(Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)

Iran is preparing to elect a new leader to replace Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday. Turkey’s violent protests show a growing rift between secular and Islamic influences. Meanwhile, a Syrian helicopter has attacked a Lebanese town, and Syrian rebels have reportedly killed 60 Shiites. We discuss the latest news from the Middle East and what role the U.S. might play with a panel of experts.

Guests:
Aaron David Miller, vice president for new initiatives and distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Janine Zacharia, visiting lecturer at Stanford University and former Jerusalem bureau chief and Middle East correspondent for the Washington Post
Mahmood Monshipouri, associate professor of international relations at San Francisco State University who specializes in the Middle East and follows Iranian politics closely

  • thucy

    Forum Staff:
    On Tuesday, a listener named Larry posted a detailed legal question in response to your (excellent) segment on Snowden. Will you be following up on his question, and if so, can you tell us when? I think your “follow-ups” have been good.
    Separately, Business Insider has reported a related story involving the apparently sole telecom CEO to turn down NSA surveillance request as “unconstitutional”. He was subsequently prosecuted for unrelated crimes. Sounds like the prosecutorial harassment aimed at NSA whistleblower William Binney.
    The QWEST CEO’s name is Joseph Nacchio. Brooklyn-born. Son of a longshoreman. Might be interesting to have his defense lawyer on as a guest, or have Binney as a guest.
    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-story-of-joseph-nacchio-and-the-nsa-2013-6

  • Tarik Tihan

    As a Turkish American scholar who returned from Istanbul last week, I characterize the violence propogated by the government and police as one of the most atrocius in recent years. The government is doing everything to discredit, deface and undermine this legitimate protest, propogating all sorts of lies and totally controlling domestic media. Stories and photos can be seen in facebook, twitter and many websites but not on TV or newspapers from Turkey. See more at http://www.geziparksanfrancisco.org.
    Tarik Tihan, MD, PhD
    Professor of Pathology

  • Torremolinos

    Perhaps the Turkish protesters are learning the meaning of the the Greek saying, “never trust a Turk”.
    Little known fact: a genetic study was done and it turned out that only 5% of Turks are of Turkish descent. The rest are descended from Byzantines i.e. Hittites, Romans, Greeks etc. who were conquered by the invading Turks.

    • thucy

      And per Bob Kaplan’s “Balkan Ghosts”, Turkey’s neighbor, Greece, is the most ethnically mixed population in the Balkans, with no bloodline to Athens’ “Golden Age” whatsoever. All due to constant invasions/occupations by Turks, Celts, Russians, etc.

      You still got Kazantzakis and Eli Kazan and Costas Gavras out of the mix, though.

      And enough WWII resistance to strategically slow Hitler’s march into Russia. (Yugoslavia played a big part in that slowdown.) Not bad for an impoverished Balkan country perennially perched on the edge of disaster.

      • chrisnfolsom

        Does genetics really matter that much? I would imagine religion and family/political allegiance would be more important then chromosomes – there are few patches of racial “purity” in the world and I think as an argument is not worth much these days.

        • thucy

          I completely agree, Chris. And given some of the problems inherent in “purer” bloodlines. a mix is potentially an asset.

          • chrisnfolsom

            It is amazing – and I chuckle a bit – when people tend to group themselves in an almost familial/genetic way politically…As we all know and have seen those in the political/religious extreme can really get their teeth into others by claiming genetic kinship or unity.

            More to the point to this article it is so confusing to me how the Muslim, middle east, Arab, Sunni, Shea, Alawite, ect, ect, ect align against “the west”, but can’t sit in a room together. As I have mentioned before THEY need to sit together before we can do much and get over themselves and their differences religiously, politically, socially, religiously. I wish for the best, but they need to talk and talk and talk online, on the new, everywhere to try and at least build tolerance as without some level of tolerance you cant respect, compromise and/or live in peace.

