A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘diasporas

[URBAN NOTE] Five city links: Montréal, New York City, Vancouver, Fukushima, Palermo

  • CBC reports on the new book of unofficial Montréal mascot Ponto.
  • This CityLab article looks at Co-op City, an affordable housing complex in the Bronx, and what it has to offer.
  • This proposal from Vancouver to give kids free transit and subsidies to low-income adults makes perfect sense to me.
  • Scientific American notes how many refugees from Fukushima, facing economic pressures, have been forced to return to communities they feel unsafe in.
  • This SCMP feature looks at how Asian immigrant shopkeepers in Palermo have been successfully resisting the mafia.

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait evaluates the doability of Elon Musk’s proposal for colonizing Mars.
  • blogTO notes that Casa Loma will be transformed into a haunted house for the month of October.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes NASA’s belief that Europa almost certainly has watery plumes.
  • False Steps shares an early American proposal for a lunar base.
  • Far Outliers notes the location of multiple massacres in Chinese military history.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that a far-right group is unhappy Alabama judge Roy Moore has been suspended.
  • The Map Room Blog notes the acquisition of a British-era map of Detroit.
  • Marginal Revolution speculates as to whether a country’s VAT promotes exports.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes the end of the Rosetta space probe.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog charts increases in maximum life expectancy over time.
  • Seriously Science notes a paper arguing that small talk diminishes happiness.
  • Towleroad reports on a gay Cameroonian asylum seeker in the United Kingdom at risk of deportation.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes Instapundit’s departure from Twitter without noting why Reynolds is leaving.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on the complexities surrounding the possibility of another Finno-Ugric festival.

[BRIEF NOTE] On the Turkmen of Syria, Turkey, Russia, and ongoing complexities

Friend of the blog Jussi Jalonen recently noted on Facebook that the Turkish shootdown of a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 on the Turkish-Syrian border, the pilots successfully escaping in parachutes only to be shot dead by Syrian Turkmen Brigades in Syria, underlines the complexities.

The Syrian Turkmen are a substantial ethnic minority, apparently concentrated near the Turkish border, amounting to the hundreds of thousands. How many hundreds of thousands? Might it even be millions? There’s no firm data, it seems, much as there is no firm data on the numbers of Iraqi Turkmen. What is known is that these Turkmen minorities are numerous, that their zones of inhabitation overlap at least in part with that of ethnic Kurds, and that they are politically close to Turkey. As Vox‘s Zack Beauchamp noted, in the particular case of Syria the Turkmen are opposed to Russia.

The Turkmen arrived in what’s now Syria centuries ago, as various different Turkic empires — first the Seljuks, then the Ottomans — encouraged Turkish migration into the territory to counterbalance the local Arab majority. Under Bashar al-Assad’s rule, the mostly Sunni Muslim Turkmen in Syria were an oppressed minority, denied even the right to teach their own children in their own language (a Turkish dialect).

However, the Turkmen didn’t immediately join the anti-Assad uprising in 2011. Instead, they were goaded into it by both sides. Assad persecuted them, treating them as a potential conduit for Turkish involvement in the Syrian civil war. Turkey, a longtime enemy of Assad, encouraged the Turkmen to oppose him with force. Pushed in the same direction by two major powers, the Turkmen officially joined the armed opposition in 2012.

Since then, they’ve gotten deeply involved in the civil war, receiving significant amounts of military aid from Ankara. Their location has brought them into conflict with the Assad regime, ISIS, and even the Western-backed Kurdish rebels (whom Turkey sees as a threat given its longstanding struggle with its own Kurdish population). Today, the Syrian Turkmen Brigades — the dominant Turkmen military faction — boast as many as 10,000 fighters, per the BBC, though the real number could be much lower.

The Turkmen role in the conflict has put them directly in Russia’s crosshairs. The Russians, contrary to their stated goal of fighting ISIS, have directed most of their military efforts to helping Assad’s forces fight rebels. The Turkmen have clashed repeatedly with Assad and his allies in the north — which led to Russian planes targeting Turkmen militants last week.

Turkey was not happy, and called in the Russian ambassador to register its disapproval. “It was stressed that the Russian side’s actions were not a fight against terror, but they bombed civilian Turkmen villages and this could lead to serious consequences,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a description of the meeting provided to Reuters.

Could, as Beauchamp suggests, the Turkish attack have been a warning to Russia to avoid attacking Turkey’s ethnic kin? It’s imaginable, at least.

