Friday, February 7, 2014

Turkey in a pickle

Turkey in a pickle
I have not been an admirer of Recep Erdogan Turkish PM, an authoritarian Islamizing maverick who with his Nesssereddin hoca like (without his wisdom) FM Davutoglu has brought Turkey into a narrow pass .Turks use this phrase for dangerous political impasse with their nomadic past.
I have compared Erdogan's rule to ten years of PM Adnan Menderes hanged in 1960 .Erdogan has humiliated and tried to destroy Turkish military, a stake holder since the republic's inception, which it will not forget .US led western claims of Turkey as an example to Muslim countries, especially in the region was a joke, which former Ottoman subjects denounced and disowned .Now Turkey has almost no friends.
Worse is the feudal style neoliberal crony capitalism enriching the so called ANATOLIAN TIGERS, admired by many superficial commentators, which has put the economy under severe threat? There are many similarities with Indian economy, with its robber barons and realty sector and pervasive corruption.
After my background piece on Turkish 2011 elections is a piece on the economic mess Turkey has been led to .
Turkish elections 2011
Turkish Voter Reigns in Riyadh Supported Islamists 


"We have spoken, and now it is time for the people to speak," PM Erdoğan.

People have ; against fundamental changes in the Constitution .


Economist Magazine, London ,"The best way for Turks to promote democracy would be to vote against the ruling party." "Erdoğan's victories over the army and judiciary have given him too much power and would now allow him to "indulge his natural intolerance of criticism" and feed his "autocratic instincts," it warned.


"There is much to admire, internally and internationally, about the new Turkey. But peaceful revolutions can overreach themselves too, and it is vital that Turkish society is able to place some limits around Mr Erdogan's formidable ambitions. imperious ways, which include the jailing of journalists and a punitive approach to media organization with the temerity to criticise him. ,"The Guardian.
"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.


2011 Election Results


Of over 50 million eligible voters in Turkey's population of 73 million, 84.5% cast the vote on 12 June. With 99% votes counted the ruling Justice and Development party ( AKP ) would got around 50% of votes but with likely 326 seats ( in a house of 550) will not be able to even put amendments for referendum except with support from the opposition. AKP had won 341 seats in 2007 with 4% less votes and two-thirds majority, 365 with only 35% votes in November 2002 elections , when it burst on the political scene , stunning everyone including itself . The party will form a government on its own a 3rd time running, while after the 1980 military coup , almost all earlier ones were coalition governments.


Unless a party gets 10% votes ,it cannot get a seat in the Grand National Assembly. This high threshold has been passed to keep out Kurdish parties. In 2002 , nearly 49% of votes went waste. The 10% threshold creates piquant situations .It has kept out two major parties formed by Suleyman Demiral and late Turgut Ozal both prime ministers and then presidents .


