Tag - Turkey

Turkey, US Sign Deal To Train, Arm Syrian Rebels: US Embassy

AP, By Desmond Butler, February 19

Istanbul — Turkey and the United States signed an agreement Thursday to train and arm Syrian rebels fighting the Islamic State group, said the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.

The two countries have been in talks about such a pact for several months. The deal was signed Thursday evening by U.S Ambassador John Bass and Turkish Foreign Ministry undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu, said Embassy spokesman Joe Wierichs. He gave no further details.

Sinirlioglu called the deal “an important step” in the strategic partnership between Turkey and the United States, according to Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency.

The Turkish government has said the training by U.S. and Turkish soldiers could begin as early as next month at a base in the central Anatolian city of Kirsehir, and involve hundreds of Syrian fighters in the first year. The U.S. has said the goal is to go after the Islamic State group, but Turkish officials have suggested that the trained rebels could also target the Syrian government of President Bashar Assad.

Something I Once Said

Five years ago, almost to the day I left Istanbul for Denmark. I should never have left. I don’t have many regrets in life. I can count them on three fingers. One of them was leaving Istanbul on June 1, 2009. Early that spring I said this about Istanbul, “fuck it man, I’d wade through a river of shit ten times to see this place.” In many ways I’ve waded through several of those metaphorical rivers of shit over the last five years.

And then there was today. Clouds lowered over the city. It’s been pissing rain here for a week, flooding many parts of the city and more rain was expected.

Babil Sokak“Fuck it,” I said, grabbed my backpack (the same one I bought here in 2009), hailed a cab and rode to Taksim. I had business to take care of. The cabbie left me at Babil Sokak, my old street. It hasn’t changed. I guess I haven’t, either. Damnit, then my eyes puddled up and the whole crazy mess of the city assaulted me at once. The old guy where I ate breakfast every morning recognized me. I stopped at Hasan’s, my old barber. He gave me a great shave, trimming the beard up nicely. Hasan said he had missed me, asked me, “where have you been my Texas friend? Please stay for tea.”

I did, choked up, holding back the tears.

Five years.

What was it Horace said? “Jealous time flees.”

Jealous and fleeting, indeed.

Istanbul, June 5 2014

I walked down Cumurriyet Caddesi, this time unable to hold back the tears. How I so love this city. The filth. The crowds. The covered women. The women in miniskirts. The men in coats. The touts. The louts. The traffic. The smells, roasting chestnuts, roasting corn, tea in tulip shaped glasses. Bricks laid before Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

I walked past the Galata Tower and turned the corner onto the Golden Horn Bridge and then a miracle happened, just for me. The clouds just evaporated. The Bosporus turned from sullen gray to green. Ferries cut cottony tails across the Sea of Marmara. Fishermen cast lines off the bridge and the whole city was just as golden and magnificent as I ever remembered it.

I was home.

Turkish PM Erdoğan stresses ‘shared pain’ in statement on Armenian issue

Hurriyet Daily News, April 23

Ankara – Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has highlighted the “shared pain” endured during the 1915 events in an unexpected statement April 23 on the Armenian issue, expressing condolences on behalf of the Turkish state to the grandchildren of Armenians who lost their lives “in the context of the early twentieth century.”

In a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office, Erdoğan said April 24 carries “particular significance for our Armenian citizens and for all Armenians around the world.”

Arguing that all ethnicities in the late years of the Ottoman Empire lived a hard time full of pains, Erdoğan called for a just, humane and conscientious standing to commemorate all pains experienced in that era.

“The incidents of the First World War are our shared pain. To evaluate this painful period of history through a perspective of just memory is a humane and scholarly responsibility.”

The Roots of the Saudi-Israeli Entente

Wallerstein is a world systems historian so he usually has holes in his analysis, but this one? Nope. I can go all the way with it. I just wish he’d addressed the de-facto entente between Israel and the Saudis.

In the 90s we had a full blown de jure and de facto entente between Israel and Turkey. But Israel’s intransigence and arrogance blew it up during the late aughts and early teens of this century.

That entente no longer exists, in form or function.
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Gul makes his move in Turkey – the voice of ‘dialog and empathy’

pressealTurkey’s President Gul is making a bold move to calm the political chaos in Turkey.   Will he succeed or will the paranoid Prime Minister Recep Erdogan decide that Gul’s efforts are part of the conspiracy to remove Erdogan from power? (Image: Turkish Presidential Seal)

Since December 17, scores of Erdogan cronies have been arrested for graft and corruption.  This included his hand picked ministers and key political supporters.   The Prime Minister found this intolerable and began firing prosecutors and police.  Dismissals are now in the hundreds.  The PM maintains that a state within a state is attacking him.  Supposedly masterminded by Fethullah Gul (no relation to the president), a Muslim scholar residing in the United States, the plot explains the corruptions charges.

