girls. I have girls for sale.”

It has been reported that Nigerian security forces may have been warned that Boko Haram was on the move four hours before the militants stormed the school and kidnapped 300 girls. “But they had neither the soldiers, nor the guts, to take on the Islamic fanatics,” according to a report by Amnesty International. “This abduction could have been prevented,” said Amnesty International spokeswoman Susanna Flood.

Who are these savages? What motivates them? What do they want? What can we do to stop them? Answers to these questions may be obvious to most of us “regular” people, yet when politics and politicians get involved in these matters answers get unnecessarily complicated with fatal results. And as a result of these self-imposed complications we have been in a “response” mode for the last few years rather than a “pre-emptive” mode as we should be.

Who are these savages? Boko Haram was created in 2002 in Maiduguri, the capital of the northeastern state of Borno, by Islamist cleric Mohammed Yusuf who led a group of radical Islamist youth in the 1990s. The group aims to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria which includes the implementation of criminal sharia courts across the country. According to Paul Lubeck, a University of California professor who studies Muslim societies in Africa, Yusuf was a “trained Salafist” (A school of thought often associated with jihad.). The official name of Boko Haram is “Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad,” or “people committed to the propagation of the prophet’s teachings and jihad.” It is, however, widely known as Boko Haram, which colloquially translates into “Western Education is sin.”

The group did not aim to violently overthrow the government before 2009. However, violent clashes between Christians and Muslims and harsh government treatment of their members may have led to the radicalization of the group. Their followers consist largely of impoverished northern Islamic students and clerics, as well as professionals, many of whom are unemployed. In July of 2009, Boko Haram members, who use motorcycles as their main means of transport, refused to follow a “helmet” law. Police responded heavy-handedly and this set off an armed uprising in the northern state of Bauchi; it then spread into the Borno, Yobe and Kano. More than 800 were killed and Yusuf was captured and executed. His execution was televised by the government.

By 2013, Boko Haram was greatly influenced by “al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.” They murdered 65 students while they slept at the agricultural college in Yobe state in September 2013 and beheaded truck drivers on northern Nigerian Roads using chainsaws. In 2014, in the state of Abuja, a bus station was bombed resulting in the deaths of nearly 100 innocent men, women and children. This was the last event before the abduction of the girls.

Boko Haram fighters don’t necessarily follow Salafi doctrine. Many foot soldiers are drawn from impoverished, religious and uneducated youth. Some fighters claim to have been trained in Iran and are part of a Shiite Muslim group while others were involved in other conflicts in Nigeria and the Sahel region and are now caught up in the latest violent extremist group.

What motivates them? One can never be sure. The majority of them are religiously and fundamentally uneducated, extremely poor youth who have been picked up from small villages and trained. They are motivated by their leaders who want to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state and enforce Sharia law under which women are oppressed, pushed aside and used as nothing more than slaves with absolutely no rights at all.

Nigeria is an economic giant in Africa. Oil drives this economy upwards while massive corruption and poor governance drives it down. The wealth does not reach the lower classes of the population and this feeds into the radicalization of the masses. Human Rights Watch said in a 2011 report that “corruption is so pervasive in Nigeria it has turned public service for many into a kind of criminal enterprise.” When such government corruption and perceived or real state of inequality amongst the population exists, a group like Boko Haram uses the growing grievances to promote the idea that an Islamic state would bring a better and more just government to power.

What do they want? Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. With more than 174 million people and nearly 350 ethnic groups speaking 250 languages, the country is split between Muslims and Christians, with 10 percent of the people following indigenous sects. Trying to govern such a diverse country, where the population is basically divided between two major religions, is no easy task. Decisions are not made or implemented in a timely fashion. Everything is subject to dispute since regulations are not followed or ignored. For example, it is generally believed that the dispute over the 2011 election results, which led to more than eight hundred deaths, may also have played a role in Boko Haram’s escalating violence. Experts say many northern Nigerians view the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, as illegitimate, arguing that he ignored an informal power-rotation agreement that should have kept a Muslim as president. According to experts, “political tensions in Nigeria will increase if Jonathan wins the national elections in 2015, or if there are no elections because of the unrest in the North,” Campbell says.

It is now almost certain that Boko Haram has ties to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which operates in northwest Africa, Somalia’s al-Shabab, and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

What can America in particular and the West in general do about Boko Haram? In the short-run we must do everything available to us (sending advisors and experts to Nigeria) to help the Goodluck Jonathan government find the kidnapped girls and free them! This seems to be the only right thing to do. In the long-run, the West, including the U.S. Government, will have to collectively make drastic changes in their thinking and policy-making. Any Jihadist group must be seen and named for what they are: “terrorists.” We must learn to stay away from creating euphemisms when dealing with dangerous people and groups. Calling Boko Haram “freedom fighters” and refusing to name such groups as “terrorists” will only help them flourish and grow. We as Americans and freedom loving people should accept nothing less from our elected government.

A14-CBN-5-16-14-9The State Department under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, following the advice of 52 College Professors and against the advice of career State Department officers and military commanders in the field, fought hard against placing the al Qaeda-linked militant group Boko Haram on its official list of foreign terrorist organizations for two years. In May 2012, then-Justice Department official Lisa Monaco (now at the White House) wrote to the State Department to urge Clinton to designate Boko Haram as a terrorist organization. The following month, Gen. Carter Ham, the chief of U.S. Africa Command, said that Boko Haram “are likely sharing funds, training, and explosive materials” with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. And yet, the State Department declined to place Boko Haram on its official terrorist roster. And now, lawmakers and former U.S. officials are saying that the decision may have hampered the American government’s ability to confront the Nigerian group that shocked the world by abducting hundreds of innocent girls. Secretary of State John Kerry eventually added Boko Haram and its splinter group Ansaru to the list of foreign terrorist organizations in November 2013 following a spate of church bombings and other acts that demonstrated the group’s escalating abilities to wreak havoc.

The U.S. government’s failure to move more quickly to list Boko Haram as a terrorist organization and bring U.S. resources to track and disrupt their activities has had drastic consequences. As it was in the case of Benghazi, misinterpreting events and making politically convenient decisions based on local politics instead of making effective decisions driven by a concern for our national security based on information gathered on the ground has once again had deathly consequences. Four Americans dead in Benghazi and over 200 innocent young girls captured in Nigeria.

As I have done in the past on so many occasions, I am calling on all our leaders to stop making decisions that affect all of us based on their particular ideology, politics or self-aggrandizement. We must all learn to think in broader terms. We should never let organizations like Boko Haram take hold anywhere. Let us all understand that Radical Islam is not just an enemy of Christians and Jews around the world; it is an enemy of all Muslims around the world who want to practice their religion in peace.

Organizations like Boko Haram cannot be supported or viewed with sympathy at any level. Demands for sharia law which demeans and oppresses women should never be taken seriously at any time. It is also time for those who want to choose to regard Boko Haram as a “liberation force” or “freedom fighters” to stop immediately and face reality. Freedom fighters and Liberators do not behead truck drivers with chain-saws, kill agriculture students while they sleep or kidnap young girls from their school dormitories and threaten to sell them as slaves.

The kidnapping of these schoolgirls should not be viewed as an isolated tragedy; this incident reflects a new wave of jihad that extends far beyond Nigeria and poses a mortal threat to the rights of women and girls everywhere.

Today on Mother’s Day, as I write this article with total respect and love for all mothers around the world on my mind, I ask everyone to especially keep the Nigerian mothers whose young daughters are in the hands of savages in their thoughts and prayers…

About The Author

Tarik Ayasun is President of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations.

Tarik Ayasun?turk1949@comcast.net

[email_link]
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We Don’t Need a Guide… http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/04/09/we-dont-need-a-guide/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/04/09/we-dont-need-a-guide/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 17:41:02 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=37938 BEYOND THE COAST
Tarik Ayasun
tayasun@taray.com

There is a common expression in Turkish which roughly translates to “you don’t need a guide to tell you how to get there if you can see the destination.” This expression — which I heard many times as a young man growing up in Turkey — applies well to the situation in Ukraine today. Russia is preparing to invade and annex Ukraine as well as the neighboring country of Moldova. As I have done before, I would like to stress that I am writing this article on Sunday, March 30. The situation is fluid and many things may happen between now and next Friday when the Coastal Breeze is distributed, but as of today, one does not need a guide to tell one that Russia has every intention to invade and annex Ukraine and Moldova.

As it stands today, there are nearly 50,000 Russian troops amassed on Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia. According to intelligence reports, these troops are concealing themselves and establishing supply routes. From a military perspective, this is a classic example of pre-invasion activities. In Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria where Russia already had 1,500 members of their 179th Motor Rifle Regiment, an additional 800 commandos have been brought in to supplement the force. I am sure this is not for conducting a joint military exercise either.

The estimates from international sources are that there are approximately a total of 100,000 Russian troops on the borders of Ukraine. President of Russia Vladimir Putin claims that this is not an invasion force. However, everything points to an invasion of Ukraine which may prove not to be as easy as invading Crimea. There are many factions and groups in Ukraine which may resist an invasion by Russian troops. A referendum similar to the one held in Crimea will not give Putin the results he desires. However, on the other hand, there is no Western resistance, willingness or combined forces in or around Ukraine to stop the Russians from moving forward.

Why is Russia on the move? There are many factors involved; however, for the sake of not giving a complicated or convoluted response, we may stick to the basics. As many of us have painfully come to realize, the foreign policy of the only world power today — the United States of America — is very weak, confusing and possibly non-existent. President Putin knows that other than finger pointing, scholarly advice and some rather weak economic sanctions imposed or to be imposed on Russia by the West, there really are not many clear options. Since the military option was taken off the table at the beginning of the conflict and since no one would like to risk or stomach a world war, we are in a helpless and frustrating position of our own making. Most of our European allies are heavily dependent on Russian oil and gas for their energy needs. Ukraine is not a member of NATO. Ukraine’s efforts to join NATO were shelved after the 2010 election of Viktor Yanukovych. The now-ousted president also backed away from a trade agreement with the EU, which ignited the protests in Ukraine and brought the Russians into Crimea.

Jeff Sahadeo, an associate professor at Carleton University who studies relations in Eastern Europe and Asia, said losing influence in the former Soviet State would be a “real embarrassment” for Putin. “Putin’s end game is to make sure that Ukraine doesn’t become a part of NATO and that’s really the red line that he’s thought about and that’s why he sent these troops,” Sahadeo told CTV’s Canada AM Wednesday.

