December 21, 2014

Bigger picture

Bülent Keneş

Turkey is moving headlong towards disaster. Having turned into a full-fledged dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has taken under his control not only the fundaments of democracy such as the executive, the legislature and the media, but the judiciary as well.

From now on, none of the judicial bodies -- except the Constitutional Court -- can be expected to act in compliance with laws or administer justice in a fair manner. A handful of free and independent media outlets that survived are now wilting under relentless attack from the Erdoğanian dictatorship. This attack does not seem likely to abate before this dictatorship uproots the remaining few free and independent media outlets and hands them over to spin doctors.

With the passage of the amended law about the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the latest bill -- which amounts to a judicial “coup” -- that strangely reintroduced the concept of “reasonable doubt,” no one in Turkey has any legal guarantee. After people from his close circles were caught red-handed in corruption scandals on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013, and there was strong indication that he had personally gotten involved in these corrupt practices, Erdoğan is now finally feeling the joy of his dictatorship.

We all witness how any conspiracy he conjures up is made into a bill in a few days and quickly becomes part of the deeds of the government which he uses like an ordinary puppet and is turned into an unlawful process in which previously set-up judicial bodies pass decision about it. In the final analysis, the unlawful acts and arbitrary practices which even Islam Karimov, Bashar al-Assad and Kim Jong-Il dare not do have become ordinary in Turkey. The media outlets which he fully controls -- either by directly acquiring them or subduing with threats -- have turned into an effective propaganda machine for his dictatorship. The nation is bewitched by the most unfounded allegations and most incredulous scenarios. Thus, if Adolf Hitler were to rise from the dead, he would be jealous of the black propaganda in Turkey.

This is only part of the big and dark picture in Turkey. The rest is, in my opinion, more terrifying. In addition to the unlawful and arbitrary practices in recent months, I think it would reveal the real threat if I share with you part of the list of people and groups that are favored and considered as threats by the Erdoğanian dictatorship.

The Erdoğanian dictatorship is unfortunately perceived in Turkey and around the world as an administration that lends support to radical organizations in Syria, particularly including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The whole world is curious about what was sent to Syria in thousands of semi-trailer trucks. The Turkish public may not be aware of the load of these trucks, but I am sure the countries which openly accepted that they had been wiretapping the phone conversations of Erdoğan since 2009, such as Germany, know this very well.

Until very recently, Erdoğan failed to refer to ISIL as a “terrorist” organization and after he started calling it a terrorist organization, he referred to it in conjunction with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), calling the latter a terrorist organization as well. Thus, Erdoğan is doing everything to justify the perception that he is collaborating with ISIL. And Cemil Bayık, one of the leaders of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)/Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) -- which has emerged as an acceptable partner for negotiations for the Erdoğan's dictatorial regime for the last three years -- recently draw attention to this link. “The real caliph of ISIL is Erdoğan,” Bayık said. The fact that this remark has failed to elicit any astonishment is enough to tell us the dimension of the scandal.

As is known, the terrorist organization PKK/KCK -- which is held directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 people with its terrorist attacks -- is a favorite partner of Erdoğan's dictatorship. Erdoğan and his close circle carefully avoid any act or discourse that may annoy the PKK/KCK camp which has the potential to partition Turkey and trigger a civil war. It is thought-provoking to see that although they rush to stigmatize the Hizmet movement -- which has not been involved in any act of violence or unlawfulness so far -- with terms like “hashshashin,” “terrorist organization” or “parallel structure,” they never use similar wording for the PKK/KCK camp, which certainly better fits such descriptions.

The radical Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front (İBDA-C) -- which had been very active as a terrorist organization until the 2000s, which gave instructions for terrorist attacks in its illegal journals and which sang praises of terrorist attacks by radical Islamists -- is another favorite organization for Erdoğan's dictatorship. His media outlets speak highly of İBDA-C leader Salih Mirzabeyoğlu and Erdoğan himself
met him after his release from prison. Erdoğan has already given public resources at the disposal of the İBDA-C. The fact that after meeting with Erdoğan, Mirzabeyoğlu attended a conference at Haliç Congress Center where his sympathizers chanted, “Long live Commandant Mirzabeyoğlu,” should tell us many things!

Erdoğan is also known for his dislike for al-Fatah and having an affinity for Hamas, and Erdoğan's controversial relations with Yasin al-Qadi, who has been listed as a financial supporter of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization by the US until very recently and who was previously included in a list of terrorists by the United Nations, had been hotly debated. The police operation against Turkey's best-selling Zaman newspaper and the popular Samanyolu TV network on Dec. 14 has revealed that Erdoğan's sympathy, tolerance and support for radical terrorist organizations is not restricted to these cases alone.

In 2010, in the face of the pressures from the US for failing the show due attention to the fight against al-Qaeda, the Erdoğan administration had marketed a police operation as an example of their fight against al-Qaeda, but oddly enough, Erdoğan's dictatorial regime is now trying to advertise it as a conspiracy by the Hizmet movement. As you can read in the media, Erdoğan portrays the organization Tahşiyeciler (Annotators), an al-Qaeda offshoot, as “innocent” while introducing the pro-Hizmet media outlets which ran stories about these operations as “terrorist organizations.” Yet, Mehmet Doğan, the leader of Tahşiyeciler, appeared on CNN Türk TV channel on Friday singing the praises of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

What does this tell us? Let me briefly summarize it: Erdoğan has turned the country's face away from the European Union toward the East and the Middle East, and it appears that he is trying to acquire certain organizations as subcontractors as a means of being politically active in the Middle East. It seems as though he is trying to instrumentalize proxy terrorist organizations with which he has ties or the establishment of which he has sponsored and use them to shape politics in the country and in the region, just as Iran did after the Islamic revolution of 1979. Like any dictator who has emerged in the region so far, Erdoğan is dreaming of becoming the leader of the region and of Muslims, and is in the grips of pathological self-arrogance. As it is impossible for him to make this dream come true through legal and legitimate conventional means; he needs illegitimate and illegal methods and actors.

Turkey recently became a country that allows the easier movement of illicit money. There are allegations that Erdoğan accumulated large funds by urging virtually everyone in the country to pay him ransom. He established organizations like the Foundation of Youth and Education in Turkey (TÜRGEV) a la Iran's boniads (foundations) and transferred public funds to these organizations. Most importantly, he established ties with a number of organizations which can be considered as terrorist organizations under international law. All these steps seem to be intended at making this dream come true.

Today, Erdoğan attaches greatest importance to the intelligence organization and has reinforced it with various moves. His reliance on the intelligence organization has contributed to his despotic tendencies. So don't be surprised if you soon see Erdoğan starting to use these terrorist organizations very actively in order to consolidate his unrestricted and lawless dictatorship in Turkey and establish his obsessive leadership in the Middle East and the Muslim world! Given the fact that Erdoğan's dictatorship has destroyed the country's EU bid and turned its face toward the Middle East, there is nothing more natural for Erdoğan that adopting the Middle Eastern actors' methods of communication and messaging via proxy terrorist organizations and terrorists attacks.

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 21 December 2014, Sunday