Category Archive 'Turkey'
19 Jul 2016

Erdoğan Is Purging the Whole Country

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David Goldman (Spengler) had an appalling update on what’s going on in Turkey on Facebook:

What is happening now makes me shudder.

The government is expected to announce a portmanteau or ‘package’ law after its Wednesday cabinet meet, in a bid to rush enabling legislation through parliament. President Erdoğan told his followers on Monday evening that the government is to undertake a major initiative. Guesses at what the new law might contain include the restoration of the death penalty, the easing of arms controls for persons resisting coups, lengthening of the period without trial (which at present conforms to the standards for an EU candidate), and perhaps event the reintroduction of martial law and states of emergency.

Turkey will have to move carefully on the death penalty issue, though President Erdoğan said yesterday that the issue was confined to the EU—Russia, China, and the USA all carry out executions. But there were warnings from the EU parliament today that the resumption of executions might also abrogate the 1996 customs union agreement. Any restriction on the working of the customs union would have dire effects on Turkish industry and investment.

The purge of members of the armed forces and other public servants continued on Tuesday, suggesting an administrative upheaval on a revolutionary scale in the coutry. One estimate says that 125 of Turkey’s 375 generals are now under arrest. The sweep has moved on into other areas. In the Ministry of Education, 15,200 teachers have been suspended from their posts on the grounds that they may have links with the Gülen movement and a further 21,000 in private teaching institutions have had their qualifications cancelled. In both state and private universities, all Deans, a total of 1577 academics, have been told to resign their posts.

In the Presidency of Religious Affairs, 492 imams have been suspended, including three muftis, the head imam of a province. 257 people have been dismissed in the Prime Ministry. No names or details have so far been published. 34 journalists have had their press cards cancelled and RTUK (the state radio and TV watchdog) has unanimously withdrawn the licenses of several minor news sites and TV channels. Benjamin Harvey of Bloomberg puts the number of persons either suspended or detained since Friday at 59,644 nationwide.

News reports of the sacking of the teachers hit the Turkish Lira in the money markets, causing it to fall straight from US$1=TL2.983 to US$1=TL3.04. At the start of the month, it stood at US1=$2.90.

The Department of Religious Affairs has announced that there are to be no religious facilities available for the burial of persons who took party in Friday’s putsch. It seems to be the first time such a sanction has been introduced. Former president Kenan Evren, leaders of the 1980 military coup, was buried with full honours despite having been tried and sentenced to jail while in his 90s. It is normally assumed that the Diyanet, like the Church of England in the UK, cannot refuse burial to anyone belonging to its religion. Refusal to bury also involves the Diyanet (or the government) making a presumption of guilt or innocence.

British newspapers are reporting, and in the absence of any official statement, Turkish ones are repeating the claim, that 25 sailors of the Turkish navy, fourteen vessels and two helicopters, have gone missing since the Friday night coup. However Numan Kurtulmuş, deputy prime minister, has denied that any naval vessels or personnel are unaccounted for.

77% of respondents to a poll of readers by Daily Sabah, the pro-government newspaper, say that they believe that the United States or indirectly supported ‘the failed Gülenist coup attempt’ in Turkey.

The airforce planes which bombed several points in Ankara on Friday including the parliament and the outskirts of the presidential palace, took off from an airbase outside Diyarbakir. The southeastern regional capital has emerged as one of the main focal points of the coup with the Second Army Commander, Adem Huduti, as the most senior serving officer arrested afterwards. 142 military personnel are currently being helded including three colonels, 5 lieutenant colonels, 98 other officers, and 98 military judges and prosecutors. General Huduti by the way appears to be a Bosnian born in former Yugoslavia at Kosova.

In Istanbul the number of soldiers being held has now risen to 437. Several of the detainees turn out to be known for other things: the two pilots who shot down the Russian airforce Su24 in November have been arrested, so has the commander of Incirlik Airbase (he is believed to have tried to seek asylum from the US) and the airbase itself is being searched for further evidence of coup activity. President Erdoğan’s military aide de campe is also under arrest. If he really is guilty, this would raise questions about how he was unaware of the president’s whereabouts last Friday.

Postscript: There was a very loud explosion around 18hrs followed by a fire and a pall of smoke apparently rising from Altındağ, a lower middle class district of Ankara immediately north of Ulus. The reason for the fire and details of any casualties has so far not been revealed though it is suggested that it may have been caused by a single building in flames.

