Tag Archives: Turkey

Train service between Pakistan and Turkey on the cards

ISLAMABAD: A new train service between Asia and Europe is on the cards. The service will enable Pakistani exports to reach Turkey via Iran in 15 days.

Pakistani exports to Turkey include: rice, sesame seeds, leather, textiles, fabrics, sports’ goods and medical equipment. Turkey’s exports to Pakistan are wheat, chickpeas, lentils, diesel, chemicals, transport vehicles, machinery and energy products.

Read more » Customs Today
See more » http://www.customstoday.com.pk/train-service-between-pakistan-and-turkey-on-the-cards/
More detials: BBC urdu
http://www.bbc.com/urdu/pakistan/2016/02/160219_turkey_pak_rail_link_fz?ocid=socialflow_facebook

Kurds Warn Turkey of ‘Big War’ With Russia If Troops Enter Syria

By   meyerhenry4

Russia has promised to protect Kurdish fighters in Syria in case of a ground offensive by Turkey, a move that would lead to a “big war,” the Syrian group’s envoy to Moscow said in an interview on Wednesday.

“We take this threat very seriously because the ruling party in Turkey is a party of war,” Rodi Osman, head of the Syrian Kurds’ newly-opened representative office said in Kurdish via a Russian interpreter. “Russia will respond if there is an invasion. This isn’t only about the Kurds, they will defend the territorial sovereignty of Syria.”

Read more » Bloomberg
See more » http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-02-18/kurds-warn-turkey-of-big-war-with-russia-if-troops-enter-syria

Putin Vows To Protect Kurds In Turkey As War Of The Century Looms

by Sean Adl-Tabatabai

Russian President Vladimir Putin has authorised the Russian military and intelligence community to protect Kurdish people against the threat of Turkey – who have threatened to “cleanse” all Kurds

Putin issued the order to protect the Kurds under the authority of Article 87 of the Russian Constitution – which states that Putin is the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

With Turkey now being named as a “belligerent hostile threat” to the Federation in this conflict, this report further explains, President Putin in issuing his order also cited the Turkish governments material and financial support of Islamic State terrorists as evidenced by the MoD discovering this week 12,000 oil tankers and trucks on the Turkey-Iraq border carrying stolen petroleum wealth legally owned by Iraq and Syria.

Read more » YourWireNews.Com
See more » http://yournewswire.com/putin-vows-to-protect-kurds-in-turkey-as-war-of-the-century-looms/

Iraqi premier says IS smuggles majority of oil via Turkey

BY AFP

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Monday that most oil smuggled by the Islamic State group goes through Turkey, joining a chorus of countries linking it with the jihadists’ financing.

During a meeting with Germany’s visiting foreign minister, Abadi stressed the “importance of stopping oil smuggling by (IS) terrorist gangs, the majority of which is smuggled via Turkey,” a statement from his office said.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1224780/

Putin: Turkey ‘will regret’ downing Russian bomber in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin has castigated Turkey’s leaders, warning that they will regret shooting down a Russian Su-24 bomber in Syria.

In a state of the nation speech, broadcast live on Russian television, he said that “if anyone thinks Russia’s reaction will be limited to trade sanctions, they are deeply mistaken”.

“We’ll remind them again what they did – they will regret it.”

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34993629

Russia hits back at Turkey by changing Syria ‘game’

Moscow’s retaliation after Turkey downed its military jet could tie Ankara’s hands in Syria.

By Zeina Khodr, Roving Correspondent

Russia is striking back after a “stab in the back by an accomplice to terrorists” by changing the “game” in Syria.

Moscow’s retaliation is not just about severing economic and diplomatic ties. It is pursuing a policy that could tie Turkey’s hands in Syria.

Ankara never received international backing for a safe zone across its border, but Russia has now ruled that out.

The deployment of S-400 anti-air missiles means Russia has effectively imposed a no-fly zone over Syria.

And now, Moscow seems to be moving closer to a group that has been the US-led coalition’s main ground force in Syria – a group which Turkey, itself a member of that coalition, calls “terrorists”.

The Syrian Kurdish forces (YPG) is a US-backed Kurdish group that has pushed the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) back from areas along the border with Turkey.

Read more » Aljazeera
See more » http://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/europe/2015/11/russia-hits-turkey-changing-syria-game-151129172933416.html

Russia to halt visa-free status for visiting Turks

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s announcement comes amid continuing tension over downing of Russian warplane by Turkey.

