Executions, purges, and the shuttering of opposition and Kurdish media mark Erdogan’s ongoing power grabs — as he tries to end NATO’s mission stemming refugee flows to Europe.
CounterJihad, October 31, 2016:
Turkey’s military forces have just seized the Hagia Sophia, appointing a full-time imam to lead Islamic prayers there after 80 years of it being held as a neutral place for both Christians and Muslims. The move is symbolic, but shows clearly the designs of Turkey’s Islamist president.
The Turkish government under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used the abortive coup of this summer to deepen its control over every aspect of Turkish life, but especially the media and education. Over ten thousand public servants have been purged from the government in recent days, raising the total figure to over a hundred thousand — some 37,000 of whom have been arrested. Erdoğan has pressed the Turkish parliament to reinstate the death penalty so that he can begin disposing of those he has identified as his enemies.
“Our government will take this proposal [on capital punishment] to parliament. I am sure parliament will approve it, and when it comes back to me, I will ratify it…Soon, soon, don’t worry. It’s happening soon, God willing. The West says this, the West says that. Excuse me, but what counts is not what the West says. What counts is what my people say.”
According to CounterJihad’s sources, the detained who are subjected to trial must submit to having all of their conversations with their lawyers recorded whenever the prosecution requests it. Such recordings are of course admissible as evidence against the client — or the lawyer, if he comes to be considered an enemy of the state from working too hard to defend people already classified as ‘enemies of the state.’
The detained include especially members of opposition media. The leadership of the Cumhuriyet daily newspaper, which is nearly a century old, were arrested and their laptops seized by the police. Their paper is not only critical of Erdoğan , but occasionally supportive of the Kurdish minority. That appears to be grounds for arrest in Turkey now: even two mayors were seized by order of a Turkish court on suspicion of being sympathetic to Kurdish militants. In addition to the attacks on the Cumhuriyet daily, 15 Kurdish news outlets have been shuttered by order of the state. A pro-Kurdish television station was raided by police and forced off the air.
In addition to the media, the state has moved to consolidate control over its system of higher education. Some 1267 academics who signed a “Peace Petition” last January have been removed from their jobs according to CounterJihad’s sources, and several have been arrested and charged with “terroristic acts” for signing or forwarding that petition. Our sources tell us that under the new laws, President Erdoğan must personally approve all new university presidents.
At the same time, the Turkish government is pressing NATO to end its naval mission aimed at containing migration flows across the Mediterranean sea. Turkey claims that the mission is no longer needed, but the siege of Mosul is expected to produce at least a million new refugees in the coming months. The Russian operations against Aleppo are likewise expected to produce new waves of migrants.
Turkey appears to be using its position within NATO to advance Russia’s interest here, which is to flood Europe with migrants in order to overburden European governments. That will produce a Europe less able to resist Russian expansion into Eastern Europe. Turkey and Russia recently signed a major energy deal, clearing the way for at least an economic alliance. Erd also moved to abandon daylight savings time, a shift that places Turkey in the same time zone as Moscow. Russia for its part appears to be negotiating a peace between Turkey and Iran on a partition of Iraq, one that would give Turkey greater control over its Kurdish problems. If Russia succeeds in peeling Turkey off from NATO, it would invalidate the alliance as NATO requires unanimous decisions for all military decisions.