Category Archives: Turkey

Erdogan paves way for Turkish surveillance state

Senada Sokollu writes for DW:

CREDIT: REUTERS/UMIT BEKTASAfter Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan managed to secure a clear victory in local elections at the end of March, his government has taken on the next controversial task that’s bound to spell trouble: Erdogan pushes for a stronger intelligence service within the state apparatus. If Erdogan has his way, Turkey’s intelligence service MIT would become much more powerful and much more detached from the country’s judiciary, critics have said. They fear this would circumvent separation of powers.

Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) submitted a first draft law in mid-February. According to Turkish newspaper “Hurriyet”, Turkish President Abdullah Gul had already called on the government to rework the draft. Erdogan’s AKP plans to have the law passed by parliament by the end of June. The Turkish government has been dealing with severe corruption charges since mid-December. In the past weeks, Erdogan has also increasingly come under pressure for his own role in the scandals.

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Potential Turkish Role in Syria Chemical Strike That Almost Sparked U.S. Bombing: Interview with Seymour Hersh

‘Was Turkey behind last year’s Syrian chemical weapons attack? That is the question raised in a new exposé by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh on the intelligence debate over the deaths of hundreds of Syrians in Ghouta last year. The United States, and much of the international community, blamed forces loyal to the Assad government, almost leading to a U.S. attack on Syria. But Hersh reveals the U.S. intelligence community feared Turkey was supplying sarin gas to Syrian rebels in the months before the attack took place — information never made public as President Obama made the case for launching a strike. Hersh joins us to discuss his findings.’ (Democracy Now!)

John Kerry Encouraged Turkish Invasion of Syria

ProgLegs writes for Daily Kos:

Almost buried in a secret recording made of a meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s office which included intelligence chief Hakan Fidan, army deputy chief of staff Yasar Guler, and Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu was the revelation that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry repeatedly asked about and seemed to encourage a Turkish invasion of Syria…

At about the 5:00 mark Foreign Minister Davutoglu says

…cogu zaman Kerry bana aynen sunu soyledi peki siz kararinizi verdiniz mi dedi bu vurma ve sey yapma…

Translation:  Many times Kerry has said to me “Ok, did you make the decision to strike?”

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The YouTube ‘Start A False Flag War With Syria’ Leaked Recording That Erdogan Wanted Banned

Tyler Durden writes for Zero Hedge:

As we noted here, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan had blocked Twitter access to his nation ahead of what was rumored to be a “spectacular” leak before this weekend’s elections. Then this morning, amid a mad scramble, he reportedly (despite the nation’s court ruling the bans illegal) blocked YouTube access. However, by the magic of the interwebs, we have the ‘leaked’ clip and it is clear why he wanted it blocked/banned. As the rough translation explains, it purports to be a conversation between key Turkish military and political leaders discussing what appears to be a false flag attack to launch war with Syria.

Among the most damning sections:

Ahmet Davutolu: “Prime Minister said that in current conjuncture, this attack (on Suleiman Shah Tomb) must be seen as an opportunity for us.”

Hakan Fidan: “I’ll send 4 men from Syria, if that’s what it takes. I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey; we can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah Tomb if necessary.”

Feridun Sinirliolu: “Our national security has become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit.”

Ya?ar Güler: “It’s a direct cause of war. I mean, what’re going to do is a direct cause of war.”

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Twitter ‘blocked’ in Turkey

Patrick Cockburn: Are protesters overthrowing a brutal despot, or merely bad losers at the polls?

Patrick Cockburn writes for Th Independent:

[...] Revolutionaries must have some idea of what they are going to do once they have displaced the powers-that-be. It is not enough to say that anything is better than the status quo, particularly, as happened in Egypt and Syria, when people find their lives are getting worse. What happens when foreign powers, once so eager to support the risen people, want a share of the political cake? The success of those first uprisings meant that the revolutionaries, always better on tactics than strategy, had lethally few ideas about what to do next.