One should never forget the fact that President Putin was a KGB agent in the old Soviet Union. As such, he understands military moves, the importance of intelligence services and the vital importance of energy strategies, as well as the clear consequences of a growing economy. He was personally devastated when the Soviet Union was disbanded and the old empire was reduced to Russian Federation. There is nothing he would not do to bring Russia back to her former glory as the “other” world power.

What may happen in the days or weeks will depend on the resolve the United States and her allies will show in Europe. Putin’s Ukraine adventure started when the Ukrainians wanted to join the European Union rather than joining Russia’s alternative Eurasian Union. Ukraine’s next door neighbor Moldova also wanted to be identified with the European Union. Putin did not like this one bit, and even imposed a ban on imports of Moldovan wine into Russia last year, only to see the Moldovan government sign an association deal with the European Union. The payback may be coming in the weeks to come, and it may be hellish!

Transnistria is a breakaway part of Moldova which has a majority Russian speaking population. In 2006, they voted to join Russia but were not invited. After the Russians annexed Crimea, they again asked the Russians if they could join. So far, Russia has not replied to this request, and the time may be just right for this to happen now. Another part of Moldova which consists of Russian speaking Turkic people called Gagauz also voted to join Russia if the Moldovan government signed an agreement to join the European Union. This agreement was signed, and it may now be a matter of time for the Russian tanks to appear.

All of the above signs indicate we do not need a guide to tell us what Russians will do next. We can clearly see that Putin will get the rest of Ukraine (at minimal cost), Moldova and Transnistria. Russians presently hold all the cards. We only have to be frustrated and wait and see.

 

About The Author

Tarik Ayasun is President of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations.

Tarik Ayasun?turk1949@comcast.net


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Imagine…No Power…No Peace… http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/03/23/imagineno-powerno-peace/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/03/23/imagineno-powerno-peace/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 01:34:27 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=37547 BEYOND THE COAST
Tarik Ayasun
tayasun@taray.com

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

It is Saturday night, March 15. A bright full moon graces Marco Island. It is the end of yet another beautiful day as I sit in front of my desktop computer writing this opinion piece, with windows in my room wide open to the scents and sounds of nature. It is very peaceful.

It is hard to imagine that somewhere in the horizon there, past the Gulf of Mexico, the mountains and the oceans, Ukrainians are waking up to a miserable day, when a large portion of their country (Crimea) will be separated and annexed into Russia by a ruthless dictator as a result of a sham referendum whose results are known even before the first ballot is cast.

It is hard to imagine that just a few hundred miles south of the Ukraine people are waking up all around Turkey after many days of street demonstrations, where many were injured, against Prime Minister Erdogan who is slowly but surely turning into a dictator.

It is hard to imagine that just a few miles south of Turkey in Syria people are fighting another dictator named Assad who has killed and used chemical weapons on thousands of his own people and continues unabated.

It is hard to imagine that due east and right next door to Syria an Iraqi government headed by President Al-Maliki — which is in power only because more than 3,000 of our young men and women made the ultimate sacrifice to make it happen — is willingly watching his country fall into the hands of Al Qaeda terrorists and Iranian Mullahs.

Nicolas Maduro

Nicolas Maduro

It is hard to imagine that only a few hundred miles due east in Iraq a bunch of Iranian Mullahs are busy working on producing a nuclear weapon to “erase Israel off the map of the world” after successfully fooling America and the West that their efforts are perfectly legitimate and for peaceful purposes only.

It is hard to imagine that due east of Iran in Afghanistan — where more of our sons and daughters blood was shed to get rid of a hoard of ruthless savages called the Taliban — President Hamid Karzai is refusing to sign an agreement to protect the lives and guarantee the safety of 38,000 or so of our troops still in that God-forsaken country trying to maintain peace saving the very Karzai’s rear end.

It is hard to imagine that only a few hundred miles south of Key West in Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro is attacking his own people to maintain a miserably failed Socialist regime brought on by his predecessor President Chavez who is finally smelling the sulfur he so proudly talked about during his various long and boring speeches at the United Nations.

And finally it is hard to imagine that after days and days of searching, using all the modern equipment and tools known and unknown to men, there is no trace of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, a Boeing 777-200ER which vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in the early hours of March 8 with 239 passengers and crew aboard. Terrorism is suspected.

And we sit here totally helpless and powerless to do anything about any of these events. More than anything else, the feeling of helplessness bothers me the most. I ask myself over and over “what happened to the country that won a world war and freed the peoples of Europe from tyrants; invented the Ford assembly line; sent the first man to the moon; is the first to respond to all natural or man-made disasters around the world; possesses the mightiest armed forces; home of Microsoft and Apple?”

Al-Maliki

Al-Maliki

The world is falling apart only because the world lacks a strong America. How did we get to this point in our history? That is a very long discussion for another day; however once one examines the events I listed above, one may come to the same conclusion I came to a long time ago. Without a powerful America willing to show her power intelligently, willingly and sparingly, there will never be peace in the world.

Let us go back to the list above and imagine the following:

Imagine if a powerful and resolute America drew a line and told Assad of Syria that if he crosses this line and uses chemical weapons on his own people that the consequences would be a bunch of cruise missiles raining on him the next day, and when Assad did use the chemical weapons, cruise missiles actually rained down on him?

Imagine if after Assad understood that America was serious when she threatened to do something, and if a powerful and resolute America sent a stern message to Putin and informed him in no uncertain words that his actions will be met with the harshest of the reactions, would Russian soldiers be in the Crimea today?

Imagine if a powerful and resolute America told the Iranian Mullahs that continuing to work on obtaining nuclear weapons will result in America cutting off all financial resources of their regime and totally ruin their economy; and the Mullahs thumbed their collective noses at this threat, yet the next day all financial institutions around the world shut their doors to them and no one purchased their oil. Would they continue to build centrifuges and work on getting a nuclear weapon?

Imagine if a powerful and resolute America informed Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela that unless he stopped killing the demonstrators in the streets whose only wish is to determine their own fate that America will no longer purchase Venezuelan oil (presently we purchase 12 percent of our oil from Venezuela, around $76 million worth per day) which keeps his regime in power; and Maduro knows that this is no idle threat. Do you think he would continue to shoot demonstrating students and workers?

Stop imagining!

Walking on the moon. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Walking on the moon. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

There is no powerful and resolute America today. Neither our friends nor our enemies take us seriously anymore. We are not as powerful as we used to be in their eyes, and we have been reduced to being spectators to the world events. A powerful and resolute America is the only way to real world peace. We may never have to exercise our power; just the mere thought that we may actually exercise it would be a deterrent to the likes of Putin, Maduro, Al Maliki, Assad, Erdogan, Karzai and the Mullahs in Iran.

A powerful America certainly insures world peace; a weak America opens the door to conflicts. We have been here before and we have overcome. We shall overcome this time too.

We are Americans after all. We can, and we will do it!

About The Author

Tarik Ayasun is President of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations.

Tarik Ayasun?turk1949@comcast.net

[email_link]
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Ukraine…. http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/03/10/ukraine/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/03/10/ukraine/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 14:52:20 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=37067 BEYOND THE COAST
Tarik Ayasu
tayasun@taray.com

Putin

Putin

Due to various obligations and travel, I was not going to send in an article to the next issue. However, after spending a sleepless night watching the ongoing events, I wanted to at least inform the readers as to what is going on in Ukraine, and what all this means for us in America.

As I write this article at 6 AM on Sunday, March 2, Russian troops are on the move into Ukraine.

On Friday, President Barack Obama promised “there will be costs” for Russia if the country moved on neighboring Ukraine — although no specifics were cited. In response, Senator John McCain of Arizona said, “It is now essential for the President to articulate exactly what those costs will be and to take steps urgently to impose them.

“Every moment that the United States and our allies fail to respond sends the signal to President (Vladimir) Putin that he can be even more ambitious and aggressive in his military intervention in the Ukraine.”

In the meantime, Russian President Putin declared, “I’m submitting a request for using the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine, pending the normalization of the sociopolitical situation in that country.” Furthermore, Russia’s upper house of parliament recommended that Moscow yank its ambassador from Washington over Obama’s Friday remarks.

One Russian politico accused President Obama of crossing a “red line” (pun intended) with his thinly veiled threats.

Europe. SUBMITTED photoS

Europe. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

During the past few weeks, Ukraine was rocked by pro-Russian protests in several cities, including Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk and Odessa. In Kharkiv demonstrations left 97 people injured as the protesters forced Ukrainian government officials out of their headquarters — and raised the Russian flag above it.

In order to explain the situation in Ukraine, I posted a number of maps along with this article. The location of Ukraine is very important for Russia but much more important to Europe, the West and the USA! Ukraine is a finger pointed at the center of Western Europe, and could easily be the first step in Putin’s dream of re-establishing the Russian Empire by taking over the former Soviet Union territories lost after the end of the Cold War era. I urge the readers to look at these maps and orient themselves as to where Ukraine is and how important it is for the West not to lose this country back into Putin’s hands.

Here is a brief summary of the events which brought us to this moment:

Nov. 21, 2013: President Viktor Yanukovych’s government announces that it is abandoning an agreement that would strengthen ties with the European Union and instead seeks closer cooperation with Moscow. Protesters take to the streets.

Nov. 30, 2013: Police brutally attack a group of protesters, detaining 35. Images of protesters bloodied by police truncheons spread quickly and galvanize public support for the demonstrations.

Dec. 1, 2013: A protest attracts around 300,000 people, the largest in Kiev since the Orange Revolution in 2004. Activists seize Kiev City Hall.

Dec. 17, 2013: Russian President Vladimir Putin announces that Moscow will buy $15 billion worth of Ukrainian government bonds and allow for a sharp cut in the price Ukrainians pay for Russian natural gas. Putin and Yanukovych claim there are no conditions attached.

Jan. 22, 2014: Two protesters die after being hit with live ammunition and the third after a fall during a confrontation between police and demonstrators manning barricades — the first protest deaths.

Jan. 28, 2014: The prime minister resigns and parliament repeals the new harsh anti-protest laws that set off the violence of a week earlier. Both are concessions to the opposition aimed at defusing the crisis.

Jan. 31, 2014: Opposition activist, Dmytro Bulatov, missing since Jan. 22, resurfaces badly bruised and with part of his right ear cut off. He believes a pro-Russia group was behind his kidnapping and torture, raising fears among the opposition that extrajudicial squads are being deployed to intimidate protesters.

Feb. 16, 2014: Opposition activists end their occupation of Kiev City Hall in exchange for the release of all 234 jailed protesters, in what is seen as a sign of progress toward resolving the crisis peacefully.

