9 Haziran 2016 Perşembe


The fearsome twosome: Erdoğan & Gülen
It was clearer a few years ago. It was clearer in the good old days of the Gezi uprising that shook the country in June 2013. There was the Islamist AKP ("Justice and Development Party"- Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) with demagogue prime minister Tayyip Erdoğan at the helm, endorsed by the US- and the West in general- transforming the nation into a pious, obedient capitalist heaven, and close partner Fethullah Gülen providing the mind-numbing religious brainwashing from his Pennsylvania ranch.

A population’s national identity was being surgically removed, with master surgeons Erdoğan and Gülen wielding the scalpels, and all intellectual opposition- including the high command of the armed forces- being jailed on trumped up charges: the notorious Ergenekon, Balyoz (“Sledgehammer”), Espionage and Adultery cases and their shootoffs. The grand operation was hatched in the wake of a 2004 report on the benefits of a "moderate Islam" by a US think-tank (the RAND Corporation) headed by an ex-CIA operative named Graham Fuller.  For the cultivation of this  very desirable “moderate Islam”, a Turkish imam with an elementary school education named Fethullah Gülen, on the lam from his country, was provided with a green card and somehow ended up with a ranch, commanding a spiderweb of schools across the world and with uncountable sums of money at his disposal. His green card application was filled out by Fuller himself.

Gülen’s army of moles had long infiltrated the Turkish police and judiciary and set up a whole theatre of fabricated evidence and absurd charges, which, being the prosecutors judges and the police, they judged and sentenced with impunity. And the western intelligentsia applauded Erdoğan for bringing “reforms”, “reigning in the military”, and freeing Turkey of Ataturk’s “outmoded” nationalism.

Families of framed officers call for justice during one of the "Silent Scream" (Sessiz Çığlık) demonstrators, this one on September 21st, 2013, at Beşiktaş, Istanbul. See: "Now It's Our Shift", 6 November-Kasım 2012,   "Hammering the Sledgehammer", 5 February-Şubat 2013, "Makes You Want to Scream", 12 February-Şubat 2013,  "Devouring his Own Children", 19 Şubat-February 2013, "A Not So Silent Scream", 3 January-Ocak 2014.
(Image from my own camera.)

And there was the secular, nationalist opposition, most brave of whom were young people who took their “first duty” to heart: “Your first duty”, Ataturk had said Ataturk, “is to protect and defend Turkish independence and the Turkish Republic… The power you need is in the noble blood in your veins!” (See "The Youth", 16 December-Aralık 2012)

When the Gezi uprising broke out in 2013 the lines were clearly drawn. Erdoğan and the AKP were anti-nationalist, dismantling the secular state structure established by Ataturk
The good old days of the Gezi uprising, 2013.
and opening the way to more and more fundamentalist Islamist practices under the guise of “freedom”. (“Moderate” Islam indeed! More like ramming a very constraining interpretation of it down our throats!) While religious celebrations and ceremonies were pumped up, national holidays were played down, even forbidden- which led to the greatest upsurge of national feeling since the early days of the Republic. The population thronged to Ataturk’s mausoleum in Ankara, and braved water cannons and gas to celebrate their national holidays. (I and my wife got gassed on Republic Day in Ankara, October 29th 2012. Every day we have lived after that has been a bonus! See: "What I saw on Republic Day", 1 November-Kasım 2012.) The more the AKP tried to force religion into all aspects of daily life and the secular Ataturk out of public consciousness, the more the citizens of the Republic thronged to Ataturk's mausoleum- including the pious.

More than a million visitors thronged to Ataturk's maousoleum on November 10th, 2013, in reaction to the AKP's anti-national, fundamentalist oriented policies.
(Images from my own camera.)

