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Turkey rejects secularism, turns Islamic

The news from Turkey is disquieting. The Guardian reported;” Erdogan clinches victory in Turkish constitutional referendum:”

Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has achieved victory in a historic referendum on a package of constitutional amendments that will grant him sweeping new powers.

Sadi Güven, the head of Turkey’s high electoral board (YSK), confirmed the passage of the referendum on Sunday night, based on unofficial results.

The yes campaign won 1.25m more votes than the no campaign, with only about 600,000 votes still to be counted, Güven told reporters in Ankara, meaning the expanded presidential powers had been approved.

However, disparities persisted into Sunday evening, with the opposition saying not all ballots had been counted and they would contest a third of the votes that had been cast.

Güven said the YSK had decided to consider unstamped ballots as valid unless they were proved to be fraudulent, after a high number of complaints – including one from the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) – that its officials had failed to stamp some ballot papers.

The no campaign said the YSK’s last-minute decision raised questions about the validity of the vote. But Güven said the decision was taken before results were entered into the system and that members of the AKP and the main opposition were present at almost all polling stations and signed off on reports. He said official results were expected in 11-12 days.

The result of the referendum sets the stage for a transformation of the upper echelons of the state and changing the country from a parliamentary democracy to a presidential republic, arguably the most important development in the country’s history since it was founded on the ashes of the Ottoman Republic.

Erdogan said he would immediately discuss reinstating the death penalty in talks with the prime minister and the nationalist opposition leader, Devlet Bahçeli. The president said he would take the issue to referendum if necessary.

Not a resounding mandate was achieved  in today’s “muted victory” in the Turkish  national referendum leaving the country divided:

The narrow victory will nevertheless come as a disappointment for the country’s leadership, which had hoped for a decisive mandate for the plan that could see Erdogan remain in power until 2029 if he wins successive elections.

The result will set the stage for a further split between Turkey and its European allies, who believe Ankara is sliding towards autocracy. The European commission said on Sunday night that Turkey should seek the “broadest possible national consensus” in its constitutional amendments, given the yes campaign’s slim margin of victory.

Results carried by the state-run Anadolu news agency showed the yes vote had about 51.3% compared with 48.7% for the no vote, with nearly 99% of the vote counted. Turnout exceeded 80%.

The country’s three largest cities – Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir – voted against the changes, and so did the vast majority of Kurdish voters and many of the coastal cities, indicating a general decline in the ruling party’s support

In a press conference in Istanbul following his party’s declaration of victory, Erdogan said that unofficial results showed there were about 25m yes votes, 1.3m more than no.

But in an unusually muted victory speech, Erdogan said foreign powers should respect the referendum’s outcome. He said: “We’ve got a lot to do, we are on this path but it’s time to change gears and go faster … We are carrying out the most important reform in the history of our nation.”

Erdogan claimed support for constitutional change had risen in south-east Turkey and hailed a “profound” jump in support for a presidential system that was unpopular just two years ago. Overseas votes were a “big part” of that success, he said, adding that his new executive presidency would probably come into effect after the 2019 election.

Erdogan called the prime minister, Binali Yildirim, and other political allies to congratulate them on the victory, although, in an indication of the ruling AKP’s disappointment, the deputy prime minister said they had received fewer votes than they expected.

Turkeys Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Our comment

Erdogan and AKP celebrate while concerned opposition challenges alleged narrow victory requesting a recount of 60 percent of votes cast.

Was there the expected jiggery pokery over the ballot counting in the nation referendum? Without independent foreign monitors present, how do we know if this vote count wasn’t tampered with? How can Turkish voters trust the integrity of the ballot system under the Islamist autocracy of the neo Sultan Erdogan and his cronies conspiring to overturn the 1923 Constitutional legacy of Turkish Republic founder Kemal Ataturk.

In a land of Islamic ascendency under Erdogan, dystopia will follow today’s referendum under cover of darkness at noon.

