Posted tagged ‘Erdogan and Islamism’

Turkey’s Holy War

March 20, 2017

Turkey’s Holy War, Front Page MagazineRobert Ellis, March 20, 1017

(What common interests do Trump’s America and Erdogan’s Turkey have? Are they sufficient to warrant cooperation with Turkey in any area? — DM)

In Islamic eschatology the Mahdi (‘messiah’) plays a prominent role. For the Iranian Shia he is already born and has hidden down a well for over a millennium, waiting for the right time to emerge. Turkish Sunnis already have a candidate, breathing fire and brimstone and ready to purge the world.

At least, so it would seem, to judge from the campaign Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has waged against unbelievers who have dared to block his plans to become the country’s all-powerful leader. 

On April 16 a referendum will be held in Turkey, where voters can decide on constitutional amendments which will remove all cumbersome checks and balances to Erdoğan’s power. In his campaign to secure a ‘yes’, Erdoğan has admitted he has been planning for such a system since he was mayor of Istanbul in the 1990s. Furthermore, that his plans for an executive presidency will concentrate all power in the hands of one person.

This “Turkish-style” presidential system means Erdoğan will have the power to appoint and dismiss ministers and high-level state officials without the need for parliamentary approval. He will also be able to declare a state of emergency, issue decrees, dissolve parliament and call elections without being held to account. The president will not only be head of state but also head of government – the post of prime minister will be abolished, and in effect the judiciary will be subject to his control.

What is particularly alarming, as the Venice Commission (the Council of Europe’s advisory body) has pointed out, the way the new constitution is configured means the president could stay in office for a potentially unlimited period of time.

The current conflict with Europe derives from Erdoğan’s insistence to extend his referendum campaign to the Turkish diaspora (there are about two and a half million Turks eligible to vote in Turkey in various European countries). However, as not all Turks are Erdoğan supporters, there is the danger of clashes, which could destabilize forthcoming elections in France and Germany, and latest in Holland.

Erdoğan has reacted violently to Germany and Holland’s refusal to allow him and his ministers to hold rallies, accusing Germany of “Nazi methods” and Holland of being “Nazi remnants” and “fascists” as well as “a banana republic.” This may go down well with Erdoğan’s supporters but not in Europe, where relations with Turkey are already strained.

But Erdoğan has stepped up the rhetoric. In a spectacular example of projection Erdoğan has claimed that “the spirit of fascism is running wild on the streets of Europe” and has compared the banning of rallies to the treatment of Jews during the Second World War. Here Erdoğan conveniently ignores that there has been a state of emergency in Turkey since the abortive coup last July, where public assemblies are banned and free speech is stifled. Also the fact that more than 135,000 have lost their jobs and over 140,000 have been detained or arrested in the ongoing purge of the Gülen movement, which has been held responsible for the coup.

Naysayers have been stigmatized as siding with the coup plotters, and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Gülen movement have been accused of backing the ‘no’ campaign. A prominent cleric has also branded opponents of the constitutional amendments as “opponents of Islam.”

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu has warned of “holy wars” in Europe and Erdoğan has spoken of a struggle between the cross and the crescent, after the European Court of Justice allowed employers to ban the Islamic headscarf along with other religious symbols. As Turkey is term president of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), President Erdoğan also intends to mobilize the OIC against Euro-fascism.

President Trump has not yet formulated a policy against radical Islamic terrorism but until now has left it to his generals to decide policy in the war against ISIL.

Here Turkey plays a key role, especially as Turkish forces in support of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) occupy an area in northern Syria, driving a wedge between two Kurdish autonomous areas. The question is whether the US in its drive to take Raqqa will continue to support the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) or agree to cooperate with Turkey. The issue is still open to debate but will not be decided until after Turkey’s referendum in April.

In the meantime, the Trump administration has decided to send Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to meet with Turkey’s leaders at the end of the month. Whether this will be enough to assuage Turkish fears remains to be seen.

Turkey’s long term plans are off to a good start in Holland

March 14, 2017

Turkey’s long term plans are off to a good start in Holland, Israel National News, Giulio Meotti, March 13, 2017

(Please see also, Europe’s ‘Turkish Awakening’. Will the native-Dutch or the Turks win? — DM)

The municipality of Amsterdam once had a fight with the Turkish Milli Görüs over the height of a minaret. The Turks wanted it 42 meters high, the Dutch were not willing to have it rise above 34. A compromise was found at 40. Milli Gorus was founded by former Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan and it is one of the bastions of power of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It is one of Erdogan’s “long-reaching arms”, as defined in a report by the Center for Freedom in Stockholm. The Ankara authorities control half of the 500 mosques in the Netherlands.

