Joe Biden’s Turkey tightrope

The vice-president has the difficult task of reassuring Ankara that Washington is committed to its NATO ally.

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JB: Sorry I’m late. Wish I could have come sooner🙂 RTE: What’s six weeks between friends?

Septuagenarian US vice-president is currently in Turkey, smiling for the cameras and his home audience, and talking down to Turkey’s leaders while delivering veiled threats about “friendship”. This article on politico.com has some interesting insights into the relationship:

ISTANBUL — Smoke rose over the Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold of Jarabulus Wednesday morning as Turkish tanks rolled across the border in a major operation that could pit two U.S. allies against each other.

The campaign began just hours before U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Ankara to discuss the fallout of last month’s failed coup. But while Turkey was moving against the Islamic State with Washington’s support, its operation was aimed not only the jihadists, but also the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria.

Speaking in Ankara, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that the attack on Jarabulus — the last stretch of northern border territory held by the jihadists — had begun at 4 a.m. on Wednesday, targeting “terror groups which constantly threaten our country.”

After a suicide bombing killed 54 guests at a Kurdish wedding on Saturday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu vowed to “cleanse” the country’s border region of ISIL, which had previously used Turkey’s porous frontier as a gateway to its self-declared caliphate.

Erdoğan added that the operation would also target Kurdish fighters in Syria. Turkey considers the Kurdish YPG militia an extension of the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), whose three-decade war against the Turkish state has killed some 40,000 people.

The trouble for Turkey is that while the U.S. and the rest of NATO have listed the PKK as a terror group, they see the YPG as their most effective ally in the fight against ISIL. Earlier this month, with American support, the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) — a coalition dominated by the Kurds — retook the strategic city of Manbij in northeastern Syria.

But while Manbij’s liberation was greeted with enthusiasm in the West, it caused consternation in Ankara. It meant that the Kurds had moved West, across the Euphrates river, which Ankara had once declared a “red line.” It also meant that they were free to move north towards Jarabulus, a town just south of the Turkish border.

Had the Kurds been able to capture Jarabulus and surrounding areas, they would have connected the two Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria, creating a de facto autonomous state along Turkey’s border. This would have fulfilled a longstanding dream of the Kurds but it would have been anathema to Ankara, which fears that an autonomous Kurdish entity in Syria would pour oil on the flames of its own Kurdish conflict.

Turkey is determined for Syria to retain its territorial integrity and will take matters into its own hands if required to protect that territorial unity,” Erdoğan warned on Wednesday.

Turkey is killing two birds with one stone,” said Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat and visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe. “The military objective of this operation is ISIS, but the political objective is the Kurds.”

After bombarding Jarabulus for two days, Turkish tanks and special forces entered Syria alongside several hundred Syrian rebel fighters. By early Wednesday afternoon, the joint operation had succeeded in retaking two villages and the Syrian rebels reached the center of the town under Turkish and U.S. air cover.

Syrian Kurdish leaders responded with anger. Salih Muslim, the leader of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), wrote on Twitter that Turkey was now in the “Syrian quagmire” and would be defeated like the Islamic State. Redur Xelil, a spokesperson for the YPG militia, denounced Turkey’s intervention as an act of “blatant aggression.”

As tensions rise between Turkey and the Syrian Kurds, Ankara’s foray into Syria may be yet another headache for Biden, who has the difficult task of reassuring Ankara that the U.S. is committed to its NATO ally amid surging anti-American sentiment following the July 15 coup attempt.

Turkey blames the coup on Pennsylvania-based preacher Fethullah Gülen and has demanded his extradition — a request that has so far been met with reluctance from U.S. authorities. Erdoğan has also long criticized the West’s support for Syria’s Kurds, describing it as the equivalent of holding “live grenades with the pins pulled.”

In Ankara on Wednesday, Biden launched a charm offensive, praising the bravery of the Turkish people during the coup attempt, lauding their efforts against the Islamic State and declaring that the country had “no better friend” than the United States. He also warned the Syrian Kurds that they would lose U.S. support if they did not retreat to the Euphrates’ eastern bank.

His speech was well received. But with two of their allies on a collision course, the U.S. will have to watch Turkey’s next steps closely.

