Posted to YouTube April 14, 2016.
Posted to YouTube March 31, 2016.
From the early sacking of the generals accustomed to the state that Kemal Ataturk bequeathed to the Turks to the latest and disingenuous assaults on the Kurdish People under the cover of fighting terrorism accompanied by something like the resurrection of the Kurdish PKK, a Marxist-infused movement dating back to the 1970s and long stalled in its ideological tracks but naturally mixed back into Kurdish politics, Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan has pursued a course in action, behavior, and language more familiar to Moscow than to Washington.
Add in that grandiose residence, the “White Palace”, a mixed development Versailles, but with its private residential part supporting some 250 rooms set on a landscape dotted with at least a few $10,000 trees imported from Italy.
On this post, the related and additional reference sections and fair-use excerpts should provide plenty for reflection on Turkey as a NATO state that while fulfilling its military contract has drifted as a democracy far into authoritarianism. Although the Moscow-Tehran axis blocks any chance of an Erdogan-Putin political “bromance” like that between Putin and Hungary’s Orban, who despite his state’s NATO membership has displayed the same drift toward authoritarian rule, Erdogan’s path remains the one that leads to dictatorship.
Related Reference — Freedom of the Press
https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2015/turkey – “Turkey: 5-Year Decline in Press Freedom”: “Conditions for media freedom in Turkey continued to deteriorate in 2014 after several years of decline. The government enacted new laws that expanded both the state’s power to block websites and the surveillance capability of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT). Journalists faced unprecedented legal obstacles as the courts restricted reporting on corruption and national security issues. The authorities also continued to aggressively use the penal code, criminal defamation laws, and the antiterrorism law to crack down on journalists and media outlets.”
http://www.dw.com/en/security-for-turkeys-erdogan-scuffles-with-journalists-in-washington/a-19157072 – “Security for Turkey’s Erdogan scuffles with journalists in Washington”: “The president’s security detail removed one opposition Turkish reporter from the speech room, kicked another and threw a third to the ground outside the Brookings Institution, in a melee that provided Washington’s foreign policy elite a firsthand glimpse at the state of the press in Turkey.” Note: In the United States, Secret Service details protect foreign heads of state. However, it appears that Brookings, Erdogan’s own security detail may have made moves against would-be Erdogan critics.
Related Reference — Human Rights
https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2015/country-chapters/turkey – “World Report 2015: Turkey – Events of 2014”
https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/europe-and-central-asia/turkey/report-turkey/ — “Turkey 2015/2016”
. . . Erdogan has used his strong Islamic credentials to project himself as a pious leader, when in fact he consistently engaged in favoritism, granting huge government contracts to those who supported him and to his family members, irrespective of conflicts of interest and the corruption that ensued as a result.
The breakdown in 2015 of the government-initiated peace process with Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has been accompanied by an increase in violent attacks, armed clashes, and serious human rights violations since summer 2015. The latter includes violations of the right to life and mass displacement of residents in eight southeastern towns where the security forces and PKK-affiliated youth groups have engaged in armed clashes, as well as denial of access to basic services including healthcare, food and education for residents placed under blanket curfew conditions for extended periods and in some cases months at a time. The past eight months have seen hundreds of security personnel, Kurdish armed fighters and civilians killed, with almost no government acknowledgement of the civilian death toll estimated at between 200 and 300 in this period. The renewed violence has provided the context too for numerous arrests of political activists and alleged armed youth on terrorism charges and ill-treatment of detainees.
See Richard Spencer’s piece, listed below, for an estimation of a changed PKK politics within the Kurdish effort to eject ISIS, where the Kurds of produced the most effective ground fighting force since the Syrian Tragedy took hold in 2011, and otherwise establish and sustain their autonomy despite their historic four-state division and subsequent treatment as an ethnic suzerainty.
“The PKK has become part of the people. You can’t separate them anymore,” said Zubeyde Zumrut (in Diyarbakir), co-chair of BDP, which won control of one hundred municipalities in the southeast of Turkey in the 2009 local elections and thirty-six parliamentary seats in the June 2011 national elections. “Which means if you want to solve this problem, you need to take the PKK into account.”
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent attack against academics – who signed a petition condemning military operations in Kurdish cities and calling for peace and negotiations – is yet another banal expression of the authoritarian politics that have long prevailed in Turkey under Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule. All authoritarian regimes are anti-intellectual and this tendency intensifies when they are in trouble. So it is not surprising that Turkey’s president and his party look for scapegoats to blame for their domestic and foreign policy failures. Indeed, authoritarianism is rarely a reflection of political power; rather, in most cases it is a result of weakness.
We joined the agency in January, hired to edit English-language news, but quickly found ourselves becoming English-language spin-doctors. The agency’s editorial line on its domestic politics – and Syria, in particular – was so intently pro-government that we might as well have been writing press releases. Two months into the job, we listened to Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç talking bollocks about press freedom from an event at London’s Chatham House, downplaying the number of imprisoned journalists in Turkey.
SPIEGEL: The government says it is exclusively pursuing terrorists.
Demirtas: The war is primarily focused on civilians that Erdogan suspects of supporting the PKK. Almost 400,000 people have had to leave their homes. The southeast of Turkey resembles Syria.
What has happened is that Turkey has decided to allow Iraqi Kurdistan’s army, the Peshmerga, to join the YPG, the PKK’s Syrian affiliate, in defending Kobane.
The Kurds of south-east Turkey cheering the Peshmerga convoy as it passes are of course hoping they will save their fellow Kurds in Kobane. But they are also cheering the new-found unity of the Kurdish cause. For once, the faction-fighting of their leaders has been set aside in a common purpose, and the Kurd in the street feels anything is now possible.
The Turkish PM is on a roll: About 10% of the country’s top brass are in jail, awaiting trial for allegedly plotting against him. Voters have given him a mandate to rewrite the country’s constitution, produced under the shadow of a 1980 military coup and that allowed the military to interfere in the process of governance.
But there are suspicions the evidence against the officers was fabricated and the moves are intended to silence the opposition. Numerous journalists and academics are being held on similar charges.
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