GeriCüneyt Ülsever - English Obama, the Middle East and the EU
MENÜ
  • Yazdır
  • A
    Yazı Tipi
    • Yazdır
    • A
      Yazı Tipi

Obama, the Middle East and the EU

The address of U.S. President Barack Obama last week in the Egyptian capital Cairo conquered the hearts of Muslims. Following the former U.S. President George W. Bush’s obnoxious speech, Muslims found Obama’s speech very friendly.

As Obama mentioned Turkey and got into discussion with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy about Turkey’s accession to the European Union, he was almost called "Dear Hussein."

And we have begun to think that he would even convert to Islam.

But I have said since day one that Obama, as a Democrat, of course exerts efforts to bring a new style of approach to U.S. foreign policy. He wants to adopt an understanding of a multi-center rather than a single-center world. However, as all the previous U.S. presidents, Obama too took an oath to protect his country’s national interests.

The main difference between Obama and Bush is that Obama announced in advance that he would adopt a "consult first and then strike if necessary" approach rather than the opposite.

***

Obama’s withdrawing troops from Iraq and Iraq’s self-determination on its fate is not the same thing.

Handing over administration in Iraq to the Iraqis, more precisely, does not mean that Iraq will be able to sell its crude oil freely to any country they want.

And the United States’ seeking dialogue with Iran, as in the Israeli example, does not mean that the right to produce nuclear arms is Iran’s domestic issue.

To the more, Iran’s relations with Syria, Lebanon, Hezbollah and Hamas continue in the future as they are today, this will never be a free foreign policy choice of an independent country.

The best example for the "consult first and then strike" policy is Afghanistan and Pakistan. The United States searched dialogue channels with Taliban first in the Af-Pac region but as Taliban took over the control in the Pakistani Swat region, they did not say, "We cannot do anything.

This is Pakistan’s own issue."

I am not writing all these to criticize U.S. foreign policy or my purpose is not to blame Obama for hypocrisy.

For the biggest imperial state of the world, seeking sustainability in status quo around the world goes by nature. And Obama’s real mission is the protection of U.S. interests as long as the status quo works in favor of the United States and where there is U.S. interest.

Think about it for a second, what could’ve happened if the Magnificent Suleyman had said "I am the ruler of the seven worlds and I’ve decided to scale down the Ottoman state in order to have dialogue with other states."

***

In an international order based on voluntary give-and-takes, Obama’s love for Turkey is not just for Turkey’s submission to the U.S. but also for U.S. expectations of Turkey.

First of all, the membership of Turkey, as one of the most crowded countries in Europe and a U.S. ally, to the EU will be a key in the hands of the United States in the U.S.-Germany-France chest game.

On the other hand, as the United States pulls out from Iraq its closest friend to entrust northern Iraq is Turkey. If Turkey overcomes the outlawed-Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, issue, it would be the strongest guarantor state behind northern Iraq after the United States leaves Iraq. In fact, negotiations continue.

***

Obama is an excellent orator, and his team applies a perfect public relations strategy.

But I cannot help myself but to think, "Let’s see what they want" as my elder kisses me on the check.
X

Turkey’s ’multi-centered’ foreign policy

Some columnists such as Erdal Şafak and Taha Akyol see the new Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu as an extraordinary minister and praise him every chance they have. So do I see Davutoğlu as an important academic, a humble but principled personality and a man of patience, and I remember his always-smiling eyes. Davutoğlu makes the claim to bring new breath, an understanding to Turkish foreign policy! Therefore, he claims to have a multi-centered foreign policy that depends on direct mutual interest of countries that we have bilateral relations with, aims to have zero problems with neighbors, and makes Turkey a central country in the Middle East and independent from the U.S. backwashes.

Davutoğlu paid a visit to the United States after Barack Obama was elected president and made the following remarks to describe Turkey-U.S. relations in the new period, "Turkey’s foreign policy choices and priorities overlap with Obama."

***

I can only make an assessment on multi-centered foreign policy through an approach based on conclusion.

I am of the opinion that if a multi-centered policy cannot be anchored to anywhere, or rather clearly if it is not equipped with basic principles, it will eventually transform into a policy that cannot reach any conclusion anywhere and that can try to please everyone. If I look at Turkish foreign policy from a conclusion-centered point of view, I see the following picture:

***

1) On the eve of Apr. 24, Armenian Day, Turkey approached Armenia and talked about opening the border without preconditions.

2) Obama was pleased to hear the developments and did not utter the word "genocide" on Apr. 24.

3) But Azerbaijan, on the other hand, got fumed and challenged Turkey. Obviously, Turkey couldn’t convince Azerbaijan on the Armenian initiative. And Turkey promptly made a U-turn to give a guarantee to Azerbaijan.

4) As Russia assured Azerbaijan regarding the Upper Karabakh issue, Azerbaijanis decided to sell natural gas to Russia in big amounts. Therefore, the Western product Nabucco project, to paralyze the Russian hegemony in the energy market, was harmed severely.

5) Turkey announced partnership with Russia in the "Blue Stream" project and began to talk about a strategic partnership with Russia, just about the time it had an anchor with Obama.

6) Since Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan offended Israeli President Shimon Peres through his remark "You know how to kill" in Davos, Turkey-Israeli relations have not been on track.

The number of Israeli tourists visiting Turkey has dropped radically as sports events are being suspended.

But most importantly, Israel does not want to see Turkey as a mediator in Israeli-Syrian talks.

7) Erdoğan fell into a serious trap on the "Mine Bill" issue (See: the visits of Israeli ambassador to Ankara to southeastern Turkey and to Parliament). Erdoğan, who became a hero in the Arab World with his "One Minute" move against Peres in Davos, this time, lost prestige among Arabs.

8) Turkey became the first country to congratulate incumbent Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad following the controversial presidential elections, despite the United States and the European Union. However, the very same Iranian administration wants to see Turkey neither as a broker in Iran-U.S. relations nor in Iran-EU affairs.

***

9) Neither Saudi Arabia nor Egypt accepts Turkey as a dominant country in the Middle East. They are even disturbed by Turkey’s approach to Iran.

10) In the last period, Turkey mediated between the West, which refuses to have direct talks, and Hamas and Hezbollah. This is the only solid improvement in hand!

In a conclusion-centered approach the multi-center foreign policy does not look good!
Yazının Devamını Oku

The ruling AKP at a crossroads

First, let me include a note here: the most nonsensical remark in recent times is, "Police are the assurance of the regime," (by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and columnists Mehmet Altan and Cengiz Çandar). Police are only a guarantee of the regime in fascist and autocrat administrations. In democracies, the Police Department is just an institution implementing necessary laws in order to provide security.

This is a divine duty but since democracy has multi-dimensions and cannot work on a single dimension only, no one and no institution cannot alone assure democracy.

I wrote this note because on-going discussions reveal who contradicts with whom!

Columnists saying, "Police are the assurance of the regime" have, at the same time, an urge to add, "The military is not the assurance of the regime."

There is something going on between the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, and the Security/Justice Depts.!

