Tag Archives: Recep Tayyip Erdogan

2-Jan-17 World View — Istanbul Turkey New Year’s terror attack compared to Paris and Orlando attacks

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Istanbul Turkey New Year’s terror attack compared to Paris and Orlando attacks
  • Terror attacks expose deep divisions in Turkey’s society

Istanbul Turkey New Year’s terror attack compared to Paris and Orlando attacks

Reina nightclub in Istanbul on Sunday morning, several hours after the attack (EPA)
Reina nightclub in Istanbul on Sunday morning, several hours after the attack (EPA)

The people of Turkey were once again traumatized by a new terror attack, this time on a well-known Reina night club in Istanbul, where crowds of 700 people, both Turks and foreigners, were celebrating the New Year. At around 1:15 am on January 1, a gunman opened fire on people in the packed nightclub, killing at 39 people and injuring 65 others. The gunman fled and is still at large.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it’s believed to be the work of the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh), because of the similarity to attacks in Paris and Orlando, where attackers killed civilians indiscriminately in entertainment venues.

In Paris on November 13, 2015, three suicide bombers detonated themselves at a football (soccer) game. Then terrorists targeted three cafes and restaurants with gunfire, and then attacked the Bataclan theatre, where three gunmen opened fire on a large crowd. In all, 130 people were killed. These attacks were planned and carried out by an ISIS terror cell in Brussels.

In Orlando on June 12, 2016, 49 people were killed by a gunman at a local gay nightclub. The assailant had sworn allegiance to ISIS, but no concrete links were found.

Turkey has suffered dozens of terrorist attacks in the past 18 months, killing hundreds of people. The perpetrators have been both ISIS and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), including the PKK offshoot Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK). There have been four previous terrorist attacks in just the five weeks:

  • November 24: Car bomb targeting a government building in Adana kills two people and injures 33.
  • December 10 – TAK terrorist car bombing in Istanbul killed 44 people, wounding 155.
  • December 17 – Suicide car bombing of a public bus in the central Anatolian city of Kayseri, killing 14 soldiers and wounding 55 others.
  • December 19 — Assassination of Andrey Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, in Ankara by an officer in Turkey’s security forces.

The Turkish people have been traumatized not only by the endless stream of terrorist attacks, but also by the July 15 failed coup attempt. Hurriyet (Ankara) and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and AP

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Terror attacks expose deep divisions in Turkey’s society

Ever since the July 15 coup attempt, Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been fired or jailed well over 100,000 people. Erdogan has particularly targeted journalists that write dissenting articles, but the targeted people also include members of parliament and other politicians, judges, police, and teachers.

Since many of the people targeted are from the political opposition or are dissenters from Erdogan’s policies, many people believe that Erdogan is using the coup attempt to eliminate his political enemies by force, including violence. This view is supported by the fact that Erdogan had already begun targeting the political opposition when he shut down the opposition newspaper Zaman several months before the coup attempt. These attacks have enormously polarized the Turkish people, with about half supporting Erdogan, and half despising him.

One analyst, Soner Cagaptay of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute says that Turkey’s population is sharply divided into two approximately equal groups:

  • About one-half of the country’s population comprise leftists, liberals, social democrats, Alevis (who are liberal Muslims), secularists and Kurds. Since taking office in 2003, Erdogan demonized, targeted, and brutally cracked down on these people, many of whom loathe him.
  • The other half is a loyal, right wing constituency, including Turkish nationalists, conservatives and Islamists. These people adore him.

Another analyst, Simon Waldman, notes that Erdogan’s reaction to the New Year’s attack was different from his reaction to other attacks in that, unlike other times, Erdogan did not refer to the people who were killed as “martyrs.” This word is almost always used by Erdogan with the death of a Turkish citizen in a terrorist attack or from military combat. But in this case, Erdogan said, “I offer my condolences to our citizens’, to our foreign guests’ and to our security officer’s families.”

Waldman speculates that the reason is that the attack was on a nightclub where alcohol was served, and the people were celebrating not only the New Year but also Christmas, as these two holidays are often conflated by Muslims. These are secular things that are strongly condemned by hardcore conservative Muslim clerics, and indeed it’s suspected that the terrorist attack was inspired by opposition to Christmas and New Year’s parties. Indeed, the attacker was wearing a Santa Claus hat.

In fact, Hurriyet columnist Murat Yetkin suggests that the “poisonous” atmosphere in Turkey is because by “rising nationalist and religious chauvinism”:

“Another question surrounds the political atmosphere in Turkey, which is getting more poisonous every day with rising nationalist and religious chauvinism. Religious Affairs Directorate head Mehmet Görmez was quick to make a statement after the attack, saying there was “no difference” between terror attacks targeting places of worship and attacks targeting entertainment sites, and they should be equally condemned. That statement followed cheering after the attack among certain social media users who believe that celebrating the New Year is un-Islamic and something to be despised.

Görmez’s statement was welcome. But just two days before, the Friday sermon prepared by Görmez’s Diyanet and read in more than 80,000 mosques across Turkey harshly criticized New Year celebrations as illegitimate and having no place in Islam or Turkey’s cultural traditions. Only a few days ago, members of an ultranationalist group made headlines by performing street theater in the Western province of Aydin by pointing a pistol at the forehead of another militant dressed in a Santa Claus costume. Unlike the cases frequently opened against critical media in Turkey, the police and the courts took no action against them for “praising crime” or “stirring hatred among the people.””

