Maybe I can start feeling proud of my country again

NZ likely to vote against Trump and the US in UN vote on Jerusalem tomorrow

“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has signalled that New Zealand will criticise US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in a United Nations vote tomorrow. But she stopped short of calling him a bully, as Trump threatened to cut US aid money to countries that voted against him.


In fact there was no state of Israel until 1948 – and Jerusalem hadn’t been under Jewish control for 1,939 years. Some people’s history is certainly BUNK!

Countries will vote tomorrow on the UN General Assembly resolution declaring that Jerusalem’s status can be changed only by direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

The US president strongly supported US Ambassador Nikki Haley, who said that the United States “will be taking names” of countries that support the resolution.

“For all these nations, they take our money and then vote against us. They take hundreds of millions of dollars, even billions of dollars and then they vote against us,” Trump told reporters in Washington today. “We’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us … We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

Ardern was critical when Trump first recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital earlier this month, saying it “will make things difficult” for peace.

Asked about possible aid sanctions, she said: “I would push back strongly and say New Zealand has and will always have an independent foreign policy. We base our decisions on principle, not on being bullied.”


No reputable historian accepts the Old Testament as a historical document. Archeologists have found no trace of Solomon’s temple – and not for want of trying. At least the writer says “Jewish capital” and not “Israel’s”.

The Palestinians sought the General Assembly vote after the United States on Monday vetoed a resolution supported by the 14 other UN Security Council members that would have required Trump to rescind his declaration on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and not move the US Embassy there.

Unlike the Security Council, assembly resolutions are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion.

The Israel Institute of NZ urged the Government to vote against the UN resolution and said it should also recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

In fact, if you know your history, you will know that Muslims allowed Jews and Christians to visit, live and build places of worship in “The Holy Land” during the years it was in their domain. The Christian concept of “Holy land” actually didn’t extend to recognising the rights of Jews or Muslims. Jewish students of history might think they have more to fear from Christians than from Muslims.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the Crusades:

“The Crusades were a series of religious wars sanctioned by the Latin Church in the medieval period. The most commonly known Crusades are the campaigns in the Eastern Mediterranean aimed at recovering the Holy Land from Muslim rule.


European Crusaders besieging and pillaging Christian Constantinople in 1204 CE

Pilgrimages by Catholics to sacred sites were permitted, Christian residents in Muslim territories were given Dhimmi status, legal rights, and legal protection. These Christians [and Jews] were allowed to maintain churches [and synagogues], and marriages between faiths were not uncommon.

One of Urban’s aims was to guarantee pilgrims access to the Eastern Mediterranean holy sites that were under Muslim control but scholars disagree as to whether this was the primary motive for Urban or those who heeded his call. Urban’s strategy may have been to unite the Eastern and Western branches of Christendom, which had been divided since the East–West Schism of 1054 and to establish himself as head of the unified Church.

The enthusiastic response to Urban’s preaching from all classes in Western Europe established a precedent for other Crusades. Volunteers became Crusaders by taking a public vow and receiving plenary indulgences from the Church. Some were hoping for a mass ascension into heaven at Jerusalem or God’s forgiveness for all their sins. Others participated to satisfy feudal obligations, obtain glory and honour or to seek economic and political gain.


German Crusaders massacring Jews, 1096 CE

Modern historians hold widely varying opinions of the Crusaders. To some, their conduct was incongruous with the stated aims and implied moral authority of the papacy, as evidenced by the fact that on occasion the Pope excommunicated Crusaders. Crusaders often pillaged as they travelled, and their leaders generally retained control of captured territory instead of returning it to the Byzantines. During the People’s Crusade, in 1096, thousands of Jews were murdered in what is now called the Rhineland massacres.

The Crusades also reinforced the connection between Western Christendom, feudalism, and militarism.”

And those looney American fundamentalist “Christians” are still hoping Jesus is going to come back and rapture them from Jerusalem!  Come on, people! It’s been two thousand years! He ain’t coming, I’m sorry to have to tell you.

AND, others, be warned. Accept American money, and become their “b***h”!


Who are the Terrorists? The search for justice in Jerusalem

“. . . from a purely mathematical point-of-view, if we consider the 2,464 years up to 1948 anti-israel[when the modern state of Israel was founded] for which there is conclusive evidence, Jewish occupation counts for 651 years (ending 1,813 years previously), Christians maybe 400 years, leaving the remaining, and most recent 1,313 years to the Muslims. And if you wanted to award a prize for the religion that accorded most tolerance to others, Muslims would win it without a contest.”

