8 Ocak 2015 Perşembe



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And I thought 2013 was rough; the "Gezi" year, when the public uprising in June almost unseated the funamentalist US-backed prime minister Erdoğan and and his AKP [1]. (See "Closing the Gezi Year", 23 November-Aralık 2013.) The confrontations cost lives [2] and the AKP regime emerged shaken but still in power but at least the conflict was drawn along relatively clear lines. Certainly the opposition parties in parliament barked loudly but never really bit, even lending a surreptitious helping hand to the government cloaked in rhetoric, but compared to today, the distinctions were almost black and white. Erdoğan and the AKP could not have carried out their US-organized operation to redesign Turkey without the collaboration of Fethullah Gülen, the imam in Pennsylvania, and his extended circle of disciples, supporters and collaborators known collectively as the Cemaat ("Djemaat"= "Community"), or Hizmet ("Service") as they prefer to call themselves. Gülen's moles, having infiltrated the state apparatus- particularly the police and the judiciary- had been instrumental in dismantling the secular

Republic as founded by Kemal Ataturk in 1923, sending hundreds to prison on trumped-up charges and fabricated evidence. 

Right: Mr. Charisma himself:
Fethullah Gülen

Having one's own agents at key points in the police and judiciary is an excellent way to make false charges stick, and purchasing the collusion of an unethical press helps make the the most outlandish charges plausible in the public eye. The Ergenekon, "Sledgehammer", "Adultery and Espionage" [3] and related or similar hoaxes wreaked havoc with the Republic's intellectual elite while the AKP's and Gülen's step by step Islamization of the educational system sought to make sure the new generation will be in no way fit to step in and carry the torch- only the wealthy devoid of ideals and willing to toe the line of the new system will be allowed a good education, and the masses will be turned into drones lulled into obedience through religious doctrine. (This is what the US calls "moderate Islam", a key ingredient in the plan to reshape the Middle-East.)

When Erdoğan and the AKP fell out with closest partner Fethullah Gülen, the imam in Pennsylvania, and his Cemaat, it seemed like a miracle only too good to be true. Gülen's police and prosecutors launched the famous "December 17th raids" in 2013, targeting the homes of the families of AKP bigwigs, seizing improbably large sums of money in bedrooms and implicating ministers and even Bilal Erdoğan, the Prime Minister's own son. Erdoğan made it clear he would not give up without a fight and there seemed real hope that the partners in crime would do each other in, as they do in the movies. The Gülen cult disciples in the police and the judiciary had barely finished their roundups when the AKP's police started rounding up and arresting them- for "attempted coup"! Police arrested police- the comic absurdity of a state divided within itself!

The comic absurdity of a state divided within itself: civil war among the Romans seen through the penetrating eye of René Goscinny and the talented hand of Albert Uderzo. 
Caption:"Finally Scipio, disgusted, gives the signal to retreat. Julius Ceasar is the victor.
Scipio: "Oh bother! Let's go! Blow the retreat!"
1st legionary: "I take orders from no one but Ceasar!"
2nd legionary: "Shut up you idiot! He's talking to me!"
Asterix and the Legionary.

Policemen in custody surrounded by policemen inside the Palace of Justice at Çağlayan, Istanbul, on June 26th 2014. 
(Image from my own camera.)

But the primary opposition CHP [4], supposedly Kemalist (i.e. follower of the ideals of Kemal Ataturk, supported by Kemalist voters) seemed more interested in vying for US favors than standing up for its own electorate. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu made barely concealed overtures to the US, flying over there, otherwise dining or just chatting cosily with US Ambassador Ricciardone. Kılıçdaroğlu was giving signals that his party would be amenable to a partnership with Fethullah Gülen, if only the US would see it as a possible replacement for the AKP. It goes without saying that this would mean an endorsement, by the CHP, of policies the US has been pursuing through Gülen and (until the fallout) through Erdoğan's AKP, including Islamization and the seperation of the southeastern provinces as a new Kurdish state which would also take in parts of Syria, Iraq, and even Iran.

The CHP even went so far as to call itself the "New CHP", denying the principles of its founder, Ataturk, in whose name it appeals for votes! CHP members who do not subscribe to this are hounded, and sometimes driven out of the party.

 Kemal Ataturk, founder of the CHP as well as the Republic, on Republic Day, October 29th 1933, proudly observing the 10th anniversary of his "greatest work" (his own words). On his lapel, the six arrows of the CHP [5]

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu addressing the CHP party group, surrounded by the symbols of the party including a masque of Ataturk. The party continues to exploit them in order to keep its hold on its Kemalist electorate, though  policies of the "new" CHP have rendered them meaningless.
(Image from the media.)

 A CHP supporter displays Ataturk's photo with the CHP's six arrows on his lapel. The illusion maintained by Kılıçdaroğlu that the CHP is still the party founded by Ataturk continues to have a hold on this voter.
(Image from my own camera.)

This has split the public opposition to the government as nothing else could have! When Turkey went to the first presidential elections in its history, there were only three candidates. The AKP presented its own chief, prime minister Erdoğan. The seperatist factions had HDP [6] party chief Selahattin Demirtaş, vying for the Presidency of the country from which he wishes to seperate. Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu's supposedly "Kemalist" CHP could come up with nothing better than dull-mannered Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, a septuagenerian history professor not even born in this country. (He was born in Cairo, where his family had emigrated.) Islamist, but only moderately ("his wife does not wear a head-scarf"), he was obviously the choice of the US, in case Erdoğan lost, to replace outgoing "moderate Islamist" Abdullah Gül. Forced to this one choice, the opponents of the regime fell against each other, as did the opposition press. Some claimed Erdoğan's candidacy should be opposed at all costs, even if it meant voting for a man no one knew and few trusted, others said there was no point in lending credibility to an election that was reduced to a choice between two aspects of the same thing. 

Poster claiming (rightly) that the choices offered, İhsanoğlu and Erdoğan, are two aspects of one and the same thing. 
"We are not compelled to pick between either of the two faces of regression, misogyny, market mentality and collusion with the US."
(Image from my own camera.) 
Arguments between friends and comrades turned loud and ugly. The camaraderie of the Gezi days was gone. Many refused to go to the polls, most markedly  the respected former president Ahmet Necdet Sezer who travelled all the way from his summer home in Bodrum on the south coast only to stay indoors all day. Net result: with the elections of August 10th 2014, a year after the Gezi uprising seriously shook his hold on power, Tayyip Erdoğan, fundamentalist, adulator of the Ottoman era and self-declared descendant of the Sultans[7], became the President of the secular Republic of Turkey!

The heritage of 2014 is the picture you see below.

The state of the nation, 2014. Awaiting 2015 with apprehension.
Our seasonal greeting for this year!

Well before the elections, Prime Minister Erdoğan started the construction of a "palace". right on the grounds of the "Ataturk Forest Farm" (Atatürk Orman Çiftliği), a tract of land once given to Ataturk who used it for experiments in developing agriculture and turned over to the treasury in 1937. Consisting of agricultural and related industrial enterprises, recreational areas, a zoo, and a replica of Ataturk's birth home in Salonica, the "farm" belonged very much to the public- until Erdoğan cordoned off a 300 000 sq. m. chunk of it for his mammoth project and started pulling up the trees. The 5th Administrative Court (5inci İdare Mahkemesi) ordered a halt on further activity but the Prime Minister haughtily ignored it. (Another chunk of the "farm" is reportedly being sold to the US Embassy- "don't choose a home, choose a neighbor", as the old Turkish saying goes!) After the presidential elections Erdoğan, now President, changed his mind about the projected Prime Minister's palace- henceforth to become the Presidential palace, disdaining the Çankaya residence that has housed all the Presidents of the Republic starting with Ataturk himself. The Republic Day reception of October 29th was to be the occasion to force the endorsement of all the nation's major institutions, but the joint decision of the opposition CHP and MHP [8] threatened to put a damper on that. The mining tragedy in Karaman on October 28th (18 miners trapped in flooding- no survivors) was the pretext to cancel the reception and avoid the embarassment. But Erdoğan received endorsement for his palace in a much more spectacular fashion- he hosted the Pope Francis there on November 28th!

