Aletho News


Turkey denies apology to Russia over downed jet

Press TV – June 28, 2016

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim says Turkey has only expressed regrets to Russia over a downed jet in Syria, denying reports of an apology.

Yidirim also reversed an earlier offer of compensation to Russia for shooting down one of Moscow’s military jets in November, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.

“Compensating Russia is not on the table, we have only expressed our regrets,” CNN-Turk cited him as saying, hours after he said Ankara was ready to offer compensation for the incident.

The Kremlin said on Monday that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had apologized to Russian leader Vladimir Putin in a letter.

Erdogan’s spokesman confirmed the letter, but said the Turkish president had only expressed regret and asked the family of the pilot killed after the downing to “excuse us.”

The denial came just as the Kremlin said on Tuesday that President Putin will hold a phone conversation with Erdogan on Wednesday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, however, told a conference call with journalists that Russia did not expect strained relations with Turkey would mend in a few days.

Putin has said an apology from Erdogan is the condition for repairing relations between the two countries, which were shattered when the Russian jet was shot down by Turkey at the Syrian border.

Ankara said it shot down the plane because it entered Turkish airspace, an allegation Moscow denies. The Russian pilot ejected from the plane but was killed by gunfire from militants on the ground in Syria as he parachuted down to earth.

Yildirim also told reporters in parliament that legal proceedings were underway against an individual allegedly responsible for the killing of the Russian pilot.

Moscow, which imposed economic sanctions on Ankara over the downed plane, had said that apart from official apologies it also wanted Turkey to pay compensation for the incident.

After writing to Putin to voice his regret over the incident, Erdogan said he now believed that Ankara would normalize relations with Moscow “rapidly” but the Kremlin advised caution on Tuesday.

“One should not think it possible to normalize everything within a few days, but work in this direction will continue,” Peskov said.

June 28, 2016 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Erdogan to go ahead with controversial Gezi park redevelopment plans

Press TV – June 19, 2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced the revival of controversial plans to redevelop a central Istanbul park that sparked major anti-government protests back in 2013.

“A project that we need to address in a courageous manner is (that of) Gezi park in Taksim. We will build this historic structure,” said Erdogan during a Saturday speech in Istanbul.

The plans consist of rebuilding an Ottoman-era barrack and other buildings on land currently occupied by Gezi park, which is one of the few remaining green spaces in Istanbul. The barracks was originally built in 1789 and was torn down in the 1940.

At least eight people were killed and thousands more were injured in the demonstrations which followed the announcement of the redevelopment plans.

Following the wave of protests, Turkish authorities halted the plans. But, last year, they changed their decision following a request by the city’s municipality.

“If we want to preserve our history we must rebuild this historic structure, we will rebuild it,” Erdogan added.

“One of the issues that we have to be brave [about] is Gezi park in Taksim,” Erdogan added. “We will construct that historical building there,” he said.

June 19, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Turkey is Preparing an Offensive Military Operation in Northern Syria

By Said Al-Khalaki – Global Research  – May 30, 2016

It’s been quite a while since the treaty on cease-fire in Syria was signed. We can say February 27 became the new anchor for the people of Syria who are tired of war and havoc. However, the situation doesn’t suit the main sponsors of the “Syrian revolution”, i.e. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar which had already planned how the country would be divided between them.

Turkey is interested in Syria’s division most of all. The most attractive “piece” for Turkey is Northern Syria and its destroyed economic capital Aleppo.

Obviously, the seized Northern territories would be a step forward in Erdogan’s plan to resurrect the Ottoman Empire he is dreaming about. That is why the seizure of Aleppo is a strategic goal for Erdogan and his partners.

The Turkish government has been supporting Syrian terrorists from the very outset of the war in March 2011.

As the Egyptian news site El-Badil reports, in late 2015 the Turkish government was supplying the Syrian opposition with money and food. Also, it allowed them to cross the border between Turkey and Syria. The fact that militants from terrorist groups fighting in Syria can freely cross the border is also reported by the Kurdish news agency ANHA. According to it, militants go through Bab Al-Salama border crossing point to the North of Aleppo from the Turkish city Kilis towards the Syrian town Azaz. As a rule, militants visit Turkey for two reasons: to undergo a qualified medical treatment to heal their wounds or to attend a military training in a special camp where Turks and Saudis work.

