erdogan

The Failed Coup in Turkey: Comments & Predictions

Here comes some of my personal comments and predictions following the failed coup attempt in Turkey. Some important points have been missing in the media reports:

Turkey Coup 2016

1) The denouncements of the coup by world leaders are natural. But why has the world not as strongly denounced the coup that Erdogan already executed, by gradual taking control of all institutions, including the judiciary? In practice he has made himself a dictator. Also denounce that!

2) The blaming of Fetullah Gülen by Erdogan has its obvious reasons, and should not be repeated in the media as if it was a truth. By blaming his arch enemy, a single guy and a “few” officers, Erdogan wants to take away focus from the fact that about 50 percent of Turkey’s population despise him, and maybe not supported the violent coup, but at least wants a change away from his authoritarianism. 

3) The failed coup attempt is not a victory for democracy. On the opposite, Erdogan will use this failed attempt to take even more control over institutions and make himself into a dictator, now also in writing. Already he has fired about 3000 judges as a result and wants to implement death penalty to scare any opposition to complete silence.

4) Last but not least, the turkish society will most likely become even more divided, and in the long run, I have a hard time seeing how such a divided country can continue to be a functioning unit. With that said, things will probably get much worse before they get any better. However, the world leaders, not the least the ones of EU, have to stop cuddling with Erdogan by silently accepting his hate speech rhetorics and crack down on all opposition. Again: Erdogan’s gradual coup over the last couple of years, has to be denounced in the same fashion as the coup of yesterday was denounced.

Turkey Coup 2016

Media control: The biggest threat to fair elections in Turkey

Presidential candidates turkey 2014

There is a presidential election coming up in less than five days, and the winner will most likely be prime minister Erdogan. But there are many reasons why this elections can not be considered fair. Here are my 3 main points of concerns:

1. Erdogan runs as a prime minister

Despite a law that says that a public servant can not run for president, Erdogan still runs for president at the same time as he continues to be prime minister of Turkey. He is and has been using the full power and resources of the state apparatus throughout his campaign, while the oppositions candidates has barely been able to get a banner up – Erdogan is on the other hand everywhere.

2. TRT coverage of the presidential candidates

It is a fact that the majority of the Turkish population do not receive impartial and balanced information about the different candidates. The main news source in Turkey is television, and less than 50% has access to the Internet. Looking at the state channel TRT and their coverage of the campaigns, more or less all time has been spent on Erdogan, despite the fact that the state TV should be impartial. The impact of such an uneven coverage can not be underestimated: The only one that about 50% of the voters in Turkey hear and see is Erdogan.

3. Heavy self-censorship in the media

Media in general covering the presidential candidates very unfairly, and generally avoid to say anything negative about Erdogan, while the opposition candidates are heavily attacked and scrutinised. One example of how this is happening, is that many TV-channels repeatedly goes on discussing the arrests of the police officers recently, without nowadays mentioning the reason why they are arrested: they gathered evidence for corruption within the government. This is symptomatic for how self-censorship shifts the focus of an event and avoid to put the real issue on the table. It is deceiving and effectively manipulate voters into viewing Erdogan as a victim.

I am nervously waiting for Sunday…

What Tunisia and Ben Ali taught me about Erdogan’s future

What Tunisia and Ben Ali taught me about Erdogan's future

What Tunisia and Ben Ali taught me about Erdogan’s future

Two weeks after I came home from a touristic travel to Tunisia in early december 2010, the uprising against Ben Ali started. I was surprised, since I had traveled throughout the whole country and talked to many people, not the least students, asking them what feelings they harboured for the man in charge. Except minor complaints about the high unemployment, all they said was positive. Education was free, people were happy. I left the country with a totally wrong perception of Ben Alis popularity. I had been naïve, and the Arab spring came as a surprise to me.

Ben ali Tunisia Erdogan Turkey

Ben ali Tunisia Erdogan Turkey

But I would would fall into the same trap twice…

During my two years in Turkey, before the Gezi protests, politics was something that people smoothly avoided to talk openly about at dinner tables where not all guests where known. Only at closed gathering, in my predominantly secular circles of friends, did some anger and the dissatisfaction with Erdogan’s politics show. But this I only realised in hindsight and I was therefore surprised when the Gezi protests took place and grew to a national phenomenon. I could never have guessed they would occur one week before they started.

