Turkish government’s road to dictatorship


This video is called Turkey: Watch police unleash water cannon on anti-Islamic State protesters.

By Jean Shaoul:

Turkish government seeks new police state powers

21 October 2014

The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is intent on giving sweeping new powers to Turkish security forces to clamp down on the pro-Kurdish protests sparked by its blockade of the Syrian border city of Kobani during its month-long siege by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In so doing, Erdogan has strengthened the security and military establishment whose power he has sought to curtail during the 12 years in office of his Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

In addition, he has jeopardised relations with Turkey’s Kurdish community, who form 20 percent of the population, 19 months after initiating talks aimed at resolving the decades-long conflict. This is threatening Turkey’s domestic stability just as economic growth is grinding to a halt and unemployment is rising.

In 2013, the imprisoned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan called for an end to the three decades-long civil war, abandoned his demand of Kurdish independence in favour of greater autonomy, and announced a ceasefire agreement with the government. But Öcalan has declared that the talks would be over without some progress in the negotiations by October 15 and if Kobani fell to ISIS.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, a proposed Homeland Security Reform Bill would “give the upper hand to the police” in the face of “widespread violence”, and “more space to resort to new tools and measures.” There will be harsher punishment for offenders damaging public property and demonstrators wearing masks to conceal their identities.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the new law treats the throwing of Molotov cocktails as a crime on a par with throwing bombs, since such weapons have been used to set ambulances and public buildings afire. He warned protesters against destroying water cannon trucks, a favourite tool of Turkish police in dispersing protests, saying, “We will buy five or 10 TOMAs [the Turkish acronym for water cannon trucks] for each TOMA destroyed.”

Opposition legislators denounced the new measures, saying they would turn Turkey into a police state. Pro-Kurdish MP Idris Baluken of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) said, “This is like throwing gasoline on a fire… at a time when so many children are being killed by police on the streets.”

He added, “From now on, the police will resort to not only using shields but also guns, with an authority to kill.”

The new measures come in the wake of a week of nationwide “solidarity” protests by Turkey’s Kurdish population–called by the HDP and the PKK via social media–in which at least 35 people were killed and 360 wounded. … More than 1,000 people have been detained and curfews imposed in several cities.

While it was at first thought that protestors had died as a result of the security forces’ actions, it now appears that at least some of the deaths followed clashes between secular Kurds and the Sunni Islamist Kurdish group, Huda-Par, the successor organisation to Hezbollah (no relation to the Lebanese Hezbollah). Hezbollah was widely believed to have been trained and armed by the Turkish state, which unleashed them against the Kurds in south eastern Turkey, and to have been responsible for the unsolved murders of 500 Kurdish activists, writers, journalists and intellectuals in the 1990s.

Davutoglu said that Turkey will not allow its citizens to fight in Kobani whether they are pro-ISIS, supporters of the Syrian opposition, or pro-Kurdish groups. He attacked Selahattin Demirtas, leader of the HDP, for saying that “tens of thousands Kurdish youth” were ready to take on ISIS if the Turkish-Syrian border gates into Kobani were opened.

The fall of Kobani to ISIS would threaten the survival of the Syrian Kurdish autonomous region known as Rojava in the north and east of Syria, as it is located between two geographically isolated Kurdish areas along an east-west axis. The two remaining enclaves would find it difficult to resist ISIS, which would free up the Islamists to take the region north of Aleppo.

Ankara views the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing the YPG, which control Rojava, as an offshoot of the PKK. Having fought a 30 year war with the PKK over its demands for Kurdish independence, it fears that the PYD/YPG’s control of a relatively autonomous Syrian Kurdish region sets an example for the much larger Kurdish population in south eastern Turkey.

The AKP government had refused to relieve the blockade unless the PYD dissolves its self-ruling local governments in northern Syria, joins the largely ineffectual Free Syrian Army which has opposed minority rights in Syria and is under Turkish control, distances itself from the PKK, and becomes part of Turkey’s “buffer zone project” along the Syrian border.

The Davutoglu government now classifies both the PKK/YPG and ISIS as “terrorists,” after a recent shift, but it is, in effect, using ISIS against the Kurds. Indeed, one reason for Turkey’s previous sponsorship of ISIS as part of the military campaign to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad was to counter Rojava and Kurdish aspirations in Syria.