And please let’s not allow anyone to serve this as a struggle for democracy!

***

I’ve been writing for two days: the United States is looking for a new ally in Turkey and that’s why we have the devil to pay.

The Fethullah Gülen Movement that seems influential in the Security and Justice Depts. has been playing a critical role in U.S. Northern Iraq policy since 2003. With the March 29 local polls, however, the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, was defeated despite the Gülen Movement’s support in Southeastern Turkey. Since then, U.S. President Barack Obama has been looking for a new ally to pull it out from the Iraq quagmire.

I wrote yesterday, the said document fulfilled its function and will not be in use anymore! According to newspapers, the civilian prosecutor’s office arrested Navy Captain Dursun Çiçek for "being a member of the Ergenekon crime gang," not for having his signature on the said document!

We’ll see when it will be served again.

***

The AKP is at a crossroads!

Erdoğan has buried the hatchet with the Gülen Movement since 2003, but especially since the July 22, 2007 general elections.

It’s a common belief that the pro-Gülen is nested in the Security and Justice mechanisms. I, personally, am doubtful of Gülen and his close circle’s ability to control these departments.

The original Ergenekon case, which I believe was mostly set up abroad (see: tons of documents owned by Tuncay Güney), brought the AKP and Gülen sympathizers, or those who pretend so, together.

But now, will the AKP be able to cooperate with the TSK in Northern Iraq and in Southeastern Turkey and not miss the "Historic opportunity", as President Abdullah Gül put? For such collaboration the TSK wants the government to distance itself from Gülen.

Will the AKP be able to seek cooperation with the TSK, which was forced to be an alternative to this strong movement that the AKP has become a good friend with since 2003?

This is the question, I think.

***

The AKP disappointed President Obama on the Armenian issue. Plus it scared Azerbaijan away and pushed Azeris to Russia! Azerbaijan is about to kill the Nabucco Project by selling natural gas to Russia in exchange for a solution in the Upper Karabakh conflict.

Israel doesn’t want Turkey’s brokerage anymore. The World Public Opinion company in the United States released a study recently showing that Erdoğan’s popularity, which increased with his "one minute" show against Israeli President Shimon Peres during the World Economic Forum in Davos, was shattered by the "mine bill".

That is to say, the AKP is not efficient as far as U.S. interests are concerned. If the AKP cannot provide assistance to the United States in Northern Iraq, things will get worse!

The AKP is indeed at a crossroads, both inside and in the presence of the United States.
Yazının Devamını Oku

Obama’s difference!

Obama is leaving the Greater Middle Eastern project behind; the term ’moderate Islam’ is falling into disuse. Obama now needs an ally that will protect northern Iraq against other elements in Iraq if necessary and will assist U.S. troops in leaving Iraq. A possible ally is the TSK! If the TSK and the Turkish government work together in peace, the U.S. will be delighted. As columnists, especially pro-government or Islamist colleagues, were getting caught up by Obama-mania, I was writing, "Only the waiter changed, not the kitchen." But, I added, "The way he serves makes a difference, though."

Here is the difference: the difference that the new waiter has made without changing anything in the kitchen!

***

Obama wants to withdraw U.S. troops from the region by turning Iraq over to safe hands and not jeopardizing its hegemony over Iraqi oil and natural gas that they confiscated in a difficult and nonsensical war.

In the meantime, we experience "coup-mania" in Turkey in a period where we have never been so close to a zero coup possibility!

After April 27, when I said, "This is a coup," during an NTV program, columnists excitedly refused the term and said "[Chief of General Staff] Büyükanıt doesn’t even know this." Now, the coup possibility is so far away that these same columnists are now bullying the present Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ!

Since he is not afraid, there is no coup possibility in the air!

***

What is happening, then?

The United States is having a different ally in Turkey!

1) Obama is leaving the Greater Middle Eastern project behind; therefore, the term "Moderate Islam" is falling into disuse.

2) Therefore, the new U.S. administration does not need the Fethullah Gülen movement anymore. Even more so, it is a necessity to approach the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, as a possible new ally and to alienate the Gülen movement!

3) In fact, the Gülen movement, despite all its efforts in 2003 to 2009, has already shown that it has no influence over Kurds in southeastern Turkey and in northern Iraq. The results of the March 29 local polls are self-evident.

***

Obama, in the new period, needs an ally that will protect northern Iraq against other elements in Iraq if necessary and will assist U.S. troops in leaving Iraq. A possible ally is the TSK! If the TSK and the Turkish government work together in peace, the United States will be delighted. In fact, didn’t President Gül announce, "For the first time, two institutions, the TSK and the government, are thinking alike," and termed this as an "historic opportunity" for the resolution of the Kurdish issue?

***

At a time when the fear of a coup is almost zero, why is a "piece of paper" causing a big stir?

After the March 29 local elections, officials are engaged in heavy works. That’s why! And that’s why the document is appropriated with the date "April 2009"!

Two possibilities about the document are coming toward the same thing:

1) We saw during the airborne attacks to the north that the TSK included any type of individuals, even if they are minorities! They have served until recently.

2) The Gülen movement is so expanded now that to orchestrate it from a single center is impossible.

I am of the opinion that whether or not the document is original, it was not prepared by the central will of both sides!

***

I think we will never learn if it is genuine or not. The document served its purpose. The ball is in the government’s court and it fulfilled its function!

Now, it is the government’s decision!

The Justice and Development Party, or AKP, will either go its separate ways with the Gülen movement, its close ally since 2003, but even more closely since the July 22 elections, and will benefit from this "historic opportunity" with the TSK, orÉ

To be continued tomorrow... 
Yazının Devamını Oku

Are the US’s allies in Turkey changing?

I have a mindset that whenever change or unrest occurs or whenever a new document is introduced to cause a stir in Turkey, I immediately think of a development abroad. I cannot help it but I am trying to look at the incident in Turkey from the outside.

For instance, no one can convince me that the Ergenekon case was prepared by internal dynamics only.

I noted several things about the "infamous document" on Sunday. I said that I found this document’s being appropriately dated as April 2009 interesting.

But why was it dated April 2009?

The said document was revealed on June 4. A case was filed in an Istanbul court on June 6. The document was published by Taraf daily on June 12. But the publisher used "April 2009" for the date.

On the other hand, Fethullah Gülen on April 8, 2009 released a paper on www.herkul.org and gave a brief on the content of the said document under the title "tahşiye" on June 4. The word "tahşiye" comes from the Ottoman language, a word that the late Bediüzzaman Said Nursi most often used in his Risale-i Nur Collection. It means a small explanatory note jotted down on a book page or a piece of paper.

Gülen, in his statement, writes: "God forbid... People who act as if they are on our side may be forced to have Kalashnikovs someday and be involved in action. Others may say afterwards ’Look, they are armed if necessary.’"

He, in a way, makes a prediction about the "Plan to finish off the AKP and Fethullah Gülen". On the other hand, the Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ in his April 14 statement openly pointed out Gülen as a target!

