The power of the cartoon seems to rival that of a division or more of soldiers, an economic boycott, or even a well-funded bribe. It only took one such cartoon to enrage Turkey such a degree that it effectively caused a worsening of diplomatic relations with France. We have to wonder what is more significant in these interesting times: the strength wielded by a free press satire newspaper, or how easily a dictator can be manipulated as a result of his unchecked ego and power.
The row between nations stemmed from a rather risque cover on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper of October 28th, 2020. A caricature depicts a randy, lecherous looking President Erdoğan sitting in his underwear upon an armchair while lifting the hijab of a laughing woman to expose her bare buttocks. The Turk seemingly takes delight in this, saying “Ouuuh! Le prophète!” A caption reads: “Erdogan dans le privé, il est très drôle” (A possible translation is “Erdoğan in the private sector, he is very funny.” )
Turkey and its president released the Kraken of its bureaucracy, prosecutors, and diplomats to counter the Charlie Hebdo cartoon threat, with his Communications Directorate proclaiming, “Our people should have no doubt that all necessary legal and diplomatic steps will be taken against the caricature in question. Our battle against these rude, ill-intentioned and insulting steps will continue until the end with reason but determination.”. Erdoğan’s communications director Fahrettin Altun wrote “Macron’s anti-Muslim agenda is bearing fruit! We condemn this most disgusting effort by this publication to spread its cultural racism and hatred.” Yet not to be outdone or outshined by his own underlings, President Erdoğan was more succinct and measured in his learned analysis, voicing a week ago that French President Macron ‘needed a mental health check’ for his pledging to defend secular values and fight radical Islam, prompting France to recall its ambassador.
Erdoğan could add to that mountain of wisdom by lending an ear to his cohort Saddam Hussein who during trial proceedings memorably orated, “The lion does not care about a monkey laughing at him from a tree.” and just let it go.
As part of the Turkish Government’s invasion of Syria and attacking of Kurdish border towns–officially known as “Operation Peace Spring”–pro-Ankara mercenary forces began the execution of civilians in Tel Abyad. This included the assassination of a prominent Syrian Kurdish leader and her driver.
Yesterday, Anti-ISIS Kurdish Militia Spokesman Nuri Mahmud issued an official statement countering what the Syrian Democratic Forces coalition describe as falsehoods spread by the Turkish Government to establish a pre-text toward invasion of Kurdish areas of Syria.
Turkey Regards the YPG (People’s Protection Units) of having ties with and providing support to the PKK, which Turkey and the United States consider a Terrorist Organization.
The YPG/YPJ and SDF is in alliance with U.S. Coalition forces to eliminate the ISIS threat in Syria and have in all regards been the foundation for the terrorist organization’s upcoming defeat as a military force in Syria.
Turkey granted imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan his first visitor in nearly two years this Saturday. Turkish courts ruled in 2016 that he was to receive no visitors, including family. Mr. Öcalan has not had access to visits from his attorneys since 2011 despite filing over seven hundred requests to do so. Mr. Öcalan was visited by his brother, Mohammad Öcalan.
While it is unclear exactly why Turkey had a change of heart regarding the visits, it was recently widely reported on Thursday in Turkish and Kurdish news media that a jailed member of Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey is suffering “life-threatening” medical conditions during her hunger strike that started sixty-five days ago. She began the strike to protest the conditions and isolation that Mr. Öcalan was experiencing at the hands of his Turkish captors.
In an interview with AFP, Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces Senior Commander and Spokesman Redur Khalil stated “Reaching a solution between the autonomous [Kurdish] administration and the Syrian government is inevitable because our areas are part of Syria.”
The interview occurred shortly after United States President Donald Trump announced the upcoming withdrawal of American forces from Syria.
The statement might come as a surprise to many given the long and bloody civil war facing all of Syrian society, it does beg the question of whether it is the result of the realpolitik forced on the Kurds by Presidents Trump and Erdogan.
Yesterday brought us in my view a greatly significant event–the Ebril, Iraq book launch of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, translated into the Kurdish Language.
The book was formerly banned under the Saddam Hussein regime; rather obviously for its negative portrayal of how a dictatorship can emerge in a nation or community. Coupled with the dark history that for decades nations such as Turkey proscribed the Kurdish language, the fact that such a work can be sold publicly shows the remarkable transformation that has taken place in the former dictatorship.