But the formula that brought them to power still works. In the past eight months, governments in Turkey, Thailand and Ukraine have been destabilised by prolonged mass protests. In the case of Egypt a giant demonstration on 30 June led directly to – and was portrayed as giving legitimacy to – a military coup on 3 July. In Istanbul it was Taksim Square and in Kiev it was Independence Square that were the stages on which revolutionary dramas were played. But what is at issue now is very different from 2011. This is not obvious, because television reporters often produce the same simple-minded story as before. Downplayed and even unstated in reports from Kiev, Cairo, Bangkok and Istanbul was that this time the protesters were confronting democratically elected leaders.

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Erdogan recordings appear real, analyst says, as Turkey scandal grows

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and son BilalRoy Gutman writes for McClatchy:

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan tightened his grip Wednesday on the judiciary and the Internet in an effort to tamp down a corruption scandal that’s rattled his government and now appears to implicate his immediate family and him. Evidence mounted that a series of audio recordings in which Erdogan can be heard instructing his son, Bilal, to get rid of enormous sums of money are authentic, with the government firing two senior officials at the state scientific agency responsible for the security of encrypted telephones and a U.S.-based expert on encrypted communications, after examining the recordings, telling McClatchy that the recordings appear to be genuine.

Erdogan on Tuesday called the five purported conversations an “immoral montage” that had been “dubbed.” But he acknowledged that even his secure telephone had been tapped. The only apparent “montage” was combining the five different conversations into one audio file, said Joshua Marpet, a U.S.-based cyber analyst who has testified in court on the validity of computer evidence in other Turkish criminal cases. He said there was no sign that the individual conversations had been edited. “If it’s fake, it’s of a sophistication that I haven’t seen,” he said. The purported telephone conversations took place over a 26-hour period, beginning on the morning of Dec. 17, when Turkish police launched raids on the houses and offices of members of the Erdogan government, businessmen and their families.

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Turkey tightens internet controls as govt battles graft scandal

From Reuters:

Turkey‘s parliament has approved internet controls enabling web pages to be blocked within hours in what the opposition decried as part of a government bid to stifle a corruption scandal with methods more suited to “times of coups”. Social media and video sharing sites have been awash with alleged recordings of ministers including Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and business allies presented as proof of wrongdoing. Reuters has been unable to verify their authenticity.

Under a bill passed late on Wednesday, telecommunications authorities can block access to material within four hours without a prior court order, tightening restrictions imposed in a widely criticised law adopted by the EU candidate in 2007. “This is against the constitution. Bans like this exist in times of coups and have not been able to conceal any corruption,” Umut Oran, a deputy from the main opposition CHP, told the general assembly.

Erdogan’s critics say his response to the corruption scandal is further evidence of the authoritarian tendencies of a man long held up by the West as a potential model of democratic leadership in the Muslim world. It has raised concerns about stability in the run-up to local and presidential elections this year, helping drive the already fragile lira to record lows.

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Giant Hologram of Turkish Prime Minister Delivers Speech

From The Atlantic:

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan couldn’t attend a political party meeting in the city of Izmir on Sunday, so he decided to send the next best thing:a giant hologram of himself.

In a scene straight out of Star Wars, Erdogan’s shimmering avatar, whose real-life counterpart is under siege amid an ever-expanding corruption scandal and the resignations of multiple high-level officials, spoke to an astonished crowd of Justice and Development Party supporters on the need for resilience before municipal elections on March 30.

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Emerging Market Financial Crises Raise Concerns About Another Global Recession: Interview with Bill Black

Erdogan pushing Internet censorship forward

Computer keyboard and Turkey flag (photo: Fotolia)From DW:

Turkey’s Family and Social Policy Ministry submitted a bill to parliament this week that would allow authorities to block specific websites and keep a record of users’ Internet activities for up to two years. This represents the latest attempt of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to curb web freedoms.

“Previously, there were a limited number of types of alleged illegal content that could be blocked in Turkey,” said Yaman Akdeniz, a professor of law at Istanbul’s Bilgi University. “For example, child pornography, obscene materials, gambling-related content, encouragement of suicide or encouragement of prostitution and escort websites,” Akdeniz told DW.