Now, let’s look at the recent past:

1) Turkish-American relations were harmed gravely by the March 1, 2003 deployment note in Parliament. The United States, for the first time, began to look for a new ally instead of Turkey in its policies in the region.

2) The Bush Administration back then planned to "change" some regimes in the Middle East. So they supposedly proscribed democracy. Democracy and Islam recalled the "Gülen Movement," rightfully at first. The Greater Middle East Project was designed on a development that the Gülen Movement already experienced and that may evolve into democracy.

And I think this was a good decision, theoretically. In 2003-2009, this alliance did work and the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, devolved.

3) The Bush administration’s selfishness screwed up in the Greater Middle East Project and failed to establish order in Iraq.

4) On the other hand, the Gülen Movement between 2003 and 2009 exerted tremendous efforts to be effective both in northern Iraq and in Southeastern Turkey. They fed expectations inside the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, in a way that the party could wipe off the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, in the Southeast.

And the expectation was of a great deal of interest to U.S. northern Iraq policies.

5) However, that didn’t happen. The AKP was crushed in the southeast on March 29 and it emerged that the Gülen Movement was not very influential on Kurds.

6) In the mean time, Barack Obama was elected president and started to look for new allies to help the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and to protect U.S. interests in the country as he promised previously.

7) A new ally in Turkey could have been the TSK under Gen. Başbuğ; the ally that has all the required qualifications and has not been cold to U.S. policies in northern Iraq since March 1.

8) The new ally, however, would introduce new terms: the deactivation of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, by the United States and putting a distance between themselves and the Gülen Movement.

9) In fact Obama was ready to make a U-turn and was aware that the "old allies" in Turkey were disturbed by the Greater Middle East Project.

I’ll continue tomorrow.
Yazının Devamını Oku

Thought atmosphere in Turkey

The attitude of intellects in Turkey about events/documents determines a question: "Can I benefit from this event/document, or not?"

I apologize for exceptions here, but a large number of intellectuals whose thought system is supposed to be built on an independent way of thinking are affiliated with some things and they look at events/documents from that window of thought or politics of that affiliation, also known as the principle of "serve the purpose".

Case studies by Professors Binnaz Toprak and Yılmaz Esmer, and Tarhan Erdem were always analyzed in the light of "serve the purpose principle". Research results not serving the purpose were always taken as if a curse.

***

Now, we have a document in hand that is a shame for Turkey in any case. But we don’t know yet whether it is real or not. Criminal investigation will determine that. If the original document is not revealed, the investigation will be impossible. Still "our intellectuals" have already made their attitudes clear.

Those who believe the document is original and "serves the purpose" act in the following way:

The Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, made military coup d’Žtats one after the other, released various notes on some certain individuals and made false accusations about some. So, this document must have been real!

In a cartoon by Salih Memecan, two men with the said document in hand are talking. One asks the other: "May 27?" The other answers "Real!" The first asks again, "March 12?" and the other answers, "Real! And that goes on... "Sept. 12?" real, "Feb. 28?" real, "Apr.27?" realÉ

The man asking questions finally shows the document and asks one more time: "This document?" This time the other replies "It could be fabricated!" (Sabah daily, June 17, 2009)

According to Memecan, people who are waiting for the results of the criminal investigation are stupid despite all these real coups.

I, as a stupid person waiting for the criminal investigation report despite all coups, remember, "once guilty always guilty!" or, "give a dog bad name and hang him!"

I, as a person who was put before the court during the Feb. 28 process and who said, ’This is a military note!" on NTV on the morning of Apr. 27, 2007, still prefer the document be examined at the criminal lab.

But some friends love to yell, "Revenge, revenge!"

***

Another example is by Ali Bayramoğlu, a man whom I’ve never doubted his intellectual capacity. On the first day, Bayramoğlu wrote the following:

"Let’s accept that despite all the developments, all efforts of conciliation and civilization, the military, as an institution or a group, dares to destroy the legitimate government and to put a certain group of people on a target point." (Yeni Şafak daily, June 16, 2009)

Bayramoğlu’s opinion is certain even on the first day of the incident!

He wrote the following the next morning: "We’ll continue to ask questions and be doubtfulÉ This document or another one for that matter could be fabricated. But ten of them are genuineÉ" (Yeni Şafak daily, June 17, 2009)

Bayramoğlu seemed not to insist on his opinion but still insisted on an approach of the "once guilty always guilty" opinion towards the TSK.

***

Thought atmosphere in Turkey badmouths those that are not "serving the purpose" but places one on a pedestal if it "serves the purpose".

The fact is that the document is a shame for Turkey in any case. Yet we don’t know if it is genuine or not!
Yazının Devamını Oku

Ahmadinejad and the Middle East

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected president in Iran, announcing victory in the first round after a record voter turnout of 80 percent. Attempts to see the result as "fraud" ended in smoke and Western claims fizzled out. Among these claims voiced by experts on Iran were those saying that Ahmadinejad would face a reaction for ruining the economy and that Iranian people want reforms and integration with the West.

Though Mir Hussein Musavi in the reformist wing conquered the hearts of Westerners, he lost the election by a large margin.

Just like in Turkey, it is confirmed in Iran once again that modern people are in the minority and conservatives are in the majority.

Despite the economy going backward, the poor, who increase in number every day, leaned on Ahmadinejad. Moreover, they put their ideological choice before their economic needs.

* * *

I am interested in the Iranian elections in terms of balances in the Middle East. In this sense, Ahmadinejad’s foreign policy in the new period is a matter of curiosity.

Some claim Ahmadinejad will adopt rather soft policies in this term, especially as he has Barack Obama as the president in the United States. I disagree with them.

I think some do not want to understand what ideology means, in Iran in particular. They even presume that Islamist political ideology has grasped only the poorly educated group. They try to establish an inverse relationship between education levels and ideology.

* * *

But in organizations following political Islam, including al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, the leaders are educated quite well.

Research shows that the central administrative body of al-Qaeda consists of many members with Ph.D.s and master’s degrees; university graduates are among the less educated in their ranks. Interestingly enough, most have degrees in physics, medicine, chemistry and engineering.

That means that physicists with Ph.D.s are determined to convert the entire world to Islam, saving it from Christian and Jewish imperialists. For that, they see getting killed in the name of Allah and Islam as the greatest honor of all. Ahmadinejad himself received a Ph.D. in transportation engineering from the Science and Technology University in Iran in 1997.

* * *

Ahmadinejad is a man who sincerely believes that Israel must be eradicated in the Middle East, and for that cooperation is needed with Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah) and Palestine (Hamas).

Moreover, U.S. collaborators in the Saudi Arabian and Egyptian administrations must be taken down!

No one can convince Iran that it does not need nuclear weapons to stand up against the U.S. and Israel, or even the European Union. In order to buy some time, Iran is ready to make any moves in the presence of the West.

* * *

Ahmadinejad has faith that taking an additional step for Islam will bring him closer to God.

This ideal is meaning of his life. And now, he has won enough votes to make him believe that the Iranian people agree with his struggle. Moreover, the majority let him know that ruining the economy is unimportant.

