Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Re: 2011 Turkish Elections Detailed Background info on Turkish political situation.Rise of Islamists and dictator Erdogan
Saturday, June 13, 2015
Turkey 's Situation going to get worse than better ,if at all; Armed Forces in the Reckoning
After the Fall of the Berlin Wall and unraveling and collapse of Scientific Socialism , the world has seen the rise of fanatic version of religions and neoliberal / criminal capitalism everywhere and terrible inequality . Some Human Progress ??!!
Historical background to conflict between Pir and Mir
Of the oldest of the three revealed religions, Judaism's only state since ancient times , Israel , founded on leftist tenets has since morphed into a rule by Zionist-Military oligarchy. Christians after centuries of warfare in Europe managed to create secular polities which are still underpinned if not haunted by sectional religious ideologies. In the last of 'the Book' based polity Islam, the lines between the Mir and the Pir ,the temporal ruler and spiritual ruler still remain blurred ,contested and changing.
After the 1979 revolution in Iran , Shias created the ideal but mythical office of Imam in the person of Ruhoallah Khomeini . The status of the Imam was evolved into the doctrines of intercession and infallibility, i.e., of the faqih/mutjahid .But the Iranians have since found that a system based on the concepts of 7th century AD was inadequate to confront and solve the problems of 21st century.
Nevertheless, like the first Imam Ali, Iran is ruled by the supreme religious leader, Ali Khameini , who incidentally is Azeri Turk .The cement keeping Iran united now is its common heritage and Islam. In Syria the ruling Shia Alewite elite ,12% of the population has been staunchly secular under the Assads since four decades. In Lebanon the Hezbollah, which coordinates with some secular strands, combines in Hassan Nasrallah, the powers of both a military and spiritual leader. To understand the evolving situation around Pakistan and Afghanistan we might look at some what similar situations in Islamic history.
Prophet Mohammad was both the religious leader and military commander. But the Arab Caliphs lost out on power by 10th century to the Turkish slaves from central Asia who formed the core of their fighting forces .The Turks raised the minor title of Sultan to a high rank who literally became a protector of the Caliph , left with only spiritual powers. Even this role was seized by the Ottoman Sultans ruling from Istanbul.
The Pir and Mir conflict exists in all Muslim countries , so donot rule out the role of military in stabilising the situation at home in Turkey and guarding its borders and foreign policy away from its excesses under Erdogan -pretender Neo-Sultan and Caliph.
Erdogan on the Ropes
Among the many things behind the storm that staggered Turkey's ruling party in last week's elections, a disastrous foreign policy looms large. But a major factor behind the fall of the previously invincible Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a grassroots revolt against rising poverty, growing inequality and the AKP's war on trade unions.
With political instability and economic downturn and differences among all political parties with different ideologies the situation in and around Turkey remains unstable and uncertain.
For internal post election situation see an excellent piece, below, from Counter Punch.
For a possible and likely role of Turkish Armed Forces , which cannot be ruled out both for internal security , against Erdogan's Islamist and dictatorial policies and terminating his disastrous foreign policy and open support and assistance to extremists in Syria including ISIS and other groups , the military may be required or may have to step in.
The military has been defanged , harassed and humiliated but may turn out to be last resort by chaos or on its own.
But after cleaning up the mess created by the politicians in 1961 and 1980 and getting a new constitution in place, the armed forces, self-styled custodians of Kemal Ataturk's legacy of secularism, as usual, returned to the barracks. Ataturk had forged the secular republic from the ashes of the Ottoman empire after its defeat in World War I.
Preceded by modernizing and Westernizing reforms during the last century of the Ottoman rule and nearly 90 years after Ataturk's sweeping reforms, Turkey's experiment in democracy goes wobbly from time to time. Ironically, it is invariably put back on the rails by the armed forces.
A Muslim majority state (99 percent) it was closest to a modern secular democracy in the Muslim world. Its half a million strong armed forces used to be a stabilizing factor in a turbulent region. But under Erdogan it has followed a disastrous foreign policy of indirect and openly direct interference in former Ottoman provinces , which has been a disaster for all , except US led West and Saudi Arabia.
In 1990-91the military chief had resigned against President Ozal's wish to intervene in Iraq .In 2003 Erdogan appeared inclined to join US invasion but the people and the parliament stopped joining in the illegal invasion of Iraq .
The 2nd excellent article at the end from Al-Monitor looks at possible, probable and even inevitable entry of the armed forces in the Arena .
The whole of Greater Middle East is at an edge .Difficult to predict except that things will get worse than become better , if at all.