Moscow is to suspend its visa-free agreement with Turkey at the beginning of next year, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said.

Friday’s announcement comes as tensions mount after the downing of a Russian fighter jet by Turkey earlier this week.

Russia has ruled out any military response against NATO member Turkey, but it has pledged broad retaliatory measures targeting entire sectors of the Turkish economy, including tourism, agriculture and investments.

On Thursday, two Turkish businessmen with investments in Russia told Al Jazeera that Russian police have been raiding Turkish companies in different regions of the country and, in some cases, have suspended their operations.

Moscow has also started sending back Turkish trucks loaded with exports at the border and stopped Turkish tourists – who normally do not need visas  – entering the country, at least two businessmen said.

“A decision has been made to halt the visa-free regime with Turkey,” Lavrov told reporters after talks with his Syrian counterpart Walid Muallem in Moscow.

Read more » Aljazeera
See more » http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/russia-halt-visa-free-agreement-visiting-turks-151127153708184.html

Turkey arrests editors over reports Ankara supplied weapons to Syrian fighters

The journalists were arrested, accused of assisting a terrorist organisation because of footage published apparently showing the state intelligence agency sending weapons into Syria

By

Two journalists from an opposition Turkish newspaper have been arrested, accused of spying by an Istanbul court following reports that Turkey’s intelligence agency sent weapons to Islamist rebel groups in Syria.

In another case of journalists facing criminal charges and censorship, editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, the newspaper’s Ankara bureau chief, were taken into custody on Thursday night, Turkish media reported.

The two men are accused of spying and “divulging state secrets”, according to reports, as well as being members of a terror organisation. Another charge included the violation of state security after the release of the footage.

Such charges could see the men face life imprisonment.

Read more » Telegraph
See more »  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/turkey/12019905/Turkey-arrests-editors-over-reports-Ankara-supplied-weapons-to-Syrian-fighters.html

Turkey’s Erdogan warns Russia not to ‘play with fire’

ANKARA: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan warned Russia not to “play with fire” on Friday, but added he did not want to harm relations with Moscow, comments that look more likely to inflame than quell the dispute over a downed Russian bomber this week.

Read more » Aaj Tv
See more » http://aaj.tv/2015/11/turkeys-erdogan-warns-russia-not-to-play-with-fire/

Russia to deploy S-400 missile defense systems to Syria: Defense minister

Russia will be deploying S-400 missile defense systems to Syria, the Russian defense minister says.

“The S-400 anti-aircraft missile system will be deployed to the Hmeimim airbase,” Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday, referring to the Russian airbase outside the port city of Latakia in western Syria.

The system is the most advanced one owned by Russia in the field of air defense. The missile system, an upgrade of the S-300 family, is capable of intercepting and destroying airborne targets such as aircraft and ballistic and cruise missiles at distances of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles).

The official’s remarks came a day after the Turkish Air Force shot down a Sukhoi Su-24M Fencer, which they had accused of having violated Turkish airspace. Russia denies the allegation.

Read more » Press Tv
See more » http://www.presstv.com/Detail/2015/11/25/439085/Russia-Syria-air-base-S400

Turkey has spent years allowing jihadist groups to flourish – so beware its real reasons for shooting down a Russian plane

Turkey has no interest in the peaceful settlement to the conflict in Syria that world powers are negotiating. As Erdogan gets desperate, he will attempt to bring focus back to Assad

By Ranj Alaaldin@RanjAlaaldin

Turkey is getting desperate. Under President Recep Tayip Erdogan and his party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), its policies toward the conflict in Syria over the past four years have been misguided and costly. When conflict broke out in 2011, Ankara mistakenly under-estimated the strength of the Assad regime and supported hardline Islamist groups seeking its downfall. In the process, Turkey also marginalised the Kurds and alienated regional powers like Iran.

Read more » INDEPENDENT
See more » http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/turkey-has-spent-years-allowing-jihadist-groups-to-flourish-so-beware-its-real-reasons-for-shooting-a6747161.html

Gulf Arabs ‘stepping up’ arms supplies to Syrian rebels

Saudi Arabia is responding to the recent Russian air strikes on Syrian rebels by stepping up its supplies of lethal weaponry to three different rebel groups, a Saudi government official has told the BBC.

