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23 November 2013


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William R. Cumming

Educated men and women seem to be voting with their feet and trying to leave Turkey! IMO of course.

different clue

Can Turkey de-Islamize without civil violence or a civil war? Or at least a military coup? And if the military did that, wouldn't they then have violent confrontations with Erdogan's white-helmet police (or whatever they are called?)

If the "lesser Israelists" somehow seize power in Israel and force a shrinkdown of Israel's current footprint and meanwhile Erdogan retains power over Turkey, will Erdogan's islamists make Turkey the new most-unloved country in the Middle East? Would Erdogan really be prepared to throw away everything that Erdogan began by winning and building?


Just the opposite Mr. Cumming, there is opportunity in Turkey and good life for anyone who knows how to use 21st century skills and brains. I am personally case in point as many, many people I know here. And many, many American and UK expats in my social circle like myself are quite content.

Switch 21st century brains and skill set with 20th century, and overseas for big cities like Istanbul, same applies to people from the hinterland. Turkey lived through terrible brain and labor drains previous 4 decades. It has been reversed noticeably for the last 12 years.

The problem however is something else. It has to do with which direction Turkey is going. Say personal freedoms and freedom of press, and religion in civic government. This is very troubling to the majority of the especially well educated public. It has hit a point where economic gains of the past 12 years no longer compensate for the radical changes that has been imposed on a body politic by a government that was elected by a largely uneducated, on the financial fringes, religious and traditional, almost majority. Erdogan and AKP, especially recently, is a case in point of how a dictatorship of majority can be established through brutal rhetoric and Prussian like party discipline using any and all means.

This is a class war in huge a scale and scope. The losers so far have been too docile and clueless, the winners, now overconfident and full of hubris of epic proportions. Their implosion is imminent however, hopefully legally and in the ballot box in the upcoming three elections next year.

Speaking of case in point, I have been reading a great book to put Turkey in perspective for me, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson's "Why Nations Fail." Oh, how I wish I could make Erdogan and AKP Cabinet read it and comprehend it before it gets worse.


Albayim, and all you wise men whose opinions I came to respect here, I have been writing pretty much the same observations about Turkey in the past few years. I think the audience here with a few exceptions have gotten a handle on the situation in Turkey. It has been a long process, because Turkey has not even been on the news in previous decades until Erdogan came to power and changed course, both domestically and internationally.

So now we all know the reality on Turkey, I would be happy to see the discussion to veer towards the future, entertaining predictions, and projections.

The beaver

Turkish Ambassador expelled by Egypt:

The beaver


Looks like the P5+1 and Iran have reached a deal tonight ( or morning in Geneva)

I guess the "insults" of Khamenei towards France must have hit the spot ( I am just assuming since we don't have the details of the deal yet) and this is another good article on the subject:


"After becoming president of France in 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy — allegedly inspired by George W. Bush — threw France’s diplomatic weight in the opposite direction, putting enormous energy into bringing Iran to its knees and personally exhorting other European leaders to follow his course. When Barack Obama sought a deal to swap highly enriched fuel for less enriched fuel in 2009, Paris “did everything to kill the idea,” according to a French diplomatic source.

Sarkozy exited the Élysée Palace in 2012, but left behind him at the Quai d’Orsay (home of the foreign ministry) a tightly knit group of officials, including its political director, Jacques Audibert, and Simon de Galbert, its director for disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. Such people, I am told, “drank from the cup of neoconservatism.” Many had graduated from the ideological swamp of French leftist theory to an equally fantastical adherence to core neocon tenets: unswerving obedience to Israel’s dictates, coupled with militarism lightly disguised as promotion of democracy."

Babak Makkinejad

20 years ago, in 1993, 32 Alevi intellectuals were burnt to death by a Sunni mob - that was before the days of the AKP.

The Concept of Freedom, as understood by the Euro-Americans, is not developed in Islam.

It cannot be easily grafted to Islam either - in my opinion.

I think at least when it comes to the safeguarding of the individual against the depredations of the state, may be one could invoke the religious duty of the Promotion of Virtue and Opposition to Vice; vice being state's arbitrariness and lawlessness and virtue being respect for the rule of law and the dignity and worth of the individual.

I think for a limited form of Freedom of Creed - as understood among Euro-Americans - one might refer to the verse in the Cow Chapter were all True religions are considered to be an species of Islam.

It would do nothing for the Alevis, the Bahai, the Ahmadis and others like them but will help Christians, Sabeans, Jews, Mandeans, and Zoroastrians who live among Muslims.

