Posts

Election Fraud in Turkey: Erdogan’s Ballot Stuffing ‘Victory’

Turkish President Erdogan was handed an electoral defeat on June 1st, losing his AKP super majority in the Ankara parliament offset by seats won by the opposition, notably the 13 percent assumed by the Kurdish led-HDP.  The question was what he would do after he stiff armed opposition participation in a possible ruling coalition, opting instead for a care taker government. That and calling for a snap election on November 1st hoping that things would improve. In the interim Erdogan attacked the Kurdish PKK inside Turkey, bombed allied PKK forces in Iraq and Syria and declared virtual martial law in largely Kurdish southeastern Turkey. October 10th witnessed twin blasts at a peace rally in Ankara with HDP leadership killing over 102 and injuring several hundred. A rally notably without the usual heavy security details. PM Davutoglu declared it an act by ISIS; others suggested it may have been the work of Turkish intelligence.  The polls taking over the run up to the election showed that the opposition would possible block an AKP resurgence.  The answer came on November 1st with what some observed as a ‘surprise victory’ for this Islamist regime seeking to create a neo-Ottoman Caliphate. It was an apparent victory built on evident ballot fraud.

My usual astute European observer of things in Turkey sent me this comment in an email on Sunday, November 1st:

The election results were a shock to many and although the election authority was giving partial results for a while at about 19.30 Turkish time they closed the site and might have manipulated the outcome of the votes to bring out the actual results. Of course, this is a supposition among many others.

P.M. Davutoglu has already come out with a declaration that they have to change the constitution to a executive presidential one. Time will tell us how extremist the country will become.

istanbul vote count

Picture of Istanbul vote count November 1, 2015.

That was followed by an email from “Erdogan Failure” presenting evidence in the accompanying picture of what could be ballot stuffing in Erdogan’s stronghold of Istanbul:

It seems that by 1030 PM last night, each individual Turkish voter in Istanbul cast 1.66 votes. (Meaning: 10,316,871 voters cast 17,104,607 votes in Istanbul.)

How interesting!  Where did the additional 6,787,736 come from and from whom did they vote?  Maybe some dead people might have voted as well.

Or maybe just that our schools have flunked teaching math to our government’s employees.

Now, we are also attaching another image from the official Turkish government website.  It appears that the government realized it was caught lying and then wrote:

25. The election results website is temporarily out of service.

26. Once the election results are finalized, we will publish these results on this site.

How stupid does our government think our people and our foreign friends think we and they are?  Will our foreign friends realize that the published results were fraud? Or maybe this is what has happened to our democracy.  We have become like our neighbors to the south. God must not love us, because he is humiliating us with this disgrace.

Daniel Pipes posted this on National Review’s The Corner with the apt title, “Turkey’s Election Results Stink of Fraud

The AKP’s huge increase gave it back the parliamentary majority it had lost in the June 2015 elections, promising President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a semi-legal path to the dictatorial powers he aspires to. But, to me, the results stink of fraud. It defies reason, for example, that the AKP’s war on Kurds would prompt about a quarter of Turkey’s Kurds to abandon the pro-Kurdish party and switch their votes to the AKP. As news of irregularities comes in, Michael Rubin of AEI summed up the problems at Commentary, “Erdogan steals an Election:”

[Something’s rotten in Anatolia. While some Western journalists are describing as “a surprise landslide victory” the decisive win by President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Sunday’s election parliamentary election in Turkey, nothing in Turkey today happens by chance. Institutions are so thoroughly corrupted that anyone who considers the results to accurately represent the will of Turks is foolish.]

Back in March 2014 when the AKP appeared to dominate local election results, Rubin wrote, “Did Fraud Sway the Turkish Election:”

Turkish political analysts attribute Erdo?an’s cheating quotient at around 5 percent — that takes into account stuffed ballots, shenanigans on the state-run Turkish Airlines as it transports ballots from abroad, disappeared ballot boxes from opposition-run towns and districts, and pretty much everything involving the mayor of Ankara. In the case of Sunday’s elections, it appears that Erdo?an’s AKP won the votes of hundreds of thousands of dead people.

Given the history of fraud in Turkey’s elections, that this one was rigged comes as no shock, especially as rumors swirled in advance about sophisticated efforts to manipulate the results. The citizens of Turkey now face the decisive question of whether to accept or reject the results of this election. Which will prevail — fear of Erdogan’s ruthlessness or anger at his swindle? Sadly, because his electoral coup d’état has blocked the path of democracy, should Turks resist, they are compelled to do so in non-democratic ways.