The main opposition Peoples Republican party (RPP) with 26% of votes will get 135 seats, 23 seats more than last time. RPP , established by the founder of the republic Kemal Ataturk had last won maximum seats in 1973 , 185 seats out of 450 ,and headed a coalition under late PM Bulent Ecevit .  The extreme nationalist National Movement Party (MHP) won 54 with 13% votes, but lost 17 seats.
After the elections
 "The people have won-- will make a liberal constitution altogether," Erdogan. 
A chastened Erdogan, AKP's driving and dividing force conceded that "The people have won." "We will embrace everyone, whether they voted for the AKP or not," he added in a speech at his party's headquarters late Sunday.  "I say that if the main opposition and other opposition parties approve, we will sit and talk, and we will have dialogue with the political parties outside the Parliament, non-governmental organizations and associations. We will make a liberal constitution altogether. The east, the west, the north and the south will find themselves in this constitution." 
"This new constitution will be addressed to every single individual in Turkey. In the new constitution, every citizen will be "the first."  This constitution will focus on peace. This constitution will be the constitution of the Kurd, of Turkmen people, of Alevis, of all minorities, which means all 74 million people. This constitution will be for fraternity, for sharing, for unity and solidarity." 
RPP leader Kemal Kiliçdaroglu said late Sunday that the party has come out stronger from the election as a result of opposing Erdogan's plans for changing the Constitution. He said the party gained 3.5 million new voters in six months, and the highest percentage of votes since the Sept. 12, 1980 coup.  RPP protects minorities like the Shia Alevis, almost 10% of the population, mostly those who came as conquerors from central Asia. --
Kurds have greater faith in RPP than in NMP and AKP. "The Kurdish issue is the No. 1 problem in our attempt to become more democratic," said a graphic designer in Istanbul. "Having this problem and talking about democracy is absurd." Kurds remain dissatisfied. PKK rebellion organized by Abdulla Ocalan, now in prison for life since 1999, has cost nearly 40,000 lives including 5000 soldiers and creating problems across the board. 
Till mid-1980s, Kurds had to call themselves Mountain Turks. Kurds cannot organize education and media in Kurdish language freely. During WWI the British occupied oil rich Kirkuk in Kurdish north Iraq after a ceasefire and instigated rebellions in Turkey's Kurdish south east. It forced Ataturk to disenfranchise Kurds, a people who have inhabited the region straddling Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria and total around 25 million, much before the arrival of the Turks into Anatolia. 
The author first visited south east Turkey and Diyarbakir, biggest Kurdish city first time in 1969 and was greeted by young boys singing Kurdish songs. He then made many visits, the last visit to Diyarbakir and the region was in 1997, when the rebellion was in full play.
-- 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." (Shades of Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria) and, "One cannot be a secularist and a Muslim at the same time." So his drive and passion makes people uneasy and scared.
Yesil Surmaye aka Green Money from Saudi Arabia 
But why is the corporate Western media silent and not exposing the Yesil Surmayeaka green money from Saudi Arabia, poured into Turkey in direct massive gifts from mid 1990s and as investment in central Anatolia, stronghold of the AKP, from where its leadership originates, in towns like Konya (Iconium) of whirling dervishes and Kayseri (Caesarea Mazaca).
-- When it seemed in 2007 that Erdogan would go for the Presidency, millions poured out in protest against him in Turkey's capital Ankara, commercial and cultural metropolis Istanbul and Mediterranean port of Izmir, the historical Smyrna.
Corrupt Erdogan
I did not have a chance to meet with Erdogan, then a very successful mayor of Istanbul, who made his name for honesty. Of course unlike almost all non-Islamist parties, which had become mired incorruption, Erdogan did not need bribes. As early as August 2001, Rahmi Koç, Chairman of Koç Holding, Turkey's largest and oldest conglomerate commented on CNN Türk that Erdogan has a US $ 1 billion fortune and asked the source of his wealth. Erdogan has remained silent. 
According to WikiLeaks, Eric Edelman, the then U.S. ambassador to Turkey, wrote in a cable to Washington on Dec. 30, 2004. 
"We have heard from two contacts that Erdogan has eight accounts in Swiss banks; his explanations that his wealth comes from the wedding presents guests gave his son and that a Turkish businessman is paying the educational expenses of all four Erdogan children in the U.S. purely altruistically are lame." "—an anonymous source told [him] that Erdogan and [the source] benefited directly from the award of the Tüpras privatization to a consortium including a Russian partner", said Edelman in another cable. (The Turkish Petroleum Refineries Corporation, or Tüpras, is the state petroleum refinery. A Russian-Turkish consortium paid nearly $1.3 billion for the privatization of the country's largest-capacity refinery in 2004.) Edelman also listed former ministers Abdülkadir Aksu, Kürsat Tüzmen and Istanbul provincial chairman Mehmet Müezzinoglu as the most corrupt politicians in Turkey. 
These allegations were hotly denied by Erdogan but have refused to die down.
AKP came to power in 2002 on the strength of its image as fresh and honest party amidst a sea of corrupt establishment parties, but since then AKP's own finances appear to have become murky, blurring the distinction between business and politics. Turkish domestic and foreign policy is influenced by the influx of "green money," from governments like Saudi Arabia and wealthy Islamist businessmen in other Gulf Emirates.
Some Turkish professional bureaucrats, businessmen, journalists, and even politicians raised the question of Saudi money flowing into AKP coffers through green money business intermediaries. "The problem is Saudi Arabia. If you solve that, then our problem is solved," one independent parliamentarian told Rubin. (Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute in an article "Green Money, Islamist Politics in Turkey" for the Middle East Quarterly of 2005). A former member of the AKP concurred: "Before the 2002 election, there were rumors that an AKP victory would lead to an infusion of $10-$20 billion, mostly from Saudi Arabia. It looks like the rumors came true." 
