Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Re: 2011 Turkish Elections Detailed Background info on Turkish political situation.Rise of Islamists and dictator Erdogan

On Wed, Jul 22, 2015 at 11:13 PM, gajendra singh <> wrote:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Turkish Voter Reigns in Riyadh Supported Islamists

Turkish Voter Reigns in Riyadh Supported Islamists

Constitution Meddling Would Challenge the Military

  "We have spoken, and now it is time for the people to speak," PM Erdoğan. 

People have ; against fundamental changes in the Constitution .

Economist Magazine, London ,"The best way for Turks to promote democracy would be to vote against the ruling party." "Erdoğan's victories over the army and judiciary have given him too much power and would now allow him to "indulge his natural intolerance of criticism" and feed his "autocratic instincts," it warned.

  "There is much to admire, internally and internationally, about the new Turkey. But peaceful revolutions can overreach themselves too, and it is vital that Turkish society is able to place some limits around Mr Erdogan's formidable ambitions. imperious ways, which include the jailing of journalists and a punitive approach to media organization with the temerity to criticise him. ,"The Guardian. 

"In Turkey no PM can keep his reign for more than a decade "Adnan Menderes (prime minister from 1950 to 1960), who was hanged in 1961 by the junta after the first coup d'état.

  2011 Election Results

Of over 50 million eligible voters in Turkey's population of 73 million, 84.5% cast the vote on 12 June. With 99% votes counted the ruling Justice and Development party ( AKP ) would got around 50% of votes but with likely 326 seats ( in a house of 550) will not be able to even put amendments for referendum except with support from the opposition. AKP had won 341 seats in 2007 with 4% less votes and two-thirds majority, 365 with only 35% votes in November 2002 elections , when it burst on the political scene , stunning everyone including itself . The party will form a government on its own a 3rd time running, while after the 1980 military coup , almost all earlier ones were coalition governments.

  Unless a party gets 10% votes ,it cannot get a seat in the Grand National Assembly. This high threshold has been passed to keep out Kurdish parties. In 2002 , nearly 49% of votes went waste. The 10% threshold creates piquant situations .It has kept out two major parties formed by Suleyman Demiral and late Turgut Ozal both prime ministers and then presidents . 

The main opposition Peoples Republican party (RPP) with 26% of votes will get 135 seats, 23 seats more than last time. RPP , established by the founder of the republic Kemal Ataturk had last won maximum seats in 1973 , 185 seats out of 450 ,and headed a coalition under late PM Bulent Ecevit .  The extreme nationalist National Movement Party (MHP) won 54 with 13% votes, but lost 17 seats.


To overcome 10% high threshold, Kurds fight elections as independents and have won 36 seats with 6.6% votes .They will join the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), a Kurdish party , which had endorsed them .They can form a parliamentary group, the quorum being 20 deputies. Officials accuse BDP of links to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).  


The new Parliament will have 78 women deputies , the highest ever , compared to 50 in the last one. One of them is Leyla Zana ,a Kurdish icon, many times imprisoned but defiant.


"The people have won-- will make a liberal constitution altogether," Erdogan. 

A chastened Erdogan , AKP's driving and dividing force conceded that 'The people have won." "We will embrace everyone, whether they voted for the AKP or not," he added in a speech at his party's headquarters late Sunday. "I say that if the main opposition and other opposition parties approve, we will sit and talk, and we will have dialogue with the political parties outside the Parliament, non-governmental organizations and associations. We will make a liberal constitution altogether. The east, the west, the north and the south will find themselves in this constitution." 

 "This new constitution will be addressed to every single individual in Turkey. In the new constitution, every citizen will be "the first." This constitution will focus on peace. This constitution will be the constitution of the Kurd, of Turkmen people, of Alevis, of all minorities, which means all 74 million people. This constitution will be for fraternity, for sharing, for unity and solidarity." 

RPP leader Kemal Kiliçdaroglu said late Sunday that the party has come out stronger from the election as a result of opposing Erdogan's plans for changing the Constitution. He said the party gained 3.5 million new voters in six months, and the highest percentage of votes since the Sept. 12, 1980 coup.  RPP protects minorities like the Shia Alevis , almost 10% of the population, mostly those who came as conquerors from central Asia . 

Kurds have greater faith in RPP than in NMP and AKP ."The Kurdish issue is the No. 1 problem in our attempt to become more democratic," said a graphic designer in Istanbul. "Having this problem and talking about democracy is absurd." Kurds remain dissatisfied . PKK rebellion organized by Abdulla Ocalan , now in prison for life since 1999 ,has cost nearly 40,000 lives including 5000 soldiers and creating problems across the board . 

Till mid 1980s ,Kurds had to call themselves Mountain Turks .Kurds cannot organize education and media in Kurdish language freely . During WWI the British occupied oil rich Kirkuk in Kurdish north Iraq after a ceasefire and instigated rebellions in Turkey's  Kurdish south east. It forced Ataturk to disenfranchise Kurds , a people who have inhabited the region straddling Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria and total around 25 million, much before the arrival of the Turks into Anatolia. 

The author first visited south east Turkey and Diyarbakir , biggest Kurdish city first time in 1969 and was greeted by young boys singing Kurdish songs .He then made many visits, the last visit to Diyarbakir and the region was in 1997, when the rebellion was in full play

."I'm a military officer and I'm driving this taxi on weekends," said Ahmet Zorlu, when asked about his voting priorities. "That's enough of an answer." This sums up the views of the opposition to AKP and its policies by secular elite which includes the judiciary, the military and the intelligencia in the media and the academia.  

Fifty seven year old Erdogan born in Rize on the Black Sea coast ,but grew up in lower middle class Istanbul .On the international stage, he often cuts an awkward, slightly defensive figure - tall, but stiff and unsmiling; at home , he comes alive, responding with jokes, sarcasm and even poetry to the crowds of supporters who throng his rallies. Turks in the teeming cities or small Anatolian towns love his combative charisma. Now that Turkey does not need Israel as an ally , his willingness to condemn Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians ( who during Ottoman days were faithful subjects ) has not only strengthened his Islamic base, but also made him a hugely popular leader among masses in the Middle East.

  AKP's opponents are worried about Erdogan's cult of personality and ambitions which has turned into hubris, that threatens the very democracy his party strengthened when it came to power in late 2002.  All are uneasy about Erdogan's plans to transform Turkey's political system from a European parliamentary model to a US style presidential system with a strong executive branch, under him.

  Turkey, currently the 17th economy in the world (and which aspires to be one of the top 10), has an 8.9% growth rate, making the Turkish economy the most dynamic among European countries. It's no wonder Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu claimed in a television interview that "Turkey is like a giant which has woken up." But 17% of Turkish population lives below the poverty line, and unemployment is around 12% .But this is still much lower than in Europe and no financial institution has gone bankrupt in the last decade in Turkey. 

In a public-opinion poll before the elections it appeared that the most worrisome element in the Turks' daily life is neither PKK terrorism nor the EU harmonization, but poverty and unemployment.

  While the economy appears to be a grand success, with GDP per head more than doubling during AK's time in office, Mehmet Simsek, the finance minister, concedes that the economy shrank sharply in the recession of 2009.But it bounced back last year. As for the risk of overheating, Simsek admits that the economy is "very hot", but insists that it is now cooling fast. The economy has serious weaknesses. A splurge of consumer spending combined with a big inflow of foreign capital has widened the current-account deficit to a gaping 8% of GDP . Were the foreign money (from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf ) suddenly to dry up,Turkey could easily find itself heading into a bust once again. Fiscal policy should have been tightened more and sooner. 

The Economist had criticized Erdoğan and AKP party for its "authoritarian" tendencies before the elections after a polarizing campaign. In its last Thursday's article, entitled "Turkey's bitter elections," The Economist drew attention to Erdoğan's proposals to change "the ministry for women" into "the ministry for family and social policies," along with seven other Cabinet jobs. 

"It is now official: women should have babies and stay at home," the magazine quoted Turkish feminists as saying in response to Erdoğan's statements earlier that week. The magazine also noted that this conservative move "set off alarm bells among those who recall the AKP government's previous efforts to criminalize adultery and Mr. Erdoğan's calls for women to have at least three children." Erdogan also attempted to introduce "alcohol-free zones" and control sale of liquor .

  Economist is not my favourite read as it echoes Washington line in better English .The author has lampooned its writes on so called Rose Revolution in Georgia ie US franchised street revolutions for regime changes and on other matters .But this time around it had a point.

