Tuesday, December 24, 2013

US Spokesperson re attacks US Amb Ricciardone

The following comment can be used on-the-record attributable to Jen Psaki, U.S. State Department Spokesperson:

“We find the continued baseless attacks by some elements of the Turkish media against our Ambassador, other senior U.S. officials, international media representatives, and private American citizens and groups, to be deeply disturbing.  We have made known to Turkish authorities our concerns about such allegations regarding American officials.  Turkish officials have assured us that they do not credit such false accusations against individual American officials, including Ambassador Ricciardone.  For further questions about the Turkish government’s views, I refer you to the Government of Turkey.”

Monday, December 23, 2013

US State Dept. Responds Some Turkish Media

Some pro-goverment media in Turkey have been accusing Amb Ricciardone for giving a speech to EU ambassadors, and telling them his prediction for Halk Bank is being collapsed, on the 17th of December, when the graft and corruption revelations began. SInce then, several of pro-AKP newspaper launched a campaign to declare Amb. Ricciardone "persona non grata." 

Turkish PM Erdogan also accused "some foreign envoys" of provocative actions, in reality, he was clearly referring to the US Ambassador. Erdogan, told supporters in the Black Sea province Samsun: "These recent days, very strangely, ambassadors get involved in some provocative acts. I am calling on them from here, do your job, if you leave your area of duty, this could extend into our government's area of jurisdiction. We do not have to keep you in our country."

When asked, an official from the US State Department commented regarding to these recent accusations about the US Ambassador to Turkey, Francis Ricciardone.

US State official said: “We find the continued false and slanderous attacks by some elements of the Turkish media against our Ambassador, other senior U.S. officials, international media representatives, and private American citizens and groups, to be deeply disturbing."

Official also stated what US government expects from the Turkish government for these media accusations or attacks against Americans. It's quiet interesting for the US administration to tell the Turkish government to disavow these accusations "to separate vitally important relationship" between the countries. US official said: "We hope that the Turkish government will disavow and condemn such attacks and to separate our vitally important relationship from partisan political efforts.”

US State Department official, who didn't want to give a name, also responded the following when asked about US' reaction to the ongoing graft and corruption scandal:

“We have seen these reports and are following the issue.  We have no comment on the specifics of these cases, but we would reiterate that we expect Turkey to meet the highest standards for transparency, timeliness, and fairness in its judicial system.

We refer you to the Turkish government for further details.”

Friday, December 20, 2013

Questions about the Gulen-Erdogan fight

Do you consider these events more significant than the Gezi Park protests this past summer in terms of being able to erode Erdogan's grasp on power?

Yes, I do consider these allegations more significant as it seems Erdogan is going to remove half of his cabinet shortly. His most visible ministers are falling, and nobody knows how deep these allegations will penetrate. We are truly in uncharted waters and still yet to see what kind of a counter move will Erdogan take. He already removed over 100 police chiefs, but I expect something big in the works against the Gulen Movement, and its perceived allies within the state institutions. Meanwhile, his party's image is eroding by corruption accusations, he seems vulnerable.

Do you think Erdogan is mismanaging his response to the arrests by dismissing police officers and bring back this fight against the deep state, which he now appears to see as the Gulen movement?

I do believe he is making a huge mistake, but I am not surprised to see he is taking this course of actions. We just saw how his administration handled the Gezi protests with uncompromising attitude last summer. His administration stayed mostly on the offensive against the mass protests after first week of the protests. Instead of meeting their demands, Erdogan kept organizing rallies and continued accusing the protestors by wild accusations. Erdogan appears to be considering these corruption revelations directly targeting him, and instead of letting prosecutors and TNP to go after the claims, he decided to remove hundreds of chiefs. Can he stop these revelations and corruption case? We don't know because, as serious the claims are, we can't know where will they lead. Though important to note, Erdogan’s government was able to stop the “lighthouse charity” corruption scandal before. However, the perception is that by removing all those security and judiciary figures, including who launched these corruption cases, he tries to cover up the investigations. We still have about 3 months to go to the local elections, but venture to guess that his preferred course of action will damage his electoral appeal.

