Talking Turkey

by craig on June 2, 2013 6:24 am in Uncategorized

To simply say “protestors good, government bad” in Turkey is a symptom of the Blair delusion, that in civil conflicts there are guys with white hats and guys with black hats, and that the West’s role is to ride into town and kill the guys in the black hats. That is what “liberal intervention” means. The main aim of my second autobiographical book, “The Catholic Orangemen of Togo”, was to explain through the truth of the Sierra Leone experience how very, very wrong this is.

In fact civil conflicts are usually horribly complex, anent a variety of very bad people all trying to gain or retain power, none of them from an altruistic desire to make the world a better place. There may be ordinary people on the streets with that altruistic desire, being used and manipulated by these men; but it is not the ordinary altruistic people on the streets who ever come to power. Ever.

In Turkey the heavy crushing of a rainbow of protests in Istanbul has been going on for at least a month now. A week ago I was discussing it with my publisher, whose son lives in the city. A fortnight ago I was in Istanbul myself.

The Turkish people I was with were natural Erdogan supporters, and what struck me very forcibly was the fact that he has sickened many of his own natural allies by the rampant corruption in Turkey at present. Almost everyone I met spoke to me about corruption, and Turkey being Turkey, everyone seemed to know a very great deal of detail about how corruption was organised in various building and development projects and who was getting what. It therefore is hardly surprising that the spark which caused this conflict to flare to a new level was ignited by a corrupt deal to build a shopping centre on a park. The desecration of something lovely for money could be a metaphor for late Erdogan government.

The park is very small beer compared to the massive corruption involved in the appalling and megalomaniac Bosphorus canal project. Everyone talked to me about that one. The mainstream media, who never seem to know what is happening anywhere, seem to have missed that a major cause of the underlying unrest in Istanbul was the government’s announcement eight weeks ago that the Bosphorus canal is going ahead.

People are also incensed by the new proposal that would ban the sale of alcohol within 100 metres of any mosque or holy site, ie anywhere within central Istanbul. That would throw thousands of people out of work, damage the crucial tourist trade and is rightly seen as a symptom of reprehensible mounting religious intolerance that endangers Turkish society.

So there are plenty of legitimate reasons to protest, and the appalling crushing of protest is the best of them

But – and this is what it is never in the interest of Western politicians to understand – Government bad does not equal protestors good. A very high proportion – more than the British public realise by a very long way – of those protesting in the streets are off the scale far right nationalists of a kind that make the BNP look cuddly and Nigel Farage look like Tony Benn. Kemalism – the worship of Ataturk and a very unpleasant form of military dominated nationalism – remains very strong indeed in Istanbul. Ataturk has a very strong claim, ahead of Mussolini, to be viewed as the inventor of modern fascism

For every secular liberal in Istanbul there are two secular ultra-nationalist militarists. To westerners they stress the secular bit and try to hide the rest, and this works on the uncurious (being uncurious is a required attribute to get employed by the mainstream media). Of course there are decent, liberal, environmentalist protestors and the media will have no difficulty, now they have finally noticed something is happening, in filling our screens with beautiful young women who fit that description, to interview. But that is not all of what is going on here.

There certainly was no more freedom in Turkey before the AKP came to power. Government for decades had been either by the Kemalist military in dictatorship or occasionally by civilian governments they tolerated and controlled. People suddenly have short memories if they think protest was generally tolerated pre-Erdogan, and policy towards the Kurds was massively more vicious.

The military elite dominated society and through corruption they dominated commerce and the economy. The interests of a protected and generally fascist urban upper middle class were the only interests that counted at all. The slightest threat to those interests brought a military coup – again, and again, and again. Religion was barely tolerated, and they allied closely with Israel and the United States.

When Erdogan first came to power it was the best thing that had happened to Turkey for decades. The forgotten people of the Anatolian villages, and the lower middle class of the cities, had a voice and a position in the state for the first time. In individual towns and villages, the military and their clients who had exercised absolute authority had their power suddenly diminished. I witnessed this and it was a new dawn, and it felt joyous.

Then of course Erdogan gradually got sucked in to power, to money, to NATO, to the corruption of his Black Sea mafia and to arrogance. It all went very wrong, as it always seems to. That is where we are now.

Yes of course I want those pretty, genuinely liberal environmentalist girls in the park to take power. But they won’t. Look at the hard-eyed fascists behind them. Look at the western politicians licking their lips thinking about the chance to get a nice very right wing, anti-Muslim and pro-Israel government into power.

We should all be concerned at what is happening in Turkey. We should all call for an end to violent repression. But to wish the overthrow of a democratically elected government, and its replacement – by what exactly? – is a very, very foolish reaction.

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362 Comments

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  1. someone from Turkey

    2 Jun, 2013 - 7:20 am

    This is the best English-language article about this event so far. I hope it’s read by many people. It’s pretty close to what I think as a liberal Turkish citizen.

  2. Steve Callerame

    2 Jun, 2013 - 7:30 am

    This is the only sensible and true commentary I’ve seen on recent events in Turkey. I’ve been living in Istanbul for 2 years now, and have always been amazed at the fact that it is virtually impossible to meet anybody with a sane grasp of Turkish history, or a genuinely progressive outlook on equal rights for minorities. The government has brought exactly the benefits and troubles you mention, but the protesters have no clear vision, and bring with them disturbing ideological baggage of their own. It is all very well to try to save a park, but the protesters themselves would all tell you that their goal is much more sweeping than that. They are against the ruling party’s corruption, but blind to the faults of the other party, which are mired in nationalist exceptionalism and a Disney version of history.

  3. conjunction

    2 Jun, 2013 - 7:52 am

    Thankyou for an interesting and nuanced piece. However to extend the perspective you seem to be striving for, is your picture of Ataturk really fair? Especially if you compare him with the ridiculous old Empire he replaced? From what I have gathered he was a hard man and far more effective than Mussolini but did he not have to be to get rid of centuries of religious – based government which didn’t even attempt to serve its people? The hardness as I understand it was to get the idea that secular was alright accepted. Without Ataturk or someone like him there might be no Turkish state at all.

  4. I think you’ve misjudged the geopolitics here. Erdogan is a NATO puppet of the Fethullah Gullen school of Islamization that allows the CIA to control client states like Turkey much as the Muslim Brotherhood is a CIA outfit to control Egypt after the synthetically triggered Arab Spring (A CIA colour revolution).

    All of this is detailed on FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds site or her interviews with James Corbett. It takes a day or two to digest all the information that presented but after that there’s no question how the region operates.