Erdogan was tried for utterances "Minarets are our bayonets, domes are our helmets, mosques are our barracks, believers are our soldiers," convicted and jailed for 4 months. He had also said "Thank God, I am for Shariah," "For us, democracy is a means to an end." (Shades of Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria) and, "One cannot be a secularist and a Muslim at the same time." So his drive and passion makes people uneasy and scared .

Yesil Surmaye aka green money from Saudi Arabia 

But why is the corporate Western media silent and not exposing the Yesil Surmaye aka green money from Saudi Arabia , poured into Turkey in direct massive gifts from mid 1990s and as investment in central Anatolia , stronghold of the AKP , from where its leadership originates ,in towns like Konya ( Iconium) of whirling dervishes and Kayseri (Caesarea Mazaca) 

The author was desk officer in External affairs dealing with Turkey from 1967 before serving as  first secretary /CDA (1969-73 ) and then as ambassador ( 1992-96 ) and finally as freelance journalist (1996-98) .He was selected for Ankara in 1988 but his posting was cancelled after agreement by a feudal minded Jat minister ,who hated Rajputs and misled late Rajiv Gandhi . ( Watch this space for more) 

During 1990s I used to be surprised by the prosperity in these barren harsh lands brought about by Saudi gifts and investment .I came to know President Abdullah Gul , a sober balanced politician compared to Erdogan. 

"There was this young man, with 1960s Turkish matinee idol looks, smiling to attract my attention, in that throng of media and TV cameramen around us. Suddenly the penny dropped. Yes, a few weeks earlier while I had a few drinks at my First secretary's flat in Ankara, he sipped lemon water. He was very keen to meet with me. So, I now went over and shook his hands. That was in end 1992. 

"And the young man was Abdullah Gul, recently home after a stint (7 years) at the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah and put in charge of foreign affairs by Najmettin Erbakan, President of Islamist Welfare party. Most ambassadors in Ankara avoided looking up Erbakan, but I kept my promise. Hence the media attention.

When it seemed in 2007 that Erdogan would go for the Presidency , millions poured out in protest against him in Turkey's capital Ankara , commercial and cultural metropolis Istanbul and Mediterranean port of Izmir , the historical Smyrna .

  I did not have a chance to meet with Erdogan , then a very successful mayor of Istanbul, who made his name for honesty .Of course unlike almost all non-Islamist parties , which had become mired in corruption ,Erdogan did not need bribes . As early as August 2001, Rahmi Koç, chairman of Koç Holding, Turkey's largest and oldest conglomerate commented on CNN Türk that Erdoğan has a US$1 billion fortune and asked the source of his wealth. Erdogan has remained silent. 

According to WikiLeaks, Eric Edelman, the then U.S. ambassador to Turkey, wrote in a cable to Washington on Dec. 30, 2004. 

"We have heard from two contacts that Erdoğan has eight accounts in Swiss banks; his explanations that his wealth comes from the wedding presents guests gave his son and that a Turkish businessman is paying the educational expenses of all four Erdoğan children in the U.S. purely altruistically are lame." " "--an anonymous source told [him] that Erdoğan and [the source] benefited directly from the award of the Tüpraş privatization to a consortium including a Russian partner.", said Edelman in another cable.(The Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation, or Tüpraş, is the state petroleum refinery. A Russian-Turkish consortium paid nearly $1.3 billion for the privatization of the country's largest-capacity refinery in 2004.) Edelman also listed former ministers Abdülkadir Aksu, Kürşat Tüzmen and Istanbul provincial chairman Mehmet Müezzinoğlu as the most corrupt politicians in Turkey. 

These allegations were hotly denied by Erdogan but have refused to die down.

AKP came to power in 2002 on the strength of its image as fresh and honest party amidst a sea of corrupt establishment parties, but since then AKP's own finances appear to have become murky , blurring the distinction between business and politics. Turkish domestic and foreign policy is influenced by the influx of "green money," from governments like Saudi Arabia and wealthy Islamist businessmen in other Gulf Emirates.

Some Turkish professional bureaucrats, businessmen, journalists, and even politicians raised the question of Saudi money flowing into AKP coffers through green money business intermediaries. "The problem is Saudi Arabia. If you solve that, then our problem is solved," one independent parliamentarian told Rubin.( Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute in an article "Green Money, Islamist Politics in Turkey" for the Middle East Quarterly of 2005 ) A former member of the AKP concurred: "Before the 2002 election, there were rumors that an AKP victory would lead to an infusion of $10-$20 billion, mostly from Saudi Arabia. It looks like the rumors came true." 

While Turkish journalists and officials acknowledge that Saudi investment in Turkey and Turkish politics has increased since 2002, the exact nature of the investment is murky and circumstantial. Prior to the AKP's 2002 election victory, Abdullah Gül criticized state scrutiny of the Islamic enterprises, accusing the secular government of acting unfairly. Between 1983 and 1991, Gül worked at the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The Islamic banks—and especially those sponsored by Saudi Arabia—regularly channel money to Islamist enterprises. On November 9, 2004, Deniz Baykal, leader of the parliamentary opposition RPP , accused the AKP of trying to create a religion-based economy. It is also affecting Turkey's foreign policy.

Some Turkish economists suggest that after 11/9 Saudi and other Persian Gulf citizens' liquidated their U.S. holdings Some bankers estimate that individual Saudi investors withdrew between $100 and $200 billion. One Turkish economist suggested that, even if Saudi citizens moved $20 billion to France, $10 billion to Lebanon, and $6 billion to Switzerland, there would still be ample funds left to invest unofficially in Turkey. The money may support legitimate businesses. But, if both the investor and business fail to declare it, then such funds might remain immune to taxation and regulation. Various estimated of the green money infusion into the Turkish economy is between $6 billion and $12 billon.

It may turn out to be a wise move , with the US economy in decline and talk of temporary debt default and dark allegations of missing gold in Fort Knox.US debt now amounts to $14 trillion ,as much as its GDP , of which according to one source 41% is contributed by 'Financial industry" , along with a stimulus of  $ 2.8 trillion which exists only on computer screens .S and P believe that US does not deserve AAA classification for investment .Let us see when the house of card would begin to collapse . 

Much of the money enters Turkey "in suitcases" with couriers and remains in the unofficial economy. Even when deposited, banks ask no questions about the origins of the cash. "Money laundering is one of the worst aspects of Turkish politics," a former state planning official said. Political parties across the political spectrum have illegal slush fund. Under the AKP, the unofficial economy has grown exponentially. 

Official Turkish statistics provide some clue to the scope of the problem. Between 2002 and 2003, the summary balance of payments for net error and omission category—basically unexplained income—increased from $149 million to almost $4 billion. This is an eighty-year record error. In the first six months of 2004, an additional $1.3 billion entered the system, its origins unaccounted. According to Kesici, an economist there could be as much as a $2 billion overestimation in tourism revenue. 

Riyadh wants to build up Turkey as a powerful Sunni state to counter Iran's influence.USA and Europe also support that view .Hence so little in Western media about Saudi Green Money's role in Turkish politics .But so far Ankara has followed a rational policy regarding Tehran. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, its historical enemy ,which had forced Ankara to join NATO in 1950s , when Moscow demanded return of two Turkish provinces in north East and role in 1936  Montreux Convention that gives it control over the Bosporus Straits and the Dardanelles ,Turkey , a regional power with the largest military after USA in NATO , feels free to pursue an independent foreign policy.

 Rise of Islamists in Turkish Republic

It was Nacemettin Erbakan who founded the very first Islamist National Order party (NOP) in 1969, when prime minister Suleyman Demirel, his class fellow in Istanbul's Engineering school, refused him an Assembly slot. When NOP was closed in 1971 after the regime change, Erbakan established National Salvation party (NSP) and was twice deputy prime minister in 1970s coalition governments. After the 1980 takeover, the military banned all parties. Later when restrictions were removed Erbakan established the Welfare party, in which Abdullah Gul and Erdogan were prominent young new comers.

Erdogan was elected Mayor of Istanbul in 1995 and was apparently a great success. In the 1996 coalition headed by Erbakan, Gul became a State Minister .In 1997 the military forced Erbakan to resign for not curbing Muslim fundamentalism. Later Erbakan's party was closed and he was banned from political activity. 

Erdogan's jail experience following his conviction mentioned earlier was traumatic and a turning point. He and others like Gul saw the futility of fighting against the secular establishment on an open Islamic agenda. In 2001 they established AKP and the rest is history , but is full of controversies. Many AKP sympathizers felt and claimed that like moderate Christian parties in Europe ,it could also become a moderate Islamic party , but these hopes have been belied 


Adnan Menderes and his hanging ; an echo from the past.