Darkness at Noon in Erodgan’s Turkey

If you want to know what was at stake in today’s National Referendum in Turkey read this New York Times Magazine article, “Inside Turkey’s Purge”. The article by Suzy Hansen rivals the paranoia portrayed in the thinly disguised world of Stalin’s Great Purge of the 1930’s in Russia in former Communist Arthur Koestler’s classic novel, Darkness at Noon.

Great swaths of lives swept aside by the dystopian vision of President Erdogan, that if implemented by today’s outcome would end the last vestige of freedom of thought, free expression with random imprisonment, torture sending those desperate to leave to opt for refugee smugglers to bring them to exile in Europe and elsewhere.

All because Erdogan brooks no opposition following his faux coup of July 2016 allegedly perpetrated by exiled former ally Sheik Fethullah Gulen’s mythical FETO network. Then there are the Kurds whose liberal Peoples Democratic Party leader, (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas and thousands of elected officials he accuses of being stalking horses for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, PKK, the cease fire of 2013 which he struck with jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan he overturned in July2015 with open warfare against the largely Kurdish southeastern region turning cities there into virtual moonscapes.

Erdogan’s quest of becoming autocrat for life will denude Turkey of its educated class, industrialists, journalists, educators, jurists, prosecutors and secular military. It will. likely lead to oppression of significant religious and ethnic minorities, prominent among them, Alevis and Kurds. The economy will suffer from lack of foreign investment, unemployment rising and real income plummeting. The Erdogan family and AKP operatives will reap enormous wealth from corruption. Foreign relations with the EU, UK and US may enter a dark period, with the threat of loss of NATO membership and alliance with another dystopian country Putin’s Russia.

Read this opening stanza of Ms. Hansen’s riveting and disturbing profile of Darkness at Noon :

The police officers came to the doctor’s door in Istanbul at 6 a.m. — dawn raids usually start then, sometimes 5:30 — and one of them said, “You are accused of attempting to kill President Erdogan.”

The doctor couldn’t help it; he laughed. “Really? I did that?”

The police officers smiled, too. “Yes. Also for attempting to destroy Turkey and for being a member of a terrorist organization.”

“Really?” He looked at them. They carried pistols. “Can I have a cigarette then?”

The police seemed surprised. They didn’t expect a Gulenist to smoke. I’m not a Gulenist, the doctor insisted. That didn’t help him. He would soon be one of the many thousands of people in Turkey caught in the machinery of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s purge.

The police searched the doctor’s house and his books and overturned his things, looking for evidence that he was a Gulenist, or a supporter of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric who began preaching in Turkey in the 1960s and whose followers number as many as five million. Gulen has been living in exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, which partly explains why the police were looking for American $1 bills whose serial numbers start with “F” — the Turkish government claims that these were used in some mysterious way by something it has branded the Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization, or FETO, which it blames for the attempted coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

At present, several pieces of evidence can suggest that you may be a member of FETO, including having had an account at Bank Asya, which was founded by Gulenists; running the ByLock encrypted communication app on your phone (thought to have facilitated planning for the coup attempt); possessing those F-series dollar bills; sending your children to a school associated with Gulen; working at a Gulen-affiliated institution (a university, say, or a hospital); having subscribed to the Gulen newspaper Zaman; or having Gulen’s books in your house. One action implicated the doctor: When he returned to Turkey after living abroad for three years and moved into a new house with his wife and children, he opened an account at the nearest bank up the street: Bank Asya.

(READ MORE)

RELATED ARTICLE: How Erdogan’s Victory Might Be Europe’s Defeat

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.

Nationalists: Mateo Salvini, Marine LePen, Heinz-Christian Strache and Geert Wilders

Today’s European edition of the Wall Street Journal  has an op-ed by a quartet of national sovereignty political leaders:  Mateo Salvini of Italy’s Northern League, Marine Le Pen of France’s National Front, Heinz- Christian Strache  of Austria’s  Freedom Party and Geert Wilders of Holland’s Freedom Party.

