Turkey Issues Arrest Warrant for a Rival of Its President
A Turkish court has issued an arrest warrant for an influential cleric and former ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania and whose followers have been accused of participating in a plot to overthrow the government, according to reports in Turkish Media. The same date (Dec 19-20), the Economist published a new article entitled “Media freedom RIP?” Why the Economist has such a concern about turkish media freedom ?
Mr Erdogan responding to a rebuke by the European Union over arrests on December 14th of a police chief, journalists and soap-opera screenwriters linked to Fethullah Gulen, a Sunni cleric based in Pennsylvania said “WE HAVE no concern about what the EU might say, whether the EU accepts us as members or not.” The latest outburst from Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, sent the lira down by 4% against the dollar amid growing worries over the direction the country is taking.
- What Gulen’s movement represents?
The collective identity of the Gülen Movement depends on the way that a multitude of choices, goals, relations, services and representations are held together. It is the outcome of conscious, laborious processes. However, some dimensions of a social movement’s collective identity may be weaker or stronger than others, and some may have secondary or tertiary priority. In the case of the Gülen Movement, some (such as political power or governmental change) do not even make it into the classification.
The identity of the Gülen Movement is not shaped by transcendent, metaphysical and meta-social elements and entities, such as myths, legendary saints, idealized ancestors or sacral celebration of any individual. On the contrary, although the Movement is a faith-inspired initiative and the founding elements come from Islam and its universal values, it increasingly and progressively associates itself with purposive human action, culture, communication and social relations resulting from the services it provides.
Because of feedback – criticism and praise – from outside the Gülen Movement, the collective identity is the product of conscious action, the outcome of self-reflection, and more than a set of given or “structural” characteristics. The Movement is becoming increasingly self-reflexive, inclusive, integrative and universalistic due to its conscious collective construction of identity within a widening transnational environment of social relations.
The semiofficial Anadolu News Agency said prosecutors told the court they had collected evidence showing that Mr. Gulen “has committed crimes within the scope of the indictment” but that he could not be compelled to answer the charges “because of his long-term residence abroad.”
The tumultuous history between Mr Erdogan and Mr Gulen
Mr. Gulen fled Turkey in the 1990s after being accused of plotting to topple the secularist government then in office. The charges against him were dropped in 2006, after elections that had elevated Mr. Erdogan and his Islamist Justice and Development Party.
As allies, Mr. Erdogan and Mr. Gulen embarked on an uneasy partnership to remove the military from Turkish politics, but once they accomplished that goal, quiet tensions between the two men festered and burst into a public feud last year when Mr. Erdogan accused Mr. Gulen of instigating a graft inquiry that implicated members of his inner circle.
The EU’s foreign-affairs boss, Federica Mogherini, and enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn, warned that Turkey’s hopes of becoming a member depended on “full respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights.” They called the arrests “incompatible with the freedom of media, which is a core principle of democracy”. Mr Erdogan said the EU should “mind its own business and keep its opinions to itself”.
The arrests mark an escalation in Mr Erdogan’s unremitting war against Mr Gulen and his followers. He insists they have set up “a parallel state” with the goal of overthrowing his Justice and Development (AK) party government.
Thousands of them have now been arrested or purged on similar charges. A power struggle between AK and the Gulenists erupted a year ago when a corruption probe implicated Mr Erdogan’s inner circle. Mr Erdogan quashed the investigation, reassigning the prosecutors and police involved and vowing to destroy the “fake prophet” and his flock. His targets included Bank Asya, an Islamic finance house. Public trading in Asya was suspended three times and government-linked firms withdrew deposits. The bank’s assets shrank by 40% in the first nine months of 2014. “Anyone who pisses off the president is a potential target,” comments one banker.
Turkey and the European union ascension -not ascension photo gags
Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum wrote an interesting article about Turkey and its ascension into EU.
The truth is, according to Bekdil, is that Turkey’s longer-than-half a-century journey to full EU membership offers volumes of thick picture books full of similar smiling faces, most of them no longer alive. But both the club and the applicant know that Turkey has been dragged planets away from the EU in terms of culture and socio-politics. Turkey is sometimes even hostile to Europe.
On Dec. 6, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, accompanied by nine Turkish cabinet members, visited his Greek counterpart, Antonis Samaras, in Athens, where the leaders of these traditional Aegean rivals happily glossed over major differences and expressed support for closer relations.
Davutoglu said that Turkey supports the return of the Parthenon marbles to Greece. That was sweet. But no one cares about whether Turkey does or does not support the return of the ancient marbles. And Samaras said he supported Turkey’s quest for EU membership, provided it fulfilled the entry requirements. That was sweet, too, except that Greece has been repeating the same wording and Turkey has been fulfilling the entry requirements since 1987.
Both leaders expressed hope that talks for reunification of the divided island of Cyprus would resume soon, probably knowing privately that even if talks resumed they would break down soon after. This author seriously doubts if either leader could recall how many rounds of talks have been held since Turkey invaded the northern third of the island in 1974 in response to a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at annexing Cyprus to Greece.
But outside the spiritual sphere of hearts and minds that meet, there is reality. Turkey has threatened to send its navy to the eastern Mediterranean if Cyprus goes ahead with its joint hydrocarbon exploration plans with Israel and Egypt. The three Mediterranean neighbors have ignored the threat and are proceeding with the exploration plan. Although mid December Ynetnews reported that Israel is ready to send gas through Turkey according as what a US official said. Cyprus in the other hand,according to the latest news, Eni-Kogas did not find enough sources of natural gas in the field 9 of Cyprus’EEZ. Turkish research vessel Barbaros (acting illegally though) has detected large quantities of hydrocarbons in the Cypriot EEZ but it has been more efficient finding gas sources than the real oil companies.
The EU cannot slam the door in Turkey’s face for many geopolitical reasons. But it should realize that it lost almost all of its leverage on steering Turkey toward pro-EU reforms in the last decade or so. While the Europeans wasted their time in self-deception — that Turkey’s Islamists were in fact pro-EU, post-Islamists reformers — Turkey was implementing a plan to turn into, not a member of, but a Muslim challenge to, what its leaders privately view as a hostile “Christendom.”
Today, only a third of Turks say they share the same values “with Christian Europe.” Nearly 80% of them say they would not wish to have a Christian as a neighbor.
Turkey ranks 154th on the world press freedom index, according to Reporters Without Borders.
Earlier this year, Freedom House, a prestigious pro-freedom institute, put Turkey into the category of countries it labels as “not free.” Turkey, after Russia, ranks second in violations of civil liberties, according to the European Court of Human Rights. Similarly, after Russia, Turkey boasts the world’s second biggest police force, at 475 police officers per 100,000 residents.
Turkey under Islamist rule has keenly pretended that it wants EU membership, while in reality deeply disliking its “Christian” culture; and the EU leaders have pretended that Turkey would one day join the club, while knowing that it would not as the journalist says.