The "palace", symbolically named Aksaray or "The White Palace". The name is a reminder of the source of Erdoğan's power: though AKP really stands for "Party of Justice and Progress"  (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi), party members and supporters often call it Akparti ("The White Party"). That it also recalls "The White House" is probably no coincidence.
(Image from the Media)

We chose to picture the new President in one of his chequered suits which does llittle to mitigate his demagoguish qualities.

Erdoğan, still prime minister, blasting the Gezi park protesters during a speech in Mersin,
June 9th 2013.
(Image from the media.)

The prime minister's choice of clothing prompted this funny image
by cartoonist Selçuk Erdem.
Erdoğan "Wha?!"
Police officers: "We thought you'd like it."

As for the turban he is contemplating: his undisguised adulation of the Ottoman era, his occasional lapses into Ottoman style expansionism, especially regarding Syria,  and his pretension of being descended from the imperial family makes us understandably suspicious of his ultimate aspirations.

The June 8th-14th 2013 issue of The Economist
whice coincided with the Gezi uprising
clearly demonstrates that
Erdoğan's autocratic, despotic,
sometimes megalomaniacal tendencies
are too visible to ignore,
even in the West
which has had so much to gain
from his services.

Opposing Erdoğan, the AKP, Fethullah Gülen, the Kurdish seperatists, fundamentalists, and anything and everything they percieve as a threat to the lifestyle, ideals and ethics of the secular Republic stand the Kemalists. Because the Western powers have seen Kemalism as too rigid and uncompromising towards minorities and religious sects, and perhaps more importantly, too unbending in matters of national interest, some think tanks came up with a plan to weaken Turkish nationalism by weakening Ataturk's hold on the national consciousness and promote religion instead- this would make Turks more amenable to Western/globalist plans to redraw its boundaries and gain free access to its resources- the project for which both Erdoğan and Gülen (not to mention previous president Abdullah Gül[8]) had been recruited. The plan worked only partly; the core of the Turkish population, a complete cross section geographically, in faith and in social class, would not be dissuaded from loyalty to the Republic and its founder. Just as I have drawn in this part of the drawing, they have often had to face up to fanatical rogues armed with clubs and cleavers, and again as illustrated here they have expressed their loyalties by uniting at Anıtkabir, Ataturk's mausoleum in Ankara. 

 Crowds at Ataturk's mausoleum on November 10th 2013, the anniversary of his death 1939.
(Images from my own camera.)

The earthquake of August 17th 1999 hit areas uncomfortably close to Istanbul, an overpopulated city home to the most affluent and influential classes. It drove the poor and the bourgeoisie alike to the strees and made them sleep in the parks. Then some clever people hit on the idea that there was profit to made from disaster, and to help them along the government passed laws to make the major cities- particularly Istanbul- "eartquake safe". Buildings would be checked for strength and solidity and those that did not measure up would either have to be bolstered or knocked down and rebuilt- depending on the proprietors' choices. It would be okay to make them higher while rebuilding-even though it meant crowding more people into the same overcrowded neighbourhoods and cram more cars into the inadequate streets and alleys. Contracting firms moved in offering deals whereby both homeowners and contractors could turn a profit by doubling or tripling the heights of the buildings. Sniffing an easy buck, hardly any group of neighbours would agree to opt for reinforcement rather than rebuilding. Completely contrary to reason, the upmarket neighbourhoods where one would expect the most solid buildings "turned out to be" the weakest and most in need of reconstruction. The more expensive the property, the higher the margin of profit, the weaker the buildings are evaluated to be. There is now a continuous din of demolition and construction in Istanbul, with lorries and dumptrucks carrying heavy equipment and debris that block the already congested traffic. 

When a building fails the safety evaluation, as it almost always does because a the majority of the property shareholders and the contractor see to it, it is knocked down. Then the land is excavated up to its boundaries until they reach the bedrock. (Notice the trees perched on the edge.) The foundation will contain the covered parking area. When the foundation is closed, the space left around the actual building will be covered with earth to give the appearance of a garden. As more buildings are knocked down to make way for higher ones, the foundations will end up butting against each other leaving no earth.
Feneryolu, Istanbul.
(Image from my own camera.)

But that is not all- the building rage is spreading to every available space, assaulting every patch of green. A third suspension bridge with access roads cutting through forestland opens up new areas for shopping centers and residences, an insane plan to blast and bulldoze a new waterway connecting the Black Sea to the Marmara parallel to the existing Bosphorus promises to be an ecological disaster, and the city straining to handle the enormous human and vehicle traffic between its European and Asian sides will be split into a third section. But there is profit to be made from the new waterside property.

Big city life is detached from the rural lifestyle and problems and Istanbul is especially aloof from the rest of the country, and the neighbourhoods from each other. The upmarket areas and neighbourhoods where money and credit cards fairly fly lead a blissful existence divorced from the realities
of the country.

Advertising image for "Up Lounge Istanbul", located in the Beyoğlu district.
(Known historically as Pera.)
(Image from the media.)

Three stories of Media Markt, all below street level, in a shopping centre (Demirören AVM) on İstiklâl Cad., Beyoğlu, a crowded shopping street where an extra shopping center should have been superfluous. The rampant consumerism fanned by capitalist philosophy nurtured by the  government is financed largely by the credit cards that banks have been raining on their clients. In a country where not only social injustice and corruption, but also government endorsed fundamentalism, seperatist insurrection and a war that spills over borders into our land create real and immediate dangers, the consumerist lifestyle creates an illusion of normalcy.
(Image from my own camera.)

Defying reason, the AKP boasts of plans to make the bloated metropolis of Istanbul even larger- as if our country doesn't have room enough! Increasing the concentration of population in this one city drives the property values up, whetting the appetite for more construction. The bubble will just have to burst at some point- either that, or the next earthquake will provide the appropriate lesson.

Beautiful exotic Istanbul.
(Image from my own camera, taken by my wife from the car window in fact.) 

A friend once defined civilization as the distance between man and his excrement. Take an overcrowded city, already the focus of massive migration, reinforce its pull by overbuilding rather than developing rural regions, and you have millions of people throwing their trash and millions of toilets flushing tidal waves of excrement into the environment- especially the sea, in which we bathe and from which we get our fish! The sewage system had always lagged well behind the city's growth, and the building frenzy encouraged and fanned by the AKP could only make it worse. 
"Frog Creek" (Kurbağalı Dere) in the highly urbanized Kadıköy district of Istanbul; affectionately called "Shit Creek" (Boklu Dere) by the neighbourhood folk. Efforts to clean it were halfhearted at best, but since midsummer the existing pipes were broken open, to be replaced by larger ones. The new pipes have still not been put in place, and the stench has become practically insupportable. A floating belt holds back the trash, but the clods of excrement keep slipping from under it and rolling to the sea ahead. The bubbles of gas rising from the polluted creek are visible in the photo. I live within sniffing distance from this open sewer.
(Image from my own camera.)

Istanbul's vast population- 
14 160 000 according to the census of 2013 but probably much more than that- boasts enough enlightened, environmentally conscious citizens to attempt a resistance to the encroachment on nature and the environment, and there are organizations, institutions and legal counsel available to help them in their struggle. Let's not forget that the Gezi uprising in 2013 had started as an action to save a park. But the government sponsored attacks on forests, parks, rivers, and the landscape in general occur in so many places, with so much insistence, with such blatant disregard of procedure that even with the best of intentions and greatest determination it is hard to keep up. The mainstream media, bound by the government through benefits, generally downplay or completely ignore these resistance activities, making sure support and contribution to any single one remains weak.

Protesting the third Bosphorus bridge and new airport that will cut through Istanbul's northern forests, and displace the residents of villages in the area, on January 8th 2014.
(Image from my own camera.) 

 Seventy years young and speaking her mind! Protesters resisting the urbanization of the Validebağ grove, a patch of green with some trees in overbuilt Istanbul, November 1st 2014.
(Image from my own camera.)


The assault on the environment is not limited to Istanbul, or the big cities, nor is the green resistance confined to the enlightened bourgeoisie. Quite the contrary; the plain rural folk, less savvy in attracting media attention, less experienced in raising a voice in protest, are more vulnerable to capitalist assaults on their property and have more to lose, and therefore struggle with greater desperation. Usually a private firm, almost always foreign, will have purchased some kind of rights from the government and the locals will find themselves face to face with bulldozers, excavators, and bullies who guard them. This has been happening in such frequency, in so many parts of the country, that to make a fair representation I would have had to dedicate the whole drawing to just this topic. I had to go for representative cases- one being the uprooting of over 6000 olive trees in Yırca, Manisa, starting November 7th 2014, against the desperate protests of the villagers who cultivated and lived from them. The brutality of the security guards- not policemen but private security employed by the company (the Kolin group) went as far as using gas on the villagers, a cartridge hitting one man on the head and causing him to be hospitalized. 