Despite all the efforts of Turkish officials to conceal their support in favor of the terrorists, the (Turkish and Western) media has nonetheless acknowledged Ankara’s insidious role. Even the Syrian opposition’s leaders have never hidden such facts. For example, in last September, one of its leaders, Ahmed Tuma, told the British newspaper Al-Arabi that Turkey was supplying Syrian militants with fuel and food. Tuma is proud of his relations with Turkish leaders and highly appreciates the role of Turkey in forming the so-called “new Syrian state.” And it’s no wonder as the oppositional leader lives on money received from Turkey.

According to the activists of the media center Syria from Inside in Ankara, all the operations of sponsoring the Syrian opposition leaders and field commanders of armed groups are conducted through a number of accounts in a Turkish based bank. Moreover, through this bank, Turkey finances NGOs whose main purpose is to support the Syrian revolution.

Besides that, Turkey’s support for Syrian militants, i.e. financing and training, is included in the US secret program Timber Sycamore, according to a New York Times report in January, 2016. The NYT acknowledges that Turkey has been sponsoring Syrian terrorists since 2013.

It’s obvious that the cease-fire in Syria is not to the advantage of Ankara, whose political leaders seek to overthrow the government of Bashar al Assad.

Now, the most important point of the face-off is Aleppo province. As locals say, more than 1000 terrorists arrived there between April to mid-May. The fighters were accompanied by trucks with arms and ammunition and off-road vehicles with large-caliber machine guns. Notably, the vehicles’ deployment is covered by Turkish artillery, regularly shelling Syrian border regions from the Turkish side. It’s clear that all these actions are evidence of the fact that terrorists are preparing a large-scale offensive in Aleppo.

No doubt, the attack on Aleppo is a part of the “hybrid” war implemented by Turkey in Syria. The artillery shelling of Syrian territories and the support for Syrian terrorists – Turkish news agency Anadolu calls these “a fight against ISIS.” And the Turkish government justify Erdogan’s desire to seize Northern Syria by claiming that it is just an attempt to create the so-called “safety zone” for refugees.

While the world is trying to reach a peace treaty in Syria, Turkish leaders are planning large-scale operations involving “opposition” terrorists and radical groups.

However, we want to believe that their plans won’t be crowned with success as everyone in Syria understands who is behind the “opposition” and what the “revolutionists” want to achieve.

Copyright © Said Al-Khalaki, Global Research, 2016

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The US and the EU Support a Savage Dictator

By Brian CLOUGHLEY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 31.05.2016

On May 6 a court in Istanbul, acting on the orders of Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan, sentenced the editor of the Cumhuriyet newspaper to five years and ten months in prison for publishing a report about illegal provision of weapons to Islamist terrorists in Syria by Turkey’s secret service. His bureau chief got five years.

Two weeks later Istanbul was host to the World Humanitarian Summit, which was held «to stand up for our common humanity and take action to prevent and reduce human suffering». Attendance included 65 heads of state. It was the usual total waste of time (Oxfam called it «an expensive talking shop» and those who refused to be there included President Putin and the global medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières), but the point is that a humanitarian conference should never have been held in Turkey, which is being transformed into a dictatorship by a president who is well-described by Professor Alan Sked of the London School of Economics as «a volatile, unstable, highly authoritarian personality».

The professor went on to observe that Erdogan «has pursued a civil war in his own country and has clamped down on the opposition and social media at will. Thousands have been imprisoned for merely criticising him. He has ordered the shooting down of a Russian warplane, and his country has been accused by Russia of trafficking secretly in oil with Isis. He cannot be trusted…»

Erdogan is a bigoted thug, yet the international community rushed to his country to hold a humanitarian conference and foreign heads of state flock to press his hand in friendship. He is treated with deference around the world and there can be no public criticism of him in the many countries that have laws prohibiting disparagement of heads of state and holding defamation and insult of their leaders to be a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment.

In January over 1,100 Turkish academics signed a letter asking Erdogan to cease his merciless blitz on Kurdish centres in the south east of the country. Thousands of Kurds had been (and continue to be) killed and crippled by ground and air assaults of merciless savagery. Erdogan’s response to the petition was to declare that these compassionate scholars «spit out hatred of our nation’s values and history on every occasion. The petition has made this clearer… In a state of law like Turkey, so-called academics who target the unity of our nation have no right to commit crimes. They don’t have immunity for this».

