Archive for the ‘Erdogan’ category

A challenge to Erdogan

July 6, 2017

A challenge to Erdogan, Israel Hayom, Eldad Beck, July 6, 2017

As leaders of the world’s biggest economies, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gather in Hamburg this weekend to discuss global issues, In Istanbul, the biggest protest march in modern Turkey’s history will conclude.

Intensifying the persecution of regime opponents, the Turkish president is turning his country into a perfect democtatorship, where the people are only allowed to vote in favor of what the leader desires and anyone who objects is thrown in prison and accused of terrorism. This reality has led the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), to call for a so-called Justice March from the capital Ankara to Istanbul. Until the march, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, a bland politician who lacks charisma and strongly resembles Mahatma Gandhi, was unable to brand himself as a worthy opponent to Erdogan. But the 450 kilometers (280 miles) between Ankara and Istanbul have bestowed upon him an aura of an opponent capable of putting up a fight.

Holding a small sign bearing a one-word slogan — Adalet (“Justice”) — and followed by thousands of marchers (with hundreds more expected to join along the way on each day), the leader of the republican, pro-secular party is posing a major challenge to the “sultan of Ankara”: He is bringing the battle to Erdogan’s home court, the Turkish street, and showing him that his grip on the people is not absolute.

A few days from now, the regime will mark a year since it quashed an attempted military coup, which made it possible for Erdogan to hunt down en masse everyone who opposed him: the Islamist Gulen Movement, the Kurds, republicans, military officers, politicians, journalists, government functionaries, police and teachers. Under a “state of emergency” that is still in effect, sweeping arrests have been made, over 100,000 people have been fired, and according to numbers from Turkey’s Justice Ministry, nearly 50,000 investigations have been launched this past year against people and institutions suspected of offending the president. The Justice Ministry approved trials for almost 5,000 suspects. Over 1,000 were convicted for crimes that carry sentences of up to four years in prison.

Erdogan’s and his government’s hysterical response to the opposition’s Justice March suggests that even in the grand presidential palace in Ankara, they feel the ground shaking beneath their feet. Erdogan accused Kilicdaroglu of supporting terrorist organizations and involving himself in crime by opposing court orders — when in reality he had opposed rulings by the justice system that facilitated the incarceration of several associates of the opposition leader on the pretext of terrorism. “The platform represented by the CHP has crossed the line of political opposition. They have reached the point of working with terrorist organizations and with forces that encourage them to operate against our country,” Erdogan declared. In other words: treason.

A spokesman for Turkey’s ruling party accused Kilicdaroglu and his party of trying to use the Justice March to drag Turkey into chaos in the service of “foreign interests” that are working against Erdogan and his government. That is: People are still trying to oust Erdogan, and such circumstances justify increased persecution of his opponents. But turning up the dial on the incitement against the opposition could nudge supporters of the president to commit violence against the marchers and opposition leaders. The marchers have already encountered the fury of the masses.

The Justice March is scheduled to conclude at the gate to the prison where a parliamentary delegate from the CHP, Enis Berberoglu, is incarcerated for giving the media information on Turkish intelligence agencies giving aid to terrorist groups in Syria. Berberoglu, a former journalist, was sentenced to 25 years behind bars for “revealing state secrets.” But the Justice March won’t really end so long as Erdogan continues to terrorize Turkey.

Will the opposition now take advantage Kilicdaroglu’s momentum and unite? Will it become possible to change the political atmosphere in Turkey? If Turkey wants to protect itself, it doesn’t need a military coup, it needs a popular one. Erdogan has done everything he can to prevent that from happening, even at the cost of military, political and foreign conflicts.

Islamization of Europe: Erdogan’s New Muslim Political Network

June 11, 2017

Islamization of Europe: Erdogan’s New Muslim Political Network, Gatestone Institute, Yves Mamou, June 11, 2017

What is notable is that France’s new Muslim party, the Equality and Justice Party (PEJ), is an element of a network of political parties built by Turkey’s President Erdogan and AKP to influence each country of Europe, and to influence Europe through its Muslim population.

What is their program? The classic one for an Islamic party: abolishing the founding secularist law of 1905, which established the separation of church and state; mandatory veils for schoolgirls; and community solidarity (as opposed to individual rights) as a priority. All that is wrapped in the not-so-innocent flag of the necessity to “fight against Islamophobia”, a concept invented to shut down the push-back of all people who might criticize Islam before they can even start.

“[The Islamist party’s] purpose is to conquer the world, not just have a mandate. Its mechanics were already established…. Islamists took power in the name of democracy, then suspended democracy by using their power…. Convert the clothes, the body, the social links, the arts, nursing homes, schools, songs and culture, then, they just wait for the fruit to fall in the turban… An Islamist party is an open trap: you cannot let it in. If you refuse it, your country switches to a dictatorship, but if you accept it, you are at risk of submission….” — Kamel Daoud, Algerian writer, in Le Point, 2015.

