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".