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Posts Tagged ‘Istanbul’

Violent “pro-Palestinian” Demonstrations Around World

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Pro-Palestinian activists around the world reacted quickly to Israel’s ground invasion.

In Jordan, Egypt and Turkey, Israel’s “allies” in the region, security forces clashed with protesters hours after Israel announced the beginning of the ground invasion of Gaza. Israel Radio reported that dozens of protesters in Cairo burned Israeli flags and demanded Egypt expel Israeli Ambassador Chaim Cohen. The report also said protesters tried to march on the Israeli embassy, but were rebuffed by security forces.

Same for Turkey: Hundreds of protesters threw stones and waved Palestinian flags in front of the Israeli Embassy and the consulate in Istanbul. Local media said demonstraors in Ankara condemned Israel’s “massacre of civilians by air raids, and Reuters reported that riot police disbursed the riot in Istanbul with tear gas and water cannons. Reuters reported that demonstrators in Istanbul chanted “Murderer Israel, get out of Palestine,” and smashed consulate windows with sticks and rocks.

In addition, the online Algemeiner website quoted Bulent Yildirim, head of the IHH “humanitarian” group, who told a local television station that “Turkish Jews will pay dearly” for Israel’s actions and that Israel is “acting like a spoiled child” for responding to rocket fire at Israeli cities.

Yildirim added, “Jewish tourists, don’t dare come to Turkey. Tonight and tomorrow we are going to hold a different kind of protest, we do not have patience anymore…The Zionists are putting the future of the Jews in danger, we can not hold back our youngsters anymore,” he said.

Yildirim’s organization was the driving force behind the 2010 “humanitarian flotilla” to Gaza, attended by MK Hanin Zoabi, that ended with the deaths of 10 Turkish citizens who attacked IDF troops in international waters.
In order to underscore the common left-wing claim that “pro-Palestinian’ does not mean “anti-Semitic,” graffiti was scrawled on the Israeli consulate reading “Die out murderer Jew.”

In Great Britain, 5,000 protesters brought traffic in central London to a standstill on 15 July, charging the BBC with “one-sided coverage (of the conflict) in favor of Israel (Yes, really!). The protesters cited support from radical academics and journalists including Noam Chomsky and John Pilger.

Former IDF Intel Chief ‘Not Going to Turkey’ for Arrest

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told the Reuters news service Monday evening that he has no plans to respond to the arrest warrant issued by an Istanbul court in Turkey this week.

“I will not visit Turkey, just as I won’t arrive in Syria, Iran or North Korea,” Yadlin commented.

The former military intelligence chief now heads Israel’s National Institute for Strategic Studies. He was charged in connection with his part in the military response to the violation of Israel’s territorial waters off the coast of Gaza in 2010 by a six-vessel flotilla, including the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara.

The vessels were attempting to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza, which prevents the transfer of weapons, ammunition and other contraband to Gaza terrorists. Nine armed terror activists died after attacking Israeli Navy commandos who boarded the vessel after repeated Israeli instructions to change course and head for Ashdod port were ignored.

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.

Riot Police Storm Istanbul’s Taksim Square

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Turkish riot police stormed Taksim Square early Tuesday morning and clashed with protesters, one day before protests leaders were to meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Authorities said the police only entered the area ‘”to clear the banners and flags on [a] statue and the AKM cultural center.” However, they also told the demonstrators to retreat to the nearby Gezi park, also occupied by the protest movement now in its second week.

Turkish television showed live video of clashes between police and protesters, who said they would not leave Taksim Square. At least two people were injured,one of them hit in the back by a tear gas canister.

Authorities issued a written statement that the police would not enter Gezi Park, but regardless of the pretty words, police entered Taksim Square with armored vehicles and fired tear gas at crowds.

Protesters hurled firebombs at police, who responded by spraying them with water cannons.

Ironically, the police statement that its force simply wanted to clean up banners was issued via Twitter, the social network that Erdogan has said should be censored because it is being used to “slander” the government.

The wave of demonstrations began in response to government plans to redevelop Gezi Park. Ostensibly, it was a pro-environment reaction, but the park is a symbol of secular Turkey, and Erdogan’s development plan includes placing military barracks and a mosque in the park.