While Turkish journalists and officials acknowledge that Saudi investment in Turkey and Turkish politics has increased since 2002, the exact nature of the investment is murky and circumstantial. Prior to the AKP's 2002 election victory, Abdullah Gül criticized state scrutiny of the Islamic enterprises, accusing the secular government of acting unfairly. Between1983 and 1991, Gül worked at the Islamic Development Bank in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The Islamic banks—and especially those sponsored by Saudi Arabia—regularly channel money to Islamist enterprises. On November 9, 2004, Deniz Baykal, leader of the parliamentary opposition RPP , accused the AKP of trying to create a religion-based economy. It is also affecting Turkey's foreign policy.
Some Turkish economists suggest that after 11/9 Saudi and other Persian Gulf citizens' liquidated their U.S. holdings.  Some bankers estimate that individual Saudi investors withdrew between $100 and $200 billion. One Turkish economist suggested that, even if Saudi citizens moved $20 billion to France, $10 billion to Lebanon, and $6 billion to Switzerland, there would still be ample funds left to invest unofficially in Turkey. The money may support legitimate businesses. But, if both the investor and business fail to declare it, then such funds might remain immune to taxation and regulation. Various estimated of the green money infusion into the Turkish economy is between $6 billion and $12 billon. 
Much of the money enters Turkey "in suitcases" with couriers and remains in the unofficial economy. Even when deposited, banks ask no questions about the origins of the cash. "Money laundering is one of the worst aspects of Turkish politics," a former state planning official said. Political parties across the political spectrum have illegal slush fund. Under the AKP, the unofficial economy has grown exponentially. 
Official Turkish statistics provide some clue to the scope of the problem. Between 2002 and 2003, the summary balance of payments for net error and omission category—basically unexplained income—increased from $149 million to almost $4 billion. This is an eighty-year record error. In the first six months of 2004, an additional $1.3 billion entered the system, its origins unaccounted. According to Kesici, an economist there could be as much as a $2 billion overestimation in tourism revenue. 
Riyadh wants to build up Turkey as a powerful Sunni state to counter Iran's influence. USA and Europe also support that view. Hence, so little is stated in Western media about Saudi Green Money's role in Turkish politics. But so far Ankara has followed a rational policy regarding Tehran. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, its historical enemy, which had forced Ankara to join NATO in 1950s, when Moscow demanded return of two Turkish provinces in north East and role in 1936 Montreux Convention that gives it control over the Bosporus Straits and the Dardanelles, Turkey, a regional power with the largest military after USA in NATO , feels free to pursue an independent foreign policy.
-- Adnan Menderes and his hanging - An echo from the past. 
Since the creation of the republic in 1923, Turkey was ruled by Republican People Party (RPP). In spite of his wish and some attempts to introduce multiparty democracy, Ataturk gave up when Kurdish revolts and Islamic obscurantism reared its head.
But after WWII, in which following Ataturk's advice, under his successor Ismet Inonu, Ankara remained neutral, there was pressure on Turkey to introduce multiparty democracy. So before the first elections in 1947, a new Democrat party was formed by Adnan Menderes and a former PM Celal Bayar.
Menderes, son of a wealthy landowner, born in 1899 in Aydin, had fought against the invading Greeks and was a trained lawyer. His efforts to establish a political party in1930s were obstructed so he joined Ataturk's RPP and became a deputy. In 1945, he was expelled from the party with two other colleagues because of opposition to nationalization policies.
Democrat party made its presence felt in 1947 elections but in the 1950 elections, DP won 52% of the votes in the first free elections in Turkish history on 14 May (in which votes were cast in secret and counted openly), Menderes became the prime minister and later won two more free elections, one in 1954 and the other in 1957. No other politician has ever been able to win three general elections in a row in Turkey. Except again NOW!
Coming after an austere and dreary Jacobinistic secular era of Ataturk, Menderes more tolerant towards traditional lifestyles and different forms of practice was liked by the masses. He had campaigned in the 1950 elections on the platform of legalizing the Arabic language and Muslim call to prayer which was banned. He re-opened thousands of mosques across the country which were left abandoned. In one of his speeches, he said that members of parliament could bring back Sharia law if they so desired. 
His economic policies after the earlier years of affluence, helped by US grants, brought the country to insolvency due to an enormous increase in imports of goods and technology .Menderes was most intolerant towards criticism, so he instituted press censorship and had journalists arrested.  He also attempted to oppress the opposing political parties and to take institutions such as universities under his control. His policies annoyed the armed forces and even venerable Inonu, Ataturk's right hand man and successor who was insulted. Having lost power and pelf since1950, the military was most upset.
Menderes became a strong headed politician but was very popular among the masses. His survival from an air crash near London in 1959 further added to his charisma. But he was over taken by hubris and upset too many sectors of the society and polity, specially the military and his political opponents. A young colonel's coup under Cemal Gursel led to the overthrow of Menderes government. He was tried and hanged along with two ministers. Many compare it to the later hanging of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was hanged by Gen Zia ul Haq, selected by Bhutto himself, since it was feared that if Bhutto was returned to power, he would seek revenge on Gen Zia.
There are many shades of similarity with Menderes, so Erdogan better heed history. 
Turkish media Corporatized and beholden to the Ruling party
Media like elsewhere, led by USA, has been captured by corporate houses (half a dozen control 90% of media in US). Turkey used to have a vibrant press with a number of national papers till some years ago. Now it is difficult to get unbiased news in Turkish media. There has been a consolidation of ownership to just a few business houses. The Dogan Group, for example, owns not only well-known dailies like Hürriyet and Milliyet but also Radikal, Posta, and the Hurriyet (old Turkish) Daily News among others. Together these capture perhaps 50 percent of total Turkish daily circulation. In addition, Dogan Group television stations like CNN Türk and Kanal D have perhaps a 20 percent market share. 