In the legislative elections that will take place June 11 and 18 in France, political parties are finalizing preparations: choosing their candidates, and printing posters and stickers. Business as usual? Not really.

(Image source: Rama/Wikimedia Commons)

One newcomer arose in the political spectrum: a Muslim party, the Parti Egalité Justice (“Equality and Justice Party”; PEJ). What is notable is that PEJ is an element of a network of political parties built by Trukey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), to influence each country of Europe, and to influence Europe through its Muslim population.

PEJ: A Pro-Erdogan Party in France

The PEJ was created in 2015 in Strasbourg, the de facto capital of eastern France, on the border with Germany. PEJ has already approved 68 candidates — not enough to cover the whole territory but enough to compete efficiently in districts where Turkish and Muslim populations are strongly represented. French citizens of Turkish origin are estimated to represent 600,000 people in France, out of a Muslim population estimated at 5-15 million, but official statistics do not exist.

Another Muslim party, “Français et Musulmans” (“French and Muslims”), is also quietly preparing to erupt on the political scene of the French legislative elections. “Français et Musulmans” originates from L’Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF) which has been rebaptized “Muslims of France”. “Français et Musulmans” is the French branch of Muslim Brotherhood.

The PEJ, is the first party in France established by Turks. PEJ already participated in elections of the Provincial General Assembly in March 2015, but was eliminated in the first round. According to the magazine Marianne: “PEJ is closely connected to Council for justice, equality and peace (Cojep), an international NGO which represents, everywhere it is based, an anchor for AKP”, the party of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayip Erdogan. According to L’Express “many managers of PEJ are also in charge in Cojep”.

What is their program? The classic one for an Islamist party: abolishing the founding secularist law of 1905, which established the separation of church and state; veils mandatory for schoolgirls in public schools; halal food for all schools; support for Palestinians; and community solidarity (as opposed to individual rights) as a priority. All that is wrapped in the not-so-innocent flag of the necessity to “fight against Islamophobia”, a concept invented to shut down the push-back of all people who might criticize Islam before they can even start.

According to the magazine Marianne, Mine Gunbay, responsible for women’s rights in the city council of Strasbourg, fearlessly and tirelessly denounced the metamorphosis of Strasbourg into “political laboratory of the AKP”. Strasbourg is the city where Erdogan was authorized by former president Hollande to hold an electoral rally in October 2015. Legally.

Another noteworthy Turkish move in France is the probable nomination of Ahmet Ogras, the representative of Turkish Islam in France, as next president of the Conseil français du culte musulman (“French Council of Muslim worship”, CFCM). Ahmet Ogras is known for his good relationship with Erodgan’s AKP party. CFCM is the legal structure built by French politicians to have a single Muslim talking-partner. Until now, all presidents of CFCM were of Algerian or Moroccan origin.

Austria

In Austria, in 2016, “Turkish citizens” founded the New Movement for the Future (NBZ) party. The goal of the party is to give Turks a voice in politics across Austria. The NBZ Chairman, Adnan Dinçer, explained that the rise of extremist right-wing parties have caused them to work faster. “Political actors are making decisions about the minorities working here, but we are not involved in this decision-making mechanism,” he said. The NBZ makes it clear that they support controversial Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and condemn the “Gülen movement”, which the Turkish government claims carried out a coup attempt in July 2016.

Netherlands

Denk, a party founded by Tunahan Kuzu and Selçuk Öztürk in March 2017, became the first-ever ethic minority party in the Dutch parliament. The party, apparently a mouthpiece for Turkish president Erdogan, won three seats in the recent election, which was focused on immigration.

Party leader Tunahan Kuzu said: “This is the beginning of a new chapter in our history. The new Netherlands has given a vote in the House.”

Bulgaria

The Muslim population of Bulgaria is made up of Turks (Sunni), some Shi’ites, Bulgarians and Roma, who together represent 7-8% of the total population. In Bulgaria, there are three Muslim political parties, in which most of the members are Turkish and Muslim.

One of these parties is The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (HÖH), founded in 1990 by Ahmet Doğan. In 2014, HÖH was represented by 38 people in the 240-member parliament and had four MEPs in the European Parliament (EP).

HÖH, which made a coalition with the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), thus has a say in the country’s administration, even though leadership changed after a 2013 assassination attempt against Doğan.

Because Erdogan was not satisfied with HÖH, he has worked to create other pro-Turkish parties in Bulgaria.

Germany

Many Germans of Turkish descent have chosen to invest in German established political parties and influence them from within. Some, however, are trying to influence policy from without.

