Tag Archives: neoOttomanism

5 Yorumsuz – 5 Without Comment – 2015-04-13

1 – Mixed messages on the Kurdish situation pre-election – The AK-Party’s shifting stance on the Kurdish situation became even more confusing this weekend after a clash between the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) in the eastern province of Ağrı. Details on the reasons for the clash are unclear, as both sides have blamed the other, and the number of casualties involved is also in dispute, but at least two people (at least one of them a PKK soldier) have died and a number of Turkish soldiers were injured. President Erdoğan and PM Davutoğlu blamed the PKK and attempted to implicate the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) after the incident, but HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş said the operation was staged, and pointed out that it was HDP members who went to rescue the injured soldiers, sharing links to photo and video on social media to back this claim up. The TSK released a statement thanking the civilians who helped the soldiers today, to some degree supporting Demirtaş’s claim.

This situation puts a fragile peace process in question. For the past three years, the AK-Party had been making moves towards peace, negotiating with the PKK’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan and conceding to some aspects on language rights and regional autonomy desired by many Kurds in Turkey’s southeast region, often called Kurdistan. More recently, however, President Erdoğan, who is nominally unaffiliated with a party but still overtly acts as the head of the AK-Party, reversed his stance on the so-called “Kurdish opening” simultaneous with the celebration of Newroz, the spring holiday most closely identified with Kurds. This was interpreted by many as Erdoğan’s move to coax nationalist voters, known for their anti-Kurdish stance, in the run-up to the 2015 parliamentary elections. Numerous polls show the AK-Party losing ground and the HDP moving towards the 10% threshold necessary to enter parliament as a party, and this likely has Erdoğan very worried. Up until now, HDP members have been running as independent candidates since they were not likely to pass the 10% threshold, but this situation greatly decreases their representation in parliament while simultaneously increasing that of the AK-Party. So the political calculation in Turkey currently hinges on the fate of the HDP, and the AK-Party has every incentive to prevent their passing the threshold.

Given these circumstances, the timing of the Ağrı conflict is interesting, because it is likely to damage the HDP’s political image and improve that of the AK-Party. The TSK’s statement, however, might change this calculus.

Potentially linked to these events is the Istanbul Film Festival’s choice, under direct pressure from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s Cinema Directorate, to cancel the screening of a documentary filmed in the PKK camps. Bakur (North) was scheduled to be shown on 12 April but, hours before the screening, the IFF announced its cancellation. Numerous Turkish filmmakers involved in the festival held an impromptu meeting after this and decided to withdraw their films from the festival, calling into question whether key competitions will continue. Specifically, 7 out of 9 films in the national feature and 9 our of 13 films in the national documentary competitions signed a statement withdrawing their films.

2 – Media wars – Pre-election tensions are also playing out in mainstream media as pro-government media sources have made a number of moves to attack non-aligned media. Perhaps most notably, state run (and theoretically impartial) broadcaster TRT has refused to run commercials for the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), giving as rationale the fact that the commercials criticize the ruling government. At the same time, pro-AK-Party media outlets Yeni Şafak and ATV have both published claims against the Doğan Media Group, charging it with support of terrorism in line with similar statements by Erdoğan. Doğan has filed slander charges against Yeni Şafak in response. Yeni Şafak also filed a story claiming that Turkey’s second President, Ismet İnönü, was responsible for having Mustafal Kemal Atatürk killed with poison. These claims and their alleged documentation have been the source of ridicule in other media, and columnist Mustafa Akyol commented on why such claims would come out now.

3 – Social media bans and reactions – Reactions to last week’s government ban of YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook have begun to mount. Early in the week there was a threat to block Google as well, but this has not yet been executed, and the social media sites are now back online. These bans have not gone unanswered, as Today’s Zaman reports:

Two Turkish academics on Tuesday appealed a court order that allowed authorities to block access to Twitter and YouTube for several hours this week, a crackdown they say reflects Ankara’s growing authoritarianism.