The title of their opinion article, “Restoring Europe’s Borders and Sovereign Nations,” sends a resounding message of rising concerns and anxieties of the body polities in their respective countries and others in Eastern Europe. That is reflected in daily scenes of a borderless Europe invaded by massive waves of thousands of largely Muslim refugees and illegal economic migrants that has placed an enormous fiscal burden and security problems vetting the throngs for suspected terrorists.

They suggest rejection of the Schengen system and the reinstitution of national immigration and border control across Europe to protect cultural identities in the face of EU determination to accommodate diversity. Diversity occasioned by the hundreds of thousands of refugees and economic migrants from poorer countries in the Balkans, Syria and Iraq in the Middle East, South Asia, Eastern and Sub-Sahara Africa.

Yesterday, an EU summit in Brussels reached an agreement to fund a 3 Billion Euro Turkish operation for Syrian refugee camps to stem the flood of asylum seekers and migrants by keeping them in country. That comes at the price of a Faustian bargain: the quid pro quo of admitting Islamist Turkey, as an EU member. The prospects of the latter occurring are dim given the tyranny and human rights violations of the Erdogan government teetering on the brink of a snap election on November 1st. Last weekend’s twin bombings at a peace rally in Ankara are illustrative of internal problems that might send a different wave of asylum seekers to the EU.

immigrants crossing hungary border

Waves of migrants crossing the border between Croatia and Hungary under the eyes of the Hungarian soldiers on Sept. 22. Photo: Danilo Balducci/Zuma Press

Here is what the quartet of national sovereignty political leaders from Italy, France, Austria and the Netherlands wrote.

Europe. Imagine a world without her. Sure, the geographical entity will always continue to exist. But the civilization is in danger. Millions of migrants are currently arriving in Europe. More than half a million have already done so. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, says the greatest tide of refugees and migrants is still to come. Hungary’s foreign minister expects 35 million people heading to Europe. This will be the end of [cultural identities] as we know them.

The situation is completely out of control. Too many fortune seekers, too much illiteracy. Some of the migrants are refugees, but the majority comes for economic reasons. Our European economies and social-protection systems cannot cope with this. The media prefer to focus on families and children, but their images cannot conceal that the asylum seekers flocking to Europe are predominantly young men. Many are unskilled.

But the main problem is that, unlike the flow of refugees at the end of World War II, these migrants come from countries with a culture entirely different from Europe’s. Mass immigration is leading to the dilution of cultural identity in the European Union member states.

Its citizens resent this. Instinctively, these citizens are patriots. They don’t like to lose their identity as a people. They don’t want to give up their countries. Instinctively, they grasp two very important truths. First, that without identity, there is no country. Second, that without a country, there can be no prosperity, no justice, no democracy, and no liberty.

The European Union has slowly been eroding Europe’s nation-states by gradually dismantling their sovereignty. It has robbed our countries of the right to conduct our own national asylum policies. Last month, the EU forced refugee quotas on its member states and overruled governments who disagreed. The mask has fallen, and the peoples of Europe have seen the EU’s ugly face.

Better than before, they now realize that our national parliaments have been reduced to fake parliaments. Vital matters, including those concerning our national identities, are no longer decided by our national parliaments but by obscure institutions in Brussels. People are forced to give away their country without even having a say in the matter.

Governments in Eastern Europe are especially sensitive about this. It’s no coincidence that the strongest resistance to the EU’s mandatory migrant quotas comes from countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. For many decades these countries were ruled from Moscow without their consent. They don’t want to now be ruled from Brussels without their consent.

But the migration crisis has also alarmed the peoples of Western Europe. Polls and election results in recent weeks clearly indicate that patriot parties such as ours are growing spectacularly.

While the governments in Western Europe’s capitals bash the leaders in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, millions of citizens in Austria, France, Italy, the Netherlands and other nations share their concerns.