Rolling over the villagers' livelihood: private company knocking down olive trees in Yırca.
(Image from the media.)

Private security employed by he Kolin group trying to persuade the villagers that a thermal power plant will be more beneficial to them than their olive trees.
(Image from the media.) 

Emin Özkılıç leaving the emergency ward after being treated for the blow he received on the head from a gas cartridge fired by a security guard.
(Image from the media.)

 Protester Olcay Bingöl of Greenpeace Turkey handcuffed by security guards.
(Image from the media.)

Just a note: there used to be a law protecting olive plantations (article 3573 of the Olive Growers Directive) that forbade industrial works within a radius of 3 km. A new law passed by the AKP on April 3rd 2012 brought the stipulation that a plantation would have to be 25 000 sq.m. or larger to be considered a plantation, depriving anything smaller from the protection offered by this law. State Council (Danıştay) decisions have since blocked this maneuver by the AKP (October 28th 2014). For the time being at least.


In spite of voices raised in objection the AKP government is not to be dissuaded from its program to build three nuclear power plants. The horrific example of the Fukushima power plant in 2011 caused even highly populated Japan and various other industrialized nations to rethink and start phasing out their existing nuclear power production, but the AKP government is still going on with its plans for power plants in Sinop and İğneada (Kırklareli) on the Black Sea, and Akkuyu (Mersin)  on the Mediterranean. (We only indicated the two Black Sea projects here in the picture.) A 2010 agreement hands over the task of building and operating of Akkuyu to Russia- of Chernobyl fame. The Japanese, who are trying to discontinue nuclear technology in their own country, will be building the one in Sinop. As yet none of the plants are in construction (the illustration jumped the gun, I know)  The İğneada plant is still in early project stage, but we decided to put it in because of the tremendeous environmental hazard to the flooded forests of the region.

Flooded forest, İğneada.
(Image from the media.) 

Flooded forest, İğneada. In this kind of forest, trees grow right out of the water. The area possesses it's own fragile ecosystem, and is on the itinerary of migrating birds.
(Image from my own camera.)

Turkey has a vast area- about 780 000 sq. km. It is also sunny for most of the year, and possesses an extensive coastline, open to winds. The idea of using the wind and the Sun as sources of energy came only belatedly, and though there is a visible increase in wind turbines, plus some solar panels that have started to appear on rooftops, the vast potential remains almost untapped.


Coal remains a primary source of power for heating and electricity. In another sense, it is a primary source of power for the government as well, which seeks to court votes with sacks of free coal. Like most everything else coal mines have been privatized, and the drive for profit has meant inadequate safety measures and underpaid workers. The owners of big businesses have close links to the government and mines are no exception, which means slack supervision. It would not be an empty cliché to say they get away with murder when one sees the scope of the tragedies that occur with alarming frequency. No stranger to mining accidents, the nation was nevertheless overwhelmed by the tragedy at Soma (Manisa), where hundreds were trapped in a mine on May 13th 2014 after an explosion followed by fire. For days there was confusion about how many were trapped below. We heard claims of up to a thousand dead, and that the government was trying to hush the real numbers up. The government estimated 300, and declared everybody was out when the official body count had reached 301. ("It's more than they estimated so they must be telling the truth!") Then the entrances were sealed so there is no way of knowing whether there were any more inside.

Bodies of dead miners, Soma. 
(Image fro the media.)

Digging graves for the dead miners of Soma.
(Image from the media.)

 Ceremony in memory of the dead miners, Soma, June 3rd 2014.
(Image from the media.)

 Sealing in the mine.
(Image from the media.)

Tayyip Erdoğan, then still Prime Minister, visited Soma, as was his duty, on May 14th. The reaction of the infuriated crowd was so great that he had to seek refuge in a nearby market, and in the pandemonium he reportedly punched a protesting citizen. (That citizen later retracted his statement, said he was in error, the Prime Minister was in fact attempting to protect him.) The Prime Minister's adviser, Yusuf Yerkel, will be harder to exonerate since the cameras caught pretty clear photos of him kicking a downed protester the same day. (Later that evening he had his leg examined at hospital for sprain sustained from the effort.)

Prime minister's adviser Yerkel teaching a protester some respect; Soma, May 14th 2014.
(Image from the media.)

Mining acccidents are distressingly frequent, but they don't get much media attention when there is fewer loss of life. Mines hit the headlines again when one in Ermenek (Karaman) was flooded on October 29th, 2014, drowning 18. It was one day before Republic Day and gave president Erdoğan the pretext to cancel the reception at his new "palace", which would have been boycotted by the opposition CHP and MHP.

According to news reports, the already underpaid miners had not received their wages for the last three months.

 Pumping the water out of the flooded mine in Ermenek.
(Image from the cametra.)

Nocturnal vigil outside the mine by relative:
Tortured by hope!
(Image from the media.)

Behind much of the evil done to the people of Turkey comes from a drive for profit. The government sells national assets and spends, often squanders the income (remember Erdoğan's palace. He also has a small fleet of airplanes at his service, two of them in regular airliner dimensions.) Then the new propreitors either exploit their employees shamelessly, or hire out an agency which will abuse its own workers even more. If it is land, there will be connections in the government to come up with some legal gobbledygook to disenfranchise the real owners, or the community living on the property. With such unbridled greed and so much corruption in power even property deeds can be declared null and void at the stroke of a pen. It used to be that privatization was subject to some restrictions; no more than 49% of the shares could be sold to foreign investors, 51% controlling shares had to stay in Turkish hands. Now anything and everything can be sold to anyone anywhere so that the country and its resources have almost completely been bought up by foreign interests. The population now works and slaves for foreign masters, who sell the fruit of their labor to other Turkish citizens and take the profits abroad. Foreign banks (which means most of them these days, even the ones with Turkish names) give out loans to farmers and when the debtors cannot pay up they simply confiscate the land and property. State subsidies go exclusively to larger enterprises only, so that small producers cannot get them, forcing them to enter the employ of large firms or multinational conglomerates.The employer may be multinational but visa restrictions will guarantee that the employee has no easy access to the multinational world beyond our borders.

 Mining for gold at the Kaz mountains, (the Mount Ida of mythology where Paris gave the apple to Aphrodite). Proprietors of the six mines on the Kaz mountains include Alamos Gold (Canada), Chesser Resources (Canada), and Pilot Gold (subsidiary of Newmount, US.) The population, backed by local authorities, has been fighting a legal battle against the environmentally dangerous activity- the extraction involves large quantities of cyanide in giant pits. Happily recent court decisions  have started to block this rape of the land.
(Image from the media.)

Sometimes it feels like they are allergic to trees. It is as if the AKP's Islamist soul produces a subconscious yearning for the desert. But really it's greed: sell to anyone offering to pay a good sum, and to hell with nature, ecology, the people living in the area, and the few bourgeois idealists who make a fuss about trees and turtles.

The lush green mountainous the Eastern Black Sea region have been struggling to fend off just such assaults on some of its most beautiful regions. The drive is for gold, silver and copper at Cerrattepe and Mount Genya and the legal struggle has been going back and forth for over twenty years.

Protesters object to extraction of gold, silver and copper at Cerrattepe, Artvin
on July 21st 2014.
(Image from the media.)

The rivers of the lush mounains and valleys attract investment for hydroelectric plants, and the government is planning them over a vast area. Strong resistance from the public has forestalled the worst so far, but the government is persistent in its plans and even if it backtracks today, it will ressurrect its projects tomorrow.

  Kamilet valley, Artvin, June 2014- saved for now!
(Image from the media.)


Ataturk's reforms put women on an equal footing with men. Now with the encouragement of the AKP government more and more women are asserting their freedom to cover up, to submit to a man's authority, and to become one of four wives.

Turkish woman unveiling herself; monument to women's emancipation introduced by Ataturk, whose bust is visible on this monument in the Söğütlüçeşme area of Istanbul,
(Image from my own camera.)

