Not strategy, but an urgent need for cash is main factor on Erdogan’s disregarding Syria and focusing on Libya. He begun to deploy SADAT militias to Libya. Channel Istanbul is a part of this bargain.
The Arab Spring caused civil uprisings, civil wars and overthrow of dictators in North Africa and Middle East countries. During this time, Turkey chose to be practitioner of Political Islam Project, financed by Qatar, on the field instead of understanding the events and deciding wisely. Unrealistically, Turkey believed that she would be the leader of new Middle East. She led training and arming of moderate opponents in Syria. The fighters and jihadists coming from all over the world crossed into the Syria by using the Turkish territory and borders. Oil obtained in ISIS-controlled areas was sold through Turkey. The information on money traffic between Erdogan Regime and ISIS was handed to the United Nations Security Council by Russia in March 2016. When the Erdogan Regime apologised to Russia in June 2016, the case was closed.
Started with a demand of legitimate democracy by public, Arab uprisings hit the wall in Syria. Started on a legal ground with support of Turkey, too, these movements were terrorized in Syria. The radical Salafist groups, coming from all over the world, overshadowed Arab peoples’ legitimate demand on change as a result of what they did in Syria. It was understood that political Islam would not emerge as a democratic movement as in the case of Egypt. The idea, Islam and democracy cannot co-exist, has gained strength. The Erdogan regime’s activities in the field with the financial support of Qatar played a significant role in these developments. Erdogan, in response to a deal to establish his regime in Turkey became practitioner of the global project. Ultimately, one-person rule regime started to rule over Turkey.
Money is vital in sustainment of this regime. Erdogan thinks that his power will continue as long as he maintains the unearned income system, he established through government procurements. Everything, including Turkey’s strategic location, can be subject to negotiation to ensure the flow of money. Thanks to the created fear empire and thanks to the people in bureaucracy who replaced purged people in state institutions and who believe sustainment of their gains is bonded to sustainment of the Erdogan regime, anything can be done as long as public is deceived with narratives such as survival of the state, sustainment of land, etc.
Until two weeks ago, Syria, YPG and the Operation Spring Peace occupied the first place on the agenda, but on these days, we are discussing Canal Istanbul, the Eastern Mediterranean and Libya. So, what happened and why has the schedule changed so quickly?
When said establishing new cities in the east of Euphrates with Operation Spring Peace, Erdogan was planning not only to create new opportunities for the construction companies, most prominent supporters of him, but also to place the refugees who are becoming a burden on the country’s economy. He thought that the EU would support him financially. However, when the plans changed in the field, Erdogan began to look for new ways out.
Canal Istanbul project came up again. Even though it would cause loss of the rights gained by the Montreux Convention, Erdogan opened the Channel Istanbul project to the debate. Montreux Convention together with the Lausanne Treaty, is one of the most important founding documents of the Republic of Turkey. It regulates the transit of commercial and military ships through the Turkish straits under conditions of war and peace while ensuring the security of the Black Sea coastal states. It is not wrong to say with tonnage restrictions it provides protection of not only Turkey but also Russia.
From this point, this time, Erdogan seems to have opened negotiations with Putin over the straits. Tonnage limitation regulations on warships in Montreux Convention also protects Russia. If the Canal Istanbul would be done, this protection will be over. The bargain issue in Erdogan’s mind should not be too difficult to predict.
As it is often repeated, the protection of our rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean depends on the existence of the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord, the signatory of the recent agreement. But there is a problem here. Russia and Erdogan support different sides in Libya.
Soldiers connected to the Russian Wagner Company has changed the balance in favour of General Hafter. Egypt sees any external intervention in Libya as a problem for its national security. Apart from Turkey, England, Italy and Qatar supports the Government of National Accord in Libya. Yet no country except Turkey has announced that they would provide military support.
The world’s best quality oil comes out in Libya. General Hafter has control of this oil fields. Unless there is external support, General Hafter will seize Tripoli in the future and will be recognized as a legitimate authority. Erdogan thinks that he will get a share of oil only if he changes the balance in favour of the Government of National Accord in Libya. That’s why he says they can send troops if needed.
