Whoa! This place is wicked cool! A podcast from high atop a classic casbah, in a medieval hill town in the High Atlas Mountains, halfway between Marrakech, Morocco and the edge of the Sahara Desert! This is Ait Benhaddou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a Berber trade town from back in the day, and a current backdrop for a variety of Hollywood films…like Time Bandits (my fav!), Gladiator, and even even Game of Thrones!
What the heck is happening in Turkey with all these protests? A revolution? An Arab Spring style uprising? A call for democracy? Nah, it is not really any of those things at all. What we have here is an actual demonstration of democracy at work, not a call for it. It seems that the sizable minority of liberal-left folks in Turkey are expressing a reaction against center-right conservative Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s prime ministerial high-handedness and decade-long rule, which has seen a slight eroding of the divisions between religion and state politics. He will likely survive this bout of political expression against him, but at what costs to his role, and to Turkey itself? Dig this informal rant and let’s start a conversation.
Russia just agreed to ship the S-300 missile defense system to Syria, and has also pledged to support the Assad regime of Syria to the bitter end. Damn! Why they gotta be like that? Just being haters to Team West and freedom in general?
Not really. These moves are actually an extension of hundreds of years of Russian foreign policy in this region, and also are indicative of a re-assertive Russian entree back into Middle Eastern affairs in general…a move that counters the influence of their adversaries, strengthens the hand of their allies, and attempts to keep a lid on Islamic extremism and/or sectarian independence movements that might spill over into Russia itself. Putin power ain’t done in the Middle East just as yet….and it actually may be on the rise.
Keywords: Russia, Syria, S-300, missile defense system, Turkey, USA, Israel, Arab, Saudi Arabia, GCC, Black Sea, Crimean War, Russo-Turkish War, Iran, Chechnya, Dagestan, Caucuses, Islam, extremism, terrorism, Muslim Brotherhood, Arab Spring, Cold War
Here we are 2 years in to the Syrian Civil War that was sparked by the Arab Spring…70,000 dead, hundreds of thousands of refugees, and no end in site to the suffering. Instead of trying to make any grand predictions about the future of this mess, or to try and explain all the historical intricacies that lead up to it, the Professor is simply offering up a short list of players involved in the struggle for control and the soul of this state….and indeed outlines why this particular face-off could be the start of a greater regional showdown between Shia and Sunni Islam
Keywords: Syria, civil war, Shia, Alawite, Sunni, Islam, Iran, Hezbollah, Lebanon, Turkey, Israel, USA, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Arab, Arab Spring, Arab States
A Turkish court just sentenced a concert pianist 10 months of jail time for ‘insulting religion.’ Say what? I thought Turkey was a total secular society and well established democracy where such things are unheard of? Indeed! Thus my interest in the story! Is this ruling a sign that Turkey’s ruling AK Party is moving to make the country “more religious”….or is it just an example of a typical conservative issue that occurs in societies the world over? Hmmm…maybe a little of both, but in Turkey’s case the outcome of such a shift will have influence in other Islamic states across the region, and the world.