The problem is not that Dogan companies always tow the party line. Many Turkish journalists produce hard-hitting analysis. But a number of journalists complain of self-censorship. The same media barons who own a large portion of the press have branched into other sectors where they are more dependent on government largesse. "Everyone is vulnerable—economically and politically—if they oppose the government," a businessman explained. It is foolhardy to annoy the government. The Uzan group which opposed AKP was decimated. 
The Guardian wrote apiece on 30 September, 2010 on the curbs on media ever since AKP took over in 2002, Erdogan has been accused of seeking to quash dissident voices. In August 2010 Bekir Coskun, a militantly secular columnist for a mass-circulation daily, Habertürk, was sacked under pressure from the government .There has been a steady dismissal of anti-government journalists from the mainstream media which has reinforced the view that Erdogan is intolerant of criticism. In September 2009, Aydin Dogan, was slapped with a huge fine for alleged tax fraud (with accrued interest, the fine stands at $3.7 billion). 
"Under AK the press has been declared the enemy," says Ferai Tinc, who runs a media watchdog. According to the International Federation of Journalists over 40 Turkish journalists are in jail and around 700 others face trial, many of them Kurds accused of spreading separatist propaganda. One, Irfan Aktan, was sentenced to 15 months in prison in June for quoting a rebel of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Mehmet Baransu, an investigative reporter who has exposed a string of alleged coup plots and episodes of army incompetence, has faced 40 separate court cases and received six convictions in the past 15 months. The government has gone back on promises to ease tough media laws.
Erdogan likes to recall, hundreds of journalists (again, mostly Kurds) who were imprisoned or kidnapped at the height of the PKK insurgency in the 1990s. Many died in so-called "mystery murders" thought to have been carried out by rogue security forces. Yet few in the mainstream press uttered a peep, for fear of falling foul of the generals. Corporate media bosses often buckle under state pressure to protect their business interests. Today almost everybody, be they Kurdish, secular or anti-army, are under pressure. "The net," concludes Mrs. Tinc, "has widened liken ever before." 
Military in Politics; 
Struggle between Miri and Piri in Muslim Countries
In mid 1990s a British journalist was going on and on against the role of military in Turkish politics. Finally I said when and what the Windsors or its earlier incarnation German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha did for the United Kingdom. Still a family and its hangers on along with its perennial feudal landed elite and an incrementally added economic elite rule over the masses differentiated as 'we and they'.  Yes, with little to do except cutting ribbons the British Royals provide endless media gossip of extramarital and other, even sordid affairs with salacious details to satisfy the citizens like circus in Roman Empire. 'They' become teachers,  bank tellers ,waiters , nurses, read weather news on BBC ,the junior commissioned officers parading proudly with pieces of bronze and colored ribbons , and sent to die in Iraq, Afghanistan and Malvinas (Does not British Govt mouthpiece BBC describe Kashmir as India administered and 26/11 terrorists as gunmen) 
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 of21st century. 
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.
Turkey, known in the past as Asia minor and Anatolia, which comprises most of  today's  Republic is located at the juncture of  Asia (and connected to Central Asia via the Caucasus), Africa and Europe, with the straits of Bosporus and Dardanelles separating Asia and Europe. Ruled in the past by Achaemenid Persians; Greeks, Romans and Byzantines; and then by Muslim Seljuk and finally Seljuk and Ottoman Turks, the inhabitants of Anatolia have tough identity problems (Perhaps 15% only are migrants from central Asia, mostly now Alevis and many times victims of Sunni Muslim establishment). So there is a spiritual and psychological dichotomy between the Europe oriented elite (with perhaps many originally of European ethnic origin) at the head and a  conservative oriental majority in the body politic of Turkey. 
Ataturk cut the Gordian Knot of Secular and Religious 
After the modernizing and westernizing reforms and measures during the last century of the Ottoman rule, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Ataturk cut the Gordian Knot by disenfranchising Islam in the Republic. It included the abolition of the Caliphate, closure of various tariqas aka Sufi and other brotherhoods, with Whirling Dervishes of Rumi's Konya becoming tourist attractions, change over for Turkish language script from unsuitable Arabic script to Roman script, excluding Arabic and Persian words and adding French and English words. The Fez and Ottoman loose trousers were banned and replaced by western hats and caps with European style jackets and trousers. So do not be misled that wearing of western clothes has transformed the thinking of Anatolians into western thinking and mores. Ataturk also decreed that the 6 century AD magnificent Byzantine St. Sophia Church, which was converted into a mosque by the addition of minarets in 1453, after Ottoman Sultan Fethi had conquered the city of Constantinoplebe turned into a museum. In Topkapi Museum you can gaze at the doors from Mecca, dresses, swords etc., of Prophet Mohammad and the Caliphs. (In mid-1960s, loss of a few hairs of Prophet Mohammad in Hajratbal in Kashmir had created an ugly situation).
Since the establishment of the republic, Turkey has witnessed three coups d'état -- in 1960, 1971 and 1980 -- and in1997 the military forced a coalition government to step down. 
The 1960 and 1980 were full-fledged coups, when the armed forces took over power, brought out a new Constitution and handed power back to the politicians. The 1960 coup was a colonel's coup with Gen Gursel at its head. He had to exile the head strong colonels, led by Col Alparslan Turkesh (who later founded the Nationalist Movement party now led by Bahcheli) out of Turkey as they had planned to rule the country.
The 1971 half coup was by a memorandum by the National Security Council (NSC), under pressure from junior officers and changed the regime. Suleman Demirle was replaced by Nihat Erim to carry out socialist reforms .The 1997 quarter coup forced the first ever Islamist PM Erbakan heading a coalition government to resign and make way for a new secular government. The author then based in Ankara in 1971 and 1997 was a witness to the events.
Ataturk cut the Gordian Knot of Secular and Religious 