The Allianz Deutscher Demokraten (“Alliance of German Democrats”, ADD) is a small party founded by Remzi Aru, evidently as a reaction to the German Parliament’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

ADD is friendly toward Erdogan and has been trying to establish an electoral base within immigrant and Muslim communities. Its leaders nevertheless had difficulty collecting the 1,000 signatures necessary to participate in the May 2017 North Rhine-Westphalia state election.

Another Muslim-German party is the Bündnis für Innovation und Gerechtigkeit (“Alliance for Innovation and Justice”, BIG), which has existed since 2010, but without much success.

German law prohibits foreign funding of political parties, and a party of Turks would have to fulfill a certain range of obligations to get its certification as an official political party.

The Islamist Trap

An Islamist party in a democracy is, according the Algerian writer, Kamel Daoud, “a trap”. Especially in France. In an op-ed published in Le Point in 2015, he writes:

“An Islamic party in France? What a fascinating political object: one cannot refuse it, but one cannot accept it. Nothing better summarizes the situation as a French trap… If France says Yes, she submits in the long term. An Islamic party is an Islamist party by a natural slope…. By definition. Its purpose is to conquer the world, not just to have a mandate. Its mechanics were already established…. Islamists took power in the name of democracy, then suspended democracy by using their power. At best. At worse, Islamists opted for the approach of the crab that keeps its claws behind his back: no political ambitions, but a millenary ambition in the mind: convert the clothes, the body, the social links, the arts, nursing homes, schools, songs and culture, then, they just wait for the fruit to fall in the turban… An Islamist party is an open trap: you cannot let it in. If you refuse it, your country switches to a dictatorship, but if you accept it, you are at risk of submission….

“As soon as it bursts onto the political scene, the same consequences appear as in Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan, the Sahel or Tunisia: it divides the country between Eradicators (those who want to eradicate the Islamists) and Reconcilers (those who advocate dialogue with Islamist monologue) and the Fatalists (those who are waiting for something good to happen).”

As a fine political analyst, Kamel Daoud knows — and everybody knows with him — that nobody in France has the solution to confront the Islamist problem. The only question is: who will win? Reconcilers or Eradicators? One thing is sure for now, Reconcilers are in power for the next five years.

Another thing is sure: the first veiled woman elected as a Member of Parliament will trigger a civilizational that which has no equivalent in French history.

Yves Mamou, based in France, worked for two decades as a journalist for Le Monde.

The Identity Crisis Fueling European Muslim Radicalization

June 7, 2017

The Identity Crisis Fueling European Muslim Radicalization, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Abigail R. Esman, June 7, 2017

When tanks entered the streets of Istanbul and Ankara last summer in an attempt to overthrow the Turkish government, people swarmed the streets to fight them off. At the urging of their president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, they pushed back against the coup, some waving Turkish flags, others waving guns. “What else would you do?” A friend in Istanbul asked me some months later. “When your government and your country are attacked, you fight back. It’s to be expected.”

Less expected, however, were the crowds of Turkish-Europeans who also took to the streets in cities like Rotterdam, where dozens demonstrated on the city’s Erasmus Bridge, waving Turkish flags and, in some cases, crying out “Allahu Akbar.” For many non-Turkish Europeans, the action felt almost threatening: Were these people Turkish or European? Could they reasonably be both? Or did they represent a fifth column, aiming to overtake Europe from within?

In Holland, members of Leefbaar Rotterdam (Livable Rotterdam), the populist political party founded by the late Pim Fortuyn, determined to address the issue head-on. They held a public panel discussion last week to debate the question of who these demonstrators were: traitors? Dual citizens with torn allegiances? Could they be true to both their Turkish heritage and to the Dutch culture in which they were born and raised?

Left unspoken were the more pressing questions, the ones the non-Turks really meant: do Dutch Turks identify more with the Islamist policies and values of Erdogan and his regime, or with the secular Enlightenment, the democratic culture of the West? What, after all, to think of the fact that the vast majority of European Turks voted for Erdogan in the November 2015 elections, and again voted against democracy in Turkey’s April 16 referendum, which gave him virtually limitless powers until 2029?

While this particular debate took place in Rotterdam, once the home of the Renaissance humanist Erasmus, these questions have hovered over all of Europe since the 2004 terrorist attacks in Madrid and, even more, the 2005 attacks in London – and not only about the Turks, but about Muslim immigrants in general.

With Europe facing a near-continual onslaught of Islamist terrorist attacks often perpetrated by homegrown extremists, those questions feel more urgent than ever.

But both the issue and its urgency are far more complex than a matter of allegiance. For many second- and third-generation immigrant youth, especially those from Turkey and Morocco, it is also a matter of identity. As dark-skinned immigrants with names like Fatima and Mohammed, they are often discriminated against in their home countries. The values of their families and their religious leaders do not always mesh with the values of their communities and governments. But when they visit their cousins and grandparents in Anatolia and rural Morocco, they find they don’t fit in there, either.