Last week Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov stated that some of the jihadist groups in Idlib were seen in Libya and they are worried about that situation. Those jihadists can go to Libya only via Turkey. Erdogan prefers to be on the field under the umbrella of SADAT first. Erdogan will use the bargain of the Canal Istanbul project with Putin to be active in the area of Libya.
The Erdogan regime has made a plan to obtain a share on the oil of Libya through enlarging the civil war in Libya, which is very similar what he did to establish a funding source in Syria. Thus, the palace will have the urgent liquid money that needed to maintain its system.
No country in the world is a party to a civil war and that is not damaged, including USA. In Libya, Turkey is being dragged to an adventure that would cause a strategic loss as she conflicts with all actors in the field, as she can face an armed conflict with Egypt, and as she is concentrating all her rights to her weakest point in the eastern Mediterranean. It is not possible to explain the events with the words of state policy, survivorship and national interest. After 15 July 2016, a regime change has happened in Turkey. For the continuation of this regime, Erdogan owes a penance debt to those who presented this regime to him, and he also has homework to do, and he must maintain the unearned income system with liquid money, regularly. There’s nothing he may not do for this sake.
Jailed cadet’s mother stands up against oppression, conquers fear
Melek Çetinkaya is the mother of a jailed 19 years-old former cadet. A campaign led by her broke the spell cast by the Erdogan regime’s reign of terror. She gets detained by police whenever she steps outside her home. However, she has no intention to remain silent.
Lives of millions in Turkey turned upside down on July 15, 2016, with the coup attempt Erdogan labeled as “a gift from God.”
Cadets, many 18-19 years of age, were among those arrested on the night of the coup bid. Çetinkaya’s 19 years old son was one of those students.
Her mom kept telling during post-coup trails that former cadets, including her son, did not involve in any illegal activities on the coup night and highlighted that they were taken to different locations at the behest of their superiors, without touching any weapon. And forensic reports confirmed her claims.
Lawyers of the Presidency were present in the courtroom when 256 former cadets were sentenced to life in prison. Çetinkaya’s son, Furkan, was one of them receiving a sentence of life imprisonment.
Melek Çetinkaya tried hard to have her voice heard on social media. She has taken her struggle a step further by staging protests in favor of jailed cadets in Ankara’s crowded streets.
Her fight also brought other mothers together. Cadets’ mothers got detained whenever they cried out for the plight of cadets sentenced to life in prison.
Çetinkaya has been taking to the streets for three months to draw public attention, and she was taken into police custody for hours in each attempt.
Çetinkaya, trying to reach out to the public through her Youtube channel, has announced her plan to start a “March for Justice” from Ankara to Istanbul.
She said she would hold the March for Justice for cadets sentenced to life in prison, jailed pregnant women, children in prison, and dismissed public servants.
March for Justice, which kicked off on January 19 in Ankara’s Guven Park, met a police intervention which saw the arrest of Çetinkaya along with 66 people.
Police encircled Guven Park and surrounded the protestors. It was a clear message saying that police would not allow a march of 450 km between Ankara and Istanbul.
Çetinkaya was detained right after stepping out of the metro, before making to Guven Park where the march would start.
“I am an aggrieved mom. You gave life sentences to 19 years-old cadets. We have been silent for three and a half years, but you will no longer be able to silence us. Justice will be served in this country,” Çetinkaya said while being dragged away by police.
Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) MP Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu was among the protestors when police waded in to disperse the group. Gergerlioglu confirmed the police intervention on his twitter account, saying, “Police violently suppressed Çetinkaya’s march for justice.” He also noted that the police physically assaulted him along with other protestors.
Police held Çetinkaya in detention for hours before releasing her late in the evening. And she was detained each day when she attempted to attend the march. Police went even further by apprehending Çetinkaya right after she left her home on January 21.
Anti-Terror Police took the stage this time. Çetinkaya was taken to Ankara’s Counter-Terrorism department. She had to endure waiting for hours while facing the wall and with her hands cuffed.