Turkish government’s anti-Kurdish stance helps ISIS


This video is called Demonstration Against Erdogan and ISIS // 27.09.14, Düsseldorf, Germany.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Erdogan: We will fight US attempts to arm Kurds

Sunday 19th October 2014

TURKISH Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today that he would oppose any attempt by the US to arm Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State (Isis) militants in Syria.

Mr Erdogan signalled that his government’s hatred of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) meant it wouldn’t do anything to held Syrian Kurdish forces of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) fighting the Islamist terror group just over the border.

“The PYD is, for us, equal to the PKK. It is a terror organisation,” Erdogan told a group of reporters on his return from a visit to Afghanistan.

People’s Protection Units (YPG), linked to the PYD, have become the last line of defence against Isis extremists assaulting the town of Kobane, a stone’s throw from the border with Turkey.

But instead of intervening to prevent a bloody massacre, Turkish forces have prevented Kurds from crossing the border to help the residents of Kobane fend off the attackers.

“It would be wrong for the United States — with whom we are friends and allies in Nato — to expect us to say Yes to such a support to a terrorist organisation,” Mr Erdogan claimed.

Fighting between Isis and YPG forces continued on Sunday.

Mortar strikes hit the town, sending plumes of smoke into the air. Three mortars also fell on the Turkish side of the border, landing in an open field where they caused no injuries.

On Saturday and Sunday, Isis appeared to be targeting the border crossing area, potentially in a bid to sever Kobane’s last link to the outside world.

Turkey, Syria, Kurdistan and ISIS


This video says about itself:

Turkey: Kobane protests rage in Istanbul, death toll rises to 25

9 October 2014

Chaos swept Istanbul as clashes between pro-Kurdish protesters and police intensified, on Thursday evening.

Protesters, who were demonstrating over Turkey’s inaction in Kobane, threw fireworks while police retaliated with tear gas.

Kobane, a Syrian Kurdish town near the Turkish border has been besieged by the self proclaimed Islamic State (formerly ISIS, ISIL), however Turkey have not yet intervened.

At least 25 demonstrators have so far died in the protests.

By Iskender Dogu in Turkey:

Erdogan helped us but we don’t need him anymore’

Thursday 16th October 2014

After years of supporting Islamist fighters, Turkey now faces blowback from the Syrian civil war, writes Iskender Dogu from the Syrian-Turkish border

THE last glimpse I catch of Kobane, before we are forced off the hill overlooking the town by Turkish soldiers in their armoured personnel carriers, are two pillars of smoke rising from the city centre.

Just minutes before, two loud explosions could be heard, after which clouds of dust and debris emerged from between the buildings in the town, just across the border from Turkey.

Despite the fact that coalition jets and drones are circling overhead, invisible to the naked eye but clearly recognisable by their humming sounds, it is clear that these were not air strikes — the explosions appeared in an area that is still under control of the People’s and Women’s Defence Forces (YPG/YPJ), and the smoke looks different from the kind that normally follows air strikes.

That leaves only one possibility — these were the explosions of two more Isis suicide car bombs unsuccessfully attempting to break Kurdish defence lines.

Immediately after the second car explodes — either detonated by Isis or neutralised by the YPG/YPJ — half a dozen Turkish APCs come rushing from the border towards the hill where foreign journalists and local observers have gathered to keep track of the situation in the city.

The soldiers command everyone, including the media, to leave the viewpoint immediately. No explanation is given, and we quickly return to our car to make our way back to Suruc, the Turkish border town just eight kilometres away.

A few days ago, in the bus back to Urfa from Suruc, a man started talking to me. Introducing himself as Muslum, a 31-year-old Kurdish activist from around Suruc, he told me about his brother, who is currently fighting with the YPG in Kobane.

Muslum hasn’t spoken to him for over five months, as any contact with Turkish volunteers fighting with the YPG in Rojava would put him and other family members back home at risk of arrest by Turkish authorities.

“He is fighting for the canton system, for the freedom of the Kurdish people and for the freedom of all people,” Muslum says. “The independence of Rojava is a big problem for Turkey, because its canton system is an example of what the future of Kurdistan could look like.”

Muslum fully supports and is proud of his brother. He himself is no stranger to political activism either, having spent three years in prison for his political involvement in the Kurdish struggle. He was deported to Greek Cyprus after his release and was only allowed to return to Turkey on the condition that he would not engage in politics anymore. This doesn’t seem to bother him too much.