More difficult days await us in the Middle East!
Yazının Devamını Oku

Let’s accept it: Our mentality is different than EU’s

Yesterday, I wrote about a field study titled "Radicalism and Extremism Research" by Professor Yılmaz Esmer and shared my opinion on the results. According to the findings, Turkish people do not want neighbors who do not believe in God (75 percent), who drink (72 percent), who live out of wedlock (67 percent), who are Jews (64 percent), who are Christians (52 percent) and who are an American family (43 percent). Eighty-six percent of participants believe the United States, and 76 percent believe the European Union want to divide us.

Columnists analyzing the results point out lack of tolerance in society and distrust toward others. I, on the other side, made the following comment for the study:

People who cannot stand others and think others will harm them cannot trust others. They believe others will divide the country. The reason is these people have no self-confidence and lack proper personality development.

And it’s natural for people with low self-esteem to answer a question "Which is a priority for you?" as "religion" (Islam-CU) (62 percent). It is also normal if only 16 percent of participants have "laicism" as an answer and 13 percent as "democracy."

***

Be it a congregation or a community or a group or a nation, people who cannot stand others and are afraid of others cannot be "individuals." Or what’s more, you cannot say they have strong personality.

This is where we break up with the European Union!

Perhaps some Europeans stay away from others or cannot stand others or are afraid of others or hostile against others, but I am sure that a similar field study in the EU would not give figures as high as those in this study.

The reason is that most Europeans have more self-confidence than us. Therefore they have a different pattern of personality development. The European society consists of people who know how to make personal choices.

Don’t ever think that they don’t care about their own religion. Europeans only have less share of religion in worldly matters.

They are more sensitive in research, questioning and obedience to authority than our society. They have sensitivity towards individual rights, therefore democracy and secularism.

Europeans are even more hawkish than Turks who give importance to "sufficient income" (4 percent) about priorities.

***

Esmer’s research is thought-provoking. Turkey’s geopolitical and even economic integration with the EU is possible, but how Turks and EU citizens become "one" and melt in the same pot as we have such a different mindset. That, I don’t get it.

***

It is really difficult for me to see that we will be an EU member as 76 percent of our people believe the EU would divide us and that we are allies with the United States as 86 percent of Turks believe Americans want to divide us.

According to Esmer’s study, the government should pay a great deal of attention to the EU membership bid and should not even show the trace of populism in relations with the EU. Then, the question is this:

Does the AKP do politics despite its grassroots?
Yazının Devamını Oku

What kind of society are we?

It is boring to live in a society where people love to talk through their hats around the table. Thank God serious people focusing on field studies have appeared lately. Researchers such as Taha Erdem, Binnaz Toprak, Ersin Kalaycıoğlu, Ali Çarkoğlu, Yılmaz Esmer, etc. teach a lot through the field studies they conduct. In the meantime, they help us to enjoy the comments of some ignorant columnists who rock the boat when they don’t like the results.

***

Professor Esmer led the latest field study titled "Research on Radicalism and Extremism" for Bahçeşehir University with the support of the British Foreign Ministry. It was conducted with 1,715 participants in 34 cities.

I was not able to attend the publicity meeting but I followed the results through newspapers.

***

Results are objective data obtained by scientific methods. And for objectivity it is not necessary to reach the same results in every single study. The methodology applied, however, should be unique and generally accepted.

Interpretation of results, on the other hand, is totally subjective.

And everyone can interpret the results of research any way they like, but without talking nonsense or insisting on erroneous reading.

So as far as I see the results of this particular study indicate that we, as a society, lack tolerance and trust.

To the questions about tolerance, 75 percent of the participants said that they don’t want non-believer neighbors, 72 percent dislike neighbors drinking.

Sixty-seven percent of the respondents don’t want unmarried couples as their neighbors. Sixty-six percent don’t want atheist, 64 percent don’t want Jewish, and 52 percent don’t want Christian neighbors.

Forty-eight percent don’t like extreme rightist/leftist neighbors and 43 percent don’t want American families as neighbors. Thirty-six percent of participants don’t want neighbors if girls in the family wear shorts and 26 percent do not want neighbors of a different race.

As for not trusting others, it is generally measured by the "division phobia."

In this study, 39 percent of respondents believe the Unites States "definitely" wants to divide Turkey, 47 percent say "Yes, the U.S. wants to divide Turkey".

Twenty-eight percent believe the European Union "definitely" wants to divide Turkey as 48 percent believe the EU wants to divide Turkey.

***

After these findings, participants were asked to prioritize a given list of choices. One shouldn’t be surprised by the result: 62 percent of participants place "religion" at the top of the list.

It is natural to see a lack of tolerance among followers of a religion if the method of declaration is applied in teachings of that particular religion.

Besides, questioning and research are the two concepts that are not allowed. For there is only one truth in religions and the only "authority" knows this fact. Besides, Islamic identity excludes Jews, Christians, atheist, drinkers, and women wearing shorts and swimsuits because Jews and Christians divide us; drinkers, and women in shorts and swimsuits degenerate us.

My interpretation on this specific research is rather introverted:

People who are afraid of others (division) and who believe to be negatively affected by others (degeneration) do not have self-confidence and lack proper personality development.
Yazının Devamını Oku

North Korea, Obama and the Kitchen

Some of us have written that with Barack Obama’s being the new president of the United States, we would live in peace and calm, and the world wouldn’t be the same old one. I, on the other side, claimed that only the waiter has changed in the U.S. administration kitchen, so to speak; but the appointed in the kitchen have remained unchanged. I also claimed Obama, as all other American presidents, would naturally act on to protect U.S. interests. In fact, without Obama even turns the 100th day at the White House, the kitchen has made a move. Before the elections, Obama had promised to close down the U.S. Guantanamo Bay base but asked $80 million for that. Some Democrats, however, voted "no," and the bill failed in the Senate. Again, despite his promise, Obama couldn’t bring torturers to account for the ill-treatment they committed and failed to reveal the documents proving some "illegal" moves of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Why? Because these are against the almighty interests of the U.S.! Because the Kitchen doesn’t want it!

Earlier this week, North Korea announced a successful underground nuclear test with the power of, reportedly, 10-20 kilotons.

"I decide who will have nuclear weapons," says the U.S. But apparently, North Korea doesn’t care what America says. North Korea is determined to continue with the production of nuclear arms, though makes zigzagging.

Now, a great trouble will arise in the world but North Koreans are getting closer to produce nuclear arms every day.

This new North Korean initiative will encourage another country that insists on having nuclear weapons, Iran. Iranian officials will justly think "Why shouldn’t I dare to what North Korea did?" Obama met the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and told him that establishment of the Palestinian state is a priority with no pre-conditions.

Netanyahu, in return and I think deservedly, said unless Iran is made to stop nuclear ambitions Israel wouldn’t lean towards the Palestinian state formed by Hamas which itself relies on Iran. Netanyahu considers that as soon as Iran has nuclear weapons, Iranians will take control over the entire Middle East via Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Shiite powers ruling in Iraq. Saudi Arabia and Egypt share similar concerns with Israel.

