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September 3, 2014 / 8 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Erdogan’

Increasingly Autocratic Turkish PM Bans Twitter

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Within hours after making the threat, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan closed the curtain on Turkish residents’ ability to engage in the social media known as Twitter.

It happened by midnight (6:00 p.m. ET) on Thursday, March 20.

A 26-year old woman in Istanbul for whom anonymity was requested relayed to The Jewish Press that when she attempted to use her twitter account tonight, this message popped up: “FORBIDDEN.”

The justification given by Erdoğan for taking the extreme step was that Twitter officials refused to follow orders from Turkish courts to “remove some links” as requested by certain Turkish citizens, Turkey’s Hurriyet reported.

The Turkish agency responsible for communications, the Communications Technologies Institution (BTK) was invested with enormous powers under the recently passed Internet law. It listed the three court rulings and a prosecutor’s decision on its website as the reason for the shutdown.

Matters within the formerly prosperous and increasingly modernized country began taking a dramatic turn for the worse over the past few years. Vigorous distrust of the government began to be publicly expressed, such as during the Gezi Park protests in the spring of 2013, and later in the wake of the government corruption probes that are still continuing. These ongoing distractions have dragged the current administration into a vortex of endless internal criticism, economic instability and external contempt. Erdoğan responded to the unrest by blaming Twitter as the source of his problems.

YouTube has been banned repeatedly by Turkey over the last number of years.

Earlier this month the Turkish prime minister threatened to shut down Facebook and YouTube.

Bipartisan Letter to Obama Urging Action on Erdogan

Friday, February 21st, 2014

More than 80 dignitaries from across the political spectrum on Thursday wrote President Obama asking him to get involved in what they describe as the anti-democratic actions of Turkish Prime Minister Racep Tayyip Erdogan.

The letter opens:

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is increasingly undermining a central pillar of the decades-long, strategic U.S.-Turkish partnership: Turkey’s growing democracy. We are writing because of our deep dismay at this development and to urge you to make clear to the Turkish public America’s concern about Turkey’s current path. Silence will only encourage Prime Minister Erdoğan to diminish the rule of law in the country even further.

Next, the letter writers warn:

The response of Prime Minister Erdoğan to potential challenges to his rule—first large public protests beginning in May 2013, more recently allegations of massive corruption that reach the highest levels of his government—threaten to take Turkey from an imperfect democracy to an autocracy.

They conclude:

We fear that Prime Minister Erdoğan an d the Turkish public have taken American silence to mean that the Prime Minister retains U.S. support and can proceed as he wishes. In the meanwhile, the damage to Turkey’s democracy keeps worsening. We believe it is important now to make it clear, privately and publicly, that Prime Minister Erdoğan’s autocratic actions and demagoguery are subverting Turkey’s political institutions and values and endangering the U.S.-Turkey relationship.

Among the signatories you’ll find Morton Abramowitz, former US ambassador to Turkey, Elliott Abrams, deputy national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration, David J. Kramer, executive director of the U.S.-based Freedom House, and L. Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in post-war Iraq. John Podhoretz, Ambassador Dennis Ross, GEN Charles F. Wald, USAF (Ret.), and Mortimer Zuckerman are also on the list.

Turkey’s Erdogan: Lift Gaza Sea Blockade or No Relations with Israel

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Turkey, until only recently one of the few secular, economically vibrant democracies in the Muslim world, has been in a tailspin for some time.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s forceful prime minister, several years ago began backsliding on secularism. Once that pebble began rolling down the hill, it grabbed with it chunks of the other indicia of democracy, such as press freedom and the right to peaceful protests.

There are now more jailed journalists in Turkey than anywhere else in the world.

When peaceful protests broke out against the government last spring in Teksim Gezi Park, and again throughout the fall and winter, the Turkish government’s startlingly harsh response was closer to what happens in Iran or Russia, than in the western democracies Turkey has been compared to over the past several decades.

Erdoğan’s internal political difficulties include a widespread governmental corruption probe, a plummeting economy and an open feud with a very powerful former ally, Fethullah Gülen.

Turkey’s growing derailment has drawn down with it the formerly positive relations between Israel and Turkey.

Recent hopeful-sounding hints at renewed positive relations between Israel and Turkey were just dashed again by Turkey’s leader.

On Tuesday, Erdoğan publicly stated that Turkey will never normalize relations with Israel so long as Israel maintains its blockade of Gaza.

“As long as the siege on Gaza isn’t lifted, it [an agreement] won’t happen,” Erdoğan told reporters at an Istanbul press conference on Tuesday, Feb. 11. “The siege must be lifted and that must be part of the protocol, signed and agreed upon.”

WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN THE TWO ALLIES

The chill between the two former allies, Israel and Turkey, first went public over Turkey’s support for a breach of Israel’s lawful naval blockade of Gaza.

That came to a head on May 31, 2010, when Israeli naval commandos boarded the Turkish Mavi Marmara, a flotilla run by the Turkish “charity” the IHH, on which pro-Palestinian Arabs were attempting to breach that naval blockade. The Israelis landed on the deck of the ship, seeking to peacefully convince the protesters to change directions and deposit any charitable goods they hoped to deliver to Gaza, via an Israeli port. Those goods could then be transported legally over land to the border entrance into Gaza.