“The government calls me a terrorist because I speak at protests that demand democracy for the Kurdish people. They don’t like anything that has to do with freedom for the Kurdish people. But I don’t listen! Every day I am active in the Kurdish struggle. All the people here are like me.”

The Turkish government keeps track of all Kurdish activists, and Muslum’s name appears on a special blacklist, which means that every time he gets checked by the police there is a chance they will take him down to the station.

After the funeral of seven YPG/YPJ fighters whose bodies were brought from Kobane to Turkey in order to be properly buried here, a large crowd gathers in the local headquarters of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party (DBP).

While everyone is drinking tea and watching the latest news from Kobane on a Kurdish channel, Ayse Muslim — the wife of Saleh Muslim, the co-chairwoman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and de-facto leader of Rojava — walks in and starts shouting angrily at the men: “What are you doing here, watching television and drinking tea while our comrades in Kobane are fighting for your freedom? Go to the border to show your solidarity!”

Later, in the village of Measer, where hundreds have flocked to watch the siege of Kobane unfold, I sit down with some men at the local mosque to discuss their views on Rojava’s canton system and Ocalan’s theory of democratic autonomy. Among them is the brother of one of PKK’s highest commanders, who is happy to share some of his ideas.

“The canton system and the project of democratic autonomy is not just a Kurdish project,” he says. “The idea is that it facilitates the communal life of people of different religious, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds.

“Yes, the PKK fought for national independence before, but this was in the period of the cold war. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the communist-socialist bloc, we have come to realise that one country with one government is not the right solution.”

With the explosions in Kobane clearly audible in the background, more and more men join the discussion. “Last year Barzani [the conservative leader of Iraqi Kurdistan] called for the unification of all Kurdish people in one single country,” one man adds.

“But the PKK disagrees with this plan, because such a state will eventually be no different from the Turkish republic. The Kurds have many different religions and we speak many different languages. How could we unite ourselves under one single government?”

The men agree that, given the strength of the Turkish state and military, the widespread adoption of a canton system like Rojava’s is still far off. Still they see democratic autonomy as the only real alternative. “We don’t need professional politicians, but rather want the people to make decisions about their own lives, based on consensus and by means of local councils.”

Several days ago, Abdullah Ocalan, the jailed leader of the PKK, presented the Turkish state with a deadline to act on peace with the country’s Kurdish population.

“We can await a resolution till October 15, after which there is nothing we can do,” his statement read. “They (the Turkish authorities) are talking about resolution and negotiation but there exists no such thing. This is an artificial situation. We will not be able to continue anymore.”

The men of Measer fully support Ocalan’s statement because they are fed up with being stalled by the Turkish government, which keeps bringing up the issue of the Kurdish peace process every time an election peeks around the corner, but when pushes comes to shove, it consistently fails to act upon its promises.

They believe Ocalan set the deadline so that the implementation of promises made in the negotiations so far can no longer be postponed.

“Kobane is everything,” the PKK commander’s brother states. “Kobane is the red line — for the PKK, for Ocalan, for the Kurdish people, for everyone. Without Kobane we can’t talk about anything.”

The general opinion of the Kurds and their supporters here at the border is that the Turkish government has had a hand in Isis’s assault on Kobane. This rumour was confirmed by a member of Isis with whom we spoke on the phone, a mere 200 metres from the border with Syria.

My friend Murat and I were walking through the fields when we met a man who explained to us that he had just escaped from Kobane.

He told us how, two days before, he had tried to call a friend who was fighting with the Women’s Defence Forces.

But instead of his friend answering, an unknown man picked up the phone and told him that his friend was dead — killed by Isis — and that this phone now belonged to him.

Murat encouraged the man to try to call the number again, and after it rang a number of times, the same man picked up.

Our friend spoke to the Isis fighter for a while, in Arabic, and then asked him: “how is your friend Erdogan doing?”

The reply confirmed what many here have been suspecting all along: “Erdogan has helped us a lot in the past. He has given us Kobane. But now we don’t need him anymore. After Kobane, Turkey is next!”

The PKK’s October 15 deadline has arrived, and with the border still closed for any material or logistical support for the Kurdish defenders of the city, the likelihood of a new civil war in Turkey becomes greater every day.

The men of Measer would have preferred a political solution over violence, but realise that if the Turkish government continues to stand by idly, blocking the border as their comrades in Kobane are being slaughtered at the hands of Isis, they will not be left with much choice.