Yesterday, police in Turkey served arrest warrants on one hundred, eighty nine appeals court judges and prosecutors in the latest post-coup attempt purges. Since the July, 15th military coup, seeking the ouster of dictator Recep Erdogan, thirty-two thousand individuals are currently in jail and over one hundred thousand were sacked from their jobs under the questionable accusation of aiding dissident Fethullah Gulen.
Ankara’s chief prosecutor attacked the judiciary, members of the justice ministry, the Court of Cassation (Turkey’s top appellate court), and the Council of State (the highest administrative court).
A nefarious, existential threat was recently vanquished by the post-coup censorship offices of Turkish President Erdoğan. No, it was not the PKK, nor ISIS, nor Fethullah Gülen. It was SpongeBob SquarePants and Smurfette, broadcast on a Kurdish Language children’s television network.
The media crackdown in the aftermath of the failed coup in Turkey has led to closures of dozens of news services and thousands of firings among journalists. Cartoon networks can now become labeled as seditious.
Having seen recent events culminating with the failed coup to oust Turkish leader Erdogan and the onset of his Orwellian crackdown against the judiciary, academics and any others perceived to be a threat to his increasingly autocratic rule, the time has come for the United States and subsequently the NATO alliance to reconsider whether Turkey is stable enough to host a nuclear stockpile.
New Yorker Magazine, quoting Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, Incirlik Airbase holds about fifty B-61 thermonuclear bombs–more than twenty-five percent of the nuclear weapons in the NATO stockpile. The dial-a-yield of these bombs can be adjusted from 0.3 kilotons to as many as one hundred seventy kilotons. For comparison, the yield of the Little Boy device that destroyed Hiroshima is estimated at fifteen kilotons.
During the coup attempt, the Turkish government closed Incirlik to all travel and cut off its power, forcing operations command to rely on back-up generators. The base’s commander was temporarily detained. The coup only hastened and to a much greater extent expanded the suppression of civil liberties and dissent.
The Erdogan government accuses dissident Fethullah Gulen, currently living in exile within the United States, of organizing the coup and warned the United States that it would be making a “great mistake” if extradition was not granted.
The dictatorial becoming of Mr. Ergodan should come as a strong worry especially when met with the inevitable backlash against his rule could pose a risk of proliferation if these weapons are not secured.
Free speech rights in Germany took another worrying turn for the worse when German Chancellor Angela Merkel personally approved an investigation of a German citizen accused of insulting Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan, a world leader personally responsible for the erosion of free speech in this NATO member state.
The timing and enthusiasm, despite proffers to the contrary, of the German government’s persecution of satirist Jan Böhmermann for his broadcast of a poem critical of President Erdoğan coincides directly with the German Government trying to reach a re-settlement agreement with Turkey to address the refugee crisis besieging many European nations–a situation politically damaging to Merkel’s image.
We featured numerous articles relating to President Erdoğan’s attacks on newspapers, individuals, internationals, and any critics of him who are within reach of this grasp, citing a bizarre form of Lèse majesté laws as justification. Now, Merkel is demonstrating a willingness to use a rather dusty remnant of such a statute in Germany as a tool to preserve the ego of a foreign head of state, to accomplish a domestic political goal.
Three weeks ago, we featured an article describing the plight of dozens of academics who faced arrest after signing a peace petition. These advocates were declared enemies of the Republic of Turkey. Now President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government will put on trial a Turkish professor who placed onto an exam questions referencing PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan.
Ankara University professor Resat Baris Unlu faces charges for spreading “terrorist propaganda” after presenting his students a question comparing two documents written by the founder of the proscribed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who is currently serving a life sentence.
In an injustice to both the liberty of a Kurdish man and free speech in general a court in Turkey handed down thirteen year sentence to a defendant accused of removing a Turkish flag at a military base near Diyarbakir, Turkey. The disproportionate sentence followed an outraged Recep Erdogan who declared after the act, “[w]e don’t care if he is a child. Even if a child dares to take down our sacred flag both him and those who send him there will pay a price.”
The bizarre world that churns inside Turkish President Recep Erdogan’s presidential palace reached a new zenith with the unveiling of surveillance control rooms inside, giving him unprecedented ability to personally spy on seventy seven million Turkish citizens. In a feat of technical engineering rivaling that of George Orwell’s Big Brother, the president will certainly enjoy the spectacle of his new spyglass.
According to Al-Monitor, the system has 143 displays that allow President Erdogan to tap into closed-circuit television systems in the streets of eighty one of Turkey’s provinces along with its government’s Mobile Electronic System Integration (MOBESE) and those used in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).
With the system about to become live, Erdogan will now be able to personally watch all public demonstrations, city life, military and police operations, and other events he finds of concern.