In Vienna’s regional elections Sunday, the Austrian Freedom Party won a third of the votes. In polls in the Netherlands, the Party for Freedom has become as big as the two governing parties combined. In France, polls indicate that the National Front will win its local elections in December. In Italy three months ago, the Northern League made stunning electoral gains.

While millions are on their way to Europe, millions in Europe realize that they have been betrayed by the political elites in The Hague, Paris, Rome, Vienna and other capitals. Our parliaments have been emasculated by Brussels and are filled with politicians who no longer care about our basic national interests. Governments don’t mind the loss of national sovereignty and national identities either. Far too often, they are composed of politicians who hope to one day pursue an international career at an EU or U.N. institution after their national career ends.

The gap between the citizens and those who rule them has never been so wide. We have to close this gap in order to reassert control over our own borders. And we can do so democratically by mobilizing the people to vote for parties that stand for national sovereignty and the defense of national identities. Reclaiming democracy: that is the key to solving the migration crisis.

There is no need to imagine a world without the nations of Europe. It’s clear what needs to happen. We need to reclaim our national sovereignty, abolish EU treaties such as the Schengen treaty and reaffirm the supremacy of national parliaments.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of left to right Matteo Salvini of Italy’s Northern League, Harald Vilimsky of Austria’s Freedom, Geert Wilders of the Netherland’s Freedom Party. The image is courtesy of the European edition of The Wall Street Journal, October 15, 2015.

Who planned the Ankara Peace Rally Bombings?

Twin simultaneous bombings ripped through a crowd of opposition supporters and Kurdish activists at an Ankara peace rally today killing 97, maiming and injuring over 246. The bombings occurred just a few weeks before a snap election scheduled for November 1st.  There is suspicion that the Turkish President couldn’t have wished for a more timely mishap.  It comes before an election he called to try and eliminate the Kurdish minority HDP party and return his AKP  party to its previous super majority.  You may recall the Suruc bombing in July that killed 33 socialist youths affiliated with the HDP that kick started the PKK uprising in southeastern Turkey. That was used as a pretext for Erdogan’s subsequent counter terrorism campaign and air assault on both Syrian Kurdish YPG and PKK bastions in northern Iraq. The better to condition the US request for Turkish clearance of the use of Incirlik air base for the flagging air assault campaign against ISIS in both Syria and Iraq. It is not without coincidence that he PKK today called for a temporary truce before the looming election.  The conventional wisdom is, as in the Suruc case , that it was possibly the work of ISIS. However, there may have been other Islamist contenders for this latest terrorist spectacle in Turkey.  Recall that the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, the IHH, an ally of the AKP regime, supplied funds and weapons to opposition Islamist groups in Syria.

Watch this ReutersTV video of the Ankara Peace Rally bombings.

Our usually astute  European observer of things Turkish drew attention  in a conversation following the Ankara blasts  that daily polls taken by Erdogan show that his standing has slipped . Thus, indicating that his quest for conversion of the currently ceremonial post of President in Turkey to an executive one with broad powers may be out of reach. Moreover, our colleague indicated that the opposition in the Ankara parliament, including Republican, Nationalist and the Kurdish HDP parties, are united against AKP supremacy.  In fact, he said, the parliament is rarely convened in Ankara by the caretaker government. He also noted that when he viewed Turkish television coverage of the Ankara  bombing incident there were HDP flags and banners  prominent in the footage along with those of trade union groups. However, following the deadly blast, he observed that footage somehow disappeared from Turkish television news reports.