If you have time, you can check out the piece I wrote back in 2014.

Wheels within Wheels – Israel’s relationship with the Saudi Arabs

The following items are sourced from Al Jazeera:

After Saudi Arabia and other GCC nations cut ties with Qatar, a series of surreal decisions were taken against it

These are two of them:

TerroristsTo stem the flow of negative reactions Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain took steps to curb their citizens from expressing opinions that opposed their policies.

The UAE Attorney General Hamad Saif al-Shamsi announced that any objections to the UAE’s strict measures against the government of Qatar or expression of sympathy with Qatar would be a crime punishable by a prison sentence of 3-15 years and a fine of no less than $136,000 (500,000AED), whether on a social media platform or via any written or spoken medium.

Hotel residents in Saudi Arabia can no longer watch Al Jazeera channels, after the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage warned against airing Al Jazeera inside any hotel or tourist establishment.

The commission stressed that all channels belonging to the Al Jazeera Media Network are to be removed from the list of satellite stations in “all hotel rooms and touristic facilities and furnished residential units … including the TV lists kept within”, in order to avoid punishments that included fines up to $27,000 (100,000 Saudi riyals) and a cancellation of the hotel’s licence.

The Qatar-Gulf crisis has given Israel an opportunity to normalise its presence in the region, analysts say

The current Qatar-Gulf crisis has offered Israel a golden opportunity to normalise its presence in the region, undermine the Palestinian cause and deliver a diplomatic blow to the Islamic Resistance movement, Hamas, analysts say.

Israel arabUnder the pretext of fighting “terrorism”, the anti-Hamas, anti-political Islam coalition seems to be emerging with the Saudi-led bloc and Israel at its heart, they added.

Researcher and expert on Israeli affairs, Antoine Shalhat, believes that Israel’s rapid adoption of the Saudi position confirms that the two countries share Israel’s vision on regional developments and the Palestinian cause.

Shalhat told Al Jazeera that Israel is hoping to make political gains from the Gulf crisis and the blockade on Qatar by weakening Hamas and undermining its influence in the Gaza Strip, and demonising it in the Arab world under the pretext of “terrorism”.

He added that the Saudi attack on Hamas and its portrayal of the movement as a “terrorist organisation” serves the Israeli agenda and is consistent with Israel’s goal to eliminate the Palestinian cause.

US legislation threatening Qatar for Hamas support is tied to donations from UAE, Saudi, and Israel lobbyists

US legislation threatening to sanction Qatar for its support of “Palestinian terror” was sponsored by 10 legislators who received more than $1m over the last 18 months from lobbyists and groups linked to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. 

For Trita Parsi, author and founder of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a nonprofit that aims to strengthen the voice of US citizens of Iranian descent, the similarities between the US-allied Arab nations’ “terror list” and HR 2712 show growing cooperation between Gulf Arab states and Israel.


Defending democracy

“The coordination between hawkish pro-Israel groups and UAE and Saudi Arabia has been going on for quite some time,” Parsi told Al Jazeera. What is new, he continued, is pro-Israel groups such as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies “coming out with pro-Saudi [articles] and lobbying for them on Capitol Hill”.

Israel’s influence on US policymakers is clear. HR 2712’s sponsors received donations totalling $1,009,796 from pro-Israel individuals and groups for the 2016 election cycle alone, according to data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent research group tracking money in US politics and its effect on elections and public policy, and then compiled by Al Jazeera. 

“They’re not traditional pro-Saudi legislators. They’re in the pro-Likud camp,” Parsi said, referring to the party of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The bill has bipartisan sponsorship. Five of the legislators come from the House Committee on Foreign Relations (HCFR), including sponsor Brian Mast, a first-term Republican congressman from Florida, and Ed Royce and Eliot Engel, the ranking Republican and Democrat of the HCFR, respectively.

Royce received $242,143 from pro-Israel sources for the 2016 election cycle, $190,150 went to Engel. Mast, who volunteered with the Israeli military after he finished serving in the US Army, received $90,178.


And incidentally:

King Faisal

King Faisal, son of King Ibn Saud, fought in the military campaigns in the 1920s and ’30s that helped forge modern Saudi Arabia. He later served as Saudi ambassador to the United Nations and in 1953 was made premier upon the ascension of his older brother, Saud. In 1964, King Saud was pressured to abdicate, and Faisal became the absolute ruler of Saudi Arabia. As king, he sought to modernize his nation, and lent financial and moral support to anti-Israeli efforts in the Middle East. In 1975, Faisal was assassinated for reasons that remain obscure, and his son, Crown Prince Khalid, ascended to the throne.


