N & P: International Monkey Week Edition

Friday, December 18, 2020

For those of you who are unaware, this December 14 marked international Monkey Day. 

I'm a big fan of monkeys. I remember when I was in Agra, India, in 1999, I was sitting on the balcony of my hotel. A guy was walking down the street with a bag of groceries in his hand. From my vantage point, I could see a monkey hanging out first in a tree, and then on top of a tall wall. Concentrating on the pedestrian's plastic bag, the monkey made one big leap, grabbed a bunch of grapes out of the bag, the leapt up again onto the wall. In seconds, the grapes were gone. The man stopped, looked up at me, watching him, and shrugged. There was nothing to be done. 

Well, I guess that's monkey business for you. 

And what about in the Eurasian borderlands this week, was there no monkey business go on there? Let's have a look...


"When I'm feeling quiet, when
I'm feeling blue..."
President Erdoğan's poem reportedly "infuriates" Iranians. According to Al-Jazeera's report: the poem has stirred up considerable anger in Iran, where it was viewed as a challenge to Iran's territorial sovereignty over the Turkic-speaking northern part of the country. 

The poem recited by Erdogan laments how the Aras River has separated Azeri-speaking people in Azerbaijan and Iran and is a symbol of the pan-Turkism doctrine that seeks the unification of all Turks, including those living in Iran.

“They separated the Aras River and filled it with rocks and rods. I will not be separated from you. They have separated us forcibly,” said the poem.

Erdoğan and his poems. Of course, the Turkish president once famously went to prison due to the fact that he read a poem in public (back in the so-called "good old days" of Turkish democracy). He doesn't have to worry about something like that happening to him now, of course, so why not? And if it makes people around him angry, so much the better. 


A bigger story was the US sanctioning Turkey over its purchase of Russian missiles in 2017. The move had been made against the DJT administration's wishes, but the large-scale bipartisan support for the larger bill in which the sanctions were included guaranteed their passage no matter what. 

According to the New York Times: 

The sanctions will impose economic penalties on U.S. exports, authorizations or loans to the Turkish military procurement agency, and freezes the American-held assets of four of its top officials. The four officials are also barred from entering the United States.

Though the sanctions are limited to the military procurement agency, Turkish analysts said the penalties would curb the country’s defense industry and diplomacy with other nations.

“These sanctions are not ‘light’ as previously expected, but of ‘medium’ dose,”said Asli Aydintasbas, a journalist and fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Why would Ankara have wanted to buy Russian missiles in the first place? There are a number of potential reasons. Ultimately, I think it was in somebody's interest to purchase these weapons from Moscow, and they were probably hoping that no one in Washington would care. And I don't think anybody did until now. 

It will be interesting to see how far the Biden administration goes in trying to shake the "business as usual" attitude that Ankara may have gotten used to over the past four years. 

Here's some good news: the Financial Times selects vaccine founders Şahin and Türeci as their people of the year

Archeologists find mysterious structure in Istanbul. 


Russian serviceman killed clearing mines in Nagorno-Karabakh. 

A lot of talk about possible Russian "hacking" this week. To a certain degree, I've stayed away from this issue, because I think that a lot of anti-DJT folks simply latched onto the idea of Russian culpability for American choices in 2016. 

At the same time, it's weird to see people who work on Russia professionally simply, and consistently, dismissing the idea of Russian interference out of hand. I wonder what makes them so sure.


Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov dismisses notion that Moscow was behind Navalnyi poisoning. Said the report was "funny to read." 


In a totally unrelated story, Putin announces that people who ordered Nemtsov murder have been found. 


Bear News

Wildlife and other animal-related news items this week in Bozeman and beyond included:

Are you a Turk across empires? Order a copy today, then get another one for your library.

More commentary, photos, and links can be found in the Borderlands Lounge. 

No comments:

Post a Comment