Many counterterrorism experts maintain that this situation makes Muslim European youth especially vulnerable to radicalization and recruitment by terror groups. As Belgian-Palestinian jihad expert Montasser AIDe’emeh has noted of Belgian Moroccan extremists such as the Paris and Brussels attackers, “The Islamic State is giving them what the Belgian government can’t give them – identity, structure. They don’t feel Moroccan or Belgian. They don’t feel part of either society.” And speaking to PBS’s Judy Woodruff, Peter Neumann, director of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, observed that “the cause [of radicalization] is ultimately a conflict of identity. It is about second- or third-generation descendants of Muslim immigrants no longer feeling at home in their parents’ or grandparents’ culture, at the same time not being accepted into European societies.”

If this is true, then what to make of the Turkish-European dual citizens choosing, as most have, to support Erdogan’s Islamist policies while living in the liberal West? Are they integrated, assimilated, into the cultures in which they live, as most insisted during the Rotterdam debate? Or are they rather true to the norms of a Turkey that is becoming increasingly religious, turning increasingly eastward, and to a president who is gradually unraveling the secular Western vision of the republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk?

At the same time, does waving the Turkish flag when the country is attacked mean they are not actually Dutch? Should Dutch Jews not fly the flag of Israel, or Dutch-Americans have left their stars and stripes at home after 9/11?

“It’s more than just flags,” Ebru Umar, a Dutch-Turkish journalist who moderated last week’s event, explained in an e-mail. “The flags symbolize who they are…. They claim to be soldiers of Erdogan.” Hence, she said, “the people [demonstrating] on the [Erasmus] bridge were and are seen as not integrated. Ask them and they’ll answer they are integrated. And [yet] they tell you of course they adore Erdogan.” Indeed, she noted, they even stated it at the debate: “‘You can’t ask a child whom they love more: mum or dad.'”

It is a false equivalency, however. This is not about loving one parent more than another, but about accepting one of two opposing sets of values: those of secular democracies, or those of Islamist theocracies. There is no combining the two. There is no compromise.

Which is what makes these questions so very critical right now – not just for the Dutch, but for all Europeans, as they confront a complex, existential dilemma. Should they continue to alienate the growing population of young Muslims, and should those same young Muslims continue to resist assimilation, they will together be laying out the welcome mat for recruiters for jihad. But should Europe instead accept the Islamist leanings of those same Muslim youth, it will soon discover there was a fifth column after all – a movement to Islamize the West. And it will have succeeded.

Turkey’s Tightrope Dance

May 26, 2017

Turkey’s Tightrope Dance, Frontpage MagazineRobert Ellis, May 26, 2017

Turkey’s economy is in the doldrums and foreign investors, not surprisingly, are heading for the door. Growth is stagnant, there is double-digit inflation and unemployment is rising, particularly among young people. There is desperate need for foreign capital to reduce the growing current account deficit, which is why Turkey has been badly hit by the drop in the number of foreign, particularly European visitors. Erdoğan’s vitriolic attack on various European countries, for example, accusing Germany of “Nazi methods” and calling the Dutch “Nazi remnants” and “fascists,” hasn’t helped either. 

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Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was recently in Washington in search of “a new era” in Turkish-U.S. relations, was also out with the begging bowl. At a meeting with 40 prominent U.S. investors, Erdoğan urged them to increase investments in Turkey and shared recent developments regarding Turkey’s investment environment and economic agenda. What he did not share was the increasingly repressive environment that Erdoğan himself has created in search of absolute power.

But the true nature of Erdoğan’s regime did not go unnoticed when his bodyguards attacked a group of demonstrators, which seems to be a constant feature of the president’s foreign trips. Senator John McCain even suggested that the U.S. should “throw their ambassador the hell out.” Once safely home, Erdoğan reassured the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSIAD) that the state of emergency, where he has ruled by decree since the failed coup last July, was no hurdle for business.

According to Erdoğan, Turkey is preparing for “a new leap in democracy,” but there are no signs that this is true. On the contrary, Turkey has plans to build 174 new prisons to accommodate the thousands who have been purged since last July. At the beginning of April Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that 113,260 had been detained and 47,155 had been arrested, including over 10,000 police officers, 7,631 from the military and 2,575 judges and prosecutors. These numbers have since increased, not to forget the 231 journalists who have been arrested. In addition, over 140,000 have been dismissed from public employment, so that they and their families are now ‘non-persons’ in the new Turkey.