Feb. 18 2014: Street clashes leave at least 26 people, including 10 police officers, dead and hundreds injured. The violence begins when protesters attack police lines and set fires outside parliament after it stalls on taking up a constitutional reform to limit presidential powers. Russia’s offer the day before to resume payments under the bailout deal also feeds opposition suspicions that Yanukovych has made a deal with Moscow to stand firm against the protesters. Riot police respond to the violence by trying to push protesters off Independence Square.

Feb. 20, 2014: Hours after a truce is announced, fierce clashes erupt between protesters and police with numerous casualties.

Feb. 21, 2014: President Yanukovych signs a compromise deal with opposition leaders, envisaging a new national unity government, constitutional changes to hand powers back to parliament and early elections to be held by December. The deal was brokered by the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland. Sporadic violence continues and in western Ukraine protesters occupying government buildings remain defiant, refusing to recognize the Kiev authorities.

Feb. 22, 2014: Protesters take control of presidential administration buildings without resistance and opposition leaders call for elections on May 25. President Yanukovych is nowhere to be seen and reports emerge that he has left for Kharkiv in the northeast. Parliament votes to remove him from power with elections set for May 25. Yanukovych appears on TV to insist he was lawfully-elected president and denounces a “coup d’état.” His arch-rival, opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, who was jailed for seven years in 2011, is freed and travels from Kharkiv to Kiev.

Feb. 23, 2014: Parliament names speaker Olexander Turchynov as interim president. Turchynov, a close associate of freed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, tells MPs they have until Tuesday to form a new unity government.

Feb. 24, 2014: Arrest warrant is issued for Yanukovych.

Feb. 25, 2014: Turchynov warns of dangers of separatism.

Feb. 26, 2014: Members of the proposed new government appear before demonstrators with Arseniy Yatsenyuk nominated as prime minister. Acting interior minister disbands elite Berkut police unit, blamed for deaths of protesters. Rival protests are held in Crimea.

Feb. 27, 2014: New coalition formed in parliament to unite opposition parties. In Crimean capital Simferopol, pro-Russian gunmen seize key buildings. Yanukovych issues statement through Russian media saying he is still legitimate president.

Feb. 28, 2014: Unidentified gunmen in combat uniforms appear outside Crimea’s main airports, sparking fears of Russian military intervention. At his first news conference since fleeing Ukraine, Yanukovych, now in Russia, insists he remains president and says he opposes any military intervention or division of Ukraine. Prospects for fielding single pro-EU candidate at May 25 presidential election take a knock when contender Vitaliy Klitschko says he has been told by Tymoshenko that she means to stand too. Ukraine’s central bank limits daily foreign currency cash withdrawals.

March 1, 2014: Russia’s parliament approves a request by President Putin to use Russian forces across Ukraine. In response, Ukraine’s acting President Olexander Turchynov puts his army on full alert. Large pro-Russian rallies take place in several Ukrainian cities outside Crimea, including in Kharkiv, the country’s second-biggest city. Western countries express alarm over the Russian deployment. US President Obama holds a 90-minute telephone conversation with Putin, urging him to pull forces back to bases in Crimea. Putin says Moscow reserves the right to protect its interests and those of Russian speakers in Ukraine.

March 2, 2014: A convoy of hundreds of Russian troops heads towards the regional capital of Ukraine’s Crimea region — a day after Russia’s forces took over the strategic Black Sea peninsula without firing a shot.

Russian troops on the march.

Russian troops on the march.

And that brings us up-to-date.

My personal observations and predictions about the situation are very dim and dire.

1. Russia under Putin’s iron hand developed and increased production of their natural resources — namely natural gas and oil — and now holds many Eastern and Western European countries hostage to their oil and gas.

2. Using these resources, Putin was able to build up Russia’s economy and fill up the government’s coffers.

3. Putin has been building up Russia’s military power, adding new aircraft, warships and weapons.

4. Sevastopol, Crimea (check the map), is where Russia has a very important naval facility and warm water port. Putin immediately took control of Crimea to make sure this port is secured.

5. We must remember the ethnic composition of Ukraine in order to understand why it is important to Putin to make his move now. (See map.) The Western part of Ukraine is made up of Ukrainians and only the eastern part is made up of ethnic Russians.

Ukraine

Ukraine

About this point in the article, the readers will be wondering why what happens in Ukraine is important to us here in America.

Ask yourselves this question and you will connect the dots: “Would Putin engage in such an aggressive adventure if he worried about what America would respond with?” My answer is a bold “NO!” As the Russian adventure into Ukraine is in full force, our Secretary of Defense announced massive cuts to our defense budget and proposed to reduce the US military to pre-World War II levels!

A strong America means peace around the world. Our allies and enemies know by now that “lines” drawn by our leaders “not to be crossed without facing consequences” are nothing but totally meaningless, empty threats. Our adversaries are wringing their hands, slapping high-fives and smiling broadly as we unilaterally make these “knuckle-headed” moves to reduce our military might; cut payments and reduce benefits to those who sacrificed all for us; and diminish our powerful nation into just another country.

Can America do anything to change the course of events in Ukraine? The answer is a very sad “no.”

Wake up my fellow Americans before it is absolutely too late!

About The Author

Tarik Ayasun is President of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations.

Tarik Ayasun?turk1949@comcast.net

[email_link]
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Hamid Karzai…Afghanistan…And Others http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/02/21/hamid-karzaiafghanistanand-others/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/02/21/hamid-karzaiafghanistanand-others/#comments Sat, 22 Feb 2014 01:49:21 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=36677 BEYOND THE COAST
Tarik Ayasun
tayasun@taray.com

One of the most difficult aspects of writing an opinion piece on world affairs a week before publication date in order to meet deadlines set by the newspaper is the speed which things can change around the world. What seems to be the most important thing on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 15, may be old news by the morning of Sunday, Feb. 16. Therefore, it is very important to pick a topic which is universal, dynamic and may not change much in a week’s time. Our country’s continuous adventures around the world with the very best of intentions — to bring freedom, democracy, women’s rights and best of all a feeling of self-respect and dignity to the oppressed peoples of the world and inevitably running into corrupt leaders and massive corruption — is one those stories that may not change anytime in the near future. We can probably pick any number of examples on a daily basis; yet because of the events of last week, we will examine Afghanistan and President Hamid Karzai.

General Sisi

General Sisi

We went into Afghanistan immediately following 9/11 with two main goals: to get rid of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and to stabilize the country enough to make sure they can elect their own government and achieve stability. As of today, it seems like neither one of these goals will have been achieved when the last American military personnel along with their Coalition partners leave Afghanistan by the end of this year.

Those of us who are interested in world affairs and their implications on our daily lives here in America were most interested in the events taking place in Afghanistan last week. At the center of all was the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, a complex, well-educated and strong-willed man who has to leave office after the presidential elections which will be held on April 5. The incumbent president will not be eligible to run due to term limits. The registration period for presidential nominations was open from September 16-Oct. 6, 2013. A total of 27 candidates were confirmed to be running for office. However, on Oct. 22, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission disqualified 16 of the candidates, leaving only 11 in the race. Opinion polls as of today show Abdullah Abdullah and Dr. Ashraf Ghani as the front-runners.

Last week, after he unilaterally released 65 Taliban prisoners from jail before they were tried in court and were being held on charges of killing at least 32 Americans, Karzai drew the ire of many around the country and around the world. He was called “a despicable man,” a “crook,” a “common criminal” and was described as “mentally unstable” and “not fit for office.” Obviously, many of these were well-deserved descriptions of a man who was brought into power in Afghanistan by the U.S. and our Western Allies only a short 10 or so years ago and now seems to have turned on us in a publicly embarrassing way.

Hamid Karzai speaking

Hamid Karzai speaking

I thought it would be well worth the time to look into the life and works of this man, who is now considered by many to “have left this planet” and traveled to “another, unknown place!” President of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai was born on December 24, 1957, to a distinguished family in the small village of Karz, located on the edge of Kandahar City in southwest Afghanistan. He was educated in Afghanistan and at the Himachal Pradesh University in India, and is known to be well-versed in several languages, including his native Peshto, Persian, Hindi, French and English. He rose through the political ranks during the turbulent Soviet occupation. In 1980, when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, Karzai traveled to Pakistan to work as a fundraiser supporting the anti-Soviet Mujahedeen fighters’ insurgency. During this time, the Mujahedeen were secretly supplied by the United States, and Hamid Karzai was said to be a contractor for the CIA.

He emerged as a resistance leader under Taliban rule and worked to undermine the regime. He became president in 2004 after American-led forces had overthrown the Taliban in Afghanistan, and was reelected in what is considered to be a “fraudulent election” in 2009, when his only opponent withdrew from the run-off election.

He is an ethnic Pashtun of the Popalzai tribe and has six brothers and one sister. His grandfather, Khair Mohammad Khan, served in the 1919 war for independence, and was deputy speaker of the Afghanistan Senate. Karzai’s father, Abdul Ahad Karzai, was a popular tribal elder and political figure who served as deputy speaker of the Afghan Parliament.

For those who are not familiar with “tribes” and “tribal life,” it is important to emphasize that most countries in the Middle East as well as in Africa are made up of various tribes which preserve their unity and traditions throughout history all the way up to the present day. Tribal leaders are revered and obeyed. Intermarriages between tribes are not allowed, and members of the tribes usually speak local dialects to preserve their identities. Afghanistan is made of many tribes, and the Pashtun Popalzai tribe to which Hamid Karzai belongs has an estimated population of 500,000 members.

As a consequence of the events of last week and the fact that Karzai still refuses to sign the “Security Agreement” with the United States, which was overwhelmingly approved by the Loya Jirga (grand assembly/grand council) of Afghanistan and supported by China, Russia, and the Central Asian countries, as well as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (all of whom either face or fear militant Islam) with only disapprovals coming from the usual suspects Iran, Pakistan and the Taliban, many in the USA and around the world asked themselves the question, “What is Karzai up to?” After all, the US Government funneled nearly $100 billion in aid to Afghanistan through Karzai, not to mention the billions of dollars spent on our military effort to stabilize the country. How much of this money actually ended up in the hands of the people to better their lives and bring their society up to par with the rest of the world? How much of it never left Karzai’s pocket and his secret bank accounts in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates? Only Karzai and his fellow crooks may have the answer to those questions.