  5. I agree with Conjunction, your portrayal of Ataturk seems to be biased. He was truly a kindhearted leader, who has helped progress the country immensely.

    You are British after all, so I believe your bias may have roots from the First World War, where your nation clashed with Ataturk. And the outcome was not as feasible as it could have been for the British.

  6. Flaming June

    2 Jun, 2013 - 8:31 am

    Is B.Liar a pal of Erdogan’s? I bet J P Morgan are into Turkey. I know that the World Bank are there.

    This is his latest rant against Muslims – the extremist kind – according to him.

    “The Ideology of Rigby’s murder is profoundly dangerous, why don’t we admit it. Tony Blair launches a brave assault…”

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2334560/The-ideology-Lee-Rigbys-murder-profound-dangerous-Why-dont-admit–Tony-Blair-launches-brave-assault-Muslim-extremism-Woolwich-attack.html

    TB: “When I return to Jerusalem soon, it will be my 100th visit to the Middle East since leaving office, working to build a Palestinian state.”

    LOL on the latter claim.

    Three Terms, Hypocrisy & Hubris: Thatcher, Blair And… Erdogan
    April 14, 2013
    http://thebackbencher.co.uk/three-terms-hypocrisy-hubris-thatcher-blair-and-erdogan/

  7. Flaming June

    2 Jun, 2013 - 8:38 am

  8. Read with pleasure, great analysis. Thanks, Craig. (Even if you seem to have a soft spot for Erdogan’s government, perhaps for its anti-Israel stand).

  9. “In fact civil conflicts are usually horribly complex, anent a variety of very bad people all trying to gain or retain power, none of them from an altruistic desire to make the world a better place.”

    While the statement might have truth, civil uprisings can often comprise as well as bad people those genuinely desirous of seeing a “better place”. It is when the CIA, MOSSAD and other secret political forces bribe and cajole bad people into causing mayhem against sitting governments with promises of future power and aid, that the evil of destabilisation occurs. In essence there are those in the west who see perpetual destabilisation as an aim in itself, as in Lybia, Syria and Iraq for example. When the factions finish fighting and are war-weary, the Zionists will march in.

  10. I agree that Erdogan has fought the deep-state kemalist establishment (see Ergenegon trial purging more than 100 kemalists from the army) that undermines the development of democracy in Turkey. But he is doing so to replace them with Gulenists? another secret unaccountable ideologically driven organisation with strong ties to economic centres albeit different to the kemalists’ ones (for now). It is a fallacy to think that this strengthens democracy in the long run.

    I am not a friend of kemalists either they are responsible for the disappearance of millions of Christians who did not fit into the “Turkey for Turks” doctrine. They filled the prisons with every man woman and child who does not share their idea of nation or politics, they gagged the journalists. But Erdogan has done little to address these kemalist crimes. Furthermore, he follows a Neo-Ottoman policy in the Balkans (why did he establish a Turkish naval base in Albania). Under his premiership the violation of Greek air and sea in the Aegean has increased exponentially. He cut communications with EU whilst Cyprus had the presidency, he has not removed one single Turkish infantry boot from the 30,000 that illegally occupy the north, not one of the 110,000 settlers.

    I think he emulates the kemalists by offering rights and democracy only to one part of the population that will be ideologically loyal to him not to the whole population. He also emulates the kemalists in his foreign policy.

    Good luck to all the peoples of Turkey, I fear not just for them but the region.

  11. willyrobinson

    2 Jun, 2013 - 10:50 am

    Well written, many thanks.

  12. ‘Look at the western politicians licking their lips thinking about the chance to get a nice very right wing, anti-Muslim and pro-Israel government into power.’

    I don’t believe this is at at all what Western powers want. It increasingly appears to me they want Arab states to come under the Muslim Brotherhood umbrella. Once they do, all policy can be controlled from the top by either Turkey or Qatar and will conform to Western needs. Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda looks democratic but then once in power step by step this changes. In Libya the instability at the moment is caused by the underhand machinations of the Brotherhood.

  13. Stephen Webb

    2 Jun, 2013 - 12:12 pm

    Very honest, thoughtful and thought provoking article on events in Turkey but on the whole I have to agree with Charles Frith that the issues are also mired in the complex geopolitical situation of the region as whole. To suggest otherwise I am afraid is also symptomatic of Blair delusion.

  14. Horseman Joe

    2 Jun, 2013 - 12:36 pm

    Of course, another cause of public discontent with Erdogan is his use of Turkey’s territory and resources to support rebel and terrorist groups contributing to the violence and chaos in Syria. Many Turks are unhappy at their government’s contribution to the suffering of their Syrian neighbours. Without Turkish support for the violence it’s very likely Syria would now be at peace.

    It’s ironic, now the ‘Arab Spring’ has finally caught up with Erdogan. The biter bit.

  15. Great article Craig, the geographical position has made Turkey. Its, in some cases ancient connections, the way it has dealt with its neighbours, the smuggling, political strife between the grey wolfs and more left leaning factions, the Kurdish PKK and the Kurds fight for a recognised homeland all have left indelible stamps on Turkish society.

    The Baba’s still rule and the military and corrupt middle class are still in charge.

    Turkey will not change unless a new younger generation wants it to change, there will always be smuggling in Turkey and the illusion of Turkey outside the EU, when we already have hundreds of ties, is wrong.

    Turkish organised crime is still controlling many of Europe’s heroin markets, for them the EU is already a reality, they also smuggle people and arms and these political definitions don’t exist, they will merely take advantage of the extra opportunities should Turkey join fully.

    Torture is accepted in Turkey and the military, tending to lean to the right, would be less immune from prosecution if Turkey would join, so there are upsides. I would be cautious, scale it in, because Turkey by its vital position as the trade valve for Europe to the middle east, bordering six countries, is also a monumentally important country in anyone’s global strategy.

    Well spoken.

  16. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    2 Jun, 2013 - 1:18 pm

    Good article, which shows once again that Craig Murray is aware that most matters are not black or white but different shades of grey. Would that the Eminences of his blog had the same awareness.

    Mostly interesting comments from others as well and all on-topic…except of course the one from the Premier Troll (aka April Showers/Flaming June) who uses her comment to talk about Tony Blair.

    Please do not spoil this thread – which is on an important issue and an increasingly important country – by importing pet obesessions which would be better placed on more appropriate threads.