19 May 2016

Boris Johnson, the Winner

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Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (left) and Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson is the winner of The Spectator’s President Erdogan Offensive Poetry competition, initiated by the Spectator in response to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s attempt to persuade the German government to prosecute a German comedian for Erdowie, Erdowo, Erdogan,, a March 17th satiric music video mocking the Turkish president’s suppression of free speech.


There was a young fellow from Ankara

Who was a terrific wankerer

Till he sowed his wild oats

With the help of a goat

But he didn’t even stop to thankera.

Congratulations to Boris!
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26 Nov 2015

White House Pardoned Turkey Defects to ISIS

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ISIS-Turkey

Duffleblog:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senior U.S. officials are literally calling “fowl” after the Thanksgiving turkey pardoned by President Obama publicly defected to the Middle Eastern terrorist group ISIS.

Popcorn the Turkey, now calling himself Babakurn al-Turki, was pardoned from the dinner table only yesterday by President Obama in a public ceremony at the White House. Normally the pardoned bird is sent along with its competitor to live out its remaining days at Morven Park’s Turkey Hill in Leesburg, Virginia.

However, U.S. officials have now admitted that al-Turki instead hijacked an Osprey out of Andrews Air Force Base in nearby Maryland and flew like a bat out of hell to Syria.

A group of senior intelligence officials and ornithologists with birds-eye surveillance of the war-torn country have suggested he is nesting in Raqqah or across the northern border in another neighboring country.

Al-Turki, who was originally raised as an animist before converting to Islam, has already appeared in several propaganda clips and tweets for ISIS, gobbling anti-American rhetoric and leaving furious American officials grousing.

Read the whole thing.

26 Nov 2015

What’s Cooking, Vladimir?

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PutinCooksTurkey

25 Nov 2015

Putin’s Thanksgiving Dinner

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25 Nov 2015

Lucky Us, We Are Allied to Islamist Turkey

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Syrian rebels blow up Russian rescue helicopter with TOW missile.

The ecstatic ululations of “Allahu Akbar!” make my blood boil, and here we find ourselves, allied with Turkey which just shot down a Russian fighter in defense of Islamist insurgents.

But, as Walter Russell Mead points out, if we don’t stand by Turkey, who ever is going to believe we will stand by the Baltic States or Poland and the rest of Central Europe or do anything meaningful to stop Russia swallowing Ukraine?

The rapid deterioration of global order took an ugly turn this morning and we all moved a little closer to the abyss: Two Turkish F-16s have shot down what appears to be a Russian Su-24 bomber near the Syrian border. Two Russian pilots parachuted out of the plane as it went down in flames. One pilot was captured by Turkmen fighters in Latakia province, with early reports indicating the second pilot did not survive the ordeal. Turkey is claiming the bomber was warned ten times about being in Turkish airspace before it was shot down. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has called for a special consultation with Turkey’s NATO allies.
The facts of the case aren’t clear as I write. The Kremlin is calling it a “very serious incident” but said it was still studying the specifics. Russia’s initial spin appeared to be that the plane was brought down by fire from the ground, but that story is not likely to hold for long given that Turkey is insisting it did the shooting. The plane was “exclusively over Syrian territory throughout its entire flight”, Russia’s foreign ministry maintained. “This is recorded by objective controls.” Turkey, however, has released a radar trace of the incident purporting to show that the plane had crossed into Turkish airspace over the province of Hatay.

Russia has been flying missions over Latakia province since it began combat operation in Syria at the very end of September, and has by some accounts upped their intensity since Russia fingered ISIS as the party responsible for the downing of its civilian airliner over the Sinai. ISIS is not known to be operating in Latakia, however, and just yesterday, Prime Minister Davutoglu had said that Turkey would “not hesitate” to act on Syrian soil to protect the Turkmen people. (The Syrian Turkmen minority is one of many groups scattered between China and Bulgaria who speak a Turkic language and share cultural and historical roots with the Turks of Turkey.)

Regardless of the facts of this case, the root cause of the problem is continued aggressive Russian activity in and around Turkish airspace. That aggression was bound to cause problems at some point. Whether Russia or Turkey is more to blame with respect to this particular situation, overall there is no doubt that Russia is the country that bears the political responsibility for the incident.

