Monthly Archives: August 2007

To whom does Çankaya belong? [Turkish Presidents official residence]

Turkish Football fans seen yesterday wearing Abdullah Gül’s masks portray what they thought about General Buyukanit saber rattling.

Turkish Parliamentarians have finally elected a new President of the Republic in former Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül, who had been nominated by the Governing AK Party, who were recently returned to office in the 2007 General Election gaining 47 per cent of the vote. Yet despite their democratic mandate only yesterday on the eve of the presidential vote, the Chief of the Turkish General Staff, General Yasar Buyukanit, fired yet another shot across the AK Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan bows by issuing a public statement which claimed “centers of evil” were trying to corrode the secular nature of the Turkish Republic.

It seems the Turkish military really do need to get up to speed as to how this democracy game works in practice. If there are fair and free elections then like it or not the result stands. The military’s only political task is to see that the democratic will of the people prevails, not fight to over turn it.

But then we should hardly be surprised at this abomination of a threat against the will of the Turkish people. As these days refusing to recognize governments who have an electoral mandate has become all the rage with certain Neo-conservative western politicians, the more so when the winning party can be labeled as political islam. The USA and the EU refused to recognize the mandate of Palestinian Hamas, despite the electoral process through which Hamas claimed their governmental mandate being given a clean bill of health by the international electoral observers. Richard Perle a leading US Neo-conservatuve suggested some weeks ago just prior to the 2007 Turkish general election, that intervention by the Turkish military against the ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party government should not be cause for concern by Washington or the European Union. Using as a pretext the Algerian military who with US support refused to accept the mandate of the Islamist FIS party by canceling the second round of voting due to the likelihood of a FTS victory.

If the Turkish military make a disastrous decision to intervene against the will of the people as expressed by the Turkish electorate in the 2007 general election, all true democrats must rally to the Turkish people and the AK Parties support. Turkey is not a third world banana republic, where a minority get to decide who governs, but a modern 21st century Democracy. The Turkish military in the past played an important role in bringing this democracy into being. It is now time for them to withdraw from active politics, not start aping thuggish Dictators of the past, Ataturk deserves better than that.


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Filed under democratic mandates/general elections, turkey/democracy

My Garden, one of life’s wonders.

There is more to life than politics alone.


Filed under art, life's wonders., nature

Documentary on the contested legacy of Ataturk.

For anyone interested in how the Turkish Republic came into being; and why a statue of Mustafa Kamal stands in every Turkish city, town and village square, Al Jazeera’s Imran Garda produced an interesting documentary which explores the extraordinary and contested legacy of Ataturk, it can be found here on You Tube.

Part 0ne.–

Part two—

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Filed under Turkey/politics/democracy/history/islam/current affairs

Political Islam is far from a single homogeneous group

When it comes to political islam, it appears the majority of the western media have taken their lead from their political masters and bracketed it within the context of the ‘clash of civilizations,’ so beloved of George W Bush. Thus organizations as diverse as Palestinian Hamas, Lebanese Hezbullar, the Afghan Talaban and Al-Qaeda are all portrayed as terrorist groups beyond the pale, as if they were a single homogeneous Group. Whilst the Turkish Justice and Development Party [AK] is seen as less of a threat and is described as being only partially islamic, what ever that may mean. As to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood [MB] from whom much of todays political islam took its lead, they are hardly mentioned as to do so would entail an analyses of the US backed regime in Cairo led by President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak, and that would not do at all. Even when the media find it is impossible to ignore the Muslim Brotherhood, for example when Murbarak is conducting one of his periodic show trials of his political opponents, they normally start by reminding us that Osama bin Laden’s number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri used to be a member of the Muslim brotherhood, hint hint, nudge nudge.

In reality political islam represents a host of differing political positions and to attempt to blanket them as a single homogenous group is ridiculous, dangerous and uninformative. Like the political parties in the west, political islam has certain core beliefs in common, those who adhere to it all claim to be culturally, morally and socially conservative, but even here there are different degrees of conservatism. Whereas the Talaban [and Al Qaeda] would cease all education for girls if it regained State power, and require all women to were Burkas. Hezbullar, Hamas and the AK party actively encourage girls to go to school and women to become socially active in all walks of life. For the AK party head scarves are a matter of personal choice, although like many conservatives in the west they believe women should be dressed modestly.

Organizations like the Talaban and Al Al-Qaeda basically believe ‘islam is the answer’ to all of life’s problems whether social or political and the words of the Quran should be law. They are reactionary to the core as they refuse to take into account how the world has changed since Mohammed’s day. On the other side of political islam the Turkish AK Party, whilst accepting the religious heritage that is common to all muslims, believes that political islam must be pragmatic and compete with other intellectual frameworks that islamist’s cannot ignore or remove from the arena’s of public activity. Thus it feels comfortable in a modern democratic State, indeed it thrives in such an environment as recent events in Turkey has proven.