Al Qaeda in Fallujah again

Al Qaeda in Fallujah again

As a politician who is not running for office in presidential elections in April, Karzai feels he has to find himself a leadership position after the Americans leave. He naturally worries that America will side with Pakistan to decide who rules Afghanistan after the withdrawal. He does not trust Pakistan and wants to make sure the Taliban do not overrun his country. He has been receiving mixed signals from Washington. He had an explosive private meeting last month with Susan Rice, a national security advisor, and most importantly, President Obama does not talk to him! All this worries Karzai, or at least, he seems like he is worried. Yes, we know he may be a “despicable crook,” but as someone once said, “He is our despicable crook.” And our “despicable crook” after releasing 65 Taliban fighters from jail during a speech at a conference in the capital city of Ankara, Turkey said, “Washington should respect Afghanistan’s judicial authority! Afghanistan is a sovereign country. If the Afghan judicial authorities decide to release prisoners, it is of no concern to the U.S. and should be of no concern to the U.S.! I hope that the United States will stop harassing Afghanistan’s procedures and judicial authority.” That is what we get for “no-strings-attached-do-your-very-best-and-make-everything-better-U.S.-aid” to yet another “leader of a tribal country!”

Obviously, as an American, his words were hard to swallow for me. On the other hand, I thought that we must stop and take a serious look at our own policies of getting involved, with the best of intentions, in the affairs of tribal countries where Democracy is a four-letter word and the sun rotates around a flat world! World history is flush with stories of failed attempts by various world powers who tried to bring these countries into Western-style democracies or Eastern-style socialist regimes! As we think about the events surrounding Afghanistan and Iraq, we should never forget the ultimate sacrifices made by the more than 1,760 brave American men and women in uniform who went to Afghanistan and over 4,000 men and women who did the same in Iraq, as well as the billions of our hard earned dollars in Afghanistan. Most Iraqi war veterans who gave it their all must be sitting in front of their TV sets and watching in total disgust at Al Qaeda flags flying over the very cities they once liberated at great cost!

At this point in time, I am sure the entire world knows that as soon as the last Coalition Force member (which includes around 10,000 Americans) leaves this most dangerous place on earth Afghanistan will fall into chaos. Taliban will be back in full force, maybe this time facing a different foreign force in the form of China, which invested millions of dollars of their money into copper mines, minerals and infrastructure in Afghanistan. Our “despicable crook” Hamid Karzai will be living happily ever after in his villa in Dubai with his family and enjoying all the dollars we so “willingly” and “foolishly” sent to him.

I continue to ask myself the question “when will we ever learn?” We did not learn after spending billions of dollars in Palestine only to make the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat a multi-millionaire with our hard earned dollars invested in his secret Swiss banks and other places where we can’t get to! As you are reading this article, we are probably making many more millionaires of dictators around the world, hoping they will turn their countries around, help their peoples advance and love us in the interim. The formula for them is simple: Ask Uncle Sam to come in and spend money and human treasure; prop their corrupt regime up; and then cut and run before the job is completed because the folks at home are getting restless, complaining about a protracted war with no victory in sight!

But what about us? The ever-loving, ever-giving, good-natured, well-educated, well-fed and well-intentioned Americans? When will we learn to tell those who want us to assist them in turning their miserable countries into western-style democracies before we deploy the first military personnel or load the first pallet of dollars on board the next aircraft, “Yes, we will come and help you, but there will be a heavy price to pay at the end if you choose not to assist us, pocket millions of our dollars or treat us like a bunch oppressors because you have now established yourself as the next dictator! If you co-operate with us and turn your countries into civilized democracies, we will be your best friends; if you do not, we will be your worst enemies, and we will make damn sure that you will not live another day to enjoy the dollars you stole from us.”

Mr. Karzai in Kabul, can you hear me now? Mr. Maliki in Baghdad, can you hear me now? General Sisi in Cairo, can you hear me now?

 

About The Author

Tarik Ayasun is President of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations.

Tarik Ayasun?turk1949@comcast.net

[email_link]

 


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On Biased Media & Biased Education http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/02/07/on-biased-media-biased-education/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/02/07/on-biased-media-biased-education/#comments Sat, 08 Feb 2014 02:19:07 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=36319 BEYOND THE COAST
Tarik Ayasun
tayasun@taray.com

James Baldwin in Istanbul.

James Baldwin in Istanbul.

I spend most my Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings scanning through many foreign newspapers and magazines published either in Turkish or English in order to get a feeling of what the journalists beyond the coast think about the events in our country and interpret these events to their local populations. Some of the stories I am able to read in depth are interesting; others are totally mind-boggling and most just down-right brainwashing!

Obviously, world news, unless sensational and gory, never makes it into our local or national newspapers. As I was going through these stories, it became apparent to me that learning to write and speak English at an early age was the best gift given to me by my forward-looking family. Having been very fortunate to attend a British middle school and an American High School in Istanbul, Turkey, widened my world vision, as well as giving me the unique opportunity to read and learn about things above and beyond what local papers or magazines provided at the time. In the British middle school I attended, we read works by William Shakespeare, Gilbert and Sullivan, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert Louis Stevenson and Aldous Huxley. In the American high school, we were exposed to John Steinbeck, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, Henry David Thoreau and James Baldwin. It so happened that Mr. Baldwin actually lived in Istanbul 1961 to 1971 and lectured in our school as a visiting author. I was one of the very lucky students in my English class to attend a number of his lectures, and learned about another side of life in America which otherwise would have never been available to me. He wrote two novels during what is known as “Baldwin’s Turkish Decade”; “Another Country” (1962) and “The Fire Next Time” (1963).

I went back to Istanbul last September, and with my friends, attended the 150th birthday of my high school — Robert College of Istanbul established in 1863. Students attending Robert College of Istanbul have always been and continue to be exposed to European and American literature as well as literature from all over the world. They learn about different cultures on a daily basis as a part of their course requirements, and are able to get their news from various sources as a direct result of their ability to speak fluent English (and in some cases German and French).

Obviously, one must be cognizant of the fact that if not conducted in a neutral and purely academic atmosphere, this access could also cause the students to develop ideas about other countries or peoples in a biased manner. Other than the required reading of such world classics, students are continuously encouraged to read all available international print media. This is an occasion where I think media bias meets academic bias, and this can result in the “perfect storm” of totally biased opinions. Teachers who have political biases of one way or the other can and do influence young minds and bend them in their preferred direction. A teacher may tell the students in a journalism class to go online and get his or her news from a particular media outlet. If the students do not take it upon themselves to find alternative sources of news, the teacher’s political bias will receive a stamp of approval from the biased media contacted.

James Baldwin on Campus.

James Baldwin on Campus.

A young man in Turkey whom I met in Istanbul last summer spoke fluent English and told me that he gets all his news from one American daily newspaper published in a major city on a daily basis. His opinion and vision of America is totally based on the information he gathers from this newspaper. As a result, this young man considers most Americans as “bullies” and “an uncultured lot” as well as “killers of innocent peoples all over the world in order to achieve world hegemony.” Another young man I met who gets his news from another daily American newspaper was sure “global warming/climate change” was “settled science” (it absolutely is not!) and was totally convinced that the 9/11 attacks were self-inflicted.

On the other side of the equation, many of the local and national Turkish newspapers and television news stations which are close to the present Islamist government of Turkey add fuel to the fire by their continuous “anti-Israel, anti-American” propaganda and made another young man I met a “true hater of America and everything that has to do with Capitalism.” A young woman I met in Istanbul who was a friend of my cousin — a college graduate with a Master’s Degree in English and who teaches at a local college — carried the same exact opinions she developed while getting her “American news” from a right leaning news organization available to her, and was convinced the President of the United States could do no right! Another young lady exclusively got her news from the local affiliate of Al Jazeera TV and found nothing to be liked about America or American institutions. I am sure there were thousands if not millions of young men and women in Turkey who hated America because of the sourcing of their news and lectures of biased teachers and professors.

If you were asked “which Middle Eastern public has the largest percentage of people naming the United States as the country that poses the greatest threat to Turkey?”, what would your answer be? Certainly not Turkey, you would say — a NATO ally and a country that is generally touted as the type of secular, multi-party democracy the United States should foster in the Middle East, which has urged the EU to accept Turkey into membership. Unfortunately, the answer, according to the most recent Pew Global Attitudes Project survey, is Turkey.

Pew found that nearly two-thirds (67 percent) of Turkish respondents named the United States as the country that poses the greatest threat to Turkey in the future. Among the Middle Eastern publics asked the open-ended question by Pew, only in Turkey did a majority name the United States. This may not be enough to prove my point about “biased education and biased media,” but it certainly comes close.

Turkey is also the only Middle Eastern country where public opinion toward the United States has slipped furthest in recent years. Less than one in 10 Turks (10 percent) have a positive view of the United States, a drop of 21 points from the already low level in Pew’s 2002 survey. More than four out of five (83 percent) say their attitude is unfavorable, including 75 percent who feel very unfavorably.

Mark Twain

Mark Twain

The situation may also be the same (in reverse) right here in America where people’s beliefs are solely developed as a direct result of their sources of news. The biased media in America is where the youth get their news as well as through text messages, Facebook and other such social media where “sources” and “facts” are not important at all. A blogger may post a completely fabricated and totally biased story either online or in any one of the social media outlets. It may be sensational. It may be totally fabricated, but it will go viral; and next thing you know, everyone who reads this garbage is a total believer.

I still think a good, solid unbiased education and press are the answers to most of our world’s problems. Unbiased education will open minds, manipulate young brains to search for deeper and deeper sources. Unbiased media will keep people informed and in touch with reality. Total availability of fact-based and unbiased education and media may be our answer to a peaceful and non-aggressive world.

Homer. SUBMITTED photoS

Homer. SUBMITTED photoS

Ask yourselves: when was the last time your son, daughter or grandchild brought home a book by Faulkner, Baldwin or Mark Twain? When was the last time any young person in your home or neighborhood carried on a conversation with you about Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” or Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” or Charlotte Bronte’ classic “Jane Eyre?” I receive literally hundreds of emails a day from people I do not know telling me how the world is about to burn up due to “global warming.” Their sources? The internet and a sensational movie!!! When I tell people in social settings that “in 1964 as a young student in Istanbul, my class and I met with the American author James Baldwin and he discussed his books, race problems in America and his sexuality with us” things which no one else told us at the time, all I get is a blank stare! James who? Granted, not everyone is expected to read Baldwin’s books, but how about Twain, Dickens and others. I will not even bother asking anyone about real classics like Homer (the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey”). I am afraid they will think I am talking about the other Homer — Simpson, that is!

Of course, existence of biased media and prevailing biased education or non-existence of any education or any media are not just American problems; they are world problems and in my opinion the source of most ills that affect us all. As people are dumbed down more and influenced more every day by social media, text messages, twitter accounts, unscrupulous teachers, authors, TV anchors, know-it-all drug infused pompous Hollywood personalities advocating their biased and fact-free “opinions,” there will always be hatred, wars and conflicts around the world.

