Business Insider is not a source of news I visit regularly. If you asked my opinion, I’d probably say that anyone who would call their website that, or work for such an organisation, must be a selfish jerk of majestic proportions.
Nevertheless, in my roaming around the Internet my attention is occasionally grabbed by some outrageous headline, and so it was just the other day: ‘Turkey’s flirtation with terrorism is falling apart’ (Sept 16). I don’t know who the writers are – a guy and girl, Natasha and Michael, and I can’t be bothered googling them. I’ve had some negative feedback in the past after checking the backgrounds of foreign ‘journalists’ writing smear stuff about Turkey, and publishing their connections to Israeli Zionism.
This particular article claims that ‘A key Hamas official who operated out of Turkey for years was sanctioned [whatever that means] last week by the US Treasury Department for his role in organizing and inciting terrorism in the West Bank and Israel.
And given Ankara’s history for working with US-designated terrorists — and some of the disastrous implications by those connections [strange preposition] — the most recent designation [??] shows how Turkey’s quiet dance with terrorism finance is falling apart.’ [Does this sentence make sense?]
Well, the name ‘Natasha’ has bad connotations in Turkey – but I’m not going into that. Neither name sounds particularly Jewish, and maybe those young business insiders are not aware that the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, forms the largest part of Palestine. 80% of the population is Palestinian Arabs – and the 500,000 Israeli settlers are considered illegal by the international community (apart from the USA). It may well be that the US government considers Hamas a terrorist organization – but some might ask what a red-blooded Palestinian should do when Israel and their American backers ignore United Nations appeals to stop their racist Zionist expansionism.
I don’t know how many of Natasha-and-Michael’s claims are true. How do they know that Ankara has provided $300 million to Hamas, for example. But being ‘journalists’, they don’t have to list their sources, so we are expected to take their word for it.
What I find surprising is the amount of hatred I see expressed regularly in American news media towards Turkey and its democratically elected government. After all, Turkey has been a key member of NATO since it was formed after the Second World War, and acted as a crucial buffer state against Soviet expansion during the Cold War. Turks even allowed the Yanks to site several nuclear missile installations targeting the USSR in those days, obviously putting themselves at serious risk in the fight to make the world safe for democracy and capitalism. You’re supposed to be on the same side, guys! What’s going on?
A few days later, our Natasha went out on her own with an even more unpleasant piece: ‘Turkey has a huge problem that it has no idea how to deal with’ (Sept 21). While recognizing that ‘Militias in eastern Turkey aligned with the insurgent Kurdish PKK have taken the war against the state to the streets’ and ‘reportedly killed 33 police officials in recent days’ the young lady appears to be criticising the government of Turkey for responding with escalating force. I wonder what she thinks of the Israeli government’s murderously disproportionate response to the occasional violent protest by desperate Palestinians.
How can we account for the apparent glee expressed here by a US news source when a key ally is struggling to contain vicious attacks on police and civilians by members of an outlawed group recognised as a terrorist organisation by NATO and the European Union? The United States government has applied considerable pressure on Ankara to join the fight against ISIS/Daesh – whoever they are – who, as far as I know, have posed no actual danger to anyone on American soil.
Natasha does quote a source this time, a certain Halil M Karaveli, a rabidly anti-Turkish journalist who I did take the trouble to check out a year or so ago. His young protégé employs the same journalistic techniques of logical non-sequiturs, unsubstantiated assertions and unexplained innuendo. For example:
‘President Recep Erdogan’s renewed war with the Kurdish PKK has raised questions about how much political power he will ultimately cede to the military.’ Whose war? The PKK have been carrying out terrorist attacks on Turkish security forces and innocent civilians. Whoever is asking those questions clearly has no knowledge of the political system in Turkey.
‘As Halil M. Karaveli noted in the New York Times, Erdogan’s imposition of “de facto emergency rule” throughout Turkish Kurdistan has forced him to give political control back to the Turkish military, effectively reversing what was once a cornerstone of his presidency.’ ‘De facto’?? There is no such place as ‘Turkish Kurdistan’, or any other Kurdistan, for that matter. Is the writer suggesting that the military has been given political control of Turkey? If this is ‘journalism’ these people deserve to be locked up.
‘Before his party lost its parliamentary majority back in June, Erdogan had been trying to expand his presidential authority beyond its mostly symbolic role.’ So Mr Erdoğan has no actual say in the day-to-day governing of Turkey – and changing the constitution requires a 60% majority of the democratically elected parliament.
‘The unexpected loss effectively derailed Erdogan’s efforts to consolidate more power, prompting him to call for a snap election if talks to form a coalition government — which he reportedly opposed from the outset — failed.’ Doesn’t the AK Party’s failure to win an absolute majority clearly show that the election was not rigged in any way? The other three parties refused to cooperate in a coalition with AK Party, but hate each other almost as much as they hate the government.
‘New elections have been set for November 1st, but what happens before then may determine whether or not those elections are legitimate.’ See the previous point.
“How far will Erdogan go in violating Turkey’s democratic norms,” asks Foreign Policy’s Nick Danforth, “and how effective will they prove in constraining him?” In fact Turkey didn’t have a great record of democratic government before the appearance of Mr Erdoğan and his AK Party on the scene. Three actual military coups and a virtual one took place between 1960 and 1997. What is Nick Danforth’s point?