It therefore appears that the Syrian civil war is rapidly spilling over into Turkey, not least because the majority of YPG fighters in Kobane are reportedly from the PKK, aiding their Syrian comrades in the fight against Isis.

As news emerges of fresh Turkish air strikes on PKK positions in the south-east of the country, it is clear that the ceasefire is rapidly breaking down.

Unless the Turkish government suddenly makes a dramatic turn, opening the border crossing to Kobanê and supporting the Kurdish resistance against Isis, it will be difficult to prevent a further escalation of violence in the region.

Iskender Dogu is an Istanbul-based freelance writer, activist and an editor for Roar Magazine at www.roarmag.org. Follow him on Twitter via @Le_Frique.

The Turkish government is demanding that the war be explicitly directed against the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, as well as ISIS, and the establishment of US-backed no-fly and buffer zones inside Syria. Turkish security forces massed on the border near Kobane have restricted support to the YPG, concerned that its victory could encourage the PKK within Turkey: here.

In a revealing report commissioned by the Obama administration, the US Central Intelligence Agency called into question Washington’s policy of arming Syrian “rebels,” pointing out that such operations in the past had seldom proven successful: here.

NATO’s allies killing each other and civilians in Libya


This video, recorded in Britain, says about itself:

Libyan human rights activist forced to flee Libya

25 April 2013

Magdulien Abaida is a Libyan human and women rights activist who was abducted, beaten and threatened by an Islamist militia in Benghazi. She was forced to flee to gain asylum in the UK and this is her exclusive story speaking out about her ordeal – which she was not able to do whilst in Libya. This was a BBC Newsnight film produced by Sharron Ward, reported by Tim Whewell. Director’s cut version.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Battle in Libya’s second city

Added: Wednesday 15 Oct 2014, 17:37

In the second city of Libya, Benghazi, a fierce battle has been raging all day between radical Islamic militia men and troops of former general Haftar.

Not only a former general. Also a (former?) CIA agent.

Who announced yesterday he would reconquer the city from the Islamists.

Benghazi since this summer has been in the hands of the radical militias, who are united in a coalition. Only small parts of the city and the airport of Benghazi are still in government hands.

Egypt

Residents of the city report to international news agencies that there was fighting in various districts. They also said warplanes were flying over the city. According to news agency AP these are Egyptian aircraft.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are said to actively support the militias; Turkey and Qatar are, on the contrary, on the side of the government.

NOS TV had that wrong, and deleted that last sentence in an update. Quite the contrary, Associated Press says:

Egypt‘s direct military involvement, however, reinforces the notion that Libya has become a proxy battleground for larger regional struggles, with Turkey and Qatar backing the Islamist militias while Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are supporting their opponents.

Whether the wrong earlier NOS version or the presumably correct later Associated Press version: supposed allies of the USA and other NATO countries in the war ‘against ISIS‘ (really against ISIS? The Turkish government against ISIS? Or about oil?) are killing each other and Libyan civilians in Libya.

Egypt says Erdogan’s UNGA speech ‘full of lies and fabrications’. The Turkish president accused Egypt’s President al-Sissi of coming to power in a coup in his speech at the annual UN meet: here.

Warriors of Ansar al-Sharia, one of the militias, are said to have attacked an army base this afternoon. Ansar al-Sharia is held responsible by the United States for the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi in 2012, where the ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

Parliament fled

The armed militias in Libya make a central administration of the country impossible since the fall of former dictator Gaddafi. Also in the capital, Tripoli, the government has no power at all. A militia from Misrata, a city east of Tripoli, is calling the shots there.

The Libyan government and parliament have fled to Tobruk, in the northeast of the country near the border with Egypt.

From Associated Press today:

Egyptian warplanes are bombing positions held by Islamist militias in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi as part of a large-scale operation to rid the city of militants who have held sway there for months, two Egyptian government officials said on Wednesday.

From Middle East Eye:

Pentagon officials have claimed that Egyptian airbases were used by United Arab Emirate pilots in a mysterious series of airstrikes that have hit the Mistratan [sic; Misratan] Led Alliance (MLA) in Tripoli last month. Ten Libyans, picked up in August, are thought to be in the custody of Abu Dhabi‘s State Security Agency (SSA) and are at risk of being tortured, according to Human Rights Watch who called for the UAE to reveal their whereabouts earlier this week.