Akdeniz explained that now, the government is trying to extend this block to include violations of personal rights and also privacy. “That could include defamation, for example,” he said.

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Turkish MPs throw tablets, punch colleagues in heated brawl

Turkish corruption probe raises the stakes but not just for Erdogan

From The National:

The Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, appears to be losing friends rapidly following a corruption inquiry that has ensnared government ministers and members of his family.

Launched by opponents in the judiciary and police force, the investigation has implicated Mr Erdogan’s allies, including a Saudi investor and alleged financier of Al Qaeda with ties to Mr Erdogan and his son, Bilal.

But the investigation is widely seen as politically motivated and comes at a time when Turkey appears increasingly vulnerable with a war raging in Syria and the government facing fierce challenges from within.

With the stakes so high, many in Turkey believe the country cannot afford to erode the strong leadership, which Mr Erdogan has demonstrated during his decade in power.

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Taksim Square Protesters Charged With Terrorism, Attempting Coup

NATO Is About US Control: Washington Targets Turkey

John Glaser writes for Antiwar:

When U.S. leaders and pundits talk about NATO, they describe it as the linchpin of world security and the manifestation of Western liberal values. In other formulations, the U.S. is graciously bestowing a kind of welfare program to its allies in the form of security and protection throughout the European continent because, well, that’s just how much we care about our fellow man.

In reality, NATO is about U.S. control and domination, and a recent report at Foreign Policy demonstrates this fact quite well. Apparently Turkey, a NATO member, has been trying to finalize a deal with a Chinese company to build its first long-range air and missile defense system. This infuriated officials in Washington to the point that they drew up legislation that would ban Chinese-built missile defense systems within NATO.

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EU offers support for Turkish reforms

Photo: PM: EU continues misleading Turkey / PoliticsFrom UPI:

European Union Neighborhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Fule said Friday a $317 million aid package to Turkey would help it with key reform efforts.

“These past weeks have seen positive developments in EU-Turkey relations, and I hope this renewed support will help foster further reforms that will contribute to the progress in the accession process,” he said in a statement.

The European Commission said Friday the funding would help Turkey build an “independent, impartial and efficient” judicial system and strengthen the efficiency of law enforcement institutions.

Turkey aspires to a closer relationship with the EU. The latest phase of accession talks — Chapter 22, dealing with regional policy — began Nov 5.

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Operation Gladio: NATO Sponsored Terror from Cold War to Today

New law to permit Turkish police to detain ‘possible’ protesters

The move to strengthen police powers was precipitated by the countrywide Gezi Park protests, which began at the end of May. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ From Hurriyet Daily:

A new regulation will allow Turkish police to detain those who possess the “risk of conducting a protest” from 12 to 24 hours without the demand of a prosecutor or a judge, prompting acute worries from opposition deputies.

The new regulations that will be conducted jointly by the justice and interior ministries will allow the police to detain a suspect who “may hold a protest” for up to 24 hours without any court decision while also increasing the penalties for resistance to police and damaging public property.

The move to strengthen police powers was precipitated by the countrywide Gezi Park protests, which began at the end of May.

Organizations which “tend to hold protests” will be monitored and their members could be detained by police if intelligence reports suggest they are planning to conduct a demonstration or action.

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Former Israeli official calls for Turkey to be expelled from NATO

From MEMO:

A former Israeli official demanded that Turkey be expelled from NATO following media reports which accused the Turkish intelligence service of leaking the names of 10 Iranian agents who worked for Israel’s intelligence (Mossad) to the Iranian authorities.

Israel’s former deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, in remarks to Yisrael Hayoum newspaper, called for a formal request to be submitted before NATO to cancel Ankara’s membership of the Alliance. Ayalon who caused the “low chair” crisis between Ankara and Tel Aviv three years ago demanded that Israel and the United States re-evaluate their relations with Turkey.

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US ‘seriously concerned’ about Turkey’s Chinese missile choice

From The National:

The United States is “seriously concerned” about Turkey’s decision to counter possible missile threats from Syria and elsewhere with the help of a Chinese defence system.