Then late in May 2013 the AKP moved to demolish a park in Istanbul’s central Taksim area, already full of shops, to build yet another shopping mall in a city infested with them (The park is a stone’s throw from the opera building shut down by the government since June 2008, ostensibly for “renovation”, and never reopened). Environmentally conscius young people pitched tents in the park to protect the trees, the police moved in, forced them out, burned the tents, and for the next month Turkey was pandemonium. (See: "Taksim Promenade Park", 31 May-Mayıs 2013.) Erdoğan’s agressive, abusive style did nothing to calm indignant crowds, who were rallying around the flag and the image of Ataturk. Erdoğan conveniently slipped away on a state visit to Morocco, unrepentantly maintaining his abusive rethoric to the press at the airport before takeoff. In Morocco King Mohammed VI avoided seeing him.

Erdoğan’s regime and the AKP could have been history but- the government backed down enough to allow the park to stay, and people left for their summer holidays promising “to meet in September”.

They did meet, but somethings had changed. After his high-flying days dining in the White House just half a year
Happy days for Erdoğan in May 2013.
ago, Erdoğan found he was no longer the favorite boy. The US, clearly seeing the hotheaded Erdoğan a liability, started looking for options, and opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu of the CHP seemed to be all for it. His party, the CHP ("Republican People's Party"- Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi) had been founded by Ataturk himself, so the Kemalists supporting Ataturk’s secular ideology had been putting their faith in him and his party. Now Kılıçdaroğlu was flying to the US (as Erdoğan had done when he had first been “chosen”), dining at the US Embassy, and meeting up with the Ambassador in a hotel room.

Then on December 17th 2013 the state prosecutors launched raids to the homes of some people very close to the government- the sons of several ministers, and even Erdoğan’s own son, finding exorbant sums of hard currency. These were the same prosecutors, Gülen’s moles, who had rounded up intellectuals, academicians, journalists and hundreds of officers during the Ergenekon, Balyoz and similar or related witchhunts.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s CHP prompted supporters to protest the AKP
The four corrupt ministers as the Daltons.
for corruption- which was right and good- but seemed far less interested in the injustices of the Gülen-controlled judiciary and police, especially regarding the hundreds of imprisoned officers. The resistance was split, those who suspected the CHP of selling out to US interests opposed those who supported it at all costs.

The US interests included the rearrangement of the borders and regimes of the Middle East to create a more US friendly, Israel friendly, capitalist friendly, exploitable, blithely pious and therefore peaceful region. (The “Greater Middle East Project”, of which  Erdoğan personally and vocally declared himself a “joint leader” on more than one occasion.) A vital ingredient of this project was to be the creation of an independent Kurdistan carved out of the territories of four sovereign states (Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey). Of these,
three are percieved as legitimate targets for the US and “coalitions” led by it. After all, it is less complicated to bomb a country into submission and then rearrange its borders, but with Turkey, a NATO country closely allied with the US and Western Europe, the matter was delicate. The country had to
New borders of the Greater Middle East Project.
be conquered invisibly, its regime and borders changed with an appearance of legitimacy. That had been the mission of Erdoğan in Ankara and Gülen in Pennsylvania. With his mishandling of the Gezi riots, Erdoğan had almost blown it for Uncle Sam.

In line with the “Greater Middle East Project”, Erdoğan’s AKP had been holding talks with the PKK for years, conferring with imprisoned PKK leader Öcalan as if he were a statesman and serving as a courrier between Öcalan and the rebel camp in northern Iraq. A massive rally in Diyarbakır on March 21st, 2013 was a virtual declaration of an independent Kurdistan, with full endorsement of the Turkish government. (This was just two months before Erdoğan’s last great visit to the White House as a guest of honor- shortly after which the Gezi uprising broke out.)

Things had advanced so far that separation seemed imminent, endorsed as it was by the government, and where one cannot rely on the rule of law, one sides up with the strong. With the government bowing out, apparent and also real support for the PKK increased, helping swell their ranks.

To keep this “peace process” going, the military was confined to its barracks and the police was restrained while the PKK roamed free, commiting summary executions on soldiers on leave and village guardsmen who were now paying with their lives for having sided with the government.

The PKK made use of the absence of law enforcement forces to stash huge quantities of arms while the AKP-appointed officials turned a blind eye.