Instead, as was captured on film and in photographs, the hostile Mavi Marmara crew attacked the Israelis with metal rods and other dangerous weapons. Israel Defense Force troops were forced to defend their colleagues using live fire. Nine Turkish protesters died in the clashes and 10 Israelis were wounded.

Weapons found on board the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010

Weapons found on board the Mavi Marmara on May 31, 2010

Turkey blamed Israel for the violence, and withdrew its ambassador from Israel, then expelled Israel’s ambassador to Turkey. Hostilities between the two countries has been pronounced since then.

But when U.S. President Barack Obama visited Israel in the spring of 2013, he persuaded Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to apologize to Erdoğan in a telephone call. After lengthy persuasive discussions between the two allies, Netanyahu agreed that Israel would pay Turkey compensation for the Turks who died on the Mavi Marmara.

On Sunday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu gave an interview that suggested the thaw was nearly complete.

“We are living through a period where our relationship is closest to normalizing since Mavi Marmara,” Davutoglu told a Turkish television station. “We’re in touch for a final meeting, compensation will be another step and there may be concrete developments to get aid to Gaza and Palestine.”

But Erdoğan, whose criticism of Israel seems as reflexive as those of other intractable haters of the Jews, consistently blames Israel for all kinds of unacceptable (to him) situations. He blamed former Egyptian President Mohamad Morsi’s ouster, in part, on Israel, and he blamed the widespread Turkish protests in June, in part, on Israel. It will be a terrible thing if there is an outbreak of some dreaded disease in Turkey, but no doubt should that happen, Erdoğan would also blame that on Israel.

Erdoğan’s very close relationship with the ousted Egyptian President and Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamad Morsi helps to explain the Turkish leader’s strong interest in assisting Gaza, which is run by Hamas, a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot.

It is highly unlikely Israel will agree to relax the blockade of Gaza, for several reasons. The most important one of which is that there is no such thing as a relaxed blockade. A legal blockade, and the international community has deemed Israel’s blockade of Gaza to be legal, so only as long as there is not a single breach. Once breached, a legal blockade becomes illegal.

An additional reason Israel must not relax the naval blockade is the only reason there is one in the first place: without it, weapons smuggling into Gaza from countries and regimes hostile to Israel would pour in. Those weapons, very bad and only worse, would reasonably be expected to be used in an attempt to destroy Israel.

Erdogan Says Iran is ‘Turkey’s ‘Second Home’

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is visiting Ayatollah Khamenei of Iran, which he called “our second home.

The ayatollah in return “described the current brotherly and friendly relations between the two countries as unparalleled in recent centuries,” Iran’s official Press TV reported.

Erdogan apparently has made another about face in his roller coaster policies of foreign relations. He once shunned Iran like the plague and then embraced the Ahmadinejad regime as well as Syrian President Bassar al-Assad after ditching Israel, its longtime friend.

When the Obama administration clamped tight sanctions on Ira, Erdogan kept his distance from Tehran. Now that Washington has gone back to “engagement” despite Iran’s stated aim of enriching enough high-grade uranium that could be used to make a nuclear weapon, Erdogan hastily beat the pat back to Iran with his eye on energy.

“It is obvious that we import crude oil and gas from Iran, which are strategic energy sources, and we [will be] able to increase the volume of these imports,” Erdogan said in Tehran. “Today we had a good chance to review bilateral ties.”

Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News reported, Despite claiming Turkey is not seeking any new deal with Iran ahead of his departure to Iran, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yıldız, who accompanies the prime minister during his visit, admitted the intention for such a new agreement.”

Iran was Turkey’s third largest export market in 2012, and Ankara used gold and silver exports to buy Iranian natural gas and oil.

Erdogan Blames Foreigners for Engineering Corruption Probe

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, sounding more and more like Syrian President Bassar al-Assad, has blamed foreigners for supposedly engineering the corruption probe that has rocked his government.

He appealed directly to the people with a populist cry to support him against some foreign enemy attacking “the bread on your table, the money in your pocket, the sweat of your brow.”

“History will not forgive those who have become mixed up in this game,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in which he focused on the investigation of the police and judiciary and which he charged is part of a plot by foreigners to undermine his regime and diminish Turkey’s power in the Middle East.

After police raided homes and offices and questioned businessmen and the sons of three minsters, Erdogan got rid of 70 people involved in the probe and blocked another probe into large projects he has backed.

The “enemy” allegedly behind the probe is Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who is based in the United States and who is a former ally of Erdogan.

“Circles uncomfortable with Turkey’s successes, its growing economy, its active foreign policy, its global-scale projects, implemented a new trap set against Turkey,” Erdogan said in his address on television.

He also said that last June’s anti-government protests were part of a conspiracy that was “dressed up in the cover of trees, parks and the environment.