Dutch government, NATO allies of Turkish government ISIS allies


This video says about itself:

27 September 2014

The Turkish support for ISIS continues as thousands of ISIS gang members have crossed the Turkish border into ISIS areas on September 14th, just before the renewed heavy attacks on Kobane.

While in Antep, Turkey, a hospital was built for the treatment of ISIS members.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

“No weapons for Kurds of Kobani”

Update: Tuesday 14 Oct 2014, 18:56

The Netherlands will not supply arms to the Kurdish fighters who defend the Syrian city Kobani against ISIS. Minister [of Foreign Affairs] Timmermans writes this in a letter to the Lower House of Parliament.

Timmermans says that the risk is too great that the weapons will end up in the hands of the PKK.

The Turkish Kurdish allies of the Syrian Rojava Kurds. Together, eg, they helped the Yazidi minority in Iraq escape from a threatening massacre by ISIS.

That organization is on the European terrorism list. …

The Netherlands will send a fact-finding mission to the region to find out what the moderate groups in Syria need in their fight against ISIS.

According to the New York Times, within the Sunni sectarian armed opposition in Syria, moderates exist only on the paper of propaganda speeches. Sometimes, these so-called ‘moderates’ may have quarrels with ISIS. Sometimes, according to the relatives of Steven Sotloff, they sell prisoners to ISIS for beheading.

Obama meets anti-ISIS “coalition” amid rising US-Turkish tensions: here.

Turkish government bombs Kurds, not ISIS


This video, from VICE News in the USA, says about itself:

NEWS to PKK/YPG | PKK isn’t terrorist! VICE News was in the PKK

27 September 2014

Washington DC – For those interested in the Middle East, few haven’t heard of the PKK. They are the Kurdish initials for the Kurdistan Workers Party, which has fought to achieve more cultural and political rights for Turkey’s 15 million Kurds since 1984.

The Turkish government considers the PKK ‘terrorists’. As Turkey is a NATO country, the governments of the USA and other NATO countries put the PKK on their lists of ‘terrorists’ as well (lists which not so long ago included, eg, Nelson Mandela).

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

‘Turkish air raids on PKK

Added: Tuesday 14 Oct 2014 09:50

Turkish warplanes have attacked targets of the PKK in Southeast Turkey, the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported. It would be the first major air attacks on the PKK since two years ago peace negotiations started.

According to the newspaper F-16s and F-4s took off from bases in Diyarbakir and Malatya. The air strikes are said to have caused “extensive damage”.

In 2012, Turkey started peace talks with PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, who is in captivity. In the fighting between the Kurdish separatists and Turkey during thirty years, some 40,000 people were killed.

Kobani

The airstrikes may increase tensions between Kurds and the Turkish government. Last week during Kurdish protests in Turkish cities at least twelve people were killed. Many Kurds believe that Turkey should do more against the terror group ISIS.

Kurds are distressed by the situation in the Syrian border town Kobani, near Turkey. ISIS fighters have been besieging the Kurdish town for weeks. Turkey has sent troops and tanks concentrated at the border but does not engage.

Turkish government arrests German journalists


This video is called Turkey Faces Blowback For Support Of ISIS Fighters In Syria.

So much for NATO military alliance brotherhood … The Greek government hurts its own people with draconian austerity policies because of pressure by its German and French NATO allies. Meanwhile, the Greek government bankrupts the Greek economy, spending lots of money buying French and German weapons, which they say is because of fear of their Turkish NATO allies.

Then, the German government spies on the Turkish government. And now, the Turkish government violates press freedom for German journalists (like they violate human rights of their own people).

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Three Germans arrested in Turkey

Sunday Oct 12, 2014, 17:12 (Update: 12-10-14, 17:29)

The journalists reported on the protests in the city of Diyarbakir

In the Turkish city of Diyarbakir, in the southeast of the country, three German journalists have been arrested. It is not clear of what they are suspected.

They say they were in Diyarbakir to report about the protests by Kurds. Last week, [the Turkish government crackdown on these protests] caused dozens of deaths.

Tweet

One of the arrested journalists is the photographer Björn Kietzmann. He sent after his arrest a tweet stating: “Arrested since 4 hours together with 2 other german journalist because of covering #kobane protests in #diyarbakir #turkey”.

The Kurdish protests are against the Turkish government, which basically supports the ISIS terrorist violence in Kobane town and its surroundings against the Kurds of northern Syria (Rojava).