Towards the end of the Gezi uprising in June 2013 more and more words and slogans supporting the seperatist Kurdish cause started slipping in, which we didn’t mind because we were all for freedom. For me the first bothersome sign was the inclusion of a Kurdish boy named Medeni Yıldırım into the sacred roster of the “martyrs of Gezi”. He had been in a group of people attacking the construction site of a border sentry post in the southeast- attacking it because the govenment had led them to believe the Turkish southeast border would be no more. The boy had been shot dead in the attack. His death had nothing to do with the Gezi events, and his inclusion on banners and in slogans was one obvious sign of an attempt to hijack the Gezi uprising for another cause.

Giant poster of the "Martyrs of Gezi" hung for the "Come in September" (Eylülde Gel) concert on September 15th, 2013 in Kadıköy, Istanbul, a CHP-controlled municipality. (See "Turkish Protest Rocks", 23 September-Eylül 2013. Second from right is Medeni Yıldırım, shot dead on June 28th 2013 during a protest action against the construction of a border sentry post in Lice. Whatever you may think of his cause, it had nothing to do with Gezi
(Image from my own camera.)

When everybody got back together in September, the Kurdish presence had increased. The September concert in Kadıköy- under CHP mayorship- had banners in Kurdish. The Turkish flags had disappeared (I saw only one). The CHP was ready to pick up where (it thought) the AKP would be leaving off, bringing in the nationalist Kemalist vote it commanded to endorse the partition of the country.

But Erdoğan wasn’t born yesterday. He sacrificed the four corrupt ministers, declared the December raids a “coup attempt against the legitimate government”, and launched a roundup of Gülen’s moles in the police and judiciary. Strained for some time, the AKP-Gülen alliance now snapped apart. Kılıçdaroğlu’s CHP, playing for US favor, moved to defend the prosecuted prosecutors and arrested policemen, ignoring the part they had played in the hoaxes that had led to the arrest of hundreds of the nation’s secular Kemalist elite. As for Erdoğan and his AKP, they simply said they had been “fooled by their old partner Gülen”, and absolved themselves of all responsibility for the great abuse of justice that had helped consolidate their power. 

Erdoğan sought revenge, not justice, and wanted to show his masters in the US, to whom he owed his power, that he wasn’t ready to give it up- but his revenge did bring justice to the hundreds of jailed victims of the show trials while their tormentors were arrested and charged in droves. Journalist Mehmet Baransu, whose 2010 (Jan 20th) headline article in
Taraf, January 20th 2010.
Taraf claiming the Armed Forces had been planning to “bomb our own mosque” and “shoot down our own plane” had been the springboard of the Balyoz (“Sledgehammer”) roundups and charges, was himself arrested in March 1st 2015 and packed away to Silivri prison, where so many of his victims had once been held. Others took flight, most ironically prosecutor Fikret Seçen whose raid on the Gölcük naval base formed the basis of the Balyoz (“Sledgehammer”) charges, to Holland on November 24th 2015, and the once all-powerful chief state prosecutor Zekeriya Öz, on August 12th 2015 (through Georgia). Very few of the officers victimized by their actions had thought of escaping, many coming from assignments aboard to stand trial in a court where they knew they could expect no justice.

Kılıçdaroğlu’s CHP sought preference in the eyes of the US rather than a return to the principles of secular Kemalism, to which his party owes its electoral base. This meant turning a blind eye to Gülen’s role in Turkey’s troubles and even entering into a rapport with him. So the CHP voters who had formed such a great part of the crowds outside Silivri prison to support the victims of Gülen’s police, prosecutors and judges were now expected to object to them being brought to justice. This further chipped away support to the CHP.