The well-placed official, who asked not to be named, said supplies of modern, high-powered weaponry including guided anti-tank weapons would be increased to the Arab- and western-backed rebel groups fighting the forces of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian, Iranian and Lebanese allies.

He said those groups being supplied did not include either Islamic State (IS) or al-Nusra Front, both of which are proscribed terrorist organisations. Instead, he said the weapons would go to three rebel alliances – Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest), the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Southern Front.

The official added that Qatar and Turkey have been instrumental in maintaining Saudi support for Sunni rebels fighting both Assad’s forces and, at times, the extremists of IS. Russia brands as terrorists all rebels opposing its ally, President Assad, including those trained by the US.

The Saudi official did not rule out supplying surface-to-air missiles to the rebels, a move resisted by many in the West for fear that they would fall into the hands of IS and end up being used to shoot down warplanes of the US-led Coalition or even civilian airliners.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34479929

Turkey tensions spark fierce clashes in Germany between Kurds and Turks

By Polla Garmiany

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.

Read more » Rudaw
See more » http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/turkey/110920151

China’s Xinjiang launches cargo train service to Moscow

URUMQI, June 10 (Xinhua) — Railway authorities in China’s far western Xinjiang region on Wednesday launched a cargo train service linking its regional capital of Urumqi with Moscow.

The one more cargo train service westward can help boost the development of the northwestern autonomous region, a “core area” of the Silk Road economic belt, said Liu Jianxin, vice governor of Xinjiang, at the launch ceremony.

Since March 2014, Xinjiang has opened cargo train service to Kazakhstan, Georgia, Iran, Turkey and also Chelyabinsk of Russia.

The first train, loaded with 1,300 tonnes of PVC, left Urumqi at 6:15 p.m. and is scheduled to reach Moscow more than 4,000 km away in about ten days. It will return with wood pulp from Russia.

Wang Hongxin, chairman of Xinjiang Zhongtai Chemical Co., Ltd., said the cargo service can help drive the company’s annual sales of PVC by 10 percent.

By the second half of the year, more than three cargo trains will run between Xinjiang and the destinations in Russia and also central and western Asia per week.

The trains can then transport 50 billion yuan (8.1 billion U.S. dollars) of cargo a year, Liu said.

Editor: yan

News courtesy: Xinhuanet
Read more » http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-06/10/c_134315616.htm

Turkey’s Ruling Party Loses Parliamentary Majority

ISTANBUL — Turkish voters delivered a rebuke on Sunday to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as his party lost its majority in Parliament in a historic election that dealt a blow to his ambition to rewrite Turkey’s Constitution and increase his power.

The election results represented a significant setback to Mr. Erdogan, an Islamist who has steadily increased his power as president, a partly but not solely ceremonial post. After more than a decade as prime minister, Mr. Erdogan has pushed for more control of the judiciary and cracked down on any form of criticism, including prosecutions of those who insult him on social media, but his efforts appeared to have run aground on Sunday.

The election was also a significant victory to the cadre of Kurds, liberals and secular Turks who found their voice of opposition to Mr. Erdogan during sweeping antigovernment protests two years ago.

Mr. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P., still won by far the most seats in Parliament, but not a majority, according to preliminary results released Sunday night. The outcome suggested contentious days of jockeying ahead as the party moves to form a coalition government. Already, analysts were raising the possibility Sunday of new elections if a government cannot be formed swiftly. Many Turks were happy to see Mr. Erdogan’s powers curtailed, even though the prospect of a coalition government evokes dark memories of political instability and economic malaise during the 1990s.

Read more » The New York Times
See more » http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/08/world/europe/turkey-election-recep-tayyip-erdogan-kurds-hdp.html?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

The World’s 10 Fastest Growing Metropolitan Areas

By Joseph Parilla and Jesus Leal Trujillo

With only 20 percent of the population, the world’s 300 largest metropolitan economies account for nearly half of global economic output. Through our new Global Metro Monitorreport and interactive, users can understand the individual trajectories of the world’s large metropolitan economies and gain new insights into sources of growth that national or regional assessments tend to obscure.

The fastest growing metro areas this year, as measured by our economic performance index that combines employment and GDP per capita growth, are concentrated in China, Turkey and the Middle East.

Read more » Brrokings
See more » http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/the-avenue/posts/2015/02/10-worlds-10-fastest-growing-metropolitan-areas-parilla-trujillo?cid=00900015020089101US0001-02241

Why is it that Turkey progressed and Pakistan regressed?

