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April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘akp’

Erdogan’s Embrace of Islamism Gets Nod from Electorate

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

In Sunday’s vote across Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s increasingly Islamist and imperialistic “Justice and Development” AK party appeared to receive an overwhelming majority of the votes cast.

The elections were for heads of localities, but the party makeup of those running is seen as a referendum on the future of Turkey.

This is the first national election since the anti-regime riots last year, during which thousands of people were injured and nearly a dozen died. The vote also took place in the immediate aftermath of the government banning both Twitter and YouTube, and threats to also ban Facebook.

The two challenging parties, the center-left Kemalist Republican Party (CHP) and the right wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), were out in force across Turkey. Turkish television news, NTV, reported with 46 percent of the votes tallied, Erdogan’s Islamist AKP had won 44.9 percent of the vote, with CHP receiving 26.53 percent of the votes and MHP 15.53 percent.

Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey’s two largest cities, both voted for Erdoğan’s AKP, while a majority of those living in Turkey’s third largest city, Izmir, voted for the CHP.

“The Turkish People voted for Islamism, the Turkish People voted for sharia. This was nothing but a referendum for the regime. The Islamist policies will grow more than ever,” was the message received by The Jewish Press from a Turk who fled his home country to seek refuge in Europe from Turkey’s increasingly paranoid and regressive regime.

“There was no voter fraud, there was no corruption, there were CHP and MHP inspectors at all the ballot boxes,” wrote the disconsolate Turkish ex-patriot.

Term limits prevent Erdoğan from running for prime minister again, but there is widespread speculation he may run in this summer’s presidential election. Others speculate there may be an effort to overturn the limitation on the number of terms a prime minister can serve.

According to a Voice of America report, voting was generally peaceful across the country, but fights and riots broke out in two villages in the southeast of Turkey, near the border with Syria. Eight people were killed and more than a dozen were injured.

Erdogan Roars His Support for Turkish Intel Chief

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took to the airwaves on Tuesday, Oct. 22 to vociferously support his embattled (but only outside of Turkey) National Intelligence Organization (MİT) chief Hakan Fidan, and the democratization plans he announced at the end of last month.

Fidan has been the object of criticism because of a perceived shift in Turkish alliances.  In particular, a closeness to Iran and a hardened posture towards Israel are among the changes for which Fidan has been blamed.

But if anyone thought Erdoğan might use Fidan as a fall guy to retain good graces with some in the west, The Turkish leader put those thoughts to rest with a barnburner of a speech on Tuesday.

He railed on about the terror that Turkey has withstood over the past 30 years, but really began shouting when he go to casting the blame for Turkey’s problems which he blamed for trying to interrupt his countries moves towards democracy:

But while we do this there are those who wish to put our institutions under suspicion. When the time comes you now see that they’re attempting to engage our MİT undersecretary. Who is engaging our MİT undersecretary? Be careful. This is very important. There are those agitating from inside and those agitating from outside. Sorry, but we will stand behind our valued bureaucrats and technocrats and won’t take their favor from others. If there is a complaint, we will evaluate it, and then we will do what is necessary.

He continued, in what some might call a show of strength, while others speculated whether there were strains of paranoia seeping in to his rhetoric.

I want everyone to know this: Turkey is not a country to be operated on. To this day we have not allowed this, and we will never allow it in the future. They think we are unaware of their circles, special campaigns and real intentions. We know all about it. Turkey will not bow down to these campaigns, fall for these tricks or change its route. We have no interest other than securing justice, law, human rights and freedoms, whether that is in Turkey or in the wider region.

According to Turks who watched the speech, Erdoğan sounded as if he was threatening all those “sinister forces” who were trying to interfere with “his democracy plans for Turkey.”

The Turkish prime minister gave his fiery speech during an AK Party meeting.

Turkey: A House Divided

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Originally published at Gatestone Institute

There is no doubt that the Gezi Park demonstrations in May and June, which spread to most of Turkey, represent a seismic change in Turkish society and have opened up fault lines which earlier may not have been apparent. What began as a demonstration against the “development” of a small park in the center of Istanbul ended as a widespread protest against the AKP government — and particularly Prime Minister Erdoğan’s authoritarian rule.