For Erdogan, It’s the Cover Up, Not the Crime

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. After a decade of basically owning Turkish politics, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being hammered, again and again: first it was the riots that spread across urban Turkey like brush fire in May, forcing him to use extensive, brutal force against civilians—not a show of strength for any ruler; and now there’s this rapidly spreading corruption scandal that has already brought down members of his cabinet and are threatening his ties to the U.S.

According to the NY Times, a prosecutor overseeing the corruption investigation of the prime minister’s inner circle has just been removed from the case, a move that might just spell the end of the game for the embattled prime minister.

This is so Last days of Richard M. Nixon, when the ruler is going down, and he’s the only one who still doesn’t know it.

“Erdogan came out fighting after the loss of three ministers who decided to resign after their sons were detained in the investigation,” reported the Telegraph’s Richard Spencer on Thursday. “He rejected calls, including from one of the ministers, for him to step down.”

Returning from a trip to Pakistan—possibly his last state visit—Erdogan told reporters: “If they try to aim at Tayyip Erdogan through this, they will be left empty-handed. They know it and that’s why they are attacking the ministers.”

Actually, they were going to attack him as well, when the prosecutor, Muammer Akkas, was plucked from the investigation. On the morning of December 25, Chief Prosecutor of Istanbul Turan Çolakkadı announced that the case was taken from Akkaş.

Akkas condemned Erdogan’s government, accusing it of meddling with the judiciary and with his investigation.

It’s not the crime, it’s the cover up. Nixon learned it the hard way, Clinton did, too – now it’s Erdogan’s turn. Domineering leaders apparently have a hard time with this phase in their career.

Akkas said the government is preventing the police from going after new suspects, which include Erdogan’s son, Bilal, whose name was leaked to the press Thursday evening, the NY Times reported.

So far, two sons of government ministers have been arrested, and one of the ministers who resigned on Wednesday said Erdogan himself was involved in the real estate deals being investigated.

Hence the rush to reshuffle.

“The judiciary has clearly been pressured,” Akkas wrote, accusing his bosses at the judiciary of “committing a crime” by refusing to carry out arrest warrants, letting suspects “take precautions, flee and tamper with evidence.”

It’s always the cover up…

Also reshuffled: the Istanbul police, whose department chiefs were removed by Erdoan a week ago, because they failed to alert the (former) Interior Minister that his son was being arrested on bribery charges. How can you do this to a loving father?

Murat Yetkin, editor in chief and political commentator for the Hurriyet Daily News newspaper, stated: “If the allegations are true, this would without doubt be the deepest crisis the government has faced.”

Yetkin points out that four of the new cabinet ministers are close loyalists of Erdogan, which is why the media have dubbed it the “war cabinet.” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, has already asked the prime minister: “Who do you want to fight against?”

The crisis has hit the financial markets hard, and the Turkish lira plummeted to a record low against the dollar on Thursday.

Professor Sahin Alpay of Istanbul’s Bahcesehir University told AP: “It’s a pity that a leader who in his first two terms as prime minister served the country so well has since the last general election turned increasingly arbitrary and authoritarian. He’s looking more and more like a train without brakes, like a loose cannon.”

Muslim Brotherhood Channel Finds Home in Turkey

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

When former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi was removed from power by popular demand and by means of the Egyptian military, many of the accoutrements of the Muslim Brotherhood which had only recently come out of the closet in Egypt were summarily shoved back in.

One example of the ascendant Muslim Brotherhood forced back into hiding was a Muslim Brotherhood radio channel, after the interim government ordered the closure of all Brotherhood media outlets.

But its energy is back on, just a bit further north.

The Rabaa radio channel, a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated channel, went on-air in Turkey on Friday, Dec. 21. The channel is named for Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiyyah Square, where hundreds of Egyptians died in August during protests against Morsi’s ouster. The four-fingered “Rabaa” hand signal has become the symbol of those opposing the overthrow of Morsi.

One of the first to publicize the four-fingered pro-Morsi salute was Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan, just a week after the violent protests.

Another Muslim Brotherhood icon in Egypt turned out his Egyptian lights in response to the ouster of Morsi. Egyptian Imam Yusuf al-Qarawadi,widely regarded as one of the Brotherhood’s spiritual and intellectual inspirations, resigned his position at Al-Azhar University in early December.

The Egyptian-born Qaradawi had been living in Qatar for more than 30 years, having fled the country after tangling with former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. But this past summer, Qatar stripped Qaradawi of his citizenship at the same time that it booted Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal out of the country.

Al-Qaradawi returned to Egypt in 2011, as the Muslim Brotherhood star was rising. He famously led mass prayers in Tahrir Square after former President Mubarak was ousted. Qaradawi is a strong advocate of homicide bombings in Israel. He said that it is “evidence of God’s justice” when “believers use their bodies as bombs.”

Qaradawi has praised Hitler for managing to put Jews “in their place,” calling the Holocaust “divine justice.” He also prayed that “the next time” a Holocaust will be at the “hand of the believers.”

The first program aired on the Rabaa channel featured Qaradawi.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/muslim-brotherhood-channel-finds-home-in-turkey/2013/12/23/

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