  17. Noor-e-Hira

    2 Jun, 2013 - 1:33 pm

    Thank you Craig for giving us a fine account of Turkey uprising. I am very interested in the country but cannot find authentic resources to dwell on it much. Thanks again.

  18. Thank you so much for that clear analysis.

    I heard Erdogan wants to be President but he’s already had three terms as PM. That just being drunk on power like Putin.

    He’s stood up to Israel, had some independence in foreign policy and opted not to join the EU. That’s all good but I hear he has also supported corporate ‘interests’ (crony capitalism) and gone more ‘Islamist’. I am also, however, told the kind of Islamists that make up Erdogan’s AKP party would pass for liberals in Egypt.

    I gather than there have been some tiny demonstrations by fossilised old self-proclaimed ‘leftists’ against helping the rebels in Syria, nothing more.

  19. Good introduction to this growing, surprising crisis, but no mention of how the nationalist Ecevic government got in trouble with Clinton over Yugoslavia and ousted after the Izmit earthquake, how the moderate muslim Erodogan got in trouble with Washington by standing up to Mossad attacks, how the Pentagon-made earthquakes around Lake Van finally forced Erdogan to come to terms with the unpopular Kurds and join NATO’s campaign against Syria, etc.

    It’s a good example of how Washington gets independently-minded regimes to toe its lines, thanks to its space weapons, or face peril, and until populations in the West take note of what their mission is, they will be essentially blind about what is really going on.

  20. Seems to me that Kemalism, too, must be seen dialectically. As some commenters noted, it moved Turkey ahead, and strenghthened secularism – but by failing to liberalize and democratize, by continuing to suppress the Kurds and do little for the poor, it prepared the way for resurgent Islamism.

  21. I now have little trust in Erdogan since the “synchronization between Turkey and the United States” on Syria. Simply put, “..the corner stone of a political solution the formation of a transitional governing body through mutual consent, within a defined and agreed upon timeframe, to assume full executive authority, including all powers of the Presidency in addition to control over the armed forces and the security and intelligence apparatuses, for an agreed upon and defined timeframe for the transitional period,” this means the transition in Syria without Assad.

    I admit I never advocate constructive ambiguity as a tool of diplomacy and the sequence of actions defined by Geneva II must include President Assad in the process of establishing a new political regime in Syria.

    Any other way will incur the risk that Syria will become like Iraq, witnessing sectarian slaughter, violence and virtually ungovernable, with power falling into the hands of foreign controlled and foreign funded Islamic extremists.

    Without Assad, Russia’s restraining chains on UKUSIS preemption and predominance will have been fruitless, a wild goose chase, lost in the annals of history and certainly spearheading a strike on Iran.

  22. doug scorgie

    2 Jun, 2013 - 2:10 pm

    Horseman Joe
    2 Jun, 2013 – 12:36 pm

    “…another cause of public discontent with Erdogan is his use of Turkey’s territory and resources to support rebel and terrorist groups contributing to the violence and chaos in Syria.”

    Yes I agree but who plotted and carried out the bombings in Reyhanli?

    “In the worst example of the spill-over into Turkey, 52 people were killed when twin car bombs ripped through the border town of Reyhanli on May 11. Turkey has accused Syria of involvement in the attacks,”

    To me Syrian involvement is the least likely answer; more likely to be western-supported rebels trying to pull Turkey into an all-out attack on Assad’s forces.

    Is Erdogan playing the false-flag game, with the help of the Syrian rebels, to give NATO a reason to engage militarily?

    Also in the news, more support for the rebels:

    “On Saturday, influential Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi called on Sunni Muslims from around the Middle East to join the battle against President Assad.”

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22744286

    Yusuf al-Qaradawi, described here by the BBC as an “influential Muslim cleric”, has been banned from entry to the US the UK and France for being a “hate preacher”.

    “David Cameron… called for his exclusion from the UK, saying Qaradawi was a “dangerous and divisive” preacher of hate.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/feb/07/religion.politics

    Seems the BBC has taken a liking to Qaradawi now he supports “the rebels”.

  23. Horseman Joe

    2 Jun, 2013 - 2:14 pm

    “But to wish the overthrow of a democratically elected government, and its replacement – by what exactly? – is a very, very foolish reaction.”

    Be careful not to conflate overthrowing the state, which is what was done to Iraq and Libya, and leads to chaos, with overthrowing the government which could take the form of forcing resignation followed by fresh elections.

    The same argument about overthrowing applies to unelected governments too – replacement by what? If the government is very very bad, then it may be worth overthrowing it, elected or not. The best result for Turkey would be to force Erdogan’s resignation followed by new elections, assuming a viable and less corrupt government could be formed

  24. technicolour

    2 Jun, 2013 - 2:20 pm

  25. Horseman Joe

    2 Jun, 2013 - 2:21 pm

    Mark Golding

    I agree. President Assad still has a great deal of popular support and if peace could be magically restored and open elections held he would probably win. Foreign powers insisting he must leave office are interfering in matters which can only be for Syrians. Whether Syria holds multi-candidate elections or not, Assad cannot be excluded arbitrarily by foreigners who are motivated by hope for a more compliant successor, and also for a face-saving way out for themselves after their long-standing and incontinent demonisation of him.

  26. I find your throw-away piece neither interesting nor nuanced. In fact, it is very typical of the Churchill syndrome, who I’m certain you would list among your heroes. You start with assumptions that are neither necessarily true nor relevant to arrive shakily to your main assumption, which is to say Ataturk was a fascist. Who is saying government bad, protestors good. It is Politics 101 to assume that in any public protest there will be some with agendas that are outside the main. Are you even remotely aware of the events that led to the foundation of Turkish Republic? Erdogan is making every effort to turn Turkey into a proto-Islamic state. If there is no secularism, there is no Turkey. Electoral majority and population majority are different issues. Erdogan does not command 50 per cent of the votes in Turkey. The real culprits that caused his continuing rule are the awful, worthless opposition that can’t stop their infighting and achieve nothing other than dividing the rest of the population. It is offensive beyond belief to liken Ataturk to Mussolini.

    The real struggle is not about the white hats and black hats in Turkey. The real struggle is to protest against, nay stop, the forced rush into a non-secular government style that would divide the nation by making the term ‘Turk’ obsolete. There will be a Commonwealth of Anatolia, which will consist of different ethnic groups with only the Islam as the connecting bond. Khalifate is to follow. It is that ignorant, uncouth, corrupt street merchant that is the Prime Minister now who dreams of becoming the new Sultan. I don’t care what hat people are wearing. A democracy can stand any form of adversarial stance. However, no decent, halfway educated Turk will allow the rolling back of freedoms and the creation of a new State based on the shaky foundations of a book written 1,000 years ago, and badly at that. This is the struggle, this is the fire. Taksim, corruption, alcohol are just sparks.

