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Beyond the Coast

America’s secret (!) weapons?

Tarik Ayasun  I received anxious email messages and telephone calls from many of my friends, as well as a number of readers of this newspaper last week, wondering if any members of my family in Turkey were affected by the earthquake which devastated a city in Eastern Turkey. Some emails came from people I have never met. This was so very American and so very heartwarming to say the least. The only thing some of these emailers knew about me was the fact that I was born and raised in Turkey until I decided to come to America and become ... Read More »

Israel, Palestinian Statehood and the USA …

Tarik Ayasun If you pick up a map of the Middle East and see how tiny the State of Israel is; try looking at a map of the world and try and find Israel on it. This is a truly daunting task because Israel is indeed a very small yet very significant little democracy in the Middle East. In effect, it is the ONLY democracy, surrounded by countries run by dictators, kings, emirs and sultans. Israel is an ally of the United States and at the present time in grave danger of attack from her so called neighbors. Yet, the ... Read More »

Pearl Harbor to September 11

BEYOND THE COAST  Tarik Ayasun  It has been ten years since America was attacked by a band of terrorists who on that day wanted to destroy America; kill as many Americans as possible and fire the first shot in the Holy Jihad which they declared against America. Despite recent efforts on the contrary by some who are trying to re-write history, this was neither an attack on Western Civilization nor the West in general. This was an attack on America, a cowardly attack on American exceptionalism and a vicious attack on our fellow Americans by Al Qaida terrorists acting in the ... Read More »

The Ultimate Sacrifice…

By  Tarik Ayasun Saturday morning we woke up to the grim news that we lost 22 of our “best of the best” Navy SEALS, members of the tough Seal Team Six in Afghanistan. While others debate whether the Taliban shot down their Chinook during a night raid or whether it was mechanical failure that brought down their helicopter, we as Americans must mourn the loss of these young men who dedicated their lives to protect all of us so we can continue to enjoy being Americans, live in a free country and continue to feel free every morning we wake ... Read More »

Che Guevara, Angela Davis, Coastland Mall and beyond…

By Tarik Ayasun I am a shopaholic and a shameless people watcher. So what do I do when I have a free Saturday when my wife is out of town helping our daughter move into her new home in Washington, DC? I spend my afternoon shopping and people-watching at Coastland Mall in Naples, of course. That is exactly what I was doing on a recent Saturday afternoon. After purchasing a number of polo shirts I did not need; two pairs of pants I probably will never wear and a pair of shoes I have no place for in my closet, I ... Read More »

Independence Day July 4, 2011…

By Tarik Ayasun I was not yet living in America when on August 28, 1963, a young preacher in Atlanta named Martin Luther King Jr., uttered the following words: “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. . . . I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out ... Read More »

From Arab Spring to Persian Summer

By Tarik Ayasun What is correctly named “Arab Spring” is continuing to heat up the Middle East without an end in sight. As predicted earlier in this column, Muslim Brotherhood started to show its strength in Egypt; elections hoped for by all Tunisians have been delayed; President of Yemen has been injured in an assassination attempt and moved to Saudi Arabia for treatment leaving Yemen in the hands of various tribes and rebels who have no definite plans for the future; protesters have been subdued in Bahrain; and an undeclared, aimless and leaderless war continues to deplete our resources in ... Read More »

Obsession with details…

By Tarik Ayasun We as Americans in general are obsessed with “details.” Sometimes this obsession may be educational as it increases our knowledge of many different things around us; sometimes it may be entertaining as we get to read about all the minute details of the lives of our favorite Hollywood stars and sometimes it may even be interesting to find out about how things work. There is one occasion when our obsession with details is neither necessary nor useful. That is when it comes to details of military operations. Last week, I wrote about the operation to find, terminate and ... Read More »

Do you know where Syria is? School days…

By Tarik Ayasun Last Friday afternoon, I went to the Barnes and Noble store at the Waterside shops. My intention was to check out some new books and just sit in peace, type a story on my laptop and have some strong dark coffee. I must confess I also like the smell and feel of new books and there is no better place than a book-store to smell and feel as many books as possible by walking through the many aisles. After my walk-through, I sat down, turned on my laptop and started to look up current news items in ... Read More »

Words of wisdom….

By Tarik Ayasun Whenever I am overwhelmed with world news and think there are no solutions to the problems that surround us, I sit back in my chair and travel back to my childhood in the streets of Istanbul. I think of all the sunny summers and snowy winters, allergy filled springs and sad days of fall. Memories of those simpler times soothe my senses and bring back some joy to my otherwise busy days. Growing up in country full of traditions and strict rules covering our everyday lives, it was always refreshing to be with grandparents whose unconditional love and ... Read More »

They are coming to…

By Tarik Ayasun It is 5 AM Saturday morning on Marco Island, March 19, 2011. Everything is still, there is a full moon over the Island and other than some distant sirens, it is absolutely quiet. My Rhapsody music program is in full swing and I am listening to Frankie Lymon singing “Only fools fall in love”… Life is good; I say to myself and watch a newspaper truck deliver the Saturday paper. I walk out and pick up the paper. All of a sudden I find myself in Sendai, Japan. It is the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and an ... Read More »

When will we ever learn?