The European Commission in its latest progress report on Turkey has recognized this change when it writes of “the emergence of vibrant, active citizenry;” and according to Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül, who in the report is praised for his conciliatory role, this development is “a new manifestation of our democratic maturity.” The Turkish government, however, has chosen to see these demonstrations as a challenge to its authority and has reacted accordingly.

The report mentions various repressive measures taken by the government, including the excessive use of force by the police, columnists and journalists being fired or forced to resign after criticizing the government, television stations being fined for transmitting live coverage of the protests and the round-up by the police of those suspected of taking part in the demonstrations.

However, there is, in the EU report, no mention of the campaign of vilification led by the Prime Minister against the protesters, or reprisals against public employees who supported or took part in the protests; also, measures taken to prevent the recurrence of mass protests, such as tightened security on university campuses, no education loans for students who take part in demonstrations and a ban on chanting political slogans at football matches.

Not only the demonstrators themselves have been targeted but also the international media, which Prime Minister Erdoğan has accused of being part of an international conspiracy to destabilize Turkey. The “interest rate lobby” and “the Jewish diaspora” have also been blamed. As the Commission notes, the Turkish Capital Markets Board has launched an investigation into foreign transactions to account for the 20% drop on the Istanbul Stock Exchange between May 20 and June 19, which had more to do with the U.S. Federal Reserve’s tapering than the Gezi Park protests.

In August, however, a report on the Gezi Park protests by the Eurasia Global Research Center (AGAM), and chaired by an AKP deputy, called the government’s handling of the situation “a strategic mistake” and pointed out that democracy-valuing societies require polls and dialogue between people and the local authorities.

Polarization

The Commission is correct, therefore, when it concludes that a divisive political climate prevails, including a polarizing tone towards citizens, civil society organizations and businesses. This conclusion is reinforced by the observation that work on political reform is hampered by a persistent lack of dialogue and spirit of compromise among political parties. Furthermore, the report emphasizes the need for systematic consultation in law-making with civil society and other stakeholders.

This division was underlined by Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek in June, when, at a conference, he deplored the lack of a spirit of compromise in intellectual or political circles. This lack is not only illustrated by the occasional fistfight between parliamentary deputies, but also when the AKP government in July voted against its own proposal in the mistaken belief that it had been submitted by the opposition. Or when the opposition two days later passed its own bill while the government majority had gone off to prayers.

President Gül, in a message of unity to mark the start of Eid al-Fitr (in August, at the end of Ramadan), had called on Turkey to leave polarization behind and unite for the European Union membership bid. But to create a united Turkey will be difficult, given the attitude of the present government. Even the democratization package presented by Prime Minister Erdoğan at the end of September does not indicate any substantive change in the government’s majoritarian approach to democracy.

Irrespective of the Prime Minister’s reference to international human rights and the EU acquis [legislation], both lifting the headscarf ban for most public employees and a number of concessions to the Kurdish minority can be seen as a move to boost Erdoğan’s popularity ahead of the local elections in March.

Erdogan: Israel Behind Egypt Coup

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel was behind last month’s military coup in Egypt.

Erdogan told a meeting of the provincial chairs of his ruling Justice and Development, or AKP, party that he has evidence that Israel was involved in the July 3 overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the Turkish Hurriyet news service reported.

“Who is behind this? Israel. We have evidence,” the prime minister said, according to Hurriyet.

He cited as proof a statement by a French intellectual he identified as Jewish, who told the Israeli justice minister during a visit to France before Egypt’s 2011 elections, “The Muslim Brotherhood will not be in power even if they win the elections. Because democracy is not the ballot box,” Hurriyet reported.

The White House condemned Erdogan’s remarks.

“Suggesting that Israel is somehow responsible for recent events in Egypt is offensive, unsubstantiated and wrong,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters later Tuesday.

Turkey downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel and later expelled Israel’s ambassador following the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in May 2010 that resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish nationals in a confrontation with Israeli Navy commandos. The ship was trying to evade Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Erdogan in March for the incident, and representatives of the countries have met for reconciliation talks. The talks reportedly are held up over the amount of compensation that Israel is to pay to the families of the Turkish casualties and how the payments are to be characterized.