Again in the guise of furthering democratic rule, Erdoğan’s AKP pushed for presidency by election, rather than appointment as hitherto, and as you might have guessed, he was AKP’s candidate for the post (without resigning from his present office as he should have- just in case!). The opposition CHP and MHP ("National Movement Party"- Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi) came up with a common candidate, and the CHP, bypassing all Kemalists within its ranks (such as the popular and much respected Emine Ülker Tarhan) opted for Islamist Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu from outside, ostensibly to pull votes from Erdoğan’s base. Some CHP voters followed the party line to the end, others refused to go to the polls outright. (The third candidate, Kurdish-Seperatist Selahattin Demirtaş, had no real chance: it would have been strange indeed to have a president whose avowed aim was to detach a portion of the country.) Erdoğan won the presidency hands down in the elections of August 10th 2014, appointing the obedient Ahmet Davutoğlu his prime minister. Apparently, he did not find him obedient enough; in another two years Davutoğlu would find himself forced to resign, and the party looking for a “low profile” candidate that would never come close to upstaging Erdoğan, or the Reis (“Chief”) as party hands call him. Erdoğan, who had never been a “low profile” prime minister, or a low profile anything, found what he wanted in the passably subservient Binali Yıldırım

Once Erdoğan was elected president, the vast mansion he had constructed- despite court orders to the contrary- as the prime minister’s residence was swiftly relabeled the presidential  residence.

By 2015 the AKP had hurt so many people that popular support for the party was waning. The Kurdish seperatists were impatient with the “peace process” and made their discontent known by burning schools and blowing up patrol cars, or simply shooting point blank straight in the head. This made the AKP-led “peace process” ever less popular.  The AKP propaganda had sold it as an “reclaiming old Ottoman provinces”, into which the new united Kurdistan would supposedly be integrated, but even the gullible AKP electorate could see that the PKK would not be content with any kind of union with Turkey. The US-influenced intelligentsia pushed for parliamentary representation of the Kurdish-seperatist HDP (The "Democracy Party of the Peoples"- Halkların Demokrasi Partisi) and inexplicaby the CHP endorsed it, actively soliciting votes for a party other than itself. In the elections of June 7th 2015 the AKP votes slumped to around %41- a still very high percentage but a slide from almost %50 in 2011. (Always take into account unfair practices by the party in power.) HDP entered the parliament quite comfortably. Feeling the ground slip, Erdoğan was probably less meddlesome in the military promotions that came soon after, and upon the retirement of the seemingly soft and not too authoritative Gen. Necdet Özel, the less compromising Gen. Hulusi Akar was appointed Chief of Staff. 

Having split his alliance with Gülen and launching one operation after the other against his moles in the system, Erdoğan must have sought some rapprochement with the armed forces which he had for years tried to incapacitate and transform. Here is a telling example: Erdoğan had been using an extension to the historic Palace of Dolmabahçe in Istanbul as an office. A military Guard of Honor had been traditionally assigned to the palace-the changing of the guard being a favorite with tourists. 

At loggerheads with the Armed Forces, Erdoğan replaced the military guard with the police. Similarly, the AKP saw to it that the military regiment guarding the Parliament was replaced by the police. 

Once president, and now suspicious of the police infested with erstwhile accomplice Gülen’s moles, Erdoğan entrusted the security of his new palatial residence to a military guard of honor, an even revived the tradition of the mounted guard. This time, they guardsmen were to bear the standards of the “sixteen free Turkish nations in history”, a move towards the nationalism that he had for so long held in contempt.

Enter Erdoğan the nationalist!: brand new mounted presidential guard bearing the flags of the sixteen free Turkish nations in history. 
(Image from the media.)

HDP representation in parliament raised seperatist hopes but did not reduce the violence. The AKP government released its reins on the armed forces and on July 2015, before the newly promoted and appointed officers officially took their posts, operations were launched against the PKK in an effort to regain the ground lost through the years of the “peace process”. Each operation was named after a serviceman murdered by the PKK, and the first day of operations was pointedly July 24th 2015, the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 which had meant the international recognition of Turkey’s borders at the conclusion of the War of Independence in 1922- a pointed message, if you will, to the US think-tanks that came up with the idea of the “Greater Middle East Project” envisioning the rearranging of borders.

Cities and towns where the PKK had a strong presence were devastated and the public, resigned to a future as citizens of a new Kurdistan, was baffled to find itself asked switch allegiances again, and were caught in the crossfire. Fighting became fierce, the arsenal accumulated during the years of the “peace process” turned out to be daunting.