Obama, on the other hand, wants to convince Iran by the end of the year about not to go for nuclear arms. Israel, however, claims Iran is stealing time under the pretext of negotiations with U.S. It is self-evident through North Korean nuclear test that such a claim is right because North Korea has kept every one busy so far. Early bird catches the worm.

Picture this, North Korea produces atomic bomb in the East Asia. Pakistan having nuclear power is surrendered to Taliban in the Central Asia. In the West Asia, the Middle East, Iran has atomic bomb!

What kind of a world could this be? What would Turkey’s position be in the Middle East?

After answering these two questions, now let’s seek an answer to the following:

In a world where it is impossible to convince North Korea through talks, can Iran be convinced by words only? If Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wins the Iranian presidential elections on June 12, what is the probability of convincing Iran through negotiations for not producing nuclear arms?

In U.S., will eventually the kitchen be surrendered to the waiter or the other way around?
Yazının Devamını Oku

Is a historic opportunity by unknown parties possible?

President Abdullah Gül revealed during a trip to Syria what this historic opportunity about the Kurdish issue was that he has kept talking about for days. Or rather, upon hearing conversations between Gül and his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, journalists say, "This must have been the historic opportunity." As Gül says, "Civilian, military, all parties are in coordination and cooperation around a common understanding. If one makes something, the other doesn’t try to ruin it," journalists thought, "The historic opportunity must have been cooperation among institutions."

First, I thought of the following after Gül’s remarks: Then it means when an institution (I think the civilian authority) opened the door for something good, the other was trying to shut it (I think this is the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK). I am of the opinion that this statement itself is a historic one. The head of state has revealed something awful. Clearly, the Republic of Turkey was not a state. Institutions acted freely any way they want. And now, for the first time, state institutions happen to cooperate, and the state happens to act like a real state! Let’s be pleased first of all that our state is finally acting like a real state.

And let’s presume that cooperation between institutions is a step forward in the resolution of the Kurdish issue. But still, there is something I don’t get. An issue is resolved by parties in disagreement, not by those in agreement.

Elements that should seek conciliation in the Kurdish issue are not the government and the TSK, but the Republic of Turkey and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, no matter what people say.

No matter how much it hurts and how we get angry, this is the fact. The consequences of the March 29 local polls in the Southeast should have awakened those who have been living in dreamland and ignored the PKK as an addressee.

The historic opportunity, as far as I see, is that rival/enemy/opponent sides now have an opportunity to have a deal/come together around a common denominator.

Or, is it that the Republic of Turkey and the PKK happened to reach an agreement on some certain issues that we don’t know of?

In the interview by Milliyet daily’s Hasan Cemal, one of the PKK leaders, Murat Karayılan, said the PKK has given up the separation demand since 1999 and now they want a "democratic, autonomous Kurdistan" based on local autonomy for some certain issues. PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan expressed this in 2005 by uttering the words "democratic republic." Both terms suggest a structure of a soft/hard federation. And then a general amnesty demand will follow.

The PKK played its card. Obviously the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party, or DTP, will more or less advocate this in political arenas. Whether they are right or not, we now know what one of the sides wants.

We do not know, however, what kind of bargaining the Republic of Turkey is involved in the resolution of this issue or whether it has a road map in order to have strategic negotiations. If any, we wouldn’t know if they would turn out to be null and void, as it was the case in the road map prepared for a deal with Armenia. The president is the supreme resort representing the Republic of Turkey. The president should clearly reveal what he means by "historic opportunity" in order to convince us that this is not another historic excuse to keep us busy.

Instead of playing a game of deductions, let’s ask Mr. President: If the historic opportunity is no tactical game, what is the solid strategy it leans on?
Yazının Devamını Oku

A country that doesn’t care about science

Ömer Dinçer became the Prime Ministry Undersecretary and the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, deputy. And now he is appointed as minister. Who is Ömer Dinçer? He is a faculty member who was accused of plagiarism in the book titled "Business Administration" which he co-wrote with Asst. Prof. Yahya Fidan. He was found guilty by the Higher Education Board, or YÖK, in Oct. 2005 and stripped of his academic tenure. The YÖK ruling emphasized that he used excerpts without any reference in 32 different points in the book.

What is plagiarism? It is "use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one's own original work." It is simply to steal someone else’s ideas!

Let’s say YÖK made a mistake or was involved in politics. But the Ankara First Administrative Court approved the decision that Dinçer committed plagiarism and overruled Dinçer’s decision to appeal. (Jan. 2008) Following YÖK’s "plagiarism decision" Dinçer appeared in so many TV programs and said he would appeal to the Council of State. But following the First Administrative Court’s decision, he backed off. Therefore, Dinçer himself admitted that he committed plagiarism.

***

After he was appointed as the new Labor and Social Security Minister, I got in touch with a few academics abroad, some of who are Turks. They couldn’t believe the appointment of someone who committed plagiarism as a minister. They said a person committing the biggest shame in the academic world could not even be a deputy, not alone a minister.

"Here we live in Turkey!" I replied to them.

Picture this. Minister of Labor chairs a commission for minimum wage increase. Trade unions insist on some certain figure and the minister resists to them. He makes an attempt to say, "According to the scientific study I askedÉ" Let’s say that you are a trade union representative, what would you do? Or what would you want to say to him but not?

***

I thought that opposition would be raised against Dinçer’s appointment and the main opposition party would raise hell. I waited for some time. But I was wrong. Still, I erred because the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, deputy Neclat Arat was also found guilty of plagiarism in 1982.

The pot calls the kettle black! I have waited for the leftist-nationalists to raise hell but I was wrong again because their professor Kemal Alemdaroğlu also committed plagiarism! The same old! I accept that all politicians are the same but don’t we have faculty members, academics and scientists in this country? Isn’t there a single scientist who has devoted himself in science Turkey? Aren’t they offended by Dinçer’s appointment as far as professional ethics are concerned? Why is no one asking anything?

***

From now on, if a professor warns a Ph.D. student, "My son, don’t even think about plagiarism!" And if the student asks why, how would the professor answer to this? I am deeply hurt as I watch how science cheaply surrenders to politics in my country!
Yazının Devamını Oku

Ahmet Davutoğlu

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan finally announced his March 29 Cabinet. He radically revised the government. However, I will today dwell upon Professor Ahmet Davutoğlu as the new foreign minister because foreign politics is my area of interest, and I am interested in Davutoğlu’s different personality.

It is a fact that Davutoğlu is an intellectual and makes a great deal of conceptual contributions to foreign policy as an academic as well as an effective and eligible adviser to Turkish foreign politics.

I am delighted to have conversations with him on occasions. Davutoğlu’s approach to questions that are quite outrageous for him is extremely moderate.

***

If I may express this through his notions, Turkey follows a "multi-center" foreign policy and has a "central" position in its region in a way to have individual and direct contacts with each country.