Foundation for Defense, non-resident Senior Fellow, a former CHP Republican Former Turkish Parliamentarian,  Aykan Erdemir wrote a Politico. EU analysis with the headline, “A defiant Erdogan rides back to power on a wave of violence.   Erdemir had six takeaways from Erdogan’s latest dictatorial grab for power:

  1. Violence wins – a reference to Erodgan’s war against the PKK internally, in Iraq and Syria. Then there is the yet to be  disclosed who were behind the October 10th twin blasts in Ankara that killed over 102 and injured more than 400 hundred  with no security present at the peace rally led by the Kurdish HDP and trade union allies.
  2. Turkey descends further into competitive authoritarianism – a score settling crackdown by Erdogan looms against media, businesses and NGO’s denying democratic rights.
  3. The Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) is here to stay – HDP claimed slightly over 10 percent of the 550 parliamentary seats, despite AKP stuffing 1 million ballots switch in Kurdish districts.
  4. Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP) has committed suicide – “they lost a quarter of their votes. This, however, was a disaster in the making. Since the June elections, the MHP refused to enter into any coalition, failed to undertake proactive policies and purged most of its competent members from candidate lists.”
  5. A Pyrrhic victory for the AKP – “If the elections end up highlighting Turkey’s image as a grudgingly democratic authoritarian regime, it could turn into a Pyrrhic victory for the AKP as it suffers the economic costs and political consequences of Turkey’s drift away from the transatlantic world.”
  6. This could be the beginning of the end for Davitoglu Erodogan duo –“These elections failed to provide Erdo?an with the super-majority he needed to bestow upon himself the executive presidential powers he covets. Prime minister Davuto?lu, however, has won a significant victory, proving his leadership skills and strengthening his credentials within the AKP. If the two fail to arrive at a modus vivendi about the future parameters of power sharing, election celebrations could soon lead to brutal infighting in the AKP ranks, adding further fuel to Turkey’s political chaos and conflict.”

Erdogan received a congratulatory phone call from Chancellor Angela Merkel hoping they can cut a deal for EU funding of Syrian refugee camps and get a sweet Visa deal for Turkish Nationals. The Turkish bourse and Lira foreign exchange may have had a brief spike.  However,  with a mountain of external debt and rampant inflation, Erdogan may find that foreign investors may not have an appetite for funding his growing autocracy after this election.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

US Appeasement of Iran Endangers the entire Persian Gulf

Following the Iconoclast post yesterday on the “Two Faces of Sen. Dianne Feinstein”, there was an exchange of views with Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center and Sarah Stern, President of the Endowment for Middle East Truth.  We were discussing a  matter related to the threat that Iran posed  to the US in the Western Hemisphere; the Administration succumbing to de facto Iranian nuclear hegemony in the Persian Gulf. Daniel Pipes in an, NRO-The Corner article, drew attention to  Administration appeasement enabling Iran to strike deals with Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This resulted in  Iran gaining potential control over the strategic Straits of Hormuz, “Has Iran gained a Foothold in the Arabian Peninsula”?

Pipes’ important article appeared while Washington and the world media were focused on the implementation of the Six Powers Joint Plan of Action, portions of which were released by the White House yesterday.  Other salient provisions  of which were sequestered at the request of UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).   He drew attention to the agreements both the UAE and Sultanate of Oman:

According to a sensational report by Awad Mustafa in Defense News, a Gannett publication, not only has Tehran signed an agreement with the UAE  over three disputed islands near the Strait of Hormuz, but it has also reached a possibly even more important accord with the government of Oman. Both of these agreements have vast implications for the oil trade, the world economy, and Iranian influence.

According to an unnamed “high level UAE source,” secretive talks taking place over six months led to a deal on the Greater and Lesser Tunbs finalized on Dec. 24: “For now, two of the three islands are to return to the UAE while the final agreement for Abu Musa is being ironed out. Iran will retain the sea bed rights around the three islands while the UAE will hold sovereignty over the land.”

This is big news, but yet bigger potentially is the source’s stating that “Oman will grant Iran a strategic location on Ras Musandam mountain, which is a very strategic point overlooking the whole gulf region. In return for Ras Musandam, Oman will receive free gas and oil from Iran once a pipeline is constructed within the coming two years.”

Both agreements center on the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil passageway and vulnerability.

  • The UAE deal involves the tiny but strategic islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs near the straits, occupied by Iranian forces since 1971, just as the UAE emerged as an independent country.
  • It’s not clear what granting to the Iranians “a strategic location on Ras Musandam mountain” means but Musandam is the very tip of the Straits of Hormuz and Tehran winning access to any sort of military position there could enhance their ability to block the oil trade as well as make trouble on the peninsula.

Oman’s role in facilitating the UAE-Iran talks, says the source, was approved by Washington: “Oman was given the green light from Iran and the US to reach deals that would decrease the threat levels in the region and offset the Saudi Arabian influence in the future by any means.”