Since the creation of the republic in 1923 , Turkey was ruled by Republican People Party (RPP ). In spite of his wish and some attempts to introduce multiparty democracy, Ataturk gave up when Kurdish revolts and Islamic obscurantism reared its head. .

But after WWII , in which following Ataturk's advice ,under his successor Ismet Inonu ,Ankara remained neutral ,there was pressure on Turkey to introduce multiparty democracy .So before the first elections in 1947 , a new Democrat party was formed by Adnan Menderes and a former PM Celal Bayar .

Menderes , son of a wealthy landowner, born in 1899 in Aydin ,had fought against the invading Greeks and was a trained lawyer .His efforts to establish a political party in 1930s were obstructed  so he joined Ataturk's RPP and became a deputy. In 1945, he was expelled from the party with two other colleagues because of opposition to nationalisation policies .

Democrat party made its presence felt in 1947 elections but in the 1950 elections, DP won 52% of the votes in the first free elections in Turkish history on 14 May (in which votes were cast in secret and counted openly), Menderes became the prime minister and later won two more free elections, one in 1954 and the other in 1957. No other politician has ever been able to win three general elections in a row in Turkey. Except again NOW!

Coming after an austere and dreary Jacobinistic secular era of Ataturk ,Menderes more tolerant towards traditional lifestyles and different forms of practice was liked by the masses. He had campaigned in the 1950 elections on the platform of legalizing the Arabic language and Muslim call to prayer which was banned . He re-opened thousands of mosques across the country which were left abandoned . In one of his speeches, he said that members of parliament could bring back Sharia law if they so desired. 

His economic policies after the earlier years of affluence , helped by US grants , brought the country to insolvency due to an enormous increase in imports of goods and technology .Menderes was most intolerant towards criticism, so he instituted press censorship and had journalists arrested.  He also  attempted to oppress the opposing political parties and to take institutions such as universities under his control. His policies annoyed the armed forces and even venerable Inonu , Ataturk's right hand man and successor who was insulted . Having lost power and pelf since 1950, the military was most upset .

Menderes became a strong headed politician but was very popular among the masses .His survival from an air crash near London in 1959 further added to his charisma .But he was over taken by hubris and upset too many sectors of the society and polity, specially the military and his political opponents .A young colonels coup under Cemal Gursel led to the overthrow of Menderes government .He was tried and hanged along with two ministers .Many compare it to the later hanging of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto , who was hanged by Gen Zia ul Haq , selected by Bhutto himself , since it was feared that if Bhutto was returned to power , he would seek revenge on Gen Zia.

There are many shades of similarity with Menderes , so Erdogan better heed history .

Turkish media corporatized and beholden to the Ruling party

Media like elsewhere ,led by USA, has been captured by corporate houses ( half a dozen control 90% of media in US). Turkey used to have a vibrant press with a number of national papers till some years ago. Now it is difficult to get unbiased news in Turkish media .There has been a consolidation of ownership to just a few business houses . The Doğan Group, for example, owns not only well-known dailies like Hürriyet and Milliyet but also Radikal, Posta, and the Hurriyet ( oldTurkish) Daily News among others. Together these capture perhaps 50 percent of total Turkish daily circulation. In addition, Doğan Group television stations like CNN Türk and Kanal D have perhaps a 20 percent market share.

The problem is not that Doğan companies always tow the party line. Many Turkish journalists produce hard-hitting analysis. But a number of journalists complain of self-censorship. The same media barons who own a large portion of the press have branched into other sectors where they are more dependent on government largesse. "Everyone is vulnerable—economically and politically—if they oppose the government," a businessman explained. It is foolhardy to annoy the government. The Uzan group which opposed AKP was decimated.

The Guardian wrote a piece on 30 September, 2010  on the curbs on media ever since AKP took over in 2002, Erdogan has been accused of seeking to quash dissident voices. In August 2010 Bekir Coskun, a militantly secular columnist for a mass-circulation daily, Habertürk, was sacked under pressure from the government .There has been a steady dismissal of anti-government journalists from the mainstream media which has reinforced the view that Erdogan is intolerant of criticism. In September 2009, Aydin Dogan, was slapped with a huge fine for alleged tax fraud (with accrued interest, the fine stands at $3.7 billion).

"Under AK the press has been declared the enemy," says Ferai Tinc, who runs a media watchdog. According to the International Federation of Journalists over 40 Turkish journalists are in jail and around 700 others face trial, many of them Kurds accused of spreading separatist propaganda. One, Irfan Aktan, was sentenced to 15 months in prison in June for quoting a rebel of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Mehmet Baransu, an investigative reporter who has exposed a string of alleged coup plots and episodes of army incompetence, has faced 40 separate court cases and received six convictions in the past 15 months. The government has gone back on promises to ease tough media laws.

Erdogan likes to recall, hundreds of journalists (again, mostly Kurds) who were imprisoned or kidnapped at the height of the PKK insurgency in the 1990s. Many died in so-called "mystery murders" thought to have been carried out by rogue security forces. Yet few in the mainstream press uttered a peep, for fear of falling foul of the generals. Corporate media bosses often buckle under state pressure to protect their business interests. Today almost everybody, be they Kurdish, secular or anti-army, are under pressure. "The net," concludes Mrs Tinc, "has widened like never before."

Military in Politics ;Struggle between Miri and Piri in Muslim countries

In mid 1990s a British journalist was going on and on against the role of military in Turkish politics .Finally I said when and what the Windsors or its earlier incarnation German Saxe-Coburg and Gothadid for the United Kingdom .Still a family and its hangers on along with its perennial feudal landed elite and an incrementally added economic elite rule over the masses differentiated as ' we and they' . Yes , with little to do except cutting ribbons the British Royals provide endless media gossip of extramarital and other , even sordid affairs with salacious details to satisfy the citizens like circus in Roman empire .'They' become teachers , bank tellers ,waiters , nurses, read weather news on BBC ,the junior commissioned officers parading proudly with pieces of bronze and coloured ribbons , and sent to die in Iraq, Afghanistan and Malvinas (Does not British Govt mouthpiece BBC describe Kashmir as India administered and 2611 terrorists as gunmen)

Of the oldest of the three revealed religions, Judaism's only state since ancient times , Israel , founded on leftist tenets has since morphed into a rule by Zionist-Military oligarchy. Christians after centuries of warfare in Europe managed to create secular polities which are still underpinned if not haunted by sectional religious ideologies. In the last of 'the Book' based polity Islam, the lines between the Mir and the Pir ,the temporal ruler and spiritual ruler still remain blurred ,contested and changing. 
After the 1979 revolution in Iran , Shias created the ideal but mythical office of Imam in the person of Ruhoallah Khomeini . The status of the Imam was evolved into the doctrines of intercession and infallibility, i.e., of the faqih/mutjahid .But the Iranians have since found that a system based on the concepts of 7th century AD was inadequate to confront and solve the problems of 21st century.

Prophet Mohammad was both the religious leader and military commander. But the Arab Caliphs lost out on power by 10th century to the Turkish slaves from central Asia who formed the core of their fighting forces .The Turks raised the minor title of Sultan to a high rank who literally became a protector of the Caliph , left with only spiritual powers. Even this role was seized by the Ottoman Sultans ruling from Istanbul..

Turkey, known in the past as Asia minor and Anatolia , which comprises most of  today's  Republic is located at the juncture of Asia ( and connected to Central Asia via the Caucasus), Africa and Europe ,with the straits of Bosporus and Dardanelles separating Asia and Europe .Ruled in the  past by Achaemenid Persians  ; Greeks, Romans and Byzantines ;and then by Muslim Seljuk and  finally Seljuk and Ottoman Turks, the inhabitants of Anatolia have tough identity problems ( Perhaps 15% only are migrants from central Asia , mostly now Alevis and many times victims of Sunni Muslim establishment ). So there is a spiritual and psychological dichotomy between the Europe oriented elite ( with perhaps many originally of European ethnic origin) at the head and a conservative oriental majority in the body politic of Turkey.

