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New Statesman: Theological explanations are a diversion when looking at the rise of Islamic State

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You can read the original piece on the New Statesman site here

In a “post-ideological” West, the “East” is persistently filtered through the lens of ideology, and, specifically, through the lens of Islam, with the latest moral panic over Islamic State (IS) its most recent manifestation.

For all the talk of ideology, our knowledge of IS is actually extremely limited. As Professor Alireza Doostdar points out, “We know close to nothing about IS’ social base. We know little about how it made its military gains, and even less about the nature of the coalitions into which it has entered with various groups — from other Islamist rebels in Syria to secular Ba‘athists in Iraq.” The fact is, much of what we take as “knowledge” about IS is gleaned either from their uncritically reproduced propaganda videos, which aim to present the group’s narrative as coherent and substantiated, or from Western devotees to the cause who in fact, make up only a small proportion of the group’s estimated 20,000-31,500 fighters and who’s motivations for joining might have far more to do with our representations of the group – as a counter-cultural challenge to the supremacy of Western ideals – than what the group is actually about. IS is certainly “anti-Western” in its outlook, but its objectives are local — controlling land and resources in order to establish a state in which a previously disenfranchised group will experience pre-eminence.

Given that a majority of recruits are in fact local, it is worth questioning the notion they’ve all undergone an ideological conversion before joining a group, which is just one of many arguing for the mantle of legitimate struggle and leadership in the region. Rather than ideas – because let’s face it, Al Baghdadi’s view that the world’s Muslims should live under one Islamic state ruled bysharia law is hardly an intellectual innovation – perhaps it is the group’s strategic and tactical abilities which have won them repute among fighters seeking a united leadership. Or in some cases, the calculation may simply be financial, with salaries reportedly ranging from $300 to $2000 per month.

The ideological narrative also implies widespread Sunni Iraqi support for IS which, less than a newfound commitment to radical ideals, is more likely often a reflection of political calculations in an extremely precarious climate. The populations within IS controlled territory are in many cases victims many times over of a systematic use of extreme violence to force population compliance. Why else do IS display severed heads on town railings? As useful as essentialist arguments for bloodthirty barbarians may be, the truth is violence is usually a strategic calculation to advance political objectives, in this case widespread docility of terrified locals.

The focus on theological explanations also obscures what the polls tell us about popular opinion in the Arab world. How else are we to reconcile the allegedly wide pool of IS supporters in Iraq with the fact the entire region, Iraq included, has seen a decline in support for political Islam (including the non-violent, participationist variants) and that despite a fall in support for democracy in Iraq – likely the result of domestic factors – 76 per cent of Iraqisagree or strongly agree with the statement: “A democratic system may have problems, yet it is better than other political systems.”

In fact, defining conflicts in strictly ideological terms is simply a way of relieving ourselves from any substantive assessment of the environmental factors at play. Forgotten are the discussions of the real causes of a country’s malaise – which in the case of both Syria and Iraq are manifold, and instead is a singular discourse focused on a theological argument for an Islamic State. To quote Jeremy F. Walton, what is missing in the current discourse is “an account of the decades of communitarian inequality and war in Iraq and Syria, where two Ba‘thist regimes — Saddam Hussein’s in Iraq and that of the Asad’s in Syria—yoked political representation and economic privilege to sectarian and ethnic identity, Sunni Arab in the case of Iraq and Alawite in the case of Syria.”

This isn’t to say that ideology or ideas more broadly have no explanatory power in assessing groups like IS, but surely the ongoing bloodshed in Syria and Iraq, the absence of viable, let alone representative and accountable governments, and the use of violence as a political tool by both governments, like the Assad regime, or militant groups across the region, should be afforded greater prominence than the ‘ideological’ outlook of a group who’s most sophisticated theological output so far has been a Friday sermon!

Our obsession with textuality – even when in this case the texts themselves are conspicuously absent – is indicative of the persistence of philological readings of events in the Middle East. This has allowed for a variant of the same argument – Islam is the problem – to be used to both exculpate all other factors, be they foreign interventions or domestic dictatorships, from responsibility, while pinning blame on the populations themselves for their state of woe. What transforms Ancient Texts into radical handbooks for justifying mass murder? The political conditions under which they are being read.

And just as texts don’t speak for themselves, neither do IS propaganda videos, specifically designed and edited to convey the impression of a coherent narrative. And yet, we see very little effort to unpick the discourse, the constructed self-definition, little effort to look beyond the smokescreen because it reflects back precisely the sort of organisation we expect to see emerge from the ME, ideology incarnate. History, politics, economics, all deemed irrelevant in the face of this Islamic “essence” which represents the consistent explanatory variable in the behaviour of Eastern folk.