It is voiced quite often that such policy has saved Turkey from the U.S. furrow so to speak. I, in the new period, will follow Davutoğlu especially on some points that I have trouble understanding.

***

I am a "result-oriented" person. And I look at things in this perspective.

1) I think "multi-center" foreign policy has become a foreign policy with no direction. I am having a hard time understanding which direction our foreign policy is taking Turkey. Of course, Turkey should have friendly ties with its neighbors, but we should still drop an anchor to the European Union membership. What kind of a foreign policy does Davutoğlu follow? For instance, will he encourage the opening of Turkish sea and airports to ships and airplanes from southern Cyprus?

2) We often hear of Turkey’s role as a broker between Syria and Israel, but we see nothing. What kind of solid results do we expect in the upcoming term?

3) The objective has been set as to transform Hezbollah and Hamas in order to include them in the international community. For that, these two organizations should lay down arms and stop terror. But so far we have supported them to have benefits in the West. There is no solid result in the end. Will we see a transformation in Hezbollah and Hamas similar to that of al-Fatah in the new period?

4) Iran and Syria want to have direct relations with the United States. Saudi Arabia and Egypt have ties with U.S. and the EU already. So what does "being a central country" in the Middle East mean other than being a mediator between Hamas-Hezbollah and the West?

5) Establishing friendly ties with Armenia should be at the cost of losing Azerbaijan. How will Turkey set the balance?

6) Both Russia and the United States have different Caucasus policies. To whom will Turkey be closer in the Caucasus?

7) Will be Davutoğlu willing to involve the Turkish Armed Forces, or TSK, to assist the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq? Will the TSK become a protector in northern Iraq? For such protection, how will we re-gain "our Kurds" that the AKP has lost already? For instance, will we declare "partial amnesty" for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, terrorists in order to make them lay down arms?

8) Afghanistan and Pakistan are about to be lost. To what degree will Turkey support the United States in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region?

9) Since we are to follow a foreign policy independent from the United States, why is Davutoğlu’s U.S. visit being praised so much?
Yazının Devamını Oku

Awakening from a dream

Turkish foreign policy has recently been based on several hypotheses: 1) The more Turkey increases its bilateral relations with neighboring countries, the more it will have advantages in the world.

2) Geological and strategic situation of Turkey makes it an indispensable country.

3) The more Turkey claims the Middle East, the more it will create a powerful image in the world.

4) With the U.S. President Barack Obama, a new world order will be established and Turkey will take its place in this equation.

***

Turkey took successful steps in one-on-one relations with its neighbors (1st assumption) and became a messenger between some countries, organization and the Western world to a certain degree. But I think Turkey has exaggerated this relative weight and made evaluation errors in other hypotheses. Turkey is located in an exceptional land between the Middle East, as the owner of 64 percent of the world’s energy basins and the West, as the number one suitor of these basins.

As far as the historic and cultural infrastructure of civilizations is concerned, Turkey has the qualities of both sides, though not truly. Turkey is familiar with both parties. However, the West in order to see Turkey as its ally asks Turkey to turn its face to the West even if it holds hand with the Middle East, and asks Turkey to drop an anchor to the West no matter how its foreign policy is diversified.

But recently the Western world is having serious reservations about where Turkey places itself. In the process that has begun with the Davos forum and made a peak with the Rasmussen incident, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has become to give an impression that Turkey at the same time backs the Middle East in Europe. He rolled up sleeves to represent Hamas at the United Nations as though the anchor was dropped in the Middle East.

I regretfully see that Turkey has gained nothing in the process. (See: The Rasmussen bargaining). And reservations against Turkey are increased in the West.

***

On the other hand, an Obama image has been created somehow in which we all better know that he is a good Muslim. Columnists have begun to dream about a new world and a new perception of Turkey with Obama. They all announced this will be something really good. However, everyone knew that Obama made some promises regarding the Armenian issue and did everything to mellow Obama’s stance in the subject. A new initiative between Turkey and Armenia was expected to be the reunion of Turkey and U.S. But, that didn’t happen!

Although Obama didn’t utter the "genocide" word but he became the first U.S. president who used the most serious expressions against us on Apr. 24. Now we see that the government in Armenia is being collapsed due to the extreme nationalist Tashnak Party protests normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations, and that Azerbaijan turns its back to us and asks price increase in natural gas sale. I think this must have been the meaning of "go farther and fare worse"!

***

And I think the merit in foreign politics is like being able to carry so many glasses in hand without dropping even one. Look at the situation: EU countries are colder towards us, Iran never asks us to be a mediator. Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah have not decided about Turkey yet, our closest ally Azerbaijan is drifting apart and we didn’t curry favor with neither Armenia nor U.S. It is time for a wake-up call!
Yazının Devamını Oku

What is Ergenekon?

The second indictment had helped me better understand what Ergenekon is because the first indictment just made me more confused. However, the 12th detention wave of this case scared me off. My mind doesn’t work in such a way to say that an ill university president or a person cannot commit a crime. Everyone can commit a crime at the cost of paying the price for it. Lombroso, a leading figure of crime anthropology, claims that crime is the product of being an organism and that some people are guilty even at birth. But today we agree that everyone can commit a crime.

What confuses me is the razzle-dazzle:

Murders by unknown perpetrators, JİTEM (gendarmerie intelligence), Susurluk, the Feb. 28 process, the Gold Coin and Moonlight military coup attempts, the Association for Supporting Contemporary Living, or ÇYDD, the Republic allies and the "Father send me to school" campaign in addition to so many others. É How come all these are considered together? What is this mixture presenting? And what has the Ergenekon organization got to do with this mix? Is this only one organization or a confederation of organizations?

One can say that everyone who is interrogated and arrested in relation with Ergenekon shares something in common without looking at their backgrounds: being pro-coup! That’s fine, but hundreds of murder suspects are on trial in criminal courts. Although they are held for "committing murder" none is tried in a single case! All are put before judges in separate courts.

***

I believe bloody murderers, shameless eavesdroppers, those who ask for coups, who support coup attempts, who say "I wish there could be a coup now," who want to get rid of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, at any case, and those who chanted "No to Sharia" or "No to Sharia, no to coups" are among the Ergenekon members. And on top, they are talking about different "coups" at different "times." Some do not know the other members at all. And an important part of these members who keenly seek a chance to commit a coup have not even been interrogated yet in the frame of the 12th detention wave.

***

The biggest legitimacy for a case is its recognition by the public. Of course overall acceptance of a case in the public eye is not possible, but a reasonable number of people should agree on that particular case. We still have those who are low enough to point their fingers to new targets and ask, "I wonder if such and such organizations have some connections with Ergenekon." We still have those who are perplexed enough to violate the law and say, "You are held by procedures, but you are about to lose the essence."

But I am afraid this case is gradually losing credibility before the public eye for the latest interrogations hit a blow on "reasonable doubt," as Turgut Kazan put it, that legitimizes interrogations and searches. (see: Vatan daily, April 19) Several steps in the Ergenekon case are compelling the public conscience about the reasonable doubt based on reasonable evidence! The last step was the biggest blow on the conscience.

