Lebanon: So far the violence here has been against the government, not by the government, but that’s probably about to change so it’s worth being aware of the story. Sunni extremists inside Lebanon have made it clear that they plan to target leaders of the Shi’a Hizbullah militia/terrorist network in reprisal attacks for Hizbullah’s ongoing role saving the Assad regime in the Syrian Civil War. Now supporters of one cleric, Shaykh Ahmad al-Assir, have killed at least 6 Lebanese military personnel after some of their compatriots were detained by those personnel, the Lebanese government understandably interested in avoiding yet another sectarian war within its borders. Some action by the Lebanese government against Sunni extremists is inevitable, and will be justifiable to a point, but these kinds of things move past “justifiable” and into “oppressive” territory in fairly short order, so keep a close eye on this.
Syria: The Sunni extremists in Lebanon are acting in support of their fellow Sunni extremists in Syria, the ones we’re now arming because that won’t help exacerbate a regional sectarian war or funnel arms to terrorists or anything like that. Meanwhile, new clashes erupted in Damascus and Aleppo as the “Friends of (some of the people who live in) Syria” promised new aid to the rebels. French President Francois Hollande helpfully suggested that the moderate rebels, and don’t forget they’re there, drive extremists out of the rebel-held areas that they control, so the “Friends of (a portion of the population of) Syria” don’t get all squicky-feeling about sending weapons to al-Qaeda and stuff. I’m sure those moderate rebels will get right on that, just as soon as the extremists stop violently liquidating all the moderate militias, who are apparently mostly hated by the civilian populations because they loot and steal while the extremists behave themselves.
Hm, not much government violence here either, aside from the ongoing fighting. Consider the rebel-on-rebel fighting a sort of government-in-training violence, I guess.
Turkey: Another week, more of the same in the freest, most democratic, stablest country in the whole world. After a mostly calm week, government forces used water cannons to disperse crowds of protesters in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, like you see in all free and democratic societies. No word on whether the police are still adding Liberty Pepper Spray to their Freedom Cannons or not. Turkish PM Erdoğan held a rally for his supporters in the town of Samsun, where he accused the protesters of insulting Islam by inventing a bunch of demands they’ve never made:
“Let them go into mosques in their shoes, let them drink alcohol in our mosques, let them raise their hand to our headscarved girls,” he said.
Erdoğan then accused the protesters of aiding Turkey’s “enemies” in the international “interest-rate lobby,” which sounds like he’s blaming international bankers, and we all know the next station for that crazy train. These are all typical things for a stable, democratically-elected leader to say about peaceful protesters in his own country, and in no way sound like the mad ravings of a theocratic despot hurriedly shredding the last few vestiges of his rational mind.
By the way, The American Prospect has a great first-person account of the protests in Istanbul from Matthew Duss, here.
Brazil: The collective madness of the Brazilian people, who have taken to the streets in protest merely because their government is a semi-kleptocratic nightmare of inefficiency and corruption that has chosen to spend billions of dollars on a soccer tournament instead of, I don’t know, providing decent public services to its citizens. Over a million people are estimated to have protested around the country on Thursday, and around 250,000 yesterday, and a poll conducted by a respected Brazilian firm found that something like three quarters of the Brazilian population supports the protesters. President Dilma Rousseff affirmed the Brazilian people’s right to peaceful protest while police in several cities and towns used two of the the three traditional favorites in the “you DO have a right to protest, BUT…” toolbox, in this case tear gas and rubber bullets (the other being water cannons), to attack protesters who weren’t upholding proper protest decorum, possibly because they were blinded/suffocating and/or had been shot by a rubber bullet.