Meanwhile, Hürriyet Daily News reports on international critique of the ban:

Bans on social media networks are “not appropriate” according to basic democratic standards, said European Parliament President Martin Schulz, who held meetings with a number of senior officials in Turkey, adding that he expected “meaningful answers” from Ankara on the issue.

Despite such reactions, threats against social media may actually be on the rise, as Today’s Zaman reports:

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has a tendency to put everything he sees as a threat against his authority in the country’s “National Security Strategy Concept Paper” (MGSB) — often referred to as the “Red Book” — may soon be adding social media platforms, according to a story in the Cumhuriyet daily on Thursday.

4 – Censorship, trials, and lawsuits – The weekly round-up of lawsuits and trials for those deemed to have insulted the AK-Party continues, as Hürriyet Daily News reports,

A local court in Ankara has ordered main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to pay 10,000 Turkish Liras in compensation to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for “insulting” him.

Erdoğan was not alone in his actions this week, as Today’s Zaman reports,

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has filed a new legal complaint against Today’s Zaman Editor-in-Chief Bülent Keneş over a blog post, saying the piece, an English version of which was published as a Today’s Zaman column, insulted him.

Some of the charges are more serious than insults against individuals, as Today’s Zaman reports,

Turkish prosecutors seek up to four and a half years in prison for two columnists, Ceyda Karan and Hikmet Çetinkaya, who write for the Turkish Cumhuriyet daily, over featuring a front cover of Charlie Hebdo magazine which depicted Prophet Muhammad in their pieces.

5 – AK-Party’s Neo-Ottoman overtures – Finally, the AK-Party continues to employ Ottoman pageantry in political appearances. As Hürriyet Daily News notes, this week’s ceremonies involved both PM Davutoğlu,

Continuing the new trend of cosplay started at Turkey’s new presidential palace where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan resides, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan were welcomed by policemen dressed in Ottoman-era costumes on April 10 in Ankara.

and President Erdoğan,

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was welcomed during a ceremony on April 10 with the “New Turkey Anthem” performed by an Ottoman military band, which praised him as “Our Leader.”

Though quite visible, such overtures are not necessarily a way to success with the public, as the same paper noted in covering the fate of a number of “candidates for candidacy” who had vied for position on the AK-Party candidate list, which was decided this week:

Several candidates had launched Ottoman-themed campaigns to be nominated for the AKP. However, none of the “Ottomans” were able to break the glass ceiling of modern politics when the ruling party announced its candidates for the June 7 general elections on April 7.

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5 Yorumsuz – 5 Without Comment – 2015-03-02

1 – Hürriyet Daily News (and Radikal)

Weeks after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s “16 Turkish warriors” hit international headlines, several candidates have launched Ottoman-themed campaigns to be nominated for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

2 – Today’s Zaman

US-based watchdog Freedom House has criticized Turkey’s controversial security package, which grants extensive powers to police officers and provincial governors, saying that the passing of the bill in Parliament is a move to undermine democracy in Turkey. Freedom House, which describes itself as “an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world,” responded to the passage of the first 10 articles, issuing a statement late Monday. The director of Freedom House’s Eurasia programs, Susan Corke, said, “It is no exaggeration to say that the future of Turkish democracy hangs in the balance with this law.”

3 – Hürriyet Daily News

Model and former Miss Turkey Merve Büyüksaraç is facing up to two years in prison for social media posts that prosecutors claim “insult” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The indictment has been completed as a part of an investigation into Büyüksaraç’s post, in which the prosecutor Umut Tepe demanded that she be sentenced to one to two years in prison. The Criminal Court of First Instance in Istanbul will now decide whether to initiate proceedings. Büyüksaraç, an industrial designer and writer who was crowned Miss Turkey in 2006, was briefly detained and questioned on Jan. 14 for sharing a satirical poem on her Instagram account.