It’s now critical that Russia not be allowed to intimidate or pressure Turkey over the episode. That means NATO support. Turkey, unlike Georgia and Ukraine, is a full-fledged NATO member, and failing to stand behind it threatens to unravel the alliance. Putin’s number one goal, we must remember, is to break NATO—or at minimum to show that it is a paper tiger.

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Turkey’s Intelligence Chief on Sunday explicitly defended ISIS and the Islamic Revolution.

Ankara— Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, known by the MİT acronym, has drawn a lot of attention and criticism for his controversial comments about ISIS.

Mr. Hakan Fidan, Turkish President’s staunchest ally, condemned Russian military intervention in Syria, accusing Moscow of trying to ‘smother’ Syria’s Islamist revolution and serious breach of United Nations law.

“ISIS is a reality and we have to accept that we cannot eradicate a well-organized and popular establishment such as the Islamic State; therefore I urge my western colleagues to revise their mindset about Islamic political currents, put aside their cynical mentalité and thwart Vladimir Putin’s plans to crush Syrian Islamist revolutionaries,” – Anadolu News Agency quoted Mr. Fidan as saying on Sunday.

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A more cheerful perspective comes from an anonymous Facebook friend who is apparently some sort of US spook, and who is very hostile personally to Russian intervention in Syria:

Never forget that Turkey’s army is 3X larger than Russia’s, is better trained and equipped, has far better air support, and that they have access to 60 nuclear weapons held for them in a U.S. bunker at Incirlik.

And then there’s this: Turkey is a member of NATO, has been forever, and has as much right to invoke Article 5 as do Germany, France, UK or the US.

Putin was warned, explicitly, by dozens of us that the risks of a shoot down like yesterday’s were “very high” when he put his foot in the shitpile. He didn’t listen.

He should have paid closer attention.

24 Nov 2015

Turkish-Russian Flightpaths

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[envira-gallery id=”34699″]

24 Nov 2015

Turkey v. Russia

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Now that Turkey has brought down a Russian fighter, and Vladimir Putin is promising retaliation, just in time! Daniel Greenfield has whipped up a short guide intended to help US progressives decide whom it is they should be rooting for.

Hello progressives,

This morning you’re probably wondering why there’s something about Turkey shooting down a Russian plane in the news. Why is this story taking up valuable space in your news feed and taking away time from reading about how stupid Donald Trump and Ben Carson are, or how yoga is cultural genocide or how oppressed Yale students are? And didn’t Obama already fix the Syrian Civil War with a hashtag?

You’re probably worrying over which side is the progressive one in the Turkey-Russia spat.

06 Sep 2014

Turkish Mad Honey

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Deli Bal [Mad Honey] Rhododendron plants

Now when is Trader Joe’s going to start offering this interesting product discussed in Modern Farmer?

Visit the remote mountainside towns in Turkey’s Black Sea region during springtime and you may witness beekeepers hauling their hives upslope, until they reach vast fields of cream and magenta rhododendron flowers. Here, they unleash their bees, which pollinate the blossoms and make a kind of honey from them so potent, it’s been used as a weapon of war.

The dark, reddish, “mad honey,” known as deli bal in Turkey, contains an ingredient from rhododendron nectar called grayanotoxin — a natural neurotoxin that, even in small quantities, brings on light-headedness and sometimes, hallucinations. In the 1700s, the Black Sea region traded this potent produce with Europe, where the honey was infused with drinks to give boozers a greater high than alcohol could deliver.

When over-imbibed, however, the honey can cause low blood pressure and irregularities in the heartbeat that bring on nausea, numbness, blurred vision, fainting, potent hallucinations, seizures, and even death, in rare cases. Nowadays, cases of mad honey poisoning crop up every few years—oftentimes in travelers who have visited Turkey.

As the adventurous foodie might well ask, what’s the story behind this potent gloop, and why aren’t we all stirring teaspoons of it into our granola for a pleasant high?

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Walter Olson [Facebook].

07 May 2014

Derinkuyu, Cappadocian Underground City

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Welcome to Derinkuyu, an underground city that once housed up to 20,000 people. In the Cappadocia region, famous for its cave dwellings and underground villages, Derinkuyu stands out for sheer size and complexity. Locals began digging in the 500s BCE. The city consists of over 600 doors, each of which can be closed from the inside. Each floor could be closed off as well. And just to make attacking completely impossible, the entire city was deliberately built without any logic. Its maze-like layout makes navigating the city nightmarish for unfamiliar invaders.

