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FRANKFURT, Germany – The war between the Turkish government and Kurdish rebels spilled into the streets of Germany this week, with fierce clashes between thousands of ethnic Kurds and Turks that police struggled to keep apart.
Clashes took place in Frankfurt, Stuttgart and the German capital, Berlin.
Ethnic Turks and Kurds butted heads in Frankfurt on Thursday, where police reportedly used pepper spray as they struggled to control the violence.
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By Umer Farooq
A political set-up devoid of legitimacy invites military coups. In a politically unstable country like Pakistan, when the government’s legitimacy is lost or challenged, a military coup becomes a real possibility — this is clearly exemplified by the two previous military coups. General Ziaul Haq staged the 1977 coup when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government was facing a challenge to its legitimacy, from a coalition of groups belonging to the religious right alleging rigging in the general elections. General (retd) Pervez Musharraf and his generals staged their coup when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was facing allegations of rigging in parliamentary elections. In a subsequent case of intervention by the army, Musharraf was removed from power by his subordinate generals when the street protests spearheaded by the lawyers’ community brought into focus the question of Musharraf’s legitimacy — a question as old as the regime itself.
Every regime in the post-Musharraf period has faced a challenge to its legitimacy. This includes the administration headed by Musharraf himself. On the onset, he hardly faced political resistance of any significance to his rule; nevertheless, the legal and constitutional legitimacy of his rule were seriously questioned from the very start. The Lawyers’ Movement, starting in 2007, only brought this issue of legal and constitutional legitimacy to the forefront.
Legitimacy can be defined as a public perception that a ruler or a government has the right and authority to govern the country — politically, legally and morally. Losing legitimacy means a situation where the government or the ruler becomes devoid, in public perception, of the right to rule the country on account of any illegality or corruption.
The Asif Ali Zardari-led Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government was elected through a democratic electoral process which was legally, politically and morally legitimate. Nevertheless, a situation was created where the PPP was forced, through a campaign of media trials and succession of court judgments, to face allegations of financial corruption of its leaders and the situation escalated to created a sense of mistrust in the government.
The Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PMLN) government came into power in 2013 in an atmosphere where allegations of corruption were a constant. Something new and more powerful was required, and came when the leading opposition party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), pushed for rolling back the whole political system on the basis of alleged rigging in the 2013 election. The protests that brought these allegations into the limelight came and went away, with the Sharif government surviving the onslaught. However, the protests left lingering doubts in the public imagination about the credibility of parliamentary elections. These doubts could be left to hibernate, while the power struggle continued in the corridors of power in Islamabad, and revived at an appropriate time to act as the Sword of Damocles over the political system.
The Pakistani people have passively witnessed similar developments unfold so often in the past that they can make educated guesses regarding what the next act will entail, and who the main actors will be. The actors are constant: political parties of the religious right spearheading campaigns to raise the legitimacy question, the recently mobilised retired generals and ex-servicemen similarly advancing this campaign, and the media acting as another proxy in this game played out by not-so-hidden hands.
In May of 1967, a former CIA officer named Tom Braden published a confession in theSaturday Evening Post under the headline, “I’m glad the CIA is ‘immoral.’” Braden confirmed what journalists had begun to uncover over the previous year or so: The CIA had been responsible for secretly financing a large number of “civil society” groups, such as the National Student Association and many socialist European unions, in order to counter the efforts of parallel pro-Soviet organizations. “[I]n much of Europe in the 1950’s,” wrote Braden, “socialists, people who called themselves ‘left’—the very people whom many Americans thought no better than Communists—were about the only people who gave a damn about fighting Communism.”
The centerpiece of the CIA’s effort to organize the efforts of anti-Communist artists and intellectuals was the Congress for Cultural Freedom. Established in 1950 and headquartered in Paris, the CCF brought together prominent thinkers under the rubric of anti-totalitarianism. For the CIA, it was an opportunity to guarantee that anti-Communist ideas were not voiced only by reactionary speakers; most of the CCF’s members were liberals or socialists of the anti-Communist variety. With CIA personnel scattered throughout the leadership, including at the very top, the CCF ran lectures, conferences, concerts, and art galleries. It helped bring the Boston Symphony Orchestra to Europe in 1952, for example, as part of an effort to convince skeptical Europeans of American cultural sophistication and thus capacity for leadership in the bipolar world of the Cold War. By purchasing thousands of advance copies that it gave away for free, the CCF supported the publication of many of the era’s anti-Communist classics, such as Milovan Djilas’ The New Class. But its most impressive achievement was a stable of sophisticated literary and political magazines. The CCF’s flagship journal was the London-based Encounter, but it also publishedPreuves in France, Tempo Presente in Italy, Forum in Austria, Quadrant in Australia,Jiyu in Japan, and Cuadernos and Mundo Nuevo in Latin America, among many others.
Through the CCF, as well as by more direct means, the CIA became a major player in intellectual life during the Cold War—the closest thing that the U.S. government had to a Ministry of Culture. This left a complex legacy. During the Cold War, it was commonplace to draw the distinction between “totalitarian” and “free” societies by noting that only in the free ones could groups self-organize independently of the state. But many of the groups that made that argument—including the magazines on this left—were often covertly-sponsored instruments of state power, at least in part. Whether or not art and artists would have been more “revolutionary” in the absence of the CIA’s cultural work is a vexed question; what is clear is that that possibility was not a risk they were willing to run. And the magazines remain, giving off an occasional glitter amid the murk left behind by the intersection of power and self-interest. Here are seven of the best, ranked by an opaque and arbitrary combination of quality, impact, and level of CIA involvement.