After the modernizing and westernizing reforms and measures during the last century of the Ottoman rule, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Ataturk cut the Gordian Knot by disenfranchising Islam in the Republic. It included the abolition of the Caliphate, closure of various tariqas aka Sufi and other brotherhoods, with Whirling Dervishes of Rumi's Konya becoming tourist attractions, change over for Turkish language script from unsuitable Arabic script to Roman script, excluding Arabic and Persian words and adding French and English words. The Fez and Ottoman loose trousers were banned and replaced by western hats and caps with European style jackets and trousers. So do not be misled that wearing of western clothes has transformed the thinking of Anatolians into western thinking and mores. Ataturk also decreed that the 6 century AD magnificent Byzantine St. Sophia Church, which was converted into a mosque by the addition of minarets in 1453, after Ottoman Sultan Fethi had conquered the city of Constantinoplebe turned into a museum. In Topkapi Museum you can gaze at the doors from Mecca, dresses, swords etc., of Prophet Mohammad and the Caliphs. (In mid-1960s, loss of a few hairs of Prophet Mohammad in Hajratbal in Kashmir had created an ugly situation).
Since the establishment of the republic, Turkey has witnessed three coups d'état -- in 1960, 1971 and 1980 -- and in1997 the military forced a coalition government to step down. 
The 1960 and 1980 were full-fledged coups, when the armed forces took over power, brought out a new Constitution and handed power back to the politicians. The 1960 coup was a colonel's coup with Gen Gursel at its head. He had to exile the head strong colonels, led by Col Alparslan Turkesh (who later founded the Nationalist Movement party now led by Bahcheli) out of Turkey as they had planned to rule the country.
The 1971 half coup was by a memorandum by the National Security Council (NSC), under pressure from junior officers and changed the regime. Suleman Demirle was replaced by Nihat Erim to carry out socialist reforms .The 1997 quarter coup forced the first ever Islamist PM Erbakan heading a coalition government to resign and make way for a new secular government. The author then based in Ankara in 1971 and 1997 was a witness to the events.
Changing Role of the National Security Council 
Following the 1960 coup, the 1961 constitution transformed the earlier innocuous National Defense High Council into the National Security Council.  The president of the republic, instead of the prime minister, was made its chairperson, and "representatives" of the army, navy, air force and the police became its members, apart from the prime minister and four other ministers. The council became a constitutional body and offered "information" to the Council of Ministers (cabinet) concerning the internal and external security of the country.  After constitutional amendments following the 1971-1973 military intervention, it has submitted its "recommendations" to the Council of Ministers.
The 1982 constitution, a less liberal product and the result of the1980-1983 military intervention, further strengthened the NSC's role by obliging the Council of Ministers to give priority to its recommendations.  Threats from military members of the NSC made then premier Suleyman Demirel resign in 1971, and the first-ever Islamist premier, Necmettin Erbakan, then heading a coalition with a secular party, was forced to leave in 1997 for not curbing increasing fundamentalism in Turkey.  Both the times, direct military takeovers were avoided.  The military intervened directly in 1960 and 1980 when politicians had brought the country to an impasse. Before the 1980 coup, hundreds of people were killed in daily violence while the politicians had abdicated responsibility by refusing to even elect a president of the republic .But after cleaning up the mess and getting a new constitution in place, the armed forces, as usual, returned to their barracks.
Trials and badmouthing of generals who were forced to carry out the 1980s coup is irrational and like disturbing the hornet's nest. There would be a blow back.  
The Turkish armed forces have traditionally enjoyed total autonomy in their affairs and are very sensitive about it.  Their chief of general Staff (CGS) ranks after only the prime minister, and along with the president forms the troika that ruled the country. Turkish people have great respect and regard for its armed forces and trust them more than the politicians.
When I returned to Ankara as head of mission in 1992, I praised the Speaker of the Grand National Assembly for putting up a brave front during the military's attempt to get Gen Faruk Gurler elected as the President of the Republic in 1973. He said yes, but the politicians had to pay a heavy price i.e. banning of mainline political parties and their leaders and their imprisonment.
The inhabitants of Turkey always a very passionate people, influencing and influenced by outside philosophy and ideas, have a tendency for vendettas, a habit inculcated after half a millennia rule by tribal customs of Ottoman ruling elite and earlier the Seljuk from central Asia.
While there were many reasons, historic, economic and organic for the decline and fall of the Ottoman empire, but with the taking over of the holy places in Mecca and Medina and the title of the Caliph, began the era of decline .Immediately there was an increased influx of Mullahs, Shiekhs and orthodox Islamic habits and beliefs, which soon opposed study of modern science and knowledge. The Ottoman society and elite became closed to new ideas while the Europeans made progress in science and new ideas and technology; industrial and military. 
The central Asian Turks, many of them Buddhists, were cosmopolitan and not Salafist. Many wives of the Ottoman Sultans in the beginning of the empire were Christian princesses, who were allowed to keep their Church in the harem. Some of the Ottoman Sultans were brought up as Christians boys in childhood by their Christian mothers till they were taken away from the harem to be trained as Gazis and warriors of the faith.
As in Ottoman era, so now, the increasing influence of Saudi money and obscurantist ideas would not be beneficial and the Turkish society will regress into old habits. The controversies and fights over the veil or 'Ergenekon' mystery and trials are only symptoms of the battle. It suits US led West to keep Muslims backward and divided. The funding of conservative Muslim regimes and groups was used by the British and taken up by Washington after WWII, with Riyadh now the western bagman, to keep the thousands of Princes rolling in wealth and some in sin. Look at the mal-influence of Saudi money and ideology on Pakistan and elsewhere.
So what is happening in Turkey is a struggle between the Mir and the Pir, the temporal ruler and spiritual ruler, which still remains blurred, contested and changing in most Muslim countries. Coming into power of AKP is retrograde development. There will be many ups and downs and episodes, some even bloody, before a balance is achieved, if at all, but not any time soon.  
Below is an excellent article by Goldman on Turkish financial crisis from Asia Times
K.Gajendra Singh 6 Feb 2014
Turkish financial crisis adds to region's chaos
By David P Goldman  Feb 2014