A recent report by the Washington Post pointed to Camp Bucca, one of the Iraq war’s most notorious prisons, as having funnelled 100,000 detainees through its barracks, and described the center as “an opening chapter in the history of the Islamic State” with many of its leaders, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and nine members of his top command previously incarcerated there. These men had formerly been part of the insurgency fighting the US presence in Iraq and in prison, a convenient collaboration was to emerge between previously longstanding enemies, Baathist secularists and radical Islamists, united in a common purpose. There is no more telling evidence of the pragmatic accommodation of ideology to political necessity than the marriage of these two diametrically opposed and historically antagonistic outlooks, secular leftist and religious literalist.

The discussion of IS needs to move beyond both eschatological and philological diversions  – The roots of its violence isn’t cultural, but rather, as long argued by the scholar Mahmood Mamdani, political violence demands a political explanation.

Written by Myriam Francois

November 13, 2014 at 15:33

Middle East Eye: The language of ‘evil’ doesn’t help us defeat IS

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You can read the full article here, on the MEE website

The horrifying beheading of British aid worker David Haines by the so-called Islamic State (IS) militants, and the spectre of future executions following the release of a video featuring journalist John Cantlie has once again shone the spotlight on IS’s violent tactics. Although the latest video seems to reflect a shift in strategy with Cantlie appearing alone, without the presence of an IS figure threatening him, his fate may ultimately prove no less brutal. Indeed the group has come to be associated with extreme acts of violence against both local populations and foreign nationals living in the region.

In a tweet, British Prime Minister David Cameron referred to Haynes’ murder “an act of pure evil” and described IS as “monsters”. But how helpful to our understanding of IS is it to label their actions using cosmic references to wickedness, and how effective can our response be if we fail to assess violence as a deliberate strategy?

IS’s staged approach to its executions – set, scripted, filmed and edited – suggests the group revel in their brutal image. They feed off the shock which their carefully choreographed actions engender and the horror they elicit only fuels their sense of power. After all, the way they like to depict their captives, dressed in the sort of orange jumpsuits we’re more used to seeing on Guantanamo detainees, reflects precisely the sort of power relations they are seeking to present – the tables are turned they are saying, we are the super-power now, it is your citizens whom we will do with as we please.

But it is precisely because of the group’s efforts to manage its image as a seemingly well organised, fully functioning state, with PR machine to boot, that we must be attentive not to readily accept their crafted appearance. In fact, according to French security specialist Alain Chouet, IS could well struggle to manage the territory it has conquered due to a lack of both manpower and funds, a much needed depiction of the group’s real, rather than overstated capabilities, which redresses some of the often unwitting hype created around the group. Just because IS controls territory the size of the UK, doesn’t mean the group can or should be regarded as a state or even entity of any equivalence. To quote the Arab academic Nazih Ayubi, referring to the region’s actual, existing states, “the real power, efficacy and significance of this state might have been overestimated.” The same is true but to a far greater extent concerning IS. A state suggests elements of legitimacy and consent wholly absent from this group’s engagement with local populations. To accept their self-declared status as a state is to implicitly accept their claim to representation, yet again favouring unrepresentative political pretenders over the drowned out voice of the people.

IS want to be perceived as a threat significant enough to be treated as an “equal” by Western states, and this is precisely why using the language of state actors, such as when both the White House and the Pentagon described the United States as “at war” with the group, only serves to reinforce the group’s mystique. In not adequately challenging IS’s narrative as an equal interlocutor, a rival “state”, we risk allowing the videos of these beheadings to become what the images of the fall of the Twin towers were for Al Qaeda, a victory totem and a rallying call to a group which seeks to build its support on an image of an ‘alternative utopia’ resisting Western might.

France recently announced it would no longer refer to the group by its chosen name, but by the derogatory term “Daesh”, partly to challenge precisely this narrative. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius declared: “This is a terrorist group and not a state. (…) The Arabs call it ‘Daesh’ and I will be calling them the ‘Daesh cutthroats’.”

In so doing, the French have actively rejected the group’s rebranding as “the Islamic State” and the concomitant attempt to lay claim to grandeur of Muslim empires by a guerrilla group who as Professor Fawaz Gerges from the LSE points outs, “actually stresses violent action over theology and theory, and has produced no repertoire of ideas to sustain and nourish its social base.” In fact, violence is central to the group’s strategy. Fawaz describes the violence as a rational choice, arguing that it represents a “conscious decision to terrorise enemies and impress and co-opt new recruits.” That is to say there is a logic behind the use of extreme violence. A logic which belies notions of an ahistorical “evil”.