With the dramatic entry of Russia in the Syrian fray both Erdogan’s and Obama’s vain hopes for control of the situation have been eclipsed. Calls for establishment of both no-fly zones and safe havens by the Turkish and US Congressional and Presidential hopefuls appear to be wishful thinking.  Russian President Putin has thrown in his lot with Iran  propping  up the besieged Syrian President Bashar Assad who controls less than one sixth of his country.  Thus, the suspicion is today’s Peace rally bombings might not been perpetrated by PKK, known Marxist terrorist groups or ISIS. That leaves the question of whether Islamists groups allied with Erdogan and the AKP may have been complicit in the bombings?  In the dictatorial regime of Erdogan with a chastened prosecution and judiciary, the answers to these questions may not emerge with any perfunctory forensic investigation by Turkish authorities.

Screen-Shot-2015-10-10-at-10.42.31-PM-800x594The Washington Post (WaPo) report described the grisly and chaotic scene following the bombings, “Blasts kill scores at peace rally in Turkey in sign of worsening instability.”   Note in these excerpts how the Turkish PM Davutoglu asserts this bombing was aimed as disrupting what passes for democracy in this NATO ally and other commentators immediately suspect ISIS.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Saturday there were “strong indications” the attack was carried out by suicide bombers, although there was no immediate claim of responsibility. He said the target was Turkish unity, democracy and stability.

“Early indicators would point to ISIS as the culprit,” said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish research program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Either way, “this could well be Turkey’s 9/11,” Cagaptay said. “This is simply the worst terror attack in Turkish history.”

The United States also condemned the twin bombings as a terrorist attack. “It is particularly important at this time that all Turkish citizens recommit to peace and stand together against terror,” the State Department said in a statement.

The demonstrators, mobilized by a coalition of Turkish trade unions, had gathered outside Ankara’s main [train] station hours earlier to chant, wave banners and flags and call for peace. The crowd included a mix of Kurdish and leftist Turkish activists, local media reports said.

A video circulated on social media showed demonstrators linking arms to perform a traditional dance before a fiery explosion erupted in the background, sending the crowd into a panic. It was unclear whether that explosion was from the first or the second bomb detonated outside the station.

Images from the scene showed dazed and bloody demonstrators clinging to one another in the aftermath of the blasts. Bodies, some of them dismembered, lay on the street, covered with flags protesters had brought to the march.

Tensions between police and demonstrators flared following the explosions, after activists accused security forces of blocking ambulances arriving to treat the injured. Turkey’s pro-democracy activists say they are fed up with a state that is quick to crack down on dissenters but cannot keep its own citizens safe from terrorists.

In a live television broadcast, Turkish Interior Minister Selami Altinok said in response to a reporter’s question that he would not resign because there had been no security breach.

Still, Turkish authorities announced a news blackout on images showing the moment of each blast, gruesome or bloody images or “images that create a feeling of panic,” according to the Associated Press. The agency also reported that social media users in Ankara were unable to access Twitter after the blast.

Turkey, which media watchdog groups say has one of the world’s worst records on press freedom, often blocks access to Twitter and other sites for content the government deems inappropriate.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Turkish Peace Rally protesters dancing moments before deadly bombings in Ankara. Source: Reuters TV.

Turks Renege on Air Base, ISIS beheads Hundreds in Kobani while Surrounding Baghdad

Yesterday, National  Security Adviser Susan E. Rice went on NBC’s “Meet the Press “and glibly announced that Turkey had given permission for use of the Incirlik air base  by the U.S.-led  coalition assaulting ISIS from the air. She  triumphantly  commented, “That’s a new commitment and one that we very much welcome”.

Today, The Washington Post  reported  a senior Turkish official  denied such a claim, saying that talks were still underway, perhaps awaiting a Pentagon military planning team this week in Ankara. Meanwhile, Turkey’s President Erdogan has made it abundantly clear that he wants his priority demand  opening up a front against the Assad Regime. Erdogan’s negotiations tactics lend credence that he is tacitly supporting ISIS’ destruction of the Kurdish YPG fighters in Kobani.