Amb. Rtd .K.Gajendra Singh ,13 June , Friday ,2015 .Mayur Vihar ,Delhi
WEEKEND EDITION JUNE 12-14, 2015
Erdogan on the Ropes
Electoral Shock in Turkey
by CONN HALLINAN
Among the many things behind the storm that staggered Turkey's ruling party in last week's elections, a disastrous foreign policy looms large. But a major factor behind the fall of the previously invincible Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a grassroots revolt against rising poverty, growing inequality and the AKP's war on trade unions.
On the eve of the election, the government's Turkish Statistical Institute(TUIK) found that 22.4 percent of Turkish households fell below the official poverty line of $1,626 a month for a family of four. The country's largest trade union organization, TURK-IS, which uses a different formula for calculating poverty levels based on incomes below the minimum monthly wage—$118—argues that nearly 50 percent of the population is at, or near, the poverty line.
Figures show that while national income has, indeed, risen over the past decade, much of it has gone to the wealthy and well connected. When the AKP came to power in 2002, the top 1 percent accounted for 39 percent of the nation's wealth. Today that figure is 54 percent. In the meantime, credit card debt has increased 25 fold, from 222 million liras in 2002 to 5.8 billion liras today
In 2001, Turkey was in a serious economic crisis, with the unemployment rate at 10.8 percent. Today 11.3 percent are out of work, and that figure is much higher among young people and women. TUIK estimates that over 3 million Turks are jobless, but at least another 2.5 million have given up looking for jobs. The total size of the Turkish workforce is 28 million.
Women have been particularly hard hit. Over 227,000 women have been laid off this past year, a higher percentage than men. According to Aysen Candas of the Social Political Forum of Bogazici University, the "situation of women is just horrible."
While the average rate of employment for women in the 34 countries that make up the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development is between 62 and 63 percent, in Turkey it is 25 percent. According to Candas, in access to jobs, political participation and economic power, Turkish women rank near the bottom of the 126 countries the Bogazici University study examined.
Turkish workers have seen their unions dismantled under the AKP government, and many have lost collective bargaining rights. According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, unionized workers have fallen from 57.5 percent of the workforce in 2003 to 9.68 percent today. And, of those unionized workers, only 4.5 percent have collective bargaining agreements. Add to this police repression, the widespread use of the subcontracting system, and a threshold of 3 percent to organize a new union, and there are few barriers to stop employers from squeezing their workforce.
In comparison, Sweden has a unionization rate of 67.7 percent, Finland 69 percent, Italy 35.6 percent and Greece 28.7 percent.
In the last election, the leftwing People's Democratic Party (HDP) and the social democratic People's Republican Party (CHP) pounded away at the AKP's record on poverty and union rights. "During its 12-year rule, the Justice and Development Party has curbed all labor rights though laws that are unlawful, siding with the capitalist class," CHP parliamentarian Suleyman Celebi told Al-Monitor. "It has besieged workers from all sides, from their right to strike and collective bargain, to their right of choosing their trade unions. The rights of tens of thousands of subcontracted workers have been flouted despite court rulings."
Erdogan has increasingly come under criticism for relying on force to deal with opponents, like the crushing of Istanbul's Gezi park demonstrations in 2013. And his drive to change the constitution from a parliamentary system to an American-style powerful executive apparently did not sit will with the majority of Turks.
The AKP's bread and butter has always been bread and butter: it handed out free coal, food, and financial aid to the poor, but as economic disparity grew and unemployment climbed, it was the Left that seized upon those themes, forcing Erdogan to defend spending $615 million plus for his lavish, 1,000 room presidential palace, and his $185 million presidential airplane.
With the economy in the doldrums, the AKP fell back on foreign policy and Islam.
"Islamization" has been a major AKP theme, but one that may have misfired in this election. A recent book by Turkish scholar Volkan Eritargues that Turkey is becoming less religious and more secular, particularly among the young. In any case, religion did not trump Turkey's growing international and regional isolation, Erdogan's fixation with the war in Syria, or his sudden reversal on making peace with the Kurds.
He refused to come to the aid of the besieged Syrian Kurds at Kobane last year, and his back peddling on a peace agreement with Turkey's Kurds alienated even conservative Kurds, who abandoned the AKP and voted for the leftwing HDP.
A corruption scandal that implicated several of Erdogan's family members also hurt the AKP's image and caused some foreign investorsto pull back, further damaging the economy.
And as far as the AKP's foreign policy goes, what was once a strength is now a liability.
In the past four years Turkey has gone from a regional peace maker—"zero problems with neighbors" was the slogan that wags have since changed to "zero neighbors without problems"— to odd man out, so isolated that it lost out to Venezuela in a bid for a UN Security Council seat.