As in other countries, tens of thousands of others jumped on the opportunity to express their outrage stemming from a wide variety of religious and governmental issues, such as restricting the sale of alcohol, the growing influence of Islam in public affairs, and Erdogan’s growing authoritarianism.

The surprise storming of Taksim Square is likely to anger the protesters even more and remove any chance of trust in the prime minister. His hard-line stance has dumped fuel on the fire of demonstrators.

Three people have died and more than 5,000 have been treated for effects of tear gas fired by the police. One doctor said last week that the effects of the gassing indicate that police are using CR gas, a chemical which can be lethal.

Demonstrations against Erdogan have been staged in 78 cities across the country., and every time Erdogan spews condemnation of the “vandals” and “terrorists,” the protest movement grows.

Jeremy Salt, associate professor at Bilkent University in Ankara, told the Russian RT website that the rebellious social mood n the country is a result of Erdogan’s  government taking the country “over a different path.”

Taksim Square symbolizes the modern secular Turkish Republic.

“Erdogan wants to turn it [Taksim Square] into symbol of something else. He wants to put up military barracks and a mosque there to totally change the face of Taksim Square to represent what he wants Turkey to become – which is a religious society,” Salt said.

Echoes of Assad and Mubarak: Erdogan Calls Protesters ‘Vandals’

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has chosen to take the road of deposed or embattled Muslim leaders in the Middle East as the protest movement in Turkey seems to grow to the same degree he ridicules it.

Tens of thousands filled Istanbul Square Sunday to demand his resignation, and they clashed with riot police, backed by hovering helicopters.  Instead of addressing them directly, he appeared at the Ankara airport, where he was applauded in one of several planned rallies.

Erdogan charged that the protesters are nothing but vandals who drink beer in mosques and insult women wearing headscarves.

He already has referred to demonstrators as “anarchists and terrorists.”

“Tweeter is an enemy,” he says.

Who else ridiculed social networks? Qaddafi, who was killed in the revolution, Mubarak, who was arrested and jailed in the revolution, and Assad, who still remains in power but has been isolated by the entire world except Iran, Hezbollah and, for the time being, Russia.

And how did Erdogan refer to a police officer who was killed in clashes with protesters? He was ”martyred.”  That is right out of the book of Hamas, which, by the way, Erdogan for some strange reason continues to praise.

Erdogan has deepened the rift in Turkish society by turning the protest movement into a “me or them” issue, fueling what could have been a small and weak protest movement with the dynamite it needs to engulf others who don’t like the government, particularly those  who are nervous about the government’s potting Islam in the forefront of its agenda.

Anyone who protests apparently is an enemy to Erdogan, who demonstrates the same insecurity of dictators, past and present.

Erdogan’s Police May Be Using Chemical CR Gas on Protesters (Video)

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

A Turkish doctor has charged that her patients who have suffered from tear gas fired by police show signs associated with CR gas, classified by the U.S. Army as a combat class chemical weapon that can cause serious side effects and can be lethal.

CR gas was developed the British and was used in Northern Ireland and is used in riot control today in Egypt and Israel, but its use in Turkey was not documented until Wednesday. The use may be legal, but if it is being deployed, the Erdogan government has kept it under wraps and prevented people from knowing.

Police sprayed gas, either the usual CS tear gas or CR gas, on protesters Wednesday as the riots continued after nine days, and the death toll has climbed to three.

The government had instructed police to use restraint, but police violence was seen in Ankara where unions called for a solidarity strike in sympathy with Gezi Park demonstrations.

Police also used water cannons to disperse demonstrators, and among those arrested were the Ankara bureau chief for a television channel and a cameraman.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, following the pattern of Hosni Mubarak and Basher al-Assad, among others, has called protesters “terrorists” and has placed the blamed for the riots primarily on users of social networks. His police arrested 25 people early Wednesday for the high crime of tweeting “misinformation.”

“This is a protest organized by extremist elements,” Erdogan said Monday a press conference.

“Have they already banned freedom of opinion and I have not heard about it?” tweeted one user, (at)CRustemov, as the news spread. “What on earth does it mean to get detained over Twitter!”

Thousands of people have been detained since the beginning of the protests, but most of them have been freed.