Hamas and Hezbullar due to the violent circumstances of their birth, lies somewhere between Al-Qaeda and the AK, although having said this they are nearer the AK Party than they are to an organization like Al Qaeda, which worships death and positively encourages it activists to embrace it. To date neither organization has much in common with the Wahabi philosophy of Osama Bin Laden. Indeed if anything, organizationally political islam has taken much from the radical left of the the 20th Century.

Hezbullar, Hamas and the AK Party all put considerable energies into building their support base. All have a strong electoral machine at neighborhood level, which has proved it can get out the vote come election day. All three believe strongly in social infrastructure, education and health care being a priority. Where they have political power, as in the case of AK Party, they have channeled government funds into these areas and have been particularly successful when doing this at both municipal and governmental levels.

When they have no central government to provide these funds, as was the case with Hamas and Hezbullar and to a degree still is, they have gone ahead and set up schools and health centers to provide for the less well off economically, using as their pretext to finance these projects the Quran, which places both a high value and a duty on charitable acts. Whereas the only duty Bin Laden seems to place on muslims is to fight and kill the Kaffir. [non believer’s].

Broadly speaking it is therefore fair to conclude that political islam falls into three distinctive groups. Those who are inspired by Bin Laden and his acolytes, who blame all the worlds ills on non muslims with the USA to the fore. There main political aim is to re-establish a single Caliphate throughout the muslim world. This will be a dictatorship in all but name and will come into being by putting all non believers and those muslims who are prepared to coexist with the kaffirs to the sword. They do not appear to have a social program beyond the normal acts of charity every muslim must adhere to; and it has to be said when Osama Bin Laden closest supporters the Afghan Talaban held power, they governed in a barbaric and antiquated manner which saw Satan’s hand every where. Thus I doubt there are more than a tiny minority of muslims who would wish to live under such a yoke.

The second grouping is more interesting in that events, especially the creation of the State of Israel more than anything else has moulded it into what it is today, Hamas and Hezbullar are the two main adherents of this type of political islam and whilst they are both heavily influenced by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, it is the way the Israeli state has behaved in southern Lebanon and the occupied West Bank and Gaza that has been the catalyst for their growth. Once Arafat’s Fatah and the PLO became a nest of squabbling bureaucrats, bent on enriching themselves at the Palestinian peoples expense, the rise of an organization to replace them in the affections of the Palestinian masses became inevitable. They alighted on Hamas because they were already within their midst having set up desperately needed health centers and schools within Gaza, indeed Hamas grew out of the educational work of its founder the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. That the Americans and EU refused to recognize a Hamas led government after free and fair Palestinian elections only added to their popularity.

The ignorance and unjustness of US foreign policy takes ones breath away, for had the US recognized Hamas electoral mandate, in all probability it would have evolved into a modern democratic party in the mould of the AKP. The fact that Hamas now has strong contacts with Iran is based on needs must. For having been black balled by the US and EU they had no one else to turn to. Hezbullar has found it self in the same position although it has some leeway due to its links with Syria. Despite the US administration stigmatizing Hamas and Hezbullar as terrorist organizations, it is often over looked that both organizations genuinely believe in representative democracy. It was only after PLO intelligence goon squads started to prepare a coup against Hamas in its Gaza stronghold that it was forced to act militarily against their Palestine enemies. That PLO intel in Gaza were led by Mohammed Dahlan, the CIA’s Palestinian point man, speaks volumes about who baked this particular pie.

Finally we come to Turkey’s Justice and Development Party, [AKP] it is the strongest, most representative and democratic section of political islam. Whilst it is a product of political islam it is equally a product of the enormous social changes that have and are still taking place within Turkey. Where due to the growth of the economy in the last 25 years, a whole new social strata has emerged within the Anatolia heartlands, many of whom are using the AK Party to break through the glass ceiling that was put in place by the Kemalist middle class founders of the Turkish Republic to maintain themselves in power. The founders of the AK Party very astutely recognized that this newly emerging middle class had no direct political representatives that expressed and represented their interest; thus they had been denied access to the levers of State power. Not least because this emerging middle class were far from enamored with the brown envelope, get rich quick and to hell with the rest philosophy of the conservative parties like the ANAP and True Path Party who have mainly governed Turkey since the Military coup of 1980. That AK was able to appeal to this emerging middle class group without losing the support of the more conservative elements within the Turkish working classes and peasantry goes a long way to explain its current success at the polls.

Whilst political islam is far from the progressive socialism most of us on the left adhere to, sections of it are not the political pariah’s that they are often portrayed as by the Western media. Perhaps it is time we reserved our judgement and took time to look at political islam a little more analytically, instead of jumping to conclusions which often ape what our political opponents at home have to say about it.


Filed under EU/middle-east/Turkey/Palestine/Israel, Politics/Islam/Anti imperialism/Neo-conservatives

Back to the Future.

This cartoon first appeared on the Blanket Web site.

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Filed under north of Ireland-Polıtıcs

Should Iraqi Translators be given Asylum in UK and USA?

