World View: Greece Greets Merkel with Nazi Signs, Violent Protests

World View: Greece Greets Merkel with Nazi Signs, Violent Protests

This morning’s key headlines from

  • German Chancellor Merkel greeted with hate-filled protests in Athens Greece
  • Nato will defend Turkey as border tension with Syria escalates
  • Turkey’s politics become bitterly sectarian
  • IMF warns of an ‘alarmingly high’ risk of deep global slowdown

German Chancellor Merkel greeted with hate-filled protests in Athens Greece

Memories of World War II were evoked on Tuesday when German ChancellorAngela Merkel visited Athens Greece as a show of support for Greeceand the government of prime minister Antonis Samaras, and she wasfaced with rock-throwing protests by tens of thousands of Greeksportraying Merkel as a Nazi war criminal. Merkel has become one ofthe most hated figures in Greece, as she is being blamed for the harshausterity measures that Greeks are facing. Police used teargas andstun grenades at a crowd threatening to swarm into the Parliamentbuilding, throwing rocks and petrol bombs. Merkel’s voice wasstrained with anxiety as she provided encouragement for Greece andthe Greek government, and acknowledged that Greece had made a greatdeal of painful progress since 2010. Merkel seemed to feel thatSamaras was someone she could work with. However, the basic situationis unchanged, in that there is still substantial opposition in Germanyand Europe against giving Greece any more leeway in meeting itsausterity obligations. Kathimerini and Independent (London)

Nato will defend Turkey as border tension with Syria escalates

Cross-border shelling between Turkey and Syria continued for a sixthday on Tuesday, and Turkey has been shifting heavy artillery units,tank battalions, missile batteries and troops to the border, with F-16jet fleets shifted from western Anatolia bases to the southeast,warships setting sail for the Mediterranean with wartime rations.According to a Turkish military expert: 

The Syrian regime has very little left to lose. IfTurkey retaliates more strongly next time and kills Syrians, thenthat would only add a few more to the casualties on the Syrianside. But if another shell from Syria side kills more Turks,civilians or soldiers, God forbid, then the Turkish government,with Parliament’s authority in its hand, and all that troopbuildup, may be under further pressure to act.

Nato’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced on Tuesdaythat Nato, of which Turkey is a member, is prepared to defend Turkeyfrom Syria, if that should become necessary:

We have all plans in place to protect and defendTurkey, but we do hope that it will not be necessary. We do hopethat all parties involved will do their utmost to avoid anescalation of the crisis and focus on finding a political solutionto the conflict.

I strongly regret that so far the Security Council has failed infinding an agreement on a legally-binding resolution that couldsend such a strong message to the Syrian leadership.

It’s believed that Iran and Russia are supplying both arms andmilitary advisers to the Bashar al-Assad regime, while Qatar and SaudiArabia have been supply small arms to al-Assad’s oppositions.Hurriyet (Ankara) and VOA

Turkey’s politics become bitterly sectarian

The situation in Turkey’s politics are becoming increasingly bitterand sectarian as a result of the situation in Syria. KemalKiliçdaroglu, the leader of the principal opposition party, RepublicanPeople’s Party (CHP), called Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu anpresident Bashar al-Assad because the latter is part of the Alawitesect, practicing an offshoot of Shia Islam: 

We don’t want war. We don’t want our sons’ blood tobe shed in Arabian deserts. … We have marked a historic event bysaying ‘no’ to the motion [authorizing the military forcross-border operations]. The CHP has become the hope of allmothers and fathers. We will not disappoint them…

How can we describe the policy that put Turkey into thissituation? Is this “strategic depth,” or strategic blindness? Theprocess that resulted in Turkey’s becoming part of such ameaningless balance comes from a foreign minister whoseincompetence is known by the entire world. You don’t need deepknowledge to know that. You have to be a real idiot to dothat.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan sharply rebuked Kiliçdaroglu: 

It is not possible to understand how the CHP hasbecome blind due to the love it has for [Syrian President Basharal-] Assad. The people getting killed [as a result of the Syrianmortar strikes] are our citizens. They are our people, aren’tthey?

Were you expecting us to remain silent, Mr. [Kemal] Kiliçdaroglu?You might tolerate such [attacks], but we will not…

I want to remind this to Mr. Kiliçdaroglu: the issue of sect hasnever been influential in outlining Turkish foreign policy. Mostof those who fell from power along the period dubbed “Arab Spring” are Sunni.

We haven’t supported oppressors and dictators because they areSunni. Both a dictator and an oppressor may come out of aSunni. Wherever they come from, we are against all ofthem.

Hurriyet (Ankara) and Zaman (Istanbul)

IMF warns of an ‘alarmingly high’ risk of deep global slowdown

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday downgraded its economicprojections and warned of an “alarmingly high” risk of a seriousglobal slowdown because of fiscal problems in the U.S. and Europe.The risk for a deep global economic slowdown next year is “alarminglyhigh” because of several short term factors, the IMF said. The mostserious are a further deepening of the European debt crisis, failurein Washington to avert large tax hikes and government spending cutslooming in January, and another spike in oil prices caused by MiddleEast tensions. “A key issue is whether the global economy is justhitting another bout of turbulence in what was always expected to be aslow and bumpy recovery or whether the current slowdown has a morelasting component,” the IMF said. LA Times and IMF World Economic Outlook (PDF)

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