Education, education, education.

I have recently been told by a professor in one of our local colleges that he conducted a poll amongst the students. The poll consisted of a single question. Are you in favor of ObamaCare or the Affordable Care Act? Believe it or not, ObamaCare won the day 70 percent to 30 percent. Needless to say, both ObamaCare and the Affordable Care Act are one and the same thing. Unfortunately, most of these same students are also voters.

A future based on less-than-desirable, totally biased media exposure and a lack of proper education for the masses is not too bright for America in particular and the world in general.

Get involved!

 

About The Author

Tarik Ayasun is President of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations.

Tarik Ayasun?turk1949@comcast.net

[email_link]
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http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/01/24/35927/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/01/24/35927/#comments Fri, 24 Jan 2014 20:49:49 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=35927 BEYOND THE COAST
Tarik Ayasun
tayasun@taray.com

Benghazi dead

Benghazi dead

It has been more than a year since our consulate in Benghazi was attacked by Al-Qaeda associated terrorists (Ansar-Al Sharia/Partisans of Sharia Law) and our Ambassador was assassinated along with two former Navy Seals and a State Department employee. To date, no one has been arrested and all 15 Libyans who cooperated with the investigation and knew full details of the planned attack have been killed.

Last week, a disgraceful report was published by a Congressional Committee composed of Democrats and Republicans which looked like a high-school student’s term paper trying to please the teacher while skirting around the real issues. This proved my long-time belief that the elected officials in Washington are all members of the same team wearing different uniforms. I am no longer disappointed; I am filled with righteous indignation!

When our Government sent my daughter and son-in-law wearing United States Marine Corps uniforms into combat in Iraq back in 2003, they went there because they believed they were protecting us. The American people and I had a reasonable expectation that our government would protect them regardless of costs, ideology or personal agendas of the politicians of the day.

I no longer have the same reasonable expectation. I believe the people in Washington who send our sons and daughters to fight wars in foreign countries will abandon them when the heat is turned on — just to save their own butts. The top official in the State Department is the Secretary of State, who is responsible for protecting the lives of our embassy and consulate officials in foreign lands. The Secretary reports to his or her boss, and that happens to be the President.

The buck should have stopped there; however, in this case it did not! Four great Americans were killed in the service of their country, and all Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could utter (waving her arms in Hollywood-esque disgust and staged indignation) was “the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?”

Let me tell you something Madam Secretary: It makes a hell a lot of difference to me as a citizen that four of my countrymen were killed by terrorist while serving our country under your orders and your full responsibility, and you did absolutely nothing to protect them except to try and cover up your mistakes in the aftermath because you were concerned about an impending election! That was probably the most selfish and unacceptable act by any American politician of any political persuasion in the history of this country. As long as I have anything to do with it, I promise it will never happen on YOUR watch again!

What happened in Benghazi is very clear to me, and I hope it is very clear to the rest of my fellow Americans. Let us go through the events one more time in case some have forgotten or some have taken Secretary Clinton at her word that it does not make a difference!

Ambassador Stevens

Ambassador Stevens

On March 28, 2012, Ambassador Cretz sent a cable to Secretary of State Clinton requesting additional security assets. On April 6, 2012, terrorists threw an IED over the consulate wall in Benghazi. Six days later, a cable was sent from the State Department to Cretz signed by Secretary Clinton refusing the request for security, instead suggesting a pared-down plan. In May 2012, terrorists attacked Red Cross and warned the Americans about an impending attack. On May 6, 2012, terrorists blew a large hole through the consulate gate. During the month of May 2012, the British Ambassador in Benghazi survived an assassination attempt, and Al Qaeda forces rallied in the streets. Ambassador Chris Stevens warned the State Department that extremist groups were openly operating in the streets of Benghazi and other places in Libya.

In July 2012, a State Department official “demanded” that no further requests for additional security be made from the Embassy in Libya! Later on, Ambassador Stevens requested at least 13 more security personnel citing the “unpredictable” situation in Libya. Regional Security Official Nordstrom warned the State Department that risk to U.S. officials in Libya was “HIGH.”

On August 2, 2012, Ambassador Stevens sent a cable to Secretary Clinton, requesting “protective detail bodyguard.” In response, the State Department “removed” the ambassador’s security team. Yes, this is not a misprint; the State Department removed the ambassador’s security team. This act alone after the receipt of the cable from the ambassador should be totally unacceptable, and makes one wonder what Secretary Clinton was thinking (or not thinking in this case). Ambassador Stevens’ security team departed Libya on the August 8. The regional security official sent an email to Secretary Clinton’s office warning of “dire security situation” in Benghazi on August 16.

On Sept. 6, 2012, President Obama closed his speech to the DNC with, “Al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead!” On Sept. 10, Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri called for Libyans to avenge the death of his deputy, Abu Yahya al-Libi.

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2012, Ambassador Stevens sent a cable to the State Department warning of deteriorating security situation in Benghazi. The last act of Ambassador Stevens was to meet with the visiting Turkish Ambassador. This event has not been publicized, investigated or highlighted as much as it should have been. The reason for the meeting was to make the final agreement on the shipment of arms collected from the streets and warehouses in Libya to Syria via Turkey. The arms were destined for the anti-Assad forces, but Al Qaeda wanted them to go to their fighters in Syria. Sending the arms against the will of Al Qaeda in Libya infuriated the terrorists, and may have actually been an additional spark for the attack on the consulate.

It may be important to repeat once again that the president’s and the State Department’s efforts to blame the attack on a silly anti-Islam video, which had not been even seen in Libya, was completely false and a total fabrication. It was done to protect those who grossly failed in their duty to protect our citizens abroad regardless of the reasons or situations. It was a classic case of a cover-up, which should make every single citizen of this country sick to their stomachs and never put irresponsible people in responsible positions ever again!

I will not repeat the gory events of the day on Sept. 11, 2012. A very significant day, the anniversary of the first attack on our country by terrorists when extra-ordinary measures should have been taken to protect ALL our citizens EVERYWHERE! And they were not!

An old Turkish expression states: “Fish start to stink from the head.” And stink from the head it did on Sept. 11, 2012. Yes, it has been more than a year since the event; yes, all kinds of usual promises to “find and punish the terrorists responsible” were made and not kept; yes, there will be other attacks as soon as we let our collective guards down; and yes, there will be irresponsible “journalists” of major newspapers who will write long and false reports going back to the “video” theory and try to rewrite history for political gains and ideological reasons.

All I am asking from my readers is to always check the facts. Never trust ideologically inspired politicians regardless of their party affiliations. Connect the dots, and always be on the side of the truth.

Think America first.

About The Author

Tarik Ayasun is President of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations.

Tarik Ayasun?turk1949@comcast.net

[email_link]

 


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What the World Needs Now… http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/01/12/what-the-world-needs-now/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/01/12/what-the-world-needs-now/#comments Mon, 13 Jan 2014 02:33:26 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=35707 BEYOND THE COAST
Tarik Ayasun
tayasun@taray.com

A10-CBN-1-10-14-2After a self-imposed exile of nearly three months from Coastal Breeze News, I am back. If you are as interested as I am in the affairs of the world in general and the Middle East in particular, you would also have been as angry as I was to the point where I could no longer write and put intelligent, logical and sensible sentences and thought on paper.

I am hoping 2014 will be a much better year for the world than 2013; although presently, I am not very optimistic.

Towards the end of last year, I was sick of hearing lies, empty promises and more lies and empty promises from our very own politicians who parade as “statesmen”, (a self-aggrandizing description of one if one ever existed). I was sick of watching all the so-called “world-leaders” whose only interest was to grab and stay in power at any cost. I was sick of reading articles written by re-writers of history in the so-called “American mainstream press”. I was so sick of it all that I simply refused to write what I really felt like writing about. Anything I tried to put on paper sounded harsh, ugly and angry, even though it was all very true and factual. So I took a few months off from writing for Coastal Breeze to sit back, calm down and reflect — mostly concentrating on my business, civic and social activities. However, I never stopped reading, researching and communicating with my contacts all around the world during this period. It is dangerous for someone with my passion for world affairs to just go fishing, watch soccer and basketball games on TV day-in-and-day-out and shut myself off from everything that is taking place all around the world. I am afraid I may implode and go to see the 72 virgins!!!

So here I am, back to my beloved Coastal Breeze, ready to give the readers an alternative opinion on world affairs, without seeking power, money or a higher position. Just my opinions based on facts and many years of closely and curiously following events that shape our world.

A quick recap of 2013 may help the reader connect the dots and come up with their own conclusions as to what 2014 will bring our way.

The year started off with the French Military’s intervention into Northern Mali in early January where al-Qaida affiliate Islamist group “Ansar Dine” (Translation: Helpers of the Religion) had taken over and started methodically to kill and chase non-Muslims from the area. This was followed by the deaths of 39 international workers in the hands of terrorists in a hostage crisis at a natural gas facility near In Amenas, Algeria.

In March, Central African Republic President Francois Bozize (who himself had seized power by force in 2003) fled to Cameroon via the Democratic Republic of the Congo after rebel forces captured the capital city of Bangui and eventually requested asylum in the country of Benin.

In April, two Chechen Islamist brothers carried on a terror attack during the Boston Marathon resulting in the deaths of three and causing severe injuries and maiming 264. This was an undeniable act of home-grown domestic terrorism right in our backyard and in plain view of millions.

In June, Edward Snowden, a mid-level worker at the NSA, fled the country with top-secrets which will inevitably help destroy America’s ability to gather intelligence around the world and help terror organization to reorganize their methods and most probably cost American lives here and abroad. Snowden is presently living in Russia, disclosing more and more secret information he possesses while searching for a USA-hating country to grant him asylum. He is no ordinary, garden variety “whistle-blower”, as some want to make him. He is a traitor, and should be dealt as such as soon as he is captured and brought back to America.

One of the most explosive events of 2013 was the removal of Muslim Brother Leader and elected President of Egypt Mohamed Morsi from office by the Egyptian Military after he started to turn Egypt into an Islamic Republic under a new constitution based on Sharia Law. A total lack of leadership in international affairs is exposed within our government when USA remains undecided or unable to make a decision whether to support the military or not. As a result, the situation in Egypt is still unsettled and may be a major concern in 2014.

In September, Al-Shabaab militants attacked a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya, killing 62 and wounding 170 innocent civilians — men, women and young children. Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahedeen (HSM) (“Mujahedeen Youth Movement” or “Movement of Striving Youth”), more commonly known as al-Shabaab, meaning “The Youth”, “The Youngsters” or “The Boys”, is a jihadist group based in rural parts of southern Somalia. They are also a cell of the militant Islamist terror organization Al-Qaida (which was falsely reported to have been taken out of existence by the “leaders” in our government).