The controversy that has erupted on the internet and within sections of the media, over whether Iraqi translators working alongside ‘Coalition’ Forces in Iraq, should be given political asylum in the United Kingdom and USA may not be all it seems. As clearly there are much wider implications to this story that go beyond the translators in question and it would be interesting to know who originally dropped this particular pebble into the WWW/media pond. Could it have been someone at the heart of the US or UK Administrations.

Those who are old enough will still remember vividly the TV pictures from the US Embassy in Saigon, when the last of the US armed forces and Embassy staff began to withdraw from Vietnam as the Vietcong/PAVN approached the outskirts of the city, thousands of panic stricken Vietnamese collaborators turned up at the Embassy and demanded that they and their families be given the sanctuary in the USA they had been promised. When this was refused due to a callousness in Washington and the swiftness of the Vietcong/PAVN advance into Saigon, which left the US forces on the ground without the time or means to ferry the majority of their former allies out of the country to safety. Tens of thousands of Vietnamese people who had given their loyalty to the USA for well over a decade, were left to the mercy of their Vietnamese enemies .

Could it be that having no desire to see a rerun on our TV screens of those tragic events, the US and UK governments are attempting to smooth an escape path for the thousands of Iraqis who have collaborated with the Coalition in occupied Iraq.

So far the campaign for asylum has centered on a comparatively small number of Iraqis who have been working in the field as translators for coalition forces. However if this group were to be given the green light to enter the US and UK, there is little doubt there would be a horde of fearful Iraqis on their tail, who have also taken the invaders shilling and who would be demanding the same right to asylum. Better for the two governments to acclimatize their own people with the likelihood of this now, than suddenly announcing a mass influx of Iraqi refugees in the wake of coalition forces being brought home.

Already many of those Iraqis who are on contracts working either directly for the coalition forces, or the multi nationals like Haliburton, have moved their families out of Iraq; and into the surrounding countries in the belief that if and when the US pull out begins, they will be reunited either in the USA or UK. For those Iraqis who have attempted to fill their pockets with coalition gold or even loose change, unless they sit near the top of the greasy pole their future at home looks bleak. Make no mistake everyone from former Government Ministers to the pool boy at the US Embassy will be applying for asylum and not without reason. For once the US either pull out or retire hurt to fortress like zones, the Iraqi people will understandably demand their pound of flesh from those who collaborated with the coalition forces, who have made their lives a misery over the last four years.

Far from being welcomed as allies, many if not a majority of people within the US and UK feel they have no obligation what so ever to these Iraqi people. Due to the increasing hostility to the war and occupation of Iraq, there is little sympathy towards those Iraqis who worked for the coalition forces. Many even regard them as Quislings to their own people who will have to answer to their own for their collaboration. Whilst politicians especially George Bush, the British Defense Minister Des Browne and their media gofers still talk about their armed forces in the language of the second war period, in reality few if any people believe their armies presence in Iraq is protecting them from invasion, occupation or personal harm; and almost nobody believes those service personnel who have had their lives stolen by Bush and Blairs disastrous decision to invade Iraq, died to protect their kith and kin back home.

The vast majority just want this infantile criminal war and occupation to end, and the last thing they want is to be reminded of it by having an Iraqi Quisling living next door. At best feeling that their tax dollars/pounds and armed forces removed Saddam from power and it is now for Iraqis to rebuild there land, thus their place for good or band is back home.

A harsh assessment it is true, but if one looks at the Algerians who collaborated with the French against the FLN in their struggle for independence; and who were re-settled to southern France after the French withdrew from north Africa. It is far from a success story, the French State all but abandoned them in a strange and hostile environment. Their children and grandchildren who were born in France are rightly bitter and angry and 50 years later are still having to fight for equality and respect. The reason for this betrayal of their former allies, was that few Frenchmen wished to be reminded of a disastrous war. When it comes to Iraq, I doubt the British or Americans will be any different.


Filed under Iraq, Iraqi translators, Irish politics, neo-imperialism, UK, USA

Nineteenth Desmond Greaves School,Labour and Republicanism.

This year, the Nineteenth Desmond Greaves School will consider the theme: ‘Labour and Republicanism – The Way Forward?’ It will be held in the ATGWU Hall at 55 Middle Abbey St, Dublin 1, from Friday, August 24th to Sunday, August 26th.

The School will discuss republicanism as a political philosophy, the relationships and tensions between nationalism, republicanism, and socialism, and how republicanism and labour can contribute to progressive change in today’s Ireland.

Against this background, the Republican Congress of the 1930s and the career of Peadar O’Donnell will be reassessed. Among the speakers will be Dr Martin Mangergh, Dr. Eddie Hyland, Eamon Gilmore, Tom Hartley, Eoin O Murchu and Emmet O’ Connor.

Further information from 087-230 8330.

The Nineteenth Desmond Greaves School 2007

Labour and Republicanism – The Way Forward?

Venue: ATGWU Hall, 55 Middle Abbey St., Dublin.

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Filed under Irish politics/republicanism/socialism/communism/anti i