Ataturk cut the Gordian Knot of Secular and Religious

After the modernising and westernising reforms and measures during the last century of the Ottoman rule , after  the collapse of the Ottoman empire , Ataturk cut the Gordian Knot by disenfranchising Islam in the Republic . It included the abolition of the Caliphate , closure of various tariqas aka Sufi and other brotherhoods ,with Whirling Dervishes of Rumi's Konya becoming  tourist attractions , change over for Turkish language script from unsuitable Arabic script to Roman script , excluding Arabic and Persian words and adding French and English words The Fez and Ottoman loose trousers were banned and replaced by western hats and caps with European style jackets and trousers .So do not be misled that wearing of western clothes has transformed the thinking of Anatolians into western thinking and mores .Ataturk also decreed that the 6 century AD magnificent Byzantine St. Sophia Church , which was converted into a mosque by the addition  of  minarets  in 1453, after  Ottoman Sultan Fethi had conquered the city of  Constantinople be turned into a museum .In Topkapi Museum you can gaze at the doors from Mecca , dresses, swords etc of Prophet Mohammad and the Caliphs .( in mid 1960s , loss of a few hairs of Prophet Mohammad in Hajratbal in Kashmir had created an ugly situation)

Since the establishment of the republic , Turkey has witnessed three coups d'état -- in 1960, 1971 and 1980 -- and in 1997 the military forced a coalition government to step down. 

The 1960 and 1980 were full-fledged coups , when the armed forces took over power , brought out a new Constitutions and handed power back to the politicians . The 1960 coup was a colonels coup with Gen Gursel at its head .He had to exile the head strong colonels , led by Col Alparslan Turkesh ( who later founded the Nationalist Movement party now led by Bahcheli) out of Turkey as they had planned to rule the country .


The 1971 half coup was by a memorandum by the National Security Council (NSC) , under pressure from junior officers and changed the regime . Suleman Demirle was replaced by Nihat Erim to carry out socialist reforms .The 1997 quarter coup forced the first ever Islamist PM Erbakan heading a coalition government to resign and make way for a new secular government. The author then based in Ankara in 1971 and 1997 was a witness to the events .

Changing role of the National Security Council

Following the 1960 coup, the 1961 constitution transformed the earlier innocuous National Defense High Council into the National Security Council.  The president of the republic, instead of the prime minister, was made its chairperson, and "representatives" of the army, navy, air force and the police became its members, apart from the prime minister and four other ministers. The council became a constitutional body and offered "information" to the Council of Ministers (cabinet) concerning the internal and external security of the country.  After constitutional amendments following the 1971-1973 military intervention, it has submitted its "recommendations" to the Council of Ministers.


The 1982 constitution, a less liberal product and the result of the 1980-1983 military intervention, further strengthened the NSC's role by obliging the Council of Ministers to give priority to its recommendations.  Threats from military members of the NSC made then premier Suleyman Demirel resign in 1971, and the first-ever Islamist premier, Necmettin Erbakan, then heading a coalition with a secular party, was forced to leave in 1997 for not curbing increasing fundamentalism in Turkey.  Both the times, direct military takeovers were avoided.  The military intervened directly in 1960 and 1980 when politicians had brought the country to an impasse. Before the 1980 coup, hundreds of people were killed in daily violence while the politicians had abdicated responsibility by refusing to even elect a president of the republic .But after cleaning up the mess and getting a new constitution in place, the armed forces, as usual, returned to their barracks.

Trials and badmouthing of generals who were forced to carry out the 1980s coup is irrational and like disturbing the hornets nest .There would be a blow back . 

The Turkish armed forces have traditionally enjoyed total autonomy in their affairs and are very sensitive about it.  Their chief of general Staff (CGS) ranks after only the prime minister, and along with the president forms the troika that ruled the country. Turkish people have great respect and regard for its armed forces and trust them more than the politicians.

When I returned to Ankara as head of mission in 1992 , I praised the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly for putting up a brave front during the military's attempt to get Gen Faruk Gurler elected as the President of the Republic in 1973 .He said yes ,but the politicians had to pay a heavy price ie banning of mainline political parties and their leaders and their imprisonment .


The inhabitants of Turkey always a very passionate people , influencing and influenced by outside philosophy and ideas ,have a tendency for vendettas , a habit inculcated after half a millennia rule by tribal customs of Ottoman ruling elite and earlier the Seljuk from central Asia .



While there were many reasons , historic , economic and organic for the decline and fall of the Ottoman empire , but with the taking over of the holy places in Mecca and Medina and the title of the Caliph, began the era of decline .Immediately there was an increased influx of Mullahs , Shiekhs and orthodox Islamic habits and beliefs  , which soon opposed study of modern science and knowledge .The Ottoman society and elite became closed to new ideas while the Europeans made progress in science and new ideas and technology ; industrial and military.

The central Asian Turks , many of them Buddhists , were cosmopolitan and not Salafist .Many wives of the Ottoman Sultans in the beginning of the empire were Christian princesses , who were allowed to keep their Church in the harem .Some of the Ottoman Sultans were brought up as Christians boys in childhood by their Christian mothers till they were taken away from the harem to be trained as Gazis and warriors of the faith .

As in Ottoman era , so now ,the increasing influence of Saudi money and obscurantist ideas would not be beneficial and the Turkish society will regress into old habits .The controversies and fights over the veil or 'Ergenekon' mystery and trials are only symptoms of the battle .It suits US led West to keep Muslims backward and divided .The funding of conservative Muslim regimes and groups was used by the British and taken up by Washington after WWII, with Riyadh now the western bagman , to keep the thousands of Princes rolling in wealth and some in sin . Look at the mal-influence of Saudi money and ideology on Pakistan and elsewhere.

So what is happening in Turkey is a struggle between the Mir and the Pir ,the temporal ruler and spiritual ruler ,which still remains blurred ,contested and changing in most Muslim countries. Coming into power of AKP is retrograde development .There will be many ups and downs and episodes, some even bloody, before a balance is achieved, if at all, but not any time soon .


K.Gajendra Singh 14 June, 2011,Delhi 

K Gajendra Singh served as ambassador of India to Turkey and Azerbaijan from August 1992 to April 1996. Prior to that, he was ambassador to Jordan, Romania and Senegal. Apart from postings in Dakar, Paris, Bucharest , the author spent his diplomatic career in North Africa , Middle east and Turkic countries ( ten years in Turkey in two tenures ).He spent 1976 with National Defence college , New Delhi , established the Foreign Service Institute for training of diplomats ( 1987-89), was chairman / managing director of IDPL , India's largest Drugs and Pharmaceuticals company ( 1985  and 1986 ) and while posted at Amman( 1989-92) evacuated nearly 140,000 Indian nationals who had come from Kuwait. He is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Turkey ‘s Situation going to get worse than better ,if at all; Armed Forces in the Reckoning

Turkey 's Situation going to get worse than better ,if at all; Armed Forces in the Reckoning 


After the Fall of the Berlin Wall and unraveling and collapse of Scientific Socialism  , the world has seen the rise of fanatic version of religions and neoliberal / criminal capitalism everywhere and terrible inequality . Some Human Progress ??!!


Historical background to conflict between Pir and Mir 

Of the oldest of the three revealed religions, Judaism's only state since ancient times , Israel , founded on leftist tenets has since morphed into a rule by Zionist-Military oligarchy. Christians after centuries of warfare in Europe managed to create secular polities which are still underpinned if not haunted by sectional religious ideologies. In the last of 'the Book' based polity Islam, the lines between the Mir and the Pir ,the temporal ruler and spiritual ruler still remain blurred ,contested and changing.
After the 1979 revolution in Iran , Shias created the ideal but mythical office of Imam in the person of Ruhoallah Khomeini . The status of the Imam was evolved into the doctrines of intercession and infallibility, i.e., of the faqih/mutjahid .But the Iranians have since found that a system based on the concepts of 7th century AD was inadequate to confront and solve the problems of 21st century.

Nevertheless, like the first Imam Ali, Iran is ruled by the supreme religious leader, Ali Khameini , who incidentally is Azeri Turk .The cement keeping Iran united now is its common heritage and Islam. In Syria the ruling Shia Alewite elite ,12% of the population has been staunchly secular under the Assads since four decades. In Lebanon the Hezbollah, which coordinates with some secular strands,  combines in Hassan Nasrallah, the powers of both a military and spiritual leader. To understand the evolving situation around Pakistan and Afghanistan we might look at some what similar situations in Islamic history.
Prophet Mohammad was both the religious leader and military commander. But the Arab Caliphs lost out on power by 10th century to the Turkish slaves from central Asia who formed the core of their fighting forces .The Turks raised the minor title of Sultan to a high rank who literally became a protector of the Caliph , left with only spiritual powers. Even this role was seized by the Ottoman Sultans ruling from Istanbul.