Some thirty of the humanitarian signatories were arrested and fifteen were dismissed from their university posts. They live under constant threat, as do all who attempt to disagree with the imperial president.

Yet Erdogan’s Turkey is strongly supported by the United States and by the European Union, albeit for very different reasons.

The US backs him because he supports Washington’s efforts to destroy President Assad of Syria and is a strident and aggressive opponent of Russia, while the EU is behind him because if he chose he could control the influx of Syrian refugees to Europe. So Erdogan can persecute and jail as many journalists and academics as he likes, while continuing to slaughter Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iraq, and although there may be a few murmurs of disapproval in Brussels and Washington there will be no action whatever taken by either the US or the EU to stop the President of Turkey wielding absolute power over his people.

In March, while Erdogan was attending the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington (yet another total waste of time and money, except for the travel industry) he met separately with the US president and vice-president, neither of whom had the moral courage to take him to task for his blatant oppression of those of his citizens who dare to have ideas and opinions contrary to his own.

As the Voice of America reported on March 31, «President Barack Obama assured his Turkish counterpart of American commitment to the security of Turkey, a critical ally in the fight against the Islamic State group», while the White House “readout” of the Erdogan-Biden meeting recorded that «the Vice President reiterated the United States’ unwavering commitment to Turkey’s national security as a NATO Ally». They discussed «ways to further deepen our military cooperation» which was no doubt heartening to a bellicose thug whose aim is to persecute and preferably kill Kurds wherever they may be.

In spite of all the evidence, the United States refuses to acknowledge that Erdogan’s Turkey has sent massive quantities of weaponry to Islamic terrorist groups who are prepared to kill Kurds. It does not appear to matter to Washington that «Not only has Erdoğan done almost everything he can to cripple the forces actually fighting ISIS; there is considerable evidence that his government has been at least tacitly aiding ISIS itself».

The countries of the European Union, in similar blinkered mode, ignore Erdogan’s transformation of Turkey from democracy to dictatorship because they are prepared to make almost any sacrifice to reduce the flood of refugees now threatening their countries. Their leaders are terrified that behaving in a humanitarian manner will damage their domestic electoral chances and have set up an extraordinary deal with Erdogan who has agreed to «do more to prevent refugees from traveling to Europe via its territory and take back all migrants and refugees who manage to cross into Europe from Turkey … In return, the European Union has doubled the financial aid it promised Turkey from 3 billion to 6 billion euros, has agreed to take in more Syrian refugees from Turkey, and will move to provide visa-free travel to Turks and reopen EU accession talks».

Little wonder that Erdogan is on the crest of a wave and can persecute dissenters and slaughter Kurds with hardly a word of international criticism. In March, when he took over Turkey’s largest newspaper, the independent Zaman, and replaced the entire staff with his supporters, US State Department spokesman John Kirby called the seizure «troubling». And it was reported on 25 May that, «the EU wants Ankara to narrow its definition of terror to stop prosecuting academics and journalists for publishing ‘terror propaganda’, but Turkey has refused to do so».

Unless the US and the EU bring pressure to bear on Erdogan to restore democracy in his country, he will continue to suppress and persecute his critics and continue his killing spree. But he is too valuable to them for that to happen. All they will do is hold more humanitarian conferences.

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

18 forbidden verses: German court bans most of Erdogan-mocking poem

RT | May 17, 2016

A court in Hamburg has issued a preliminary injunction banning 18 of the 24 verses in a German comedian’s satirical poem lampooning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for being “abusive and defaming.”

The court order issued on Tuesday applies to the whole of Germany, Reuters reported.

“Through the poem’s reference to racist prejudice and religious slander as well as sexual habits, the verses in question go beyond what the petitioner [Erdogan] can be expected to tolerate,” the Hamburg court wrote.

The court said the decision was necessary to balance the right to artistic freedom and the personal rights of Turkey’s leader, but added that its ruling could be appealed.

Violating the decision could result in a fine of up to 250,000 euros ($282,000) or administrative detention of up to six months, Germany’s Spiegel Online reported.

Erdogan’s lawyer said he was content with the ruling, RIA Novosti reported, while the comedian’s defender stressed that the poem must be considered as a whole, claiming its verses had been taken out of context.

The poem, which was recited on German television by comedian Jan Boehmermann in late March, has become a bone of contention for Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as European audiences and the media.

After Erdogan demanded that German authorities press charges against the comedian for allegedly insulting him as Turkish President, Merkel allowed her prosecutors to pursue the case against Boehmermann.