    Do not presume to make assumptions about Turkey, sir, when it is clearly obvious that you have no clue. And, do not patronize us with your homilies.

  27. Havakkkrap (a shit is good): “Mostly interesting comments from others as well and all on-topic…except of course the one from the Premier Troll (aka April Showers/Flaming June) who uses her comment to talk about Tony Blair.”

    Like you then on ‘The Toils of the Historian’ thread, with your ‘Tony Blair’s recruiting!’ comment –

    http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2013/05/the-toils-of-the-historian/#comment-406132

  28. Samantha Cameron and Boris Johnson

    2 Jun, 2013 - 3:21 pm

    Meanwhile, the story about Samantha Cameron’s affair with Boris Johnson is about to break. (Mail, Telegraph, now Guardian.)

  29. Dan Iliescu

    2 Jun, 2013 - 3:25 pm

    Congrats! A lucid and well balanced point of view over the situation.

  30. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    2 Jun, 2013 - 3:29 pm

    Ruhi’s avatar seems to capture his frequent mood.

    I’m as educated and informed as the next dude, but I object to Craig’s continual habit of trying to broaden my knowledge inventory. Every time I think I’m getting a handle on cultural and political nooks and crannies, he reintroduces me to the learning curve, which for me is a gradual incline, but I’m still walking uphill. End of rant :)

  31. @Ben – if that’s what your rants are like, don’t give us a paean! :-)

  32. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    2 Jun, 2013 - 3:47 pm

    Good to see you back N__

  33. Thanks very much for this article. I wanted to dig deeper into your comments about Kemalism and Ataturk. So far, I have to admit, this has only amounted to a fairly superficial skimming of the Wikipedia pages for those topics. I’m aware that is not a very deep view, but with that caveat, so far I haven’t really been able to understand your points about Ataturk being the proto-fascist and Kemalism being very unpleasant (clearly it’s a form of nationalism with some unpleasant overtones, but your comments paint it as worse than that, I think).

    If you happen to get the chance to elaborate on these points in a followup post or comment, it would be very helpful to those of us who are coming to rely on your blog for a fresh perspective!

  34. Up pops Ruhi Yaman to validate the truism of “the worship of Ataturk”, and there’s no denying the truth of there being “a very unpleasant form of military dominated nationalism”.

    Only a few weeks ago, it was the Remembrance Day for some of the many victims of Kemalism;

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/142973061/19-May-The-Pontian-Greek-Genocide-Remembrance-Day-and-Mustafa-Kemal

    And the Armenians also know all about the fascism of Kemalism;

    http://www.armenian-genocide.org/kemal.html

  35. technicolour

    2 Jun, 2013 - 5:26 pm

    Personal accounts from the protests:

    http://artshift.ukycc.org/?p=3913

  36. technicolour

    2 Jun, 2013 - 5:27 pm

    (from above)

    the people who lived in the area began to leave out baskets of lemons to help soothe teargas. Old ladies lowered baskets of food from their windows by rope to support the people below – doing what they could to support those doing what they could not. Restaurants left bags of food outside their windows. The state’s violence was countered by the people’s kindness. Lovers led their gas-blinded lover through the smoke-filled streets to safety; strangers did the same.
    Turkish flags with their floating moon and star sprang up everywhere, and the bridge that you cannot walk across, was filled with 40.000 people walking in the space between two continents. What was 50 people in tents became 5,000, became the more than a hundred thousand that surrounded the park yesterday until they so outnumbered the police that they were let back into park, and the shade of the trees that were still standing.
    Today. In this small park, a great many conflicts are colliding. There is the tree that started this, and the fight for the rights of nature against the cold machinery of progress. There is the fight to protect the commons: to save one of the few public spaces that still exist from its transformation into a private space dedicated to the production of personal capital. There is the issue of democracy: that the people have the right to speak out, and the necessity to be heard by those they have empowered. This is history, after all, and people know that if they cannot speak their mind then it is not their story.

  37. Technicolour 5 27pm

    “…the fight for the rights of nature against the cold machinery of progress. There is the fight to protect the commons: to save one of the few public spaces that still exist from its transformation into a private space dedicated to the production of personal capital…”

    Where on earth is’nt that a large element of the human stories being played out at this time?

    Thanks.

  38. The obtuse weltanschauung of Turkish nationalists, are the stuff of the legends. The almost Disney fashion historical revisionism so prevalent with any nationalist movement goes into hyper drive with the Turkish nationalists.

    However Gene Sharpe and his pernicious doctrine are a continuously running thread holding the current unrest in Turkey together, and serves Erdogan right. He forgot the cardinal rule; when drinking soup with the devil use a very long spoon. Turkey is on the same list as the rest of the victim countries marked up for changes; in the reconstitution of the “new middle east”. Despite the copious material supporting this fact, Erdogan still went ahead and carried on supporting the all out assault on Syria.

  39. [ “…the fight for the rights of nature against the cold machinery of progress. There is the fight to protect the commons: to save one of the few public spaces that still exist from its transformation into a private space dedicated to the production of personal capital…”

    Where on earth is’nt that a large element of the human stories being played out at this time? ]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump#Scottish_golf_course_controversy

    If we include the selling of school playing fields to developers the answer is very close to home. Maybe we should’ve taken a inspiration from the Turks and protested a bit louder.

  40. Horace Swanson

    2 Jun, 2013 - 6:29 pm

    Good to hear Boris Johnson is living up to his surname again.

  41. Agree that a coup is not desirable but I’m not convinced the protestors are predominantly fascist. Large numbers are anarchists, socialists, communists and unionists. I’ve seen many ‘A’ (anarchist) signs. Where did Craig find evidence to support his claim that the protestors are mainly fascists? You should have evidence if you’re going to make this kind of claim.