Read the whole article

The U.S. and NATO Need Turkey

The following opinion piece appeared in Time online today:

‘To cast Turkey loose now would forfeit our influence in the region and end a decades-long alliance’

Halil I. Danismaz

The bloody coup attempt that left more than 200 people dead and nearly upended Turkey’s democratic institutions has shaken the country to its core.

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Standing tall for democracy in Turkey

I saw that dark moment—arguably the darkest in the country’s sad history of military dictatorships—unfold first-hand. I was on a plane to Istanbul when the coup plotters shut down the airport, then landed in the middle of the attack and stayed there for several weeks to witness the chaotic aftermath. There was a feeling of a nation under siege, being attacked from all sides.

Turkey has been battered by terrorism. Its most urgent need now is to defend itself and its democracy.

But the West’s response threatens to complicate how the U.S. and its NATO allies work with a country on the front lines of the global fight against ISIS. To cast Turkey loose now would forfeit our influence in the region and end a decades-long alliance. It could also drive Turkey into the arms of Russia—the wolf scratching at its door, which would like nothing more than to distance Turkey from the West.

This week’s visit by Vice President Joe Biden, the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit since the violent coup attempt last month, is a chance to repair the fractured relationship.

The U.S. has much at stake: Our allies and interests in Europe are under assault as never before. Syria and Iraq have ceased to exist as functioning states. ISIS is on the march from Libya to Afghanistan. And Iranian and Russian influence is steadily expanding.

Turkey stands as a bulwark against these rising threats. Located just 60 miles from the Syrian border, the Incirlirlik air base in southern Turkey—the crucial staging ground for American-led strikes against ISIS—allows our best A-10s, F-15s and drones to take the fight to ISIS in Syria and Iraq that were previously out of our reach.

It is also the anchor of NATO’s southeastern flank and home to its second-largest army. Western officials should heed NATO’s own words: “Turkey takes full part in the Alliance’s consensus-based decisions as we confront the biggest security challenges in a generation. Turkey’s NATO membership is not in question…NATO counts on the continued contributions of Turkey and Turkey can count on the solidarity and support of NATO.”

U.S. President Obama shakes hands with Turkey's PM Erdogan in Seoul

Love them or hate them, you have to accept the people’s choice – and that cuts both ways.

The change must begin by taming the rhetoric on both sides. The chaos I saw in Ankara has fomented a rising tide of anti-Americanism egged on by some Turkish officials and party-controlled press. Asserting that the U.S. played a role in the coup must stop immediately.

At the same time, U.S. officials and commentators should acknowledge that Turkey’s most urgent need now is to defend the very fabric of its civil society. Like him or not, President Erdogan is the legitimately and democratically-elected choice of the Turkish people, a claim bolstered by the recent support he has seen from the main secular opposition parties. He has earned the right to speak on their behalf and that right should be respected.

A formal mechanism will help us reach a mutually acceptable solution to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) problem. FETO is a danger to the stability in the region that the U.S. and NATO seek. A similar threat to democracy that created the kind of carnage would produce an outcry of outrage if it happened any other NATO member state. There have been united calls for the extradition of FETO’s leader, Fethullah Gulen, who is currently residing in the U.S. This is a reasonable request based on the widespread belief in Turkey—both the people and the main opposition parties—that FETO played a central role in the execution of the failed coup.

America’s most powerful and consequential regional ally is threatened as never before, with potentially dire consequences for our shared interests. U.S. policymakers must recommit to the bilateral relationship, not cut and run. Read the whole article

Life Goes On

When friends abroad contact me asking how we are getting on Turkey in the midst of the chaos – terrorist bombings, floods of immigrants from war-torn Syria, and the aftermath of a failed military coup – I confess to some feelings of shame.

Not that I have any involvement in any of these activities, you understand. It’s just that Dilek and I, being semi-retired, have spent most of the summer in Bodrum basking in the sunshine and dipping in the sea in this little idyll on Turkey’s south Aegean coast. Events in Istanbul and Ankara seem almost as far away as those in Salez, Switzerland, Paris, France, or Milwaukee, USA.