When we refuse to see the perpetrators of violence as anything more than moral renegades, we risk overlooking the ways in which violence has in fact been not only key to the construction of the modern state, but central in fact to the very narrative of progress. Clearly, not all violence is equal. We accept the necessity of violence when we attribute it to a higher moral cause, but deem it senseless if the violence doesn’t fit our own narrative of progress. In the case of IS, understanding what motivates their belief in “violence as progress” is central to defeating them.

The violence meted out by IS today is itself happening in a region which has experienced the killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians over the last decade: over 200, 000 in Syria in the last three years alone, and hundreds of thousands more in Iraq before that. In both cases, extreme violence has been justified in order to either midwife or ‘protect’ the modern state, and to advance given ideals, of nationalism or democracy-promotion.

Understanding that IS’s violence has emerged from the overlap of two of the deadliest conflicts in the region is to realise that the group represents a continuation of local aspirations for self-governance in a context where violence has been the language of power and rule. While modern democracies evolve non-violent methods for ensuring public acquiescence, linking participatory initiatives to political success, in the region IS currently occupies, despite attempts a democratic process, brute violence has been the mark of the successful ruler. What’s more, their methods – crucifixions, beheadings and other forms of cruelty have become increasingly common among other, less high profile groups, whose exclusively Arab and Muslim targets make for less prominent headlines.

Despite the temptation to view IS as Al-Qaeda 4.0, a more accurate representation would be the apogee of the guerrilla groups which have come to over-run the failed states in the region. Unlike Al-Qaeda’s ‘transnational Jihad’, IS’s focus is state building in Syria and Iraq. While for Al-Qaeda, the main impediment to Muslim autonomy was Western meddling, rendering the West a target, IS’s main focus has been local targets they deem as “enemies”.

The focus on “evil Islamists” might be a useful bogeyman against which to rally public support, but it fails to understand IS’s violence either as a strategy to intimidate its opponents and inflate its weight, or as part of its internalised repertoire of state building.

Defeating them can’t possibly come through inflicting yet more violence on a battered region, nor in the form of Obama’s coalition of Western military interventionism teamed with notoriously repressive autocracies. The tried and hardly successful recipe, is unlikely to provide the necessary elements for a counter to the narrative of violence which has gained strength in the wake of the demise of the Arab uprisings, a narrative which claims political routes are ineffective and violence alone can build an independent Arab state. Ultimately, there is only one long term solution – a genuine process of inclusive state-building. Without it, the trumped up claims of impostor groups like IS seem far more convincing than they truly are.

Written by Myriam Francois

September 22, 2014 at 10:58

BBC Sunday Morning Live: How does Britain deal with home grown extremism

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you can watch the discussion here, featuring myself, Shiraz Maher, Lord Robert Winston, Douglas Murray and Dame Ann Leslie.

HuffPost: British Jihadis – Turning Mothers Into Informants Is No Solution

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You can read the piece on the HuffPost site here


In the government’s latest Orwellian measure, mothers and wives of “would-be jihadists” are ‎being urged to report on their loved ones, avowedly to “prevent tragedies”. It won’t escape notice ‎however, that despite protestations to the contrary, a message emanating from the police carries ‎criminalising potential. ‎

This latest strategy to deter Britons from heading to fight in Syria comes despite evidence ‎suggesting most families are oblivious to their relatives’ decision. Abdul Waheed Majeed, who died ‎in Syria in February this year is one of a number of Brits who told his family he was going on a ‎humanitarian mission. Other parents, like those of Abdullah Deghayes were unaware their son had ‎even left the country until it was too late. Ensuring any extremist views acquired by fighters abroad ‎are neutralised when arriving back on British shores is as critical for Muslims as it is anyone else, but ‎relying on Muslim women to undertake the work of the security services is not only likely to be ‎ineffective, it also risks further undermining women in highly patriarchal settings as possible ‎‎’agents’, not to be trusted. ‎