  42. That’s a super post, Craig. It’s very complicated. FedUp’s correct, I think (6:10pm, today). The recent ‘discovery’ by ‘Turkish security forces’ of Sarin in the possession of Jihadist paramilitaries based in Turkey and involved in the Syrian conflict (which accords with the UN’s own findings as enunciated by Carla Del Ponte) when these Turksih security forces are likely to have known exactly where these substances were being held, may well be a sign that wrt the AKP’s attmept to turn Turkey into an Islamist state (attacking the judiciary, jouranlsits and all manner of civil societal institutions) and thereby erode the power of the military, the Army is drawing a line in the sand. Another military coup is not the answer, I agree, Craig. I do fear that now, having facilitated (as FedUp says) “The Devil”, and with a government whose own Islamist authoritarian agenda now is becoming clearer by the day, Turkey itself may be the next target for the overt (as opposed to gradualist until recently favoured by bodies like the AKP, Muslim Brotherhood, etc.) Islamist/Jihadist juggernaut. And so, the Hard Right Islamists will be pitted against the Hard Right Nationalists, the people, squeezed and bled to death in between. Civil war in Turkey? I hope not.

  43. Horace Swanson

    2 Jun, 2013 - 7:02 pm

  44. I wish you mentioned Reyhanli Bombs, censored media and government’s totalitarian and arrogant attributes, too. I appreciate your concern but unfortunately this article is missing very important points on Turkey’s current case. Sorry, but I couldn’t say this is a proper, unbiased examining.

  45. BoJo and Sam

    2 Jun, 2013 - 7:04 pm

    A guy on twitter and Youtube claims there is a video sex tape in existence of Boris and Samantha Cameron. Please nobody provide a link if true. Watching it might make me quite unwell!

  46. “Good to hear Boris Johnson is living up to his surname again.”

    Well, actually,

    “Boris’s great-great-grandmother, Margaret Johnson, changed the family surname forever. Had she not, the current Mayor of London would be Boris Kemal!”

    The irony being that his Great-grandfather, Ali Kemal was also a victim of ““the worship of Ataturk”;

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/whodoyouthinkyouare/new-stories/boris-johnson/how-we-did-it_1.shtml

  47. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2334731/Speculation-rife-internet-involved-No-10-secret-love-affair-PM-holds-crisis-talks-tryst.html

    Internet speculation rife over identity of mystery couple involved in No.10 secret love affair as PM holds crisis talks over tryst

    Identities of people involved or details of relationship cannot be disclosed
    They are middle-aged figures and the affair has now concluded
    Mr Cameron was ‘stunned’ when told the identities of alleged lovers
    He ‘immediately realised the importance of the story’, sources revealed
    ‘None of us could believe it when we first heard it’ said senior source

  48. “They are middle-aged figures…” Anon, 7:17pm, today.

    Does this mean that they are pear-shaped, or apple-shaped? Ths distinction can be important in terms of long-term, population-wide cardiovacular risk. In brief, it is better to be a ‘pear’ than an ‘apple’. In briefs, though, who knows…

    I, of course, am with the half-cut oranges (though I would hesitate to say that at a Celtic match).

  49. There are people putting up webpages that seem to be hinting at something… Can’t quite tell what, though…

    http://aangirfan.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/secret-love-affair.html

    M.

  50. A guy on twitter and Youtube claims there is a video sex tape in existence of Boris and Samantha Cameron. Please nobody provide a link if true. Watching it might make me quite unwell!

    Don’t worry, “You have been framed” does not show sex movies.

    =================

    In the other news:

    Man admits threatening to kill Prince Harry

    Homeless Ashraf Islam, 30, walked a police station in Hounslow and made the threats to officers on May 23 – a day after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, south east London.

    He was arrested and pleaded guilty to the offence at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court on May 25.

    A homeless, hungry man solves his destitution problems; a roof over his head, and three square meals a day. However DM reprots it as:

    A white Muslim convert threatened to kill Prince Harry just a day after the shocking murder of a soldier in Woolwich.

    Ashraf Islam, 30, formerly known as Mark Townley, confessed to police that he wanted to kill the third in line to the throne, who has served in high profile tours of Afghanistan.

    Islam walked into a police station in Hounslow on May 23 and told detectives that he wanted to murder the prince hours after soldier Lee Rigby, 25, was killed.

    ==========

    Back on topic;

    War-torn Syria says Turkey unsafe for travel

  51. In the wake of the recent episode where a former govt minister was wrongly identified/named by people on social media sites, leading to widespread litigation, I humbly would suggest people should be very careful indeed before they start speculating about/hinting at named individuals. The legal precedent has been set.

  52. If there is civil war in Turkey, it will destabilise the rest of Europe (both western and eastern Europe), big-time. It would be an utter disaster. There have been serious political crises and coups in Turkey before, of course. But the potential for wider destabilisation as a consequence of political/military turoil there is far greater now than it was during the Cold War. Furthermore, in the Jihadists, one has a large and disparate, highly mobile, pro-active and driven (yes, they’d do well in any corporate appraisal!) flexible and efficient military entity which has absolutely no compunctions of any sort and which aims primarily, instrumentally to create maximum chaos and destruction in target states/societies.

  53. technicolour

    2 Jun, 2013 - 7:52 pm

    “I’m not convinced the protestors are predominantly fascist. Large numbers are anarchists, socialists, communists and unionists. I’ve seen many ‘A’ (anarchist) signs. Where did Craig find evidence to support his claim that the protestors are mainly fascists?”

    It’s not the message I’m getting either, and although everyone thinks everyone is being manipulated by someone else, and they possibly are, Kempe and Kibo are right, and there’s a long long history of fighting for exactly this from the grass-roots communities themselves. Because, you know, it’s a clear issue.

  54. I have absolutely no interest in bonking stories and please stop posting about them. This is not a tabloid newspaper.

    Technicolour, I fear you are suffering from the comforting self-delusion of the left. You may note we have had a few Turkish nationalists turn up on this thread. Not a lot of Turkish socialists here, though. Or anywhere, for that matter.

  55. There are Turkish socialists, liberals, etc., Craig. there have been lots of demos all round the UK over the weekend. Of course, they will be taken advantage of. Nonetheless, theirs is a valid protest and it needs to happen. The AKP needs reigned-in by the people. Of course, as you suggest, the people may well not gain from it and the military may. But what would you have them do instead? Just accept the totalitarian bunkum sharia that the Muslim Brotherhood franchise known as ‘AKP’ is imposing? Accept the erosion of an independent judiciary? And yes, accept the demolition of the secular state?