I have been reading for some years reports that Turkey has more journalists in prison than any other country in the world. Figures vary considerably, so I can’t tell you how many there actually are. What I can do is quote from a recent article published on Huffington Post (15 September) written by an assistant professor at Istanbul’s Marmara University. In the course of the article, the learned gentleman says of Tayyip Erdoğan:
‘Like the Ottoman sultans of centuries past, Erdoğan resorted to all manner of intrigue to undermine his political opponents and protect himself.
Erdogan is saying to voters: give me the majority I need to change the constitution, or suffer the consequences — i.e., political turmoil and social instability.
Since June 7, Turkey has gradually begun to spiral out of control, with a plummeting currency and a rapidly deteriorating security situation.
In the midst of a political and security crisis, it is doubtful whether Turkey can hold truly free and fair elections six weeks from now. Why then has Erdogan opted for such chaos and conflict?
[Opposition leader] Kılıçdaroglu has stirred up controversy in the past by referring to Erdogan as the “prime thief” and the AKP government as a “kleptocratic regime.”
Many Turkish officers who were opposed to the ceasefire to begin with surely feel that they are being used as political pawns by Erdogan, who is now asking them to give their lives fighting the PKK.
In his final paragraph, the professor stops just short of calling on the Turkish army to oust Mr Erdoğan by force, but the wish seems to be in his mind. I have been reading this kind of inflammatory rhetoric posing as journalism in this country’s media since the AK Party came to power 13 years ago, and I wonder what those imprisoned ‘journalists’ had to do or say to get themselves locked up.
Illustrating the apparently irreconcilable contradictions in the barrage of criticism directed at Mr Erdoğan since his days as highly popular and successful Mayor of Istanbul in the 1990s, another recent article in a foreign source had this to say:
‘Erdogan, who became prime minister in 2003 and president in 2014, has become the single most important force driving today’s Turkish foreign and domestic policy—the new sultan, as both his critics and admirers have dubbed him. He has emasculated the nation’s once-powerful military as a domestic political force: Starting in 2007, his government launched a massive investigation into an alleged several-years-old coup plot, accusing top generals and officers, opposition leaders, journalists, and academics of conspiracy and, by 2013, jailing nearly 300 of them. This helped cement his position as the most potent leader in modern Turkey’s history, with the exception of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, its founder.’
So he is a sultan without an army. The writer seems to regret that Turkey’s military is no longer a domestic political force. Some would argue that military interference in Turkey’s domestic affairs over a 40-year period was anything but democratic – and some believe that, if Erdoğan and his government had not pulled the teeth of the generals, there would have been a fifth military coup to oust his popularly elected government.
The writer, Yigal Schleifer, has an interesting CV. As well as appearing in the New York Times, the Washington Post and Foreign Policy, it seems he also writes for Christian Science Monitor and the Jerusalem Report, so who knows where his perspective on world affairs is located – but I have my suspicions. Anyway, his article here is subtitled ‘WHY TURKEY’S RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN MAY BE THE NEXT PUTIN.’
Once again, it’s not easy to pin down exactly what is meant here. Can we expect Erdoğan to pursue a political career in Russia if he is shunned by Turkey? Or is Yigal Schleifer making some value judgment about Vladimir Putin’s presidency and suggesting a comparison with Turkey’s man? I read an article the other day on Bloomberg Business reporting that bankers and financiers were fleeing Russia as a result of President Putin’s policies. Well, if that is the case, those policies may well be worth a second look. Maybe President Obama could pick up some tips on how to get Wall St under control. An article in Newsweek complained that ‘Putin’s Gambit of Destabilizing His Independent Neighbors Is Working.’ If the Russian leader is pursuing such a policy, it would only be emulating what Israel and the United States have been doing for decades. Turkey under AKP rule, on the other hand, followed a ‘Zero problems with neighbours’ foreign policy for some years – and was soundly mocked for it.
To round off this quick overview of the semi-hysterical vitriol I constantly see hurled at the Turkish government, let me refer to an article that appeared in England’s Independent back in August, entitled, ‘While Erdogan is ensconced in his opulent new palace, Turkey is on the brink of civil war.’ Robert Ellis vents about Erdoğan’s ‘delusion of neo-Ottoman grandeur’, suggests he is ‘intent on creating what many see as his own caliphate’, and ends with a rhetorical flourish and classical allusion: ‘President Erdogan is safely ensconced in his opulent new palace like the Roman emperor Nero who fiddled while Rome burned.’ On the contrary, many anti-government Turks believe Erdoğan gets out too much in an attempt to influence the vote for his party. Who’s right? And does anyone ever refer to the DC White House as Obama’s palace? As far as I know, it goes with the job. Finish your term in office – move out. Same in Turkey I guess.
Well, we had a torrential downpour in Bodrum yesterday – shops and houses flooded, cars washed away down flooding streets. Act of God, you might say – but I hear some folks are blaming Turkey’s President! Of course, no one is forced to love the guy, but I do find it hard to understand the almost fanatical hatred he has seemingly aroused, at home and abroad.
Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to prison for corruption, and Nicolas Sarkozy could go the same way. Barack Obama has broken, or failed to perform on, most of his first time election promises. George Dubya Bush and Tony Blah led their respective nations on a crusade to destroy a far weaker country on the basis of lies and deceit; Britain’s David Cameron has been reported as having a history of kinky relations with deceased barnyard animals – yet none of these guys seems to field a fraction of the venomous fury that Mr Erdoğan has suffered for the better part of twenty years. What’s it all about?