October 26, 2015

How does the US view Nov. 1?

Adem Yavuz Arslan

Before passing to the remarks in Washington on Nov. 1 election, it would be helpful to convey a brief anecdote.

You must have come across the video footage.

The dialogue between Justin Trudeau, Canada’s new and uncommon prime minister, and a journalist was important in terms of revealing ‘the prevailing understanding on this side of the Atlantic.’

Appearing before the media and his supporters at an event in Montreal a few days before the elections, Trudeau scolded a supporter interrupting a journalist, who put a critical question to him.

Trudeau turned to his supporters, raised his voice and said, “Hey! Hey! We have respect for journalists in this country. They ask tough questions and they’re supposed to. OK?”

Then he turned back to the journalist and urged him to conclude his question.

As employees of the Turkish media, which is passing through the darkest period in its history, we could only look on ‘enviously.’

For Turkish politicians do not have respect for journalists. They expel those journalists asking, or are likely to ask, difficult questions. They just favor the ‘obedient ones.’

There is no need to go back much in time.

We all watched a video footage that emerged at weekend. We learned how 7 TV stations, including BUGÜN TV and Kanaltürk, were dropped from the Turkish Satellite Communications Company (Türksat) platform. The figure behind the censorship turned out to be Mustafa Varank, the head advisor to the president, who has been embroiled in scandals.

The dialogues in the video are unbelievable.

The head adviser braggingly says that critical TV stations should be silenced.

[Pro-government journalist] Akif Beki is heard laughing while [another pro-government journalist] Hilal Kaplan interjects in the conversation and says: “It [fight with Gülen movement] is going ahead with mercy.”

It is a scandal in every respect.

While the president’s head adviser openly talks about violating the Constitution, the so-called journalists applaud him.

Besides, they aggravated the infamy after the outbreak of the scandal, by making statements like ‘I don’t regret saying it’ or ‘I am proud of what I did.’

It means that Kaplan is not satisfied with the raids on, oppression and jailing of opponents.

Perhaps this staunchly pro-government journalist will be pleased only with ISIL-style beheadings or with sending people to gas chambers like Hitler!

Meanwhile, it is revealed that prosecutors act upon the orders of Varank.

As for the Nov. 1 elections and the pulse of Washington…

Actually, the situation is related with the mentality represented by Varank. The debates centering on Turkey in the US capital take place within the framework of ‘freedoms.’

The US State Department, which reminds the Turkish government of ‘press freedom’ and the ‘rule of law’ on every occasion, released a statement on Saturday about the scandal surrounding Varank.

Expressing concerns over the government’s investigations about the media, the US administration said “Freedom of the press is an essential element of healthy democracies. Voicing different viewpoints during campaigning is of special importance.”

What these statements actually mean is: Washington has serious concerns about how ‘free and fair’ the elections will be.

Pressures on media and restrictions on the opposition create greater doubts.

There has not been much open criticism until recently because of issues like Turkey’s strategic importance and the fight against ISIL.

And official statements were kept within diplomatic bounds.

But ‘free and fair election’ is a redline for the US and recent statements should be evaluated from this perspective.

Again, a backstage rumor in Washington needs to be noted:

As it can be remembered, once there was extensive suitcase trade between Laleli [district of Istanbul] and Russia.

Nowadays, that trade extended to this side of the Atlantic.

There is a lot of interesting backstage information. The AKP is said to devote quite large sums of money to improve its image.

Let’s wait and see where these developments, which occur in one of the areas that the US pays much attention to, will lead to.

To sum up; Turkey is important for the US. The US will not stop working with Turkey because Erdoğan does things that border on fascism, restricts freedoms, and gradually moves away from democracy.

But the question is: Does Turkey want to see itself placed in the same league with Saudi Arabia or Pakistan?

For the US, Nov. 1 will be a critical date in terms of Turkey’s determining its own ‘place.’

Published on BGNNews, 26 October 2015, Monday