Erdogan’s Party Finds Terror Weapon Deadlier than Car Bombs:Twitter

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party vowed to annihilate Tweeter “slander” that “is much more dangerous that a vehicle loaded with a bomb.”

Ali Sahin, the vice chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was quoted by Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper as saying, “People must be held responsible for the content they write. If as a result of a tweet they write, people loot shops and burn vehicles, the one who wrote it must bear its costs.

“A tweet containing lies and slander is much more dangerous that a vehicle loaded with a bomb. The explosion of a vehicle loaded with a bomb would be limited, but a tweet filled with lies and slander can lead to a climate of conflict.”

The party took the cue from Erdogan, who has blamed the Twitter social network for the success of opposition elements to stage mass protests that are well into their second week.

Isn’t censoring Twitter a violation of rights?

Not at all. The opposite is true, according to the party’s logic.

“Sahin said people’s personal rights, legal personalities of companies and public institutions were being attacked while commercial activities were harmed due to news spreading on social media,” Hurriyet reported.

Sahin added, “The elected government is being conspired against, there is an intention to topple the government through social media and people are being sworn at. All these things should have a cost, a sanction. Cursing at people is not freedom… Social media must be brought under order and regularity. Such a draft law can be considered.”

Now it all makes sense.

Anyone wanting to topple Erdogan’s government and cursing it  through social media is violating the freedom of others, especially that of Erdogan to remain at the helm. Got it?

Erdogan is doing his best to prove to the world that he is an ego-centric power seeker.

An article for CBS Marketwatch by freelance journalist Craig Mellow described Erdogan as a prisoner of his own desires. “Like other transformational leaders who came before him, Prime Minister Erdogan in his third term now looks more like a captive of power than an agent wielding it for the nation’s good,” Mellow wrote.

With one speech one day last week, Erdogan managed to sink the country’s stock market by 5 percent. That’s pretty good work for one day.

As the Jewish Press reported on Sunday, Erdogan might have been able to let the protest movement die from lack of oxygen had he talked them eye-to-eye, as he finally plans to do on Tuesday, instead of calling them vandals and terrorists.

“Erdogan decried what he called the ’interest rate lobby,’ which ‘thinks they can threaten us with speculation on the stock exchange,” Mellow wrote. “That lobby duly dumped more Turkish shares, bringing the decline in the benchmark Istanbul Stock Exchange National 100 Index to 15% since the protests began.

Mellow praised Erdogan for his first years in office, when he turned Turkey around and created one of the world’s healthiest baking systems and ushered in a period of tremendous economic growth.

“Along the way, Erdogan laid down what looked like a promising blueprint for a modern Islamic state that honored its own traditions without sending secret police house-to-house to enforce them,” Mellow continued. “Turkey’s reputation changed. No longer the butt of Europe, Turkey became its vibrant oasis….

“But… Erdogan in his third term now looks more like a captive of power than an agent wielding it for the nation’s good. A la Putin, he is constructing an end-run around term limits that would allow him to stay in charge of Turkey by being elected president….

Recep Erdogan is teetering on the edge of a classic tragedy, wherein a powerful and potentially positive character is done in by a moral flaw that is revealed by extraordinary events.”

But at least Erdogan will make sure to make Turkey safe from those awful Tweets that can cause car bomb explosions.

Turkey’s Secular Backlash and the Rising Price of Liquor

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

A recent announcement on Ankara’s subway called on passengers to “act in line with moral codes.” The reaction was a kissing protest – met with riot police and a counter-demonstration by a conservative group, who attacked the protesters.

Champagne corks are not popping in Turkey. On the contrary, Turkey took one more step on May 24 towards becoming an Islamic republic. In the early hours of the morning, Turkey’s governing AKP [Justice and Development Party] took advantage of its parliamentary majority to rush through Parliament a bill which will impose severe restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol in Turkey.

However, this comes as no surprise: Prime Minister Erdogan has made clear his personal dislike of alcohol, and recommended that people eat fruit instead of drinking it.

At the Global Alcohol Symposium held in Istanbul in April, Erdogan warned that his government would introduce new measures to reduce alcohol consumption. He also stated that, as Turkey does not have any oil wells, the Special Consumption Tax on alcohol is Turkey’s most important source of income.