***

My problem is this: Murderers, unknown perpetrators, coup attempters, coup committers and doomsday sayers are being tried in this case. The Ergenekon case is helping the country take a huge step by bringing these people to court.

But if you compare the suspects with pro-coup, coup toadies, the AKP’s enemies, anti-democracy supporters and if you include the "Father send me to school" campaigners among them, you will not be able to sentence the real perpetrators before the public conscience.
Yazının Devamını Oku

Sincere advice for Mr. Davutoğlu

The governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has claimed to follow a "multi-dimensional foreign policy" since 2002. Turkey has exerted a great deal of effort to have bilateral relations with all countries serving its interests since then.

The approach of taking a stance in international arena under the shadow of the United States has come to an end in the process. We have heard success stories on occasion. The government has adopted a different approach in Caucasia, reached Africa, and built close ties with organizations that are declared as terror networks yet have undeniable influence in the Middle East. These organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah have not been deterred from terror but through Turkey the West has managed to have contacts with them as well as countries like Iran and Syria supporting them.

Turkey’s foreign relations were more of a role of a postman rather than mediation. Since the West benefited from them Turkey has gained a relative advantage before the Western countries. But I think Turkey’s brokerage between Israel and Syria has been shelved after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s challenging remarks against Israeli President Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum held in Davos. Architecture of this new foreign policy period is Erdoğan’s Chief Adviser Ahmet Davutoğlu. Successes and failures of this new term will most likely be on his shoulders.

I wanted to warn him here though against a big danger waiting for Turkish foreign policy. This "multi-dimensional foreign policy" has introduced new openings but let’s not forget that such viewpoint should have to drop an anchor to something or somewhere. Turkey, as any other country, should have a point of perspective. Every country, even the United States, has such anchors in foreign politics. For instance, the United States’ anchor in Europe is Britain and in the Middle East it is Israel.

The AKP government announced Turkey’s anchor to be the European Union in 2002. In this direction, the administration clearly fought for it until late 2004 and was given support at the beginning by columnists like me. However, Turkey has lost its anchor since early 2005. And in order to keep the said relative advantage, Turkey now looks like a country trying to drop an anchor to the Middle East for resembling ideological approaches. Turkish foreign policy in this period also set an example of strangeness in organizational structure. There is an apparent foreign minister of Turkey, Ali Babacan. But no one takes him seriously and he is nicknamed abroad as "babycan." On the other hand, there are two real foreign ministers: Erdoğan with his Davutoğlu team and President Abdullah Gül with his consultants. Yet they are acting differently.

Yazının Devamını Oku

Kesici’s election comments

I believe İlhan Kesici is one of the best politicians on the economy. I asked him to share his comments on the March 29 elections. I’ve summarized his notes below: "Three common rights determine voters’ behavior: a) Cultural values: World view: right-left. b) His election of parties: It means elaborating on the above. c) The party leader and his staff."

Between the July 22, 2007, general elections and the March 29 local elections, there was almost no change in any of these, but only a change of the Saadet (Felicity) Party leader and his staff. Even the election campaigns were alike. But an extraordinary situation occurred between the two election periods: the economy!

***

The summary results are as follows:

1) Growth: It is the key indicator, so important that at times other indicators may not be needed. Between 2003 and July 22, 2007:

a) 2003: 5.3 percent, b) 2004: 9.4 percent, c) 2005: 8.4 percent, d) 2006: 6.9 percent, e) 2007: 6.0 percent during the first six months.

Average growth between 2003 and before July 22, 2007: 7.2 percent!

The figure allows any party in any countries to win elections. So it did happen in Turkey.

Between July 2007 and pre-election 2009: a) 2007: The second six months: 3.7 percent, b) 2008: 1.1 percent.

Between the July 22, 2007 elections and end of 2008: Average 2.4 percent!

In 2008, the fourth quarter: -6.2 percent!

In 2009, the first quarter: Not announced yet; it will likely be around -10 percent.

Between July 22, 2007, and March 29 elections: Average 1.7 percent!

(Economic growth drops from 7.2 percent to 1.7 percent. (CU)) The growth of the last six months is -6.2 percent. These figures are enough to topple any government in any country.

***

2)
Stock Exchange:

It is the second important indicator of the economy. In the July 22, 2007, general election period, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan urged the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, leader Deniz Baykal: "Mr. Baykal, look at the stock exchange [figures].")

July 2007: Istanbul Stock Exchange: 58,800 points.

Present: 23,000-25,000 points (Dow Jones: 13,300 and 8,000 points)

***

3)
Foreign exchange:

U.S. dollar/Turkish Liras: July 2007: $1 = 1.27 TL. After March 29 elections: $1=1.70-1.80 TL.

***

4)
Some indexes:

July 2007Dec. 2008

The Central Bank

Real sector

confidence index11252

Overall index10832

Turkey Statistics Institute (TUIK)

Consumer

confidence index9770



This is it! Of course, a single factor cannot be enough to explain anything in the world. But the most important factor having an impact on voters’ choice in the March 29 local polls is a bad economic situation.
Yazının Devamını Oku

The Saadet Party factor

As the unemployment figure broke records for the Republic’s history reaching 13.6 percent and the economy narrowed by 6.2 percent in the last quarter of 2008, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is seeking consolation with remarks of the crisis being global. His reluctant approach left its mark on Sunday’s local polls. Since Erdoğan’s self-confidence has been harmed severely, the governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP, lost eight points.

Mr. Prime Minister’s empathy for the poor and the aggrieved this time lost people’s trust for being the only politician who insults people, humiliates credit card debtors and makes remarks of social Darwinism. His expression "The crisis will bypass us" infuriated even conservatives.

I have focused on the theme that the Saadet (Felicity) Party will give the AKP a headache after Numan Kurtulmuş was elected as the new Saadet leader on Oct. 26, 2008. I was the first columnist who brought this to the attention of the media. I even claimed that Erdoğan’s spiritual state had turned upside down since then.

But my biggest claim was:

Due to the Saadet factor, the AKP will not strike a deal with the International Monetary Fund in advance of the local elections.

I made this claim in the midst of October and today we can clearly see the results. The AKP-kissers lost themselves when I made similar comments because my remarks hit a nerve. Those who sided with the former Saadet leader, Necmettin Erbakan, began to breathe fire against the party as the elections approached. They fiercely criticized my referrals to the National View’s power and influence over Saadet and the AKP. They distorted my remarks as though I introduced the National View as the most democratic organization in Turkey. However, figures confirm my thesis today.

Saadet has increased votes from 812,000 in the July 22, 2007 general elections to about 2 million in Sunday’s local polls. Saadet won 1.18 million additional votes on Sunday’s elections, approximately a 2.5 fold increase compared to that of 2007.

So it wouldn’t be wrong to say that almost all of the Saadet’s 1. 18 million extra votes this time came from the AKP; the votes that the governing party lost in 2009, which is 3.1 million compared to those of 2007.