 Crater created by the explosion of a van filled with 15 tons of explosives detonated by the PKK at Dürümlü near Sur, Diyarbakır, May 13th 2016.  First reports 4 dead, 15 "disappeared"; all villagers. Then they started to find the "disappeared"- in small pieces.
(Image from the media.) 

Besides, as co-fighters against ISIS in Syria, Kurdish militia were enjoying US support. By finally cracking down on the PKK, the Turkish Armed Forces was doing exactly what the US had tried to prevent through the Ergenekon and Balyoz hoaxes, but in the end could not stop Turkey defending its own sovereignity. Turkey, meanwhile, was doing the double act of fighting ISIS alongside the US- whatever aid the Islamist Erdoğan may have previously supplied to the organization.

The state of de-facto civil war did not put off the public- in fact, the majority of the population favored the crackdown, and Erdoğan immediately took credit. Kılıçdaroğlu’s CHP called for a halt to fighting and a return to talks- directly echoing US wishes, and looking more like a sellout at home, raising Erdoğan’s credit. The AKP’s reduced votes would have required some kind of a coalition, which the quibbling parties in parliament could not manage. Sensing the change in public mood Erdoğan pushed for an early election.- and now playing the patriotic card, the AKP regained its losses in the elections of November 2015. The seperatist Kurdish HDP ended up with a far reduced presence.

Stronger than ever, Erdoğan started reviving his plans for a “presidential system” that would be unencumbered by a prime minister- and perhaps even a parliament. There can be hardly any doubt that his aim is a reestablshment of monarchic rule- a revival of the Ottoman Empire, with himself as the Sultan- even if it means being a puppet of the great Powers, as that Empie had become in its waning years. Who knows, perhaps the irrepressible Erdoğan has plans on outwitting the Powers when the time comes? He makes seemingly casual remarks referring to his supposed connections with the Ottoman dynasty, so he has certainly been preparing the way.

The occasions are numerous, and recorded. In a speech to the public in during the opening of a public housing Project in Elazığ in February 2015 he is recorded as saying: 

“…my grandfather, Fatih, pulled ships overland, we moved Marmaray under the sea…”

Marmaray is the subway tunnel excavated under the sea linking the Asian and European sides of Istanbul (entrusted to a Japanese firm). His “grandfather” Fatih, literally “The Conqueror”, is Fatih Sultan Mehmet, or Mehmet II the Conqueror, who took Istanbul, then Constantinople, from the Byzantines in 1453, dragging a part of his fleet overland into the Golden Horn to complete the siege. Remember the name!

The same speech not only continues to sell the “new constitution” and “presidential system”, but gives hints of what he means by it:

“…We are not the old Turkey, we are the new Turkey, this is the new address. But we will do this together with the new constitution, we will do this faster with the Presidential System. There was always someone to tug us back from our legs but now they won’t be able to anymore. Now, Allah permitting, we will go faster. We came so far in 12 years but now we are skidding, and we’re saying, let’s stop this skidding and pick up speed again…”

“…Now I am saying, the existing system is a size to small for us. Turkey needs a system of administration where decisions can be taken more quickly and executed more swiftly. And this is known as the Presidential System. And this is really no different from our age old tradition of government. Whatever it may have been called, it has never been possible for rulers to stay in power without he support and acceptance of the majority of the nation...”

When one considers that the Turks have not had a democratic system until the present Republic, there can be little doubt that Erdoğan’s “age old tradition of government” harkens to centuries of sultans and khans. But in case you think I am reading too much into this:

“…I don’t mean to say we have to take the American system; with the skill of a bee we can take a bit fom every system and come up with our own. We will establish it according to our own traditions and customs. That’s what we have done throughout history, Allah permitting we will do it again.”

