September 2, 2015

Intimidating the media, Erdoğan and Obama

Nazlı Ilıcak

US President Barack Obama’s speech to the African Union meeting is a word of advice for all Middle Eastern leaders who do not want to leave power. I strongly recommend especially Tayyip Erdoğan to read Obama’s statements carefully. Turkey came within an inch of being in the same league with the Central African nation Burundi. I hope that the Nov. 1 elections will remove the disgraceful shadow on our country through the wisdom of voters and set the wheels of democracy in motion again.

Here are some of Obama’s remarks:
“I am in my second term. It has been an extraordinary privilege for me to serve as President of the United States. I cannot imagine a greater honor or a more interesting job. I love my work. But under our Constitution, I cannot run again. I actually think I'm a pretty good President. I think if I ran I could win. But I can’t. So there’s a lot that I’d like to do to keep America moving, but the law is the law. And no one person is above the law. Not even the President. And I’ll be honest with you. I’m looking forward to life after being President. I won’t have such a big security detail all the time. It means I can go take a walk. I can spend time with my family. I can find other ways to serve. The point is, I don’t understand why people want to stay so long. When a leader tries to change the rules in the middle of the game just to stay in office, it risks instability and strife – as we’ve seen in Burundi. And this is often just a first step down a perilous path. And sometimes you’ll hear leaders say, ‘I’m the only person who can hold this nation together.’ If that's true, then that leader has failed to truly build their nation. You look at Nelson Mandela. Mandela, like George Washington, forged a lasting legacy not only because of what they did in office, but because they were willing to leave office and transfer power peacefully. Nobody should be president for life. I’m still a pretty young man, but I know that somebody with new energy and new insights will be good for my country.”

Turkey was once a model country for all Muslim nations of the Middle East. We used to undertake legal reforms to achieve advanced democracy. The country turned its face to the European Union. Everyone was full of hope. We all were proud of being citizens of a respected country. Today, we are compared to Burundi. Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza sparked a crisis when he sought a third term in office– i.e, when he made a fait accompli – though it was a violation of the constitution. In the end, the army launched a coup. There is another fait accompli in Turkey at the moment. The President violated his oath of impartiality. He carried out a parallel campaign along with the AK Party before the June 7 elections. As he failed to get what he wanted, he carried Turkey to snap elections. He tries to justify this fait accompli by talking about powers not delegated by the Constitution. Erdoğan says “Change the Constitution to recognize my de facto deployment of enhanced powers.” He confronts citizens with the choice “Give me 400 deputies or face chaos.”

The operation against İpek Media Group was launched to serve this purpose of the President. Turkey woke up to the day with this scandal. The operation is conducted by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office Bureau for Crimes against the Constitutional Order, upon the request of the Finance Ministry’s Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK). It is conducted for suspicion of financing terrorism.

Turkey knows well those politicians who provide weapons and ammunition to real terrorists. The Cumhuriyet daily published many photographs showing trucks belonging to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), which were carrying weapons to Syria. As recently as yesterday, the BUGÜN daily ran the headline “Materials including explosives transferred to ISIL from Turkey’s Akçakale border… Shocking photos.”

First you tell tales of “Fetullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ)”, then you charge those who feel sympathy for Gülen with financing terrorism or being a member of a terrorist organization. You launch raids on all the schools, prep schools and even kindergartens affiliated with the Gülen movement. But there is apparent evidence of weapons transferred to ISIL. They had produced the lie that MİT trucks were “carrying humanitarian aid to Turkmen in Syria.” And that lie was exposed later. This time, they charged the prosecutors investigating the said Syria-bound trucks with “espionage” and sent them into jail. Editor-in-Chief of the Cumhuriyet daily Can Dündar, who published the images of weapons carried by the trucks, was labeled as a “traitor” and an investigation was launched against him on charges of espionage and revealing state secrets. Images captured from CCTV footage and published by the BUGÜN daily, on the other hand, show materials that can be used to produce weapons (or explosives) being transferred to ISIL from Turkey’s Akçakale border gate. Over 2 months, each day 2 truckloads of artificial fertilizer used in explosives, 1 truckload of metal plates mounted on vehicles as armor, 1 truckload of electric cables and fuses, 1 truckload of construction pipes used as barrels for firing mortars, barrels of explosives, and packs of fuses were transferred to ISIL-controlled parts of Syria. Let’s see how you cover up the revelations made by the BUGÜN daily.

Why doesn’t MASAK handle the file of Reza Zarrab, who is alleged to be involved in fictive exports, money-laundering and gold-smuggling, instead of taking action against the İpek Media Group? It cannot do this. For these files are highly dangerous. They may explode in your face if you touch them. You had better act upon the instructions of the Ak Saray. You had better strangle free media and serve the purpose of eliminating all opposition!

Published on BGNNews, 2 September 2015, Wednesday