Interestingly, Faisal’s assassin was one of the family, subsequently declared insane and executed (in the normal humane Saudi fashion, by decapitation).


Black Propaganda Against Turkey

I have some sympathy for Vladimir Putin. He inherited a Russia on the bones of its bum. They’d lost the Cold War, were suffering from runaway inflation, and the USA was crowing about being the last remaining superpower. Putin, with his manly pecs and his uncompromising attitude to the West was the iron tonic his people needed to give them back a modicum of self-respect. I could totally see his point in Ukraine. Not that I support the Russian position, but access to the warm waters of the Black Sea and the Aegean has been the driving force of Russian foreign policy for 300 years, and there’s no way they are going to let the gnomes of Brussels create a Euro-zone barrier in that region.

Putin pecs

Reputation built on machismo

I couldn’t suppress a chuckle when the Russian president thumbed his nose at the Obama administration by giving sanctuary to Wikileaks hero Edward Snowden. I can understand his chagrin at the shooting down of a Russian military aircraft on active service by a Turkish F16. Turkey? The last time they beat us was 1710, and the last time we fought a war with them in 1878, we were outside the gates of Istanbul when the British intervened to save them. Putin’s charisma is heavily based on machismo – which has been somewhat tarnished by having that plane shot down, and Putin isn’t happy.

I have been blizzarded recently with links to blogs purporting to prove conclusively that Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdoğan and his family are making ‘gadzillions’ of dollars out of an illicit oil trade with ISIS/Daesh, thereby funding that organization and allowing it to continue its dastardly fight against the free world. Well, I don’t have the time or inclination to read all those chatterers. If I had a dollar for every lie disseminated about Turkey’s AK Party since they became the government in 2003 I might not be as rich as Carlos Slim, or even Mr Erdoğan, but I’d have a good wallet-full for a night on the town.

Twitter 3

Enlightened twitterers bringing tolerance and democracy to a troubled world

One article I did read recently purported to ‘trace how some more authoritarian countries and groups have used the freedom of social media to control their populations’. The four ‘baddies’ were China, Russia, ISIS, and, top of the list, Turkey. The bright spot, according to Time correspondent Ian Bremner, is India, whose ‘Modi government loves social media—and the Indian public loves them for it.’ Proof of this, allegedly, is that India has 143 million social media users. Well, I’m sorry to tell Mr Bremner that that represents a mere one in every nine Indians, compared to the impoverished 23% of the population who subsist on less than $1.25 a day.

Twitter 2

There are far worse, but I couldn’t bring myself to show you

So I question the wisdom that suggests the number of Facebook and Twitter users accurately reflect the level of democracy in a country. Social media and ‘flash mobs’ were credited with bringing democracy to despot-ruled countries in the Middle East and North Africa during the so-called Arab Spring. Five years on, what’s changed? Egypt’s brief flirtation with democracy was quickly stamped out by the military. Libya since the demise of Muammar Gaddafi has descended into chaos, if I can believe the Libyan students I have in my university classes.

I see very little on Facebook indicating that middle-aged White Turk matrons have much awareness of realities in their own country, let alone the world outside. In spite of that, they are delighted to repeat accusations that the Turkish government is financially and militarily supporting ISIS/Daesh – led by its president Tayyip Erdoğan and his sons and daughters raking in their ‘gadzillions’ from immoral black market activities.

The blogosphere is buzzing with accusations that Turkey is funding ISIS/Daesh by buying oil from . . . whoever is selling it. One item I was advised to read spoke of ‘ISIS oil: the alleged Erdoğan family and UK business connections’. A key sentence said To help understand the report below, first click here to see maps of the oil routes from ISIS to outside world.’ Well, I clicked on the link, but surprisingly (or not surprisingly) none of the maps showed any oil routes passing through any part of Turkey. So if that was a key basis for the Turkey connection, it seems to be based on a falsehood. The two ‘experts’ cited as sources, Dr Nafeez Ahmed and William Engdahl, journalists both, have, it seems, aroused some controversy in the past over the accuracy and credibility of their ‘research’ and claims.

ISIS oil

Journeys of a barrel of Daesh oil – did NOT pass through Turkey

Another of those blogs I checked out informed me, ‘This how ISIS smuggles oil into Turkey’. Barrels of black gold are apparently pumped into underground pipes running under the Turkey-Syrian border, which are then emptied by Turks on the other side. Realistically, I can’t see vast quantities of oil being moved by that method.