To help syncretic sects of Islam, you have to perform more fancy footwork.

Or, alternatively, you can try a policy of benign neglect.

But something approximating US or Germany or France is not possible in a Muslim polity - in my opinion.


Little Green Football Comment:
"Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia, the EU and the US. Oh, I have a question. Where’s Israel on this 'deal?'"

My answer:
"What are 'we', chopped liver."

Hard to get that sentence out of my mind. ;)


"Turkey's long standing friendly relationship with Israel is at an end."

Alhamdulill-h. I would imagine that even some thoroughly secularized Turks resent Israel's actions against their fellow citizens. As long as Turkey maintains a friendly relationship with the US...

As for Syria. Assad always kept a safe haven for Kurds in Northern Syria - this I know from experience. Every Turkish administration prior to the current one protested about this.

Egypt. It should be a badge of honor for a country to have its Ambassador expelled from a country that exercises a coup against a democratically elected government. Or is that being simplistic and naive?

I have a good friend and former colleague on the faculty at Bilkent. She assures me that not every Erdogan supporter is a religious fanatic. Some are just ordinary Muslims who'd like to see secularism tempered with some religious sensibility and sensitivity. What's wrong with that?


Erdogan's very own police forces these days are called "Cevik Kuvvet", literally translates to Agile Force, but very much like a "Quick Reaction Force". They are the ones who literally bombard, charge, beat and chase protesters on the streets and public squares. They are not the typical beat cops who live with the population, but rather are based in cities away from where they are sent to quell demonstrations with brutal efficiency and no pity.

In the unrest years of 60s and 70s cops indeed wore white US made bakalite helmet liners. They were one smidgeon better organized, equipped and trained than Keystone Cops. Based upon my personal observations, I have no doubt that "Cevik Kuvvet" is trained and equipped by a US based private security firm.



"is that being simplistic and naive?" Yes. As for the idea that not all members of Erdogan's party are fanatics, so what? He is. pl


"It should be a badge of honor for a country to have its Ambassador expelled from a country that exercises a coup against a democratically elected government. Or is that being simplistic and naive?"

Unfortunately, more simplistic than naïve, just because a government is elected democratically does not mean they are democrats, or believe in democracy. A tyranny of majority is just as bad, if not worse than the tyranny of one man.

Also, as terrible as it sounds, I give it thought whether there may be instances where a coup is justified.

A hierarchy based on rank is essential to a disciplined Army, but is non-liberal and non- humanitarian. Yet it is a good thing.

William R. Cumming

Babak M.! Apparently Mustapha Kemal agreed with you!

Am I wrong!

Babak Makkinejad

I do not know.

But I think that for any durable notion of freedom outside of Europe and North America, it has to be organically tied to the local traditions.

It cannot be create by Fiat.


Mrs. Babak Makkinejad, and William R. Cumming,

Ataturk tried to create a concept of freedom "not tied to local traditions". He was very much a man of the era of enlightenment, trained and matured in such an environment.

He knew that if he opened up the doors that were closed shut during the Ottoman Empire, in the Turkey he created, enlightenment would seep in eventually, along with very Anglo-American concepts of freedom, political and personal. Its inevitable and a necessary condition.

I witness it everyday in Turkey, I counteract with young people who prove to me that they have caught the light Ataturk let seep in.

Unfortunately, the deeply religious and traditional masses never caught on, and could not see benefit even to try. With the government in power now, they maybe even see benefit not to try and go the other way.

Modern Turkey had been a poor country since its conception, and the antidote of bigotry and ignorance, modern education, did not reach the masses, especially in the hinterland, even today. I make the correlation, again from personal experience-not one of my college educated friends and colleagues, no matter what background they come from, are fundamentalists, and are secular. They have a very contemporary understanding of freedom. Most are willing to go out on the limb, as proven by the Gezi protests. Your skeptical minds would ask, how many out of 76 million, well, yes, percentage-wise, not many. Influence-wise, enough to stir something up in the rest of the population of young people, who would be in position 10, 20 years from now perhaps to continue from where Ataturk revolutions have hick-upped.

So again, I think its a flawed question whether democracy and western idea of freedom and Islam can co-exist. I venture to say that it can, as long as Islam is understood and adhered to only, and merely as a personal, spiritual means of making sense of the world. This is by the way, only an observation, and not a personal manifestation, derived from my efforts to understand why Islam, when communal is so open to misinterpretation and exploitation.


Mr. Cumming, I was wondering, if you had the chance to read "The Immortal Ataturk: A Psychobiography by Vamık D. Volkan, Norman Itzkowitz" and "Atatürk: The Rebirth Of A Nation by John Kinross".