It looks like the same stall tactics his AKP government used back in 2003, when the U.S. Army First Infantry  Division was prevented from off loading in the Mediterranean  port of Iskenderun to  transit of  Turkey and enter Northern Iraq. What is the expression, dog bites man first time, dog’s fault;  dog bites man second time, man’s fault.  Following in the wake of Ms. Rice’s gaffe on Benghazi on Meet the Press October 15, 2012 and now with this episode, she has lost credibility.

But then the Obama policies in the region have failed. 

Whether it is red lines in Syria, supporting a One Iraq policy in the face of disintegration of the Baghdad central government, and his ISIS strategy with a U.S. air assault but no boots on the ground.

Turkey’s stalling on permission  for  the US-led coalition  air contingents use the Incirlik air base less than 100 kilometers from the Turkish – Syrian border has complicated  air operations.  We have argued  that should have been the first orders of business by the Administration. Now US Navy squadrons on board the USS George H. W. Bush in the Red Sea, USAF  squadrons based temporarily at the Al Udeid air base in Qatar carrier and RAF squadrons based in Cyprus have to fly 1,100 mile round trip sorties  making it virtually impossible to engage in round the clock air operations.

We offer the following   suggestions about what to do with a recalcitrant Erdogan in Turkey,. One suggested by Jonathan Schanzer of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, is that Turkey be temporarily suspended  from the NATO alliance until it agrees to lend meaningful support to the US-led coalition.  The Administration might impose an embargo on sales of US military equipment and spare parts to Turkey, akin to what was done following Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974, lifted in 1978. The State Department might delist the Turkish Workers Party (PKK) from its designated terrorist list. There is the precedent of the delisting of the Iranian opposition group, the Mojahedin-e-Khalq  (MEK). That act outraged the Iranian Islamic regime. A similar action by the U.S. State Department might cause a diplomatic furor between Washington and Ankara further emboldening Kurdish protests in Turkey and elsewhere.

We have grisly reports from The Daily Mail, today, that hundreds of trapped Kurds in Kobani have been beheaded by ISIS jihadists to the cries of “allahu Akbar”. Rumor has it that a contingent of 200 Kurdish fighters with more modern weapons may be on their way to Kobani. But that may be too little too late to save  the encircled YPG fighters in Kobani.

 Meanwhile a  large column of 10,000 ISIS troops ,equipped with stolen US tanks, artillery and Humvees,  have virtually taken all of Anbar province encircling  Baghdad and threatening  the International airport. The UN reported today that more than 30,000 families, 180,000 persons  fled after the town of Hit was taken.

We had this exchange with a veteran U.S. security contractor in Baghdad.

Gordon:  Thank you for your comment on my Iconoclast post.  Suffice to say all of us pray for the safety of you and all your American colleagues in Iraq. The flight of the Iraqi forces before Mosul in June empowered ISIS with billions in US supplied arms, weapons, tanks and Humvees. ISIS military commanders are former Saddam Ba’athist commanders and quite capable in conducting operations against a corrupt Iraqi national army. ISIS has a friend in Turkey’s Erdogan, allied with the Muslim Brotherhood in the region. Despite the change in government and removal of former Premier Al-Maliki, Iraq remains a satrap of Iran for all intents and purposes. ISIS’ Jihad Qur’anic imperative, to borrow a phrase of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, is “Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war” to the cry of “allahu Akbar”.  I trust that you and your colleagues can make it out to Kuwait and home before the Baghdad airport falls into ISIS hands.

Tim:  I agree with what you say. I have been able to see all this happen first hand. I have been over here for a total of five years. I believe that some plan has been made for our evacuation but nothing has been shared. We will see.

Yesterday,  Lisa Benson asked  us to join her, Dr. Sherkoh Abbas, President of the Kurdish National Assembly of Syria (KURDNAS) and the Hon. Karwan Zebari,the Kurdish Regional Government Ambassador in Washington.  Benson, has drawn  attention to the barbaric onslaught of ISIS against the YPG fighters in Kobani, and  the efforts of the KRG Peshmerga forces in Iraq. Benson has also reached out to activists to solicit relief assistance to Kurds, Yazidis and Christians in the KRG. She has told graphically of the escape of Yazidi women and girls from Raqaa who were sold into sex slavery by their ISIS captors and the price they had paid to reach safety and freedom in the KRG. Benson has mounted several twitter rally campaigns with hashtags #ArmPeshmerga and #SaveKobani.