However, we know it’s a false paradise we are inhabiting. At the end of the month I’ll be heading back to work again in Istanbul. We are well aware of the hundreds of innocent people killed or injured while resisting the automatic weapons and tanks of soldiers whose officers were attempting to overthrow the country’s democratically elected government. We appreciate the additional difficulties that government is facing as it tries to assimilate three million Syrian refugees, and sustain economic confidence at home and abroad in the face of plunging revenue from tourism, anarchy and violence in neighbouring states, black propaganda from abroad, and a damaging spat with Russia.

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Wars? Coups? Refugees? What do we care?

This morning, sitting on the balcony enjoying our modest breakfast, casual conversation ceased as our eyes were drawn to a three-masted, square-rigged vessel of impressive size sailing with a brisk wind west to east across our field of vision. We see some pretty nice boats passing by during the summer, but this one was definitely out of the ordinary, and I had to check it out online. It wasn’t hard to find.

Wikipedia has this to say: The “Maltese Falcon is a state-of-the-art full rigged ship which was built by Perini Navi in Tuzla, İstanbul, and commissioned by her first owner Tom Perkins. She is one of the world’s most complex and largest sailing yachts at 88 metres (289 ft).”

Tom Perkins, God rest his soul, was comfortably ensconced on the Forbes billionaire list when he passed away earlier this year. An unabashed member of the American “One Percent”, he gained some publicity for himself in 2014 by comparing contemporary antagonism against the super-rich to Nazi Germany’s victimisation of Jews, and suggesting that the world would be a better place if people could cast votes in proportion to how much tax they paid. I think that part was a joke. As if those guys care about voting when they can pay lobbyists to pressure governments into giving them whatever they want.

Perkins is said to have paid $150 million to build the Maltese Falcon to his specs in 2006, but got bored with it three years later, selling it at a large loss (probably tax deductible) to another finance wizard (or witch) Elena Ambrosiadou. According to Forbes, “the yacht has 11,000 square feet (1,100 m2) of living space [and] fits up to 12 guests in five lower-deck staterooms and one upper-deck VIP cabin.” Of course Ms Ambrosiadou is generally busy making more money, so when she’s not using it, which Forbes tells me is most of the time, you can rent it (with eighteen crew thrown in) for $540,000 a week.

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A mere 57 m, but comfortable enough for 12 passengers, I guess

Well, that was today. Star of yesterday’s show was the Meserret II, which we were quite impressed with, until we saw the Falcon. Being a mere 57 metres (187 feet) it was not so easy to find online, and whoever owns it is a little more reclusive than Mr Perkins and Ms Ambrosiadou – but judging by the Arabic name, they must be from around this part of the world. It’s also available for hire, if your budget won’t quite stretch to half a million or so dollars a week. You can still squeeze twelve passengers on board, apparently. They won’t have quite the same living space as on the Falcon, but substantially more than my ancestors had when they sailed half way around the world in 1842 on a 37 metre (120 foot) motorless sailing ship with 250 other emigrants from Scotland.

Anyway, life goes on in Turkey, as you see – and I’m feeling less ashamed of myself now.

Who’s Behind the Attempted Coup in Turkey?

“I am deeply hurt!”

Blond John Bass

More than just another bimbo

It was John Bass, United States’ Ambassador to Turkey speaking in an interview with several Turkish journalists reported in our local daily on Sunday. He had been asked for his evaluation of the failed coup attempt on 15 July, and said he was deeply hurt that some commentators were suggesting, without a scrap of proof, that the United States had had prior knowledge of, and may even have had a finger in it. In fact, there was nothing in the report to say that any of the journalists present had even implied such a thing, so it may be that the ambassador “doth protest too much.”

As usual with diplomats, lawyers and politicians, however, the wording of the denial is very important. The honourable ambassador, you will note, is not hurt that his government is being accused, but that they are being accused without a scrap of proof. Well, of course, it’s not easy to prove these things at the time – the evidence tends to come out much later. Spooks are notoriously good at covering their tracks. It’s their job. Turkey’s political leaders also have to be particularly careful with the wording of their statements, whatever their suspicions, or even evidence, may be. President Erdoğan has been quoted as saying, “Gulen’s followers “are simply the visible tools of the threat against our country. We know that this game, this scenario is far beyond their league.”

