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A clear opinion piece in FT by a former Secretary of State under the Bush Neocon reign …

US must recall it is not just any country or other link

(FT.com) – In this young century, the 9/11 attacks, the global financial crisis and the unrest in the Arab world have struck at the heart of vital US interests. [My gut feeling tells me somehow all three events are associated with US exceptionalism and its policy in earlier decades – Oui]

The fundamental problem in the region is the absence of institutions that can bridge the Sunni-Shia divide, and protect the rights of women and minorities. Even as we make necessary immediate choices – including arming the Syrian rebels– we must insist upon inclusive politics.

As we work with reformers across the region, we should not forget that Iraq has the kind of institutions that are meant to overcome these divisions. Given its geostrategic importance, the chaos engulfing its neighbours and Iran’s destructive influence, our re-engagement with Baghdad is sorely needed. [Rewriting history? The ill advised invasion and occupation of Iraq was a profound decision which encouraged jihadists in the region – Oui]

Most important, we need to reassure our friends across the globe. The rush to court adversaries has overshadowed relations with trusted allies. Our engagement with Europe has been sporadic and sometimes dismissive. Strategic ties with India, Brazil and Turkey have neither strengthened nor deepened in recent years. Hugo Chávez and the Iranians have bitten off the extended hand of friendship. There is no Palestinian state because it will only come through negotiation with a secure Israel that is confident in its relationship with the US. [Netanyahu’s policy of settlement building in Judea and Samaria is of no concern in a viable two-state solution? – Oui]

The American people have to be inspired to lead again. They need to be reminded that the US is not just any other country: we are exceptional in the clarity of our conviction that free markets and free peoples hold the key to the future, and in our willingness to act on those beliefs. Failure to do so would leave a vacuum, likely filled by those who will not champion a balance of power that favours freedom. That would be a tragedy for American interests and values and those who share them. [US policy of intervention on behalf of its `friends’ has created the gap for blowback across the Middle-east and North Africa – Oui]

Has Condi Rice already joined the Neocon forces in Mitt Romney’s War Cabinet of foreign policy advisors, a meeting of old friends.  

Al Qaeda Taking Deadly New Role in Syria Conflict

CAIRO, Egypt (NY Times) — It is the sort of image that has become a staple of the Syrian revolution, a video of masked men calling themselves the Free Syrian Army and brandishing AK-47s — with one unsettling difference. In the background hang two flags of Al Qaeda, white Arabic writing on a black field.

“We are now forming suicide cells to make jihad in the name of God,” said a speaker in the video using the classical Arabic favored by Al Qaeda.

    Al-Qaeda’s black flag features the shahada, or Islamic declaration of faith, “there is no god but God [Allah] and Muhammad is his messenger,”
    plus a circle that is said to represent Muhammad’s seal. It was first made famous by the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The video, posted on YouTube, is one more bit of evidence that Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists are doing their best to hijack the Syrian revolution, with a growing although still limited success that has American intelligence officials publicly concerned, and Iraqi officials next door openly alarmed.

While leaders of the Syrian political and military opposition continue to deny any role for the extremists, Al Qaeda has helped to change the nature of the conflict, injecting the weapon it perfected in Iraq — suicide bombings — into the battle against President Bashar al-Assad with growing frequency.

The evidence is mounting that Syria has become a magnet for Sunni extremists, including those operating under the banner of Al Qaeda. An important border crossing with Turkey that fell into Syrian rebels’ hands last week, Bab al-Hawa, has quickly become a jihadist congregating point.

PM Erdogan back-tracking on expansionist policy to overthrow Assad? He also issued same warning vs Al Qaeda jihadists. Don’t provoke us, Erdoğan says in stern warning to Syrian Kurds

What happens if an Alevi/Christian massacre starts in Syria?

The situation in the areas under the control of the opposition in Syria is far from pleasant. We hears that such creepy slogans as: “Christians to Lebanon, Alevis to the coffin” are being chanted in those areas. Concrete information is emerging that Christians are being badly mistreated.

What will Turkey’s stance be if Sunnis attempted a massacre tomorrow?
Are we going to request the Sunni Arabs to “act with decisiveness”?

The Kurdish dimension to Turkey’s Syria policy

Look at the map to see from now on we have a 1,200 kilometer long border with the Kurds. On this side of the border, at least 800 to 900 kilometers long, the Kurdish population of Turkey is residing. The “Kurdish Spring” has arrived at our border. To counter a “spring charge” launched by Kurds, based on the de facto situation in the two neighboring countries, we should respond with a serious policy, one that is backed by the whole of Turkey, not by the fantasies of an academic.

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Turkey closes border crossing after looting of Turkish trucks

"But I will not let myself be reduced to silence."

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