Research in December from the King’s College-based ICSR estimated 1,900 people from western ‎Europe have travelled to Syria to fight, including 366 from the UK. In terms of the threat posed by ‎their return, Shiraz Maher from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political ‎Violence suggests around 1 in 9 returning fighters represent cause for concern. And yet this latest ‎advice suggests all Muslims contemplating travelling to Syria are a possible threat and goes on to ‎place the onus for our national security in the hands of the Muslim community, turning mothers ‎into informants. The call can be situated within an increasingly intrusive state of surveillance and ‎securitisation of the British Muslim community.‎

The Birmingham ‘Trojan Horse plot’ is just the latest indication that when it comes to Muslims, the ‎counter-terrorism lens is applied even before the facts of the case are established. In every facet ‎of life, from teachers and lecturers asked to spy on students, to healthcare workers on their ‎patients, youth groups whose access to public funding has been made conditional on sharing data ‎with law enforcement agencies, to university Islamic societies under pressure to divulge ‎membership lists – Muslims are well aware they’re being closely watched. Who knew even mums ‎would now be roped in! ‎

According to research by ICSR, the profile of foreign fighters is typically male, in their twenties of ‎South-Asian ethnic origin and with recent connections to higher education. Interestingly, this is also ‎the profile which overlaps significantly with those most likely to be unemployed – unemployment ‎among Muslims under the age of 30 is 23 per cent (compared to a UK average for young people of ‎‎17 per cent), stopped and searched, detained at airports , to struggle with poor educational ‎achievements, to be over -represented in our prisons. It is certainly telling that another British fighter, ‎‎23 year old Mohammed el-Araj from Notting Hill, had spent 18 months in prison before he was ‎killed in Syria in November last year. ‎

If you want to know the real reason the prospect of death can seem more appealing than life, then ‎look at the quality of life these young (predominantly) men are facing. Young men of that ‎demographic have a bleak future ahead – hit harder than most by austerity, they can anticipate ‎joblessness, discrimination, police harassment, possible incarceration. To many young men the ‎jihad may seem appealing because it provides ultimate meaning to a life which might otherwise ‎seem hopeless. ‎

The UK today has some of the most draconian “anti-terror” legislation in the developed world and ‎these disproportionately negatively affect Muslim Britons. Harassed and coerced into becoming ‎informants, what kind of a relationship do you expect young Muslims to have with a police force ‎which bulldozes its demands through dawn raids and indefinite detentions, yet seemingly fails to ‎tackle rising anti-Muslim hate crimes? What trust can you expect them to have in a system which ‎has demonstrated clear double standards in the extradition of Muslim British citizens and stripped ‎‎37 UK nationals – many of them Muslims, of their citizenship? Despite polls showing that British ‎Muslims strongly identify with the UK, you could hardly excuse a luke warm commitment to ‎Britishness from citizens who could essentially be stripped of that very identity!‎

Ifthekar Jaman, 23, a customer service rep, whose parents run a takeaway restaurant and who was ‎also killed in Syria described his feeling of disconnect from a society he felt rejected from in one of ‎his final posts on Twitter, he said: “It is better for the authorities to allow these Muslims who want ‎to migrate & do jihad. This way, we’re out of your way.”‎

Young people, Muslim or not, need a stake in the system. They need to feel that legal, mainstream ‎routes to success are open to them and ultimately they need to find a means of asserting their ‎self-worth. When such avenues are closed, other paths to criminality or extremism can begin to ‎seem more attractive. The UN’s counter-radicalisation programme advises “a package of social, ‎political, legal, educational and economic programmes specifically designed to deter disaffected ‎‎(and possibly already radicalised) individuals from crossing the line and becoming terrorists”. ‎Where are these initiatives?‎

In 2010, the communities and local government committee warned the Prevent programme was ‎backfiring and advised that the Department for Communities should devote itself instead “to ‎dealing with the underlying causes of all forms of extremism and division”. Instead of providing ‎young Muslims with new opportunities, the government has formulated a revamped PREVENT ‎strategy which Civil liberties group CAGE has described as “cradle-to-grave” levels of surveillance ‎and discrimination. ‎
In the Muslim community, we don’t need studies to tell us that PREVENT has been counter-‎productive in alienating, rather than engaging people. PREVENT is our bête noire. Muslims may not ‎agree on much, but the failure of PREVENT rouses surprising unanimity.