The Kemalists, always embarrassed by the image of the veiled and draped woman, are flabbergasted to see and hear women demand to hide their faces, give up their freedoms and reject the civilized look that Ataturk's reforms granted them. 
A pro-black veil illustration
that interprets the six arrows
of Ataturk^s CHP
as lethal weapons 
targeting the virtuous
veiled woman.
Artist unknown.

The Kemalist insistence on opening up and letting your hair show may seem an undue assault on personal freedom, and this is certainly the crux of the argument of the AKP, of the Gülen cult, and of the press that serves them, but the more license they are given, the more they encroach into people's lives, using imams, sheiks, and peer pressure from volunteers- mostly women- who willingly help spread the oppression.

Above: Friends  strutting their sartorial stuff in the
Caddebostan area of Istanbul.
(Image from my own camera.)

Left: May 19th 2010, national holiday commemorating the launching of the War of Independence back in 1919 and celebrated as "Youth Day" according to Ataturk's wish. His signature adorns the young girls' chests. The AKP attempted to phase out national holidays while putting ever greater emphasis on religious ones. "Youth Day" was particularly offensive to the AKP, since there were plenty of young healthy bodies on display. The first great reaction to the AKP's attempts to cancel national holiday celebrations came on May 19th 2012, which was also the impulse to launch this blog. See: "May 19th: Celebrating at All Costs", 18 May-Mayıs 2012 and "We Celebrated May 19th- And How", 20 May-Mayıs 2012.

Under the pretense of "freedom", the AKP has been waging a war on the minds of the young, targeting ever younger children. The fight for the "freedom to cover up" may have had a plausible ring to it, but more and more "clerical schools"
(İmam-Hatip) are being opened to replace regular ones, often to the consternation of parents who find their children registered for an education they do not want.

Another neighbourhood school has gone "clerical" (İmam-Hatip), and the parents are protesting. Yeşilbahar Secondary School, Kadıköy, August 25th 2014, shortly before the start of  the spring term. 
(Image from the media.)

Left: Even in a "regular school", parents are now allowed to override the authority of the teacher when it comes to covering up their children. Here it is clearly no longer a question of the child's choice. Mehmet Akif Ersoy High School, Arnavutköy, Istanbul.
 (Image from the media.)

Right: Elif Kısa,teacher of Turkish at Ayvalık, Balıkesir. Officially, she violates the dress code, and parents are distressed enough to turn it into an issue, but the government is reluctant to restrict her liberty.
(Image from the media.)
Meanwhile Koranic classes are slipped into institutions for younger and younger children. The AKP has lifted all age limits for such an education so that children can now be made to take Koranic classes almost as soon as they can talk- which might not be so bad if they understood the lingo! In Koranic classes the Koran is memorized by rote, in the original Arabic, an absurdity for children who can only understand their own native Turkish- a vicious attack on their young minds.

Four and a half year old girl in Sivas reciting the Koran. She cannot even read in her own language yet; she has memorized a long tract in a foreign language. 
The source relates it as something to admire. 
(Image from the media.)

"The Trees have Resisted- Now it is the Turn of Education". Poster urging to resist the AKP
program to do away with secular education
in favor of a a religious one. 
(Image from my own camera.).

 The liberties of the conservative, even the regressive, are jealously guarded by the government. When professor of astronomy Rennan Pekünlü attempted to reinforce dress code at the Ege university, Izmir, objecting to the headscarf on girls, he found himself packed to prison on November 27th 2014, convicted to two years and one month- an abnormally harsh penalty for an academician but in line with the AKP's Islamization program.

The plaintiff who sent Prof. Pekünlü to prison,
Fatma Nur Gidal.
"My conscience is clear."
(Image from the media.

The supporters of the "Islamic" headscarf cause greeted the verdict with glee- as a simple browse of the web will reveal. Those who share Prof. Pekünlü's secular ideal crowded his "final lecture" on November 27th, 2014. Prof. Pekünlü delivered his lecture to an auditorium filled to capacity, after which he surrendered to the authorities to start serving his term. The supporters of the professor of astronomy make frequent references to Gallileo and the inquisition. The rupture in our social fabric is clear.

Prof. Pekünlü delivering his final lecture prior to imprisonment, speaking of "the Universe and evolution." 
(Image from the media.)

Not only the minds of the young are targeted. Government endorsed fundamentalism aims to fill any spot where ignorance and superstition or simple fear has left a gap. There is no lack of small gurus who are happy take charge of a flock and make sure they remain sheepishly obedient.
Somehow, women seem particularly susceptible to the lure of these cults, and the "hodjas" seem to target them quite purposefully. 

Disciples of the "Cloaked Hodja" (Cübbeli Hoca),
really Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü
crowding outside
the judicial palace
at Çağlayan, Istanbul, on September 21st 2012, where their spiritual chief
is standing trial.
(Image from the media.)

Left: The object of adoration: 
When the police busted
an extortionist gang, the hodja was reportedly discovered
caught in their web.
Hence the trial that drew
his disciples in droves.
(Image from the media.)


The law of the secular Republic does not consider a religious marriage legal. Nor is it illegal; if you wish to be wed by an imam, you still have to go before a registrar to make it legal under law. The main reason for this is that the Republic disallows some things that Islam tolerates- like polygamy. But that pales in contrast to the crime of child brides, who, forced by their parents, are married to elder men- by imams alone. Naturally, the marriage is legally null and void but that does not help an underaged girl susceptible to social pressure from her family and neighbourhood and too young to take matters in her own hands, or even understand what has been forced upon her.

Her name is only given as A.Y. She was married off at 12. Her husband packed her home with her baby soon after the birth.
It all came out into the
open when her baby fell ill and she had to take him to hospital. Here she is, a single mother clutching her 45 day old baby, in January 2012.
(Image from the media.

Her name is Kader Erten; 
married of at the age of 11, mother at 12, bore her second child prematurely at 13. 
The second child did not survive. She was found killed by a shotgun on January 11th 2014. The family maintain it was suicide. They also claim her real age is 17, which would mean she had married at 14, still illegal.
(Image from the media.)


Parody of the tragedy
by cartoonist Cem Işık: the "husband" can't decide between
"pediatry" and "maternity".

Even if the relationship is legal, the problem does not stop there:  the supremacy of the male is almost a given truth in this culture. The Republic aimed to erase the differences through education, the retrogade forces, which parade the flag of Islam, promise a return of male supremacy and even encourage it. Even if no one tells men outright to beat up their wives, the protectionist attitude towards domestic bullies encourage males already downtrodden and frustrated in other aspects of their lives to take it out on their wives and other female friends and acquaintances. Crimes against women have reached alarming proportions in Turkey, and the AKP has always avoided making a clear statement against it.

Rabia Duman,
beaten by her husband
for going to a shopping center.
May 2012.

Her name was Emine, her surname given only as İ. On October 16th 2013
she entered an argument
with her husband,
said she wanted a divorce,
and was stabbed over and over for it
until she died.
(Image from the media.)

Neslihan Çelik,
remarried and became pregnant.
Her former husband shot her on October 12th, 2012.
She did not survive.
(Image from the media.)

Prime minister Erdoğan's AKP and the Fethullah Gülen cult (Cemaat), aided by a bought-off press and media, masterminded an elaborate hoax that targeted journalists, intellectuals, academicians, but most of all officers- to the extent that the Turkish Armed Forces were depleted of higher command as well as the most promising of the younger generation. That injustice was one of my main motivations for starting this blog. When Erdoğan and Gülen fell out and proceeded to attack each other, Erdoğan's AKP let the cat out of the bag, blaming Gülen for everything- perhaps hoping for an alliance with those they once tormented. The captives, including hundreds of officers, were released one by one. (See: "Melting the Mountain of Iron", 4 November-Kasım 2014) This was not acquittal, however, but release pending retrial. While most have been released the case of 43 defendants of the "espionage" case are still awaiting the sluggish attention of the Appeals Court (Yargıtay). Of these, five are still in prison, 37 are refusing to surrender (and the government no longer seems enthusiastic about going after them) and one was released because he served out his sentence before the Appeals Court could decide.

The "Silent Scream" (Sessiz Çığlık) demonstrations are organized by the families of captive officers and have been held weekly for over two years. Here, on December 27th 2014 at Beşiktaş, Istanbul, demonstrators hold photographs of the last five in prison.
From left to right: Hatice Senay Sarıgöz, civilian functionary at the Coast Guard, Navy Sergeant Alpay Aksu, Ret. Gendarmerie, Col. Mehmet Ülger,
Gendarmerie Maj. Haydar Yeşil and Navy NCO Adnan Yılmaz.
(Image from my own camera.)