Secularizing theocracy

By Waseem Altaf

Excerpt: …. Why is it that Turkey progressed and Pakistan regressed?

When in 1928 the Turkish Parliament was opting for a secular state and the constitutional provision declaring Islam as the state religion was being deleted, 21 years down the road in 1949 Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly was passing the Objectives Resolution, moved by Liaqat Ali Khan, the Prime Minister, proclaiming that the future constitution of Pakistan would be modeled on the ideology and faith in Islam. In the 1973 constitution Islam was declared as the state religion.

When in the 1920’s sovereignty of the people was being established in Turkey replacing the sovereignty of the Caliph, in 1949 Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly was bestowing sovereignty upon Allah.

When in the 1920’s the Turkish Parliament was adopting time-tested European models to reconstruct their civil, commercial and penal law, Pakistan’s 1973 constitution envisaged that ‘All existing laws shall be brought in conformity with the Injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Quran and Sunnah.’

Read more » Facebook
Read full article » https://www.facebook.com/irfanafridikk/posts/700511826634235

Syrian Kurds feel deserted as Islamic State advances

Lightly Armed Kurds Face Terrorist Tanks, Feel ‘Deserted and Furious’ at U.S.

By Benjamin Harvey and Selcan Hacaoglu

From a hill in Turkey, spectators can watch Islamic State’s advance across Syria, its progress hindered only by a ragtag group of Kurdish fighters who say the Turkish army and U.S. air force are doing little to help.

Video footage and eyewitness accounts paint a picture of Kurds with light weapons shooting from inside homes and behind mud walls around the Syrian town of Kobani, while Islamic State militants with tanks and heavy artillery rumble across nearby fields. As the U.S.-led coalition focuses on bombing Islamic State supply lines elsewhere, the Kurds say they are being left as prey to extremists taking territory on Turkey’s border.

Read more » Bloomberg
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-10-03/kurds-fight-alone-as-coalition-holds-fire-against-jihadist-tanks.html?hootPostID=e567908358c67e7dea8a4a5066a461e2

Why St George is a Palestinian hero

By Yolande Knell, BBC News

As England celebrates the day of its patron saint, many Palestinians are gearing up for their own forthcoming celebrations of the figure they also regard as a hero.

A familiar flag flaps in the wind above a Palestinian church in the West Bank village of al-Khadr.

The red cross on a white background has been associated with Saint George since the time of the Crusades.

It is the national flag of England and is also used as an emblem by other countries and cities that have adopted him as their own patron saint.

However, Palestinians have particular reason to display the symbol and revere the early Christian martyr. For them he is a local hero who opposed the persecution of his fellow Christians in the Holy Land.

“We believe he was a great martyr for his faith who defended the Christian faith and values,” says Greek Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna.

“By making sacrifices for his faith he was able to defeat evil. We take St George as a patron for people living here – and as he was born in historic Palestine, we pray to him to remember us and this holy land.”

St George was a Roman soldier during the Third Century AD, when the Emperor Diocletian was in power. It is said that he once lived in al-Khadr near Bethlehem, on land owned by his mother’s family.

While the saint’s father is usually traced back to Cappadocia, an area in modern Turkey, it is believed his mother was Palestinian from Lydda – now Lod, in Israel.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27048219

 

16 year-old Invents Bio-plastic from Banana Peels

By: Amanda Froelich

What comes to mind before you discard your banana peel? Certainly not the consideration of its use to reduce petroleum-based pollution and create bio-plastic, yet this is exactly what Elif Bilgin, 16, from Istanbul, Turkey, sought to achieve and successfully accomplished. Winner of the 2013 Science in Action award, Google’s third $50,000 annual competition, she addressed the need for environmentally friendly alternatives with practical resources and easy-to-attain banana peels.

Read more » True Activist
http://www.trueactivist.com/16-year-old-invents-sustainable-bio-plastic-from-banana-peels/

Our noxious nostalgia — I —Mehboob Qadir

The region became a great melting pot of races, ideas, civilisations and competing military campaigners

Like a delusive people, Muslims in general and we in Pakistan in particular are trapped in the numbing nostalgia of our past Muslim glory. Nostalgia helps one to reflect and reminisce, therefore by itself is not so debilitating but there are a few problems here. First, we tend to easily forget that history always has a context and is relevant to its time of occurrence; only its lessons last. Secondly, nostalgia-less, a matching will and means to re-perform is toxic and harmful. Without a proper understanding of these two imperatives, an urge to be highly regarded as before is dangerously flawed and can give way to undue bitterness. In order to understand this phenomenon we have to examine what kind of sentiment has been implanted in Pakistan.