Please do not misunderstand, I value your comments here immensely, if you have read these two books, somebody else might not have. But both are really good reads, and not just myth making.

William R. Cumming

Thanks Kunuri!

I have not read these but I found the discussion of Turkey as a 21st century historical lynch pin by Paul Kennedy in his discussion of possible new World players of great interest.

He also added Brazil, Mexico, and Nigeria. But his basic conclusion is India and China will bookend the century.

Will add your books to my long reading list!

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

I think that the understanding of Islam that you describe cannot be achieved in a real Muslim polity at any price.

Can a man marry 4 women?

Is a man free to accost another man exercising his inalienable religious duty of Promotion of Virtue and Opposition to Vice?

To call Attaturk a figure of Enlightenment, in my opinion, a gross mis-characterization of him. He created a secularist disaster and not another France or the United States.

And Enlightenment, in Europe, was fundamentally against Religion - first Catholicism and now, in its late forms, against any religion save the Semi-Religion of Shoah.

Now, back to the people in the hinter-land, as you call them.

I just do not believe that the way young women exercise their freedoms in US and UK would be acceptable in Turkey or will ever be.

Do they have the right to live in a Muslim society in which the seamless garment of Islam covers all society?

I think it will be a good idea to develop these concepts of freedom within Islam an not without it since otherwise they cannot long endure in the soil of Anatolia.


Correction to myself:

"not one of my college educated friends and colleagues, no matter what background they come from, are NOT fundamentalists, and are secular."

Sorry, really a material typo.


Babak Makkinejad,

I imagine you are much better versed in Moslem religion than I, but Sir, I am sure you have a very wide scope of knowledge, but somehow you are arriving at conclusions which are so disconnected that I don't honestly know where to start.

Just for one example, "I just do not believe that the way young women exercise their freedoms in US and UK would be acceptable in Turkey or will ever be."

This is so patently uncharacteristic and just is not true. Southern Turkey is full to the brim with tourists during the hot summers and millions of Brits, Russians, Americans Germans flock to the beaches and recreate Daytona Beach during Spring Break by tenfold. How I know this, because I lived in and through both. No holds barred and no problems. Many Turks marry Americans and Brits and many other Western women, very few problems and no backlash from their societies and the families. A few years back a TV series about the marriage of a young Greek and Turkish couple has been intensly popular. A gay parade in Istanbul last summer drew 100,000 persons. Young people freely date, kiss, live together in Istanbul, maybe all around Turkey, but I can't assert that because I am for the time being limited to Istanbul although the same may be speculated about Ankara and Izmir.

So, young women exercising their freedoms, at almost UK and US levels, applies to Turkey, not all, not universally, but it is there, I see it. I wish you could see and form your opinion on the ground here as far as this assertion is concerned. I hope a topless beach in Antalya would not be too much for you in your investigations.

And the "seamless garment of Islam " does not cover the whole society. Turkey is not Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is still not a theocracy or an oligarchy, or a monarchy.

"I think it will be a good idea to develop these concepts of freedom within Islam an not without it since otherwise they cannot long endure in the soil of Anatolia."

And this comment I think is downright condescending and misinformed. Turks are not Arabs or Persians, they are infinitely sensible and practicle, and adoptable. Sorry, but Turks endured everything in Anatolia you can think of, and persevered. I bet Colonel Lang would not mind leading a Batallion of Turkish soldiers against anybody, and odds.


Babak Makkinejad,

So basically you are saying, Turkey project is a disaster, Ataturk is a failure since his vision has not taken hold in 90 years to make Turkey like US and UK and if it is not the Islam way, than it is the highway. Nothing in between, or in context. That sounds to me an opinion based upon rigid fundementals.



I would have been honored. pl

Babak Makkinejad

I am saying that you and others need to spend some brain-power to develop something between the two sides.

Attaturk was successful in forcing limited changes unto a fundamentalist Sunni polity; some for good and some for ill.

But he and his successors never succeeded in moving beyond bayonete secularism.

On the other hand, men like Gulen or Erdogan, do not have any answers when it comes to treatment of syncretic sects of Islam or Personal Liberty within Islam.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

Yet you have refused to address my point: "Do those Turks in the hinterland have a right to live under the seamless grament of Islam?"

I take it you do not believe that they do.

I think we can live it at that.



"Do they have the right to live in a Muslim society in which the seamless garment of Islam covers all society?"

If I may interject a question? Who's interpretation of the seamless garment of Islam will they live under?

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