It is not talking with Egypt, has an icy relationship with Iran, is alienated from Iraq, at war with Syria, and not on the best of terms with Russia and China. In fact its only real allies in the Middle East are the Gulf Monarchies, although in an indirect way it is teaming up with Israel to overthrow the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The AKP has tried to make this isolation into a virtue—Erdogan's chief foreign policy advisor Ibnahim Kalin called it "precious loneliness"—but voters saw it less as a virtue than as alienation.
Its exports are down sharply because it has estranged its leading trade partners Iran and Iraq, and, by choosing the losing side in the Libyan civil war, it is out $28 billion in Libyan construction contracts. Its plans for expanding into sub-Saharan Africa are now on hold, and Libya owes Turkey $5 billion, money it is not likely to see in the near future.
The Syrian war is not popular with the average Turk and, with the influx of some two million refugees from that conflict, less so by the day. The Turkish Army opposes any involvement in Syria, because it sees nothing ahead but a quagmire that would ally Turkey with the al-Qaeda linked Nusra Front.
In short, the AKP lost the election because almost 60 percent of the Turks opposed its domestic and foreign policies.
What happens now, however, is tricky, and not a little dangerous.
The AKP took a beating, dropping from 49.8 percent to 40.8 percent, and losing 53 seats in the parliament. Not only did the Party not get their magic 330 seats that would allow Erdogan to change the constitution, at 258 seats the AKP needs a coalition partner to rule.
They are not likely to find one on the Left.
The Leftwing HDP—formerly largely a Kurdish-based party—shattered the 10 percent ceiling to serve in the Parliament, taking 13.1 percent of the vote and electing 79 representatives. The HDP's breakthrough came about because the Party allied itself with other Left and progressive parties in 2012—much as Syriza did in Greece—and campaigned on an openly left program.
Led by the dynamic Selahattin Demirtas, its candidates included many women, as well as gays and lesbians. Some 40 percent of HDP's parliamentarians will be women and openly gay candidates will serve in the new Grand Assembly. "We, the oppressed people of Turkey who want justice, peace and freedom, have achieved a tremendous victory today," Demirtas said in the election's aftermath.
The AKP's traditional opponent, the social democratic CHP, came in at 25.9 percent, a slight improvement over 2014, and an increase of seven seats. The Party now has 132 representatives in Parliament.
The danger comes from the performance of the right-wing National Action Party (MHP), which won 16.9 percent of the vote and picked up 28 seats. It now has the same number of seats as the HDP. The MHP is sometimes called "The Gray Wolves" after a neo-fascist hit squad that routinely assassinated left-wingers, academics and Kurds in the 1970s and '80s, and still has a shadowy presence in Turkey. The MHP claims it supports parliamentary rule, but the party's commitment to democracy is suspect.
At this point the MHP's leader Devlet Bahceli says he has no interest in a coalition with the AKP, but the authoritarian streak that runs through both parties might just bring them together. If they do unite, peace with the Kurds will vanish, and engaging in internal dissent will be an increasingly risky business.
But Turkey has tamed its formally coup-obsessed military, gone through several elections and, in spite of setbacks like Gezi Park, is a democratic country. It is also one that is in trouble at home and abroad, problems that the Right is notoriously bad at solving, but for which the Left has programmatic solutions.
It may be that the parties will deadlock, in which case new elections will have to held. In the meantime, the Turkish lira is at a record low, the stock market has tumbled 8 percent, and neither the economic crisis nor the foreign policy debacles are going away. Stay tuned, the future of a major player is in the balance.
Conn Hallinan can be read atdispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com .
Eyes return to Turkish military after elections
In most well-developed democracies, if you wonder aloud what the armed forces think of election results, you'll likely hear, "Who cares?" But in Turkey, although the military appears to have withdrawn from politics after 2002, many are asking this question in the aftermath of the June 7 elections. Why?
Summary The turbulence in the wake of the recent elections may offer the Turkish military opportunities to return to politics — and even if a serious deadlock ensues, the situation still may work in the military's favor.
Author Metin GurcanPosted June 11, 2015
The 2015 elections ended the 13-year single-party rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The options being debated now are a coalition government, a minority government or early elections. All this means at least three months of political turbulence in Turkey, possibly offering the military opportunities to return to politics after being kept out for a variety of reasons, such as EU reforms, a strong single-party government's robust stance against the military, the determination of AKP elites to concede nothing and the increasing sensitivity of the public to military intervention in politics. But if national politics are seriously deadlocked in the aftermath of the elections, the situation may work in the military's favor.