In late November of 2013, Iran agreed to “limit” their nuclear development program in exchange for “sanctions relief”, and immediately received around $7 billion which had been held under the sanctions. Let us not fool ourselves; the Mullahs in Iran have no interest whatsoever in making any deals with the USA or the West, and this was one of the most unfortunate moments of the year when our government de-facto abandoned our long time and only ally in the Middle East, Israel. As someone well known to all of us once said, “there will be hell to pay” for this misguided decision.

Based on the above mentioned events of the past year, 2014 is going to be a very interesting year in the area. From Libya to Egypt, from Israel to Iran, from Afghanistan to Pakistan, from India to Syria and Lebanon and Turkey, the area is ripe for explosive changes and unpredictable events.

I have looked into various countries and their problems in Africa, Middle East, Far East, Europe and South America. One common thread explains most of their problems; a lack of local and world leadership. The world is now clearly suffering from a lack of strong leaders everywhere. We are witnessing politicians who are interested in their own well-being, own wealth and power running most of the countries around the world. We do not see a JFK, Roosevelt, Truman, De Gaulle, Mandela or Reagan anywhere around the world. Starting from our own backyard, all we see are a bunch of short-sighted, self-serving morons and buffoons parading as world leaders, ruining economies, cultures and countries. As long as this trend continues, I see no solutions to any of the problems we are now and will be facing in the coming months and years.

In the coming issues, I am going to examine the prevailing situations in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in detail. In the meantime, I would like to urge the readers to take a few moments of their day to at least surf the internet and read about what Putin in Russia is up to; or what the leaders of Europe are doing; or the severe crisis enveloping the present government in Turkey and what it means for the future of the local area as well as our interests in the Middle East; or the situation with the nuclear ambitions of Iran and why the so called agreement we signed only helped the Mullahs in Iran gain time in their quest to get nuclear weapons; or what is happening in Israel or the problems the Palestinians are presently experiencing. All the above situations are one way or the other related to poor or non-existent local and world leadership.

If some of us choose to live our lives locally and never worry about what goes on in Mali, Philippines, Indonesia, Central African Republic, Mozambique, Egypt, Iran, Israel and elsewhere, that is okay with me. However, if some of us have no interest in why the Israelis are worried about Iranians having a nuclear weapon or whether Al-Qaida is dead or alive; or if some of us do not care that our Ambassador to Libya is assassinated and all the main responsible person would utter was: “what does that matter now?” I am not OK with that under any circumstance. I must warn those of us who think “what happens in Syria, Iran, Israel or Lebanon stay in Syria, Iran, Israel or Lebanon” that sooner or later they are going to find out that the terrible outcomes of these problems will be at our very own doorsteps. We may not be living in Israel and we may never understand the average Israeli’s worries and priorities; however that should not preclude us from at least investigating, finding out and developing our own opinions about the situations. We as Americans should never feel at ease just because none of our neighbors want to erase us off the face of the world map or blow themselves up in our shopping centers, churches or synagogues. Please remember that we are all in this together, and we are just as vulnerable at all times.

What the world needs now are real local and international leaders to lead their countries. We do not need a bunch of corrupt, double-talking politicians to be considered as “world leaders”. I am still hopeful that we will all soon wake up to this reality and support and help bring to positions of influence “true leaders” who care for the well-being of the citizens of their own countries as well as the citizens of the entire world community; and do away with the promise-everything, do-nothing, wriggle-out-of-trouble at any cost con-artists as leaders of anything.

More to come …

Have a great 2014!

 

About The Author

Tarik Ayasun is President of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations.

Tarik Ayasun?turk1949@comcast.net

[email_link]

 


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Stormy Seas Ahead http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/09/04/stormy-seas-ahead/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/09/04/stormy-seas-ahead/#comments Wed, 04 Sep 2013 15:32:46 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=33632 BEYOND THE COAST
Tarik Ayasun
A10-CBN_9-6-13-3A very smart and successful businessman from Turkey who was my classmate at Robert College of Istanbul recently sent me the following paragraph:

“A short guide to the Middle East”

“Iran is backing Assad. Gulf States are against Assad!

Assad is against Muslim Brotherhood.

Muslim Brotherhood and Obama are against General Sisi of Egypt.

But Gulf States are pro General Sisi!

Which means they are against Muslim Brotherhood! Iran is pro Hamas, but Hamas is backing Muslim Brotherhood! Obama is backing Muslim Brotherhood, yet Hamas is against the USA.

Gulf States are pro USA.

But Turkey is with Gulf States against Assad.

Yet Turkey is pro Muslim Brotherhood against General Sisi.

And General Sisi is being backed by the Gulf States!

Welcome to the Middle East and have a nice day.”

I believe he picked this out from a Washington Post article by Max Fisher who is the Post’s foreign affairs blogger. And it is absolutely brilliant! For those who are totally confused as to what is happening in the Middle East in general and Syria and Egypt in particular; I am absolutely sure that this will add to their confusion. But such is life in the Middle East and it has been this way for centuries. Conflicts have never been fully resolved; alliances are never too clear and enemies and friends are interchangeable depending on who is giving whom what and when…

The situation in Syria presented a very difficult dilemma for the President of the United States. As Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet famously declared “To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles.” The President has had a difficult time deciphering the Middle East puzzle, having great difficulty deciding what to do based on his ideological beliefs versus the ugly reality on the ground. With our recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with his well-documented views and comments about those two wars, Syria and Egypt are now hanging over his head like the “Sword of Damocles’(*)” as he vacillates between “act or not to act!” Oh! How history has a way of repeating itself!

The British Parliament just voted against the wishes of their Prime Minister and decided not to get involved in Syria. They declared that nothing should be done until the egg-headed, anti-American, anti-Democracy bureaucrats from all over the world at the United Nations move at turtle-speed and approve and support any collective action against the murderous regime of Bashar Assad, knowing well in advance that such a move would definitely be vetoed by Russia or China.

I also suspect that the British parliamentarians were pretty worried about how their ever growing anti-West, anti-British Muslim population would react should any British military action be taken against a Muslim country, regardless of the actions of a dictator who did not hesitate to use chemical weapons against his own population: men, women and children. In other words. our major ally chickened out!

The US President, after doing nothing for two years and after 100,000 or more senseless murders of Syrians, finally decided to lob a few cruise missiles which will probably end up taking down some military command and control centers which are now heavily filled with human shields made of women and children in order to present gruesome photos of “brutality and murder” committed by the Imperialist American regime!

I for one am against any action of this sort by our President because it serves no purpose other than producing more dead people and wasting American dollars on very expensive missiles, not mention the possible loss of more precious lives of our brave men and women in uniform. Yes, it will temporarily take our attention away from the daily grind of watching the national debt climb to historic highs, the usual comical debates on raising the debt ceiling, an economy that is not recovering and the tragic story of millions of jobless Americans who are no longer searching for that elusive American Dream. However, it will serve no military purpose, will not affect our national security or help a political solution in Syria.

Syria is very important strategically, economically and politically to Russia and their diminutive dictator Putin. It is their main client state in the area, and they enjoy all the amenities of a naval sea-port facility in the City of Tartus – the only Russian military port in the Mediterranean. Russia has supported the brutal socialist Baas Party regime of both father and son Assad for over 40 years. They are not easily going to give up their support for Assad and the Tartus naval base just because 100,000 people were killed by this regime and over 1,000 have just been targeted and murdered by chemical weapons just because America chooses to lob a few cruise missiles into Government buildings and military installations.

Syria is also very important to Iran for many more reasons. It is their short cut to the Mediterranean as well as their client state, Lebanon, and their main supply lines to the terrorist organization Hezbollah. Over the past few years, it is estimated that Iran spent more than two billion dollars supporting Hezbollah’s activities in Lebanon and their actions against Israel.

The real victims. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

The real victims. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Maybe things are leading to a massive clash in the Middle East after all; the likes of which we have not experienced in our lifetimes. Maybe not! By the time this issue is published we may have witnessed a politically correct cruise missile attack into Syria. And again, maybe not!

After what happened to USS Cole, to our Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on the World Trade Centers in New York on September 11, 2001 and to our Ambassador and three brave men in Benghazi, I have lost all confidence in the abilities of the people we look to as our leaders, regardless of their party affiliation. They remind me of a bunch of inexperienced and clueless professors, lost in an environment away from their ivory towers. Ideologues who never held real jobs in real life, now pretend to be captain and sailors of this magnificent ship we call America, trying to navigate through very stormy seas. Good luck!

Welcome to the Middle East and have a nice day!

 

About The Author

Tarik Ayasun is President of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations.

Tarik Ayasun?turk1949@comcast.net

[email_link]

 

 

*The story goes that Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse, had a courtier named Damocles who was more or less a professional flatterer who laid around these opulent feasts saying nice things to Dionysius.

And once, he made a comment to the effect of, “Oh, how great it would be to be the king.” And Dionysius said, “Oh, really? Well, if you want to know what that’s like, you can come sit in my throne.” Of which Damocles did, and Dionysius made sure that he was well supplied with opulent food, great service, cute waiters, beautiful perfumes and scented candles.

Damocles was thinking to himself how very wonderful it all is when, suddenly, he noticed that Dionysius had also hung above the throne a gleaming sword, which was suspended by a single horsehair. He then begged Dionysius to be allowed to leave the throne and to go back to his subservient position as a courtier. He obviously got the point – which is that anybody who gets to enjoy immense power is also living under a constant threat.


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The Chong Chon Gang http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/07/30/the-chong-chon-gang/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/07/30/the-chong-chon-gang/#comments Tue, 30 Jul 2013 14:24:46 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=33033 BEYOND THE COAST
Tarik Ayasun
tayasun@taray.com

CBN_A10-1The Chong Chon Gang is a 450 foot, non-descript aging tramp steamer carrying the Democratic Republic of North Korea flag. When it was stopped by Panamanian authorities on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal last week, it was quite obvious that the cargo manifest she was carrying was as phony as the word “Democratic” in the name of her country of origin. The “Gang” was officially carrying 10,000 tons of Cuban sugar packed in 200,000 white sacks from Cuba to North Korea. She was stopped by swift Panamanian patrol boats who were responding to an allegation of drugs on board this ship which was built in 1977 and was ill prepared to make the long ocean passage. The conditions within the ship were beyond horrible and despicable. The crew quarters were not air conditioned; they were moldy, filthy, smelled of urine and black tobacco and bug infested according to the reports. Her crew of 32 first resisted the take-over by the Panamanian authorities and according to local sources “put up a fight” not to let go of control. However, they were convinced that this was for local consumption back home where families of all seamen in the North Korean fleet are held hostage and could be subjected to torture and worse if the leadership determines they did not resist. The ship’s captain actually tried to kill himself by slashing his own throat during the take-over and said to have suffered a non-fatal heart attack. The Captain and the crew are now enjoying air-conditioned, clean rooms at the Panamanian base where they are being held.