The Pir and Mir conflict exists in all Muslim countries , so donot rule out the role of military in stabilising the situation at home in Turkey and guarding its borders and foreign policy away from its excesses under Erdogan -pretender Neo-Sultan and Caliph.

Erdogan on the Ropes

Among the many things behind the storm that staggered Turkey's ruling party in last week's elections, a disastrous foreign policy looms large. But a major factor behind the fall of the previously invincible Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a grassroots revolt against rising poverty, growing inequality and the AKP's war on trade unions.


With political instability and economic downturn and differences among all political parties with different ideologies the situation in and around Turkey remains unstable and uncertain.


For internal post election situation see an excellent piece, below, from Counter Punch.


For a possible and likely role of Turkish Armed Forces , which cannot be ruled out both for internal security , against Erdogan's Islamist and dictatorial policies and terminating his disastrous foreign policy and open support and assistance to extremists in Syria including ISIS and other groups , the military may be required or may have to step in.


The military has been defanged , harassed and humiliated but may turn out to be last resort by chaos or on its own.


But after cleaning up the mess created by the politicians in 1961 and 1980 and getting a new constitution in place, the armed forces, self-styled custodians of Kemal Ataturk's legacy of secularism, as usual, returned to the barracks. Ataturk had forged the secular republic from the ashes of the Ottoman empire after its defeat in World War I.

Preceded by modernizing and Westernizing reforms during the last century of the Ottoman rule and nearly 90 years after Ataturk's sweeping reforms, Turkey's experiment in democracy goes wobbly from time to time. Ironically, it is invariably put back on the rails by the armed forces.

A Muslim majority state (99 percent) it was closest to a modern secular democracy in the Muslim world. Its half a million strong armed forces used to be a stabilizing factor in a turbulent region. But under Erdogan it has followed a disastrous foreign policy of indirect and openly direct interference in former  Ottoman provinces , which has been a disaster for all , except US led West and Saudi Arabia.


In 1990-91the military chief had resigned against President Ozal's wish to intervene in Iraq .In 2003 Erdogan appeared inclined to join US invasion but the people and the parliament stopped joining  in the illegal invasion of Iraq .


The 2nd excellent article at the end from Al-Monitor looks at possible, probable and even inevitable entry of the armed forces in the Arena .


The whole of Greater Middle East is at an edge .Difficult to predict except that things will get worse than become better , if at all.


Amb. Rtd .K.Gajendra Singh ,13 June , Friday ,2015 .Mayur Vihar ,Delhi




Erdogan on the Ropes

Electoral Shock in Turkey



Among the many things behind the storm that staggered Turkey's ruling party in last week's elections, a disastrous foreign policy looms large. But a major factor behind the fall of the previously invincible Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a grassroots revolt against rising poverty, growing inequality and the AKP's war on trade unions.


On the eve of the election, the government's Turkish Statistical Institute(TUIK) found that 22.4 percent of Turkish households fell below the official poverty line of $1,626 a month for a family of four. The country's largest trade union organization, TURK-IS, which uses a different formula for calculating poverty levels based on incomes below the minimum monthly wage—$118—argues that nearly 50 percent of the population is at, or near, the poverty line.


Figures show that while national income has, indeed, risen over the past decade, much of it has gone to the wealthy and well connected. When the AKP came to power in 2002, the top 1 percent accounted for 39 percent of the nation's wealth. Today that figure is 54 percent. In the meantime, credit card debt has increased 25 fold, from 222 million liras in 2002 to 5.8 billion liras today


In 2001, Turkey was in a serious economic crisis, with the unemployment rate at 10.8 percent. Today 11.3 percent are out of work, and that figure is much higher among young people and women. TUIK estimates that over 3 million Turks are jobless, but at least another 2.5 million have given up looking for jobs. The total size of the Turkish workforce is 28 million.


Women have been particularly hard hit. Over 227,000 women have been laid off this past year, a higher percentage than men. According to Aysen Candas of the Social Political Forum of Bogazici University, the "situation of women is just horrible."


While the average rate of employment for women in the 34 countries that make up the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development is between 62 and 63 percent, in Turkey it is 25 percent. According to Candas, in access to jobs, political participation and economic power, Turkish women rank near the bottom of the 126 countries the Bogazici University study examined.


Turkish workers have seen their unions dismantled under the AKP government, and many have lost collective bargaining rights. According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, unionized workers have fallen from 57.5 percent of the workforce in 2003 to 9.68 percent today. And, of those unionized workers, only 4.5 percent have collective bargaining agreements. Add to this police repression, the widespread use of the subcontracting system, and a threshold of 3 percent to organize a new union, and there are few barriers to stop employers from squeezing their workforce.


In comparison, Sweden has a unionization rate of 67.7 percent, Finland 69 percent, Italy 35.6 percent and Greece 28.7 percent.


In the last election, the leftwing People's Democratic Party (HDP) and the social democratic People's Republican Party (CHP) pounded away at the AKP's record on poverty and union rights. "During its 12-year rule, the Justice and Development Party has curbed all labor rights though laws that are unlawful, siding with the capitalist class," CHP parliamentarian Suleyman Celebi told Al-Monitor. "It has besieged workers from all sides, from their right to strike and collective bargain, to their right of choosing their trade unions. The rights of tens of thousands of subcontracted workers have been flouted despite court rulings."

Erdogan has increasingly come under criticism for relying on force to deal with opponents, like the crushing of Istanbul's Gezi park demonstrations in 2013. And his drive to change the constitution from a parliamentary system to an American-style powerful executive apparently did not sit will with the majority of Turks.


The AKP's bread and butter has always been bread and butter: it handed out free coal, food, and financial aid to the poor, but as economic disparity grew and unemployment climbed, it was the Left that seized upon those themes, forcing Erdogan to defend spending $615 million plus for his lavish, 1,000 room presidential palace, and his $185 million presidential airplane.


With the economy in the doldrums, the AKP fell back on foreign policy and Islam.

"Islamization" has been a major AKP theme, but one that may have misfired in this election. A recent book by Turkish scholar Volkan Eritargues that Turkey is becoming less religious and more secular, particularly among the young. In any case, religion did not trump Turkey's growing international and regional isolation, Erdogan's fixation with the war in Syria, or his sudden reversal on making peace with the Kurds.


He refused to come to the aid of the besieged Syrian Kurds at Kobane last year, and his back peddling on a peace agreement with Turkey's Kurds alienated even conservative Kurds, who abandoned the AKP and voted for the leftwing HDP.


A corruption scandal that implicated several of Erdogan's family members also hurt the AKP's image and caused some foreign investorsto pull back, further damaging the economy.

And as far as the AKP's foreign policy goes, what was once a strength is now a liability.

In the past four years Turkey has gone from a regional peace maker—"zero problems with neighbors" was the slogan that wags have since changed to "zero neighbors without problems"— to odd man out, so isolated that it lost out to Venezuela in a bid for a UN Security Council seat.


It is not talking with Egypt, has an icy relationship with Iran, is alienated from Iraq, at war with Syria, and not on the best of terms with Russia and China. In fact its only real allies in the Middle East are the Gulf Monarchies, although in an indirect way it is teaming up with Israel to overthrow the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.


The AKP has tried to make this isolation into a virtue—Erdogan's chief foreign policy advisor Ibnahim Kalin called it "precious loneliness"—but voters saw it less as a virtue than as alienation.


Its exports are down sharply because it has estranged its leading trade partners Iran and Iraq, and, by choosing the losing side in the Libyan civil war, it is out $28 billion in Libyan construction contracts. Its plans for expanding into sub-Saharan Africa are now on hold, and Libya owes Turkey $5 billion, money it is not likely to see in the near future.

The Syrian war is not popular with the average Turk and, with the influx of some two million refugees from that conflict, less so by the day. The Turkish Army opposes any involvement in Syria, because it sees nothing ahead but a quagmire that would ally Turkey with the al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front.


In short, the AKP lost the election because almost 60 percent of the Turks opposed its domestic and foreign policies.


What happens now, however, is tricky, and not a little dangerous.


The AKP took a beating, dropping from 49.8 percent to 40.8 percent, and losing 53 seats in the parliament. Not only did the Party not get their magic 330 seats that would allow Erdogan to change the constitution, at 258 seats the AKP needs a coalition partner to rule.

They are not likely to find one on the Left.


The Leftwing HDP—formerly largely a Kurdish-based party—shattered the 10 percent ceiling to serve in the Parliament, taking 13.1 percent of the vote and electing 79 representatives. The HDP's breakthrough came about because the Party allied itself with other Left and progressive parties in 2012—much as Syriza did in Greece—and campaigned on an openly left program.