Trying to understand how the Turkish military perceives the election results may offer clues about its position. To that end, Al-Monitor conducted in-depth interviews with 10 serving and retired senior officers in Ankara and Istanbul.
The central topic was the unexpected success of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). This party, whose political background the Turkish military traditionally defines as a parliamentary extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) terror organization, received 6.5 million votes and 80 parliamentary seats.
All the officers who spoke to Al-Monitor were dazed by the HDP's achievement and shared one of two takes on the matter. Most of them see its success as a disturbing development that could lead to security chaos in the country. According to this group, the PKK now has the strategic upper hand. In many eastern and southeastern provinces, where the majority of Kurds live, the PKK holds de facto field supremacy and the state's authority and is severely impaired. They fear the PKK's perceived upper hand may well turn into a permanent political supremacy following the HDP's electoral success.
It is because of this perception that seems to prevail in the military that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) has been resorting to tougher and less tolerant security measures on the Iranian, Iraqi and Syrian borders with Turkey's Kurdish-populated provinces and also in combating cross-border smuggling, which is not really the military's task.
A minority of the officers interprets the HDP success with guarded optimism and sees it as an opportunity for the HDP to become more a part of Turkey. This minority feels that because of the high percentage of votes it got from western Turkey from the secular and urbanized middle classes, the HDP will have to abandon its ethnic politics and the PKK will be forced to give up armed violence.
One retired officer's assessment was particularly interesting. He said, "This success of the HDP tells us that it is time to start discussing something we have never discussed before: civilian-military relations in Kurdish policy. The only armed political actor outside the state today are the Kurds. Just as the TSK has gone back to its barracks because of democratic and civilian demands, the armed Kurdish actors must leave the field to civilian Kurdish politics. The HDP with its major success will defend their rights strongly in the parliament, but I don't think that the PKK, nourished by violence, will give up and leave the field to civilian Kurdish politics. They tried that after 1999 but couldn't do it."
It is therefore no stretch to say that a vast majority of the military — although there are softer views among them — are disturbed by what they see as the first step toward chaos. To prevent this wariness from spreading, the HDP will have to take confidence-building steps to show how it is becoming a part of Turkey, and the military wing of the Kurdish political scene has to be brought under democratic and civilian control.
Another retired officer said, "Just as people get upset when Turkey's chief of general staff speaks out, they have to show the same reaction when an armed Kurd speaks out. If you ask me, this success by the HDP shows the shrinking significance of armed violence in the Kurds' quest to defend their rights."
Another subject discussed was the impact of the election results on Turkish foreign policy, above all Syria. Most of the officers Al-Monitor spoke with emphasized national legislation and international law when speaking about Syria; all of them agreed that all international engagements about Syria must be based on legal justifications and not go beyond them.
One of them explained, "The main reason why the train-and-equip program is still stalled is precisely this. The TSK is concerned about legal responsibilities that could be attributed to Turkish officers and noncommissioned officers if the people they train are one day involved in terror acts inside or outside the country. The US is not a party to the International Criminal Court. They have no such worry."
The military seems to feel that the election results will mean the lessening of demands that could thrust it into an international legal morass, thus easing the pressure on the TSK. From that angle, the election results are favorable.
Another issue the military emphasizes is the need for uninterrupted progress in the enormous transformation and restructuring projects the TSK has initiated. For example, today there are 144 transformation projects in the Turkish Land Forces, derived from more than 1,000 proposals. The military is concerned with whether the election results and a possible coalition government or the potential political turbulence will affect the TSK's transformation process.
Dealing with the officers adhering to the teachings of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen is a minefield for the military. Before the last elections, there were media reports that a list of 1,200 suspected Gulenists was prepared by the national intelligence service and sent to the chief of general staff to be used for mass purges or individual investigations.
None of the officers wanted to answer questions about Gulenists who may have penetrated the TSK ranks, indicating a great taboo. Decisions on this issue will have profound effects on the TSK.
The Supreme Military Council is scheduled to meet at the beginning of August. Gen. Necdet Ozel, the chief of general staff who since 2011 has skillfully steered the TSK through choppy waters without making concessions in terms of law and democracy, will be retiring. His replacement, the fate of Gulenists in the TSK, the TSK's transformation and restructuring process and of course the Syrian crisis will all be on the agenda. We don't yet know who will chair this critical meeting because we don't yet know who will be the prime minister. But here we must note that to be implemented, Supreme Military Council decisions have to be approved by the president, no matter how much power he may have lost in the elections.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
Turkey's Elections, a Game Changer at Home , Greater Middle East and Even Beyond
More instability and chaos likely , but a brake on spread of mindless destruction in the region and home
An excellent article from the portals of US conservative think tank
Covering Para from my piece before the Results .