Turkey’s economy is in the doldrums and foreign investors, not surprisingly, are heading for the door. Growth is stagnant, there is double-digit inflation and unemployment is rising, particularly among young people. There is desperate need for foreign capital to reduce the growing current account deficit, which is why Turkey has been badly hit by the drop in the number of foreign, particularly European visitors. Erdoğan’s vitriolic attack on various European countries, for example, accusing Germany of “Nazi methods” and calling the Dutch “Nazi remnants” and “fascists,” hasn’t helped either.

Turkey’s economy minister, Nihat Zeybekci, has launched a campaign involving 17 global companies to restore investor confidence in Turkey. Potential investors are invited to “Come to Turkey and discover your own story,” but given the political situation, a number of multinationals, for example, Switzerland’s Nestlé and the Swiss pharmaceutical group Novartis, are having second thoughts.

Three years ago, the president of TÜSIAD, Muharrem Yılmaz, warned: “A country where the rule of law is ignored, where the independence of regulatory institutions is tainted, where companies are pressured through tax penalties and other punishments, where rules on tenders are changed regularly, is not a fit country for foreign capital.” Erdoğan denounced Yılmaz as a traitor and he was forced to resign.

President Erdoğan will brook no opposition nor tolerate any criticism and now his control of the legislature and the judiciary has been reinforced by the constitutional amendments narrowly approved in April’s referendum. Since the failed coup 879 companies, including large conglomerates, have been seized  by the Turkish government and the assets of dozens of businessmen have been confiscated.

The security of any registered foreign investment should be guaranteed by the rule of law and according to the U.S.-Turkey Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), “Investments shall at all times be accorded fair and equitable treatment and shall enjoy full protection and security in a manner consistent with international law.”

However, as Işıl Karakaş, a Turkish judge who is also the vice-president of the European Court of Human Rights, has pointed out, Turkish judges are ignorant of international law. Instead, they wear “ideological glasses” and believe that protecting the state is their fundamental job.

In which case, a foreign investor who is a victim of fraud or other malfeasance stands little chance in a Turkish court. The only recourse is arbitration by the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID] and legal fees which can amount to several million dollars.

Anti-American sentiment is prevalent in Turkey, as Erdoğan has claimed the abortive coup was not planned in Turkey but orchestrated abroad. He even accused CENTCOM’s commander General Joseph Votel and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper of siding with the plotters and told them: “Know your place.”

President Trump’s approval of the Pentagon’s plan to supply weapons to the Kurdish militia in northern Syria has not improved U.S.-Turkey relations, and Trump’s invitation to President Erdoğan was intended to paper over the cracks. It hardly had that effect, and now Trump is beleaguered by the appointment of Robert Mueller as special prosecutor. Back home, Erdoğan is confronted by an increasingly divided and unstable Turkey.

There is a Turkish proverb: iki cambaz bir ipte oynamaz (two acrobats can’t dance on the same tightrope). What remains to be seen is whether one or both will fall off.

Erdogan will not “allow Muslim prayers silenced in Jerusalem”

May 8, 2017

Erdogan will not “allow Muslim prayers silenced in Jerusalem”  DEBKAfile, May 8, 2017

(Turkish Dictator President Erdogan and President Trump should have an interesting meeting next week. — DM)

Turkish President Reccep Erdogan talking to the International Forum on Jerusalem in Istanbul Monday, referred to the draft bills before the Knesset, banning amplified overnight calls to prayers from mosque loudspeakers in residential areas. He called the bill “shameful” and declared “we will not allow the silence of prayers form the heavens of Jerusalem.”  Erdogan also said that the discussions about the US moving its embassy to Jerusalem are extremely wrong. “We made the necessary warnings on this issue at the highest level and we are continuing to do so.”

Europe: More Migrants Coming

May 5, 2017

Europe: More Migrants Coming, Gatestone InstituteSoeren Kern, May 5, 2017

Müller added that only 10% of those currently on the move have reached Europe: “Eight to ten million migrants are still on the way.”

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“In terms of public order and internal security, I simply need to know who is coming to our country.” — Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka.

Turkey appears determined to flood Europe with migrants either way: with Europe’s permission by means of visa-free travel, or without Europe’s permission, as retribution for failing to provide visa-free travel.

The migrants arriving in Italy are overwhelmingly economic migrants seeking a better life in Europe. Only a very small number appear to be legitimate asylum seekers or refugees fleeing warzones.

The director of the UN office in Geneva, Michael Møller, has warned that Europe must prepare for the arrival of millions more migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The European Union has called on its member states to lift border controls — introduced at the height of the migration crisis in September 2015 — within the next six months.

The return to open borders, which would allow for passport-free travel across the EU, comes at a time when the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean continues to rise, and when Turkish authorities increasingly have been threatening to renege on a border deal that has lessened the flow of migrants from Turkey to Europe.