In the last few days, the “war” between Turkey and the Netherlands has been fought over Turkish ministers who have been barred from holding campaign rallies in Holland. It is the culmination of a year of tensions. The vast majority of the Turkish community in the Netherlands is composed of Erdogan’s supporters and these are ready to resort to any method, including violence.

Erdogan tried to intimidate the freedom of expression of Dutch journalists. He ordered the arrest of Ebru Umar, A Turkish-Dutch journalist who has mocked him on Twitter. Then he tried to sue the De Telegraaf, which published a cartoon of Erdogan as a monkey crushing freedom of speech. And Erdogan’s lawyers have sought to prosecute the comedian Hans Teeuwen, a friend of the slain filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who on radio mocked “the Sultan”. Janny Groen of the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant reports that Erdogan’s Turkish opponents in the Netherlands are intimidated: “Alevis, Kurds, Turks, seculars and followers of Fethullah Gülen.”

The Hizmet movement, accused by Erdogan of being behind the failed coup, has come under attack in the Netherlands. In Eindhoven, an educational center was stoned. Molotov cocktails were thrown at a Turkish foundation in Apeldoorn. The imam Necmi Kaya, who preached for thirty years in the Dutch city of Haarlem, was almost lynched during a visit at the Dutch Selimiye Mosque, under the control of the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Journalists of the Zaman Vandaag group, adverse to Erdogan, are called “CIA agents” and threatened. Including the editor, Mehmet Cerit, who requested protection from the Dutch police. A well-known Turkish imam, Halil Celik, said to Cerit that he is ready to “die” for Islam, but also to “kill”.

And then the calls to boycott Turkish companies in the Netherlands owned by Erdogan’s critics. The police department of Rotterdam had to create an ad hoc unit to monitor such cases following the failed coup. Mustafa Ayranci, head of the union of Turkish workers in the Netherlands, said: “People are afraid, like in a tyranny. ‘Who will denounce me?’ they ask.”

There was the scandal caused by the Turkish consul in Rotterdam, Sadin Ayyildiz, who secretely asked the Dutch Turks to denounce Erdogan’s critics. Two days later, a Turkish owner of a company, Ali Ekrem Kaynak, was beaten in Amsterdam.

In December, it was discovered that the head of the Religious Affairs unit at the Turkish embassy in The Hague, Yusuf Acar, was spying on behalf of Erdogan. 145 Turkish mosques in the Netherlands are off-limits to many Turkish citizens. The Turkish officer had also drawn up lists of Dutch politicians: the Christian Democratic Party, for example, was accused of being a “Gulenist bastion.”

Today’s Turkish Sultan wants to subjugate, intimidate and ultimately Islamicize all of Western Europe. Holland is a good place to start.a

Europe’s ‘Turkish Awakening’

March 14, 2017

Europe’s ‘Turkish Awakening’, Gatestone InstituteBurak Bekdil, March 14, 2017

Europe looks united in not allowing Erdogan to export Turkey’s sometimes even violent political polarization into the Old Continent.

Erdogan clearly rejected Merkel’s mention of “Islamist terror” on grounds that “the expression saddens Muslims because Islam and terror cannot coexist”.

Turkey increasingly looks like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. An Iraqi government guide refused to discuss politics: “In Iraq half the population are spies… spying on the other half.”

Officially, Erdogan’s Turkey has embarked on a journey toward Western democracy. Instead, its Islamist ethos is at war with Western democracy.

Turkey, officially, is a candidate for full membership in the European Union. It is also negotiating with Brussels a deal which would allow millions of Turks to travel to Europe without visa. But Turkey is not like any other European country that joined or will join the EU: The Turks’ choice of a leader, in office since 2002, too visibly makes this country the odd one out.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is now campaigning to broaden his constitutional powers, which would make him head of state, head of government and head of the ruling party — all at the same time — is inherently autocratic and anti-Western. He seems to view himself as a great Muslim leader fighting armies of infidel crusaders. This image, with which he portrays himself, finds powerful echoes among millions of conservative Turks and [Sunni] Islamists across the Middle East. That, among other excesses in the Turkish style, makes Turkey totally incompatible with Europe in political culture.