Led by the dynamic Selahattin Demirtas, its candidates included many women, as well as gays and lesbians. Some 40 percent of HDP's parliamentarians will be women and openly gay candidates will serve in the new Grand Assembly. "We, the oppressed people of Turkey who want justice, peace and freedom, have achieved a tremendous victory today," Demirtas said in the election's aftermath.


The AKP's traditional opponent, the social democratic CHP, came in at 25.9 percent, a slight improvement over 2014, and an increase of seven seats. The Party now has 132 representatives in Parliament.


The danger comes from the performance of the right-wing National Action Party (MHP), which won 16.9 percent of the vote and picked up 28 seats. It now has the same number of seats as the HDP. The MHP is sometimes called "The Gray Wolves" after a neo-fascist hit squad that routinely assassinated left-wingers, academics and Kurds in the 1970s and '80s, and still has a shadowy presence in Turkey. The MHP claims it supports parliamentary rule, but the party's commitment to democracy is suspect.


At this point the MHP's leader Devlet Bahceli says he has no interest in a coalition with the AKP, but the authoritarian streak that runs through both parties might just bring them together. If they do unite, peace with the Kurds will vanish, and engaging in internal dissent will be an increasingly risky business.


But Turkey has tamed its formally coup-obsessed military, gone through several elections and, in spite of setbacks like Gezi Park, is a democratic country. It is also one that is in trouble at home and abroad, problems that the Right is notoriously bad at solving, but for which the Left has programmatic solutions.


It may be that the parties will deadlock, in which case new elections will have to held. In the meantime, the Turkish lira is at a record low, the stock market has tumbled 8 percent, and neither the economic crisis nor the foreign policy debacles are going away. Stay tuned, the future of a major player is in the balance.


Conn Hallinan can be read .

Eyes return to Turkish military after elections


In most well-developed democracies, if you wonder aloud what the armed forces think of election results, you'll likely hear, "Who cares?" But in Turkey, although the military appears to have withdrawn from politics after 2002, many are asking this question in the aftermath of the June 7 elections. Why?


Summary The turbulence in the wake of the recent elections may offer the Turkish military opportunities to return to politics — and even if a serious deadlock ensues, the situation still may work in the military's favor.


Author Metin GurcanPosted June 11, 2015

TranslatorTimur Göksel


The 2015 elections ended the 13-year single-party rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The options being debated now are a coalition government, a minority government or early elections. All this means at least three months of political turbulence in Turkey, possibly offering the military opportunities to return to politics after being kept out for a variety of reasons, such as EU reforms, a strong single-party government's robust stance against the military, the determination of AKP elites to concede nothing and the increasing sensitivity of the public to military intervention in politics. But if national politics are seriously deadlocked in the aftermath of the elections, the situation may work in the military's favor.


Trying to understand how the Turkish military perceives the election results may offer clues about its position. To that end, Al-Monitor conducted in-depth interviews with 10 serving and retired senior officers in Ankara and Istanbul.


The central topic was the unexpected success of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). This party, whose political background the Turkish military traditionally defines as a parliamentary extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) terror organization, received 6.5 million votes and 80 parliamentary seats.


All the officers who spoke to Al-Monitor were dazed by the HDP's achievement and shared one of two takes on the matter. Most of them see its success as a disturbing development that could lead to security chaos in the country. According to this group, the PKK now has the strategic upper hand. In many eastern and southeastern provinces, where the majority of Kurds live, the PKK holds de facto field supremacy and the state's authority and is severely impaired. They fear the PKK's perceived upper hand may well turn into a permanent political supremacy following the HDP's electoral success.


It is because of this perception that seems to prevail in the military that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has been resorting to tougher and less tolerant security measures on the Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian borders with Turkey's Kurdish-populated provinces and also in combating cross-border smuggling, which is not really the military's task.


A minority of the officers interprets the HDP success with guarded optimism and sees it as an opportunity for the HDP to become more a part of Turkey. This minority feels that because of the high percentage of votes it got from western Turkey from the secular and urbanized middle classes, the HDP will have to abandon its ethnic politics and the PKK will be forced to give up armed violence.


One retired officer's assessment was particularly interesting. He said, "This success of the HDP tells us that it is time to start discussing something we have never discussed before: civilian-military relations in Kurdish policy. The only armed political actor outside the state today are the Kurds. Just as the TSK has gone back to its barracks because of democratic and civilian demands, the armed Kurdish actors must leave the field to civilian Kurdish politics. The HDP with its major success will defend their rights strongly in the parliament, but I don't think that the PKK, nourished by violence, will give up and leave the field to civilian Kurdish politics. They tried that after 1999 but couldn't do it."


It is therefore no stretch to say that a vast majority of the military — although there are softer views among them — are disturbed by what they see as the first step toward chaos. To prevent this wariness from spreading, the HDP will have to take confidence-building steps to show how it is becoming a part of Turkey, and the military wing of the Kurdish political scene has to be brought under democratic and civilian control.


Another retired officer said, "Just as people get upset when Turkey's chief of general staff speaks out, they have to show the same reaction when an armed Kurd speaks out. If you ask me, this success by the HDP shows the shrinking significance of armed violence in the Kurds' quest to defend their rights."


Another subject discussed was the impact of the election results on Turkish foreign policy, above all Syria. Most of the officers Al-Monitor spoke with emphasized national legislation and international law when speaking about Syria; all of them agreed that all international engagements about Syria must be based on legal justifications and not go beyond them.


One of them explained, "The main reason why the train-and-equip program is still stalled is precisely this. The TSK is concerned about legal responsibilities that could be attributed to Turkish officers and noncommissioned officers if the people they train are one day involved in terror acts inside or outside the country. The US is not a party to the International Criminal Court. They have no such worry."


The military seems to feel that the election results will mean the lessening of demands that could thrust it into an international legal morass, thus easing the pressure on the TSK. From that angle, the election results are favorable.


Another issue the military emphasizes is the need for uninterrupted progress in the enormous transformation and restructuring projects the TSK has initiated. For example, today there are 144 transformation projects in the Turkish Land Forces, derived from more than 1,000 proposals. The military is concerned with whether the election results and a possible coalition government or the potential political turbulence will affect the TSK's transformation process.


Dealing with the officers adhering to the teachings of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen is a minefield for the military. Before the last elections, there were media reports that a list of 1,200 suspected Gulenists was prepared by the national intelligence service and sent to the chief of general staff to be used for mass purges or individual investigations.


None of the officers wanted to answer questions about Gulenists who may have penetrated the TSK ranks, indicating a great taboo. Decisions on this issue will have profound effects on the TSK.

The Supreme Military Council is scheduled to meet at the beginning of August. Gen. Necdet Ozel, the chief of general staff who since 2011 has skillfully steered the TSK through choppy waters without making concessions in terms of law and democracy, will be retiring. His replacement, the fate of Gulenists in the TSK, the TSK's transformation and restructuring process and of course the Syrian crisis will all be on the agenda. We don't yet know who will chair this critical meeting because we don't yet know who will be the prime minister. But here we must note that to be implemented, Supreme Military Council decisions have to be approved by the president, no matter how much power he may have lost in the elections.

Read more:


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Turkey’s Elections, a Game Changer at Home , Greater Middle East and Even Beyond

Turkey's Elections, a Game Changer at Home , Greater Middle East and Even Beyond

More instability and chaos likely , but a brake on spread  of mindless destruction in the region and home   


An excellent article from the portals of US conservative think tank


Covering Para from my piece before the  Results .


"Peace at home and peace abroad ", Kemal Ataturk.


"In Turkey no PM can keep his reign for more than a decade "Adnan Menderes (prime minister from 1950 to 1960), who was hanged in 1961 by the junta after the first coup d'état.


Erdogan was tried for utterances "Minarets are our bayonets, domes are our helmets, mosques are our barracks, believers are our soldiers," convicted and jailed for 4 months. He had also said "Thank God, I am for Shariah," "For us, democracy is a means to an end." and, "One cannot be a secularist and a Muslim at the same time."


No matter the outcome, the elections seem to spell an uncertain future for Turkey for an unfore seeable period.


The author ,who has kept a watch on secular republican Turkey since 1967 ,has been dismayed with the political processes and evolution of Turkey towards a dictatorial Islamist model ever since last elections in 2011 and specially since Erdogan became the president .He spent 10years in Turkey (1969-73,1992-1997 ), travelled from coast to coast, along its borders except with Iran and found Turks , honest , upright , proud , warm and hospitable . 