Critics say that lifting the border controls now could trigger another, even greater, migration crisis by encouraging potentially millions of new migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East to begin making their way to Europe. It would also allow jihadists to cross European borders undetected to carry out attacks when and where they wish.

At a press conference in Brussels on May 2, the EU Commissioner in charge of migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, called on Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden — among the wealthiest and most sought after destinations in Europe for migrants — to phase out the temporary controls currently in place at their internal Schengen borders over the next six months.

The so-called Schengen Agreement, which took effect in March 1995, abolished many of the EU’s internal borders, enabling passport-free movement across most of the bloc. The Schengen Agreement, along with the single European currency, are fundamental pillars of the European Union and essential building-blocks for constructing a United States of Europe. With the long-term sustainability of the single currency and open borders in question, advocates of European federalism are keen to preserve both.

Avramopoulos, who argued that border controls are “not in the European spirit of solidarity and cooperation,” said:

“The time has come to take the last concrete steps to gradually return to a normal functioning of the Schengen Area. This is our goal, and it remains unchanged. A fully functioning Schengen area, free from internal border controls. Schengen is one of the greatest achievements of the European project. We must do everything to protect it.”

The temporary border controls were established in September 2015, after hundreds of thousands of migrants arrived in Europe, and when EU member states, led by Germany, gave special permission to some EU countries to impose emergency controls for up to two years. Since then, the European Union has approved six-month extensions of controls at the German-Austrian border, at Austria’s frontiers with Hungary and Slovenia and at Danish, Swedish and Norwegian borders. (Norway is a member of Schengen but not the EU.) Since then, several countries have argued that they need border controls to combat the threat of Islamic militancy.

On May 2, Sweden, which claims to conduct the most border checks among the EU countries, announced that it will lift controls at its border with Denmark. Sweden received 81,000 asylum seekers in 2014; 163,000 in 2015; 29,000 in 2016, and the same is expected for 2017.

On April 26, Austria called for an indefinite extension of border controls. “In terms of public order and internal security, I simply need to know who is coming to our country,” Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said. Austria, which accepted some 90,000 migrants in 2015, also called for a “postponement” of the EU refugee distribution program, which requires EU member states to accept a mandatory and proportional distribution of asylum-seekers who arrive in other member nations.

On March 9, Norway extended border controls for another three months.

On January 26, Denmark extended border controls for another four months. Integration Minister Inger Støjberg said that his government would extend its border controls “until European borders are under control.”

On January 19, Germany and Austria announced that border controls between their countries would continue indefinitely, “as long as the EU external border is not adequately protected.”

Meanwhile, the number of migrants making their way to Europe is once again trending higher. Of the 30,465 migrants who reached Europe during the first quarter of 2017, 24,292 (80%) arrived in Italy, 4,407 arrived in Greece, 1,510 arrived in Spain and 256 arrived in Bulgaria, according to the International Office for Migration (IOM).

By way of comparison, the number of arrivals to Europe during each of the first three months of 2017 exceeded those who arrived during the same time period in 2015, the year in which migration to Europe reached unprecedented levels.

The trend is expected to continue throughout 2017. Better weather is already bringing about a surge of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Europe. During just one week in April, for example, a total of 9,661 migrants reached the shores of Italy.

The migrants arriving there are overwhelmingly economic migrants seeking a better life in Europe. Only a very small number appear to be legitimate asylum seekers or refugees fleeing warzones. According to the IOM, the migrants who reached Italy during the first three months of 2017 are, in descending order, from: Guinea, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Senegal, Morocco, Mali, Somalia and Eritrea.

In February, Italy reached a deal with the UN-backed government in Tripoli to hold migrants in camps in Libya in exchange for money to fight human traffickers. The agreement was endorsed by both the European Union and Germany.

On May 2, however, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel reversed course by saying the deal ignored the “catastrophic conditions” in Libya and would not curb migration. He said that Germany now favored tackling migration by fighting instability in Africa:

“What we are trying instead is to help stabilize the countries on the continent. But that is difficult. We will have to show staying power, stamina and patience. This is in the interest of Africans but also in the interest of Europeans.”

Gabriel’s long-term solution — which in the best of circumstances could take decades to bear fruit — implies that mass migration from Africa to Europe will continue unabated for many years to come.

Italy has emerged as Europe’s main point of entry for migrants largely because of an agreement the European Union signed with Turkey in March 2016 to stem migration from Turkey to Greece. In recent weeks, however, Turkish authorities have threatened to back out of the deal because, according to them, the EU has failed to honor its end of the bargain.

Under the agreement, the EU pledged to pay Turkey €3 billion ($3.4 billion), as well as grant visa-free travel to Europe for Turkey’s 78 million citizens, and to restart accession talks for Turkey to join the bloc. In exchange, Turkey agreed to take back all migrants and refugees who reach Greece via Turkey.