The Prime Minister also claimed that he was mandated by Article 58 of the Constitution to protect the youth from alcoholism. Article 58 states that the state shall take measures to ensure the training and development of the youth in the light of contemporary science, and in line with the principles and reforms of Turkey’s first president Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The article also states that the state shall take necessary measures to protect the youth from addiction to alcohol, drugs, crime as well as gambling and similar vices — and ignorance.

In view of the not especially scientific shift that teaching creationism is on the way in at Turkish schools, and that the teaching of Atatürk’s principles is on the way out, Erdogan’s reference to the Constitution is characteristically selective.

Since 2003, a year after the AKP came to power, the consumer price index has risen 132%, while the prices of alcoholic beverages have risen 346%. This can also be seen in the present cost of beer, wine and spirits. For example, at the grocer’s a bottle (50 cl.) of the popular Efes beer costs $2.25, Turkish table wine from $8 – $11 and a better Turkish wine from $16 upwards. A bottle of raki (70 cl.), the Turkish version of Greek ouzo or French absinthe, is $30. Imported wine and spirits cost considerably more. Consequently, the flourishing Turkish wine industry with its 7,000 years of history is struggling to survive.

This heavy taxation has already had an effect: the Istanbul think tank BETAM has estimated that alcohol consumption fell by a third from 2003-2008. According to one survey, only around 6 percent of Turkish households consume alcohol; another found that 83 percent of Turkish adults never drink alcohol. Perhaps it would be a shot in the dark to claim that much of the Turkish government’s opposition is to be found among the 17 percent who do. Interestingly, only 193 of the AKP’s 327 parliamentary deputies voted for the new law.

Among the new restrictions that have been imposed is a ban on the retail sale of alcohol between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and there will be no new licenses for the sale of alcohol within 100 metres of a school or mosque. Since Erdogan came to power, 17,000 new mosques have been built — there are now 93,000 — and there are 67,000 schools.

Last year Erdogan declared it his intention to raise a religious generation in Turkey, so this latest legislation is in harmony with his views. There has also been a significant increase in the budget allocated to the Religious Affairs Directorate [Diyanet], which now exceeds that of most other ministries.

There is also a ban on the advertising and promotion of alcoholic beverages; penalties for violations of this ban range between $2,700 and $107,000. Cigarette smoking is already blurred out on Turkish television and the same will happen to alcohol consumption. AKP deputy Cevdet Erdöl, chairman of the parliament’s Health Commission, plans to go one step further and cut these scenes out altogether. There go Cheers, Casablanca and most westerns.

Critics have accused the government of turning the clock back to the time of Ottoman Sultan Murat IV, who banned tobacco, alcohol and even coffee. The president of the Constitutional Court, Hasim Kilic, has warned against interference in people’s different lifestyles, but at a parliamentary group meeting Erdogan denied that the new regulations constituted intervention into anyone’s identity, ideology or lifestyle. Erdogan, however, revealed his true intentions when he said that this law was not made by two drunkards (with a possible allusion to Atatürk and former President Inönü) but according to the dictates of religion.

Last month Prime Minister Erdogan declared that ayran (yogurt with water) was Turkey’s national drink, but Turkey’s Traditional Alcoholic Beverage Producers Association (GISDER) has applied to the EU’s Codex Commission to patent raki as Turkey’s national drink. The question is: who will win?

There was a recent announcement on the Ankara subway, calling on passengers to “act in line with moral codes.” The reaction, similar to the clashes between urban activists and police over the future of Istanbul’s Gezi Park in Taksim, was a kissing protest — met by riot police and a counter-demonstration from a conservative group, who attacked the protestors.

Although there is talk of a “Turkish Spring,” this is probably premature because of the strength of Erdogan’s grassroots support. However, the Prime Minister’s growing intolerance does not augur well for the future of Turkish democracy.

Robert Ellis is a regular commentator on Turkish affairs in the Danish and international press.

2nd Day of Protest in Turkey Threatening Erdogan’s Regime

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

On Saturday, Turkish Prime Minister, Islamist Tayyip Erdogan called for an immediate end to the most violent anti-government demonstrations seen in Turkey in many years, after two days in which thousands of protesters clashed with riot police in Istanbul and Ankara.