The Brothers

Probably they would have been deeply hurt too

Turkey experienced three full-on military coups between 1960 and 1980, and there is ample evidence for CIA involvement. In recent years there has been much written on the subject of Gladio, an Italian word referring to CIA and NATO-sponsored secret armies that “colluded with, funded and often even directed terrorist organizations throughout Europe in what was termed a ‘strategy of tension’ with the aim of preventing a rise of the left in Western European politics.” American writer and journalist Stephen Kinzer published a book “The Brothers” in 2013 in which he details the activities of John Foster and Allen Dulles who, as head of the CIA and Secretary of State in the 50s and early 60s instigated “six regime-change operations . . . Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cuba, and the Congo, including the first presidentially authorized assassinations of foreign leaders in American history.”

Mr Bass, you guys have a long history of removing, or attempting to remove, leaders of sovereign nations whose policies and activities don’t meet with your approval. So don’t come the raw prawn with us!

Dear readers, you may think the following notes on falling oil prices have nothing to do with a failed military coup in Turkey, but don’t be too hasty.

I read an interesting article in the Daily Telegraph a week or so ago entitled Texas shale oil has fought Saudi Arabia to a standstill. Quoting a number of sources, the article was lauding the success of the shale oil industry in reducing the costs of the fracking process, enabling the United States to meet its own needs and drive down the global price of oil, thereby dealing a severe blow to the OPEC countries who, as we all know, are Muslim Arabs. The headline and much of the text focuses on Saudi Arabia and the damage the US is inflicting on the Saudi economy with its industrial might.

A recent article in The Economist purported to explain, in a similar vein, why oil prices are falling so low on the world market. The two main factors put forward were:

  • America has become the world’s largest oil producer, and
  • The Saudis and their Gulf allies have decided not to sacrifice their own market share to restore the price.

fracking dangersWell and good, but let’s take a closer look. First of all, how has the US suddenly gone from being a major importer of oil, to the world’s largest producer? By fracking shale oil is the answer. What’s that all about, you may ask. Like any other natural resource, supplies of oil run out as you consume the stuff. The United States has long since used up all its easily accessible supplies of oil, and found it cheaper to buy elsewhere. They still have oil, of course – that Telegraph article claims the Permian Basin in Texas has as much as Saudi Arabia’s largest oil field – but it’s not easy to get at. Enter the fracking process. Wikipedia explains: “The process involves the high-pressure injection of ‘fracking fluid’ (primarily water, containing sand or other proppants suspended with the aid of thickening agents) into a wellbore to create cracks in the deep-rock formations through which natural gas, petroleum, and brine will flow more freely.” There are serious environmental concerns with this:

  • The process requires huge amounts of water, which inevitably becomes contaminated, even if it does return to the surface, and a lot of it doesn’t.
  • There seems to be some secrecy in the industry about chemicals used in the process.
  • Large areas of land are rendered unsuitable for other uses, including wildlife.
  • There is enormous noise pollution, both from the process itself and from convoys of trucks bringing sand and other necessary materials to the site.
  • There is also a danger of increased seismic activity resulting in earthquakes.

For these reasons, the extraction of oil by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is under international scrutiny, and has been banned outright in some countries.

Wall St crooks

Where do you slot in?

According to a source quoted in that Telegraph article, much of the finance for the fracking industry is being supplied by Wall Street private equity groups such as the Blackstone and Carlyle Groups. Of course wise investment is an important motive for those businesses, but some might argue that equally important is the need to keep the world safe for capitalism. Daniel Rubenstein, one of Carlyle’s founders is identified in his Wikipedia biography as “financier and philanthropist”. He is also credited with having foreseen, in 2006, that private equity “activity” was about to crash – which it did indeed – but predicted in 2008 that the lean period would soon be over and he and his cronies would be back sucking the world dry more profitably than before. Three big cheers for philanthropy, people!