I came to draw the conclusion that in an environment, where critical opinions can´t be ventilated on a continuous basis, sudden, unexpected outbursts – such as the Gezi protests and the Arab Spring- will always be the way of change – BY DESIGN.

So, what can this teach us about the future of Erdogan, the feelings about him in his own circles now so celebrating, supporting and free of criticism against him?

Does the silence and acceptance within the AKP mean that no one harbours any criticism towards him?

Most definitely not.
One example: Bulent Arinc is by many looked upon as the reasonable voice of AKP, before so talkative on all issues. Why has he recently been so silent?

And what does the grass roots of the AKP think about the Soma accident where no secularists where victims, but instead people like the ones Erdogan says he is trying to help?

Does people close to Erdogan buy his explanation and his denial of any involvement in the company who manages the mine?

Do the AKP believe in the Robot Lobisi?

I have decided not to fall into the same trap a third time. The AKP keep silent, just like the liberals and the secularistic Turkey did before the Gezi protests, before they had enough, before it all had built up to being just more than they could accept. But I know better now.

I know that that silence harbours more criticism than thousand words are capable of.

Piece by piece Erdogan is building up a heavy pile sh*% that will eventually fall down on him, crush him, bye bye!

 

Leaked sound recording might determine Erdogan’s future

The heat has turned up on Turkish Prime minister Tayyip Erdogan. With about one month left to local elections, five phone recordings were leaked on Youtube yesterday. In just a couple of hours, the video with the recordings had over one  million views. Why? It exposes that Tayyip Erdogan and his family are bathing in enormous amounts of unaccounted cash.

Most of the conversations on the leaked recordings allegedly took place between Tayyip Erdogan and his son Bilal Erdogan on the 17th of December, the same day as a graft probe was unexpectedly initiated against ministers and sons in Tayyip Erdogan’s own government.

Tayyip Erdogan, who is in Ankara, calls his son, who seems to be sleeping and unaware of the turmoil created by the corruption investigation. Its 08.00 in the morning:

R. TAYYİP ERDOĞAN: Are you at home?

N. BİLAL ERDOĞAN: I am, father.

RTE: This morning they did an operation, this Ali Agaoglu, Reza Zerrab, our Erdogans son [another Erdogan], Zafers son, Muammers son, their homes are being searched.

NBE: Tell me again, father.

RTE: I am saying Muammers son, Zafers son, Erdogans son, Ali Agaoglu, Reza Zerrab, 18 people right now, the are doing a big corruption operation and their homes are being searched.

NBE: Yes

RTE: Ok? Now I say, whatever you have at home, take it out! Ok?

NBE: What would I have, father, there is your money in the safe.

RTE: That’s what I am saying! I am sending your sister now. Ok?

NBE: Who are you sending?

RTE: I am saying that I am sending your sister!

NBE: Eh, ok!

RTE: Then the same way, she has that information, ok? Talk to your brother!

NBE: Yes!

RTE: Lets do that things, talk to your uncle too, he should also take it out the same way, talk to your brother in law, he should also…

NBE: What should we do to it, father, where should we put it?

RTE: To specific places, do it!

In the other, following recordings, Bilal Erdogan calls back to his father and report how the work is proceeding. After a day of collecting enormous amounts of cash, allegedly about USD 1 billion from 5 different houses and making it disappear by buying flats and paying in advance for projects to businessmen they work together with, he still haven’t been able to hide it all.

At 23.15 the same day this call takes place:

NBE: Hi daddy, I am calling to… we almost did it. Eh, did you call me father?

RTE: No I did not, you called me.

NBE: I was called from a secret number

RTE: By saying mostly, did you fully dissolve it?

NBE: We did not zeroized it yet father. Let me explain. We still have 30 million Euros that we could not yet dissolve. Berat thought of something. There was an additional 25 million dollars that Ahmet Calik should receive. They say let’s give this to him there. When the money comes, we do something, they say. And with the remaining money we can buy a flat from Sehrizar, he says. What do you say, father?