200,000 sacks of sugar. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

200,000 sacks of sugar. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

This was not the first time the “Gang” was in trouble with international authorities. The Stockholm Peace Research Institute reported that she was stopped on suspicion of carrying drugs and ammunition. She was also stopped in Ukraine back in 2010 for unspecified reasons. The “Gang” was attacked by pirates in the Arabian Sea in 2009 and two of her sailors were injured according to the Lloyds List’s vessel report. That year, she had made an unscheduled stop at the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean coast which is home to the only Russian military naval base outside of Russia. “Gang’s” registered owner is North Korean State run Chongchongang Shipping Co. Ltd. Records indicate that during the last few years she made stops at Kenya, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Turkey, Iran and Jordanian port of Aqaba.

In short, this vessel has been going around the world for a long time and making stops at some of the world’s most intriguing hot spots. Her last voyage before being stopped in Panama, started on April 12, 2013 when she departed the Russian port of Vostochnyy. Her whereabouts immediately after departure are not clear. Her crew switched off the ship’s signaling apparatus which notifies the international Automatic Identification System (AIS) that allows global maritime authorities to know the locations of ocean-going vessels. It is widely reported that while it is mandatory for all large vessels to keep the signaling system on at all time; many do not for various reasons and are not prosecuted for lack of prosecutorial authority. “Gang” next appeared on the AIS tracking on May 31 in Balboa, Panama, 7,500 nautical miles away. On June 1, 2013 “Gang” made her passage through the Panama Canal with a stated destination of Havana. As soon as she passed through the Canal however, she disappeared from the tracking system once again. The vessel arrived at the Atlantic Coast entrance to the Panama Canal at the port of Manzanillo on July 11 with a stated destination of North Korea.

The ship was seized by the Panamanian authorities immediately upon arrival and her cargo hold was opened. Under 200,000 sacks of Cuban sugar 4 or 5 shipping containers (40) were discovered which were not on the ship’s official manifest. Upon unloading and opening these containers, Panamanian authorities were surprised to find two anti-aircraft missile systems, nine missiles in parts and spares, two MiG-21 jets and 15 engines for MiG-21’s. There may be more containers in the other holds of the ship since only one was opened and examined at this writing. It is now indicated that sophisticated equipment is being shipped in from the USA which will allow the authorities to search the entire ship for weapons, drugs and other items not appearing on the official manifest.

Defense system parts.

Defense system parts.

In order to complete the story and examine what this means to us here in America, we must also add that another ship from N. Korea, 390 foot Oun Chong Nyon Ho, made a similar trip to Cuba from North Korea last year. International agencies have reported unidentified North Korean flights to Cuba traveling through central African air space earlier this year.

Cuban authorities did not deny the existence of the weapons on the “Gang” indicating these were being sent to N Korea for refurbishing and updating since they were of 1950’s vintage. However, they were not too clear as to why the cargo was not on the manifest and why it was hidden under 200,000 sacks of Cuban sugar with an estimated market value of $ 3.2 million dollars.

This probably is only the tip of a much larger iceberg. North Korea is desperately in need of currency to purchase goods to keep her populations fed; Cuban government is cash-strapped and may be paying for North Korean’s service in sugar. Despite all efforts by the United Nations, United States and some European allies weapons transfers between rogue regimes take place on a daily basis. Some analysts declared that the weapons found on the “Gang” were obsolete! Don’t believe a word of this. Weapons are weapons and they can always be upgraded to meet today’s needs and may be used in threatening neighbors as well as the rogue state’s own populations. Cuba is only 90 miles south of us and the infamous missile crisis (the most dangerous moment in human history) is only about 50 years old. We should see the “Gang” incident as a warning to all who care that North Korea could be supplying weapons to Cuba!

SA-2-missle defense.

SA-2-missle defense.

This is not a far-fetched idea since Russia is no longer interested in upgrading the aging weapons systems and armaments in Cuba coupled with the strained relations between China and North Korea. Despite all the wonderful messages being sent around the world by elite sympathizers of these two last official Communist regimes, they are both falling apart.

They are out of cash and can’t afford new weapons in the case of Cuba and enough food to feed their own population in the case of North Korea. Desperate nations do desperate things. The readers should keep their eyes and ears open to the events taking place in Panama to determine if the “Gang” incident was a “one-off” or “one of many.”

About The Author

Tarik Ayasun is President of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations.

Tarik Ayasun?turk1949@comcast.net

[email_link]
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Revolution… Coup… What’s next? http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/07/13/revolution-coup-whats-next/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/07/13/revolution-coup-whats-next/#comments Sat, 13 Jul 2013 18:51:15 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=32744 BEYOND THE COAST
Tarik Ayasun
tayasun@taray.com

Egyptian presidential handover aftermath.

Egyptian presidential handover aftermath.

After reading as many news articles as possible and watching most news channels for updates about the events in Egypt, I asked myself if anyone was surprised about the most recent events in Egypt. Readers may recall my article about Egypt during the Arab Spring; I was cautiously optimistic about democracy’s arrival in Egypt yet more than a little pessimistic about the identity of the revolutionaries. Having seen members of the Muslim Brotherhood amongst the demonstrators waving their Korans in the air was enough to give me that “fly in the soup” feeling.

I always had great reservations about the Muslim Brotherhood takeover of the Egyptian government. When free elections were finally held and the Brotherhood’s favorite Mohammed Morsi was elected President of Egypt, my worst fears were realized. The “democratically elected” President Mr. Morsi wasted no time in changing the constitution to one that favors Sharia Law; staffing every governmental office with members of the Brotherhood and replacing some high ranking officers of the Egyptian military with followers of the Brotherhood, I knew he was trying to turn Egypt into an Islamic Republic as fast as he possibly could. Seemingly backed by a confused and ideologically challenged US State Department, Mr. Morsi acted in haste, assuming he might have had more support than he actually had. He tried to accomplish what Prime Minister of Turkey Mr. Tayyip Erdogan, an Islamist himself accomplished in ten years; steering his country away from the West towards a Republic favoring Islamic law turning back years of secular rule by constitutional governments.

Interim President Mansour.

Interim President Mansour.

Mr. Morsi may have done himself a favor had he taken the time to study recent Turkish history and taken a few pointers from Mr. Tayyip Erdogan. Having been popularly and democratically elected in 2003, Mr. Erdogan has won two more elections since, always receiving ever increasing plurality of the popular vote. In total contrast to Mr. Morsi in Egypt, Mr. Erdogan did not act in haste to change things overnight. He took his time replacing a stagnant economy with a vibrant and growing one, making sure the middle class thrived while the working class started to see the light at the end of a long, dark corridor they had been traveling through for the past eighty or so years.

He achieved all this while at the same time slowly but surely destroying the power structure of the most revered Turkish Military which intervened numerous times between 1960 and 2000 to overthrow both extreme left and extreme right elected governments in Turkey to restore democracy and order. He eliminated the threat of a possible or pending military coup by jailing top commanders of the military under false and unproven allegations.

Using his charisma and ability to give fiery speeches which may be a product of his Imam School education, Mr. Erdogan has been able to hang on to power in Turkey. Most recently by using overwhelming police power against the demonstrators during the Gezi Park demonstrations in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey, Mr. Erdogan may have temporarily or permanently gained the upper hand in the struggle to hold his course.

Egyptian leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.

On the other hand, the Egyptian military pretty much stayed out of the Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring demonstrations, seemingly not taking sides and after Mr. Mubarak, the longtime strong-armed President of Egypt was removed, had retained most if not all of their power. The Egyptian Generals therefore positioned themselves as the saviors of the country when Mr. Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government faltered and anti-Morsi demonstrations filled Tahrir Square as well as the streets of all major cities in Egypt showing dissatisfaction with a government unable to deal with day to day realities of a sinking economy, joblessness and fast increasing poverty.

While removing a democratically elected government from office by military force is not universally liked or accepted in the West regardless of the situation or reason; it may not be viewed in the same light in the Middle East. People in general trust their military, seeing them above and beyond the political fray and as defenders of the constitution and country against all enemies and evil from within as well as from abroad. In the case of Egypt, the same crowds now cheering the ouster of Mr. Morsi may possibly be the same crowds which only a year ago chanted for the ouster of Mr. Hosni Mubarak and they back the actions of the military.

What changed in Egypt in only a year? Most importantly, Mr. Morsi was not ready to govern a country as large as Egypt based on his Islamic ideology only! Egyptian economy sunk to an all time low under the Morsi rule; tourism declined rapidly; from the camel herders and tourist guides who work around the pyramids to major businessmen in Alexandria and Cairo; people lost their jobs and wealth, and started to suffer in real time.

Muslim Brotherhood protesters.

Muslim Brotherhood protesters.

This is in contrast to the situation in Turkey where the economy flourished under the pro-Islamist rule of Mr. Erdogan who made sure the businesses performed and employment remained comparatively low. While the dissatisfaction with the ruling party in Turkey is based mostly on ideological grounds, the dissatisfaction with the ruling Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt seemed to be on strictly economical grounds. One out of every two voters in Egypt initially supported the MB candidates for election based on their dissatisfaction with the dictatorial rule of Hosni Mubarak and the momentary yet colossal fervor of the Arab Spring. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt which had been oppressed for almost 80 years by different Presidents and governments saw the Arab Spring as their most important opportunity to take over the country. They carefully hid their identities during the heady days of the Tahrir Square demonstrations and came into power after the first elections following the ouster of the Mubarak government.

At the time of the writing of this article, the military in Egypt seems to be in control. However, this can change at any moment as the Brotherhood slowly gets over the shock of losing power and hits the streets. There could be some bloody events in store for Egypt in the coming days and weeks. It was interesting (but not surprising to the author) to note that Turkish Government as well as some in the US political scene have already condemned the coup and threw their support behind Mr. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood while most Arab countries in the Middle East applauded the actions of the Egyptian military…

What is in store in the days to come in Egypt?

For the immediate future of Egypt, the Army issued the following post-Morsi roadmap:

• Constitution to be suspended temporarily and interim president sworn in

• “Strong and competent” civilian technocratic government to be installed

• Supreme Court to pass a draft law on parliamentary election and prepare for parliamentary and presidential polls

• A “Charter of Honor” to be drawn up and followed by the media.

