Bob Orleck’s response to the following article:
Halkias: A Middle East primer – its people
by Opinion from Telly Halkias | August 23, 2013
See more at: http://vtdigger.org/2013/08/23/halkias-a-middle-east-primer-its-people/#sthash.hxc1KsMk.dpuf
The article was informative and I enjoyed reading what the author had to say. My knowledge of the Middle East comes mostly from attending and teaching Sunday school in church so I am familiar with many of the cultural groups that exist throughout that part of the world.
The reason I am posting on this is because I have direct personal knowledge of the situation that currently exists in Turkey and how through arrest of their own military leaders and journalists, the civilian Islamist government has made major moves to turn Turkey into a dictatorial fundamentalist Islamic state. Once Turkey was a free secular state and once it was a close ally to both the United States and Israel but no more. The loss of this even hand that Turkey brought to Middle East politics should be a concern for all who worry about that part of the world.
One only needs to understand who Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was and what he established in Turkey when he became the First President of the Turkish Republic and then consider the turmoil that is happening there today as Islamists have moved strongly to remove the influence of his teachings and the social and political change he brought to Turkey which made it the only secular governed country in the Middle East.
The military was dedicated to the teachings of Ataturk and thus acted to insure a secular and democratic approach to governing. Somehow the Islamists got the upper hand what seems to be about 3 years ago and summarily imprisoned those leaders who were insuring freedom for the people.
Democracy is no longer the order of the day in Turkey. If you do your research on the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer (Balyoz) cases, you will know what I am talking about. Half of the Admiralty of the Turkish Navy, good men, and Turkish patriots who have defended in Turkey the kind of freedom we take for granted in the United States, as well as other top military leaders have been arrested and imprisoned on fabricated, doctored digital evidence that they conspired to overthrow the Islamist Turkish Republic. The evidence used to convict over 400 of Turkey’s top military leaders was generated in 2003 and has reference to happenings in 2006. There is something terribly wrong with that kind of evidence and there is no doubt that it is fabricated. Even more wrong is when the courts and prosecutors, who are controlled by the executive have accepted and relied on this bogus evidence! The military leaders I speak of are now in prison for no offense other than being pro-western and caring for the rule of law in what is becoming more and more a fundamentalist dictatorship.
Even the United Nations has declared the pre-trial detention of 250 of these military leaders violates their human rights but Turkey seems to be ignoring that because they are still in jail. As Turkey moves closer and closer to a civil war, the threat to the United States and our ally Israel is serious and our press and our people need to know more about what is happening there. This article seems to have missed this sore spot that is festering right now and our press has done little to follow it and that is the reason I write this.
I know that Mr. Halkias’s discussion was not intended to focus on Turkey and its turmoil but was about the cultural makeup of the Middle East, however, I hope my input has added something to the conversation.
To shed light on your word “somehow,” when referring to an Islamist-leaning party gaining power in Turkey… there’s no mystery to it: they were elected. And during Turkey’s history since Ataturk, the military undemocratically stomped on anyone who didn’t follow the secular path, even if it was the will of the majority.
It’s important to acknowledge that often the types of governments people freely elect, ironically, end up being anti-democratic, at least in some regards.
Jamal Kheiry quote: “To shed light on your word “somehow,…”
Mr. Kheiry: You misunderstand what I meant by “somehow”. Prime Minister Erdogan has been in elected office for a long time and what I was questioning was how he was able to imprison 450 top military leaders when they have all the guns. I have not engaged in any conversation about how that occurred so it became “somehow”.
True the prime minister won the election. But he has recently changed his tactics since doing so and the people do not like what he has been doing so there are now mass peaceful protests and like a true dictator who wants to stay in power he has turned on his people with water cannons and tear gas.
The people were with him in the past because he allowed for the secular democratic ideals of Ataturk to function. That would have not been the case but for the fact that the military followed and made clear that the country would function under such. But the prime minister is an autocrat, who saw the opportunity to throw off the one thing that held back the exercise of his lust for single handed power and that was the implicit threat of a coup d’état, as real or imagined as it might be.
By ignoring the rule of law and wrongly imprisoning military leaders who had done no wrong, he instilled a fear into the rest of the military that they might wake up in the morning, read the news and see that he is after them too. So with the imprisonment of those who held his power in check and of the journalists who try to expose what he is up to, Erdogan is able to take his unrestrained rule down the Islamist path which it seems he is doing.
What we may be seeing is that the majority of the Turkish people want the freedoms that the military made possible and tacitly enforced and are willing to stand up for their military friends and for those freedoms.
And it is important to note about this that the evidence that was used to charge these men with conspiracy to overthrow the Republic of Turkey has been shown by experts there and in our country to be bogus. The UN has found that these men have had their human rights violated. The matter is before the Supreme Court in Turkey right now but the executive branch has apparent control of not only the courts, but the prosecutors as well and because they have not been able to suppress the lawyers who are fighting for the rule of law and their clients, Erdogan has turned on them also.
This is one of those situations you speak of where a democratically elected government has become undemocratic and I might add grossly so.
Dear Messrs. Orleck and Kheiry,
Thank you for jumping in and continuing the conversation in a learned and civil way.
It is true that the situation in Turkey, past just my cursory review of their demographic, has turned more dangerous in the past half-decade.
Turkey was a considerable ally and therefore asset during the Cold War, armed to the teeth, I might add, by the US, on the USSR’s southern flank. In fact, US arms manufacturers still do considerable business there as my own direct personal links to the region can attest.
Because of Ataturk’s secular national philosophy, in the 20th century Turkey was able to lift itself out of the rubble of the Ottoman Empire and not only survive, but thrive. Militarily, it’s quite possible that it has no power match in the Middle East; therefore, it served/s the US as a huge counterbalance against Islamic extremism, a sort of 500-lb gorilla in the room that could secure the northern frontier of the entire mess below it.
This security is now in question. Fundamentalists have a way of influencing huge percentages of the electorate; still, it remains, at least for now, secular. Turkey will play a key role this next decade in the direction of the entire Middle East. We would be wise to pay close attention to developments there–perhaps as close as anywhere else.
Please feel free to continue your dialogue at your leisure and discretion. Thank you again for your interest in the subject.
Thanks for the clarification.
An added note by Bob Orleck: On October 9, 2013, the Supreme Court of Turkey failed to render justice as they upheld the conviction of these innocent, patriotic military officers. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers and speak out on the injustice when you can.