"Peace at home and peace abroad ", Kemal Ataturk.
"In Turkey no PM can keep his reign for more than a decade "Adnan Menderes (prime minister from 1950 to 1960), who was hanged in 1961 by the junta after the first coup d'état.
Erdogan was tried for utterances "Minarets are our bayonets, domes are our helmets, mosques are our barracks, believers are our soldiers," convicted and jailed for 4 months. He had also said "Thank God, I am for Shariah," "For us, democracy is a means to an end." and, "One cannot be a secularist and a Muslim at the same time."
No matter the outcome, the elections seem to spell an uncertain future for Turkey for an unfore seeable period.
The author ,who has kept a watch on secular republican Turkey since 1967 ,has been dismayed with the political processes and evolution of Turkey towards a dictatorial Islamist model ever since last elections in 2011 and specially since Erdogan became the president .He spent 10years in Turkey (1969-73,1992-1997 ), travelled from coast to coast, along its borders except with Iran and found Turks , honest , upright , proud , warm and hospitable .
I had misgiving even in Nov 2002 when ,AKP led by Erdogan gate crashed on the political arena with 2/3rd majority with 34% votes only .Erdogan was debarred from that election .The electoral system with 10% threshold was introduced in post 1980 coup to bring in stability.
Internally Erdogan has painted himself in a corner going after followers of soft Islamic leader and ally Fatheullah Gulen residing in USA, many founders of AKP itself , once powerful military ,humiliated and insulted ,whose hundreds of senior officers were jailed ,judiciary and secular forces .Media has been suppressed perhaps now in the worst state than anywhere .Few are rooting for Erdogan, not even corporate, US led Western media. Pin drop expectations !
Externally Ankara has bad to worse relations with almost all in the neighbourhood and even beyond .Turkey is behind ISIS in league with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and US led West . Saudi and Gulf Green money ie Yesil Surmaye has supported Erdogan .Ankara has given almost full support to ISIS.
Below is a very good description by a veteran Turkish journalist , of the possible electoral outcome and serious possible ramifications, affecting internal peace and external relations.
K.Gajendra Singh 6 June 2015, Delhi
Taking back from Erdogan
The Turkish electorate has given democracy a second chance. But it's still a first step.
By: Kemal Kirisci
An electoral earthquake occurred in Turkey on Sunday. In a massive turnout, more than 86 per cent of the Turkish electorate sent President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) a rude message. Erdogan, in complete disregard of the current constitution that requires a president to be neutral, campaigned actively for the AKP. He asked the electorate to reward the party with at least 335 seats in parliament so he could transform Turkey from its almost seven-decade-old parliamentary system to a presidential regime to consolidate his autocratic rule. The AKP saw its votes fall from almost 50 per cent in the 2011 general elections to 40.8 per cent, leaving it almost 20 seats short of the majority needed to form a government, let alone granting Erdogan the ability to adopt a new constitution.
Instead, the electorate generously rewarded the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) with almost 13 per cent of the vote, allowing it to surpass Turkey's notoriously high electoral threshold of 10 per cent and earn 79 seats in parliament. This has left the AKP with just 258 seats, obliging it to either run a minority government or seek a coalition. The staunchly secularist Republican People's Party (CHP) and the rightwing, nationalist National Action Party (MHP) received just above 25 and 16 per cent of the vote, with 132 and 81 seats, respectively.
It is possible to deduce at least five very clear messages. First and foremost, the electorate has unequivocally expressed its displeasure with Erdogan's confrontationist language, disregard for the law and his ambition to become a one-man ruler. The spirit of this message was well captured by Devlet Bahceli, the MHP leader, when he invited Erdogan to either "respect the current constitution or resign". Furthermore, they also objected to Erdogan's presidential palace, bigger than the Palace of Versailles, with 1,150 rooms rumoured to have gold-covered toilets at a cost of more than $600 million.
Second, the economy. Back in 2002, the AKP rose to power because it promised greater financial stability and economic growth on the heels of a major financial meltdown in the country. Between 2003 and 2006, Turkey's economic growth averaged 7.5 per cent per year and, not surprisingly, the AKP was rewarded with more than 47 per cent of the votes in 2007. Of late, the Turkish economy has slowed down dramatically, to under 3 per cent growth in 2014. Interference with regulatory bodies, corruption and abuse of the law have scared investors away, accelerating the dramatic fall in the value of the national currency against the US dollar, and increasing unemployment and inflation.