Police mocked her height and questioned her about how she learned to use social media. They did not provide her with a bed or mattress, and she had to sleep on the concrete ground.
Some people recorded videos on metros and buses to raise awareness about Çetinkaya’s situation. Those who recorded videos became the target of Erdogan’s fanatics.
Erdogan publicly acknowledges giving instructions to judiciary
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed the judges who acquitted a former Turkish general and, for the first time, publicly admitted that he had given instructions to the judiciary.
Turkey has seen the dismissal of more than 30,000 Turkish military personnel from the army and the detention of thousands of former soldiers since the still-controversial failed coup attempt on 15 July 2016. The imprisoned military officers have received jail times ranging between 6 years and a life sentence in prison.
While the discussions about whether Erdogan used the coup attempt to re-design the Turkish army is still going on, Erdogan admitted his instructions to the judiciary to punish Turkish soldiers.
Acquittal of Turkish general angered Erdogan
Lieutenant General Metin İyidil was detained pending trial for three years and sentenced to life in prison over his alleged involvement in the coup attempt. However, the appeal court quashed the lower court’s ruling upon İyidil’s appeal and ruled acquittal and release of İyidil.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP)’s arguments concerning the coup attempt have grown more controversial following the acquittal of a military general.
Any attempt to question the failed coup attempt is viewed as a taboo in Turkey. Prosecutors launch investigations right away into any claim towards the questioning of the trueness of the 15 July coup. The acquittal of İyidil has rekindled discussions on the coup, and the Turkish judiciary whose impartiality is disputed has taken action soon and ordered the re-arrest of İyidil.
Erdogan made some remarks in a press conference about İyidil’s case before flying off to Berlin for a conference on Libya’s civil war.
“It is a very upsetting development for the (Turkish) judiciary, it is not (even) understandable. How could a court take such kind of action? We have given the necessary orders”, Erdogan said in the press conference.
He further noted in his statement, “How could a court acquit or release a man previously sentenced to life in prison? Thanks to efforts of the Ministry of Justice and our prosecutors, he was apprehended soon later in a joint operation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs. He is now in prison and has started serving his sentence”.
Problem of judicial impartiality in Turkey
Erdogan’s regime purged about 5,000 judges and prosecutors over the past three years, and some 2,500 of them were put behind bars. The two members of the country’s top court (Constitutional Court) remain in prison. Erdogan has acquired the power with the new presidential system to appoint members of Turkey’s high courts, such as the Constitutional Court, the Court of Cassation, and Conseil d’Etat.
No access to basic rights for decree-law victims
A sizeable number of Turkish citizens do not have access to fundamental rights. Erdogan regime labels them in three letters: “KHK,” which is the Turkish abbreviation for decrees that have the force of law enacted by emergency powers, also known as decree-laws.
The social security numbers of these people are flagged with certain numbers for all employers and institutions to recognize that they are blacklisted by the government.
They are barred from civil service, they are not permitted to have a passport, banks do not give loans them, in some cases they don’t even open accounts, and it is near-impossible for these people to find a job in the private sector.
Thousands of these people, most of whom are college graduates, are in prison.
Many decree-laws were issued after the state of emergency that was declared after the controversial July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey. KHK is the abbreviation for Decree-Laws.
With these so-called temporary measures, about 150 thousand public employees were dismissed. The majority of them are Gulen Movement affiliates. Some of them are pro-Kurdish and leftist activists.
The government defends the dismissal of thousands of people, pointing at the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin defends the actions of the Erdogan administration with the following words; “after the merger, 500 thousand public employees in East Germany were dismissed.” However, in Germany, these people were paid compensation and benefited from the welfare state rights.
In Turkey, on the other hand, health insurance and social assistance card that is called “green card” is not given to the people dismissed by decree-laws. One hundred fifty thousand people dismissed by decree-laws were not paid compensation too.