I drew the "arrested officer" in naval uniform because the navy was the hardest hit by the witchhunt. A tragic figure is Navy Commander Ali Tatar who was arrested on December 5th 2009, based on accusations in a clandestine e-mail that led to one of the many roundups. He was released on the 16th. The decision to release Tatar was overruled and he was called to turn himself in again on the 18th. On the 20th he shot himself rather than re-live the humiliation. His was not the only life lost to the witchhunts
To the right: Commander Ali Tatar and family.

Left: On the exact day the Constitutional Court ruled that all those convicted of the "Sledgehammer" hoax should be released, it was hard to notice in the euphoria of optimism that Ret. Generals Kenan Evren (97) and Tahsin Şahinkaya (89) were sentenced to life for having staged the military intervention of September 12th 1980- lest anyone should construe the "Sledgehammer" releases as a license for future similar interventions. Here both news items appear on the front page of Sözcü of June 19th, 2014. (Release of the "Sledgehammer" defendants across the top, the conviction of Gen. Evren, demoted to private, near the bottom on the right.) History will be kinder to Evren and Şahinkaya; their action on September 12th 1980 gave the Republic a further lease of life.

Many prisons hosted the victims of the roundups related to the Ergenekon, "Sledgehammer", "Adultery and Espionage" hoaxes and related cases, but one almost became a synonym for this dark chapter of Turkish justice and as such must stand for all others: the Silivri prison compound, outside (way outside) Istanbul, miles from anywhere, with incorporated courtroom. This did not deter people from going there by the busload to give their support to the defendants, and a valiant "Silivri Watch", headed by a very brave man named Hıdır Hokka, held vigil in tents and containers before the prison. After the falling out between Erdoğan and Gülen, the inmates convicted through the hoaxes were released one by one. Then Erdoğan turned upon the police and prosecutors that had dared to stage raids against his own corrupt ministers and their sons- who happened to be the same police and prosecutors who had fabricated evidence, arrested, prosecuted and convicted the victims of the Ergenekon, "Sledgehammer", "Adultery and Espionage"  and related cases. It was poetic justice when they found themselves in the same prison they had conspired to send others! Only, these were the minor players in a very big game.

 Silivri prison compound, outside Istanbul.
(Image from my own camera.) 

Turkey is just one chesspiece in the US-Globalist game to rearrange the Middle East. There has been an ongoing US plan to destabilize and overthrow the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, "Arab Spring" style. It is in fact impossible to think of the "Arab Spring" phenomenon without US involvement, and we have all seen how well that went, haven't we? Particularly Libya, where US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other  American officials died when grateful Libyans attacked the US consulate in Benghazi on September 11th 2012. 

Very friendly with Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad at the outset, Erdoğan's affections turned into unrestrained enmity when the US targeted the regime as the next in line to be toppled. After the bodybags from Iraq, the US had adopted a new policy of having others fight its wars. A band of murderous rogues who style themselves as the "Free Syrian Army" (FSA) enjoyed US supplies and arms and Erdoğan's Turkey willingly played the intermediary while Prime minister Erdoğan himself hurled accusations at erstwhile chum Assad. He was also wildly gung-ho about jumping into the fray himself- well, not himself personally, but his country's armed forces, at a time when the cream of its officers were languishing in prison! Erdoğan's hawkish speech “Allah willing, we will shortly be going to Damascus, and embrace our brothers there. Allah willing, we will perform our namaz in the Ummayad mosque. We will offer prayers in the tombs of Bilal Habesh, Ibn-Arabi, the Suleimaniye complex, and the terminal of the Hedjaz railway”, delivered to AKP party members on September 5th 2012, recall some of Hitler's best. (See: "War Drums of a Non-Militarist Government", 18 September-Eylül 2012.) As fighting on the Syrian side spread, fanned by our own meddling, some stray rockets and shells started falling in Turkish territory. On October 3rd 2012 an artillery shell landed in the Turkish border town of Akçakale, killing five. Erdoğan's AKP immeditely used that incident (who knows who really fired that shell- and from where?) to pass a parliamentary resolution the very next day (October 4th) allowing the Turkish Armed Forces to conduct extraterritorial operations. (See: "The Shelling of Akçakale and Reprisals", 7 October-Ekim 2012.) In further preperations for the expected war the Turkish government called on NATO allies for protection in the form of Patriot missiles. Syria had its hands full fighting the FSA insurgents and would have nothing to gain from provoking Turkey, so these Patriots were clearly not a defensive but an aggressive measure. From where they were stationed, they would not be in range to defend vulnerable border towns like Akçakale, which had served as an excuse to import them in the first place. (See: "Patriots vs. Patriots", 24 January-Ocak 2013).

 Battery of Patriot missiles manned by US servicemen near Gaziantep, Turkey.
(Image from the media.) 
As civil war raged in Syria, Erdoğan and his AKP raged against Bashar al-Assad with an enthusiasm that exceeded US expectations. The AKP focused on reports of atrocities conducted by the Assad regime while remaining mute about the arbitrary cruelty of the self-styled Free Syrian Army (FSA). Most conflicts in the Middle East have a sectarian undertone, and the Syrian civil war is no exception. Bashar al-Assad is Alevi, leading a mixed government, and the FSA is composed of fanatical Sunnites who are convinced their murders will take them to heaven. Erdoğan and the AKP are also Sunnites, which makes one suspect some sectarian fanaticism in their motivations- or at least pandering to fanatical elements!

Through good deeds
you get to heaven:
severed head, one of many following FYD raid on Hama, Syria, 
on July 8th 2014. 
(Image from the media.) 

On several occasions the Turkish Gendarmerie caught the Turkish Intelligence Service (MİT [10]) red handed transporting lorryloads of arms to Syria, apparently for use by the FSA insurgents; the government overruled the gendarmerie, denied the destination, and carried on. 

Left: One of three lorries halted and searched for arms by the Gendarmerie near Adana, January 19th 1914. Arms were reportedly found in two of them. (Image from the media.)

The Sunnite Erdoğan and his party add sectarianism to their rethoric, particularly when addressing their electoral base. The intensely religious climate nurtured by his party in Turkey is presented as freedom by the pro-government media and "moderate Islam" in the West but it is thanks to this climate that a steady stream of volunteers have been slipping into Syria to fight in the ranks of the FSA and more recently the ultra-sadistic ISIS.

First there was Al Qaeda, then came Al Nusra, and now there is something called ISIS, acronym for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. They called it ISIL fırst, for Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, but must have realized that no Arab terrorist would use or even know the genteel term "Levant". Carrying out warfare with exceptional violence in the free-for-all that is Northern Iraq and Northern Syria today, ISIS really attracted media attention in the west when its thugs allegedly beheaded hostages and shared the videos of their atrocities over the net. US citizens James Foley and David Sotloff and  Briton David Haines were seen calmly and lucidly blaming President Obama for the horror that was about to be committed to them, while their executioner stood by their side. In the end, their acting turns out to be more horrendous than the act, which is not shown, and the final shot of the body with the severed head is manifestly not by hand-held video but pans smoothly over a still image which looks suspiciously like a Photoshop montage.

 David Haines, aid worker and British national, braces for the beheading. ISIS released the video on September 13, 2014. I have watched the video and have good reason to suspect its authenticity. The actual severing is not shown and the final image of the beheaded body is shot with a moving camera that seems to be panning over a photograph rather than shooting hand-held over a real dead body- a photograph that could easily be doctored.
Check out for yourself:

For images of real atrocities by ISIS, just search the web under "ISIS atrocities" and see the difference. Not for the weak hearted.
 (Image from the media.)
The effect on the Western public opinion was electrifying. 
With all the bloodshed going on in those regions since the collapse of authority in Northern Iraq after the first Gulf war and spreading to Syria with US efforts to destabilize the Bashar al-Assad regime, the only real reason these particular atrocities seemed so shocking to the world was that the victims were US and British nationals. There is widespread conviction that ISIS was really created by the US, not only as a way to oust Assad, Kaddafi-style, but for  whipping up international support for opposing elements it favors, such as the Kurds. By setting the ISIS cutthroats upon the Kurds and broadcasting their violence to the world the US hopes to whip up a multi-national coalition that will side withe the Kurds against ISIS and thus legitimize the Kurdish state for which they are fighting; a new state to be carved out of the territories of four seperate sovereign countries  (Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey) in accordance with "Greater Middle East Project".