Erdoğan also has something to say to his critics:

“...For Turkey, this is exactly the right time for the Presidential System. As for the critics, what are they saying? We have trouble understanding what it is they want. Nothing but insults and groundless accusations, playing with words. How is that again? 'Sultanate', 'dictatorship', this and that. All of them empty words…”

My source is the official website of the Presidency, so it is all authentic:

The Economist, June 8-14, 2013.
Erdoğan had hinted at descent from Mehmet II, or Fatih, in another speech in Elazığ, October 20th 2012. Then still prime minister, in speaking for the reduction of the voting age, he casually mentioned how young "his grandfather" Fatih had been when conquereding Istanbul. Earlier, while introducing his wildly unreasonable and costly "Kanalistanbul" project in course of the election campaign in June 2011 he dropped the name of another Ottoman Ruler, Abdulmecit (Abdul Madjid), as a "grandfather". 

When Erdoğan, Gülen and the gang were given the go-ahead to dismantle the existing Turkish Republic, it was to be at the expense of nationalism. What the masterminds in the US think tanks got wrong in their “moderate Islam” project, Erdoğan was now getting right, playing to national and religious sentiments alike. Gone are the days of forbidding national celebrations- he lets the people celebrate national occasions as they please while he ignores them.

The 23rd of April is the ”Children’s Holiday” commemorating the founding in 1920 of the National Assembly that would take charge of the War of Independence and lead it to a victorious conclusion. This year, the state reception was canceled, the excuse being the many soldiers and policemen lost daily in fighting in the southeast. The public celebrated across the country, with officials participating, and I saw the celebrations in Kırklareli. The city is a CHP stronghold where AKP has been gaining ground, but not as much as it hoped because of the ingrained Kemalism of the citizens.

A pamphlet was passed out during celebrations with the familiar face of Ataturk and his iconic signature- both used as visual symbols of secular republican resistance to the AKP’s fundamentalist pressure. In the worst days of the Ergenekon and Balyoz witchhunt, when the military was under constant harrassment from the AKP and the partisan press, the Air Force painted Ataturk’s signature on its planes as a feeble gesture of loyalty to the founder of the Republic it was meant to defend. 

You will see the signature everywhere from cars and motorcycles to shop windows and even tattoos. Ataturk’s image on the pamphlet with the uniform and fur colpack from his days as Mustafa Kemal Pasha during the war of independence is reminiscent that used by the TGB, the patriotic Kemalist youth organization that has dedicated itself to its “First duty”. Everything in the image radiates Kemalism and all it stands for: Republic, national pride, secularism, equal rights to women, reason, science, individual identity, freedom, independence, in short, everything that the AKP has been targeting and aiming to destroy.

 Ataturk's well known signature, icon of resistance to the anti-Republican, fundamentalist pressures of the AKP. 
(Images from my own camera.)

 Pamphlet distibuted in Kırklareli on April 23rd 2016: could Ataturk have possibly said that?

Now for the text:



Before his death, Ataturk addressed these words to his nation, which amount to a spiritual legacy.

“All the muslims in the World should follow the path shown by Allah’s last prophet, Mohammed, and should strictly follow his instructions. All muslims should take Mohammed as an example and conduct themselves as he has. They should execute the orders of Islam to the letter. Only in this way can humans be saved and progress.

It would be obvious to anyone familiar with Ataturk and his life’s work that he would never have said any of this. Passed out on the Children’s Holiday, and snapped up by gullible Kemalist parents who haven’t bothered to read the text, it is an obvious attempt to infiltrate young minds from another direction, but always with the same objective. This is nationalism à la AKP!

Meanwhile Kılıçdaroğlu’s CHP, the electoral base of which considers the defender of the secular national Republic as created by the party’s founder, Ataturk itself, that very party is engaged in talks with its arch rival, the AKP, to CREATE A NEW CONSTITUTION. It is something we need like a hole in the head, but it was already a campaign promise of the CHP! 

 2015 CHP campaign sticker promising "to change the Constitution of the Coup", referring to the military coup of 1980- thirty five years ago. Very little is left of the 1980 constitution after decades of political meddling. The Constitution has never been on the agenda of the average voter of any party.

The CHP pushes for a negation of the word “Turkish” from the preamble, and the AKP wants to do away with “secular”- both of which fit the present Middle East oriented post-cold 
"I'm Turkish", Aydınlık , Feb. 26th, 2013.
war policy of the US. A multi ethnic federation where national ties are replaced by sectarian ones is seen as easier to manipulate and exploit. Erdoğan has one further objective- the Presidential System which he will later turn into a monarchy.