By Tarik Ayasun It never ceases to amaze me when most of the Western world chooses to act like ostriches in the desert and bury their heads in the sand when the evidence is before them, as bright as a sunny summer day. First, it was Saddam Hussein, dictator of Iraq who turned his own people into a listless crowd of voiceless slaves; killed masses of them using chemical weapons; spent and plundered the treasures of Iraq as if it was his own; invaded a neighboring country, stealing their treasures, raping their women and destroying their homes; and fought a ... Read More »

The Tunisian Freedom Fire…

By Tarik Ayasun When I first sat down to write this article, it was January 5th and very early in the morning.  I was scanning various international news headlines on the internet as I do every morning when an item from Tunis attracted my attention. A 26 year old Egyptian, Mohamed Bouazizi who had doused himself in gasoline and set himself afire nearly three weeks ago on December 17th had died in the hospital early that morning.  Bouazizi had an engineering degree from a University but had been unemployed since graduation! I thought that this was a very important and ... Read More »

Turkish Coffee… Part II…

by Tarik Ayasun In Turkey, one can’t consider lunch or dinner to be complete unless it ends with a piece of delicious baklava washed down with a cup of foamy, well made Turkish coffee. Many Turks believe that having this cup of coffee after a meal is actually very healthy as the strong coffee settles the stomach and helps in the digestive process. Obviously, I am not qualified to comment on the health aspect of Turkish coffee; however I thought it may be interesting to inform everyone how a perfect cup of Turkish coffee is prepared. It all starts with ... Read More »

Turkish Coffee… Part I

by Tarik Ayasun Ever since the very first day I arrived in America, whenever someone inquired as to where I am from and upon hearing my response; their first reaction has always been “I love Turkish Coffee.” Oddly enough, being an avid tea drinker, I had little experience with Turkish coffee when I lived in Istanbul other than on the occasions when my mother took me along for her never ending fund-raising activities for the local orphanages. In order to raise funds, she would engage in “fortune telling” whereby she would “read” peoples fortunes by looking at the sediments left ... Read More »

Noel Baba (Papa Noel)

by Tarik Ayasun As a young man during the mid-1960’s, I spent a considerable amount of time traveling throughout Turkey and Europe. Because owning and driving a car was out of the question for a 17 year old, most of my traveling was done by bus and train. During one particular summer, I was traveling south, trying to get to the beautiful and historical seaside town of Antalya. After hours on a rickety, smelly old bus with uncomfortable seats I arrived at a small town called Kale (now called Demre) on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. As was the practice ... Read More »

Giving thanks on Thanksgiving…

I was watching the homecoming of a Marine Regiment from Iraq on TV about a week ago and what a young Lance Corporal said stuck in mind, maybe forever. “Until you go overseas and see how they live and what they have, you will never appreciate where we live and what we have.” Maybe this does not come off as such a profound statement to millions of us who saw the light and emigrated to this great country; but it is always good to repeat the statement to our youngsters who walk around with iPods, communicate through “Facebook,” post their ... Read More »

Connecting The Dots

On September 3, a UPS plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Dubai International Airport, killing two crew members. This was a Boeing 747-400, a very dependable aircraft with a clean safety record. Initial news reports indicated that fire may have broken out in the aircraft just after take-off. Then, on Friday October 29, explosive devices were found at the FedEx facility at Dubai airport and on a UPS plane at a UK airport. Now there is talk of re-investigating the September 3rd UPS crash. One would not be a conspiracy theorist to think that these events were somehow related and something ... Read More »

“Holiday of the Sacrifice”

One of the most important holidays in the Islamic world is coming up in November. It is called the Festival of Eid-El-Adha in Arabic and Kurban Bayrami (Sacrifice Holiday) in Turkish. The festival celebrates the Biblical and Kur’anic account of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son on Mount Moriah, proving Abraham’s complete obedience to God. In the story, God stays Abraham’s hand at the last moment and provides a ram for sacrifice instead, praising Abraham for his faithfulness. Following this tradition, the head of each Muslim household hopes to sacrifice one or more sheep or ram according to his financial standing ... Read More »

Sounds, scents and images of my childhood…

It is a wonderful autumn morning in Marco Island. The Cardinals are singing as loud as they can before they attack the feeders I put out for them in the back yard. The Eastern sky is turning brilliant red, signaling the sunrise over Barfield Bay. But something seems to be missing. Other than the Cardinals’ morning songs I hear nothing else. It is very strange yet very normal in my neighborhood. The sun rises, it gets warmer and sometimes I hear the engines of a few cars in the distance. I sit back and listen carefully for familiar sounds, and ... Read More »