Undoubtedly there is smuggling across Turkey’s eastern frontier. There is a 1,700 km border adjoining Iraq, Iran and Syria, much of it passing through extremely inhospitable and mountainous country where the rule of law has a tenuous hold at best. Critics insist on calling it a ‘porous’ border, with the implication that the Turkish government is somehow at fault. A major incentive for smuggling into Turkey is the high tax imposed on cigarettes, alcohol and petrol*. The Turkish government has long believed that income from this illicit trade goes towards funding its own local terrorist organization, the Kurdish separatist PKK. As recently as 2011, Turkey’s military attracted some unwelcome publicity after their air force strafed a donkey-mounted convoy of ‘cigarette smugglers’ near Uludere in South East Turkey, killing 35 villagers. It’s all very well to talk about ‘porous’ borders, but when you try to discourage the leaks, you get slagged off for that too. Let’s ask the US government how easy it is to control their 3,000 km border with Mexico.

Sinking boat

Greek coastguards allegedly sinking refugee boat

Who can know if fighters are crossing from Turkey to help on the other side? And if so, who are they helping? Kurds, ISIS, or the Anti-Assad opposition? And how many have crossed? Who’s counting? What we do know is that more than two million refugees have fled to Turkey from the chaos and violence in Syria, seriously challenging Turkey’s resources of money and goodwill – and Western countries have been studiously ignoring pleas for help for more than four years. Now they seem to be blaming Turkey for its ‘porous’ 8,300 km sea coast, which should somehow be closed to stop asylum-seekers reaching Europe.

A Reuters article written by a lady with a distinctly Russian name (Maria Tsvetkova) trumpets: ‘Russia says it has proof Turkey involved in Islamic State oil trade.’ 350 words of the 400-word article are devoted to what various Russian spokespersons have to say, and, right at the end, if you get that far, you can read:

“‘The United States said it rejected the premise that the Turkish government was in league with the militants to smuggle oil. “We frankly see no evidence, none, to support such an accusation,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.”

A Time article published yesterday also says Turkey is not buying ISIS/Daesh oil:

‘Analysts speaking to TIME say it’s very unlikely Ankara has anything to do with ISIS oil — and Putin’s allegation about the incident carries no weight. “To go as far to say that Turkey would shoot down a plane to protect its oil supply is unfounded,” says Valerie Marcel, an associate fellow in energy, environment and resources at London-based think tank Chatham House.

Fawaz Gerges, Professor of International Relations in the London School of Economics and Political Science, agrees that the claims amount to a conspiracy theory. “I think it would be very misleading to say there is an unholy alliance with Turkey and the Islamic State,” he says.’

President Erdoğan says that, in fact, it is Russians who are involved in assisting the ISIS/Daesh oil trade, and names two Russian passport holders who have been targeted with sanctions by the US Treasury. Despite all the anti-Turkey hysteria circulating on the Internet, leaders of the Western allies seem to have a more positive attitude. Well, one might dispute whether that is actually a good thing, but as far as Turkey is concerned, it’s a welcome change. US administrations have long wanted their Muslim NATO ally to join with them in their Middle East activities, and they are delighted that Turkey is not only participating with military support, but is allowing them to launch raids from Turkey’s Incirlik base. It even seems that the EU is softening its position on membership for Turkey. That may also be a mixed blessing these days, especially since Montenegro has apparently received a firm invitation – but it does represent a change of heart after more than 50 years of European cold-shouldering.

Erdoğan Peres

Turkey’s Erdoğan upsets Israel’s Peres, Davos, 2009

Nevertheless, the black propaganda against Turkey continues to pour out from the digital sewers of the World Wide Web. One of the more outlandish accusations I came across this week was a suggestion that Turkey could be about to invade Bulgaria. No evidence offered, of course. Pure unfounded speculation – but that’s what’s out there, so be careful what you believe, or reblog.

Russia, I suppose, is merely the most recent entrant into the game of demonizing Turkey. Ever since President Erdoğan called out President Shimon Peres for his country’s inhuman aggression against Palestinians at the 2009 Davos Conference, the Zionist propaganda machine has been churning out lies and misinformation aimed at discrediting Turkey’s government.

The Huffington Post published a piece the other day by a Dr Joseph Olmert, a barely coherent rave attacking the ‘failed policy’ of zero problems with neighbours and the ‘neo-Ottomanism’ foreign policy; Turkey’s complicity with ISIS actions; the ‘intolerable’ support to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt; dredging up Turkey’s relations with Cyprus, alleged invasions of Greece’s ‘airspace’, and ‘provocative’ attempts to bring aid to Israel-blockaded Gaza.