More than coincidence accounts for the visit to Iran by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on January 28, the same day that his economic policy collapsed in a most humiliating way. 

As the Turkish lira collapsed to levels that threatened to bankrupt many Turkish companies, the country's central bank raised interest rates, ignoring Erdogan's longstanding pledge to keep 

interest rates low and his almost-daily denunciation of an "interest rate lobby" that sought to bring down the Turkish economy. Erdogan's prestige was founded on Turkey's supposed economic miracle. 

Hailed as"
the next superpower" by John Feffer of the Institute for Policy Studies, and as "Europe's BRIC" by The Economist, Turkey has become the Sick Man of the Middle East. It now appears as a stock character in the comic-opera of Third World economics: a corrupt dictatorship that bought popularity through debt accumulation and cronyism, and now is suffering the same kind of economic hangover that hit Latin America during the 1980s. 

That is not how Erdogan sees the matter, to be sure: for months he has denounced the "interest rate lobby". Writes the Hurriyet Daily News columnist 
Emre Deliveli, "He did not specify who the members of this lobby were, so I had to resort to pro-government newspapers. According to articles in a daily owned by the conglomerate where the PM's son-in-law is CEO, the lobby is a coalition of Jewish financiers associated with both Opus Dei and Illuminati. It seems the two sworn enemies have put aside their differences to ruin Turkey." 

US President Barack Obama 
told an interviewer in 2012 that Erdogan was one of his five closest overseas friends, on par with the leaders of Britain, Germany, South Korea and India. Full disclosure: as the Jewish banker who has been most aggressive inforecasting Turkey's crisis during the past two years, I have had no contact with Opus Dei on this matter, much less the mythical Illuminati. 

Erdogan was always a loose cannon. Now he has become unmoored. Paranoia is endemic in Turkish politics because so much of it is founded on conspiracy. The expression "paranoid Turk" is a pleonasm. Islamist followers of the self-styled prophet Fetullah Gulen infiltrated the security services and helped Erdogan jail some of the country's top military commanders on dubious allegations of a coup plot. Last August a Turkish court sentenced some 275 alleged members of the "Ergenekon" coup plot, including dozens of military officers, journalists, and secular leaders of civil society. 

Now Gulen has broken with Erdogan and his security apparatus has uncovered massive documentation of corruption in the Erdogan administration. Erdogan is firing police and security officials as fast as they arrest his cronies. 

There is a world difference, though, between a prosperous paranoid and an impecunious one. Turkey cannot fund its enormous current borrowing needs without offering interest rates so high that they will pop the construction-and-consumer bubble that masqueraded for a Turkish economic miracle during the past few years. 

The conspiracy of international bankers, Opus Dei and Illuminati that rages in Erdogan's Anatolian imagination has triumphed, and the aggrieved prime minister will not go quietly. As Erdogan abhors old allies who in his imagined betrayed him and seeks new ones, the situation will get worse. 

One of the worst ideas that ever occurred to Western planners was the hope that Turkey would provide a pillar of stability in an otherwise chaotic region, a prosperous Muslim democracy that would set an example to anti-authoritarian movements. The opposite has occurred: Erdogan's Turkey is not a source of stability but a spoiler allied to the most destructive and anti-Western forces in the region. 

It seems unlikely that the central bank's belated rate increase will forestall further devaluation of the lira. With inflation at 7.4% and rising, the central bank's 10% reference rate offers only a modest premium above the inflation rate. About two-fifths of Turkey's corporate debt is denominated in foreign currency, and the lira's decline translates into higher debt service costs. Turkey is likely to get the worst of both worlds, namely higher local interest rate and a weaker currency. 

Source: Turkish Central Bank 

Now Erdogan's Cave of Wonders has sunk back into the sand. Few analysts asked how Turkey managed to sustain a current account deficit that ranged between 8% and 10% of gross domestic product during the past three years, as bad as the Greek deficit during the years before its financial collapse in 2011. 

The likely answer is that Turkey drew on vast amounts of credit from Saudi and other Gulf state banks, with strategic as well as financial motives. Data from the Bank for International Settlements show that Turkey financed a large part of its enormous deficit through the interbank market, that is, through short-term loans to Turkish banks from other banks. 

Western banks report no such exposure to Turkey; the Gulf banks do not report regional exposure, and anecdotal evidence suggests that Sunni solidarity had something to do with the Gulf states' willingness to take on Turkish exposure. 

Relations between Turkey and the Gulf States are now in shambles. Saudi Arabia abhors the Muslim Brotherhood, which wants to replace the old Arab monarchies with Islamist regimes founded on modern totalitarian parties, while Erdogan embraced the Brotherhood. The Saudis are the main source of financial support for Egypt's military government, while Ankara has denounced the military's suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood. 

Whether the Gulf States simply ran out of patience or resources to support Erdogan's credit binge, or whether their displeasure at Turkey's misbehavior persuaded them to withdraw support, is hard to discern. Both factors probably were at work. In either case, Erdogan's rancor at Saudi Arabia has brought him closer to Teheran. 