How long has this battle between Erdogan and Gulen been brewing, arguably it's been years?

First, these two pious-conservative blocks never liked or approved each other's approaches and ways of doing things, a.k.a. service to Islam. However, there was a common enemy for both, the military, and as soon as that threat was effectively ended, I think the fight began brewing. If we had to start with an event, I think, Mr. Gulen's criticism towards Erdogan regarding Mavi Marmara was the beginning, which means mid-2010. However, February 7th of 2012, when MIT's head was summoned by a prosecutor shook the partnership deeply. Since then, MIT is said to have been purging Gulen followers in the state institutions aggressively and the Gulen Movement has been looking for an opening to strike back.

What a kind of truth is there to these corruption charges?

So far the allegations, leaked parts of indictments, photos, phone conversations are appalling. However, many of the evidence leaked during Ergenekon and OdaTV cases later on proved to be inaccurate. So far though, the allegations extremely significant and damning. We have to wait more to see whether these allegations will be proved in the court of law. However, even at this stage, Erdogan is already wounded.

Who are among Erdogan's remaining allies and what kind of power do they wield?

PM Erdogan and his administration has been ruling Turkey for over a decade. Therefore they apparently think, by now, they have enough of their own allies to fill ranks of the state institutions and replace the purged security and bureaucrats believed to be Gulen's followers. According to one informed source, many of the nationalist leaning bureaucrats, even if not coming from the AKP base,  have been filling the ranks that are emptied. Erdogan also now wields influence over vast segments of the Turkish media. Though, we see that now secular segments of the media bosses, which have been submitted to PM Erdogan in recent years by either tax fines or lucrative tenders, are going after the corruption accusations aggressively. So, safe to say most of Erdogan's coalition partners of the last decades, in this current fight, alienated, including liberals. He is operating by leaning on his core base (conservatives, Islamists)

What is the real extension of Fethullah Gülen influence in Turkish society? Polls say his movement has little electoral appeal, I read rumors (in The New York Times too) that he’s trying to split the AKP and finance a rival party. Do you think it is a realistic scenario?

I believe that Mr. Gulen's influence in the Turkish society is significant. Newspaper that has the largest circulation in Turkey is pro-Gulen. Also the movement has TV-news channels, magazines, radio stations and what not. Therefore, his influence is not limited to his followers, but this vast media networks that can influence the society. Financing a rival party is not realistic, but surely this media and social media campaign sharply criticizing AKP, considering will continue months to come, will make a big dent among Erdogan's electoral base. And today is only the fouth day of the revelations. Much rumors indicate we yet to see the full extent of the accusations.

Seen from a foreign country, for a long period of time the fight for power in Turkey seemed an Edrogan-Gül affair, prime minister vs. president. Even last summer during the Gezi park riots Gül was a more prominent figure than mr. Gülen. What is the role of Abdullah Gül in this context?

Mr. Gül and Mr. Erdogan always have been able to keep their differences or disagreements in private. Yes, Mr. Gül's approach was softer during Gezi protests, but Pres Gül is always known for his smooth talk. However, as the corruption and bribery scandal continues, Mr.Gül might indeed end up being the ultimate winner out of this saga for the next presidential elections. He hasn't ruled out for running the second term yet, and everyday these revelations continue, his biggest rival for the presidential spot, Mr. Erdogan loses and he wins.

What about the secular elite? The whole affair seems an intra-religious matter. What do the entrepreneurial and urban class think?

Secular elite is, in essence, is watching the whole episode, with a smile on their face. In recent years, their political reps have been ineffective and appeared weak, fragmented. The largest secular media conglomerates, one by one, lost their influence and submitted to the AKP government. Some of them became submissive with massive tax fines by the government, others got cozy with the AKP by large public tenders and/or winning energy bids, mega construction projects. That's why, practically, the Gulen Movement is left as the last safeguard that is not submissive to the AKP government. Now we are watching whether PM Erdogan can beat his last enemy, the final check on his power.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

ABD'nin İran Ambargoları Çarı Türkiye'ye Gidiyor

ABD Hazine Bakanlığı'nın Terörizm ve Finansal İstihbaratından sorumlu bakan yardımcısı David S. Cohen bu hafta Türkiye'yi ziyaret edecek. 