In fact, many commentators are pointing out that Turks are now fighting each other as much as they’re fighting ISIS and the PKK. CNN and Globe and Mail (Canada) and Hurriyet (Ankara)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Turkey, Istanbul, Reina nightclub, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Paris, Bataclan, Orlando, Russia, Andrey Karlov, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, Kurdistan Freedom Falcons, TAK, Soner Cagaptay, Simon Waldman, Murat Yetkin
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.

30-Dec-16 World View — Russia and Turkey announce a new ceasefire in Syria

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Russia and Turkey announce a new ceasefire in Syria
  • Damascus Syria is without water after reservoirs were poisoned

Russia and Turkey announce a new ceasefire in Syria

Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan

There have been two major ceasefire announcements so far this years, plus a few smaller ones. None lasted more than a few days.

But Russia and Syria have previously declared that a victory in Aleppo would mean victory in the entire war, and an end to the fighting. The rebel groups would be so decimated, despondent and dispirited that they’d lose the will to fight. So Russia’s president Vladimir Putin had to make good on that promise.

So even though the rebel groups fighting against Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad are nowhere near defeated, Russia and Turkey on Thursday declared that there would be a nationwide ceasefire. Let’s point out a few things.

  • “This time it’s different.” That’s because, this time the U.S. was completely excluded, and the negotiations took place in Moscow rather than Geneva. I guess the Putin decided that it wasn’t that much fun anymore to make a fool of John Kerry again and again. This agreement was reached between Russia, Turkey and Iran.
  • Seven “moderate” rebel militias signed on to the deal, but a number of others did not.
  • There will be no ceasefire for jihadist groups, against whom military action will continue. These include al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front, now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham or JFS), and the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).
  • In September, Bashar al-Assad said with respect to a ceasefire ceasefire deal:

    “We as a nation … are delivering a message that the Syrian state is determined to recover all regions from the terrorists and restore security, infrastructure, and everything else that was destroyed in both human and material aspects.”

    In fact, rebel groups control vast regions of Syria, and al-Assad is left in control of a small part of country mockingly called “Alawite-istan,” named for al-Assad’s ethnic group, Alawite.

  • Al-Assad has signed on to the deal and promised not to target moderate rebel groups or civilians, all of whom al-Assad considers to be “terrorists.” This means that Russia is controlling al-Assad, at least for the time being.
  • Turkey has troops in northern Syria, preventing the Kurds from achieving their goal of taking control of much of northern Syria, creating an independent Kurdish state called “Rojava.” Turkey considers the Syrian Kurds to be a major security threat to Turkey. The Syrian Kurds have not signed on to the deal.

Why would the Syrian rebel groups sign on to the agreement? A representative gave the answer in an interview on RFI on Thursday (my transcription):

“Obviously after Aleppo I think everyone realizes that there is no limit to the level of violence and barbarism that can be exercised against any target, including hospitals and civilians, to reach some object. And therefore if one get that to stop, the military solution should absolutely be stopped.”

In other words, some of the “moderate” rebel groups signed on, but only to stop the bombing.

And that’s the problem with the whole deal. There’s no compelling force behind the ceasefire. It’s all transitory. As soon as any one of a number of factors on the ground changes, the whole ceasefire will unravel, as previous ones have done.

I consider Bashar al-Assad to be the most volatile of the participants. His air force is going to continue bombing al-Nusra and ISIS forces, many of whole will be indistinguishable from the “moderate” rebels that he’s promised not to target. He considers all of these rebels to be like cockroaches to be exterminated, and he seems likely to be unable to control his impulses and target any of them. As soon as another barrel bomb hits a hospital or a marketplace or a hospital, it will be clear that there’s no ceasefire.

Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also very volatile. He used to get along with al-Assad until 2011, when al-Assad’s bombers started targeting innocent women and children, including Palestinians in a refugee camp near Latakia. Erdogan must have had to swallow hard to sign this deal, as he’s watch Syrian and Russian bombers target Turkmens and other ethnic groups related to Turks, as well as Palestinians, whom Erdogan supports.

Iran could be pretty volatile as well. They’re known to be strongly against any Turkish presence in Syria, and Erdogan has no intention of withdrawing from northern Syria. Also, there are pockets of Shias living in regions controlled by rebels, and Iran will feel compelled to protect them.

The only thing that’s really changed on the ground in the last few weeks is that the Russians have taken control of Aleppo. The rest of Syria is still an uncontrolled scattered collection of militias, armies and jihadists of various ethnicities and religious sects.

Peace talks are scheduled to be held within a month in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, assuming that the ceasefire is still holding. The choice of Kazakhstan makes it clear that this is deal involving Turkey, Russia and Iran, and not including the United States, the United Nations, or the European Union. BBC and Russia Today and Gulf News (Dubai) and Vice News

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Damascus Syria is without water after reservoirs were poisoned

Four million people in Damascus, Syria’s capital city, have been without water for five days after water reservoirs were poisoned with diesel. It’s not clear who was responsible for the poisoning, but it’s believed that the perpetrators are some of the same militias that signed on to the peace agreement on Thursday. However, they claim that they’re not responsible, since they would be harmed more than anyone else.

Despite the ceasefire, Syrian warplanes have been bombing a valley northwest of Damascus to recapture the region that provides most of the water to Damascus. Reuters and Middle East Eye and Russia Today

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Syria, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Bashar al-Assad, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, JFS, Front for the Conquest of Syria, Alawite-istan, Rojava, Kazakhstan, Damascus
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The views in this World View article are those of the author, John Xenakis, based on Generational Dynamics analyses of historic and current events, and do not necessarily represent the views of Algora Publishing.