"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule--and both commonly succeed, and are right..."
~ H.L. Mencken.
~ H.L. Mencken.
Brilliant news, from Reuters:
Turkey's top court agreed on Monday to hear a case to shut down the ruling AK Party and bar the prime minister from office, sharply escalating a long and destabilizing dispute over the role of Islam in secular Turkey.
The Constitutional Court's decision heralds months of uncertainty for the EU candidate country, which is embroiled in a feud between the Islamist-rooted AK Party and a powerful secular elite, including army generals, that accuses AK of plotting to turn Turkey into an Iran-style theocracy.
The AK Party, which has presided over strong economic growth and democratic political reforms since sweeping to power in 2002, denies the charges it has an Islamist agenda and says the lawsuit is an attack on Turkish democracy.
The petition, drawn up by the chief prosecutor of the Court of Appeals, calls for 71 AK Party officials including Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul to be banned from politics for five years.
After a lengthy meeting, the Constitutional Court's 11 judges decided in a rare unanimous ruling to take up the case for closing the AK Party and for barring Erdogan and dozens of other lawmakers from politics for engaging in Islamist activities aimed at weakening the secular state.
And the EU is encouraging the AKP to re-rig the consitution to save the AKP--and the EU didn't encourage this for DTP' sake:
European Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn said he would brief the full European Commission on the case on Wednesday, saying it exposed a "systemic error" in Turkey's constitution that may require an amendment.
"The prohibition or dissolution of political parties is a far-reaching measure which should be used with the utmost restraint," Rehn said in a statement. "I do not see any such justification for this case."
Rehn knows damned well that rigging the constitution for its own benefit is a hallmark of the AKP, which always manages to benefit from "systematic errors":
The AKP scored a remarkable landslide victory in the November 2002 parliamentary elections, garnering 34% of the national vote and capturing a commanding 363-seat majority.
[ . . . ]
Because Erdogan had been banned from political office in 1998, his deputy, Abdullah Gul, initially assumed the premiership. But it was clear from the beginning that Erdogan was calling the shots. In December 2002, US President George W. Bush stunned the Turkish political establishment in Ankara by inviting Erdogan to the White House. "You believe in the Almighty, and I believe in the Almighty. That's why we'll be great partners," the American president is said to have told his counterpart. Proceeding on to Europe, Erdogan received assurances that the EU would commence accession negotiations with Ankara in December 2004 if Turkey undertook sufficient political and economic reforms.
In part because of American and European de facto recognition of Erdogan's authority, the Turkish military accepted the new administration's amendment of the constitution to lift the ban on Erdogan's political activity and holding of a by-election to allow for his entry into parliament (a requirement to be prime minister). In March 2004, Erdogan formally assumed the premiership.
Nor is it anything new that Katil Erdoğan is, in fact, pursuing an Islamist agenda:
In contrast to Erbakan, he [Erdoğan] developed a keen understanding of when not to push his agenda. He banned alcohol from municipal establishments, but wisely took no steps to ban drinking in restaurants (as a number of other Welfare mayors attempted to do). After initially endorsing a project to build a large Mosque complex in the heart of the city, he quickly abandoned the idea when his constituents organized protests.
[ . . . ]
Erdogan nevertheless got into trouble in 1997 by publicly reading a passage from a well-known poem written by Ziya Gokalp (1876-1924), sociologist, writer, and theoretician of Turkish nationalism: "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers." Charged with crimes against laiklik, Erdogan was jailed for 10 months and banned from politics for the rest of his life - an experience which led him to appreciate the futility of confronting Kemalist political traditions head on.
It appears that his initial experience didn't create enough appreciation.
What confrontation with Kemalist political traditions has Katil Erdoğan been focusing on for months now? Head scarves. But AKP's deputy prime minister, Cemil Çiçek now claims that AKP is going to focus on more important issues . . . for real and for true, from CNN:
Cicek, however, downplayed the importance of the legal challenge, saying: "We are focusing on economic issues and reforms to progress the country's membership bid to join the European Union."
The only reason Çiçek is talking like this is because Katil Erdoğan "swiftly ordered his party’s members not to comment to the press on the case, initial reports said on Monday," according to Islamist Zaman. That's just like banning any media reporting of the Ergenekon case, which Erdoğan also ordered. Zaman listed another priority of Çiçek:
Speaking shortly after Ergün, government spokesperson and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek said after a Cabinet meeting yesterday evening that the court process would not affect the government’s functioning. He said the government would continue to concentrate on its priorities such as the economy and the European Union accession process.
[ . . . ]
He said the process ahead concerning the closure of the AK Party was the business of the court. “Our priority right now is İzmir’s EXPO 2015. Our priorities are economic balances and seeing success in our negotiations with the EU.”
CHP's Deniz Baykal is going to help Çiçek out:
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Deniz Baykal in his initial remarks on the decision said he would not be commenting, “'The only issue I have on my agenda is İzmir,' he said, referring to the vote of an international body on İzmir’s bid to host the EXPO world fair in 2015."