Do I sound sceptical? Apart from the involvement of Mr Rubenstein and his “philanthropic” ilk, I have other reasons. My primary concern is I do not believe Saudi Arabia is the main target of US strategy here, nor is a desire to be self-sufficient in oil production for its own sake, and I’ll tell you why.

Saudi Arabia is a firm ally of the United States, and the single biggest customer of the US arms industry. What do they do with all that military hardware, given that they don’t seem to be directly involved in any actual wars, to the best of my knowledge. Another source in that Telegraph article asserts that the Saudis are proxy suppliers of military hardware to Egypt and “an opaque nexus of clients in the Saudi sphere.” Whose proxy? No prizes for guessing that one! Furthermore Saudi Arabia has ample foreign reserves and its oil is very cheap to extract. It is well placed to withstand a long siege of low oil prices without seriously affecting the bloated lifestyle of its citizens.

OPEC, however, is not just composed of Middle Eastern Arabs and Muslims. Venezuela, with the world’s second largest oil reserves, was one of the five founding members of OPEC in 1960. Also in the group are Ecuador, Indonesia and several African countries with low per capita incomes: Libya, Algeria, Nigeria, Gabon and Angola. Do you see any countries in that list that Wall Street financiers might not love? Ecuador and Venezuela have been at the forefront of South American Bolivarian socialist progress for two decades. Rafael Correa and his neighbour Hugo Chavez began the process of nationalising their countries’ resources and using them to raise living standards for all their people, and Chavez’s successor Nicolas Maduro has continued on the same track.

USA wants Venezuela

When the fracking’s over . . .

In 2002 a military coup in Venezuela succeeded in overthrowing President Chavez, but after huge demonstrations of public support, the generals handed the reins of government back 47 hours later. According to Wikipedia, In December 2004, The New York Times reported on the release of newly declassified intelligence documents that showed that the CIA and Bush administration officials had advance knowledge of an imminent plot to oust President Chavez, although the same documents do not indicate the United States supported the plot.” Well, they wouldn’t, would they? Not a scrap of evidence, as the US Ambassador to Turkey would say. However, those Wall St financiers don’t give up easily, and they don’t have to win elections to stay in power. There is more than one way to bring down a government you don’t like. Ask Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi.

I came across an article in Global Research last month entitled US-Led Economic War, Not Socialism, is Tearing Venezuela Apart. The writer, Caleb T Maupin, argues, The political and economic crisis facing Venezuela is being endlessly pointed to as proof of the superiority of the free market . . . In reality, millions of Venezuelans have seen their living conditions vastly improved through the Bolivarian process. The problems plaguing the Venezuelan economy are not due to some inherent fault in socialism, but to artificially low oil prices and sabotage by forces hostile to the revolution . . . The goal is to weaken these opponents of Wall Street, London, and Tel Aviv, whose economies are centered around oil and natural gas exports”.

NIGERIA POVERTY

A Nigerian child’s share of his nation’s oil wealth

Who benefits from this economic war? No prizes for guessing that one either. Who suffers? Well, that’s pretty obvious too. The people of Venezuela and Ecuador in the short term, of course – but more so in the long term if the populist economic reform process can be derailed. The people of those African oil-rich countries, Libya, Algeria, Nigeria, Gabon and Angola, certainly, if the multi-national oil companies can retain their control of production. But there are others too, who receive even less publicity: the millions of migrant labourers from India and other poor countries who have been working in Saudi Arabia and other wealthy states in the region. A news report ten days ago revealed  that the Indian government had come to the rescue of more than ten thousand of their citizens starving in Saudi Arabia. 16,000 kg of food was distributed by the consulate in Jeddah to penniless workers who had lost their jobs and not been paid. The report claimed that there are more than three million Indians living and working in Saudi Arabia, and more than 800,000 in Kuwait, many of whom have not been paid for months after factories closed down, and employers are refusing to feed them. The Indian government is taking steps to evacuate as many as possible.

Supporting Turkey

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge . . .

It seems there are many ways the world’s sole remaining super power and its financial backers can get rid of “unfriendly” foreign governments and individuals:

  • Invasion and total destruction is one;
  • Drone strikes are more incisive and undoubtedly cheaper;
  • CIA-sponsored military coups have had some success;
  • Destroying a country’s economy is slower, but leaves less obvious dirt on the hands of the perpetrators, and has the additional advantage of inciting the people of the targeted country to oust the government themselves.