‎ According to Dr. Alex P. Schmid, Director of the Terrorism Research Initiative (TRI), “where (young) ‎people have alternative forms of expressing grievances and dissent, where they have other and ‎better occupational options than joining an armed, underground organisation, the appeal of ‎terrorism is likely to be smaller. ” The problem is the government would rather invest money in ‎counterproductive policies virtually designed to alienate the Muslim community than address the ‎need for better schools (clue: not through removing state regulation), jobs, opportunities and ‎more broadly a stake in the system. ‎

Polls indicate that Muslims are even more concerned than the broader public by the risk of extremism, ‎but the current breakdown in trust between the police and the Muslim community means ‎assurances about helping, not criminalising young Muslims are unlikely to be audible. If someone ‎you love is in jeopardy, you stage an intervention, you don’t add to their sense of alienation by ‎convincing them even their family members can’t be trusted. In other words, you rely on proven ‎methods of social work used for people in crisis. Not criminalisation. The asinine nature of this ‎latest ‘surveillance strategy’ is evidence of the problematic lens through which Muslims continue ‎to be filtered. In order to confront extremism, the police needs to forge trust with the very ‎communities they consistently casts blanket suspicion over, and ultimately we as a society need to ‎create sufficient stakes for young Muslim men to believe they have a viable future here in the UK.

Written by Myriam Francois

April 26, 2014 at 13:57

Sky News – Boulton and co: Syria and the French intervention

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sky news syria discussion

I told Sky News that although French public opinion is not in favour of military intervention in Syria, the Socialist party backs its leader’s position and the socialists currently have a majority in both parliament and the senate (what’s more the main opposition, UMP is deeply divided, including on this issue).
France has shown itself a strong ally of the Syrian National Council, as the first country to recognise it and has been pushing for greater support to it. It already delivers technical, humanitarian and financial support to the rebels and wants to give them the military edge, without getting too involved.
As the former colonial power, France feels it understands Syria and has strong economic interests which have been hampered by sanctions placed on the Assad regime. After the perceived success of Libya, where France has been guaranteed 3% of future oil production and Mali, which saw a weak President Hollande regain some popularity, a strong intervention in Syria could help boost Hollande’s flailing image and ultimately serve French interests in the region. Hollande is also concerned that not acting against the use of chemical weapons sends the wrong message to others in the region, and risks compromising security.

Written by Myriam Francois

August 30, 2013 at 19:02

My interview with AK party official on Turkey/Syria tensions

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This is an interview I conducted over email over a month ago with the (then) VP of the AK Party (Deputy of Manisa) Hüsayin Tanrıverdi, the longest serving VP in the Ak Party. (He is now a member of the Central Decision-Making and Administrative Committee). It contains some interesting insights, particularly considering the fact the Turkish parliament has just approved cross-border operations in response to Syrian mortar attacks.

In bold are some sections I think are particularly interesting…

‎1.In recent years, Turkey has played an increasingly assertive role in the Middle ‎East, how does Turkey view its role in this volatile region?‎

During the past 10 years, Turkey has developed into a truly powerful country thanks to ‎the efforts of our government. Its stable economy, paired with its social and political ‎power has made Turkey a model and leader for developing nations in the region. Also, ‎Turkey is the most westernized Muslim country, which makes it a unique example ‎among others of its kind. All of these factors make Turkey a natural leader in the Middle ‎East. We give the utmost importance to spreading peace in this unstable region. In order ‎for peace to be attained, stability must be achieved in this area. This is what Turkey is ‎aiming to provide and it is our main goal in assuming a powerful role in the Middle East. ‎

‎2.What role does Turkey see for itself in the Syrian crisis?‎

As I have mentioned earlier, the most important issue for us is that peace is achieved ‎around the entire region. Defending our borders is not the only goal in the involvement of ‎Turkey in this issue. Whatever affects this region, affects not only us but the entire world ‎on many levels. This crisis needs to be alleviated and Turkey will naturally assume a very ‎proactive role in stopping this disorder. ‎

‎3.What would Turkey hope to see happen in Syria, in terms of a desirable end to ‎the conflict?‎

A desirable end would be one where stability and harmony prevails in the region. We ‎would like to see a region where no one risks death each day, children do not live in fear ‎and families are not separated. The citizens of Syria deserve to live in freedom under a ‎peaceful government. They need to be provided with every right and opportunity that a ‎modern country enjoys.‎

‎4.Turkey has suggested a buffer zone be created in Syria. will it await a UN ‎mandate on this issue or will it consider unilateral action?‎

Turkey has numerously attempted to bring the issue of the creation of a buffer zone in ‎Syria to the UN Security Council. We have faced opposition from various countries and ‎received support from others. This is not a decision which can be taken unilaterally. In ‎order for a buffer zone to be created, an international consensus must be reached. We ‎hope that a transition period where the expectations of the people of Syria will be met is ‎reached soon. ‎