Turkey should have restricted credit growth and raised interest rates to reduce its current account deficit while it still had time. Erdogan, though, did the opposite: Turkish banks increased their rate of lending while reducing interest rates to businesses and consumers. 

Given the country's enormous current account deficit, this constituted irresponsibility in the extreme. Erdogan evidently thought that his mandate depended on cheap and abundant credit. The credit bubble fed construction, where employment nearly doubled between 2009 and 2013. Construction jobs increased through 2013, after manufacturing and retail employment already had begun to shrink. 

Source: Central Bank of Turkey 

I predicted the end of Erdogan's supposed economic miracle in the Winter 2012 edition of Middle East Quarterly, comparing Erdogan's boomlet to the Latin American blowouts of the 1990s:
In some respects, Erdogan's bubble recalls the experiences of Argentina in 2000 and Mexico in 1994 where surging external debt produced short-lived bubbles of prosperity, followed by currency devaluations and deep slumps. Both Latin American governments bought popularity by providing cheap consumer credit as did Erdogan in the months leading up to the June 2011 national election. Argentina defaulted on its $132 billion public debt, and its economy contracted by 10 percent in real terms in 2002. Mexico ran a current account deficit equal to 8 percent of GDP in 1993, framing the 1994 peso devaluation and a subsequent 10 percent decline in consumption.

Source: BIS 

In the meantime, Turkey has entered a perfect storm. As its currency plunges, import costs soar, which means that a current account of 8% of GDP will shortly turn into 10% to 12% of GDP - unless the country stops importing, which means a drastic fall in economic activity. As its currency falls, its cost of borrowing jumps, which means that the cost of servicing existing debt will compound its current financing requirements. The only cure for Erdogan's debt addiction, to borrow a phrase, is cold turkey. 

The vicious cycle will end when valuations are sufficiently low and the government is sufficiently cooperative to sell assets at low prices to foreign investors, and when Turkish workers accept lower wages to produce products for export. 

One might envision a viable economic future for Turkey as the terminus on the "New Silk Road" that China proposes to build across Central Asia, with high-speed rail stretching from Beijing to Istanbul. Chinese manufacturers might ship container loads of components to Turkey for assembly and transshipment to the European and Middle Eastern markets, and European as well as Asian firms might build better factors in Turkey for export to China. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Turkey's path to Europe lies not through Brussels but through Beijing. 

That is Turkey's future, but as the old joke goes, it can't get there from here. 

Turkey has a small but highly component professional class trained at a handful of good universities, but the Erdogan regime - the so-called "Anatolian tigers" - have disenfranchised them in favor of Third World corruption and cronyism. The secular parties that bear the faded inheritance of Kemal Ataturk lack credibility. They are tainted by years of dirty war against the Kurds, of collusion with military repression, and their own proclivity towards a paranoid form of nationalism. 

Erdogan's AKP is a patronage organization that has run out of cash and credit, and its fate is unclear. The highly influential Gulen organization has a big voice, including the Zaman media chain, but no political network on the ground. 

No replacement for Erdogan stands in the wings, and the embattled prime minister will flail in all directions until the local elections on March 30. 

The last thing to expect from Erdogan is a coherent policy response. On the contrary, the former Anatolian villager thrives on contradiction, the better to keep his adversaries guessing. 

Turkish policy has flailed in every direction during recent weeks. Erdogan's Iran visit reportedly focused on Syria, where Turkey has been engaged in a proxy war with Iran's ally Basher al-Assad. Ankara's support for Syrian rebels dominated by al-Qaeda jihadists appears to have increased; in early January Turkish police stopped a Turkish truck headed for Syria, and Turkish intelligence agents seized it from the police. Allegedly the truck contained weapons sent by the IHH Foundation, the same group that sent the Mavi Marmara to Gaza in 2010. The Turkish opposition claims that the regime is backing al-Qaeda in Syria. One can only imagine what Erdogan discussed with his Syrian hosts. 

Some 4,500 Turks reportedly are fighting alongside 14,000 ??? and a total of 75,000 foreign fighters on the al-Qaeda side in Syria. Ankara's generosity to the Syrian jihadists is a threat to Russia, which has to contend with terrorists from the Caucasus, as well as Azerbaijan, where terrorists are infiltrating through Turkish territory from Syria. Russia's generally cordial relations with Turkey were premised on Turkish help in suppressing Muslim terrorism in the Caucasus. There is a substantial Chechnyan Diaspora in Turkey, aided by Turkish Islamists, and Moscow has remonstrated with Turkey on occasion about its tolerance or even encouragement of Caucasian terrorists. 

I doubt that Erdogan has any grand plan in the back of his mind. On the contrary: having attempted to manipulate everyone in the region, he has no friends left. But he is in a tight spot, and in full paranoid fury about perceived plots against him. The likelihood is that he will lean increasingly on his own hard core, that is, the most extreme elements in his own movement. 

Erdogan has been in what might be called a pre-apocalyptic mood for some time. The long term has looked grim for some time, on demographic grounds: a generation from now, half of all military-age men in Turkey will hail from homes where Kurdish is the first language. "If we continue the existing [fertility] trend, 2038 will mark disaster for us," he warned in a May 10, 2010, speech reported by the 
Daily Zaman. 