A separate complaint being dealt with in the western German city of Mainz is still being processed, with prosecutors saying it is as yet unclear when a decision is to be made on whether to go ahead with the case, according to Reuters.


‘Turkish method of silencing criticism being exported to Europe’

‘Inconsistency & cowardice’: German activists decry Merkel’s collaboration with ‘despot Erdogan’

May 17, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , | Leave a comment

Erdogan calls for greater NATO presence in Black Sea

RT | May 11, 2016

NATO is not deploying enough assets to the Black Sea and cannot counter the Russian military presence there, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has argued. He said he would ask the alliance to address the issue during an upcoming summit in Warsaw.

“I told him [NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg]: ‘You are absent from the Black Sea. The Black Sea has almost become a Russian lake,’” Erdogan said at a meeting of heads of general staff of Balkan nations in Istanbul on Wednesday. “If we don’t take action, history will not forgive us.”

He added that Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia should join the alliance soon to make it stronger.

A NATO summit will be held in the Polish capital in July. The meeting is expected to strengthen the alliance’s stance on countering what its new top military commander, US General Curtis Scaparrotti, called a resurgent Russia in his inauguration ceremony last week. Moscow sees NATO’s military buildup near its border as offensive and threatening.

“We should enhance our coordination and cooperation in the Black Sea. We hope for concrete results from the NATO summit in Warsaw on July 8 and 9… The Black Sea should be turned into the sea of stability,” Erdogan said, as quoted by Sputnik.

Military access to the Black Sea is limited for nations not bordering it, as Russia does. The US regularly sends its warships into the Black Sea for rotations.

The tension between Russia and the US over the strategic body of water was highlighted last year when Russian warplanes passed by the USS Ross, an American guided-missile destroyer. The Pentagon accused the Russian military of acting aggressively, while Moscow said the warship was approaching Russian territorial waters, which prompted the response.

Turkey, previously a strong trade partner of Russia, has become a bitter foe after downing a Russian bomber near the Syrian border back in November. The Turkish president said the downing of the plane – which resulted in the death of one of its pilots, who was killed by a Turkey-supported rebel group – was a proper response to a seconds-long violation of Turkish airspace. Moscow denied that such a violation happened and accused Ankara of stabbing Russia in the back.

Turkey’s immediate move after the incident was to call an emergency NATO meeting.

May 11, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Leaked Memo: Jordan’s King Reveals UK SAS Forces On The Ground In Syria, Israel Supports Nusra

By Brandon Turbeville | Activist Post | May 10, 2016

According to a leaked memo obtained by the Guardian in late March, 2016 King Abdullah of Jordan apparently briefed US officials on the fact that Jordanian Special Forces would be deployed to Libya to work alongside the British SAS. In that same briefing, Abdullah also allegedly stated that British SAS had been active in Libya since early 2016.

As Randeep Ramesh wrote for the Guardian at the time,

According to the notes of the meeting in the week of 11 January, seen by the Guardian, King Abdullah confirmed his country’s own special forces “will be imbedded [sic] with British SAS” in Libya.

According to the memo, the monarch met with US congressional leaders – including John McCain, the chairman of the Senate armed services committee, and Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee. Also present was the House of Representatives speaker, Paul Ryan.

King Abdullah said UK special forces needed his soldiers’ assistance when operating on the ground in north Africa, explaining “Jordanian slang is similar to Libyan slang”.

Abdullah also allegedly pointed out that the British had been instrumental in setting up a “mechanized battalion” in Southern Syria made up of “local tribal fighters” (aka terrorists) and lead by a “local commander” for the purposes of fighting against the Syrian government forces.

The Jordanian king also stated that his troops were ready to fight side by side with the British and Kenyans for the purposes of invading Somalia.

According to the Guardian,

The full passage of the briefing notes says: “On Libya His Majesty said he expects a spike in a couple of weeks and Jordanians will be imbedded [sic] with British SAS, as Jordanian slang is similar to Libyan slang.”

The monarch’s apparent openness with the US lawmakers is an indication of just how important an ally Jordan is to the US in the region. Since the 1950s Washington has provided it with more than $15bn (£10.5bn) in economic and military aid.

However, the Jordanians had become frustrated over perceived US inaction over the Middle East in recent months. Five years of fighting in Syria have dramatically impacted on Jordan, which has absorbed more than 630,000 Syrian refugees, and the king has repeatedly called for decisive action to end the conflict.