In the discussion on this latest Lisa Benson Radio Show broadcast, we addressed revelations by Senior Iranian officials in contact with the Administration. They suggested  that Israel will be threatened by ISIS if the Assad regime is attacked.  Dr. Abbas, confirmed Iran’s double game strategy facilitating the rampage that emboldened ISIS’ conquest of large swaths of Syria and Iraq virtually destroying the map of the Levant. A map that began with the  British-French Sykes Picot secret agreement of 1916 that led to the French and British Mandates of the League of Nations at the San Remo Conference in 1920. This was followed by  the creation of the Kemalist Republic of Turkey in 1923 with the Treaty of Lausanne.

The big losers  in the Versailles conference in 1919 were the Kurds. They were promised a nation in their ancient homeland in what became modern Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

Ambassador Zebari  articulated  the failure of the so-called One Iraq policy propounded by the US Administration  as the basis for the strategy to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State.  ISIS has become enormously wealthy from looting banks, extortion, and taxation of conquered people and sales of smuggled oil from fields in both Syria and Iraq.  The flood of ISIS fighters from 70 countries have travelled the jihadist highway allowed  by the Islamist regime of President Erdogan’s AKP government in Ankara.  Dozens have been  killed in  riots in Turkey’s predominately  Kurdish  southeast.

Benson fielded a call from a Kurdish American organizer of a hunger strike in support of Kurds in Kobani that will be launched across from the White House this Friday.  Another call, asked the probing question of Dr. Abbas and Ambassador Zebari, “ What could be done to arouse the Administration to alleviate this looming disaster?”  Ambassador Zebari suggested that Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have recognized the failure of the One Iraq policy and the necessity of supporting the Kurds.

Both Dr. Abbas raised the question of why Jewish advocacy groups in the US don’t support this, as they have been noticeably silent?   Benson contrasted the questionable appropriation  of more than $500 million by Congress in response to the President’s request to provide training and arms for  so-called moderate Syrian opposition forces, most of who appear to Islamist. The consensus of the discussions on Sunday’s program was the One Iraq strategy has failed and that the Kurds deserve a nation-state of their own.  Dr. Abbas and Ambassador Zebari  opposed  Secretary of State Kerry continued espousal of the failed One Iraq policy.

Dr. Abbas drew attention to  the US donation of  $212 million announced at the Cairo  Donor conference organized by Norway for reconstruction in Gaza. Over $2.7 billion was raised in pledges from EU and Middle East Muslim nations. There was nary a word about dismantling and verifying Hamas’s terror command and tunnels. Kerry also pushed for renewal of Palestinian – Israeli peace discussions. All while PA President Abbas pushes his campaign for a UN Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian State claiming he has 7 of 9 votes in favor.

Ambassador Zebari pointed out that  Israel and the Kurds are objects of scorn and hate by the Muslim Brotherhood, Shia and Sunni, Salafist and Wahhabist Jihadists  in the Middle East.

This should, in his opinion, arouse Americans  during the upcoming Mid-Term November elections to vote for Congressional candidates who support Kurdish nationalism and provide the arms  to fight against ISIS   Meanwhile, we had reports  from Jerusalem today that Israeli police closed down Palestinian rioters  at the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. These rioters were  seeking to rain havoc with rocks and Molotov cocktails on Jews at the Kotel below celebrating the Festival of Tabernacles, Sukkoth.

The UN considered such Israeli actions, “provocative”.

RELATED ARTICLE: US “ally” Turkey bombs Kurds opposed to the Islamic State

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