Even withdrawing money from banks is a problem
Teacher Suzan Uzpak’s brother sent money to her from abroad. The bank officer said that she couldn’t pay the amount that was sent by a Vakıfbank transaction. Uzpak was told that it was due to her dismissal by a decree-law. “The system gave a ‘banned’ warning, and similar occasions occurred previously too,” bank officials said.
Another victim of the decree-laws announced on Twitter that Garanti Bank resisted not to open a bank account on his name. Upon public pressure, Garanti Bank had to backtrack. However, the memo sent by the bank read, “We are just opening an account; you do not have the right to use loans, EFT, wire transfer, and internet banking.” The Spanish BBVA owns Garanti Bank. This practice became the subject of a heated debate in Turkey as many questioned the possibility of such demands being made by a bank operating in an EU member country elsewhere in Europe.
Insurance Company did not make the due payment
What H.B. experienced is more striking. His wife had a car accident. Doğa Insurance did not pay the 20,000 Liras damage citing the ownership of the vehicle, for it belonged to a person dismissed by a decree-law.
In Turkey, the banks and insurance companies are monitored by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Board (BDDK), which regulates the financial sector. Board sent an official letter and a blacklist to banks warning them not to make any transaction for the people dismissed by decree-laws.
Social services denied
Teachers make up the majority of people dismissed by decree-laws; almost all of them are university graduates and well-educated people. However, they cannot find jobs due to the decree-law codes that appear on their social security records. Teacher Cemil Özen is one of them. He says they were left to starvation for three years. His application for the Green Card that is obtainable for the poorest group of people in Turkey was rejected because he was one of the people dismissed by a decree-law.
Leaving the country is also forbidden
People dismissed by decree-laws are sentenced to civil death in Turkey, and they are likewise not allowed to go abroad. Seher Kılıç, one of the most qualified people who could find work abroad, tells her experiences as follows: “I haven’t been able to get a passport for three and a half years. I asked why I couldn’t obtain a passport with an application letter. They said there is annotation next to my identity number ‘Banned, Passport cannot be given.’ My credit cards were canceled, I can’t get new ones. I have problems withdrawing the money sent by my family who lives in abroad.”
Mehmet Alkan, who was expelled from the Turkish Armed Forces, is a graduate of the Faculty of Law. However, he cannot work because his lawyer’s certificate has been canceled: Being one of a decree-law dismissed people means you are socially banned. You have no rights at all.”
Ayşe Düzkan, the interim editor of the Özgür Gündem daily which was shut down through a decree-law, tells about the actions of the HSCB, an international bank: “After I got out of prison, HSCB didn’t want to provide service to me. No calls were made to notify me. One day I couldn’t withdraw money from the ATM. I called the bank and found out that they blocked my accounts. I got my money from the office, and my cards were canceled.”
Working for private companies is no option
The reason why thousands of people who were dismissed by decree-laws such as doctors, teachers, police, and engineers cannot find a career in the private sector is the “Banned” annotation that appears next to their social security numbers. Authorities issue separate codes for those who were dismissed from the civil service, those who graduated from schools that were shut down by decree-laws or who are subscribed to newspapers that were shut down similarly.
For instance, some people have the annotation “36” inscribed next to their social security number. When they apply for a job, employers who do not want to draw the ire of the government or tax officers see that annotation and do not employ them.
Thousands of well-educated citizens of Turkey, they can neither go abroad because of travel bans nor find a job in Turkey. Some of these people, who are exposed to civil death, lost their lives while attempting to flee Turkey illegally.
English teacher Uğur Abdurrezzak and his wife Ayşe Abdurezzak, a Turkish-language teacher, were among them. They were both dismissed by a decree-law over their affiliations with the Gulen Movement. The whole family perished along with their children, eleven, and three years old. Their boat capsized as they tried to cross the border with Greece through the Maritza river.
The people dismissed by decree-laws in Turkey established a Youtube channel called KHKTV, as they try to have their voice heard. The decree-law platforms, which they founded in various provinces, are constantly under pressure from the government, and the authorities frequently ban the meetings they want to hold.