Couple this development with what happened at a US Senate Foreign Relations confirmation hearing Wednesday involving the Obama emissary who facilitated those back channel conversations with Tehran in Oman, Puneet Tawar.   The Global Affairs blog of The Hill in a post noted how two Republican minority members, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Idaho Senator James Risch stopped Tawar’s confirmation, “Rubio, Risch block Obama nominee over ‘back channel’ talks with Iran”:

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and James Risch (R-Idaho) are holding up a vote on a State Department nominee over his involvement in back channel talks with Iran that have infuriated Republicans, The Hill has learned.

The Republican lawmakers prevented the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from voting Wednesday to confirm White House Iran adviser Puneet Talwar as the new Assistant Secretary of State for political military affairs.

Talwar was one of several U.S. officials who met in secret with Iranian negotiators in Oman in 2012 and 2013 before multilateral talks officially resumed following President Hassan Rouhani’s election in June.

“Sen. Rubio is requesting additional information from Mr. Talwar about his role in the so-called ‘back channel’ outreach to Iran,” a Rubio spokeswoman told The Hill in an email.

[…]

“It focused exclusively on the nuclear issue, so there were no other side discussions underway,” Talwar responded. “And it was merged [with the multi-party talks] after the conversations gained traction.”

In my discussion with Bryen and Stern I drew attention to what an Iranian nuclear hegemon in the Persian Gulf might do to US national interests.  Iran producing a nuclear weapon might threaten US Fifth Fleet base in Bahrain and possibly its strategic base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.  Both of these facilities   protect the free flow of oil to U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, among others.  Bryen pointed out that Japan may choose an energy deal with Russia rather than risk an oil cutoff from the Gulf if the U.S. is no longer the guarantor.  Such a deal would change the nature of American “pivot to Asia” and alliances there.  If Iran produces nuclear weapons, which it may have already, it is likely to play a form of n-dimensional nuclear Three Card Monte.   If the US capitulates, then the Gulf emirates and the Saudis may have to resort to baksheesh to preserve their access to the Persian Gulf and Straits of Hormuz to make mega-revenues in the world energy trades.  The Saudis at least have pipelines to secure Red Sea ports. The Iranian Shia mullahs on the opposite  shore of the Persian Gulf will simply use hidden nuclear suasion to gain revenues from their despised Sunni members in the Muslim Ummah.

In a Wall Street Journal excerpt  from former Secretary Gates’ memoir, Duty, he criticized the political operatives  populating the West Wing National Security Council (NSC). In contrast to other Administrations,  many Obama NSC advisers are people to whom the Administration owed political favors. Among those he cites are  Tom Donilon, former Clinton era chief of staff at the State Department, who like his  NSC deputy, Denis McDonough, the later is Obama’s current Chief of Staff, had limited  national security groundings.  Early Obama Administration NSC chief, former Marine Gen., Jim Jones criticized Donilon for “his lack of overseas experience”,   telling him “You have no credibility with the military”, according to Bob Woodward’s, Obama’s Wars.  McDonough, prior to joining  Senator Obama’s staff  was a foreign affairs aide to former Senate Majority Leader  Tom Daschle and subsequently served in the same capacity with former Interior Secretary and Colorado Senator Ken Salazar.  We wrote about McDonough’s role in meeting  with Muslim Brotherhood leaders at the 2012 Brookings Doha Qatar Center meetings. Wendy Sherman, a colleague of Donilon at State during the Clinton Administration,   did us no favors over the oil/ food for no nukes deal with  North Korea under Kim Jong -Il, the late father of the current ruler, Kim Jong- Un.   All we received from Ms. Sherman’s efforts were nuclear tests;  test  of ICBMs and exchange of technology to assist Iran in its bomb making.  Now as Undersecretary of State, Sherman has brought us the P5+1 agreement.  As to nuclear bomb making support by North Korea just recall, the pictures we have of Iranian and North Korean scientists assisting Syria in building the nuclear bomb factory on the banks of the Euphrates destroyed by Israel in September 2007.  The Administration has failed in the view of many to meet the sense of the Kissinger adage: “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests”.

The Obama Administration has jeopardized potential strategic control of the oil rich Persian Gulf.  Both the UAE and Oman know that. This could present a threat to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean with its stockpile of nuclear weapons and  cruise missiles and B-52 bombers.  As Bryen commented, “When Munich occurred at least the Chamberlain rationale was that it gave the British and French time to prepare for war against Nazi Germany”.  However, what rationale does the Administration have?

The Persian Gulf allies have witnessed the Administration losing resolve in the region causing them to seek whatever cover they can from the predatory hegemon to avoid becoming what Churchill called, “crocodile food”.   Is Israel next?

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.