Via Ratak Monodosico.

24 Jun 2013

Banging Cookware in Turkey

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Janissaries with cauldrons

Claire Berlinski explains the causes of the Turkish protests.

As I began to write this, at 4:00 am on May 31, protests against Turkish police—prompted by their crackdown on demonstrators opposing the demolition of Taksim Square’s Gezi Park—were spreading from the heart of Istanbul to the entire country. As of today, the headline on Drudge reads—not inaccurately—TURK BERSERK.

The story began when the government in Ankara decided that Gezi Park, in the center of Istanbul, should be demolished and replaced by a shopping mall. Now, Gezi Park is hardly the Jardins de Luxembourg. It’s a shabby rat trap that you wouldn’t walk through alone at night, and you’re more apt to find used condoms on its lawns than daisies and cowslips. But it is, all the same, one of the last remaining spaces with trees in the neighborhood. …

Of late, almost every sector of the electorate has felt unease about one part or another of Erdoğan’s agenda. Restrictive new alcohol legislation, rammed through parliament, as usual, with contempt for the minority opposition, has prompted outrage; the so-called peace process with the PKK, which no one understands, has caused great unease. Anxiety is growing as well, not only about press censorship, but also about the prosecution of those who insult government officials or “Islamic values” on social media. …

Erdoğan, it seems, severely underestimated the degree of his subjects’ displeasure, confident that God, a strong economy, and a weak opposition were all he needed to ensure his hegemony. He brusquely dismissed the tree protesters’ concerns: “We’ve made our decision, and we will do as we have decided.” An AKP parliamentarian then unwisely announced that some young people “are in need of gas.”

So the Robocops once again used pepper spray and water cannon against the protesters. A photographer captured them spraying tear gas directly into the face of a vulnerable, middle-aged woman in a pretty red dress. The photo went viral and enraged the public: she was clearly no hooligan. As one conservative journalist noted, she looked “decent.”

Rather than dispersing for good, the protesters returned—and more gathered to support them. This wasn’t supposed to happen. The police panicked. At dawn, they attacked with pronounced violence, injuring not only students, but also journalists and opposition members of parliament who had come to show their support.

Read the whole thing

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Jason Goodwin gives us a history lesson which explains the form taken by Turkish protests.

One lesson that can be drawn from Ottoman history is that if the people require tribunes, so do their rulers. For many centuries the janissaries, despite their growing licentiousness and arrogance, performed that function: soldiers, who dominated civic society, could now and then express the popular mood. Their method was to overturn their great regimental cauldrons, and beat on them with spoons: the terrible sound of the janissaries in mutiny drifted from the barracks to the palace, and the sultan took note. Then in 1826 Sultan Mahmud II destroyed them, to a man.

Today, housewives in Beyoglu bang their pots and pans together at their windows. But Erdogan doesn’t seem to be listening.

Once the janissaries were eradicated, Mahmud and his successors were less beholden to the people. They furiously modernised the Ottoman Empire, running roughshod over popular disquiet, and collapsed unlamented in a puff of smoke at the end of World War I.

The Janissaries had their own tree, and their own traditions – and they, like the empire they served, are gone. Erdogan – like Mahmud II – still wants his mall.

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TENCERE TAVA HAVASI (Sound of Pots and Pans) / Kardeş Türküler


Iznik polychrome tile

03 Jun 2011

Lost City of 1001 Churches

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Church of the Holy Redeemer, built 1035 to house a fragment of the True Cross.

I had not ever hear of the abandoned city of Ani until seeing Boogie Man’s photoessay.

Ani, located in Eastern Turkey, was in the 10th Century the capital of an Armenian principality. In its prime, the city’s population was similar in size (100,000 — 200,000) to Constantinople, Baghdad, and Cairo. It became the seat of the Catholicoi, the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church in 992.

Ani was sacked by the Seljuk Turks in 1064, and by the Mongols in 1236. The city declined over subsequent centuries, ceasing to be a dynastic capitol around 1400, and losing the Armenian Catholicosate in 1441. Ani gradually dwindled to a small settlement within the walls of the former city, and was completely abandoned by the 18th century.

The site was excavated and documented by the Russian linguist and archaeologist Nicholas Marr 1892-93 and 1904-17.

Hat tip to Fred Lapides.

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