Ilhan Tanir

ABD Hazine Bakanlığı Sözcüsü John Sullivan Posta212'ye verdiği demeçte, İran'a ambargoların mimarı olarak bilinen Cohen'in Türkiye'ye bu hafta bir ziyarette bulunacağını ifade etti. Bugün Bakanlık tarafından da daha sonraki saatlerde anons edilen ziyaret sırasında Cohen'in 'illegal finans, bu bağlamda İran'a olan ekonomik ambargoların uygulanması' konularının görüşüleceği belirtildi.

ABD Hazine Bakanlığının 'İran Ambargoları Çarı' olarak da bilinen Cohen ve bağlı bulunduğu birim, mesaisinin büyük bir bölümünü İran'a karşı konan ambargoların global olarak yerine getirilip, getirilmediğini takip ediyor. Bu görev dahilinde de birim, dünyada hangi ülke ve uluslararası şirketlerin ABD ve BMGK ambargolarını uymadığını kontrol ediyor.

Halk Bankası Soruşturması İlintili mi?
Türkiye'de Salı günü erken saatlerden beri başlayan gözaltılarda Halk Bankası önemli bir yer tutuyor. Halk Bankası Genel Müdürü Süleyman Aslan'ın gözaltına alınması, ayrıca Reza Zarrab başta olmak üzere, diğer birçok gözaltında da İran'la yapılan altın ihracının önemli rol oynadığı sanıldığı basına yansımıştı.

Halk Bankasının Türkiye ve İran arasındaki finansal ilişkilerde eskiden beri çok önemli bir yer tutuyor. Geçtiğimiz yıllarda Halk Bankası ile ilgili şikayetler sıkça Amerikan tarafından da dile getirilmişti. Geçtiğimiz Nisan ayında da Amerikan Kongre'sinden 50'ye yakın milletvekili imzalarıyla, Halk Bankası doğrudan hedef alınmıştı. Mektup hem Dışişleri Bakanlığına hem de David Cohen'in bağlı bulunduğu Hazine Bakanlığına gönderilmiş ve Halkbank'ın İran'a yaptığı altın ihracının incelenmesi istenmişti. Bu talebin de İran'a uygulanan ambargoları sıkılaştırmak ve ayrıca terörist aktivitelerin finansını durdurmak için yapılması gerektiği kaydedilmişti. Cohen'in Türkiye'nin yanısıra bu hafta İngiltere, Almanya ve İsrail'i de ziyaret etmesi bekleniyor. 

Monday, December 02, 2013

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu Beyaz Saray Görüşmesi

CHP Genel Başkanı Pazartesi günü, Brookings düşünce kuruluşunda konuşmadan önce, Beyaz Saray Mİlli Güvenlik Konseyi Avrupa İşlerinden Sorumlu Karen Donfried ile bir görüşme yaptı. Görüşmeyle ilgili sorulara şu cevapları verdi:

Beyaz Saray'daki Görüşmeniz Nasıl Geçti?
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu: Son derece güzel ve başarılı bir görüşme oldu. 

Hangi yönde sorular geldi?
KK: Dış politika konusunda sorular soruldu. İsrail, Mısır, Irak ve Suriye konuları. Ekonomi konusunda CHP'nin görüşleri soruldu. O konuda düşüncelerimizi kendilerine aktardık.

Seçimlerle ilgili herhangi bir soru geldi mi?
KK: Hayır, seçimlerle ilgili bir soru gelmedi.

Size aktarılan yorumlar, görüşler oldu mu?
Mutlaka oldu. Dediğim gibi verimli, sağlıklı, güzel, görüşmeler yaptık.