World View: Turkey PM Holds Surprise Meeting with Hamas Leader

This morning's key headlines from
  • Learning life's lessons
  • Turkey's Erdogan meets with Hamas leader in surprise visit
  • Syria's chemical weapons threat causes world condemnation
  • New virus has Iran's nuclear plants playing AC/DC rock music
  • China blames the U.S. for Philippines / Vietnam claims in South China Sea

Learning life's lessons

I've had two major traffic accidents in my life. The first was in 1985. The second was two hours ago. The circumstances of both were roughly the same: I was traveling in the right-hand lane of Route 128 (an 8-lane highway outside Boston) on cruise control at 55 mph, the speed limit. Someone traveling 80-85 mph came up behind me, tried to swerve around me and failed. Surprisingly no one was injured in either accident, though the cars didn't do so well. 

So, what is the correct "life's lesson" that I should be learning from these two similar experiences? That's it's a bad idea to travel at the speed limit? That it's better to travel at 80-85 mph myself, so that no one can catch up to me and swerve around me? I have no idea.

Turkey's Erdogan meets with Hamas leader in surprise visit

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal made a surprise visit to Ankara on Monday, meeting with Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The principal subject of the meeting was the safety of the 500,000 or so Palestinians, mostly refugees, living in Syria. Hamas used to have its international headquarters in Damascus, and Mashaal and Erdogan both had a close relationship with Syria's Bashar al-Assad. However, al-Assad's brutal treatment of Sunni Arab civilians has caused both of them to split with al-Assad. Now, with dozens of Palestinians in Syria joining the opposition Free Syrian Army, the fear is that al-Assad will turn his army's mortars, missiles and machine guns on all Palestinians in Syria. Zaman (Istanbul) 

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the Mideast is headed for a major regional sectarian war pitting Sunnis versus Shias. Hamas's alignment with Iran, Hizbollah and Syria's al-Assad never made any sense, because those are all Shias and Hamas is a Sunni organization. So Mashaal's split with al-Assad was going to come sooner or later anyway, but the meeting with Erdogan is consistent with Erdogan's desire to unite the Sunni Arabs under the influence of Turkey again, restoring some of the glory of the good old days under the old Ottoman empire. In the end, it's expected that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Arab states will be allied with Pakistan and China against India, Russia, Iran, Israel and the West. 

Syria's chemical weapons threat causes world condemnation

The Syrian regime's confirmation on Monday that it has chemical weapons, and its threat to use them against "foreign adversaries," has brought strong reactions around the world. Syria's ally Russia has clearly told the Syrian government that it must abide by a 1925 international protocol barring the use of poison gases in warfare. Russia says that Syria signed the protocol in 1925. Saudi Arabia, which has supported the Syrian opposition, will lead a new Arab initiative to get the United Nations General Assembly to condemn Syria. Israel, which along with Saudi Arabia is considered by many analysts to have been the implied "foreign adversaries," is having a run on gas masks. The fear is that the chemical weapons will be transferred to the terrorist group Hizbollah, who will use them to attack Israel. Reuters and AFP and AFP

New virus has Iran's nuclear plants playing AC/DC rock music

The web site of the F-Secure Security Labs says that they've received e-mail messages from scientists at Iran's Atomic Energy Organization saying that its computers have been infected by a new virus that causes several computers on the site to play the song "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC at full volume in the middle of the night. F-Secure says that it believes the e-mail correspondence is real, but concedes that it might be a hoax. Bloomberg 

China blames the U.S. for Philippines / Vietnam claims in South China Sea

China is adopting an increasingly belligerent and warlike stance to its claims to complete sovereignty over the entire South China Sea, including regions that historically belonged to other countries. China's neighbors, especially Vietnam and the Philippines, are challenging China's claims, and China is blaming the United States, and its strategic Asia "pivot," for emboldening these countries to challenge China. According to one Chinese military official: 

China now faces a whole pack of aggressive neighbors headed by Vietnam and the Philippines and also a set of menacing challengers headed by the United States, forming their encirclement from outside the region. And, such a band of eager lackeys is exactly what the U.S. needs for its strategic return to Asia.

The fact that these countries are even daring to challenge China is an embarrassment to China's military, according to one Washington analyst:

The South China Sea situation is certainly highly frustrating for Chinese military officers. If [China's People's Liberation Army] cannot even defend China's own territory at its doorstep, what capacity or legitimacy does it have to cruise around the world?


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