Yet, there is always the lighter side of things. Take, for example, Melih Gokcek, the mayor of Ankara and a bigwig in Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). In February Gokcek claimed that earthquakes in a western Turkish province could have been organized by dark external powers (read: Western infidels) aiming to destroy Turkey’s economy with an “artificial earthquake” near Istanbul. According to this conspiracy theory, the mayor not only claims that the earthquake in western Turkey was the work of the U.S. and Israel, but also that the U.S. created the radical Islamic State (ISIS). In fact, according to him, the U.S. and Israel colluded to trigger an earthquake in Turkey so they could capture energy from the Turkish fault line.

Matters between Turkey and Europe are far more tense today than ridiculous statements from politicians who want to look pretty to Erdogan. The president, willingly ignoring his own strong anti-Semitic views, recently accused Germany of “fascist actions” reminiscent of Nazi times, in a growing row over the cancellation of political rallies aimed at drumming up support for him among 1.5 million Turkish citizens in Germany.

The Dutch, Erdogan apparently thinks, are no different. In a similar diplomatic row over Turkish political rallies in the Netherlands, Erdogan described the Dutch government as “Nazi remnants and fascists”. After barring Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from entering the country by airplane, the Dutch authorities also escorted another Turkish minister out of the country. Quite a humiliation, no doubt. An angry Erdogan promised the Netherlands would pay a price for that.

Dutch police in Rotterdam use batons, dogs and water cannon to control a riot that broke out when pro-Erdogan crowds violently protested the Dutch government’s refusal of entry to Turkish government ministers, on March 11, 2017. The Turkish ministers had planned to address political rallies of Turks in the Netherlands. (Image source: RT video screenshot)

Europe, not just Germany and the Netherlands, looks united in not allowing Erdogan to export Turkey’s highly tense and sometimes even violent political polarization into the Old Continent. There are media reports that the owner of a venue in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, has now cancelled a pro-Erdogan rally, although Sweden’s foreign ministry said it was not involved in the decision.

Europe’s anti-Erdogan sentiment is going viral. Denmark’s prime minister, Lars Loekke Rasmussen, said that he asked his Turkish counterpart, Binali Yildirim, to postpone a planned visit because of tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands. Although Turkey thanked France for allowing Foreign Minister Cavusoglu to address a gathering of Turkish “expats” in the city of Metz, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called on Turkish authorities to “avoid excesses and provocations”.

None of the incidents that forcefully point to Europe’s “Turkish awakening” happened out of the blue. At the beginning of February, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Erdogan held a tense meeting in Ankara. Erdogan clearly rejected Merkel’s mention of “Islamist terror” on grounds that “the expression saddens Muslims because Islam and terror cannot coexist”. The row came at a time when a German investigation into Turkish imams in Germany spying on Erdogan’s foes made signs of reaching out to other parts of Europe. Peter Pilz, an Austrian lawmaker, said that he was in possession of documents from 30 countries that revealed a “global spying network” at Turkish diplomatic missions.

At the beginning of March, after Turkey said it would defy opposition from German and Dutch authorities and continue holding rallies in both countries, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern called for an EU-wide ban on campaign appearances by Turkish politicians.

In response, further challenging Europe, Turkey arrested Deniz Yucel, a Turkish-German reporter for a prominent German newspaper, Die Welt, on charges of “propaganda in support of a terrorist organization and inciting the public to violence.” Yucel had been detained after he reported on emails that a leftist hacker collective had purportedly obtained from the private account of Berat Albayrak, Turkey’s energy minister and Erdogan’s son-in-law.

Erdogan’s propaganda war on “infidel” Europe has the potential to further poison both bilateral relations with individual countries and with Europe as a bloc. Not even the Turkish “expats” are happy. The leader of Germany’s Turkish community accused Erdogan of damaging ties between the two NATO allies. Gokay Sofuoglu, chairman of the Turkish Community in Germany, which is an umbrella for 270 member organizations, said: “Erdogan went a step too far. Germany should not sink to his level”.

The most recent wave of tensions between Erdogan’s Turkey and Europe, which it theoretically aspires to join, have once again unveiled the long-tolerated incompatibility between Turkey’s predominantly conservative, Islamist and often anti-Western political culture and Europe’s liberal values.

Turkey increasingly looks like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. During my 1989 visit to Iraq a Turkish-speaking government guide refused to discuss Iraqi politics, justifying his reluctance as: “In Iraq half the population are spies… spying on the other half.” Erdogan’s Turkey has officially embarked on a journey toward Western democracy. Instead, its Islamist mindset is at war with Western democracy.