Though I have serious doubts regarding the authenticty of the videos and hence the reality of the executions, I have no doubts about the sadism of the ISIS fighters. But the full force of their violence is turned against the people of the region- including Turkish-speaking Turcomans (Türkmen), about whom there is little mention in the Western press. The truth is no one in the West could possibly get excited about the mistreatment of anyone other than their own kind. [11] Murders (real or imaginary) of American and British hostages were necessary if the Western public opinion is to be swayed to favor further involvement in the Middle East. In the end, the videos stirred a new wave of hatred for Muslims in the West when the real victims of this fanatical Muslim violence are mostly other Muslims.
 ISIS executions at Tal Afar, Northern Iraq, June 16th 2014.
This city also has a Turcoman population.
(I picked a relatively palatable image compared to the carnage you can see on the Internet.)
(Image from the Media.)

 A strange chapter of the ISIS story is the raid on the Turkish consulate in Musul, Northern Iraq, on June 11th 2014. 49 people consisting of consulate personnel and their families- including three children, were taken hostage. For the duration of their captivity there was very little public sympathy in Turkey for their plight, for the simple reason that the media did not show much interest in the fates of our compatriots held by this exceptionally cruel and unscrupulous band of terrorists. I must admit we once again compared very unfavorably with the solidarity of the Americans during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979-81. The shame of the helplessness of the Foreign Ministry before the predicament of so many of its members did not ruffle the feathers of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, who was even rewarded with the office of Prime Minister when his master Erdoğan ascended to the Presidency with the elections of August 10th, 2014, at which time the unfortunate Consulate staffers were completing their second month in captivity. When jubilant headlines announced their release and homecoming on September 20th, hardly anybody remembered what it was all about. Whether any concessions were made to ISIS for their release (over and above what they were getting from the AKP regime already) has remained a matter of conjecture.

The release of the hostages as seen by newspapers of opposing camps, September 21st 2014. The pro-AKP Star: "We Have Them, My Prime Minister". The strongly anti-AKP Aydınlık: "ISIS: We Have reached an Agreement with Turkey".


While US-endorsed and AKP-encouraged regression into religious fanaticism in Turkey supplies a steady stream of volunteers for ISIS, the Kurdish seperatist movement continues unabated, desired by the US, and the AKP playing the willing intermediary. The project for the new independent Kurdistan includes large chunks of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. The central governments in Iraq and Syria being no longer capable of maintaining authority in the debated territories, the Kurds have to argue the point with ISIS- which is nothing like a legitimate government, not even a cruel one. 

There is much to convince us that the US was behind ISIS, as it had been behind the FSA. The US support for Kurdish independence has been quite overt, and its suport for the Kurdish seperatist PKK [12] barely concealed, even though the PKK is still internationally classified as a terrorist organization, having conductied guerilla warfare and urban terrorism in Turkey since 1978.  The Kurdish militants fighting in Syria identify themselves with another set of letters, calling themselves the YPG [13] but it is not wrong to see them as the Syrian branch of the PKK. That would mean the US is backing both sides of the conflict. Much is being said to explain the apparent anomaly. The easiest explanation is that ISIS,which was conjured or culivated to destabilize the Assad government from discontented roguish elements, some left over from the Gulf wars, simply got out of hand. It has been suggested that by exporting oil cheaply ISIS has threatened to destabilize the oil market. Whatever the reason the US is now bombing ISIS- with little apparent effect- and sending out its call for an international coalition to support the Kurds (YPG) fighting it. NATO member Turkey is expected to join in to help the same Kurdish insurgents that it has been fighting for decades, and will end up losing a large portion of its territory for its pains.

Their conflict seems to have reached a kind of stalemate at a town called Kobani (Kurdish name for the town known officially as Ayn-al Arab) provokatively close the Turkish border. ISIS launched its attack on September 16th 2014 and the US has since been helping the defending Kurds by bombing ISIS positions from the air and dropping arms to the Kurdsish positions (some of which are seized by ISIS). The Turkish military remains reluctant to take active part, content to observe the spectacle from the border and make sure the conflict doesn't spill over. 

Just looking!: Turkish tanks lined along the border, observing the pandemonium in Ayn-al Arab (Kobani) just on the other side, with smoke rising from bombing by US jets. October 9th 2014.
(Image from the media.)

Refugees, swarming into Turkey from Syria ever since the FSA insurrection, have increased in proportion to the brutality of the ISIS fighters. With the influx comes a security hazard, as belligerents also traffic freely back and forth. Indeed, throughout the Syrian crisis, combatants have reportedly been using refugee camps in Turkish territory as base camps from which to launch guerilla operations against the still internationally recognized Syrian government-  and it is claimed the AKP government willingly tolerates, even actively supports this underhanded game. This reflects badly on the image of all the Syrian refugees who are steadily filling the streets of urban centers where, displaced and stricken with poverty, they are also eyed with suspicion by the public.

Refugees arriving from Ayn-al Arab (Kobani).
(Image from the media.)

 Turkish soldier holding a Syrian refugee baby, hoping the mother will show up.
(Image from the media.)

Syrian refugees on the Turkish side: destitute but safe enough to rest.
(Image from the media.)
At the outset the AKP government had also encouraged the ethnically and culturally related Turkish speaking Turcomans (Türkmen) to revolt against the Assad government in Syria so that they initially joined forces with the FSA. But when the Assad government held on and the situation deteriorated into chaos, the AKP government failed to support them. Now they are targeted by ISIS violence, not only in Syria but also in Iraqi Kirkuk where they are numerous. There are claims that Turkey closed the border to 5000 Turcoman refugees because they "did not have visas". (At the time, the staff of the nearest Turkish consulate in Musul was being held hostage by ISIS.) The AKP government naturally denies the allegation but if true, it is hard not to see this as a further example of the Sunnite AKP's sectarian fanaticism. The Turcomans are Alevis. 
So the picture is this: volunteers and battle hardened militants of the FSA and ISIS freely roam back and forth into Turkey while Kurdish militia do the same to battle it out in Syria. By agreeing to provide tactical support to the US and its "coalition" the AKP is helping them bomb ISIS militants, many of whom are Turkish volunteers bred to fanaticism by the party's own policies, encouraged by the US as "moderate Islam". The Turkish military is hindered from stemming the flow of arms and militants in and out of the border because of the AKP's rapprochement with seperatist Kurdish elements on the one hand (convicted PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan has become a negotiating partner from his prison cell) and covert support of the FSA and ISIS on the other.
The Turkish frontier being provokatively close to Ayn-al Arab (Kobani), there was an appeal by the seperatist HDP for the Turkish Armed Forces to help. Even the CHP's Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the opposition, asked for a military operation to "save Kobani", where the belligerent parties were the savage ISIS and the YPG- Syrian version of the PKK. As for the civilians to be saved, they were already all refugees on the Turkish side. The military resisted full involvement, so that Turkey only provided tactical support such as allowing the use of NATO facilities but avoided committing itself to military action. The US did not insist probably because Erdoğan was still obsessed with the idea of overrunning Syria and toppling Assad (no one can quite explain why), adding a further element of wild unpredictability to the reigning chaos. 
The HDP was not happy about this reluctance to intervene. For decades Kurdish insurgents had seen the Turkish Armed Forces as an enemy to be attacked, ambushed, raided, bombed, mined or assassinated. For years they had been negotiating with the AKP (which had tucked hundreds of military personnel away in prison) and were on the way to independence, encouraged by the West, without even a plebiscite to ask the residents of the areas involved. Now the same Armed Forces were being asked to run to the aid of its sworn enemy, becoming involved in a quagmire that could at best lead to the loss of large swathes of land to a new country, or at worst allow the blaze war to spread into and all over Turkish territory.

HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş appealed his supporters to take to the streets to force the government to act for Kobani, and that is what they did. On October 6th and 7th, 2014, they set out on a rampage, burning symbols of the Turkish state. And killing too, especially but not exclusively targeting known supporters of the new Hüda-Par, a politicized version of the "Turkish Hizbullah". Up to 50 lives were lost in the violence which continued well beyond the two heated days of October 6th and 7th.

