Nov 30 (2/2): Talking Turkey. And Politics

So let’s check in with Turkey—a bit of a news round-up, if you will.

As per the larger picture, it seems Turkey is moving further into Russia’s orbit. That just makes sense; Russia has a lot of gravity.

Ahval: Turkey becoming captive to Russia as Western sanctions loom

Turkey is still struggling through an economic downturn which the government’s foreign policy could make worse by risking sanctions from the West while making the country extremely reliant on Russia.

Repeating a call he made when Turkey was in the depths of a currency crisis sparked by limited U.S. sanctions last year, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told citizens this week to deal in the Turkish lira and not foreign currencies – a sure sign of economic trouble ahead.

When the currency crisis hit after Washington sanctioned Turkish ministers over the imprisonment of a U.S. pastor in August 2018, Erdoğan described support for the lira as a national duty. Yet central bank figures announced on Nov. 15 show that foreign currency savings in Turkey had increased by $36 billion to $225.5 billion in the past year.

I mean, it has to make sense on some level. Because it’s happening.

But despite becoming a Russian puppet state, Turkey still has bold plans for the future.

Ahval: Turkey to bring peace to the Middle East, says interior minister

Turkey will transform the Middle East into a peaceful geography as it did in the country’s predominantly Kurdish eastern and southeastern regions, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said on Saturday.

Soylu called out countries looking to stir trouble in the Middle East, promising Kurdish, Arab, Alevi, Sunni people that Turkey will transform the region during a speech he delivered in the country’s southeastern province of Adıyaman, Karar newspaper reported.

“It is Turkey and this nation that will turn the Middle East into a land of peace,’’ Soylu said. “We will achieve this all together, through protecting brotherhood”.

Pretty bold puppet there. Maybe agree to disagree on this one?

You can’t be serious.

BBC: Turkey’s charismatic pro-Islamic leader

But his pro-Islamist sympathies earned him a conviction in 1998 for inciting religious hatred.

He had publicly read an Islamic poem including the lines: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers…”

He was sentenced to 10 months in jail, but was freed after four.

However, because of his criminal record, he was barred from standing in elections or holding political office.

Parliament last year changed the constitution to allow Mr Erdogan to stand for a parliamentary seat.

Well, that explains that stuff the Kurds were putting out about being Muslim too, but, y’know, not like that guy.

wayne's world seemed extraneous at the time

But yeah, it’s an important part of their theory of politics, and not a small part of why’re they’re being targeted in this conflict: This is not an ethnic or even a national thing. It’s a freedom thing.

So obviously it’s unpopular with Erodgan; that’s not really his thing, yeah?

Reuters: With more Islamic schooling, Erdogan aims to reshape Turkey

Turkey’s president has said he wants to create a “pious generation” to change the nation. So the government is pouring money into schools that teach Islamic values.

Well, pious isn’t so bad. And it’s a thing in all the Abrahamic religions, to say nothing, of, well, most of them for that matter.

So anyway, how bad can piety be?

Erdogan has said one of his goals is to forge a “pious generation” in predominantly Muslim Turkey “that will work for the construction of a new civilisation.” His recent speeches have emphasised Turkey’s Ottoman history and domestic achievements over Western ideas and influences. Reviving Imam Hatip, or Imam and Preacher, schools is part of Erdogan’s drive to put religion at the heart of national life after decades of secular dominance, and his old school is just one beneficiary of a government programme to pump billions of dollars into religious education.

And Erdogan’s gonna be in charge of this?

Washington Times: Erdogan and the meaning of Hitler
The Turkish president’s revealing slip of the tongue

It’s one of those questions political science majors debate over too many beers at the college pub: Which is better, a parliamentary system or a government headed by a powerful chief executive?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was asked that question last week. He replied that he was inclined toward the latter, noting that there “are examples in the world” that have worked rather well. One sprang to mind: “You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany,” he said.

Wait, can we even go there?