“We will not give away anything to those who live arm-in-arm with terrorism.”

Hopes by Erdogan that the violence would end, after his deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc apologized for police violence on Tuesday, have evaporated.

No one expects Turkey to follow Middle East countries that have seen revolutions topple their rulers following Arab Spring demonstrations, but Erdogan has been acting like the deposed rulers.

“He’s not been behaving rationally at all,” Gareth Jenkins, an Istanbul-based researcher with the Silk Road Studies Program at John Hopkins University, told US Today Wednesday. “He appears to be becoming almost delusional and refusing to accept the reality that these protests are mainly spontaneous and are being organized by small groups of people who’ve never engaged in politics before.”

His behavior should come as no surprise. He has been living in his own dream world for the past Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Syrian President Bashar Assad, while reducing diplomatic relations with Israel to a their tier level.

He has since realized that choosing  Ahmadinejad and Assad as friends was the wrong decision, but Erdogan still is a cheerleader for Hamas and wants to visit Gaza.

Years of promoting Turkey as a shining example of prosperity, democracy and tolerance have gone up in smoke.

Property damage and massive injuries, many of them from CD or CR gas, have forced an Istanbul mosque dating back to the Ottoman empire to be converted into a makeshift field hospital.

Turkish Protests: Good for Israel?

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Occupy-Gezi-protestsTurkish protesters have called upon Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resign, a move which may be good for Israel.

The seeds of a Turkish spring are presently being planted within Turkey. What started out as a movement to save one of the last green spaces in Istanbul from being converted into a shopping mall has emerged into a mass protest movement calling upon Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to resign. Many Turks claim he has brutally suppressed dissent and attempted to make Turkish society more Islamist in nature. If Erdogan were to resign and the secular opposition were to gain power, it may have positive implications for Turkish-Israeli relations.

MASS REPRESSION

In the course of these demonstrations, the Turkish authorities have utilized brute force to suppress the opposition, firing tear gas and water canons en masse. One Turkish resident of Istanbul who was active in the demonstrations claims that the police deliberately fired at demonstrators. Countless Turkish civilians have been wounded or arrested, while some have even died. Nevertheless, despite the violence, many Turks are committed to calling upon Erdogan to resign.

Turkey-ProtestsOne young Turkish woman, Elif Ceylan, a resident of Izmir, Turkey, has reported, “I don’t like Erdogan’s way of pushing things in a non-democratic way. His idea of Turkey is pushing it into an Islamic state[...]These demonstrations are not related to any kind of political movement. This movement is about human rights and freedom of speech.”

IMPLICATIONS FOR ISRAEL

The question emerges, what are the implications for Israel? According to sources inside Istanbul, most of the protesters have not taken a clear stance on Israel. As Ceylan explained, “They are a blended group of people that just support human rights and freedom of speech. […] So I can’t really say they are pro Israeli or anti Israeli cause they are blended.” Nevertheless, one Turkish demonstrator from Istanbul claims that any one in Turkey with pro-Israeli sympathies would be attending these demonstrations. Nevertheless, the demonstrations aren’t about Israel.

Violence-in-Turkey-protestsAccording to Ceylan, “The importance of this movement is that the people of Turkey are finally getting together and rising up to say no to the non democratic way of the current government.” Nevertheless, Ceylan believes that if the Turkish people are truly given freedom of speech, it will give Turks the chance to question things and see Israel in a different light. She claims that presently the Turkish media is controlled by Erdogan and that the 2010 Gaza Flotilla which sailed from Turkey and the subsequent incident with Israel aboard the Turkish ship the Mavi Marmara was due to Erdogan’s influence. If there is freedom of speech, then Turks will be exposed to more viewpoints and this will positively affect Turkish public opinion towards Israel and the Jewish people.

POTENTIAL FOR ISRAEL?

With Erdogan’s power facing challenges on such a massive scale, perhaps there is a potential for better relations between Israel and Turkey. The two countries were allies in the past and had positive relations during Ottoman times. Turkey was the first Muslim country to recognize Israel’s right to exist and Turkish diplomats saved Jewish lives during the Holocaust. This implies that the negative changes instrumented by Erdogan can indeed be temporary.

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