Burning school (Cumhuriyet Elementary and Secondary School) in Yüksekova, Hakkari, torched by Kurdish protesters angered by the reluctance to launch military action to 
"save Kobani", October 9th 2014. This was reportedly the fifth torching in two weeks.
(Image from the media.)

Equestrian statue of nation's founder Atatürk burning in Esenyurt, Istanbul, during the "Kobani protests", October 8th 2014. 
(Image from the media.)

Another statue of Atatürk burning in Cizre, again by Kurdish protesters angered by Turkey's reluctance to interfere in Kobani, but this time on September 23rd, two weeks before Demirtaş's call to take to the streets.
 (Image from the media.)


The Kurdish insurgents (PKK), frustrated by the stalemate with ISIS, not happy with the slow progress on the road to independence in talks with the AKP, and angered at the Turkish Armed Forces taking action against their activities, returned to its old tactics, on hold for the talks. On October 25th two private soldiers and one sergeant in civilian clothing, in town to buy electrical equipment, were shot in the head in broad daylight in Yüksekova, Hakkâri.

Three soldiers were assassinated in Hakkâri, Yüksekova. They were
 Sgt. Ramazan Gülle, private soldiers Yunus Yılmaz and Ramazan Köse.
(Image from the media.) 

HDP explained this away as the revenge for the "execution" of three "HPG guerillas" in Kağızman, Kars, on October 23rd. HPG [15] is practically PKK by another name. On that day a group of militants, "PKK terrorists" according to the Turkish press, "HPG guerillas" according to the HDP, had attacked a hydroelectric plant in Kars. Three militants were killed in the ensuing exchange of fire with the Gendarmerie.

Four days later, on October 29th 2014 (Republic Day) NCO Nejdet Aydoğdu was shot by two masked gunmen while shopping in civilian dress in a Diyarbakır market with his wife. He was hospitalized but did not survive.

Esra Aydoğdu, pregnant wife of NCO Nejdet Aydoğdu at her husband's funeral, October 30th 2014. She was close at hand at the moment of the shooting.
(Image from the media.) 

There is a hopeful footnote to the tragedy that I must include. Hearing of the event a Turkish emigrant working as a plasterer in France, named Ali Dal, donated an apartment to Mrs. Aydoğdu's unborn child. To me, this explains how come we still survive as a nation with all the treason and treachery, all the evil and murderous fanaticism around and inside us.

Left: Ali Dal, immigrant worker in France. Not a businessman, not a rich man, not an "important" man, but a Man, overcome by emotion while handing over the deed to the apartment he donated to the murdered NCO's unborn child. 
(Image from the media.)

On October 26th 2014 villagers near Geçitbaşı village in Bitlis found a body strapped to a telephone pole. It turned out to be "village guardsman" (köy korucusu) Nihat Çaprak of Çetikli village, Bitlis, abducted two months before. The "guardsmen" are villagers assigned and paid by the government to maintain local security, whom Kurdish separatists regard as traitors. The body had a 10 TL banknote tucked into his mouth. The HPG (really the PKK under another name, as mentioned above) claimed the act, avenging the "murder of 15 women PKK members" on March 24th 2012. (Confrontation between the military and PKK insurgents.)

Right: Village guardsman Nihat Çaprak found dangling from a telephone pole. The guardsmen are local Kurds on the pay of the Turkish state to ward off the influence of Kurdish separatist militants on their villages; they are regularly targeted by said militants who consider them paid traitors to their cause. This would be the significance of the banknote stuffed into his mouth.
(Image from the media.)

Never mind all the talk about bringing freedom and democracy. It's mostly about a scramble for access to natural resources, maintaining cheap labor, and making sure there are no strong and unified independent states in the areas to check or challenge them. Divide, rule, and exploit!


Our county is surrounded by waters. The beaches and sunbathers may lend them an aura of calm and leisure, but they are sizzling with political tension. The strategic importance of the Staits (Bosphorus and Dardanelles) are known to anyone familiar with the Gallipoli campaign of 1915; they have kept Russia bottled up for centuries, and the Montreux agreement (1936) regulates passage of warships, the limitations applying also to the US, protecting as well as restraining Russia. The US would prefer a much more accomodating position on the part of NATO ally Turkey, as was evident during the upheaval in the Ukraine. Ukranian protesters demanding closer relationship with and ultimately membership in the EU managed to oust pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych on February 22nd, 2014. Counter-protests erupted immediately in Russian speaking Crimea, evolving swiftly into civil war, and Russia immediately sided with the pro-Russian resistance. Battleships flying Russian and Ukrainan ensigns passed homebound through the Turkish straights, and more ominously, US (and also French) battleships sailed through in the same direction, away from their own home harbors, ostensibly as protection for their athletes participating in the in Sochi Winter Olympics. According to the Montreux agreement nations with no coast on the Black Sea must leave those waters within 21 days. USS Taylor managed to stay ancored in Samsun harbor alone for 23 days due reportedly to a defective propeller. It is said she scraped her bottom while mooring on February 12th. She was towed away on March 7th, bound for Crete. The negative publicity created by the protests may have hastened her departure.

USS Truxtun passing Istanbul's classic skyline as she enters the Bosphorus towards the Black Sea on March 8th 2014, even as  USS Taylor is being towed out. 
(Image from the media.)

It's an old story but still unresolved: the island of Cyprus remains divided since the Turkish military intervention in July 1974. The Greeks call it "occupation" but I doubt they would have found much to complain if the attempt of the Greek Junta had succeeded in annexing the island to Greece in 1974.

The story goes back a long way; Cyprus had been a Venetian colony (remember Othello) until invaded by the Ottoman Turks in 1571. In 1878 the enfeebled Ottomans were barely rescued from the loss of their capital (and the strategically important straits) to the Russian armies by the intercession of the Western Powers, in return for which the Ottoman government was forced to yield the administration of the island to Britain, officially "rented" it, though nominally still retaining sovereignity. When the first world war put the British and the Ottomans on opposing sides, Britain no longer had to put up with the pretence of Ottoman sovereignity. An armed reistance movement of Greek Cypriots pushing for unification with Greece led the less numerous Turks to take up arms as well. The Island remained under direct British rule until 1960, when the independent Republic of Cyprus was created. The Turks always saw themselves threatened by the Greek majority, and Turkey saw itself encircled. The Greek junta in Athens staged a coup on the island on July 15th 1974, forcing Cypriot President Makarios II to flee. The Turkish military intervened on July 20th 1974 to forestall unification with Greece. Since then the island has remained divided with the Greek south internationally recognized as the legitimate Republic of Cyprus and the north, declared the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in November 18th 1983, is recognized by Turkey only. 

Since then the pressure has been on Turkey to "resolve the problem", which usually translates as ceding to the Greek majority. The "Annan plan" referendum on April 24th 2004, held after negotiations for unification, was accepted by the Turkish side but refused by the Greeks. The Republic of Cyprus (i.e. the south only) was allowed to join the EU on May 1st 2004 in spite of its disputed status and very Middle Eastern location. 

The island stays divided and the pressure for unification, directed mainly at Turkey, continues. At a time when world powers are pressuring for the splintering of existing nations along ethnic, religious and sectarian lines, Cyprus remains almost unique for the international pressure for reunification. 

The long  arm of America reaches all the way from the other side of the globe. I used to see our alliance with the US and the constant presence of American soldiers favorably (my father was a Turkish officer, serving NATO), but those were the Cold War days and the Soviet threat was not an imaginary thing. But who can honestly trust American friendship after US-based Fethullah Gülen's infiltration into the police and judiciary, the Ergenekon, "Sledgehammer", Espionage witchhunts, so-called "moderate Islam", the systematic dismantling of our Republic and the projected dismemberment of our country for the sake of the "Greater Middle-East Project"? Now I too feel the Yankees should be told to back off, and learn to respect us as a sovereign state.

On April 12th 2014 members of the TGB [17], the "Union of Turkish Youth" managed to put a bag over the head of a US sailor on shore leave from the USS Ross, anchored in Istanbul on its way back from the Black Sea. Such "sack" actions, as they are called, are meant to avenge in a symbolic manner the "hood event", when US forces arrested Turkish soldiers in Al Sulaymaniah, Iraq, on the 4th of July 2003, placing hoods over their heads. I refer more extensively to "the hood event", and to the TGB's similiar actions, in "Patriots vs. Patriots", 24 January-Ocak 2013.  