Third, the electorate has sought a revision of foreign policy, disapproving of Turkey's involvement in Syria's quagmire and the domestic affairs of Middle Eastern countries that has cost Turkish businesses many export markets and exposed the country to the dangers of Islamic terrorism. The electorate has also objected to Turkey's once successful and greatly acclaimed "zero problems with neighbours" policy being transformed into one of "zero neighbours without problems", characterised by a long list of countries from where Turkey has recalled ambassadors. Recent opinion polls have also shown growing support for the EU and Nato — the very institutions against which Erdogan uses derogatory language.
Fourth, by catapulting the HDP well above the electoral threshold, voters endorsed the discourse of its leader Selahattin Demirtas, emphasising his commitment to make the HDP a political party representing not just the Kurdish minority but one that embraces ethnic and social diversity. The HDP's candidate list included several women as well as leftists, Christians, Alevis (a heterodox Islamic sect) and members of the LGBT and Roma communities.
Last, the electorate sent out a rather subtle but critical message to Turkish institutions, such as the judiciary, police, state media and economic regulatory bodies, including the central bank, for failing to stand their ground and resist Erdogan's bullying.
This election is a gamechanger, but it's still a first step. Turkey's democratic institutions have suffered greatly over the last few years and it would be unrealistic to expect miracles. Big challenges are still waiting. Recovering the independence of state institutions, repairing the damage inflicted on liberal democracy and winning the trust and confidence of investors as well as redirecting foreign policy will not be an easy exercise. Nevertheless, the electorate has given Turkey a second chance to reclaim its democracy and has chosen the AKP to lead this exercise. The party will need to take a critical look at itself, learn the key lessons and return to its policies from the days when it truly enjoyed broad popular support and widespread international acclaim.
The writer is the TUSIAD senior fellow in the foreign policy programme at Brookings, Washington, DC
Some more articles on the game changer
The future of Turkey's Syria policy
The future of Turkey's controversial Syria policy has become even more uncertain with the Justice and Development Party's (AKP's) loss of a parliamentary majority. Any potential coalition partner with the AKP — still the leading party, although it cannot form a government — will approach Syria totally different than the AKP did.
Summary⎙ Print Election results have made Turkey's current Syria policy hard to implement.
Author Fehim TaştekinPosted June 10, 2015
The Republican People's Party (CHP), the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) and the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) have accused the AKP of becoming a party to the Syrian crisis by arming groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, allowing foreign militants to cross our borders and helping organizations such as the Islamic State (IS) and Jabhat al-Nusra to become prominent forces.
Many believe that one reason for the AKP's dismal showing in the 2015 elections is its policy on Syria. While the AKP's militant base angrily asks in Internet messages, "Who lost the elections? Jerusalem, Syria, Egypt and Somalia did," there are those among the AKP founding fathers who believe that votes were lost in provinces bordering Syria and among Kurds in general because of the AKP's mishandling of Rojava and Kobani. These seniors now think that a new course of action is essential to solve the Syrian crisis.
The number of AKP deputies from Hatay, Kilis, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa, Mardin and Sirnak provinces bordering Syria dropped from 30 to 20, and the AKP was totally wiped out in five heavily Kurdish-populated provinces.
The change of power structure in Turkey came precisely at a time when the new Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey partnership is changing the balances in the field against Assad's regime.
The double-pronged strategy of the partnership sought to arm and expand the territory dominated in the northern front of Idlib and Hatay and the southern front of Daara, Quneitra, Sweida and Damascus via Jordan. The Turkish prong of this strategy is now up in the air.
As President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud in their Riyadh meeting, the new addresses for weapons assistance were al-Qaeda's Syrian branch of Jabhat al-Nusra and the Army of Conquest (Jaish al-Fateh), led by Ahrar al-Sham, set up by former al-Qaeda affiliates.
After the shipment of weapons via Turkey, the Army of Conquest captured Idlib, Jisr al-Shughour, Ariha and Mastume. The Syrian army also lost some locations in the south. In the latest development, the 52nd Brigade, which was 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of Damascus, had to abandon its base.
On the northern front, the objective of the Army of Conquest is to capture Aleppo and Latakia after Idlib and then move toward Damascus. Before Turkey's elections, there were reports that Turkey was about to send troops to Syria along with Saudi Arabia to set up a buffer zone. The second prong of the strategy developed by the Turkey-Saudi-Qatari alliance is to devise a new approach in the south. The south front, commanded from an operations room in Amman, Jordan, in the presence of Western intelligence officials, will hopefully be reorganized under the leadership of Zahran Alloush, commander of the Army of Conquest.