But disaster already has arrived. In some ways Turkey's decline is more dangerous than the Syrian civil war, or the low-intensity civil conflict in Iraq or Egypt. Turkey held the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's eastern flank for more than six decades, and all parties in the region - including Russia - counted on Turkey to help maintain regional stability. Turkey no longer contributes to crisis management. It is another crisis to be managed. 

Spengler is channeled by David P Goldman. He is Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and Associate Fellow at the Middle East ForumHis book How Civilizations Die (and why Islam is Dying, Too) was published by Regnery Press in September 2011. A volume of his essays on culture, religion and economics, It's Not the End of the World - It's Just the End of You, also appeared that fall, from Van Praag Press. 


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Amb (Rtd.) K. Gajendra Singh CV & Post Retirement Experience

                        Amb (Rtd.) K. Gajendra Singh

                             CV & Post Retirement Experience


After 35 years of diplomatic service , half as head of missions in Turkey, Romania, Jordan and  Senegal & 5 concurrent charges of Azerbaijan , Mali, Gambia ,Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde , on retirement in 1996 , Amb Gajendra Singh stayed on at Ankara as an accredited freelance journalist . He shifted to Bucharest in early 1998. His first diplomatic post was as Asst Press Attaché in Cairo (1962-64) 
He spent a year ( 1976) at National Defense College ,New Delhi, established Foreign Service Institute (1987-89) to train diplomats, was Chairman Managing Director of IDPL ,India’s top Pharmaceutical company in 1985 and 1986 .While posted at Amman ( 1989-92) he evacuated 140,000 Indian refugees who had come from Kuwait and Iraq. His other posts included Algiers, Ankara and Paris. 
Scores of his articles in print have appeared in India in major English newspapers Hindustan Times, Asian Age, Pioneer in Delhi , Telegraph, Calcutta etc ( and in a dozen major regional newspapers in India as a syndicated writer ) and abroad in Dubai- Khaleej Times , Gulf Today ,Beirut –Daily Star , and Ankara; Turkish daily News ,Cumhuriyet , Zaman etc  
Since August 2002  he has written nearly 500 in depth articles  mostly for online media ,including 60 for Asia Times on line , Hong Kong and others for South Asian Analysis Group , a New Delhi think tank and Al , ,Modern Writers website ,, based in Italy . His articles are used by diplomat and defense training institutes in India, Turkey and Bucharest and by many diplomats, professors, journalists and business consultants, think tanks in USA and elsewhere. 
His articles have been quoted /copied /hosted from by up to 100 websites. These include in USA left-wing web sites like the Z-mag ,, right-wing web sites like Free Republic, universities at New York, Columbia, California, Colorado, Utah ,Brandeis ,think tanks like Chatham House, CSIS, Washington DC, anti war and alternate websites and news papers like CSM and in other western countries, London Economist regularly (country briefing) and Kurdish , Armenian, Greek and Serbian websites , and in Israel , Turkey , Central , South and East Asia , Africa including most of  the Islamic world from Kyrgyzstan to Nigeria and Indonesia to Morocco.  

Asia Times articles have been published in the Chinese edition .His articles have been translated into a dozen languages; Italian, German, French, Spanish, Greek, Danish, Russian, Arabic, Turkish, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Bhasa Indonesia etc (and 10 Indian regional languages). 

Apart from English and a few Indian languages, Singh also knows French, Turkish and Arabic. His article “Contribution of Turkic Languages in the Evolution and Development of Hindustani Languages”, printed and is hosted by many websites is considered pioneering research.   
Singh  has delivered lectures on Turkey, Caspian basin, Eurasia , Middle East, Military in Politics , Pakistan ,Globalisation and Balkans etc at India International Centre ,Institute of Defence and Strategic Analyses ,Foreign Service Institute , Jawaharlal Nehru University ,Indian Council of World affairs ,India Habitat Centre , Jamia ,Rotary  Clubs etc in New Delhi and at universities of Aligarh ,Banaras , Kurukshetra  and Rohtak , Ahmedabad Management Association , College of Military Engineering  Poona, School of Artillery, Deolali, etc , also at the universities of Bukhara,  Samarkand, Tashkent, Andijan etc in 1998 and at cultural centres in Tashkent  ,Berlin and Bucharest.

 He delivered a lecture on Flouting of International Law and Failure of International Institutions along with George Galloway, British MP and Cynthia Mckinny, six times US Congresswoman, at the Kuala Lumpur International Conference to Criminalize War and War Crimes Tribunal – 28 October to 30 October, 2009.

  He has also been an expert commentator on Middle East, Turkey, Islam for Indian Star News and Sahara TV, Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha channels, Door Darshan and NDTV channels when in Delhi. Also on Romanian and Slovenia TV channels.

 BBC Hindi service interviewed him in Bucharest regularly (2003-07) for its Radio news broadcasts on the areas mentioned above.

 He was on the Editorial Board of The Atlantic Journal of World Affairs, Delhi and was Editorial adviser with Eurasia Geopolitics website of Eurasia Research Center in California, now with L’Istituto di Alti Studi in Geopolitica e Scienze Ausiliarie ,Rome.

 Amb Singh is Chairman of Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies, Bucharest and Delhi