4 – Today’s Zaman

Auditors from the Finance Ministry carried out a raid at the Gezici Research Company’s office in Istanbul following a poll the company released showing votes for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) decreasing below 40 percent. According to the Cihan news agency, auditors went to the Gezici office in Istanbul’s Beşiktaş district to examine the company’s tax documents on Tuesday morning. The auditors checked up on details regarding the company’s address, number of employees and the administrative structure of the company, then left the office after taking notes.

5 – Gerçek Gündem – Fidel Okan, who once served as lawyer for Star Gazetesi journalist Elif Çakır, gives his version of how the Kabataş story became so exaggerated. Cakır has faced renewed criticism for promoting a story during the Gezi Park protests of 2013 that Zehra Develioğlu, who wears a headscarf, was attacked by a group of protestors. Then Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdoğan, picked up on the story and repeated it frequently to demonize the protestors, but there is little evidence that the event actually took place. According to Okan, some protestors exchanged words with the woman and she was upset by this, as well as by the fact that her husband was late to pick her up. She exaggerated her account when he finally arrived to get her and he, in turn, exaggerated it when recounting it to his father, who happened to be an AKP-affiliated leader of a local municipality. This official, in turn, exaggerated the story once again and it was increasingly exaggerated as it moved up the AKP chain of command, to the point that it became a group of 70, half-naked, leather-clad assailants who overturned a baby stroller and urinated on the woman. Okan says that Erdoğan probably believed the story the whole time.

5 Yorumsuz – 5 (or 6) without comment – 2015-02-23

1 – Guardian

Turkey has staged its first open military operation in Syria, dispatching hundreds of ground troops, tanks, aircraft and drones to extract 38 soldiers guarding a historical Ottoman tomb besieged by Islamic State (Isis) militants. In the first such incursion into Syria since the start of the civil war nearly four years ago, Ankara launched the operation – dubbed “Shah Euphrates” – to move the remains of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman empire. The operation was conducted through Kobani, the Kurdish-controlled enclave south of the Turkish-Syrian border that was the scene of a recent victory over Isis by the US-led military coalition.

2 – Hürriyet Daily News

A high school student in Turkey was sentenced to 12 months in prison on Feb. 15 for insulting then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The incident took place as the student, identified only by the initials U.H.C., attended a demonstration in Attalos Square in the southern province of Antalya, in protest at a case involving two other high school students who had been charged after protesting against Erdoğan.

3 – Radikal – Notes that the new film Kod Adi KOZ, which deals with Gezi Park and the 17 December corruption investigations, did poorly in its first few days. Producers were hoping it would break Recep Ivedik 4‘s box office record, but it sold only 127,743 seats during its first three days, meaning it would take a small miracle to reach that goal at this point.

4 – Hürriyet Daily News

A ruling party lawmaker has blamed popular Turkish soap operas for the increase in the number of rape cases in the country, arguing that such series were ruining the nature of the Turkish family structure. “You shoot series and you know no bounds in the relationship between the brother’s wife and uncle. You set no limits, and then you complain about the increase in rape. What were you expecting?  Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind,” İsmet Uçma, a deputy from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and a member of parliament’s commission investigating the reasons for violence against women, said Feb. 18 during a panel meeting.

5 – Today’s Zaman

The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) has levied a nearly TL 1 million penalty on the Samanyolu Broadcasting Group in what Samanyolu executives consider yet another attempt to silence media outlets close to Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. “As if there were no other channels, RTÜK is exclusively following our channels and attempting to silence them with astronomic penalties,” said Samanyolu Haber TV Editor-in- Chief Metin Yıkar, commenting on the fine. “RTÜK should be the institution that monitors and regulates this country’s television networks, but it has completely abandoned this role and assumed the position of a political actor,” added Yıkar.

6 – Hürriyet Daily News – Turkish Parliament refuses to probe issues it claims to be very concerned about. The AKP majority voted against suggestions from HDP lawmakers that probes be conducted into (1) the so-called parallel state run by Fethullah Gülen, and (2) ISIL activities in Turkey.