Reports say that Alloush was in Istanbul last month to meet with opposition representatives and then in Amman to meet with Gulf and Western intelligence services.
The scenarios for government change in Turkey will not affect support for the opposition from Amman, but the future of the northern front will depend mostly on Ankara's new attitude. If the new government in Ankara does not agree to continue with the Turkey-Qatar-Saudi Arabia partnership, then the flow of weapons via Turkey will cease. In such a case, it won't be easy for the Army of Conquest to hold on to the territory it has captured in Idlib and the vicinity.
The Syrian army is now massing around Idlib and preparing for a major offensive. According to journalist Mehmet Serim, who is reporting from Damascus, Assad's regime was waiting for the Turkish elections for its major offensive.
There are also reports that Iran has moved 5,000 to 15,000 fighters it gathered from Iraq, Iran and Lebanon to the region, and Hezbollah is trying to expand its operations from Qalamoun as far as Aleppo.
The Syria crisis has five dimensions of major concern for Turkey:
Supporting both the civilian and military wings of the opposition
Controlling the borders
Relations with autonomous Kurds of Rojava
Regarding arming the opposition and controlling the border, the AKP will have to listen to voices from its own ranks as well as from any potential coalition partner. A more concrete and determined line can be expected in combating IS. The new government will find it very hard to introduce a new approach to the refugee issue or to send the refugees back. On Rojava, the MHP and the HDP have sharply opposing views. If the new government is to include the MHP, then relations with the Kurds could deteriorate.
The AKP appears to be heading for an in-house account settling. An AKP founder, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the issue, told Al-Monitor: "Syrian policy played a part in our defeat. Although there may be a minority [in] our base that will say this is a loss for Jerusalem, it is obvious that we lost the Kurds because of Kobani. Until today, the AKP was the party with [the] most Kurdish votes. Syrian policy must change. When Abdullah Gul was the president, he had warned the government but to no avail. The priority must be to end the clashes in Syria."
Diplomat Murat Ozcelik, vice chairman of the opposition CHP who has entered parliament as a deputy from Istanbul, said if they join a coalition government, they will seek radical changes to repair relations not only with Syria, but also with Egypt, Iran and the European Union.
Ozcelik told Al-Monitor: "To secure a cease-fire [with] Syria, we will initiate dialogue with all parties including the Assad government. We will talk to anyone we have to, including Iran. After stopping the bloodshed, we will go for a political settlement. AKP's Syria policy has borne disastrous results for the region and for Turkey. This can't go on."
HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, in his interview with CNN International, said a new coalition cannot continue with the current Syria policy. "I don't believe that a coalition government will continue to support IS and other radical groups in the region," Demirtas said.
In short, changing the policy on Syria appears to be a prerequisite of parties to enter into a coalition with the AKP. The AKP might also have to look for a new course of action for its own internal harmony.
Logistics 101: Where Does ISIS Get Its Guns?
By Tony Cartalucci
June 10, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - "NEO" - Since ancient times an army required significant logistical support to carry out any kind of sustained military campaign. In ancient Rome, an extensive network of roads was constructed to facilitate not only trade, but to allow Roman legions to move quickly to where they were needed, and for the supplies needed to sustain military operations to follow them in turn.
In the late 1700's French general, expert strategist, and leader Napoleon Bonaparte would note that, "an army marches on its stomach," referring to the extensive logistical network required to keep an army fed, and therefore able to maintain its fighting capacity. For the French, their inability to maintain a steady supply train to its forces fighting in Russia, and the Russians' decision to burn their own land and infrastructure to deny it from the invading forces, ultimately defeated the French.
Nazi Germany would suffer a similar fate when it too overextended its logical capabilities during its invasion of Russia amid Operation Barbarossa. Once again, invading armies became stranded without limited resources before being either cut off and annihilated or forced to retreat.
And in modern times during the Gulf War in the 1990's an extended supply line trailing invading US forces coupled with an anticipated clash with the bulk of Saddam Hussein's army halted what was otherwise a lighting advance many mistakenly believed could have reached Baghdad had there been the political will. The will to conquer was there, the logistics to implement it wasn't.
The lessons of history however clear they may be, appear to be entirely lost on an either supremely ignorant or incredibly deceitful troupe of policymakers and news agencies across the West.
ISIS' Supply Lines
The current conflict consuming the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria where the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS) is operating and simultaneously fighting and defeating the forces of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran, we are told, is built upon a logistical network based on black market oil and ransom payments.
The fighting capacity of ISIS is that of a nation-state. It controls vast swaths of territory straddling both Syria and Iraq and not only is able to militarily defend and expand from this territory, but possesses the resources to occupy it, including the resources to administer the populations subjugated within it.