Individual free-thinking MP’s notwithstanding, the parties in parliament all toe the American line, and it is not far fetched to claim they are there with a mission to lock the vote. 

AKP's Erdoğan, President, CHP's Kılıçdaroğlu, First Opposition Leader, MHP's Bahçeli, Second Opposition leader. Is all the invective they hurl at each other no more than mere show? Are they all serving the same cause, just keeping their electoral bases from searching for other, real alternatives?

The plethora of other parties are kept safely away from the parliament by the %10 threshold, which spooks people away from alternatives. The most consistent of that lot is Vatan Partisi (“Homeland Party”) dedicated to Ataturk’s Republic and reforms, with a left wing slant (it used to be the Labor Party until it renamed itself on February 15th 2015) but now includes members from all political backgrounds, including officers once convicted in the witchhunts. The patriotic youth organization, the TGB ("The Union of Turkish Youth", Türkiye Gençlik Birliği), has connections to it. The threshold assures that the voters do not vote for it even if they may agree with its ideas and approach.

Sensing the coming danger, the TGB organized a “First Duty” march in Istanbul on the occasion of May 19th 2016, “Youth Day”, and anniversary of Mustafa Kemal’s disembarking in Samsun in 1919, considered the first step in the War of Independence and the creation of the Republic

Like other national holidays, the AKP had tried to suppress it through various excuses; now it is left largely to the public to celebrate it. 

May 19th Youth Day as it used to be.
This is as recent as 2010. Already in power since 2002,
the AKP had still not dared attempt to do away  
with the tradition. Later attempts 
actively to suppress national holidays backfired.
Ataturk attached so great an importance to May 19th
that he considered it his birthday; the decision to go
to Anatolia to start the struggle being is true birth.
(Image from the media.) 

At the closing of the great speech delivered on October 20th, 1927, Ataturk had entrusted the Youth with the safekeeping and defense of the new Republic, their "first duty". 

The "First Duty" march was to be a warning that the nation would not surrender its destiny to a new monarch, nor accept any label other than the secular Turkish Republic- a clear message against further meddling with the Constitution.

The TGB's First Duty March of May 19th, 2016.
(Images from my own camera.)

Erdoğan simply ignored it all, the AKP did nothing to stop the march and other celebrations except reduce attendance by hinting at possible terrorist attacks. (The US Embassy passed out a warning, possibly for similar reasons.) We marched, shouted, nothing happened. We were ignored by the terrorists as much as by the press. As usual for activities by Vatan and the TGB, only Vatan’s paper, Aydınlık, and its TV station, Ulusal, covered it- and some few columnists in other papers, it must be said.

Erdoğan had a much grander project in preparation- a spectacle on May 29th celebrating the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmet II, the Conqueror
Banners announcing the spectacle.
(his“grandfather”, remember?) in 1453. Walls were built as sets, to be charged by Janissaries, and the Air Force was instructed to put on an airshow with its acroteam, the “Turkish Stars”- once the nemesis, the Armed Forces are becoming Erdğan's new toy. The monster rally in the style of a Reichsparteitag in Nürnberg was clearly Erdoğan’s self publicity, seeking endorsement in his bid to become the single, unopposable, undisposable leader, the “Reis”, of all this country, and who knows, perhaps, in his mind, the Middle East as well. 

 The "Conquest" celebrations of May 29th:
Erdoğan's spectacular show to advertise his bid for one-man-rule.
(Image from the media.)

The first Turkish Empire in Anatolia was the Seljuk Empire.

As the Seljuks weakened, out of it grew the second: the Ottoman Empire.

The Ottomans declined and went down in flames in the First World War. Out of it grew Ataturk’s Republic.

Now that Republic is under threat from different directions, but mostly from within, with not enough idealists having the courage to stand up in its defense.

Could it be that the Third Empire is approaching? Turkey’s Third Reich?

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