All I can add is that there’s a tragic irony here. At least in part in an effort to diminish the negative consequences from Russia’s support of armed ethnic kin against their parent state in Ukraine, Russia has now come into conflict with Turkey’s armed ethnic kin as they fight against their parent state.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 24, 2015 at 4:33 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly writes about the things important to her.
  • Crooked Timber’s Chris Bertram shares a quietly beautiful picture of a Paris café late at night.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes a paper suggesting that atmospheric haze on exoplanets might be a biosignature.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes that the Earth appears not to have gotten its water from comets, and examines the geology of Mars’ massive Hellas crater.
  • Far Outliers notes initial Soviet goals in Afghanistan and looks at Soviet reluctance to get involved.
  • Joe. My. God. notes panic in the Republican Party establishment over a possible victory of Carson or Trump.
  • Language Hat notes some online resources on Beowulf and the Hittite language.
  • pollotenchegg maps the distribution of ethnic Germans in Ukraine in 1926.
  • Torontoist notes an architecturally sensitive data centre on Cabbagetown’s Parliament Street.
  • Towleroad notes Ukraine’s passage of a LGBT employment non-discrimination bill.
  • Window on Eurasia notes Putin’s attempt at forming an anti-globalist coalition and notes Russian opinions about Western passivity.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO notes that you can now LARP at Casa Loma.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the odd reddish marks on the surface of Saturn’s moon Tethys.
  • Crooked Timber takes issue with David Frum’s misrepresentation of an article on Mediterranean migration.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the discovery of the aurora of a nearby brown dwarf.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes evidence of carbonation on the Martian surface and suggests the presence of anomalous amounts of mercury on Earth associated with mass extinctions.
  • Geocurrents maps the terrifying strength of California’s drought.
  • Language Hat notes that Cockney is disappearing from London.
  • Language Log notes coded word usage on the Chinese Internet.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a paper examining the effects of hunting male lions.
  • The Map Room links to new maps of Ceres and Pluto.
  • The Planetary Society Blog examines the Dawn probe’s mapping orbits of Ceres.
  • Progressive Download traces the migration of the aloe plants over time from Arabia.
  • Savage Minds notes how hacktivists are being treated as terrorists.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how the Ukrainian war is leading to the spread of heavy weapons in Russia, looks at Russian opposition to a Crimean Tatar conference in Turkey, suggests that the West is letting Ukraine fight a limited war in Donbas, and looks at the falling Russian birthrate.

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • blogTO notes the heavy level of pollution in Toronto Harbour following recent rains, and suggests Toronto is set to get gigabit Internet speeds.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about her recent vacation in Donegal.
  • Centauri Dreams revisits Robert L. Forward’s Starwisp probe.
  • Crooked Timber speculates that there is hope for rapid action on climate change.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on an inflated hot Jupiter orbiting a F-class star.
  • The Dragon’s Tales shares a vintage supercomputer pamphlet.
  • Far Outliers looks at the collapse of the Comanche empire in the 1860s.
  • Language Log looks at the controversial English test in France.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money reacts to an overly broad pulling of computer games with Confederate flags.
  • Steve Munro reacts to the state of streetcar switches.
  • Torontoist looks at a queer art exhibition at Bay and Wellesley on sex ed.
  • Towleroad shares a straight-married Scottish bishop’s tale of same-sex love.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy notes that remembering the Civil War does not requite keeping the Confederate flag.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how few Crimeans identify with Russia and looks at Finnish, Estonian, and Hungarian influence on Russia’s Finno-Ugric minorities.

[LINK] “How an America-loving country became a jihadi hub”

Michael Petrou of MacLean’s notes the relative success of the Islamic State in finding recruits in Kosovo.

An April report by the Kosovo Center for Security Studies (KCSS) reveals that as of January, some 232 Kosovars have joined Islamist militant groups in Syria and Iraq, a rate of 125 recruits for every one million people living in the country. This is well ahead of Bosnia, which comes in second with 85 recruits per million, and of Belgium, the third-ranked country, with 42 recruits per million.

[. . .]

According to Shpend Kursani, an external research fellow at KCSS and author of the report, most Kosovars still have a positive view of America and NATO. And yet, he says, the majority of Kosovars fighting in the Middle East have joined Islamic State, a militia whose goals include waging war on the West—raising disturbing questions about Islamic State’s ability to penetrate communities that, being broadly secular and pro-Western, would seem to have little reason to support it.

Islamic State’s recruiting success in Kosovo upsets Kosovars who are not sympathetic to the group, or to their fellow citizens who join it. “There’s a sense that people joining Islamic State are betraying in many ways the very nation,” says Florian Bieber, professor of southeast European studies at the University of Graz.

The per capita numbers don’t tell the whole story. Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate from which it split, are Muslim supremacist outfits. Non-Muslims could never join them. When the percentage of recruits is calculated based exclusively on a country’s Muslim population, Kosovo falls lower in rank. It sends about 130 volunteers per one million Muslims in its population—far below several Western European countries, including Finland, which sends some 1,667 recruits per million Muslims, and Belgium, which sends 690.

By this calculation, Kosovo is similar to Bosnia, another Balkan nation with a large Muslim population, which sends 211 recruits for every one million Muslims living there. But Muslim Kosovars are still much more likely to join jihadist groups than Muslims in Albania and Turkey, both Muslim-majority countries. Turkey, which borders Syria and Iraq and is a major transit point for foreign fighters joining Islamic State, sends only eight recruits per million Muslims, barely six per cent of Kosovo’s rate.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 17, 2015 at 10:36 pm