  56. technicolour

    2 Jun, 2013 - 8:12 pm

    I’m not on ‘the left’, I’m on the ‘facts’ (which may well amount to the same thing) and I’m passing on reporting from the people on the ground. I thought your overall analysis was fascinating, and at the same time have enough experience of local protests to know that the genesis and support can be genuine – from Climate Camp to Occupy – and not necessarily serving anyone, although this is not to say that factions won’t try and take advantage of it. I don;t know if you read this extract from the first piece I linked to?
    “While many protesters are without a doubt staunch secularists who are motivated by opposition to the AKP’s increasing social conservatism, there is no indication that this is what ultimately brought thousands of people out into the streets. In fact, when CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, came to Gezi Park to speak, protesters sang over him, preventing him from being heard. It is clear that the movement thus far is about a conflict in visions for urban space between ruling elites and the people who actually live, work, and play in the city”

    So there’s a balance here.

  57. Flaming June

    2 Jun, 2013 - 8:12 pm

    The last 60 years have been so peaceful. NOT. I watched some of the footage from 1953 this afternoon. There were tens of thousands of men and women in the military march preceding the royal coach returning from Westminster Abbey. The commentator, when describing which contingent was which, said quite often ‘they have recently returned from the Middle East’ presumably meaning a presence in the aftermath of the strangely worded ‘British–Zionist conflict of Palestine (1945–1948)’

    20th century
    [..]
    Cold War (1946–1990)
    Malayan Emergency (1948–1960)
    Korean War (1950–1953)
    Mau Mau Uprising (1952–1960)
    Cyprus Emergency (1955–1959)
    Suez Crisis (1956)
    Brunei Revolt (1962)
    Dhofar Rebellion (1962–1975)
    Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation (1962–1966)
    Aden Emergency (1963–1967)
    Northern Ireland Troubles (1969-mid 1990s)
    Cod War Confrontation (1975–1976)
    Iranian Embassy Siege (1980)
    Falklands War (1982)
    Gulf War (1990–1991)
    Bosnian War (1992–1996)
    Operation Desert Fox (1998)
    Kosovo War (1999)

    21st century
    Sierra Leone Civil War (2000)
    War on Terror (2001–Present)
    War in Afghanistan (2001–Present)
    Iraq War and Iraqi insurgency (2003–2009)
    Libyan Civil War (2011)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_history_of_the_United_Kingdom#20th_century

    O lord God arise,
    Scatter our enemies,
    And make them fall!
    Confound their knavish tricks,
    Confuse their politics,
    On you our hopes we fix,
    God save the Queen!

    Quite so.

  58. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    2 Jun, 2013 - 8:17 pm

    Suhayl; My best friends elder sibling is gay and settled in Turkey a few years ago, buying a condo. Is there a significant gay presence in the country? I’ve wondered about the wisdom of his choice.

  59. technicolour

    2 Jun, 2013 - 8:19 pm

    what on earth has that got to do with Turkey? will you please stop derailing threads.

  60. technicolour

    2 Jun, 2013 - 8:20 pm

    (above at ‘June’, but not sure what the ‘gay presence’ has to do with anything either)

  61. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    2 Jun, 2013 - 8:26 pm

    Well, if I must explain myself. No intent to derail. Finding some socialists in Turkey was part of the subject, and my question had to do with public tolerance for such. It was a personal inquiry.

    Now go bugger off.

  62. technicolour

    2 Jun, 2013 - 8:29 pm

    Now, now, play nice hippy, Ben, remember? And you could, of course, just ask your brother, As for socialists, Sophie, above, has it right – it’s a sad game when people just see the world as divided into the two cadres of ‘socialists’ and ‘nationalists’. They do not necessarily represent the old ladies helping the tear gassed protestors, either of them.

  63. Ben, re. the “gay presence” in Turkey, I have absolutely no idea – maybe you should ask your friend? I’d imagine there is a gay presence, as there is everywhere. Turkey is in the Council of Europe, etc. As for rights, that may be another matter, but then it took a struggle even in western Europe and north Amercia in very rcent times to achieve civil/human rights.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Turkey

  64. technicolour

    2 Jun, 2013 - 8:35 pm

    NB Ben, was not suggesting that you were trying to derail; was genuinely puzzled.

  65. “the old ladies” might be Communists, for all we know. Or Sufis. Or gay grandmothers. Or simply, grandmothers. Or gardeners. Who’s to say? Go back 40 years… and the old ladies were young ladies and the streets of Turkey were filled with lefties 9and righties, and in-betweenies). Anyway…

  66. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    2 Jun, 2013 - 8:40 pm

    It wasn’t my brother, and I play nice until you screw wit me.

    I apologize if the question was unseemly, Suhayl. I assure you nothing was implied.

    Now I’ll just shut the fuck up.

  67. technicolour

    2 Jun, 2013 - 8:40 pm

    Suhayl, quite true, thanks.

  68. OT sorry but it is from The Guardian…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jun/02/wit-wisdom-boris-johnson-review

    The Wit and Wisdom of Boris Johnson, edited by Harry Mount – review

    Comments are open at The Guardian on this article.

  69. I’d be interested to hear the views of a Turkish student from a working class background, or that of a younger generation, because whatever comes out of the next few years cauldron, will be inherited by them.

    Some are raising the spectre of a Turkish spring, a re awakening of secular thoughts, something the elites might want to steer and control.

    I wish Turkey well, they would be an exciting EU inclusion, if HR reforms stick and the military lets go.

    The Sarin gas incident is worrying, another sign of ancient connections and a manifestation that there is nothing that could not be supplied in Turkey.

    Turkey’s north eastern peaks are welcome NATO listening posts, still, and any attack on Iran proper would ideally be carried out via Turkey, with the back up of NATO bases, so Turkey is strategically hot stuff, with Insirlik airbase access representing the sprinkles.

    Israel will try its best to get rights to overfly and I can see the US waving its stick at Turkey to help this along, what it could do for Turkey to access the EU, etc., just let Israel use your airspace.

  70. OccupyTaksim

    2 Jun, 2013 - 8:52 pm

    You’re so full of liberal bullshit. The amount of violence both done and condoned by police and government support behind them would overthrow any democratically elected government of yours. Watch some live streams over ustream maybe then you’ll realise just because people are appointed by democracy doesn’t mean they are ruthless tyrants.

  71. Ben, no, no, the question was not unseemly at all. It’s an important subject. I just don’t know anything about the specific subject – good of you to think of me though, thanks, man.

  72. There was a protest in George Square, Glasgow this weekend, by some members of the Turkish community and supporters, including leftists, against what the Turkish Govt is doing. I’ll try and link to some pictures – from a leftist website/news source – if I can, later. I know there have been (bigger) protests in London, too.

