Turkey (OpenDemocracy) – As Europe is distancing itself from Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian regime, the UK is getting closer. Is it to sell them even more weapons? It is now ten months since Turkish government declared a state of emergency in response…
This has been a big week in world events and we here at Geopolitics Alert have covered a few major stories. Here are your key takeaways for the week of December 25th:
Israel Reacts to the UNSC Settlement Decision.
After the United Nations Security Council bite last week calling for a halt to Israeli settlement in Palestinian territory, Israeli officials have been, in the words of some commentators, “throwing a tantrum.”
On Monday, Wikileaks released a batch of almost 58,000 emails sent and received by Turkish president Recep Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak.
The release, termed by Wikileaks as ‘Berat’s box’ includes thousands of emails detailing Albayrak’s dealings as the Turkish Minister of Energy. The emails encompass a span of sixteen years beginning April of 2000 until September of this year. Wikileaks was given the database of emails by a Turkish Marxist-Leninist ‘hacktivist’ group known as RedHack.
RedHack had initially announced that they had obtained the emails in September but their social media accounts and pages containing news of the hack were taken down. Originally the group threatened to release the emails if the Erdogan government wouldn’t release Alp Altınörs, a member of the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) and a journalist named Aslı Erdogan. Suspected members of RedHack have been threatened since September by the government and subjected to the ongoing post-coup torture.
Problems with Turkey, Eastern Europe, and Donald Trump could tear the rickety alliance apart at the seams.
If the number of eager applicants on a waiting list determines the strength of a club, then the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is in fine fettle.
At its most recent gathering in July, NATO welcomed its 29th member — Montenegro — which means that the alliance now outnumbers the European Union. Nearby Macedonia has been waiting for 17 years to be let in the door only to have Greece block entrance every time because of a longstanding dispute over Macedonia’s name. Bosnia also wants in but must first overcome its internal divisions. Georgia’s membership, too, has been on hold, for fear of inciting Russia’s wrath, though that hasn’t prevented the country from hosting U.S.-NATO military exercises.
Over baklava and sweet tea, openDemocracy hears about Turkey’s post-coup crackdown and the dreams of an independent Kurdistan.
The Kurdish Community Centre in Harringay. (Image courtesy of the KCC)Harringay Green Lanes is home to London’s largest Kurdish community. The Victorian Grand Parade advertises this identity, with shops named after Gaziantep and Diyarbakir, the two largest cities in Turkish Kurdistan. The pavements were recently widened to accommodate the crowds that flock for food at one of the many enticing restaurants, or buy the legendary pastry gözleme, rolled by women sitting at a kiln in the front windows of the cafes, one of which is named after Taksim Square.
The Kurdish part of Green Lanes is a hive of political activity. Last June, after the moderate Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) gained over 50 seats in Turkey’s election, weakening the power of President Erdoğan with a hung parliament, the area was filled with celebratory chanting and car honking. (A re-run of the election in November resulted in gains for Erdoğan’s AKP and losses for the HDP). The party spoke strongly in favour of the Gezi Park protests of 2013, when Kurds in the area congregated around Finsbury Park and marched down Harringay with banners. Less mainstream organizations are also represented: in 2012, graffiti appeared on phone boxes and under the railway bridge in support of the youth wing of the MLKP (Marxist-Leninist Communist Party), a small underground Hoxhaist group, some of whose members have travelled to Rojava in Syrian Kurdistan to fight against the Islamic State.
Never have the US-Turkey relations been at such a low ebb as today due to the alleged US involvement in the (failed) coup attempt. Despite the fact that Turkey is a member of NATO—a legacy of cold war Western alliance against the former Soviet Union and a modern manifestation of military imperialism—Turkey’s leadership seems “determined” to stick to its guns against the “front” that has been opened against it at a time when most of the Middle East is in the grip of terror. Dissolution of an elected government in Turkey, however bad its policies were, would have sent serious political jolts across the entire Mid-Eastern political landscape and put Turkey on course to social and political fragmentation, the kind of which is currently prevailing in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Libya. Who would have benefited the most from it?
Turkey’s leadership tends to believe it would have been the US Hence, widespread anti-US populism in Turkey that may, at some point, lead to some concrete and significant changes in its foreign policy. So far, however, the anti-US populism that Erdogan is fanning seems to be aimed at putting some pressure on the US to refrain from making further attempts at dislodging Erdogan. By keeping the Turks politically charged (read: Several hundred flag-waving protesters staged a peaceful protest march near the Incirlik base on Thursday, chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) and “Damn the USA”, the pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper reported. The protesters burned a US flag), Erdogan has developed a sort of insulation against the “Western conspiracy”, as also considerably strengthened his own political base.
The Syrian Army has surrounded the jihadist-held portions of the city of Aleppo. Offering fighters a chance to lay down their weapons and leave the city, the government is hoping to liberate the area and help put an end to Syria’s long war. However, analysts are warning against too much optimism. Encirclement, they note, does not mean victory.
On Friday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Moscow and Damascus has launched a massive humanitarian operation in Aleppo, establishing exit routes for civilians and any militants wishing to leave the jihadist-held portions of the city. Three routes were designated for civilians, along with a fourth for militants with weapons and equipment.