So did other parties of course steal the AKP’s votes but about 38 percent of the votes the AKP lost went to Saadet. This points out to a very critical shift in votes.

Conservatives have realized for a long time that women in headscarves and driving Cherokee jeeps give a different profile than those women wearing headscarves but riding commuter busses. But the conservatives have not voted for the parties different from themselves. And they thought the old version of Saadet is old indeed.

The Saadet, however, has gained momentum with Kurtulmuş and become a new ray of hope for the said conservatives. If the economy professor Kurtulmuş criticizes the economic situation as the way the former President Süleyman Demirel did in a common language of the ordinary and chases after corruption claims in the way the CHP’s Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu did, he will be able to seriously knock around the AKP. I will curiously follow the Saadet and its leader in the new term.

P.S.: Conservatives have turned to Saadet not because some columnists, including me, wrote so but because they have wanted to do so. I am simply making an analysis.
Yazının Devamını Oku

Elections that crushed Mr. Prime Minister

It is appropriate to say that the loser of the March 29 local polls is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for turning the elections into his personal fight. As people in the streets are preoccupied by the bread-and-butter issue Mr. Prime Minister surrendered to the election results! I hope someone will be able to teach him the science and power of economy. Prime Minister Erdoğan generously spent his 46.58 percent voting credits he gained in the July 22, 2007 general elections. And by receiving only 39.0 percent of the votes in city council elections on March 29, Erdoğan lost 7.58 points, a 16.2 percent decrease in the governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP, votes. I relied on Adil Gür’s opinion poll in advance of the elections and wrote that the AKP will lose 14.55 percent of votes, 6.78 points. The AKP toadies were angry at me.

Many thanks to Mr. Adil Gür!

***

Erdoğan turned the elections into his personal issue and poured everything out before the polls. However, we have learned that neither food aid nor white-goods charities nor alms-giving, nor "one minute" screams of his nor his new title, the "Conqueror of Gaza," nor his promises "I am serious this time," nor his mimicking U.S. President Barack Obama and saying "We are like twin brothers," nor his bullying Mr. Aydın Doğan of the Doğan Media Group, nor debates over the Ergenekon crime gang case nor the TRT-6 did not help to save Mr. Prime Minister.

But a simple figure was enough to finish him up: 13.6 percent! Record level of unemployment taught me and Erdoğan that people acted not ideologically but realistically in this election. Mr. Prime Minister on his way to autocracy now will have a seat and make calculations over again. Erdoğan will learn that he cannot fool people by playing the role of the aggrieved.

The dailies such as Zaman, Yeni Şafak and Star’s ignoring the global economic crisis that negatively affected people looked like a hide-and-seek game where children hide themselves but their backs remain out in the open.

***

Difficult days are waiting for Mr. Prime Minister ahead. We have not hit the bottom of the crisis yet. That will happen in the midst of 2009. According to experts, the crisis will not make a "V" turn by hitting the bottom first and then coming back up to the surface but will make a "U" turn by spending some time at the bottom. We’ll have to deal with a quite high unemployment figure for a long time.

Prime Minister Erdoğan will have to revise the 2009 budget, to correct the visual growth rate from +4 percent to -4 percent and to create funds for the budget deficit, which was foreseen for a year yet occurred within two months. In order to do that, Erdoğan will either increase taxes or will issue money.

Clearly, the defeated prime minister is between the devil and the deep blue sea. In the aftermath of the polls, he should meet with the International Monetary Funds, or IMF, authorities. The IMF knows perfectly that they are being kept busy because of the election expenditures and now they are greening and waiting for Erdoğan to sit their laps.

Now Mr. Prime Minister will learn the real meaning of strangling people! Following this election, we’ll have a prime minister who has no choice but to do whatever the IMF asks! I will curiously follow the columns of my economist liberal colleagues Mehmet Altan, Eser Karakaş and what kind of tricks, or as said "gata-kulli" in Turkish, they will attempt to help Erdoğan. I will analyze the Saadet (Felicity) Party factor tomorrow, which I have focused on for months.
Yazının Devamını Oku

The Saadet Party

The two parties that would have an impact on Turkey’s political structure following the elections yet neglected by the media, are, as I wrote yesterday, the Democrat Party, or DP, and the Saadet Party, SP. I decided to analyze the two, one yesterday and the other today. I wrote about the DP yesterday and will focus on the SP today. However, I will not make any prediction on the election results in my analysis. The National View is one of the oldest and most successful political organizations in Turkey. The National View, in my opinion, is the most meaningful political movement of people who insist on having a conservative lifestyle in every aspect of life and who refuse modern/nonconservative lifestyles affecting economic, social and political spheres that was addressed by the Republic.

The leader of this movement, Necmettin Erbakan, carried the National View to the government as a result of a long period of efforts through forming various political parties that were closed down later on. Erbakan, as the prime minister of the 54th government, barely had claimed the power yet quickly lost it (Feb. 28) as a result of new impositions over the National View.

Besides, Erbakan having difficulty to adapt to changing conditions failed to understand the demands of the new bourgeoisie rising in Anatolia and therefore lost his influence over the National View. The new Anatolian bourgeoisie was conservative yet ready to cooperate with the West in the frame of free market economy.

When Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took over the government from Erbakan who had foreseen this new kind of conservatism was giving a picture of a leader having access to the past and to the future at the same time.

***

However, the government leg of the National View, which represented both parties in that period of time, perhaps easily represented the Anatolian bourgeoisie but had difficulties to keep the promises they made to the conservative grassroots.

There was no change in the conservative grassroots’ income share since 2002. There was no freedom to wear headscarves in universities. The Religious High School coefficients in the university entrance exam did not change.

Perhaps "conservative lifestyle" was more visible and even stronger in a way to impose itself onto the others but a new line of tension started to emerge between the rich women wearing a headscarf and the poor ones in a headscarf. Deepening economic crisis lately created the highest unemployment figure in the Republic era (13.6 percent) and hit the poor women wearing headscarves once again.

The Justice and Development Party, or AKP, stuck between the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, and the European Union.

As similar developments began to occur since 2002, the AKP was comfortable because no matter how angry the poor women wearing headscarves were to the party, they did ignore its alternative (the Republican People’s Party, or CHP). To the more, they historically saw the CHP as "sectarian" to the conservative lifestyle." They, on the other side, found the SP as an outdated party although they have a similar way of thought. For this reason, only 2.34 of the poor women in headscarves voted for SP, a total of 820,289 votes in the July 22, 2007 general elections. (See: The Supreme Election Board)

***

However, the global economic crisis is getting more serious as we approach March 29. On the other side, the SP is awakening again. New SP leader Numan Kurtulmuş is a young, dynamic economy professor who is exerting tremendous efforts to update his party.

And there is a strong organization nurturing the SP, though it lost some votes to the AKP: The National View!

If the SP manages to increase votes from 2.3 percent to 6 to 8 percent in the City Council in the March 29 elections, it will give a big headache to the AKP in the new period.
Yazının Devamını Oku