The declaration by Francis Ricciardone, the US ambassador in Ankara, is the latest sign of tensions between Turkey and its Nato allies and shows concern in western capitals about a growing distance from its traditional partners in Europe and the US.

Ankara said last month it would enter into talks with a Chinese corporation about co-production of a long-range air and missile defence system.

In doing so, Turkey turned down bids by companies from the US, Europe and Russia for the deal, valued at US$4 billion (Dh14.7bn) according to reports. The reports said the Chinese company won because it offered a competitive price and the possibility of a technology transfer during the joint production of the missile defence system known as FD-2000.

But Turkey’s preference to deal with the China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CPMIEC) is threatening to create problems with the West.

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EU agrees to restart Turkey membership talks next month

The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip ErdoganFrom BBC News:

The European Union says it has agreed to resume membership talks with Turkey.

The EU’s European affairs ministers, meeting in Luxembourg, said the talks would restart on 5 November, after being stalled for three years.

The EU had first agreed to relaunch negotiations in June, but postponed the talks after members criticised Turkey’s crackdown on anti-government protests.

Turkey first applied for full membership of what was then the European Economic Community in 1987.

The ministers of the 28 EU members based their latest decision on a recommendation by the European Commission.

In its 2013 progress report on Turkey published last week, the Commission had criticised as excessive the use of force by Turkish police in dealing with widespread demonstrations.

But it recognised that Turkey had introduced judicial reforms. It also praised the announcement last month by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of a series of political reforms, including increased rights for Kurds.

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Further proof emerges of Turkey’s genocide

From The Independent:

To other, earlier refugees. The Turks are preparing to smother the 100th anniversary of their Holocaust against the Christian Armenians of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 with commemorations of their victory over the Allies at Canakkale (Gallipoli) the same year. But each month brings yet further proof – in the testimony of Westerners  – of what Turkey still officially denies: that the genocide of the Armenians was a fact of history.

Now come the memoirs of Alec Glen, a British army doctor of the 1914-18 war – written privately for his sons, but published by his family – which record the further agony of the Armenians.

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Turkish government hiring 6,000 young Twitter users to post propaganda

From Daily Dot:

Say you’re a government that recently faced massive public opposition that organized through social media, bad enough you considered banning Twitter outright. What’s your next step?

If you’re Turkey, you start playing that game yourself.

The country’s ruling Justice and Development (AKP) party has announced plans to develop a 6,000-member team devoted to shaping public opinion through social media, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

The goal is to mostly hire young people, and will focus primarily on Twitter and Facebook, though Instagram and YouTube will get some attention too.

A senior party official quoted in the Journal described the project as “aim[ed] at developing a positive political language which we are teaching to our volunteers,” and that “when the opposing camp spreads disinformation about the party, we correct them with valid information, always using positive language.”

A handful of other countries, namely China and Vietnam, officially employ similar propaganda tactics. Both those countries are ranked far more harshly on Reporters Without Borders’ “Enemies of the Internet” index.

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Pipeline Politics and the Syrian War: Interview with Pepe Escobar (and other pipeline politics news)

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Syria: Where key countries stand

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Click on the above image to view the BBC report

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Witch hunt? Turkey hands out life sentences in shadow govt coup trial

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Erdogan puts Turkish policymakers in dilemma ~ Reuters

Reuters

With a powerful prime minister bent on pumping up growth ahead of elections but a sliding currency and rising borrowing costs, Turkish policymakers are caught between a rock and a hard place.

Rattled by weeks of anti-government protests and with a peace initiative for Kurdish militants looking increasingly fragile, the last thing Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan needs with an election cycle starting next year is an economic slowdown.

His rhetoric has become increasingly populist in recent weeks, vowing to “choke” speculators who he said were growing rich off “the sweat of the people”, and blaming a “high interest rate lobby” for seeking to undermine Turkey’s growth prospects.