Tayyip Erdogan accepts his son’s ideas about how the last 30 million Euros should be hidden. The next day, on the 18th of December, Bilal Erdogan calls his father and says that all the money has been “zeroized”.

How the leaked recordings are going to influence the upcoming local elections March 30 is hard to say at this point. The opposition parties, naturally, immediately called for Erdogan to resign, while the prime minister himself claimed that the over 11 minutes long file of conversation was a montage, adding that he was going to sue the ones behind the “dirty plot” against him and his family.

However, its certain that the voter’s reactions to the recordings is going to be crucial for Turkeys near future. If these recordings can’t harm Erdogan considerably in the upcoming elections, I am afraid that nothing can.

Leaked voice recording proves Erdogan’s grip on Turkish media

A voice recording between prime minister Tayyip Erdogan and Mehmet Fatih Saraç, the deputy chairman of the Ciner Media Group, that owns the TV channel Haberturk, was published on Youtube yesterday. It is direct proof that Erdogan personally intervenes to control the media in Turkey.

The conversation took place on the 4th of June 2013, in the middle of the Gezi protests. At the time of the conversation, Erdogan is in Morocco watching Haberturk. He is upset because the channel is broadcasting a news ticker informing of a speech where the opposition party leader, Bahçeli, is calling for President, Abdullah Gül to interfere in the situation (i.e. to override Erdogan). Erdogan orders Saraç to take the ticker out of broadcast. Saraç sounds scared, nervously repeating that he is going to take care of the situation immediately.

Here comes my own rough translation of the conversation (based on a original transcript in Turkish taken from Bugün):

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: Fatih, look, right now I…

Mehmet Fatih Saraç: Yes, Mr. Prime minister

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: I am here in Marocco watching TV…

Mehmet Fatih Saraç: Yes, Sir!

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: … all of Bahceli’s talk is shown and now, the talk is also running as a text below.

Mehmet Fatih Saraç: Got it, Sir! Right now! Ok!

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: And in Bahceli’s written text it says that the presidents first responsibility is being in meetings, but additional to these meetings he should take care of the situation…

Mehmet Fatih Saraç: I got it, Sir!

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: … through these meetings he should take steps to bring peace to the country

Mehmet Fatih Saraç: Ok Sir!

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: I mean Bahceli said this, and it is constantly going as a text on the TV

Mehmet Fatih Saraç: Ok sir! Got it sir! Right now sir!

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: You say you understand, but my god, why do I need to call you about something like this?

Mehmet Fatih Saraç: Ok, your order, Sir! I got it!

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan:  Right now… It has to be done!

Mehmet Fatih Saraç: I am doing it right now, Sir!

After this conversation, the video above includes voice recordings in which you can hear Saraç calling other people to have the ticker being taken out of broadcast on the prime minister’s order!

Government vs. economic theory

Mehmet Simsek, the finance minister of Turkey, said  the rate hike, from 4,5 to 10 percent, will have a limited effect on growth of the Turkish economy. And Erdogan opposed the hike with the argument that high interest rates results in high inflation, which is contrary to all economic theory and even common sense. Does any one in the government know anything about economics?

Government vs. economic theory

an old inflated Turkish lira bill

 

Why is Erdogan still popular?

The latest polls show that even though the support for Erdogan’s government has weakened, it is still strong enough to make him come out relatively unharmed in the local elections 30th of March  this year.

To understand why Erdogan is still popular, it is important to understand some facts about Turkey and  Erdogan’s core voters.

Since the dawn of the Turkish Republic, there has been corruption in the country’s politics. I would even go as far as saying that corruption is a part of the culture. It can be seen in the way business is done on the level of neighbourhoods, just as it is seen in national politics. Close informal relations and a sharing of success with close family and friends are normal and in some way accepted. Especially among the conservative part of the population where most of Erdogan’s votes come from.

Thus, many people expect politicians to be corrupted, and that’s why they do not immediately take away their votes from AKP.

Another factor is probably access to information. Many of Erdogan’s voters belong to the about 50 percent of the population that does not have access to Internet. They are on average poor and with low education. News would be obtained by pro-government newspapers such as Yeni Safak, and Sabah, plus teve channels, of which the big majority are also pro-government. To get an impression of how they report, just visit Sabah in English by clicking here. It’s basically propaganda! Critical newspapers such as Sözcu, is primarily sold in the big cities.