PM Erdogan is assuming dictatorial powers.  Turkey’s Constitution has clear rules about the separation of the judiciary and law enforcement from the executive branch.  Erdogan doesn’t care about the rule of law.  He made sure that prosecutors and police, many from his AK Party, were summarily dismissed after they brought corruption charges against Erdogan appointees and cronies.  He said he’d like to prosecute the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors when that group questioned the legality of the mass firings of prosecutors.  The council makes “decisions on appointments, promotions and assignments of those working under the judge class,” which includes prosecutors.  Read More

US and EU asleep at switch on Turkish meltdown

Turkey continues its crisis of governance and personal power.  There seems to be no good outcome at this point given the conversion of Turkey to a dictatorship.  PM Erdogan is changing laws and stopping police investigations.  When corruption charges were brought against dozens of Erdogan officials and friends, the poice and prosecutors who brought the charges were fired, at Erdogan’s orders.  Replacement police are now investigating those who “conspired” against the state (i.e., PM Erdogan).  The Turkish supreme court ruled that this dictatorial rule was illegal.  The court was ignored other than the PM saying he’d like to prosecute the judges.

How did this happen so suddenly?  Or, was it sudden.   This interview with Turkish journalist Sedat Ergin sums things up nicely.  It’s published in Hurriyet Daily News, one of the few  sources left in Turkey that’s not intimidated by the governments policies against a free press.

Hurriyet Daily News Dec 6, 2014 – Interview with Sedat Ergin

There is an assumption that the change in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan towards authoritarianism started in 2011. But this does not correspond to facts. The change started back in 2008. We could see from that time how Erdoğan was shifting to an illiberal mindset. This went hand in hand with his shifting away from EU perspectives. The tax fines on the largest media group of the country, aiming to silence independent media, were a flagrant indicator of this. You can elaborate the list. Unfortunately, the Europeans and the U.S. failed to detect this deviation early enough. Read More

The perfect storm in Turkey – corruption, conflict, conspiracy

Will Summer protests return to Turkey Jordi Bernabeu Farrús

Will Summer protests return to Turkey Jordi Bernabeu Farrús

The Republic of Turkey is consumed by intense conflict, conspiracy charges, and underlying financial problems that simply won’t go away.  A perfect storm is brewing in Turkey.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government and supporters are charged with a secret gold-for-oil deal with Iran.  The deal, in violation of trade sanctions against Iran, enriched the PM’s ministers and other key supporters involved (including the PM’s son), according to prosecutors.  The deal also involved misreporting billions of dollars in trade, which, in turn, resulted in Turkey overstating national income and understating its current account deficit.

A more ominous charge focuses on  Erdogan’s open support of a wealthy Saudi known for funding al Qaeda and the PM’s alleged support of Al Qaeda fighters engaged against the Syrian government.  Just today, we saw this headline: Turkish governor blocks police search on Syria-bound truck reportedly carrying weapons .  Erdogan is a strong supporter of the Syrian rebels, assumed recipients of the weapons.

The crisis started on December 17, 2013 when dozens of Erdogan’s close associates were arrested for corruption.  The arrests included the CEO of Turkey’s state bank caught with million in euros stuffed in shoeboxes.   Charges and arrests continued.  Prosecutors and police who handled the case were fired at the behest of the Prime Minister.  The Turkish supreme court ruled that the government couldn’t interfere with police investigations through firings and intimidation.  Undeterred, Erdogan fired more prosecutors claiming the charges were an attack on the Turkish state.  To top it all off, authorities banned reporters from police stations and pressured the media to stop focusing on the scandals.   Read More

Turkish Press on Erdogan Tailspin

I would judge the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors if I had authority,: Turkish PM  ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News

Erdogan after the  Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors  (HSYK) overturned Erdogan’s change in police and judicial procedures to protect his position:

“From here, I am filing a criminal complaint [against the HSYK]. The HSYK has broken the law. They have violated article 138 of the Constitution by making a statement on [the change of the procedures of] law enforcement while a case on it was still continuing at the Administrative Court. Now I ask: who will judge the HSYK? Do you know who will do it? The people,” Erdoğan said during a conference in Sakarya on Dec. 27. “I would like to judge them, if I would have adequate authority.”

Prosecutor in second graft investigation says case ‘taken out of his hands’ ISTANBUL – Hurriyet Daily News

The head prosecutor in a new corruption case has said the investigation files have been “taken from his hands” after he gave instructions for the arrest of suspects, while blasting the judicial institution for obstructing the probe.  Read More

Istanbul Protests – “Everywhere bribery, everywhere corruption”

Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan is resisting responsibility at all costs. After charges against 100 or more officials and supporters, the PM has fired police and prosecutors in Istanbul and Ankara, blamed foreigners, the U.S. in particular, for the scandal, and referenced it all as an attack on the state. Protests are erupting. Just to make sure security forces could deliver the maximum best down, municipality workers shut down cameras in the Taksim area. How long will Erdogan hold out? What will the outcome be? Are there “young Turks” in the military waiting in the wings? Someone said that Erdogan’s virulent response to the military coup in Egypt was due to projection – the PM feared he would fall in the same way. He’s certainly done everything he could to make sure that happened.

Police in Istanbul stage crackdown on protesters denouncing Turkish gov’t over graft scandal
Hurriyet Daily News, Istanbul

The police have staged a crackdown on protesters who took to the streets in Istanbul Dec. 27 to denounce the corruption and bribery allegations against the government over a graft probe that has shaken the country since last week.  Read More