Driven by our nostalgia, which has been eagerly fed by our romantic but somewhat falsifying historians, fantasising writers, educationists, politicians, self-serving mullahs and other story tellers, we go on glorifying our non-existent charm as the chosen followers of a great faith, members of a glorious race, descendents of ruling classes, future rulers of the world and what not. Unfortunately that track leads to nowhere. Folk stories are a good pastime but do not make communities, people or nations any greater. A longing that spurs effort to become greater is positive, but to merely slither around like an earth worm is a psychosis that leads to mental and moral debility.

One has been to North Africa, Italy, Greece, Iran, Turkey, Hijaz on the Red Sea, and a large number of European countries in addition to Malaysia, India, Thailand, US and UK. Our subcontinent, Italy, Greece and Iran had been the bastions of great civilisations, which held sway over vast territories and enjoyed magnificent power and prestige. Ukraine, Hijaz, Turkey, Thailand, Austria and Malaysia had been the honourable hosts for great civilisations and dutiful custodians of the passage. Nowhere did one hear a pining for the past glory more deafening than the neurotic chorus in India and Pakistan.

In Pakistan, our neurosis is manifold and is quite hopelessly mashed by the hooves of the frequent invaders who galloped down the passes of the Hindu Kush and Suleiman Mountains over the centuries. Why is it that we in Pakistan prefer to wallow in this thick, sticky stew of muddied history that is blinding us to the world around us and isolating us increasingly? We will see in a short while.

Continue reading Our noxious nostalgia — I —Mehboob Qadir

Undeclared warfare between Iran and Turkey

By Mahir Zeynalov

Turkey’s strange ties with Iran, still presented as a significant pillar to the region’s stability, have deteriorated into virtual unacknowledged warfare, with two countries literally waging a proxy war beyond their borders in the region.

Throughout the last century, Iran and Turkey had difficult times to understand how they relate to each other but couldn’t risk severing ties despite numerous confrontations over a wide range of regional issues. In the past few years, Turkish government officials used a treaty signed between Ottoman and Iranian delegates in the city of Qasr-e Shirin to describe how the borders of the two countries have remained unchanged since the agreement was signed in 1639, a widely accepted myth.

Turkish officials frequently refer to the Qasr-e Shirin agreement to illustrate how their relationship is solid and based on mutual respect. Since the famous agreement, six states have been established in both countries (two in Turkey and four in Iran) and the borders had changed for ten times, the last time in 1931. Presenting the Qasr-e Shirin myth as a cover for a number of wars the two countries fought in the past four centuries also characterizes today’s relationship between Iran and Turkey.

Unrestrained

While Iranian political and military officials are unrestrained in their critical remarks about Turkey, often tantamount to threats, Turkish officials are much softer while talking about their relationship, emphasizing the importance of cooperation between the two nations. It is unclear how false description of ties helps prevent further confrontation at a time when the two nations are even fighting a proxy war in Syria, where more than two years of civil war has left at least 100,000 people dead, mostly civilians.

When Turkey kicked off its ambitious foreign policy in the region under the leadership of its popular prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, his then adviser and later Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu tried to assure the neighboring countries that Turkey’s rise is peaceful and that it only aims to advance peace in the region. Davutoğlu’s goal was to cultivate relations among countries in Turkey’s vicinity by abolishing visa requirements, creating free trade zones, and constantly holding high-level political consultations. Deepening ties with Iran was a cornerstone of this project that is now crumbling after Iran has started to sabotage Turkey’s interests in the region.

Continue reading Undeclared warfare between Iran and Turkey

Guest post: Enter the Turkish Winter?

This is a guest post by Burak Kadercan, a Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading.

***

What is happening in Turkey?