  73. technicolour

    2 Jun, 2013 - 9:01 pm

    “Now I’ll just shut the fuck up” – Ben, not intention, see comment above.

  74. technicolour

    2 Jun, 2013 - 9:05 pm

    Helicopters fired tear gas canisters into residential neighbourhoods and police used tear gas to try to smoke people out of buildings. Footage on YouTube showed one protester being hit by an armoured police truck as it charged a barricade.

    ‘Extreme’ response

    Erdogan admitted there may have been some cases of “extreme” police action.

    “It is true that there have been some mistakes, extremism in police response,” he said.

    However, calling the protesters “a few looters”, the prime minister remained defiant, pledging to push forward with the plans to redevelop Taksim Square.

    Erdogan singled out the Republican People’s Party (CHP) for attack over a dispute he described as ideological.

    “We think that the main opposition party which is making resistance calls on every street is provoking these protests,”
    Erdogan said on Turkish television.

    (Al Jazeera: worth comparing Erdogan’s statements to comments above)

  75. doug scorgie

    2 Jun, 2013 - 9:09 pm

    Has Boris shafted Cameron?

  76. I didn’t think much of the scenery in Taksim square last year. But the buses ran from there, so I did pass through. However, I recalled that when we strolled through that park below the Topkapi, a bunch of youngsters entered with make up on to join in some international zombie thing. We found it quite amusing, and marvelled at how the internet was linking people culturally thoughout the world. But we were at the exit gate by now, and the kids were warned to play it subdued by the park keeper whom we reckoned didn’t know whether he was meant to allow zombies in the park or not. At that point we saw the clash of competing civilizations. A western crazy youth culture where anything goes. You see that in street fashion in all the free countries. And an old Ottoman state which was once the centre of the “civilised” world. So what is it to be in Turkey? Modern, liberal, free? Or the hijab?

    Tony Benn really gets it right when he makes much of the ability to get rid of those we elect.

  77. OccupyTaksim

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHyDaAXw8Ck

    Operation Solstice documentary on Battle of Beanfield

    “What we the ITN camera crew have seen today has been some of the most brutal police treatment of people I’ve witnessed in my career as a journalist…. The number of people who have been clubbed while holding babies in their arms has still to be counted. There must surely be an inquiry into what happened here today.”

    – Kim Sabido ITN – June 1st, 1985

  78. Flaming June

    2 Jun, 2013 - 10:08 pm

    Technicolour Try telling what you said to me to the posters of the Boris SamCam items which seem to be totally irrelevant here. Mine was about six decades of our wars, staged on several continents, and the terror and destabilization that ensued. Craig’s post deals with NATO to which we belong, Blair, Sierra Leone, etc etc.

    Get off my back. I have enough bother here to be going on with.

  79. David, 9:37pm, today: The gatekeeper/park keeper might just as well have been an old Kemalist secularist or just the guy in charge of keeping public order in the park in a major public/tourist part of Istabbul (and so it’s his job to keep some semblance of order).

    What you call the ‘hijab’ (i.e. Islamism) is a new, postmodern phenomenon. The old Ottoman state was an old land empire, last seat of the Caliphate, yes, and used religion as a political instrument. But it is important, I feel, not to confuse that with either secular Kemalist order and nationalistic/militaristic (sometimes OTT) pride and Islamism.

    Youth culture has been around in Turkey since the 1960s. Just listen, for example, to their rock music from the late 1960s, onwards. Some really good stuff, btw. ‘Zombies’ are nothing new.

  80. Turkish rock music – check it out on Youtube. Erkin Koray was a pal of John and Yoko.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatolian_rock

  81. “This is chemical war, this is violence! #occupygezi pic.twitter.com/dIBNjckMC5 #OpTurkey”

    https://twitter.com/YourAnonNews/status/341301528562388993

    Click on the photo for a bigger version

    (Turkish police spraying protesters)

  82. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    2 Jun, 2013 - 10:25 pm

    @ The Scourge (21h09 today)

    “Has Boris shafted Cameron?”
    ______________

    Are you unable to read? Or just unable to contain your excitement?

    Please read Craig’s admonition, posted at 20h02 today, which points out that this blog is not a tabloid newspaper.

    And stop playing with your keys.

    ****************

    La vita è bella, life is good!

  83. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    2 Jun, 2013 - 10:33 pm

    April Showers/Flaming June wails:

    “Technicolour Try telling what you said to me to the posters of the Boris SamCam items which seem to be totally irrelevant here. Mine was about six decades of our wars, staged on several continents, and the terror and destabilization that ensued. Craig’s post deals with NATO to which we belong, Blair, Sierra Leone, etc etc.

    Get off my back. I have enough bother here to be going on with.”
    —————

    Technicolour was quite right to reprimand you. You introduced Blair (again) in an earlier post and now you give us a list of wars (for about the umpteenth time on this blog). Please keep on-topic, otherwise I shall suspect you of being a troll.

    And in case you hadn’t noticed, Craig’s lead-in post is about TURKEY, not NATO, Sierra Leone and Blair.

    ****************$

    La vita è bella, life is good!

  84. technicolour

    2 Jun, 2013 - 10:34 pm

    Another view:

    “The determining factor in (Erdogan’s) political trajectory, however, has been its commitment to a full-blown neoliberal economic policy shaped around privatisations and trade liberalisations. Short-term effects of neoliberalisation have materialised in the decrease of the poverty trend by national standards (constant decrease from 2003 to 2006), fluctuations in the Gini index (2002: 42.7; 2005: 42.6; 2007: 39.3; 2008: 39) and a slight improvement in country inequality trend. By 2011, Turkey had become the 18th largest economy (measured by nominal GDP) after a disastrous financial crisis in 2001.

    This illusionary success story has conjointly reinforced a misplaced faith in free market dogmatism despite the fact that the social indicators of development—such as the number of people living below the national poverty line—took a downturn after 2008. While neoliberal policies have become part and parcel of Turkish economic administration since the 1980s, the AKP amplified the existing drive to an unprecedented extent. The implementation of $380 million of annual privatisation before 2003 has skyrocketed to a staggering $6 billion during Erdoğan’s three terms in office. Almost every remnant of the developmental state—from bridges to the tobacco monopoly (TEKEL), power stations to the state-owned banks—have been privatised or listed for auction. While the sweeping reforms have engendered wide-spread resistance including the long-fought struggles of TEKEL workers and grassroots coalitions against the construction of the Hydroelectric Power Plants (HES), the government has maintained its neoliberal onslaught on services, communities and the environment.

    http://adamdavidmorton.com/2013/06/the-gezi-park-occupation-confronting-authoritarian-neoliberalism/

  85. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    2 Jun, 2013 - 10:39 pm

    @ Rouge (15h16) :

    “Like you then on ‘The Toils of the Historian’ thread, with your ‘Tony Blair’s recruiting!’ comment -”
    _______________

    Not really.