Such words from a leader who has transformed the economy over the past decade, overseeing some of Europe’s fastest growth and a near tripling of Turks’ nominal wealth, has unnerved investors who have long bought in to the Turkey rising story.

“The Turkey narrative has certainly suffered,” said Christian Keller, a former IMF representative in Turkey and now a senior economist at Barclays Capital in London.

Erdogan and the ruling AK Party he founded have built their reputation on Turkey’s economic transformation, winning three successive parliamentary elections over the past decade as a burgeoning middle class grew richer.

But his determination to maintain that record has laid bare a rift between fellow populists such as Economy Minister Zafar Caglayan, a vocal critic of the central bank, and more moderate and voices such as Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, viewed as a steadier hand trusted by the markets.

Erdogan’s appointment of columnist and TV commentator Yigit Bulut, who last month suggested the prime minister’s enemies were seeking to kill him by telekinesis, as his chief economic adviser, as well as probes into recent stock market transactions and currency trades, have done little to calm nerves.

“Turkey is a plane which has only reached the start of the runway … Now it is time for the plane to take off,” Bulut wrote in a newspaper column this week, saying the economy needed to be tripled in size over the next decade.

It faces strong headwinds.

Concern about the U.S. Federal Reserve’s planned withdrawal of monetary stimulus, combined with Turkey’s domestic unrest, sent the lira tumbling to its weakest ever this month and are doing little to support growth prospects.

Babacan acknowledged on Wednesday that any downward revision to the government’s 4.0 percent growth forecast this year should come as “no surprise”.

FULL ARTICLE @ REUTERS

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Turkish court gives go-ahead to demolish Gezi Park ~ RT

Anti-goverment protestors occupying Gezi park near Taksim square in Istanbul.(AFP Photo / Ozan Kose)RT

Istanbul’s administrative court gave a green light to demolish city’s Gezi Park, which was at the center of heated nationwide protests sparked by the decision to get rid of the park and turn it into a monument to the Ottoman Empire.

The park has turned into a cradle of anti-government unrest since the protests began in late May. Protests quickly became violent as police used teargas and water canon to disperse protesters.

The demonstrations, which went on throughout most of June, resulted in the death of four people and around 7,500 injured.

A police officer has also died after falling from a bridge while in pursuit of fleeing protesters in Adana.

An Istanbul administrative court overturned a lower court’s ruling to stop the Turkish government’s plan to redevelop Istanbul’s Gezi Park after the Culture and Tourism Ministry appealed the verdict.

The new development includes the rebuilding of the Ottoman artillery barracks, which will have a shopping mall inside one of the buildings. The protests against the construction spread nationally, growing into a larger opposition by those unhappy with Erdogan’s “authoritarian style of rule.”

SOURCE: RT

Israeli strike on Syria was carried out from Turkish base ~ RT

SEE ALSO: Israel Airstrike Targeted Advanced Missiles That Russia Sold to Syria, US Says (NY Times)

RT

Israel used a Turkish military base to launch one of its recent airstrikes against Syria from the sea, a reliable source told RT. Israel has been under scrutiny since last week, when it was reported to be responsible for a July 5 depot attack in Latakia.

News that Turkey assisted Israel in attacking another Muslim state could result in serious turmoil for Ankara, once the information is confirmed.

“Our source is telling us that Israeli planes left a military base inside Turkey and approached Latakia from the sea to make sure that they stayed out of Syrian airspace so that they cannot become a legitimate target for the Syrian air force,” RT’s Paula Slier reports.

In response, Turkey has denied that Israel has used its base to strike Syria.

FULL ARTICLE @ RT

Istanbul police block protest by journalists demanding press freedoms ~ AP

Associated Press

Police have blocked hundreds of journalists from marching in Istanbul to demand press freedoms and denounce the harassment of colleagues during a spate of anti-government demonstrations last month.

Journalists were detained or targeted by police while covering the nearly three weeks of protests, and some who sided with protesters were sacked or resigned.

The journalists on Friday planned to walk to a main square but were prevented by police. They staged a brief sit-in before dispersing.

FULL ARTICLE @ FOX NEWS