This is the question that many around the globe have been asking for a week. To be fair, people were already interested in Turkey before protests broke out on May 28th, but their curiosity was directed more at its miracles. In the past decade, Turkey has become known as the “model” country for the rest of the Muslim world, proving — almost single-handedly — that political Islam and democracy can co-exist. According to all dimensions of power, Turkey has also been on the rise. Its economy is growing while much of the world struggles with recession. Its voice is being heard and consulted in the regional politics of the Middle East as well as global affairs. Turkey also projects a peculiar sort of soft-power across Eurasia and the Middle East through its popular TV dramas and movies. While it might have been “news” for Turkey to show up on global media in some shape or form 15 years ago, Turkey and its leader, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have now become staples of the global media.

The rising profile of Turkey cannot be exaggerated. When I moved from Istanbul to the so-called Western world more than 10 years ago, people were asking me if Istanbul was its capital. Until last week, they were asking what I thought of the latest episode of Muhtesem Yüzyil — a royal soap opera about Ottoman Empire’s most glorious century (it was the sixteenth) that is broadcast in dozens of countries — or advice for where to eat in Istanbul next time they visit. Now, people keep asking me a different question: what is happening?

“What is happening?” is in fact the wrong question, for something has been happening in Turkey for quite some time. What the world has come to see lately is not the problem, but its symptoms. The symptoms are the country-wide protests and accompanying police brutality, which itself has come to be defined in terms of tear gas (or, simply “gas” in the Turkish lexicon). The chain of events, as any international media outlet can tell you (Turkish media have been playing dead until very recently), started with a handful of peaceful protestors comprised largely of environmentalists and university students occupying Gezi Parki, a relatively small park that is situated right by the Taksim Square, which is not only the financial and cultural epicentre of the city, but also the witness of and meeting place for many mass protests.

Gezi Parki was set to be demolished so that an Ottoman-era barracks that itself had been destroyed in 1940s could be reconstructed (alongside a hyper-mall, hotels, and possibly a mega-mosque) in its place (to be sure, the barracks came before the park). The initial protestors were not political, as the term is used in the Turkish context. They were not criticizing the government per se, but a particular decision that they thought not only would destroy the only green space left in the center of the city, but also was forced on the city without proper dialogue and consultation with its inhabitants. Just a few days before the incident broke out, Erdogan had delivered the final words: “we have made the decision.” This was not the first time that Erdogan used these words when sealing the deal over a contentious issue.

On May 28th, the police forces responded to occupiers with their signature method: gas. In an interesting twist — interesting for Turkish politics at least — the occupiers found extensive support from thousands, who responded not only to the destruction of Gezi Parki, but also, and even more so, to the unprovoked police brutality that has become the norm and not the exception in the last couple of years. Increasing intensity of the “gas bombardment” to disperse the demonstrators, whose numbers were growing exponentially, then triggered a chain reaction. Before anyone knew it, tens of thousands of citizens across the country took to the streets in order to show support for the demonstrators in Taksim. This was most certainly a spontaneous incident. The national news channels had embarrassingly turned a blind eye to what had been happening in the streets, and the protestors coordinated their efforts mainly through Facebook and Twitter.

So, who are the protestors? It is easier to identify them by highlighting who they are not. They are not a homogenous group (not by a long shot). They are not bound by religious beliefs, ethnicity, or even political leanings. What unites them is their anger at AKP, but even more so, at Erdogan. Erdogan, in turn, has done little in the way of calming the demonstrators and defusing the situation. If anything, he called the protestors “looters,” framed the protests in “ideological” terms, blamed the left-wing opposition party for taking part in what he presented as yet another scheme to illegally topple AKP, and in a most alarming turn announced that he and his party were “barely restraining” the so-called “fifty per cent” (which stands for AKP voters per 2011 elections). In an even more frightening and explicit note, Erdogan suggested that if the opposition brings “one hundred thousand” demonstrators to the streets, he can easily summon “one million” to counter them.

Continue reading Guest post: Enter the Turkish Winter?

Why Turks are fighting to take back Istanbul

By David Kenner

When Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a speech in Washington two weeks ago, he didn’t dwell on the crisis in Syria or the Middle East peace process. Instead, he wanted to talk about a construction project: His government had recently inked a $29 billion deal to build Istanbul’s third airport. It would be able to handle 100 million passengers a year, he boasted, potentially making it the largest in the world.

“Turkey’s not talking about the world now,” Erdogan told the Brookings Institution, while an entourage of businessmen who made the trip with him to Washington looked on. “The world is talking about Turkey.”

Listening to the Turkish premier, you never would have guessed that environmentalists had long bemoaned the ecological costs of the project, while urban planners worried that it could make the city’s already severe traffic problem even worse.