    And I think that the TBA advert is something of a historic document actually. I shall certainly remember it.

  86. Yes, good post, Technicolour (10:34pm, today): Unfortunately, as suggested, both main parties in Turkey are neoliberal. Remind one of somewhere… nowadays, everywhere…?

    Nonetheless, to be fair, it has to be said that in spite of all that, the health, literacy, etc. parameters continue to improve, decade-on-decade, probably due to the hard work of people in civil institutions but also to deeper macroeconomic changes (so some of the capitalist chnages will be driving these in a positive direction at this stage of a country’s configuration), increased urbanisation, falling birth rates (increased literacy) and so on. It’as not yet on a par with the average in Europe, but it’s getting there.

    Usual prefixes:

    who.int/countryfocus/cooperation_strategy/ccsbrief_tur_en.pdf
    who.int/countries/tur/en/
    oecdbetterlifeindex.org/countries/turkey/

  87. Flaming June ignore the sour grapes 😉

  88. Look reality check time.
    Last Turkish general election 2011 – not that long ago.
    Erdogan got 50%, almost exactly.
    The main Kemalist, very right wing Republican People’s Party got 26%. That lot are well to the right of the BNP.
    The openly pro-military rule Nationalist Party got 13%.

    Identifiably “left wing” plus environmentalist parties got 3% between the lot of them. 3%. Let me write that again. 3%.

    Yes of course Turkish socialists exist. So do albino guinea pigs. But that is not what this is about.

  89. Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!)

    2 Jun, 2013 - 11:04 pm

    @ Doug Scorgie :

    re my comment of 22h25 above, it would only be fair of me to say that you have posted some good, thoughtful comments lately. So, on reflection, I’ll forgive you your vile suggestion :)

  90. There used to be a lot more Turkish socialists; it was one of the major forces in politics there inthe 1960s and 1970s. But then, there used to be a lot more British socialists, too and British socialist (or partly socialist) parties too (!)

  91. “People are also incensed by the new proposal that would ban the sale of alcohol within 100 metres of any mosque or holy site, ie anywhere within central Istanbul.”

    My understanding of this is that it is not a proposal, but a new law that has been passed that, among other things, bans the provision of NEW licences to sell alcohol within 100m of a mosque or school, rather than mandating the cancellation of already-attributed licences to sell alcohol. Which (if correct) is quite a big difference – although if alcohol purveyors have to regularly renew their licences and if this law prevents their renewal if they are near a mosque or school (I’m not sure on this), it would have the same effect over time.

  92. RP

    You may be right – my source is what I was told by restaurant owners while I was there. Certainly they believe they stand to be closed down. But it is still a stupid act of intolerance either way.

  93. “Ataturk has a very strong claim, ahead of Mussolini, to be viewed as the inventor of modern fascism.”

    In 2000, when cycling through the town of Vize, west of Instanbul, I was hungry and in need of something vegetarian but as I did not speak Turkish had some problems. A young boy called Dennis was brought to me (about 14 years old I guessed) and took me across the road from his father’s cafe where I was able to get some lentil-soup, yoghurt and bread before returning to his father’s cafe for a cup of tea. Dennis was a direct descendant of Ataturk and proudly showed the family-tree in black and white photographs on the wall. My own experience of the Ataturks was positive.

    This has been endorsed by a short on-line biography I have just read of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, obviously written by one who approves. It is difficult to see him as a fascist, certainly not in the Mussolini mould. If the biography is true he turned Turkey into a republic, gave voting and educational rights to women together with the right not to have to wear a veil. I am ashamed of some of the things the west does, especially with the abuses of human rights, but I think a republic is preferable to a country of Sultanates, like Oman and Qatar. He was almost certainly a product of the west but how can he be viewed as the inventor of modern fascism?

  94. John Goss

    “This has been endorsed by a short on-line biography I have just read of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, obviously written by one who approves.”

    Honestly, John having enjoyed your comments for many years I cannot believe you are so gullible, and know so little history. From that ludicrous biography you cite, are you honestly telling me you don’t know what his “series of battles with Armenian forces” really was, for example?

  95. I can’t pretend to know much about Turkey. Especially present day day Turkey … only visited Istanbul for a very short time some years ago for work. However, I was struck when there how the ordinary people that I met esteemed Attaturk. I was surprised at the time … it seemed to me that in the memories of people his secular reforms had trumped the military control.

    I suppose that’s the story that’s now being sold to we occidentals, secular=good. And, with our lack of knowledge of other societies and tendency to base our world view on on own totally different history and culture we swallow the bait hook, line and sinker much to the unadulterated glee of our political masters.

  96. “The main Kemalist, very right wing Republican People’s Party got 26%. That lot are well to the right of the BNP.
    The openly pro-military rule Nationalist Party got 13%.”

    I’m not sure right-wing is a useful term for the CHP (actually I don’t think left and right wing are useful terms in general, but I think “right-wing” is particularly inapt in this case). Much (though not all) of the party tends towards hard-line Turkish nationalism, but economically it is to the left of the AKP. Many of its supporters would regard themselves as “left-wing” or social democrats. Also while it is largely intolerant of demands for Kurdish rights for example, it is more sympathetic to Alevi demands than the AKP is; all of the parties are chauvinistic in their own ways, whether on ethnic or religious grounds (or both).

    I also don’t think that to describe the MHP as “openly pro-military rule” is accurate. It is an ultra-nationalist party but that doesn’t necessarily make it pro-military. It and the military were closer to being on the same page in the past (especially in the run-up to and the early years following the 1980 coup, when both regarded the left as the main threat) but I don’t think they are now. Though not an Islamist party, it derives much of its support from religiously conservative types, and if I remember correctly it supported the AKP on liberalising the university headscarf laws for example, all of which mean it is not a natural ally of the Kemalist military.

  97. RP

    “Much (though not all) of the party tends towards hard-line Turkish nationalism, but economically it is to the left of the AKP. Many of its supporters would regard themselves as “left-wing””

    Yes – absolutely the same is true of the BNP, of course. National Socialism, perhaps?

  98. Indigo,

    Absolutely right.

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