TGB members pulling a "sack" over the head of a US sailor on shore leave
at Eminönü, Istanbul.
(Image from the media.)

At a time when both the AKP and the CHP are vying for the favors of the US it was refreshing for the public to see members of the TGB take on the superpower. Enjoying widespread popularity, the youths of the TGB and the younger offshoot the TLB are much admired for their bravery, patriotism, and their strong stand against the AKP's shenanigans, and are not to be fooled by the CHP's role-playing. But most importantly, their actions are non-violent, harming neither people nor property though they face all the tools and manpower of a police state. See: "The Youth", 16 December-Aralık 2012. Once they pull the bag over the head of a yankee soldier, they let him scurry off, perplexed and confused.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness..." (Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, July 4th 1776.) Powerful words, but how come we see so many people deprived of one, two, and even all three of these "unalienable" rights? 

Boatloads of people set out on perilous journeys to claim these "unalienable" rights, trekking from Iraq, Syria, Iran as far away as from Afghanistan, slipping into Turkey and then out again, investing all their savings in a dangerous trip on a flimsy crowded boat. I don't know how many reach EU soil in Greece, Italy, or Rumania. Many are intercepted by the Turkish coast guard to be expatriated back where they came from. I don't know why we play the watchdog of Europe but I know the ones who are sent home penniless to their homelands are the lucky ones. Quite often their boat capsizes in the open sea, or they are abandoned to their fates by the unscrupulous bandits who have fleeced them, or even scuttled their boat, passengers and all (since dead men don't talk).

Coast guard searching for survivors of a boat carrying refugees that sank at the mouth of the Bosphorus when entering the Black Sea on November 3rd 2014. The vessel reportedly carried 43 illegal immigrants, Afghans and Syrians, including children; it's capacity was 25 and was bound for Rumania, a long distance on the open sea. The press reported 6 survivors only.
(Image from themedia.)


It is not a pretty picture-  it's a picture of human greed, lust for power, fanaticism, pettiness, and outright psycophatic sadism turning life and nature in our country and the world, this wonderful and generous planet, possibly the only one to harbor the gift of life, into hellfire for the flesh and a desert for the soul. On the other hand it is a picture of endurance, of resitstance to what is wrong, of patience, of bravery, of the finest human qualities that flourish in adversity, against improbable odds. And therein lies our hope. 

I wish every human, deserving of that name, a happy, healthy, hopeful new year.

[1] Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (The "Party of Justice and Progress")
[2] Ethem Sarısülük (27, shot in the head on June 1st 2013, died June 14th 2014, in Ankara), Mehmet Ayvalıtaş, (19, hit by a car, June 2nd 2013, in Istanbul), Abdullah Cömert (22, shot in the head, June 3rd 2013, in Antakya), Ali İsmail Korkmaz (19, beaten
June 2nd 2013, died, July 10th 2013, in Eskişehir), police comissar Mustafa Sarı (27, fell from an overpass while chasing demonstrators, June 6th 2013, in Adana), Berkin Elvan (15, hit on the head by a gas cartridge, June 16th 2013, lay in a coma until his death on March 11th 2014, in Istanbul), İrfan Tuna (47, santation worker, affected by gas seeping indoors, died the next day, July 10th 2013 in Ankara), Serdar Kadakal (35, heart failure on the effects of gas seeping indoors, September 13th 2013, in Istanbul) Ahmet Atakan (hit on the head by a gas cartridge and then hit by a police vehicle, September 9th, 2013, in Hatay).

[3] The Ergenekon, "Sledgehammer" (Balyoz), "Adultery and Espionage" and a slew of cases were invented to imprison a whole class of people, the military and intelligentsia that were the guardians of the Republic. For Ergenekon you can check out:  “The Flag and the Ribbon”, 30 May-Mayıs 2012, “Faded Glory”, 28 October- Ekim 2012, “Silivri”, 18 December-Aralık 2012, “Being aHero”, 17 January- Ocak 2013, “Silivri, 18-02-2013”, 25 February –Şubat 2013, “The Dardanelles Broken Through”, 19 March- Mart 2012,  “To Silivri Again”, 29 March- Mart 2013,  and “Provocation:Silivri, April 8th”, 13 April-Nisan 2013, "Ergenekon Trials and Tribulations", 30 August-Ağustos 2013,  for the “Sledghammer” (Balyoz) see: “The Sledgehammer”, 6 September-Eylül 2013, “’Sledgehammer’ Verdicts”, 22 September- Eylül 2012, “Reacting to the ‘Sledgehammer’ Verdicts”,  26 September-Eylül 2012,  “Now It’s OurShift”, 6 November-Kasım 2012, “Hammering the Sledgehammer”, 5 February- Şubat 2013, “Makes You Want to Scream”, 12 February-Şubat 2013, and “Devouring his OwnChildren”, 19 February- Şubat 2013, for “February 28th” see “A Turban by AnyOther Name”, 16 July- Temmuz 2012, and “Ataturk Out of Time”,  2 March- Mart 2013, "Melting the Mountain of Iron", 4 November-Kasım 2014, for all cases: "A Voice from the Silent Scream", 30 September 2013,  "A Not-So-Silent Scream" 3 January-Ocak 2014,  "To Err is Human", 26 January-Ocak 2014.

[4] The "Republican People's Party" (Cumhuriyet Halk  Partisi).

[5] The six arrows standing for: Republicanism, Populism, Nationalism, Secularism, Statism and Reformism.

[6] The "Democracy Party of the Peoples", (Halklarının Demokrasi Partisi), defending Kurdish autonomy, ultimately seperation. It is an amalgamation of the in-parliament BDP (the Party of Peace and Democracy- Barış ve Demokrasi Partisi) and four smaler out-of parliament parties.

[7]  Prime Minister Erdoğan referred two two Ottoman Sultans, Abdulmejit and Mehmet the Conqueror (Mehmet II) as his grandfathers.
During his campaign for re-election in June 2011 Prime Minister Erdoğan introduced a wildly ambitious project for excavating a new and unnecessary canal in Istanbul parallel to the Bosphorus- the  “Canal Istanbul project”- Erdoğan referred repeatedly to his “grandfather Abdulmedjit” as the originator of the idea. At a speech in Elazığ, on October 20th 2012, while defending the reduction of the voting age to 18, he said “My grandfather Mehmet the Conqueror ended an age and started a new one when he was about that young”. Reference being the conquest of Constantinople in 1453 which marks the end of the Middle Ages and start of the New Age).

[8] The "National Movement Party" (Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi), second opposition party headed by Devlet Bahçeli.

[9] See "A Pencil Jab that Hurt", 16 March-Mart 2013.

[10] Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı.

[11] When two hooded terrorists raided the offices of the French humor magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7th 2014, shouting "Allah Akbar" and killing 12, the main news media of the world locked on to the incident and followed developments closely afterwards. A car bomb that exploded on the very same day in Sana, Yemen, killing upwards of 30, was mentioned in passing only. This is not a criticism but an observation of the nature of things. We had our own suicide bomber one day earlier, on the 6th, at Sultanahmet, Istanbul. Aside from the bomber, only the bomber died.

[12] Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (Kurdish for the "Kurdish Workers' Party").

[13] Yekîneyên Parastina Gel, Kurdish for "People's Defence Units", militia wing of the PYD (Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat ,Kurdish for the "Party for Democratic Union) and for all practical purposes the Syrian branch of the PKK.

[14]  The Turkish Hizbullah is distinct from the Lebanese Hezbollah and known also as the Kurdish Hizbullah, it had a record of murders and assassinations. The Arabic word means "God's Party", and the name of the Hizbullah's new incarnation, "Hüda-Par", short for "Hüda-Partisi", means exactly the same. It is a Sunnite organization (unlike the namesake in Lebanon, which is Shiite).

[15]  Hêzên Parastina Gel ("People's Defence Forces"). Very similarly named to the YPG (see footnote 13), it claims to be the militia wing of the PKK, just as the YPG is the mlitia wing of the PYD over in Syria. This is the outcome of the PKK's pretence of becoming a non-military political organization. So, yes, the HPG can easily be considered the PKK with a new combination of letters.

[16] Türkiye Gençlik Birliği.

[17] Türkiye Liseliler Birliği (Union of Turkish High Schoolers).

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