I had misgiving even in Nov 2002 when ,AKP led by Erdogan gate crashed on the political arena with 2/3rd majority with 34% votes only .Erdogan was debarred from that election .The electoral system with 10% threshold was introduced in post 1980 coup to bring in stability.


Internally Erdogan has painted himself in a corner going after followers of soft Islamic leader and ally Fatheullah Gulen residing in USA, many founders of AKP itself , once powerful military ,humiliated and insulted ,whose hundreds of senior officers were jailed ,judiciary and secular forces .Media has been suppressed perhaps  now in the worst state than anywhere .Few are rooting for Erdogan, not even corporate, US led Western media. Pin drop expectations  !


Externally Ankara has bad to worse relations with almost all in the neighbourhood and even beyond .Turkey is behind ISIS in league with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and US led West . Saudi and Gulf Green money ie Yesil Surmaye has supported Erdogan .Ankara has given almost full support to ISIS.


Below is a very good description by a veteran Turkish journalist , of the possible electoral outcome and serious possible ramifications, affecting internal peace and external relations.


K.Gajendra Singh 6 June 2015, Delhi


Taking back from Erdogan

The Turkish electorate has given democracy a second chance. But it's still a first step.


By: Kemal Kirisci


An electoral earthquake occurred in Turkey on Sunday. In a massive turnout, more than 86 per cent of the Turkish electorate sent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) a rude message. Erdogan, in complete disregard of the current constitution that requires a president to be neutral, campaigned actively for the AKP. He asked the electorate to reward the party with at least 335 seats in parliament so he could transform Turkey from its almost seven-decade-old parliamentary system to a presidential regime to consolidate his autocratic rule. The AKP saw its votes fall from almost 50 per cent in the 2011 general elections to 40.8 per cent, leaving it almost 20 seats short of the majority needed to form a government, let alone granting Erdogan the ability to adopt a new constitution.


Instead, the electorate generously rewarded the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) with almost 13 per cent of the vote, allowing it to surpass Turkey's notoriously high electoral threshold of 10 per cent and earn 79 seats in parliament. This has left the AKP with just 258 seats, obliging it to either run a minority government or seek a coalition. The staunchly secularist Republican People's Party (CHP) and the rightwing, nationalist National Action Party (MHP) received just above 25 and 16 per cent of the vote, with 132 and 81 seats, respectively.


It is possible to deduce at least five very clear messages. First and foremost, the electorate has unequivocally expressed its displeasure with Erdogan's confrontationist language, disregard for the law and his ambition to become a one-man ruler. The spirit of this message was well captured by Devlet Bahceli, the MHP leader, when he invited Erdogan to either "respect the current constitution or resign". Furthermore, they also objected to Erdogan's presidential palace, bigger than the Palace of Versailles, with 1,150 rooms rumoured to have gold-covered toilets at a cost of more than $600 million.


Second, the economy. Back in 2002, the AKP rose to power because it promised greater financial stability and economic growth on the heels of a major financial meltdown in the country. Between 2003 and 2006, Turkey's economic growth averaged 7.5 per cent per year and, not surprisingly, the AKP was rewarded with more than 47 per cent of the votes in 2007. Of late, the Turkish economy has slowed down dramatically, to under 3 per cent growth in 2014. Interference with regulatory bodies, corruption and abuse of the law have scared investors away, accelerating the dramatic fall in the value of the national currency against the US dollar, and increasing unemployment and inflation.

Third, the electorate has sought a revision of foreign policy, disapproving of Turkey's involvement in Syria's quagmire and the domestic affairs of Middle Eastern countries that has cost Turkish businesses many export markets and exposed the country to the dangers of Islamic terrorism. The electorate has also objected to Turkey's once successful and greatly acclaimed "zero problems with neighbours" policy being transformed into one of "zero neighbours without problems", characterised by a long list of countries from where Turkey has recalled ambassadors. Recent  opinion polls have also shown growing support for the EU and Nato — the very institutions against which Erdogan uses derogatory language.


Fourth, by catapulting the HDP well above the electoral threshold, voters endorsed the discourse of its leader Selahattin Demirtas, emphasising his commitment to make the HDP a political party representing not just the Kurdish minority but one that embraces ethnic and social diversity. The HDP's candidate list included several women as well as leftists, Christians, Alevis (a heterodox Islamic sect) and members of the LGBT and Roma communities.

Last, the electorate sent out a rather subtle but critical message to Turkish institutions, such as the judiciary, police, state media and economic regulatory bodies, including the central bank, for failing to stand their ground and resist Erdogan's bullying.


This election is a gamechanger, but it's still a first step. Turkey's democratic institutions have suffered greatly over the last few years and it would be unrealistic to expect miracles. Big challenges are still waiting. Recovering the independence of state institutions, repairing the damage inflicted on liberal democracy and winning the trust and confidence of investors as well as redirecting foreign policy will not be an easy exercise. Nevertheless, the electorate has given Turkey a second chance to reclaim its democracy and has chosen the AKP to lead this exercise. The party will need to take a critical look at itself, learn the key lessons and return to its policies from the days when it truly enjoyed broad popular support and widespread international acclaim.

The writer is the TUSIAD senior fellow in the foreign policy programme at Brookings, Washington, DC

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Some more articles on the game changer

The future of Turkey's Syria policy

The future of Turkey's controversial Syria policy has become even more uncertain with the Justice and Development Party's (AKP's) loss of a parliamentary majority. Any potential coalition partner with the AKP — still the leading party, although it cannot form a government — will approach Syria totally different than the AKP did.

Summary Print Election results have made Turkey's current Syria policy hard to implement.

Author Fehim TaştekinPosted June 10, 2015

TranslatorTimur Göksel

The Republican People's Party (CHP), the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) have accused the AKP of becoming a party to the Syrian crisis by arming groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, allowing foreign militants to cross our borders and helping organizations such as the Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat al-Nusra to become prominent forces.

Many believe that one reason for the AKP's dismal showing in the 2015 elections is its policy on Syria. While the AKP's militant base angrily asks in Internet messages, "Who lost the elections? Jerusalem, Syria, Egypt and Somalia did," there are those among the AKP founding fathers who believe that votes were lost in provinces bordering Syria and among Kurds in general because of the AKP's mishandling of Rojava and Kobani. These seniors now think that a new course of action is essential to solve the Syrian crisis.

The number of AKP deputies from Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Mardin and Sirnak provinces bordering Syria dropped from 30 to 20, and the AKP was totally wiped out in five heavily Kurdish-populated provinces.

The change of power structure in Turkey came precisely at a time when the new Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey partnership is changing the balances in the field against Assad's regime.

The double-pronged strategy of the partnership sought to arm and expand the territory dominated in the northern front of Idlib and Hatay and the southern front of Daara, Quneitra, Sweida and Damascus via Jordan. The Turkish prong of this strategy is now up in the air.

As President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud in their Riyadh meeting, the new addresses for weapons assistance were al-Qaeda's Syrian branch of Jabhat al-Nusra and the Army of Conquest (Jaish al-Fateh), led by Ahrar al-Sham, set up by former al-Qaeda affiliates. 

After the shipment of weapons via Turkey, the Army of Conquest captured Idlib, Jisr al-Shughour, Ariha and Mastume. The Syrian army also lost some locations in the south. In the latest development, the 52nd Brigade, which was 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Damascus, had to abandon its base. 

On the northern front, the objective of the Army of Conquest is to capture Aleppo and Latakia after Idlib and then move toward Damascus. Before Turkey's elections, there were reports that Turkey was about to send troops to Syria along with Saudi Arabia to set up a buffer zone. The second prong of the strategy developed by the Turkey-Saudi-Qatari alliance is to devise a new approach in the south. The south front, commanded from an operations room in Amman, Jordan, in the presence of Western intelligence officials, will hopefully be reorganized under the leadership of Zahran Alloush, commander of the Army of Conquest. 

Reports say that Alloush was in Istanbul last month to meet with opposition representatives and then in Amman to meet with Gulf and Western intelligence services.

The scenarios for government change in Turkey will not affect support for the opposition from Amman, but the future of the northern front will depend mostly on Ankara's new attitude. If the new government in Ankara does not agree to continue with the Turkey-Qatar-Saudi Arabia partnership, then the flow of weapons via Turkey will cease. In such a case, it won't be easy for the Army of Conquest to hold on to the territory it has captured in Idlib and the vicinity.