Oh, little Flower! Oh, little Sea! You are both SO screwed:
Izmir was shocked by the final results of the voting held on the location of EXPO 2015 after having spent 15 million Euros on publicity. Turkey received only 65 votes out of 152 countries, losing out to Milan on the opportunity to host Expo 2015.
Time to focus on something else, guys, like maybe how your goons are murdering Kurds in The Southeast?
Of course, we should be absolutely clear as to the exact reason that the EU--good old economic club that it is--is concerned about the upcoming trial against the AKP, from Market Watch:
Turkey's stocks and currency fell sharply on Monday, battered by a much weaker-than-expected report on GDP growth in the fourth quarter as well as heightened political concerns.
[ . . . ]
The index has tumbled 30% year-to-date, making it one of the worst performers among major emerging markets indexes. The underperformance of Turkish stocks this year is in stark contrast to their outperformance in 2007.
The Turkish currency, the lira, was also battered on Monday. The lira tumbled 2.6% against the euro and 2% against the U.S. dollar.
"This morning, the sell-off in the Turkish markets continues on the back of the weak GDP numbers, increased political tensions in Turkey and renewed jitters in the global credit markets," said Lars Christensen, chief analyst at Denmark's Danske Bank, in a research note.
"The lira looks very fragile in the global environment," he said.
Monday's decline in the Turkish lira reflects a broad weakness in the currency this year. The lira has tumbled about 12% against the U.S. dollar year-to-date.
Well, we all know that the value of the dollar has been dropping like a rock, but it sounds like an even bigger rock dropping in Ankara. Compare that with something a friend sent in email last week, from Britain's Telegraph:
Turkey is first in line for any stress test, said Neil Schering, an East Europe expert at Capital Economics.
"I wouldn't want to keep any money in the Turkish lira: the puzzle is how it has stayed so high for so long. There are huge imbalances in the economy. The current account deficit is nearly 8pc of GDP, and the chief prosecutor is trying to shut down the government," he said, referring to last week's court move to ban the ruling Islamic AKP party, as well as the president and prime minister, for alleged breach of the country's secular laws.
Turkey has a foreign debt of $276bn. The Istanbul bank YapiKredi says Turkish companies may have great difficulty raising some $48bn of fresh loans needed this year to stay afloat.
Neil must be having kittens over the Turkish economy today, but someone needs to fill him in on Turkey's use of black and green money to keep its economy going. An example, from Dissident Voice:
According to London’s Letter written by a Member of Parliament, “The war against drugs and drug trafficking in Britain is huge. Turkish heroin in particular is a top priority for the MI6 and the Foreign Ministry. During his visit to the British Embassy in Ankara, the head of the Foreign Office’s Turkey Department was clear about this. He reassured an English journalist that the heroin trade was more important than billions of pounds worth of trade capacity and weapons selling. When the journalist in question told me about this, I was reminded of my teacher’s words at university in Ankara ten years ago. He was also working for the Turkish Foreign Ministry. The topic of a lecture discussion was about Turkey’s Economy and I still remember his words today,
“50 billion dollars worth of foreign debt is nothing, it is two lorry loads of heroin...”
Kendal Nezan has also written about one source for the Ankara regime's black money--its drug trafficking. Green money includes such businesses as Ülker, İhlas Holding, and Gülen's empire, from TDN:
One inevitable part of the picture is Muslim spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen, who now resides in the United States. Today the Gulen community controls a nationwide media empire that includes a television station (Samanyolu), a radio station (Burc FM), a daily newspaper (Zaman) and a weekly magazine (Aksiyon) and several other periodicals. It also owns an Islamic (interest-free) bank (Asya Finans) and is linked to a number of business groups and prosperous entrepreneurs who help fund many of his endeavors especially in the field of education, a network of 150 schools in Turkey and possibly more abroad.
As the BBC reports, "The AKP argues the case against it is an attack on democracy," and this is certainly what they'd like everyone to believe so that they can go on playing the victim of the big, bad secularists. But in the wake of the Ergenekon busts, there are rumors that AKP is working to establish its own Deep State.
Any argument that claims the AKP closure case is merely a matter of "democracy" is an argument from hypocrisy. As correctly noted by Ilter Turan of Istanbul's Bilgi University, in the CNN article:
"The ruling party had no reaction when the chief prosecutor sought to disband a pro-Kurdish party," Turan said, referring to a case against the Democratic Society Party on charges of ties to Kurdish rebels.
Even Yusuf Kanlı, of TDN, asked: "Who had opposed and criticized the closure case filed against the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP)?" Certainly Katil Erdoğan didn't oppose or criticize that closure case. Neither did Olli Rehn and the EU.
To paraphrase Katil Erdoğan during the Amed Serhildan: Whoever cries for AKP now, let's hope they will cry in vain.