Saturday, June 13, 2015

Turkey ‘s Situation going to get worse than better ,if at all; Armed Forces in the Reckoning

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




Erdogan on the Ropes

Electoral Shock in Turkey



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 .

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

TranslatorTimur Göksel


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.

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