After the deal was reached, the number of migrants reaching Greece dropped sharply, although not completely. According to data supplied by the European Union on April 12, a total of 30,565 migrants reached Greece since the migrant deal took effect. Only 944 of those migrants have been returned to Turkey. Still, this is in sharp contrast to the hundreds of thousands of migrants who entered Greece at the height of the migration crisis. Turkey’s continued cooperation is essential to keep the migration floodgates closed.

On April 22, Turkey’s Minister for EU Affairs, Ömer Çelik, issued an ultimatum, warning the European Union that if it does not grant Turkish citizens visa-free travel by the end of May, Turkey would suspend the migrant deal and flood Europe with migrants.

On March 17, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu warned that his country would “blow the mind” of Europe and renege on the deal by sending 15,000 Syrian refugees a month to Europe:

“We have a readmission deal. I’m telling you Europe, do you have that courage? If you want, we’ll send the 15,000 refugees to you that we don’t send each month and blow your mind. You have to keep in mind that you can’t design a game in this region apart from Turkey.”

In February 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had already threatened to send millions of migrants to Europe. “We can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria anytime and we can put the refugees on buses,” he told European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. In a speech, he signaled that he was running out of patience:

“We do not have the word ‘idiot’ written on our foreheads. We will be patient, but we will do what we have to. Don’t think that the planes and the buses are there for nothing.”

In February 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) threatened to send millions of migrants to Europe. “We can open the doors to Greece and Bulgaria anytime and we can put the refugees on buses,” he told Jean-Claude Juncker (right), President of the European Commission. (Image source: Turkish President’s Office)

European officials say that to qualify for the visa waiver, Turkey must meet 72 conditions, including the most important one: relaxing its stringent anti-terrorism laws, which are being used to silence critics of Erdoğan, especially since the failed coup in July 2016. Turkey has vowed not to comply with the EU’s demands.

Critics of visa liberalization fear that millions of Turkish nationals may end up migrating to Europe. The Austrian newsmagazine, Wochenblick, recently reported that 11 million Turks are living in poverty and “many of them are dreaming of moving to central Europe.”

Other analysts believe Erdoğan views the visa waiver as an opportunity to “export” Turkey’s “Kurdish Problem” to Germany. According to Bavarian Finance Minister Markus Söder, millions of Kurds are poised to take advantage of the visa waiver to flee to Germany to escape persecution at the hands of Erdoğan: “We are importing an internal Turkish conflict,” he warned. “In the end, fewer migrants may arrive by boat, but more will arrive by airplane.”

The European Union now finds itself in a Catch-22 situation. Turkey appears determined to flood Europe with migrants either way: with Europe’s permission by means of visa-free travel, or without Europe’s permission, as retribution for failing to provide visa-free travel.

Greek officials recently revealed that they have drawn up emergency plans to cope with a new migrant crisis. Turkey is hosting some three million migrants from Syria and Iraq, many of whom are presumably waiting for an opportunity to flee to Europe.

Italy is also bracing for the worst. Up to a million people, mainly from Bangladesh, Egypt, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan and Syria are now in Libya waiting to cross the Mediterranean Sea, according to the IOM.

The director of the United Nations office in Geneva, Michael Møller, has warned that Europe must prepare for the arrival of millions more migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. In an interview with The Times, Møller, a Dane, said:

“What we have been seeing is one of the biggest human migrations in history. And it’s just going to accelerate. Young people all have cellphones and they can see what’s happening in other parts of the world, and that acts as a magnet.”

German Development Minister Gerd Müller has echoed that warning:

“The biggest migration movements are still ahead: Africa’s population will double in the next decades. A country like Egypt will grow to 100 million people, Nigeria to 400 million. In our digital age with the internet and mobile phones, everyone knows about our prosperity and lifestyle.”

Müller added that only 10% of those currently on the move have reached Europe: “Eight to ten million migrants are still on the way.”

The end of Turkish democracy

April 19, 2017

The end of Turkish democracy, Israel Hayom, Clifford D. May, April 19, 2017

(Please see also, Kurdistan Independence Referendum and Why It Matters so Much in the Fight Against Radical Islam. — DM)

I made my first visit to Turkey 13 years ago. With the 2001 attacks on the United States still a vivid memory, Turkey struck me as a hopeful place. The people were friendly. The food was good. Istanbul was vibrant and cosmopolitan. This was not a Muslim country but rather a Muslim-majority country, a distinction made repeatedly and with pride. Turks, I was told, understood the importance of separating mosque and state.

Those who campaigned for a “no” vote had limited access to media and in some instances were prevented from holding rallies. The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party complained of unstamped ballots affecting 3 million voters — more than the margin of Erdogan’s victory.

