Category Archives: Turkey

A Two-Faced Friendship: Turkey Is ‘Partner and Target’ for the NSA

Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Michael Sontheimer and Holger Stark report for SPEIGEL and The Intercept:

‘[...] Documents from the archive of US whistleblower Edward Snowden that SPIEGEL and The Intercept have seen show just how deeply involved America has become in Turkey’s fight against the Kurds. For a time, the NSA even delivered its Turkish partners with the mobile phone location data of PKK leaders on an hourly basis. The US government also provided the Turks with information about PKK money flows and the whereabouts of some of its leaders living in exile abroad.

At the same time, the Snowden documents also show that Turkey is one of the United States’ leading targets for spying. Documents show that the political leadership in Washington, DC, has tasked the NSA with divining Turkey’s “leadership intention,” as well as monitoring its operations in 18 other key areas. This means that Germany’s foreign intelligence service, which drew criticism in recent weeks after it was revealed it had been spying on Turkey, isn’t the only secret service interested in keeping tabs on the government in Ankara.’

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FBI informant led cyberattacks on Turkey’s government

Dell Cameron reports for The Kernal:

‘After Federal Bureau of Investigation agents raided Hector Xavier Monsegur’s Manhattan apartment in June 2011, the FBI gave him a choice: Help take down the international hacktivist collective Anonymous, or go to prison for the rest of your life. He promptly flipped. What followed was a high-profile hacking spree that included attacks on Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor), the Arizona Department of Public Safety, and the FBI’s own Virtual Academy, among others. Monsegur, better known by his alias Sabu, helped ensnare eight of the world’s top hackers in the process.

Monsegur’s exact role, however, and the FBI’s implicit involvement in the attacks have come under serious scrutiny in recent months. The Daily Dot previously revealed that, contrary to official reports, Monsegur, 30, orchestrated the devastating attack on Stratfor in December 2011. The breach caused an estimated $3.78 million in damages and left thousands of customers vulnerable to fraud. For the first time, The Kernel can now confirm Monsegur also led cyberattacks on Turkey’s government. The revelation further calls into question the role of federal investigators and their apparent willingness to exploit both hackers and major security flaws.’

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Focus magazine: Germany has spied on Turkey since 1976

Reuters reports:

‘Germany’s foreign intelligence agency has been spying on Turkey for nearly four decades, Focus magazine said on Saturday in a report which could raise tensions further between the NATO allies. The details about the duration of possible surveillance and on the decision-making surrounding it go further than first reports earlier this week. Turkey summoned Germany’s ambassador in Ankara on Monday after media reports that Berlin had identified Ankara as a top target of surveillance in a government document from 2009 and had been spying on Turkey for years.

Focus magazine said the BND intelligence agency had been spying on Turkey since 1976 and that German government under the then Social Democrat chancellor Helmut Schmidt had expressly approved the step. The magazine also cited government sources as saying the BND’s current mandate to monitor Turkish political and state institutions had been agreed by a government working group. That included representatives of the chancellor’s office, the defense, foreign and economy ministries. A spokesman for the German government declined to comment on the report.’

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NATO says would help defend Turkey if threatened by Islamic State

Today’s Zaman reports:

NATO says would help defend Turkey if threatened by Islamic State‘NATO would take all steps necessary to defend alliance member Turkey if it were threatened by Islamic State fighters who have made gains in neighbouring Iraq and Syria, Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Monday.

“We are very much concerned about the activities of the so-called Islamic State, which is a bunch of terrorists, and it is of utmost importance to stop their advance,” Rasmussen told Reuters in an interview.

“If any of our allies, and in this case of course particularly Turkey, were to be threatened from any source of threat, we won’t hesitate to take all steps necessary to ensure effective defence of Turkey or any other ally,” he said.’

The New Gezi Park Protesters: Istanbul’s Gentrification Wars

‘This weekend’s presidential election in Turkey is as good as decided. The mass protests surrounding Gezi Park, the corruption scandals, the Soma mining accident — none of these incidents will stop the majority of Turks from electing Recep Tayyip Erdogan as president. Among other things, this means that ambitious development projects will likely multiply — and with them, the controversies Erdogan’s AKP party aggressive policies routinely provoke. The Gezi uprising that rocked Turkey in June 2013 was sparked by a government project to transform the park in central Istanbul into a gigantic mall. And while a relentless police crackdown has led many of last year’s protesters to abandon hope, the problems at the heart of Erdogan’s vision for Turkey’s urban development have not gone away. Those directly affected by the aggressive development of their neighborhoods are often left with only one of two options: to despair, or to fight.