‎5.What impact have Syrian refugees had on Turkey and how does Turkey plan to ‎manage this influx? Are there tensions between Turks and Syrians on the border ‎region as some reports suggest?‎

Throughout history, Turkey has always assumed the role of a guardian and protector of ‎disadvantaged and oppressed groups. Syrian refugees who have escaped the on-going ‎turmoil in the region can find safety in Turkey to stay sheltered from the conflict. We are ‎more than happy to lend a helping hand. We see it as a necessary act of humanity to ‎help those in need. ‎
The people of Turkey and Syria have had close ties with each other for many years. The ‎only tension that can be spoken of is that almost every Turk and Syrian near the border ‎have a family member or relative on the other side, whom they miss greatly. Hopefully, ‎when this conflict ends, they will be free to see one another and enjoy the liberty of ‎expressing the close relationship the people have with each other. ‎

‎6.Some have suggested the Syrian crisis represents the latest and most bloody ‎episode in a proxy war pitting Iran, Syria and Hezbollah against a largely Sunni ‎coalition including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey- what is your response to this?‎

If there is a war to be referred to, this is a war against suffering, oppression and cruelty. ‎One would wish that every nation would support our bid for peace and stability in the ‎region, but unfortunately that is not always the case. This is not a war between sects ‎among religions. We do not want any blood to be shed, and we hope that this conflict ‎comes to an end with the least possible amount of casualties and damage. ‎

‎7.What are the interests shared by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey in Syria?‎

All three of the countries want stability in the Middle East. In order for this to work, the ‎conflict and crisis in Syria must end. This is the view shared by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and ‎Qatar.‎

‎8.Can a transition be brokered with Bashar al Assad in your view?‎

Under the Assad government, the people of Syria are being oppressed and killed daily. ‎Evidently, it is no longer possible to continue with Assad, which is why we are supporting ‎the opposition. A transition can only be achieved with a leader who promotes peace in the ‎region and treats the people with the respect they deserve. ‎

‎9.In light of allegations that Turkey is providing weapons to fighters in Syria what ‎support is Turkey currently offering Syrian opposition forces?‎

The opposition forces in Syria represent the voice and the will of the people. If we believe ‎in democracy, then we must support the will of the people. Turkey is currently offering ‎logistical support to the opposition in Syria. Among those who we provide logistical ‎support to are the 83.000 refugees living in the camps. ‎

10.Considering the divided nature of the Syrian opposition, on what basis has ‎Turkey decided who their partner in dialogue ought to be?‎

Turkey’s partners in dialogue are the Syrian people. Whomever they choose freely as ‎their leader will be the leader that will be addressed. Our belief in democracy leads us to ‎believe that the leader chosen by the Syrian people will be fit for the position. ‎

‎11. Do you share concerns that intervention in Syria could further escalate a civil ‎conflict?‎

A civil conflict will ensue if Syria is split into two. It will be a conflict of religious sects. This ‎is a situation that Turkey will not accept. If there arises a situation which affects our ‎security, we have a full right to intervene. ‎

‎12.Do Turkey and the US share the same vision for a post-Assad Syria?‎

The US and Turkey have met on several occasions to discuss their views on a post-‎Assad Syria. They share the same view that intensive meetings should take place on the ‎operational planning about country. During the meetings both countries have agreed that ‎the step-down of Assad should be sped up, the opposition forces should be supported ‎and that Syria should rapidly reach a transition period.‎

‎13. How would you qualify current relations with Iran?‎

During our talks with Iran, we see that they believe that Assad will step down. The ‎question they ask us is what will happen after that. The answer we give them is that if we ‎believe in a parliamentarian democratic system, then whatever the people decide is what ‎will happen. Currently, our cooperation continues through the collaboration of our ‎intelligence services. ‎

‎14. Has the Syrian conflict impacted the threat of PKK terrorism in Turkey?‎

It is true that terrorists thrive in times of chaos like these. However, our fight against ‎terrorism is a completely different matter which will continue regardless of the situation in ‎Syria. We will continue to combat terrorism through security measures and economic ‎development. This has always been our main policy and it is an on-going challenge, ‎independent from the regional circumstances. ‎

Written by Myriam Francois

October 4, 2012 at 18:35

BBC World Service: Asma al Assad and the Syrian regime

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I discuss the video made by the British and German ambassadors to the UN for the attention of Asma al Assad, seeking to pressure her to act against the massacre of civilians in Syria.

Written by Myriam Francois

April 23, 2012 at 13:06