The Syrian army is now massing around Idlib and preparing for a major offensive. According to journalist Mehmet Serim, who is reporting from Damascus, Assad's regime was waiting for the Turkish elections for its major offensive. 

There are also reports that Iran has moved 5,000 to 15,000 fighters it gathered from Iraq, Iran and Lebanon to the region, and Hezbollah is trying to expand its operations from Qalamoun as far as Aleppo.

The Syria crisis has five dimensions of major concern for Turkey:

Supporting both the civilian and military wings of the opposition

Controlling the borders

Combating IS


Relations with autonomous Kurds of Rojava

Regarding arming the opposition and controlling the border, the AKP will have to listen to voices from its own ranks as well as from any potential coalition partner. A more concrete and determined line can be expected in combating IS. The new government will find it very hard to introduce a new approach to the refugee issue or to send the refugees back. On Rojava, the MHP and the HDP have sharply opposing views. If the new government is to include the MHP, then relations with the Kurds could deteriorate.

The AKP appears to be heading for an in-house account settling. An AKP founder, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the issue, told Al-Monitor: "Syrian policy played a part in our defeat. Although there may be a minority [in] our base that will say this is a loss for Jerusalem, it is obvious that we lost the Kurds because of Kobani. Until today, the AKP was the party with [the] most Kurdish votes. Syrian policy must change. When Abdullah Gul was the president, he had warned the government but to no avail. The priority must be to end the clashes in Syria."

Diplomat Murat Ozcelik, vice chairman of the opposition CHP who has entered parliament as a deputy from Istanbul, said if they join a coalition government, they will seek radical changes to repair relations not only with Syria, but also with Egypt, Iran and the European Union.

Ozcelik told Al-Monitor: "To secure a cease-fire [with] Syria, we will initiate dialogue with all parties including the Assad government. We will talk to anyone we have to, including Iran. After stopping the bloodshed, we will go for a political settlement. AKP's Syria policy has borne disastrous results for the region and for Turkey. This can't go on."

HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, in his interview with CNN International, said a new coalition cannot continue with the current Syria policy. "I don't believe that a coalition government will continue to support IS and other radical groups in the region," Demirtas said.

In short, changing the policy on Syria appears to be a prerequisite of parties to enter into a coalition with the AKP. The AKP might also have to look for a new course of action for its own internal harmony.

Read more:


Logistics 101: Where Does ISIS Get Its Guns?

By Tony Cartalucci

June 10, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - "NEO" -  Since ancient times an army required significant logistical support to carry out any kind of sustained military campaign. In ancient Rome, an extensive network of roads was constructed to facilitate not only trade, but to allow Roman legions to move quickly to where they were needed, and for the supplies needed to sustain military operations to follow them in turn.

In the late 1700's French general, expert strategist, and leader Napoleon Bonaparte would note that, "an army marches on its stomach," referring to the extensive logistical network required to keep an army fed, and therefore able to maintain its fighting capacity. For the French, their inability to maintain a steady supply train to its forces fighting in Russia, and the Russians' decision to burn their own land and infrastructure to deny it from the invading forces, ultimately defeated the French.

Nazi Germany would suffer a similar fate when it too overextended its logical capabilities during its invasion of Russia amid Operation Barbarossa. Once again, invading armies became stranded without limited resources before being either cut off and annihilated or forced to retreat.

And in modern times during the Gulf War in the 1990's an extended supply line trailing invading US forces coupled with an anticipated clash with the bulk of Saddam Hussein's army halted what was otherwise a lighting advance many mistakenly believed could have reached Baghdad had there been the political will. The will to conquer was there, the logistics to implement it wasn't.

The lessons of history however clear they may be, appear to be entirely lost on an either supremely ignorant or incredibly deceitful troupe of policymakers and news agencies across the West.

ISIS' Supply Lines

The current conflict consuming the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria where the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS) is operating and simultaneously fighting and defeating the forces of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran, we are told, is built upon a logistical network based on black market oil and ransom payments.

The fighting capacity of ISIS is that of a nation-state. It controls vast swaths of territory straddling both Syria and Iraq and not only is able to militarily defend and expand from this territory, but possesses the resources to occupy it, including the resources to administer the populations subjugated within it.

For military analysts, especially former members of Western armed forces, as well as members of the Western media who remember the convoys of trucks required for the invasions of Iraq in the 1990s and again in 2003, they surely must wonder where ISIS' trucks are today. After all, if the resources to maintain the fighting capacity exhibited by ISIS were available within Syrian and Iraqi territory alone, then certainly Syrian and Iraqi forces would also posses an equal or greater fighting capacity but they simply do not.

And were ISIS' supply lines solely confined within Syrian and Iraqi territory, then surely both Syrian and Iraqi forces would utilize their one advantage – air power – to cut front line ISIS fighters from the source of their supplies. But this is not happening and there is a good reason why.

Terrorists and weapons left over from NATO's intervention in Libya in 2011 were promptly sent to Turkey and then onto Syria – coordinated by US State Department officials and intelligence agencies in Benghazi – a terrorist hotbed for decades.ISIS' supply lines run precisely where Syrian and Iraqi air power cannot go. To the north and into NATO-member Turkey, and to the southwest into US allies Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Beyond these borders exists a logistical network that spans a region including both Eastern Europe and North Africa.

The London Telegraph would report in their 2013 article, "CIA 'running arms smuggling team in Benghazi when consulate was attacked'," that:

[CNN] said that a CIA team was working in an annex near the consulate on a project to supply missiles from Libyan armouries to Syrian rebels.

Weapons have also come from Eastern Europe, with the New York Times reporting in 2013 in their article, "Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.," that:

From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.

And while Western media sources continuously refer to ISIS and other factions operating under the banner of Al Qaeda as "rebels" or "moderates," it is clear that if billions of dollars in weapons were truly going to "moderates," they, not ISIS would be dominating the battlefield.

Recent revelations have revealed that as early as 2012 the United States Department of Defense not only anticipated the creation of a "Salafist Principality" straddling Syria and Iraq precisely where ISIS now exists, it welcomed it eagerly and contributed to the circumstances required to bring it about.

Just How Extensive Are ISIS' Supply Lines?

While many across the West play willfully ignorant as to where ISIS truly gets their supplies from in order to maintain its impressive fighting capacity, some journalists have traveled to the region and have video taped and reported on the endless convoys of trucks supplying the terrorist army.

Were these trucks traveling to and from factories in seized ISIS territory deep within Syrian and Iraqi territory? No. They were traveling from deep within Turkey, crossing the Syrian border with absolute impunity, and headed on their way with the implicit protection of nearby Turkish military forces. Attempts by Syria to attack these convoys and the terrorists flowing in with them have been met by Turkish air defenses.

Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) published the first video report from a major Western media outlet illustrating that ISIS is supplied not by "black market oil" or "hostage ransoms" but billions of dollars worth of supplies carried into Syria across NATO member Turkey's borders via hundreds of trucks a day.

The report titled, "'IS' supply channels through Turkey," confirms what has been reported by geopolitical analysts since at least as early as 2011 – that ISIS subsides on immense, multi-national state sponsorship, including, obviously, Turkey itself.

Looking at maps of ISIS-held territory and reading action reports of its offensive maneuvers throughout the region and even beyond, one might imagine hundreds of trucks a day would be required to maintain this level of fighting capacity. One could imagine similar convoys crossing into Iraq from Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Similar convoys are likely passing into Syria from Jordan.

In all, considering the realities of logistics and their timeless importance to military campaigns throughout human history, there is no other plausible explanation to ISIS's ability to wage war within Syria and Iraq besides immense resources being channeled to it from abroad.

If an army marches on its stomach, and ISIS' stomachs are full of NATO and Persian Gulf State supplies, ISIS will continue to march long and hard. The key to breaking the back of ISIS, is breaking the back of its supply lines. To do that however, and precisely why the conflict has dragged on for so long, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and others would have to eventually secure the borders and force ISIS to fight within Turkish, Jordanian, and Saudi territory – a difficult scenario to implement as nations like Turkey have created defacto buffer zones within Syrian territory which would require a direct military confrontation with Turkey itself to eliminate.

With Iran joining the fray with an alleged deployment of thousands of troops to bolster Syrian military operations, overwhelming principles of deterrence may prevent Turkey enforcing its buffer zones.

What we are currently left with is NATO literally holding the region hostage with the prospect of a catastrophic regional war in a bid to defend and perpetuate the carnage perpetrated by ISIS within Syria, fully underwritten by an immense logistical network streaming out of NATO territory itself.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".