However, let’s for the arguments sake say that a conservative and religious voter would decide not to vote for AKP. What party would they then vote for?

Voting for CHP, with their close ties to the old military regime and their emphasis on secularism would be unthinkable for many of them. Voting for MHP, would also be complicated, even though they historically adopted a softer stance on religion.

The lack of alternatives for this group of voters is obvious. On top of that, Erdogan has over the years become a strong symbol for them, which also contributes to their unwillingness to give up on him.

Many therefore agree that the only reason this group would take away their votes from AK Party, would for personal economic ones. Since the Gezi protests the Turkish Lira has depreciated against the dollar with about 30%, whereof more than half has occurred since the 17th of December. It’s implications on the domestic economy is starting to be more and more visible.

The only question is:

Will the effect be felt by AKP’s core voters before the elections?

Why is Erdogan still popular?

It is all about the money!

Democracy is just a tool: Erdoğan in 1996

I stumbled across this video of a speech Erdogan held at the Muslim Arab Youth Association Conference in Tuledo, Ohio in 1996 when he was the mayor of Istanbul. Considering the last events in Turkey, his attempts to take full control over the Turkish judiciary system, this video makes you wonder if Erdoğan has ever been a true democrat?

At 2.08 minutes in the video, Erdogan says that those who will be a part of the building of the Islamic state will be richly revarded – is he talking about his own involvement in corruption?

At 4.15 minutes he starts explaining his view that democracy is just a tool to build that islamic state.

Don’t forget to put the subtitle-track on!

A Gezi protest within the AK Party?

It is easy to forget that the AK Party is a political unit that most likely would function without it’s leader Tayyip Erdogan. The way that Erdogan rules the party, reminds more of a military commander directing his troops on the battlefield than a democratically elected leader that listen, learn and argue. Those who question Erdogan are immediately expelled from the party. Given that, it is natural that Erdogan takes all criticism personal. Criticizing AK Party means criticizing him.

Lately, however, we have witnessed some interesting signs of resistance against Erdogan in a way that was unthinkable just one year ago. It started with the former famous football player and deputy Hakan Şükur, who resigned December 16, publicly slamming Erdogan for his plan to close down the prep schools, seen as an direct attack on the Islamic scholar Fetullah Gülen, who Hakan Şükur stands close. And after the graft probe was initiated one day later, additionally eight deputies resigned, as a protest against Erdogan’s way of interfering in the ongoing probe, trying to obstruct the justice. Even the finance minister, Mehmet Şimşek, criticized the sacking of police officers initially, but suddenly became very quite on the issue. Most likely, these objections are the tip of an iceberg, and if the political unrest continues, we might witness a Gezi protest within the AK Party. Such a protest would probably erupt equally unexpected as the Gezi protests that took place in Taksim in June 2013. That’s the way it works in Turkey. People are friendly and patient, but there is always a limit. I know that not least from personal experiences.

The critical point that has to be reached for this to happen is that members of the party start to see Erdogan as more of a liability than an asset. Because of the way Erdogan dominates the party, it is easy to forget that not all leading members are corrupt and democratically blinded by a will for power. The AK Party is not the problem. Erdogan is! His response to the graft probe clearly signals that he is more interested in saving his own family than developing Turkey into a true democracy. If he continues along that path without managing to stabilize the political situation, that critical point might be reached much sooner than anyone would guess.

So, what is Erdogan afraid of? Is it to lose the money he has stacked away? Most likely! But even if it weren’t for the corruption charges against his family, he would still be deadly afraid of losing his political immunity. Considering the amount of enemies he has created over the years, not the least within the military because of the Ergenekon trial, staying in power is the only way to survive in a country like Turkey. Thus, Erdogan stepping down voluntarily is not a likely scenario. Excluding the opportunity of an enormous failure for the AK Party in the upcoming elections of 2014, a Gezi protest within AKP is the most likely way forward for democracy in Turkey!

A Gezi protest within the Ak Party

A Gezi protest within the Ak Party