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On the grounds of the Turkish Embassy facing Massachusetts Avenue in Washington is a statue of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, father of the Republic of Turkey, the nation-state he built from the rubble of the defeated Ottoman Empire and Islamic caliphate.

He is wearing a three-piece suit that would look stylish today, although he is steely-eyed in a way peculiar to early 20th century revolutionaries. He appears to be gazing into the future — a future in which Turkey would be modern, prosperous, secular and democratic.

If truth in advertising applied to governments, that statue would now be removed.

In a referendum on Sunday, Turkish voters were asked to give President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sweeping new powers. To no one’s great surprise, it was announced that they did, albeit by a narrow margin of 51.2% approving to 48.8% opposing, according to the state-run news agency. People in rural areas mostly voted yes, people in the cities — including Istanbul where Erdogan was once mayor — mostly voted no. But a win is a win and Erdogan has won.

I made my first visit to Turkey 13 years ago. With the 2001 attacks on the United States still a vivid memory, Turkey struck me as a hopeful place. The people were friendly. The food was good. Istanbul was vibrant and cosmopolitan. This was not a Muslim country but rather a Muslim-majority country, a distinction made repeatedly and with pride. Turks, I was told, understood the importance of separating mosque and state.

A NATO member, Turkey appeared to be the one sturdy bridge between the Middle East and Europe. It maintained cordial relations with Israel, too. While no Jeffersonian democracy, Turks had been going to the polls on a fairly regular basis for decades. Surely democratic habits were being acquired and democratic institutions were being built. A persuasive argument could be made that this was the direction history was taking throughout the Middle East and perhaps the world.

Sunday’s referendum contradicts that thesis. For a decade, Erdogan has been slowly concentrating power in his own hands. After a failed coup last summer — it’s unclear who launched it or why — he went full throttle, firing or arresting more than 140,000 military officers, academics, judges and civil servants, shutting more than 150 media outlets, and jailing journalists who dared criticize him.

The new referendum will significantly diminish whatever checks and balances the legislature and judiciary have left. And the rules on term limits will be adjusted so that the 63-year-old Erdogan can remain in the new 1,150-room presidential palace until 2029 or longer. In democratic societies, presidents do not serve for so many years. In the Ottoman Empire, sultans occasionally did.

Can we be confident that the announced results of the referendum are accurate? Those who campaigned for a “no” vote had limited access to media and in some instances were prevented from holding rallies. The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party complained of unstamped ballots affecting 3 million voters — more than the margin of Erdogan’s victory.

In Cermik, a town in northeastern Turkey, two members of the opposition CHP party were reportedly killed and two ballot observers were wounded as they were trying to prevent “ballot stuffing.” On Monday, European election monitors said the vote “fell short” of international standards.

Erdogan quickly fired back.

“The crusader mentality in the West and its servants at home have attacked us,” he told a crowd at Ankara’s airport. That is not the kind of language you expect to hear from the leader of a secular country. It is the kind of language you expect to hear from an Islamist demagogue.

Erdogan claims he will use the additional powers he is being granted to solve Turkey’s not insignificant problems, including political and economic instability, the strain caused by the refugees pouring in from Syria, and unrest among Turkey’s Kurdish minority, estimated at up to 20% of the country’s 80 million people.

What I think we can more realistically expect is for Turkey to become less free, less democratic, and less secular. Already we’ve seen Erdogan closing churches and detaining Christian clergymen. He has implied that only Muslims, not Christians, should be helped to rebuild their ancient communities in and around Mosul in Iraq, where he has sent Turkish troops, uninvited by the Iraqi government.

He appears to expect Turks living in Europe not to assimilate or even integrate but to remain loyal to Turkey and, of course, to him. In the weeks leading up to the referendum, he dispatched envoys to campaign in the large Turkish communities of the Netherlands and Germany. When local officials turned them away he leveled accusations of Islamophobia and even Nazism.

“Those who treat me, my ministers, my deputies with disrespect will pay the price for their actions,” he threatened. That is not the way leaders of NATO nations generally address one another.

Many Turks regard the referendum as illegitimate. It’s possible that Erdogan will feel the need to make peace with them. On the other hand, he may feel the need to make them submit.

More than a quarter of a century ago, when he was Istanbul’s mayor, Erdogan quipped that democracy was “like a streetcar. When you reach your destination you get off.”

In other words, he sees liberal democracy not as the best way to organize a government but only as a means to an end. If that’s correct, April 2017 marks the failure of Turkey’s democratic experiment. An Islamist, neo-Ottoman and neo-imperialist experiment began instead. It should surprise no one if a statue of Erdogan replaces that of Kemal Ataturk on Massachusetts Avenue.