Thousands of protesters in Istanbul celebrated a victory as police gave up, for now, and withdrew from Taksim square. demonstrators shouted for the government to resign as riot police pulled back from the city’s central square.

Reuters reported that Turkish police fired teargas and water cannon on hundreds of demonstrators Friday and Saturday, to block their access to Istanbul’s central Taksim Square, where dozens of people have been injured this week – so much so that even Washington was expressing concern..

Anti-government demonstrators wearing handkerchiefs and surgical masks chanted “unite against fascism” and “government resign,” pushing their way to Taksim Square.

Images and videos coming out of Turkey depict a central Istanbul that has descended into chaos as police in riot gear and gas masks attempt to disperse a group of reportedly peaceful protesters with tear gas canister launchers, vehicle-mounted water cannons and other violent means, IBT reported. The decision to break up the protest came on the fourth day after hundreds set up an encampment associated with the Occupy movement in the Taksim Square Gezi Park.

The protest began at the Park late Monday, after trees were torn up in line with a government redevelopment plan for the area. The park, filled with sycamore trees, is the last large green space in downtown of Istanbul,

But as has been the case in other Muslim countries in recent years, what started as an environmental protest quickly ignited an all out demonstration against the authoritarianism of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP).

But before there was a protest against development plans, there was a ban on booze. In a surprise move last week, the Islamist government introduced a new law cracking down on the alcohol trade, banning the sale of drinks between 10 PM and 6 AM, and revoking the liquor licenses of restaurants situated close to near schools or mosques.

The partial ban on alcoholic beverages came on Erdogan’s 11th year in office, and after 3 consecutive election victories. From his very first day in office, it was the mission of the Islamist party’s leader to allay the fears both of secular, urban Turks, and—more important—of the secular military, that he was not going to rule with an Islamist agenda.

Erdogan remains the most popular politician in Turkey’s recent history, and has been considered a primary ally of the United States. So much so, that newly elected President Barack Obama visited Ankara before any other place, back in 2009.

Slowly, over his years in office, Erdogan has been pushing a slow, but patient, elimination of Turkey’s strict ban on religion from all public domains, a separation characteristic of modern Turkey since its inception, following the demise of the Ottoman Empire.

Despite Erdogan’s attempt to describe himself as a “Muslim prime minister of a secular state,” in 2008, his majority AKP in parliament passed an amendment to the constitution allowing women to wear the headscarf in Turkish universities.

He talked about encouraging the emergence of a “pious generation,” that would embrace religion willingly, and become better human beings. The new ban on late-night sale of alcohol was also presented not as the enforcement of the Muslim prohibition on booze, but as an effort to stop young Turks from “wandering about in a state of inebriation.”

On Saturday night, meanwhile, Prime Minister Erdogan has admitted there may have been some cases of extreme police action.

Erdoğan’s Decade

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has served longer than any person as prime minister of the Republic of Turkey, recently marked his completion of a full decade in that office, having entered it on March 14, 2003.

Born in February 1954, he is now 59 years old. And while he has a potentially long political career ahead of him, he reportedly suffers from some serious ailments that could cut it short.

Erdoğan’s main challenges are three-fold: an electorate increasingly wary of his domineering ways, an ever-more restive Kurdish population, and a problematic regional alignment in which, as Ian O. Lesser put it in analysis published yesterday, “Ankara faces some troubling cold wars, new and old, that will shape the strategic environment and the nature of Turkey’s security partnerships.”

The only comparable figure in modern Turkish history is Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the republic and dominant figure. It is reasonable to see Erdoğan as the anti-Atatürk, the leader who seeks to undo substantial parts of his predecessor’s legacy, especially his rejection of Shari’a, or Islamic law. One can also see Erdoğan as the politician who turns Islamism into a nearly viable political program.

Westerners have been conspicuously slow in understanding just what a threat Erdoğan presents; one can only hope that his second decade will prompt more understanding than the first.

Originally published as “Erdoğan’s Decade as Prime Minister of Turkey” at DanielPipes.org and The National Review Online, The Corner, March 14, 2013.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/the-lions-den-daniel-pipes/erdogans-decade/2013/03/17/

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