It is clear that the United States, or at least the small amoral power group who control it, do not care if they irreparably destroy their country’s natural environment, nor how many helpless, innocent people at home and abroad suffer for their greed. The US Ambassador to Turkey may be deeply hurt – but I doubt it. Any moisture you see in his eyes will surely be crocodile tears.

Millions stand for democracy in Turkey

Was this reported in your local news media?

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Standing up for democracy in Istanbul

Millions of people gathered Aug. 7 at a meeting venue in Istanbul’s Yenikapı area for a massive joint democracy rally to protest the July 15 coup attempt, putting an end to three weeks of demonstrations following the failed takeover.

The rally was a rare event in which the leaders of three political parties took the stage upon a call made by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, leaving aside their political differences.

The event began with Mehmet Görmez, the head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate reciting from the Quran.

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Remember that picture from Tiananmen Square? This is Turkey!

“That night, I realized that I am a part of a very great nation,” said Orçun Şekercioğlu, who came to the stage on a wheelchair. He was wounded by coup soldiers on the Bosphorus Bridge as he was standing against tanks.

“July 15 has opened a door of consensus for Turkey,” Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kılıçdaroğlu said, while addressing the crowd. “There is a new Turkey now,” he said. “All political party leaders should learn lessons from the coup attempt. That includes me.”

“I am happy because I can see the rise of Turkey,” Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli said in his address to millions from all walks of life. “July 15 is a milestone for Turkey,” he said, praising the citizenry’s strong stance against the coup soldiers at the cost of their lives.

Bursa

This is a huge one, for those who know Turkey!

Chief of Staff General Hulusi Akar received a big round of applause when he took the stage. Along with Akar, other members of the top brass who were taken hostage by the coup plotters were present at the meeting. Akar once again said U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen was responsible for the coup.

President Erdoğan arrived in Yenikapı in a helicopter alongside first lady Emine Erdoğan. Mr Erdoğan started his speech by thanking the people who stood against the tanks and planes used by the coup plotters during the failed takeover. He wished his condolences to the 240 people killed by putschists, of whom 172 were civilians, 63 were police officers and five were soldiers. He also wished speedy recovery to the 2,195 wounded.

During Erdoğan’s speech the crowd repeatedly shouted that they wanted the death penalty to be reintroduced. “If parliament accepts the reintroduction of death penalty, I will accept it,” he told the crowd, adding that the death penalty exists in the U.S., Japan and “many other countries.”

Foça

The Aegean region is a stronghold of opposition to the government, but . . .

“We’re here to show that these flags won’t come down, the call to prayer won’t be silenced, and our country won’t be divided,” said Hacı Mehmet Haliloğlu, a civil servant who traveled from the Black Sea province of Ordu for the rally. “This is something way beyond politics, this is either our freedom or death,” he said, a large Turkish flag over his shoulder and a matching baseball cap on his head.

Repeated announcements were made in the area regarding a ban on carrying party flags or party slogans. Millions of Turkish flags were seen in the area, as well as the flags of Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Albania and the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Posters of Erdoğan and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, were also hung around the venue.

The “Democracy and Martyrs Rally” was held as the last in a series of meetings to protest the failed takeover, which is believed to have been masterminded by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

Read the whole article

It has been estimated that 3.5 million people turned up for the meeting in Istanbul – and large crowds attended similar gatherings in all of Turkey’s 81 provinces.

Istanbul

“There is a new Turkey now!”

In spite of that, I could find no mention in the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald or the New Zealand Herald.

BBC News chose to report: Turkey’s president backs death penalty!

Apart from the Beeb, the other sites I visited focused on the possible abdication of the Emperor of Japan; continuing violence in Libya, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan; and the possibility that Oscar Pistorius may have tried to top himself.

Is there disappointment out there that the attempted coup in Turkey didn’t succeed? It sure looks like it from where I’m sitting.