Dan Savage: Godwin Suspends Godwin’s Law

Godwin’s Law:

American attorney and author Mike Godwin coined his eponymous law on Usenet in 1990. Godwin’s law (or Godwin’s rule of Hitler analogies) is an internet adage asserting that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Hitler approaches 1”; that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Adolf Hitler or his deeds. Promulgated by the American attorney and author Mike Godwin in 1990…. [There] is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that, when a Hitler comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever made the comparison loses whatever debate is in progress.

So those are the rules.

OK, I guess we’re settled then. Maybe hold off on that agree-to disagree-thing, I guess, huh?

Erdy’s probably busy though; lots of things to do.


I suppose there could still be freedom in an Ottoman society. It was pretty advanced.

Ahval: Turkish court orders investigation of leftist journalists for reporting leaks

Economist: Turkey leads the world in jailed journalists
Just five countries account for 70% of all reporters in prison

Free press is one of those conditions of liberal democracy. I guess Turkey’s not into that particular political fad. I bet that’s not great for politics in general, really.

What would Erdogan want to hide from the public, I wonder.

Well, that’s interesting. So is this.

Ahval: Erdoğan’s Istanbul dream may be dying

As he sought to position Turkey as the leader of the Muslim world, Erdoğan approved $100 billion worth of megaprojects to make his lighthouse shine bright. These included the world’s largest airport, Turkey’s largest mosque, a multi-billion-dollar financial center, a third bridge over the Bosphorus, as well as railway and road tunnels underneath it, and a 30-mile shipping canal linking the Black and Marmara seas that Erdoğan himself described as crazy.

Fast forward six years, and the president’s mission seems to be teetering. The surest sign of this was his party’s loss of the Istanbul municipality to the main opposition candidate in local elections this year.

Not only has Erdoğan lost control of the municipality that his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its predecessors had run since he became mayor 25 years ago, but they have also left the city $5 billion in debt.

Sounds like he’s not on the firmest of grounds at home.

batman begins sure footing killing stroke.gif

So looks like there’s lots of trouble for Erdogan at home; more than I realized. I figure he’s going to have to shore things up at home, yeah? Maybe address some of those ole domestic problems?

Or not.

So let’s revisit this.

Holy crap that’s funny.

This guy is going to bring peace to the middle east. Right. Erdogan is the guy that the middle east is going to rally around.

It makes sense he’d think so. I mean, he thinks he’s going to wipe out the Yazidi and people have been trying to do that since time was invented.

Erdogan doesn’t triage very well.

Well, at least he knows he won’t get any push-back from NATO.

Yeah, you tell’em Erdy. They know what’s what now, right?

Maybe they finally do.

Arab News: Erdogan faces NATO ire on eve of summit

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan faces a hostile reception from fellow NATO members at the alliance’s summit this week in London, analysts told Arab News on Saturday.

Days before a NATO summit in London on Dec. 3-4, the Turkish and French presidents have engaged in a battle of words.

. . .

Following harsh comments from the Turkish side, France summoned Turkey’s ambassador to Paris to protest over what it viewed as an “insult” rather than a “statement.”

A French presidential adviser also criticized Turkey, claiming “Ankara cannot take the defense plans of Poland and the Baltic countries hostage.”

The exchange of criticism reflects the tension between the two NATO allies before the approaching meeting where they are expected to hold a four-way summit, along with German and British leaders, to discuss the fate of Syria.
According to a recent Reuters report, Ankara has one condition to back the NATO plan: Securing more political support from the alliance over its fight against Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria.

French intellectuals also reacted harshly to Erdogan’s remarks about Macron.

“Macron ‘mentally ill’? Indeed, from the point of view of Erdogan, defending the Kurds, leaving its opponents at liberty, respect democracy, be faithful to its international commitments and humanitarian law, it’s pure madness,” French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy tweeted.

. . .

“Ankara thinks it can extend its suppression of criticism at home to a suppression of criticism from abroad. It cannot. With its actions in Syria, in the eastern Mediterranean, in its agreement with Libya on maritime boundaries that threatens Greece, in its S-400 purchase and wider relationship with Russia, in its threats to weaponize refugees, its arrest of Germany’s lawyer, Turkey is losing and has lost sympathy in Europe,” he added.