Interestingly enough, the King also allegedly admitted that Turkey and specifically Recep Erdogan is hoping for the victory of “radical Islamists” in Syria and that Israel is tacitly supporting al-Qaeda/al-Nusra in Syria.

Ramesh summarizes the King’s alleged statements by writing:

  • The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “believes in a radical Islamic solution to the problems in the region” and the “fact that terrorists are going to Europe is part of Turkish policy, and Turkey keeps getting a slap on the hand, but they get off the hook”.
  • Intelligence agencies want to keep terrorist websites “open so they can use them to track extremists” and Google had told the Jordanian monarch “they have 500 people working on this”.
  • Israel “looks the other way” at the al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra on its border with Syria because “they regard them as an opposition to Hezbollah”.

In March, Stratfor analysts reported that UK Special Forces were already in Libya and that they were “escorting MI6 teams to meet with Libyan officials about supplying weapons and training to the Syrian army and to militias against the Islamic State. The British air force bases Sentinel aircraft in Cyprus for surveillance missions around [the Isis Libyan stronghold] Sirte as well.”

The presence of Western/NATO Special Forces in Syria is by no means a revelation at this point. These forces have been present in the embattled Middle Eastern country for some time.

In October, 2015, it was announced by the White House that 50 Special Forces troops would be sent to Syria. This announcement came days after it was reported that U.S. Special Forces commandoes were working with Kurdish forces to “free prisoners of the Islamic State” in Syria. Later, the presence of U.S. Special Forces in Syria was tacitly acknowledged in 2015 when the U.S. took credit for the killing of Abu Sayyaf.

Reports circulated in October, 2014 that U.S. soldiers and Special Forces troops were fighting alongside Kurdish battalions in Kobane. An article by Christof Lehmann published in March 20, 2015 stated,

Evidence about the presence of U.S. special forces in the Syrian town Ayn al-Arab a.k.a. Kobani emerged. Troops are guiding U.S. airstrikes as part of U.S support for the Kurdish separatist group PYD and the long-established plan to establish a Kurdish corridor.

A photo taken in Ayn al-Arab shows three U.S. soldiers. One of them “Peter” is carrying a Bushnell laser rangefinder, an instrument designed to mark targets for U.S. jets, reports Ceyhun Bozkurt for Aydinlik Daily.

The photo substantiated previous BBC interviews with U.S. soldiers who are fighting alongside the Kurdish separatist group PYD in Syria.

The photo of the three U.S. troopers also substantiates a statement by PYD spokesman Polat Can from October 14, 2014, reports Aydinlik Daily. Can admitted that a special unit in Kobani provides Kurdish fighters with the coordinates of targets which then would be relayed to “coalition forces”.

The first public U.S. Special Forces raid in Syria took place in July, 2014 when Delta Force personnel allegedly attempted to rescue several Americans being held by ISIS near Raqqa. Allegedly, the soldiers stormed the facility but the terrorists had already moved the hostages. While the raid would provide evidence that U.S. Special Forces were operating in Syria in 2014, many researchers believe the story is simply fabricated by the White House to provide legitimacy to the stories of murdered hostages and thus the subsequent pro-war propaganda that ensued as well as to promote the gradual acceptance of U.S. troops on the ground in Syria.

In 2012, an article published in the Daily Star by Deborah Sherwood revealed that SAS Special Forces and MI6 agents were operating inside Syria shortly after the destabilization campaign began in earnest. Sherwood writes,

Special Forces will help ­protect the refugees in Syria along the borders.
Last week as the president ignored an international ceasefire, plans were being finalised to ­rescue thousands of Syrians.

SAS troops and MI6 agents are in the country ready to help rebels if civil war breaks out as ­expected this weekend.

They also have ­hi-tech satellite computers and radios that can instantly send back photos and details of refugees and ­Assad’s forces as the situation develops.

Whitehall sources say it is vital they can see what is ­happening on the ground for ­themselves so Assad cannot deny atrocities or battles.

And if civil war breaks out the crack troops are on hand to help with fighting, said the ­insider.

. . . . .

“Safe havens would be an invasion of Syria but a chance to save lives,” said a senior Whitehall source.

“The SAS will throw an armed screen round these areas that can be set up within hours.

“There are guys in the communications unit who are signallers that can go right up front and get ­involved in close-quarter fighting.”