Turkey’s runaway economic growth, while undeniably impressive, also helps explain why citizens erupted in protest throughout the country this weekend. The spark for the demonstrations, which police tried to put down with massive tear gas use, was the local government’s decision to turn Gezi Park — a rare oasis of green in the center of Istanbul — into a replica of an Ottoman-era barracks and a shopping mall. The Taksim Platform, a group of local citizens, had long called for revisions to the project to accommodate residents. But until the demonstrations on Friday, officials in Erdogan’s party had pushed forward the project by decree, with little public discussion of their plans.

It’s an old story in Turkey. A five-minute walk from Gezi Park lies Tarlabasi, a working class neighborhood that has long been home to those who live on the city’s margins – a century ago, it was Greek, Jewish, and Armenian craftsmen; today, it is members of the Kurdish minority who migrated there to escape the bloody insurgency in Turkey’s southeast. True to form, Erdogan’s government soon stepped in to build a better Tarlabasi: As Piotr Zalewski wrote for FP, it used an eminent domain law to lay claim to much of the area, empowering a private development company to transform it into an upscale neighborhood of luxury apartment buildings and shopping malls. While Tarlabasi was declared an “urban renewal area” in 2006, residents did not learn about the planned demolition of their houses until 2008.

Continue reading Why Turks are fighting to take back Istanbul

Amnesty International calls for action in Turkey as reports of alleged police brutality continue

Rights group calls for drastic action in Turkey

Urgent steps must be taken by the Turkish authorities to prevent further deaths and injuries and allow protestors access to their fundamental rights , as well as ensuring the security of all members of the public, Amnesty International said.

Amnesty International kept its office, which is close to the Taksim area, open as a safe haven for protestors escaping police violence throughout the night. 20 doctors are currently in the office and treating injured protestors. Other civil society organisations have taken similar actions.

“Excessive use of force by police officers can be routine in Turkey but the excessively heavy-handed response to the entirely peaceful protests in Taksim has been truly disgraceful. It has hugely inflamed the situation on the streets of Istanbul where scores of people have been injured,” said John Dalhusien, Director of Amnesty International for Europe.

Amnesty International observers at the protests witnessed the use of water cannon against peaceful protestors as well as those throwing stones at police.

The human rights group also said it had received information that injured demonstrators in detention and on the streets have been prevented from accessing appropriate medical care.

“The Turkish authorities must allow peaceful protest to proceed, urgently revise police tactics and investigate – and hold accountable – those responsible for the abuses we are seeing,” said Dalhusien. [Amnesty International]

Courtesy: Aljazeera
http://blogs.aljazeera.com/topic/turkey-elections/rights-group-calls-drastic-action-turkey

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What we can learn from Turkey

Smokers’ Corner: Cold Turkey

By Nadeem F. Paracha

I’ve twice been to Turkey in the last three years. My second trip there coincided with the 2011 election. Recently I have come across various conservative and pro-establishment personalities, politicians and media men in Pakistan praising the Turkish model of democracy and economics.

For example, Imran Khan just returned from Turkey and sounded extremely impressed by that country’s people and politics.

The reason why you might now be hearing more and more Pakistanis singing praises of Turkey is due to the fact that a determined political party with an Islamist background has been winning elections and forming governments there ever since 2001.

It is a good sign that to some of our conservatives the Turkish social and political model now seems more charming to emulate than the puritanical authoritarianism of certain oil-rich Arab states. However, the fact is they may really be over-romanticising their Turkish experience. Either they haven’t understood the dynamics of Turkey’s political and social milieus, or they are only seeing what they want to see: i.e. a conservative Islamist party at the helm in what was supposed to be a secular country.

Only recently I heard a TV commentator suggest that Turkish prime minister, Recep Erdogan’s AK Party, has been winning elections due to its popularity among the rural and semi-rural Turks. This is a rather simplistic understanding of what is actually a complex consensus that the AK Party has struck with almost all sections of Turkish society.

Erdogan’s multiple electoral successes have more to do with his emphasis on economic growth, reform and his all-out efforts to help Turkey become part of the European Union (EU) than on the usual stern moralistic and anti-West stances that most Islamist parties are stuck with in most Muslim countries. During my trip to Istanbul when the campaigning for the 2011 elections was in full swing, not even once did I hear Erdogan (whose wife adorns a hijab) mention the word Islam.

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