• Measures taken to empower young people and to establish a national reconciliation committee.

Obviously, this all sounds very good and hopeful. However, those who have been through this experience in 1960, 1971, 1980, 1993 and 1997 in Turkey know that all the best intentions and roadmaps of a Military coup can go wrong once the Generals in charge face realities of life outside their bases, are faced with uncertainties of a national economy and face difficulties of day to day running of the country.

A Morsi supporter.

A Morsi supporter.

For the immediate future of Egypt all we know now is that Mr. Adly Mansour was sworn in as President on Thursday after deposed president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, was ousted and placed under arrest by the military.

Mansour assumed the job under a transitional plan that appointed the head of the country’s High Constitutional Court as interim president. He became head of the court June 30 after the former chief judge retired. The judge will serve in the post of president until elections are held, a date undetermined so far.

The announcement that Mohamed El Baradei was to become Prime Minister of Egypt’s caretaker government came after the country’s new President arrived with his aides at the Heliopolis Palace in Cairo. Within a few hours, this news was denied adding to the fears that massive confusion may be the order of the day in Egypt.

I would like to see the events take their full course in Egypt without outside intervention. Let the Egyptians decide what is best for them and their country. But then, I may be too idealistic.

About The Author

Tarik Ayasun is President of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations.

Tarik Ayasun?turk1949@comcast.net

[email_link]
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What is going on in Turkey… http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/06/19/what-is-going-on-in-turkey/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/06/19/what-is-going-on-in-turkey/#comments Thu, 20 Jun 2013 01:57:49 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=32399 BEYOND THE COAST
Tarik Ayasun 
tayasun@taray.com

It is common knowledge among my readers and my friends that I was born and raised in Turkey and lived the first twenty years of my life in Istanbul. So it is natural that I have been getting many phone calls, emails and text messages asking me this very question. Being away from the day to day events that shape life in Turkey for many years, I have to rely on the news I get from relatives, friends and contacts in Turkey as well as watching daily news on various Turkish TV stations, reading all available Turkish newspapers and a multitude of phone calls I make to my contacts in Istanbul and elsewhere. It has been very hard for me to develop my own opinion of the recent events one way or the other since I do have a very biased point of view based on my upbringing and political views. I will try to be as objective as I possibly can be in my interpretation of events for this article, however I would like the readers to remember that I am writing under the heading of “opinion.”

People light flares as they stand on top of an overturned car. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

People light flares as they stand on top of an overturned car. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Turkey of 2013 is a whole lot different from Turkey of 1969 which I left behind. And Turkey of 1969 was different from the Turkey I was born and grew up in from 1949-1969. In order for us who live thousands of miles away in America to try to understand the events that took place in Turkey last week, and continue up until the penning of this article, one must get a basic understanding of the country’s historical and political background. Turkey (Turkiye as it is known to Turks) is a relatively new secular Republic built on the ashes of a failed Ottoman Empire (an empire expanding and spreading the religion of Islam, from the wild and barren deserts of the Middle East, through the high plateau of Anatolia to the shores of North Africa and all the way to the Christian bastions in the Balkans up to the gates of Vienna at its heyday) by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk; probably the most single important leader and historical figure of the 20th century. Since the formation of the Republic, Turkey has seen democracy painstakingly take shape amongst a predominantly Muslim population, experiencing many ups and downs, including a number of military coups and continued internal political strife; an ever present Kurdish insurgency and living through various, democratically elected right and left wing administrations at different times. Rattled by economic adversities which shook the basic foundations of the Republic in the last 50 years; real inflation going past 150% at times through the 70’s and major part of the 80’s, the country remained true to her original constitution (with some changes made by public referenda along the way) as a secular Republic, with free elections and a parliamentary style government with an indirectly elected Prime Minister heading a cabinet of ministers.

Since the early days of the 21st century (2003 until now) an Islamist government has been in power with Mr. Tayyip Erdogan, who graduated from Imam Hatip Okulu (Islamic High School), and studied Economics and Commercial Sciences at Marmara University in Istanbul (second largest University in Turkey) as Prime Minister. The ruling party which he heads is called AKP (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi or Justice and Development Party.)

Mr. Erdogan tapped into the support, votes and loyalties of a majority of Muslim Turks who for many years felt neglected, disenfranchised and shunned by the “elites” while at the same time working closely with owners of large business enterprises who benefited economically from the laissez faire economic environment he created. Businesses flourished, manufacturing sector adopted European standards and conquered foreign markets, economic growth at times reached over ten percent per year, and Turkish exports worldwide surpassed one hundred and forty billion dollars a year. All this happened while freedoms were taken away drip by drip, every bit of secularism which Ataturk installed attacked on a daily basis, and institutional checks and balances removed by the AKP government using various political maneuvers. Turkey turned into one huge prison with the world’s highest number of imprisoned journalists and political prisoners such as trade unionists, politicians, high ranking military officers, activists, students, lawyers, etc. On top of this the Prime Minister’s growing authoritarianism and his arrogance became stifling. Using all the powers he gained or usurped and largely depending on the support of the majorities who voted him into office three times, Mr. Erdogan started to act on his dream of turning Turkey into an Islamic Republic. His Secretary of State openly talked about exerting economic and political influence upon the countries “which at one time or another were ruled by the great Ottoman Empire!”

Mr. Erdogan adopted the familiar dictatorial approach of “a father-figure to the nation” since the election of 2011 and was deeply engaged in a frustrating micromanagement of everything; from lifestyles to cultural patterns to daily lives of the population. He was perceived as giving priority to “moral majority values” at the cost of others, disregarding the demands and wishes of the minorities and many diverse social groups within the Republic, causing disappointment, fear and alienation. After systematically destroying the command structure of the once trusted secular Military establishment by accusing high ranking officers and jailing over 600 commanders, he quickly and effectively expanded loyal police forces around the country and started using them into pushing the population into submission.

Finally, last week the pent-up frustrations of the youth along with proponents of democracy and personal freedoms, believers of a secular Democratic Republic came to a boiling point basically as a result of three issues which seemed to have touched a common nerve. I have identified the following three points as the main factors which started the political and civil unrest:

1. Mr. Erdogan’s proposal to name the third bridge across the Bosphorus straits “Yavuz Sultan Selim” bridge. While most may have thought “so what’s in a name?” the significance of naming the bridge after this particular Sultan of the Ottoman Empire did not escape the attention of the secularist Turks. This Sultan of Ottoman Empire brought the most important and highly significant title of Caliph (religious and political leader of the Islamic World, enforcer of the Sharia Law) to the Ottomans in 1517. Ottoman sultans took on the additional title of Caliph from 1517 to 1925 thus becoming de-facto leaders of the Islamic world. On March 3, 1924, the first President of the new Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal as a part of his reforms, constitutionally abolished the institution of the Caliphate. Its powers within Turkey were transferred to the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the parliament of the newly formed Turkish Republic and sent the last Caliph off to exile in Europe. The title has since been inactive. It has been widely believed and rumored amongst the Turks that Mr. Erdogan would want nothing more than to bring back this office and possibly declare himself the new Caliph!

2. Mr. Erdogan has been trying to pass a number of new laws fashioned after Sharia Law. One of these new laws was to place a ban on alcohol sales (based on Islamic principles.) This did not sit well with the general population. In addition, he had changed public school curricula numerous times in the last few years to suit Islamic teachings he and his followers believe in and lately in almost all his public speeches he has been asking families to have a minimum of three children. “More the better” has been his repeated favorite line.

3. Last but not the least, and maybe the most important factor which sent demonstrators into the streets was the Erdogan government’s announcement that they planned to “cut down some trees to make way for a shopping center” at Gezi Park, off the Central square of Istanbul called Taksim where a statute of Ataturk is the center piece. However, it was clear to everyone that the real reason for cutting the trees down was to clear the way for the revivalist construction of a building which used to occupy the site. The Park was the site of a military garrison building under one of the last Sultans of the Ottoman Empire when a limited Western style government was installed by a group of Westernized young men. In the evening of April 12, 1909 the loyalist soldiers who lived in this military building rioted against the reformist government and demonstrated in front of the House of Representatives building demanding that the government continue to operate under “Sharia Rule” and dismiss all the reforms it was trying to establish. (Sharia is the moral code and religious law of Islam. It deals with many topics addressed by secular law, including crime, politics and economics as well as personal matters such as sexual intercourse, hygiene, diet, prayer and fasting.)

The demonstrators understood the symbolism behind this action and took to the streets. It is interesting to note that in a politically and otherwise polarized country, these demonstrators seem to be from different ideological, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds in Turkey. They are young, old, religious, secular, gay, straight, foreign, domestic, fringe, anarchist, and mainstream, women in headscarves and women in tank-tops, Shiites, Sunnis, Jews, and Christians.

In his response, Mr. Erdogan called the demonstrators as alcoholics, looters, marginals, sniffers, bandits and infidels. Unfortunately, to those of us who have seen this behavior before, these are all the signs of a delusional leader who refuses to accept the obvious; who is determined to hang on to power at all cost. He did not see and still refuses to believe that these demonstrations are spontaneously organized by small groups of people of diverse ideologies and beliefs who understand the direction Mr. Erdogan is trying to take the country and will not stand for it under any circumstances.

A protester runs to avoid tear gas.

A protester runs to avoid tear gas.

Throughout history Turkish people have proven time after time that they will not stand for tyranny, they are not submissive and they will fight to preserve the Republic and the ideology of freedom they inherited from a brave and foresighted leader named Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

As we can see by now, this is a most complicated situation which is difficult to explain in 900 words or less. I have not even thrown in the problems Erdogan has with his actions regarding Syria; his picking fights with Israel; looming negotiations with twenty plus million Kurds. But I tried my best to give an overall, albeit biased picture of the situation in Turkey; a NATO ally, an important trade partner and host to some of the most important US Air bases in the world. As usual, I most sincerely hope that the readers do their own research and come to their own conclusions.

My conclusions are rather basic. When a government gets too big for its britches; when a government starts to oppress the people it is responsible for protecting against all enemies from within and foreign; when a government starts to micromanage the day-to-day lives of its citizens; when a government tries to impose its own beliefs and values upon the people who make up the population; when a government loses its own moral compass while at the same time trying to legislate morality; that government no longer represents its people and is destined to fail.

Let us all watch and see what happens. This may affect all of us…

About The Author

Tarik Ayasun is President of the Marco Island Charter Middle School Board of Directors and has given many years of service of community service to various organizations.

Tarik Ayasun?turk1949@comcast.net

[email_link]
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