Carriers in motion to Gulf

Cry ‘havoc’ and let slip the dogs of war — around Jan. 1.

In Stratfor’s War Diary (subscription required), it’s being reported that the carrier USS Constellation will set sail for the Gulf later this week and will arrive in December. The USS Harry S. Truman is also due in late December or early January. These two carriers will relieve the USS Abraham Lincoln and the USS George Washington, which are currently stationed in the Gulf and the Mediterranean, respectively. However, if the Lincoln stays in the Gulf and the Washington moves there, that would give the United States four carriers by the beginning of 2003.
Also moving is the USS Kitty Hawk, which left Japan a few days ago, mission unknown. A British carrier is also on the move, apparently. Stratfor predicts an attack soon after the first of the year.
This seems likely since France seems to be weakening in the United Nations and Russia might be more likely to support a hard resolution after the Chechen hostage situation in the Nord-Ost theatre. Britain is with the United States, obviously, and China says it won’t veto a resolution. Bottom line: The U.S. will get its resolution.
Cry ‘havoc’ around the first of the year, me thinks. The dogs will be loos’d

Qatar denies coup attempt

Qatar denies rumors of an attempted coup and I, regretfully, eat crow.

Well, hell. Qatar has denied the reports of an attempted coup on Oct. 12, calling the rumor “nonsense.”
This is a tough call for me to make, especially after I blew it up as big as I did. But I’m not on the ground there, and I only have Stratfor and ArabicNews.com to go by. While both can be pretty reliable, the State Department has said there’s nothing to it and now Qatar says the same thing. For what it’s worth, I will say that it’s possible that something went down and both the U.S. and Qatar have vested interests in preserving the image of a happy, pacific partnership.
However, just because something is possible doesn’t mean it happened. I have to say until another source comes forward, it looks like rumors of a Qatari coup were just that — rumors. I regret compounding the error by publishing it. I will do better next time.

Happy birthday, Turkey

Happy 79th Birthday, Turkey!

Happy 79th birthday, Turkey! You look weeks younger!
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded by the modern Turkish state Oct. 29, 79 years ago. For all of Turkey’s problems today, no one should underestimate the determination and accomplishment of Atatürk. In the face of hostile enemies, a skeptical world and a collection of peoples with no reason to band together, he forged a modern and Western-facing nation out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. Regardless of how people view the modern Turkey, it’s a damn sight better than what might have been had he failed. And for that I tip my hat to Father Turk.
I also think that were he alive today, he would have brought the same energy, determination (and, frankly, authoritarianism) to the problems of the Republic. But he’s not, and Turkey needs to step out of the great man’s shadow and move on. Atatürk was able to accomplish what he did because he didn’t worry about the democratic process. And his approach was exactly right for what was needed at the time. But today, Turkey must embrace a full democracy and remove the military from the decision making process. The slogan that adorns the steps leading up to Atatürk’s mausoleum in Ankara should be amended. Instead of “Sovereignty rests with the Nation,” it should instead derive from the people — all of them, Turks and Kurds alike. His admonition to the army to protect the nation from all enemies foreign and domestic should come with the appendix the people are not the enemy; they are citizens.
I’d like to think that Atatürk would recognize this. Turkey no longer needs a Great Man. It needs a great people.