One group that has decided to take the fight to the government is the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front, or DKHP/C. This extreme-left party, labeled a terrorist organization by the EU, is entrenched in many of the disenfranchised neighborhoods that have become targets for ruthless urban development. To stave off the forced relocation of inhabitants, the DKHP/C militants are prepared to combat not only the police, but also violent drug gangs that terrorize their neighborhoods, which they believe are collaborating with the state. VICE News travelled to Istanbul to meet the DKHP/C on its home turf, document its fierce clashes with the police on May Day, and understand what motivates these violent, self-proclaimed champions of the poor.’ (Vice News)

Erdogan poised to extend power as new Turkish President

Daren Butler reports for The Independent:

The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was declared the winner in his country’s first presidential election on Sunday, as voters backed his dream of a “new Turkey” that his opponents say will result in an increasingly authoritarian nation.

An unofficial vote count indicated that Mr Erdogan would claim victory in the first round, avoiding the need for a run-off ballot. He received about 52 per cent of the votes cast while his main rival, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, got about 38 per cent and the third candidate, Selahattin Demirtas, won just under 10 per cent.’

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#direnkahkaha: Turkish women defy deputy PM with laughter

Constanze Letsch reports for The Guardian:

Turkish Women laugh on twitter‘Twitter in Turkey broke into a collective grin on Wednesday as hundreds of women posted pictures of themselves laughing. They weren’t just happy. They were smiling in defiance of the deputy prime minister, Bülent Arinç, who in a speech to mark Eid al-Fitr on Monday said women should not laugh in public.

…On Wednesday thousands of women posted pictures of themselves laughing out loud, with the hashtags #direnkahkaha (resist laughter) and #direnkadin (resist woman) trending on Twitter. Turkish men also took to social media to express their solidarity. “The men of a country in which women are not allowed to laugh are cowards”, tweeted one user.’

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Cypriots File War Crimes Complaint Against Turkey

From the AP:

‘A group of Cypriots on Monday filed a war crimes complaint against Turkey at the International Criminal Court over what they say is its policy of settling Cyprus’ breakaway north with mainland Turks.

Cyprus split into a Turkish-speaking north and an internationally recognized Greek-speaking south in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup that aimed to unite the island with Greece. A Turkish Cypriot declaration of independence is recognized only by Turkey, which maintains 35,000 troops there.’

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Turkey Mine Explosion: Disaster deals another blow to Erdogan’s authoritarian rule

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

‘Every development in Turkey over the last year has added to the country’s polarisation. The latest event to do so is the disaster at the coalmine at Soma, where 282 miners are known to have died and another 142 are still unaccounted for. When the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Soma on Wednesday he was forced to take a refuge in a supermarket as crowds shouted that he was a thief and liar. One of his aides was photographed kicking a protester who was on the ground. There have been demonstrations in Istanbul and Ankara blaming the government for failing to do enough to prevent the accident. One banner carried by demonstrators read: “It’s not an accident, it’s murder.”

All this happened just as Mr Erdogan was expected to announce his candidacy for the presidential election in August. The opposition points to his ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) opposition to tougher safety regulations in mines. As recently as two weeks ago it voted down a proposal in parliament for an investigation into accidents in mines at Soma. Mr Erdogan was always going to carry some of the blame for the disaster because his party has been in power since 2002 and because it is notorious for its cosy relations with construction and mining companies. But he added to the odium by making a speech on a visit to Soma last week when he mixed his regrets for the disaster with remarks about the inevitability of heavy loss of life in coal mining round the world. “These are normal things,” he said.’

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Armenian president accuses Turkey of genocide denial

From AFP:

ArmeniaPhotograph: Karen Minasyan/AFP/Getty Images‘s president has accused Turkey of an “utter denial” in failing to recognise the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman empire during the first world war as genocide. On Wednesday the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan,offered condolences over the massacres, calling them “our shared pain”. The US hailed the move as historic.

But in a statement on Thursday marking the 99th anniversary of the start of the killings and mass deportations, President Serzh Sarkisian made no acknowledgement of Erdogan’s statement and instead accused Turkey of continuing to ignore the facts.

“The Armenian genocide … is alive as far as the successor of the Ottoman Turkey continues its policy of utter denial,” he said. “The denial of a crime constitutes the direct continuation of that very crime. Only recognition and condemnation can prevent the repetition of such crimes in the future.”

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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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