          • thucy

            If you haven’t noticed, these days it’s not just THEY who can’t resolve their differences -even the GOP can’t reconcile with tea party extremists. Abortion providers have been bombed or shot dead by American Christian fanatics. We don’t like to peer too closely into the mirror – how much of Middle East and African strife is linked to the US oropping up corrupt dictators?
            And I hope we are not calling Turkey and/or Greece a “manufactured country”?

          • chrisnfolsom

            –To a certain degree that is my point – we are not much better, certainly not perfect, and getting involved and picking sides is not our business – yes I wish we could all hold hands and sing kumbaya….
            –Regarding the borders – I was more talking about the previous British controlled areas and other Muslim countries parted out after the British left. Turkey used to be part of Greece and the area has been conquered how many times?
            –I will say I am very annoyed that we don’t have politically active – on the news – individuals from the countries we are involved in. Just as I don’t want to see old white guys talking about women’s reproductive policy, I am tired of seeing Obama, or some other talking about Iraq, Syria, Iran – we have MANY people from every country in the world and if I am to be concerned – they should be even more concerned and involved – if not compelled somehow to be involved…

        • Torremolinos

          The point about bringing up the genetics of Turks is that people can sometimes forget who they are e.g. when they join a cult. In the case of the Turks, 95% of whom are not of ethnic Turkish origin, it may be a bit like that. Example result: only 40% of Turks believe in evolution.

          • chrisnfolsom

            Pride in one’s country and customs is a great tool which can be used for good (Germany) or evil (Germany)… It’s really tough with these manufactured countries most of them pieced together from geography by western countries and have very different social and genetic origins and as many have never really participated in the politics they live under it is going to be difficult to make them work.

            Not sure about the evolution reference – 46% of Americans believed in creationism, 32% believed in theistic evolution and 15% believe in evolution without any divine intervention. Americans are idot’s, or belong to cults which spew FUD over facts…. to protect their myths and stories. Over the last 30 years things haven’t really changed that much – up 2% from 44% for the creationists and up 6% from 9% for the “pure” evolutionists. Truly amazing and scary to the rest of the world as we have the bomb – only someone with a moral imperative beyond earth and reason would use such a thing, and if the trend continues by the next century we will be above 50% for creationism…..

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/americans-believe-in-creationism_n_1571127.html

          • thucy

            If that is so, the the US is the ultimate in “cult”. I mean, we’ve romanticized to the nth degree the idea that you can be from anywhere and be an American. And really, that’s not a bad thing.

          • chrisnfolsom

            A “cult” of inclusiveness is strange as usually cults are more exclusionary. I would say that given the current immigration “issues” a large part of America is hunkering in their bunkers, creating their own versions of history and trying to put blame and fault on others….. classic for conservative groups put under pressure.

  • Chris OConnell

    Where is the Realist, an objective analyst, a critic of Empire? Just
    anyone to throw cold water on the flag-waving American Exceptionalists (including the host) who, wittingly or not, pave the way and promote a new war. That’s what frames this discussion: bad, bad Iran and how can us innocent, good guys deal with such irrational wrongdoers.

  • Chris OConnell

    Please distinguish the Occupy protests in the US from the Turkey protests; and the government reaction as well. (Wow, it’s an autocracy now.)

  • Tarik Tihan

    The so called protesters who met with the Prime Minister were selected by the Prime Minister, and cannot represent any part of the protesters.

  • chrisnfolsom

    We need to promote that the Muslims and the Middle East countries make their own decisions. To have all the different factions playing political and religious games and being able to point fingers at the West as the bad guy when convenient is getting old. They need to take the blame and make things work – it may not be pretty, but we do not need to be the target of desperate groups and countries that in the end we cannot control. Of course there are many different issues and countries making it difficult (Russia, China), but we cannot continue to be in the middle of this.

    I think ultimately we have their best interests at heart – beyond the oil – and we have spent billions of dollars and many lives and in the end are hated more with no end in sight.

    If it comes to war then so be it – the west is not as it is today through negotiation alone – sometimes to get through sectarian belief systems you have to shake things up and sometimes a quick disaster is better than years of grinding which has produced even more extreme views and problems. I wish for a fuzzy feel good solution but just don’t see it.

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