Well, there are two sides to every story, and there can’t be much doubt about which side Dr Olmert is on – ‘A native of Israel, he was formerly a professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv, Hebrew, and Bar-Ilan Universities in his home country [and] served in senior positions in the Israeli government, such as the Director of Communications under Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Policy Advisor to Defense Minister Moshe Arens.’ 


Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain found refuge in the Ottoman Empire

Isn’t it interesting how a crisis can bring together strange bedfellows? Armchair liberals who were only recently condemning Putin’s Russia for its aggression in the Ukraine are now seemingly eager to believe the Russian president’s outrageous accusations against the government of Turkey. Jewish people, whose ancestors were persecuted for a hundred years in Russian pogroms, are now apparently ready to side with Vladimir Putin against a people with a proud 500-year history of welcoming them and defending them against European oppression.

Back in June 2012, A Turkish F4 reconnaissance aircraft was shot down near the Turkish Syrian border. The Syrian military alleged that the Turkish plane had violated Syrian airspace, but there is no record of a warning being given. There were suggestions at the time that the F4 had been shot down by a laser-guided or heat-seeking missile from a Russian warship. The Turkish government swallowed their pride and took no retributive action. In July 2014 a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane was shot down over Ukraine by a Russian-made missile.

In the case of the Russian Su24, it was a military aircraft engaged on a bombing mission. The US State Department has confirmed Turkey’s claim that they gave multiple warnings to the pilot, but received no response. The area is a war zone; there are Turkish towns close to the border that have been hit by shells and missiles from the conflict. In this case, Turkey’s military was exercising its right to protect its own airspace, and President Putin has no grounds for anger.


  • The people of Denmark get around a similar problem by shopping across the border in Germany. Turks have no such luxury.

The Desperation Driving Young Palestinians to Violence

When an article like this can be published in Time Magazine, maybe the message is starting to get through. What’s the biggest stumbling block to achieving peace in the Middle East?

Explosion from an Israeli rocket strike in Gaza

Explosion from an Israeli rocket strike in Gaza

Last December, 22-year-old Baha Allyan posted a list on Facebook of things to be done after his death. Number one on that list: “I ask that the political parties do not claim responsibility for my attack. My death was for my nation and not for you.”

On Tuesday, Allyan, a graphic designer from the predominantly Palestinian neighborhood Jabel Mukaber, was killed by Israeli security forces after allegedly trying to carry out an attack in Jerusalem.

In a sandwich shop in Jabel Mukaber, men watch footage of clashes on Palestinian television. Youth throw rocks, and Israeli soldiers respond with a barrage of tear gas. “No one is encouraging these youth,” says Hamdan Hadid, a 20-year-old Palestinian who works in the shop. “They are encouraging themselves.”

Mourning Palestinans in Gaza carry the body of a 5 year-old boy killed in an Israeli strike

Mourning Palestinians in Gaza carry the body of a 5 year-old boy killed in an Israeli strike

For Palestinians in Jabel Mukaber, life was tough even before the latest restrictions. Towering blocks of Israeli settlements line the roads into the neighborhood. The Palestinians here pay taxes like Israelis residents, but comparatively few services. The streets are filled with potholes and Palestinian residents are restricted from building new homes or expanding existing ones, even as Israeli settlements rise around them. Frustrations are simply boiling over.

For young Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank this anger and resentment has no political outlet. They are part of what has been called the Oslo Generation—those raised on the promise of peace and an independent Palestinian state laid out in the Oslo Accords signed in 1993 by Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin. Instead, two decades later, they have hundreds of thousands of new Israeli settlers on some of the territory promised to them in the Accords, territory that remains under Israeli military control.

“It’s a joke,” says Ismail Shkrat, 23, standing outside his family’s lamp shop. From here he can see the edge of an Israeli settlement a few hundred feet away and the separation wall in the distance that slices through Jerusalem neighborhoods. On the road in front, a line of Palestinian vehicles wait to pass the Israeli checkpoint.

Read the whole article

Why the Hate? Is there something I’m missing?

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.

The answer can't be b, so it must be a

The answer can’t be b, so it must be a

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.

From the Tea Party website. Will the real religious nutcases please stand up?

From the Tea Party website. Will the real religious nutcases please stand up?

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.

Turkish democracy 1980-style - with US govt approval!

Turkish democracy 1980-style – with US govt approval!

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 who's fighting for democracy and freedom of speech?

So who’!s fighting for democracy and freedom of speech?

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.

Till death do us part - and maybe beyond . . .

Till death do us part – and maybe beyond . . .

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?