In addition, in March 2012, it was reported by Lebanon’s Daily Star that 13 French intelligence agents had been captured by the Syrian government, proving not only that Western Special Ops presence in Syria did, in fact, exist but also that it existed essentially from the start.

Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 andvolume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President.

May 11, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Erdogan Continues to Squeeze Power Into His Hands

By Salman Rafi Sheikh – New Eastern Outlook – 10.05.2016

Erdogan’s dream to revive Turkey’s ‘lost status’ as the most powerful Muslim country cannot be materialized, he and his advisers seem to believe, without first fundamentally altering Turkey’s own political system and this alteration is, he believes, incomplete without making him powerful. Hence, Erdogan’s emphasis on ‘constitutionally’ introducing presidential form of government in Turkey to concentrate all power into his personality. It is ironic to see the emphasis on this system coming at a time when Erdogan himself is Turkey’s president. However, the power-drive he is riding is likely to cost Turkey a lot in terms of political stability. Already Turkey is facing enormous difficulties due to its bad policies on the external front; and now the reported rift between Erdogan and Turkey’s prime minister is going to add fuel to the fire. In simplest terms, resignation of Turkey’s PM has made Erdogan the head of state, of the government and, of course, the party. What a tremendous way of becoming the head of ‘everything’! Any yet Erdogan continues to claim that Turkey is a ‘democracy.’

While Erdogan’s current constitutional status supposes him to act in a ‘neutral’ manner, his extremely narrowly self-defined political behaviour tends to defy Turkey’s constitution in the most ridiculous way. Despite the fact that Erdogan had picked Davutoglu’s concept of ‘Neo-Ottomanism’ as a means to re-establish Turkey’s relations with the former territories of Ottoman Empire, stretching from the Middle East, North Africa to the Balkan and Black Sea regions, they seem to have developed serious differences with regard to the changes in domestic political system that should precede the implementation of this new foreign policy outlook. For Erdogan, this change in the foreign policy—a policy that is aimed at reviving Turkey’s position of power in the region— and the objectives it envisages cannot be effectively materialized unless a strong centre is created.

That Erdogan is squeezing power into his own hands is evident from the statement Davutoglu gave after the crisis talks with the president failed. He was reported to have said that one important reason for stepping down was a decision by the party’s executive (Erdogan) to take away his (prime minister’s) authority to appoint provincial party leaders.

However, this is not only the reason. The rift is deep-rooted in two different visions that both of them have with regard to taking Turkey out of crisis. While Davutoglu believed in the way of dialogue with the Kurds, Erdogan believed in creating a strong presidency. As such, While Davutoglu spoke of the possibility of resuming peace talks with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) if it withdrew armed fighters from Turkish territory, Erdogan said it was out of the question for the peace process to restart. Further disagreements took place after Davutoglu expressed opposition to the pre-trial detention of journalists accused of spying and academics accused of voicing support for the PKK.

For some, the reason for this crisis goes even deeper. The fact of the matter is that Erdogan had hand-picked his PM. Davutoglu did not, as such, have any strong base within the AKP’s structure. While this is yet another instance of how strong Erdogan continues to be and how explicitly he continues to defy his constitutional role, it also shows how creepy and fragile Turkey’s politics is becoming. This fragility is also showing its signs in some other aspects of polity too. The Turkish lira and the country’s stock market have fallen in recent days as investors shuddered at the prospect of a protracted leadership battle in a $720bn economy plagued by inflation, high foreign debt, a five-year long war on its border with Syria and a violent insurgency in its big cities.

This instability is, as a result of Davutoglu’s exit, likely to creep into Turkey’s relations with the West, particularly the EU, and damage it to a considerable extent. The reason why this is likely to happen is the rapport the Turkish PM had built with the EU and the deals he had made with regard to re-settlement of refugees.

Within the parameters of Turkey’s domestic politics, Davutoglu’s success in easing down Turkey’s relation with the EU meant—or it could be taken as such—that he was acquiring a relatively bigger stature than that of Erdogan—a sense that could have went against Erdogan’s push for presidential form of government.