I always forget that French philosophers get involved with real stuff over there.

Maybe don’t call the head of their government a terrorist, eh?

altered beast

But wait, what? Turkey did what in the who now? The Mediterranean?

Ahval: Turkey-Libya agreement bears consequences for Greece – analyst

The agreement signed on Thursday by Ankara and Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) government to redefine Turkey’s maritime borders is part of a plan Ankara to gain superficial legitimacy in order to move in on the  Eastern Mediterranean, Angelos Syrigos, associate professor of international law and foreign policy at Athens’ Panteion University, wrote in Katherimini on Saturday.

. . .

The agreement signed on Thursday could create a wall preventing Greece from developing its sovereign rights in the eastern Mediterranean continental shelf, the article said, adding this would effectively confirm Ankara’s years-long narrative ‘’that the islands are not entitled to a continental shelf under law’’.

Despite being illegal, the article said, the deal with the GNA can only be overturned if Libya backs out of the agreement or by recourse to international justice, the latter which Ankara would never accept.

It just. Does. Not. End with this guy.

Ahval: Turkey’s game in east Mediterranean has just started, says Yeni Şafak

Turkey has defeated plots in the eastern Mediterranean and has now started its own game by striking a deal with the internationally recognised government in Libya which, if implemented, will make the two countries maritime neighbours, Turkish daily Yeni Şafak said on Friday.

Defeated plots? Ha! I knew Erdogan thought he was COBRA Commander.

cobra commander

The extended Turkish EEZ, which Ankara calls “Blue Homeland”, will provide Turkey a competitive dominance in the east Mediterranean energy dispute, Yeni Şafak said. Turkey now has the required legal grounds for rights which it had so far protected through its navy, it said.

Yeah? We’ll see.

At least I bet he has a nice crib to kick it in while he waits for whatever’s gonna happen with this war thing. I mean, I’m not a shring, so this is not a medical opinion, but I’m thinking narcissistic personality disorder.

But he did endorse piety, which usually involves some sort of self-abnegation, so maybe something like this?

good place here's your house

Probably not. I mean, given the times, a dictator has to keep up with the Joneses, yeah?

Ahval: Erdoğan’s presidential complex to receive further budget hike in 2020

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has proposed an 11.8 percent budget increase for the Presidential Palace in Ankara for a total of 3.15 billion lira ($548 million) in 2020, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

The budget increase for next year in the 1150-room presidential complex in the Turkish capital Ankara, follows a budget hike from 1.6 billion lira  ($ 278 million) in 2018 to 2.8 billion lira ($ 487 million)  in 2019, Cumhuriyet said.

Presidential expenditures since Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took office in 2014 have increased by at least 550 percent.

The majority of Turkey’s 2019 budget allocations were spared for presidential, security and defence expenditures.

That’s kinda absurd. I mean, how does he does he get away with this crap? It doesn’t seem like anyone actually likes him.

cobra comander lego

You know who I’ve heard really, really doesn’t like him?

Kurditan24: Americans’ support for Kurds helps explain Trump’s Syrian reversal

lindsey Graham 11-30-19

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – Sen. Lindsey Graham (R, South Carolina), one of President Donald Trump’s closest allies in the US Congress, spoke with unusual candor about Trump’s shifting positions on northeast Syria, including the most recent twist: his decision to leave some US forces to ensure that the oil fields do not fall into hostile hands.

Speaking on Nov. 20 at the annual dinner of the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), which honored the Senator with an award for his many years of public service, Graham described an important domestic political consideration involved in that decision: the views of conservative Christians.

Conservative Christians strongly opposed what they (and many others) saw as Trump abandoning America’s Kurdish allies, by withdrawing US troops and allowing Turkey to attack across its southern border.

The President was “sort of surprised,” Graham explained, “that people didn’t stand up and cheer, when he said, we’re getting out of Syria.”

Even more, significant groups opposed the decision, and “the pushback from the Christian conservative community about us abandoning the Kurds was overwhelming,” Graham said.







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