Attempted Coup in Turkey – For Those Who Do Not Understand

You should read this. It’s not just me . . .

e14ab38e-4511-4a3a-9ac8-6a83a38175e8Adam McConnel in Serbestiyet:

“Hours after the Turkish government declared a state of emergency, the German Foreign Ministry took the astonishing step of criticizing the Turkish government for the action. Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s comments revealed how ignorant he is about Turkish affairs. Germany’s neighbor France has been under a state of emergency since November 2015, and has just extended that state of emergency for another six months. The German Foreign Ministry has not said anything about that. Then two days later, in a case of grotesque and horrific irony, Germany itself had to declare a state of emergency when an assailant in Munich killed a number of civilians.

As someone who lived through the night of 15-16 July, there are two aspects of the situation that I find disturbing. The first is the event itself, which was truly terrifying. The second has been the attitude of journalists and other intellectual commentators both inside Turkey and abroad. As the coup attempt emerged and then failed, reporters and pundits struggled to say something coherent for their viewers and readers. The situation inside Turkey was better because the large majority of commentators had (and have) a better grip on the political realities of the situation, but abroad the outlook was grim. This and the following articles will address those journalists’ and commentators’ massive failure to perform their job properly.

A number of extremely worrying narratives emerged even while the violence was continuing early on Saturday, 16th July. In a general way, they were meant to insult or to negatively impact on the public perception of two main actors. The main target was Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan; the secondary, but inherently connected actor was the Turkish citizens themselves. For several years an international campaign has been waged to portray the Turkish leader in as bad a light as possible for Western media consumers. But because Erdoğan has achieved repeated and spectacular electoral successes over the past fifteen years, the insults aimed at Erdoğan have between the lines also been aimed at the Turkish people. If he is the supposed dictator, then they are the brainwashed, hideous rabble that voted him there.”

Read the whole article

Democracy in Turkey? They’re Muslims for God’s sake!

Thanks to my old neighbour and friend Malcolm Evans for allowing me to publish this letter. He’s sent it to several newspapers in New Zealand, but I’m not expecting to see it published. Maybe I’ll be surprised, who knows?

“Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe I’ve just been trawling media stories for too long.  But then again, maybe – just maybe – maybe we’re being fed as big a line of BS in our newspapers as ever we claim is routinely served up to the other lot.

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Did you see these photos in your local newspaper?

It all came to a head these past days in the aftermath of the attempted military coup in Turkey – did you notice?  Clearly a serious attempt to overthrow an elected government had taken place.  And just as clearly the Turkish people, including those who oppose that elected government, took to the streets and stopped it!

But then, instead of stories praising Turkey for defending democracy, which we claim to hold so dear, our newspapers ran sneering suggestions that the coup was engineered by the Turkish government to cement its power. And these were followed by warnings that Turkey had better not use the coup as an excuse to go on a “witch hunt” for other than those responsible.

And all these stories seemed to materialise simultaneously and each seemed to be singing from the same song sheet!  And yes, dare I say it, they carried a distinct whiff of stifled disappointment that the coup in Turkey had failed!

_90415709_034087874-2Turkey is a major power, geographically and politically important and, as a member of Nato, is surely deserving of the same respect we accord other members of that alliance. If a similar coup attempt had taken place in another Nato country I doubt it would have been given the treatment our newspapers gave Turkey got last week.

For instance, maybe I missed it, but I didn’t read of any warning being given to either France or Germany, both of whom have declared states of emergency, not to use their terror situations to impose harsh measures on anyone.  (And don’t get me started on the blind eye we turn to the appalling treatment of minorities in America). So why the difference?

But then of course I’m being naïve aren’t I.  There’s something else going on here isn’t there. Turkey’s not playing the game some would have it played, is it? And that’s what’s behind the jaundiced eye we’re told we must see Turkey through. Heaven forbid that we should consider them as decent, well educated, nice people – they’re Muslims for God’s sake!

I’m a newspaper man. I’ve worked in and around them, in one capacity or another, for over fifty years.  Newspapers are a vital element of our democracy –  “The Fifth Estate” said Edmund Burke – and if they are to remain true to that principle it’s vital that newspapers preserve their objectivity and resist attempts to convert them into a conduit for someone else’s agenda.

Then again maybe that’s just me.”