It was this sense of ‘political status’ that was at the heart of problems between the PM and the President. And it is for this reason that Erdogan had to remind Davutoglu as well as Turkey’s public the true ‘hand-picked’ status of the prime minister. Addressing a group of local leaders on Wednesday, Erdogan was quoted as explicitly stating, “What matters is that you should not forget how you got to your post, what you should do there and what your targets are.” Given such an authoritarian stance, Davutoglu’s exit is going to put at risk Turkey’s ties with the West, which sees Erdogan with skepticism bordering on derision. Erdogan’s palace coup to ease out Davutoglu will only be seen in the West as a leap forward in the direction of authoritarianism.

Ironically, this is precisely what this development is all about. By paving the way for a more ‘sober’ and politically obedient and passive prime minister, Erdogan has underscored his own political power, putting himself in an ‘un-challengeable’ position, but indirectly also allowing Turkey to drift into experiencing an Ottoman-era type political tyranny. While Davutoglu dreamt of re-establishing Turkey’s relations with former territories of Ottoman Empire through his brain-child concept of ‘Neo-Ottomanism’, for Erdogan, this concept is incomplete without first turning his personality into the modern day ‘Sultan.’ Hence the question: will Turkey’s drift into ‘Ottomanism’ lead to its fall on the lines of the Ottoman Empire too? This question, as political behaviour of Erdogan and his team reveals, does not seem to have crossed their mind.

Salman Rafi Sheikh is a research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs.

May 10, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

‘EU Stays Silent on Erdogan Press Crackdown’

Sputnik – May 8, 2016

Two journalists from Turkey’s leading newspaper Cumhuriyet have been sentenced to five years in prison for revealing state secrets, but the case against them is purely political since the footage they published only confirmed what everybody already knows about Ankara’s activities in Syria, Turkish journalist Zeynep Oral told Radio Sputnik.

Two prominent Turkish journalists, Can Dudar and Erdem Gul, were sentenced on Friday to five years ten months and five years in prison, respectively, for publishing footage that appears to show Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) smuggling arms to opposition groups in Syria.

However, the charges of terrorism and espionage that were levied against them are baseless because the supposed state secret that they divulged has been well known for some time, Zeynep Oral, President of PEN Center Turkey and a columnist for the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, told Radio Sputnik.

“In fact both Can Dudar and Erdem Gul were put on trial for spying and terrorism, for attempting to put down the government and so many things, they were even prosecuted as terrorists, but the court acquitted them of all of these.”

“They are only being punished for what they have written. The court insisted that they have revealed ‘state secrets.’ Those secrets are not secrets; everybody knows about them, there are tons of publications about them, it’s not a secret any longer, this has already been published before.”

Oral believes that the current state of journalism in Turkey is the worst she’s seen in her 45-year career, and has resulted from the government’s political interference in the media and arbitrary use of the court system.

“I have lived through three different military coups and in none of them was it so bad. At least when you had the military coups you knew what you could write, what was forbidden to write, what was not forbidden to write, what was permissible.”

“Now there is uncertainty, you can be prosecuted for anything you write. The same article can be written by different names and one will be prosecuted and the other will not be prosecuted. For me this is a completely political court case, it has nothing to do with justice,” Oral said.

At first the Turkish government claimed the trucks were only taking humanitarian aid to Syria, then changed their story and said they were providing arms for the Turkmen in Iraq.

“Then the Turkmen said no, we’re not receiving any arms from the Turkish government.”

“Then Mr. Erdogan declared, ‘I shall not let them go free, they’ll have to pay for this.'”

“I think the court obeyed the orders of Mr. Erdogan.”

Oral said that while Turkey has a secular constitution, religion has been playing a greater role in political under the current government.”In the last ten years we have made a lot of concessions in the field of secularism. The education is being changed, the law system is being changed. The president of the parliament is saying, ‘we should change our constitution and take away secularism.'”

“All the resonances are becoming more and more religious. Of course, for me, that is unacceptable, not understandable, it’s a counter-revolution I would say.”

Turkey has recently become important to Europe “for the first time” because of its deal over the migrant crisis, but while the EU expresses concern about authoritarianism there, it will not interfere in support of European ideals regarding human rights, particularly freedom of expression, Oral said.

“They are ready to do anything to save their profits, their territory, I won’t say their ideals.”

“Profits and benefits are more important than ideals, these days, for the EU.”

May 8, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Gun attack on Turkish editor outside court during his trial for exposing Turkey-Syria weapons convoy

RT | May 6, 2016

An assailant has tried to shoot the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper Can Dündar , before the court was to announce the verdict on his case, Reuters reported, citing witnesses. The paper had published reports implicating the Turkish government in having links with extremists.