For military analysts, especially former members of Western armed forces, as well as members of the Western media who remember the convoys of trucks required for the invasions of Iraq in the 1990s and again in 2003, they surely must wonder where ISIS' trucks are today. After all, if the resources to maintain the fighting capacity exhibited by ISIS were available within Syrian and Iraqi territory alone, then certainly Syrian and Iraqi forces would also posses an equal or greater fighting capacity but they simply do not.
And were ISIS' supply lines solely confined within Syrian and Iraqi territory, then surely both Syrian and Iraqi forces would utilize their one advantage – air power – to cut front line ISIS fighters from the source of their supplies. But this is not happening and there is a good reason why.
Terrorists and weapons left over from NATO's intervention in Libya in 2011 were promptly sent to Turkey and then onto Syria – coordinated by US State Department officials and intelligence agencies in Benghazi – a terrorist hotbed for decades.ISIS' supply lines run precisely where Syrian and Iraqi air power cannot go. To the north and into NATO-member Turkey, and to the southwest into US allies Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Beyond these borders exists a logistical network that spans a region including both Eastern Europe and North Africa.
The London Telegraph would report in their 2013 article, "CIA 'running arms smuggling team in Benghazi when consulate was attacked'," that:
[CNN] said that a CIA team was working in an annex near the consulate on a project to supply missiles from Libyan armouries to Syrian rebels.
Weapons have also come from Eastern Europe, with the New York Times reporting in 2013 in their article, "Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.," that:
From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.
And while Western media sources continuously refer to ISIS and other factions operating under the banner of Al Qaeda as "rebels" or "moderates," it is clear that if billions of dollars in weapons were truly going to "moderates," they, not ISIS would be dominating the battlefield.
Recent revelations have revealed that as early as 2012 the United States Department of Defense not only anticipated the creation of a "Salafist Principality" straddling Syria and Iraq precisely where ISIS now exists, it welcomed it eagerly and contributed to the circumstances required to bring it about.
Just How Extensive Are ISIS' Supply Lines?
While many across the West play willfully ignorant as to where ISIS truly gets their supplies from in order to maintain its impressive fighting capacity, some journalists have traveled to the region and have video taped and reported on the endless convoys of trucks supplying the terrorist army.
Were these trucks traveling to and from factories in seized ISIS territory deep within Syrian and Iraqi territory? No. They were traveling from deep within Turkey, crossing the Syrian border with absolute impunity, and headed on their way with the implicit protection of nearby Turkish military forces. Attempts by Syria to attack these convoys and the terrorists flowing in with them have been met by Turkish air defenses.
Germany's international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) published the first video report from a major Western media outlet illustrating that ISIS is supplied not by "black market oil" or "hostage ransoms" but billions of dollars worth of supplies carried into Syria across NATO member Turkey's borders via hundreds of trucks a day.
The report titled, "'IS' supply channels through Turkey," confirms what has been reported by geopolitical analysts since at least as early as 2011 – that ISIS subsides on immense, multi-national state sponsorship, including, obviously, Turkey itself.
Looking at maps of ISIS-held territory and reading action reports of its offensive maneuvers throughout the region and even beyond, one might imagine hundreds of trucks a day would be required to maintain this level of fighting capacity. One could imagine similar convoys crossing into Iraq from Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Similar convoys are likely passing into Syria from Jordan.
In all, considering the realities of logistics and their timeless importance to military campaigns throughout human history, there is no other plausible explanation to ISIS's ability to wage war within Syria and Iraq besides immense resources being channeled to it from abroad.
If an army marches on its stomach, and ISIS' stomachs are full of NATO and Persian Gulf State supplies, ISIS will continue to march long and hard. The key to breaking the back of ISIS, is breaking the back of its supply lines. To do that however, and precisely why the conflict has dragged on for so long, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and others would have to eventually secure the borders and force ISIS to fight within Turkish, Jordanian, and Saudi territory – a difficult scenario to implement as nations like Turkey have created defacto buffer zones within Syrian territory which would require a direct military confrontation with Turkey itself to eliminate.
With Iran joining the fray with an alleged deployment of thousands of troops to bolster Syrian military operations, overwhelming principles of deterrence may prevent Turkey enforcing its buffer zones.
What we are currently left with is NATO literally holding the region hostage with the prospect of a catastrophic regional war in a bid to defend and perpetuate the carnage perpetrated by ISIS within Syria, fully underwritten by an immense logistical network streaming out of NATO territory itself.
Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine"New Eastern Outlook".