An assailant has tried to shoot the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper Can Dündar , before the court was to announce the verdict on his case, Reuters reported, citing witnesses. The paper had published reports implicating the Turkish government in having links with extremists.

The gunman shouted “traitor” before firing at least three shots at the journalist, an eyewitness told Reuters, adding that Dündar, who was unarmed, was not injured in the incident.

Reportedly at least one journalist who was covering Dündar’s trial was injured, however.

Dündar, 54, and his colleague, chief of Ankara bureau of Cumhuriyet, Erdem Gul, 49, stand accused of trying to topple the government, something they allegedly attempted to do in May 2015 by publishing a video purporting to reveal truckloads of arms shipments to Syria overseen by Turkish intelligence.

The Cumhuriyet report in May 2015 claimed that Turkey’s state intelligence agency was helping to transfer weapons to Syria by trucks.

Both Dündar and Erdem spent 92 days in jail, almost half of that time in solitary confinement, before the Constitutional Court ruled in February that their pre-trial detention was a violation of their rights.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly stated that the trucks really belonged to the MIT intelligence agency, but were carrying aid to Turkmens in Syria, who are fighting both Assad’s forces and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

The journalists remain under judicial supervision and are banned from leaving the country, according to the state-run Anatolia news agency.

Their detention fuelled criticism from international human rights groups, as well as from the EU. US Vice President Joe Biden said that Turkey was setting a poor example for the region by intimidating the media.

The journalists’ arrests and trial prompted numerous protests across Turkey.


‘Govt. trying to hide’: Turkey closes then postpones trials of two leading opposition journalists

Jailed Turkish journalists say arrests were aimed at sending ‘clear message’ to the press

Erdogan: ‘I don’t respect court ruling to free Cumhuriyet journalists’

May 6, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Turkish govt shuts down Zaman newspaper following seizure

RT | May 5, 2016

The Turkish government is shutting down Zaman newspaper, previously a strong critic of President Erdogan, which it seized control of in March. A number of other media outlets are also being closed by Ankara, according to CNN Turk.

Zaman was taken over by Ankara in early March. Following the seizure, the government immediately appointed new trustees for Feza Media Group, which owned the paper.

Police also raided the newspaper’s offices to enforce a Turkish court order stating that the media outlet must be brought under government authority. The newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Abdulhamit Bilici, was fired soon after.

Once the state took over, the newspaper soon turned into a government mouthpiece. The first edition under the new ownership featured the image of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Critics slammed the government for the move, with Zaman supporters taking to the streets of Istanbul in protest. Police deployed tear gas, water cannon, and rubber bullets on the demonstrators.

Along with Zaman, a number of other Feza Media Group outlets will be shut down, including Cihan News Agency. Kü will also be closed.

Erdogan has been fiercely criticized for his crackdown on press freedom in recent months, including the pre-trial detention of two journalists who published a report which purportedly showed intelligence officials transporting arms to Syria.

In late April, Turkey barred foreign journalists from entering the country, without providing any explanation for the move.

News of the shutdown of the media publications comes as Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu effectively resigned following a rift with Erdogan, whose leadership has become increasingly authoritarian.

Read more:

5 times Erdogan tried to get Europe to silence his critics

May 5, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Dutch columnist detained in Turkey ‘over Erdogan tweet’


Ebru Umar, Dutch writer ©
RT | April 24, 2016

The Turkish police have detained a Dutch columnist over a critical tweet she posted about Turkish President Recep Erdogan, her newspaper said. The woman intends to go back to the Netherlands after being released.

Ebru Umar is a Dutch columnist of Turkish origin, who writes for several newspapers, including Metro. On Saturday, the Turkish police detained her at the resort of Kusadasi and seized her laptop, the newspaper reported.

Umar said she was questioned about critical tweets about the Turkish president. She expects to be released soon and leave for the Netherlands, Metro reported.

Dutch and Turkish officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, the newspaper said.

It comes amid public outcry in the Netherlands over a letter sent by a Turkish consular to its citizens asking to report insults to the Turkish leader they encounter.

The Turkish authorities have launched some 2,000 lawsuits against people accused of insulting Erdogan.

Umar is a regular guest on Dutch TV panels on Muslim-related issues. She has a reputation for being highly critical of Islam and was reportedly targeted with retaliation in Amsterdam.

April 24, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment