Members of European Parliament call on Turkey to end the public advertising ban on Evrensel

10 Members of the European Parliament called on Turkey’s Public Advertising Agency to lift the indefinite ban on Evrensel.

In a letter addressed to Rıdvan Duran, the general director of the Public Advertising Agency (BİK), the authority in Turkey responsible for the distribution of state advertising, ten members of the European Parliament called for the immediate end to the public advertising ban that has been imposed on the Evrensel newspaper since September 2019.

On March 28, 2020, the six-month deadline for Evrensel to regain its right to publish public advertisement will end. According to BİK regulation, should the ban last for a full six months, Evrensel faces being removed from the system for at least three years, which would be catastrophic for its financial stability.

Last week, 24 international and local press freedom organizations sent a joint letter to Duran calling the ban to be lifted. In February an IPI-led delegation met with Duran and raised concerns about how advertising bans on independent newspapers were being used by the authorities to stifle the free press in the country.

Read the full letter below:

“Dear Mr. Duran,

We, undersigned Members of the European Parliament who follow developments related to press freedom in Turkey closely, are writing to express our concerns regarding the indefinite ban on public advertising against the independent newspaper, Evrensel.

Media freedom and pluralism in Turkey are important to the European Union. Both are pillars of democracy as they represent essential components of open and free debate. The role of Basin Ilan Kurumu, BIK, in overseeing the distribution of public sector advertising budgets evenly and fairly across the newspaper sector, is of great importance in this respect.

However, since September 2019, Evrensel has been subjected to an indefinite advertising ban. If the ban remains in place for a full six months, until March 28, 2020, Evrensel faces being removed from the public advertising system for at least three years.

Such a decision would have a devastating impact on the finances of the newspaper, threatening its closure and weakening the diversity and pluralism of Turkey’s newspaper market.

Evrensel is judged to have breached technical regulations with respect to bulk purchases. Evrensel has since made the changes requested of it but has twice had their appeals refused after new audits conducted by BIK.

Evrensel is known for its independent reporting and has, in recent years, been subjected to considerable judicial harassment as a result. The indefinite ban by BIK together with a series of limited bans for alleged ‘violations of press ethics’ give the impression of a coordinated campaign against the newspaper as punishment for its editorial independence.

We urge you therefore to swiftly lift the ban on Evrensel prior to the end of the six month deadline.

For media pluralism in Turkey to grow, it is important that publications like Evrensel retain the economic means to survive and continue to contribute to a rich and vibrant media in Turkey.

Best regards,

David Casa MEP

Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield MEP

Kati Piri MEP

Katrin Langensiepen MEP

Michaela Šojdrová MEP

Salima Yenbou MEP

Ernest Urtasum MEP

Reinhard Bütikofer MEP

Sven Giegold MEP

Terry Reintke MEP”


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We have lost our columnist, architect Cengiz Bektaş

Cengiz Bektaş, one of Turkey’s leading architects who for long years wrote articles in our newspaper, has lost his life.

We have lost our newspaper’s columnist, architect and poet Cengiz Bektaş. Holder of the Aga Khan and Mimar Sinan Grand Awards, Bektaş had been undergoing treatment for diabetes-related heart failure in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Istanbul for one week. Bektaş, who had penned his columns entitled “The Culture of Living” from our newspaper’s early years, was 86.


Born on 26 November 1934 in Denizli, Cengiz Bektaş underwent his secondary education at Istanbul Boys’ High School and his higher education in the Departments of Decorative Arts and Architecture of the Fine Arts Academy and the Faculty of Architecture at Munich Technical University. He completed his higher education in 1959. He attended German urbanization courses in 1960. He worked as a self-employed architect in Germany. He gained awards in two contests in which he competed there. He returned to Turkey on being summoned to a teaching post at the Middle East Technical University. He headed civil engineering and directed architectural affairs at the Middle East Technical University for one year in the 1962-1963 academic year.

He established his own architectural business along with Oral Vural in Ankara in 1963. He took part in architectural-urbanization contests for just six years over 1963-69. He won more than 25 awards. He brought into being buildings considered exemplary in Republican-period architectural history. He received the National Architectural Award twice. He won the international Aga Khan Award for the Akdeniz University (Antalya) Social-Cultural Centre building in 2001. The Turkish Language Institute building in Ankara is deemed by architects to be one of the twenty buildings symbolic of the Republican period.

Cengiz Bektaş was deemed worthy of the Aga Khan Architectural Award in 2001 and of the International Mimar Sinan Award in 2014. He was also deemed to merit the Mimar Sinan Grand Award at the National Architectural Exhibition and Awards in 2016.


Cengiz Bektaş embarked on his literary life with the columns he wrote in a local paper published in Denizli. He came first in a poetry contest at the State Fine Arts Academy in 1954 with Bedri Rahmi on the jury. Fazıl Hüsnü Dağlarca published Bektaş’s poems for the first time in Turkey in Türkçe Dergisi in 1960.

His poems have been translated into sixteen languages. Along with his poetic writings, he has 106 works devoted to architecture and culture. He has participated and submitted papers at countless meetings abroad and at home.

He served as Second Chair in PEN’s Turkish section for one term, Chair of the Turco-Greek Friendship Association for six years and for six years as Chair of the Turkish Authors’ Association.

From the early years of Evrensel newspaper onward, Cengiz Bektaş wrote a column entitled “The Culture of Living.”

Turkish Writers’ Union Chair Adnan Özyalçıner and PEN Turkey Chair Zeynep Oral had the following words for Cengiz Bektaş:


Chamber of Architects General Chair Eyüp Muhçu:

“Cengiz Bektaş had a special place in architecture and the history of architecture. He carefully formulated the relationship between nature and the city in his buildings. His works reflect a culture of living. For this reason, he won the Mimar Sinan Grand Award given biennially by the Chamber of Architects. He was an exemplary and colourful senior of our profession in all respects. He is known not just as an architect, but simultaneously for the many other sides to him such as poet, writer and journalist. He has bequeathed a very important legacy to the Chamber of Architects, the architectural community and society. We as a professional organization will stand by the values he produced and created. There have come most valuable contributions from him towards promoting architecture and fusing architecture with society in both Turkey and the international community. We will forever remember him with respect, love and longing.”


Turkish Writers’ Union Chair Adnan Özyalçıner:

“Cengiz was my school friend, my pal and a poet. He believed poetry was and should be language, and language poetry. He argued for his entire life that art was for people, not for art. His was a poetry that was of the populace and had a popular twang.


Chamber of Architects General Chair Eyüp Muhçu:

“Cengiz Bektaş had a special place in architecture and the history of architecture. He carefully formulated the relationship between nature and the city in his buildings. His works reflect a culture of living. For this reason, he won the Mimar Sinan Grand Award given biennially by the Chamber of Architects. He was an exemplary and colourful senior of our profession in all respects. He is known not just as an architect, but simultaneously for the many other sides to him such as poet, writer and journalist. He has bequeathed a very important legacy to the Chamber of Architects, the architectural community and society. We as a professional organization will stand by the values he produced and created. There have come most valuable contributions from him towards promoting architecture and fusing architecture with society in both Turkey and the international community. We will forever remember him with respect, love and longing.”


Turkish Writers’ Union Chair Adnan Özyalçıner:

“Cengiz was my school friend, my pal and a poet. He believed poetry was and should be language, and language poetry. He argued for his entire life that art was for people, not for art. His was a poetry that was of the populace and had a popular twang.


Nazife YAŞAR
Posted by Evrensel Daily


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SPOT Conference 2020 – What’s the latest?

The Turkish state’s attacks on human rights, workers rights and democracy is
relentless, and President Erdogan’s war politics is fuelling further tension and
instability, not just in Turkey but across the region. It is in this context that we have
pulled our sleeves up and are finalising preparations for SPOT’s 4 th Annual
Conference, which will take place on 28 th March at the NEU, Hamilton House.
SPOT’s campaigns and activities have played a crucial role in raising awareness and
actively supporting progressive groups and unions in Turkey fighting for democracy.
As the conference approaches, we spoke with Louise Regan, Chair of SPOT who
explains what to expect and why you should be there with us.
SPOT is having its 4th conference on 28 march. What issues will you be
focusing on this year?
The SPOT conferences have been a huge success for us not only in building
solidarity but also in raising awareness and understanding about the situation in
This year we will be particularly focussing in women and the increasing oppression
that they are facing including the ways that they are fighting back against this.
We will be hearing from striking women workers at the SF Trade Leather factory in
Turkey and talking about further action that we can take here to support them.
We also have members from Egitim Sen the education union attending the
conference and we will be hearing about the attacks on trade unionists and workers
in the education sector who are speaking out against the oppressive government
and the restrictions that they have imposed.
Finally, we will be hearing from journalists who have faced unprecedented
oppression at the hands of Erdogan. Turkey has the highest number of imprisoned
journalists in the world and the regime continues to try to silence all those who speak
out against them. Turkey is one of the worst countries globally to be a worker and therefore it is even
more essential that we as trade unionists speak out about the situation.
Do you think fundamental rights and freedoms in Turkey have deteriorated
further in Turkey?
The situation in Turkey for workers, women, trade unionists and many others
continues to deteriorate. In the ITUC global rights index Turkey was in the top ten of the worlds worst
countries for workers. The attempts to silence anyone who speaks out against what is happening
continues. Trade union and progressive media outlets have their offices closed, workers
sacked or imprisoned and resources and equipment destroyed or confiscated.

Education is controlled by the government with no ability for free speech or
democratic discussion. These are all clear attempts to shut down dissent and to breed fear amongst people
about speaking out.

Do you think that the British population and media are sufficiently informed of
the developments in Turkey?
There is not enough knowledge amongst the population here in the UK about the
situation in Turkey however the trade union movement here is doing much work in
this area and I think that this is having a positive impact. The unions here have a
significant role to play in pressurising our government and in raising awareness
nationally and internationally about the ongoing injustices and attacks on workers.

Why do you think the British government is supportive of Turkey’s repressive
Unfortunately, we have re-elected a Tory government who now have a bigger
majority and who will use this to continue to attack workers here and globally.
The UK is one of the largest arms suppliers to Turkey and although these sales were
partially suspended in October this was only for weapons that may be used in Syria.
Turkey hosts a greater number of refugees than any country in the world and our
government believes that it plays a crucial role in preventing irregular migration into
the EU.
Finally. there is clearly a view that post Brexit there will be an opportunity to develop
a strong trade deal with Turkey. Given the attacks on workers and the oppressive
regime in Turkey this is something which we must oppose.
Successive governments in the UK have stood with the oppressors not the
oppressed. Our current government continues this.

What are your aims for the conference this year?
It is essential that we continue to raise awareness about the current situation in
Turkey and build the solidarity movement here in the UK but also where possible
globally. Personally, I am really concerned about the attacks and violations against women
and I think that this is an area we should really focus on over the coming year.

What are your expectations of delegates attending the conference?
I want the delegates to listen to the personal testimonies that we will hear from our
speakers, to ask questions and develop their knowledge and understanding.

Most importantly I want them to go away from the conference and spread our
message to others. By doing this we can continue to build the solidarity movement

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Who is making money out of the war in Syria?

As President Erdoğan’s Idlib obduracy and AUAV strikes continue, the ruling media is making “national pride from national arms” propaganda, and son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar is making money, too.

Object of the power holders’ relentless obduracy, Idlib remains high on the agenda. Compared to before, it has become tougher to air the voice of truth among the media bombardment that each day creates yet more disinformation and ruling propaganda.

And, most of the time, if you dig deeper into a piece of news widely covered in the ruling media you reach another important truth. By way of example, following the officially announced loss of 33 soldiers’ lives resulting from the Syrian military’s air attack on 27 February, the responses the Turkish armed forces mounted with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and armed unmanned aerial vehicles (AUAVs) began to make news. The front pages of the power-aligned newspapers assumed an arms fair-like appearance with photographs of UAVs and AUAVs

A Russian military reporter’s clip that started to circulate on social media on 29 February was covered as follows in Yenişafak newspaper: “Turkish AUAVs are striking night and day. The course of the war changed the moment AUAVs started to be seen in the skies above Idlib. They are striking convoys or even soldiers on motorbikes. What’s more, despite the great cost, Turkey continues to strike without fretting about the cash.” Let us now continue with a question that Yenişafak and the rest of the ruling media, festooned with ads for UAVs and AUAVs, passes over. Who is making money from these UAVs and AUAVs, the “pride of the national arms industry”? Turkey is one of eight countries to manufacture UAVs and AUAVs. Let us recall an announcement that was made with reference to this arms technology, which was first mooted for use in the Turkish armed forces’ anti-PKK campaign and we have most recently witnessed in use in Syria.

Minister of Industry and Technology Mustafa Varank, addressing the “BMC Future Fifty Years Gathering” held in Sakarya’s Karasu sub-province, said, noting that Ukrainian Head of State Petro Poroshenko had announced on his own social media account the signing of an agreement to buy unmanned aerial vehicles from Turkey, “Look, Ukraine is a country having a century of experience in space and aerial technology and which has manufactured thousands of planes, but it opts for Turkey in unmanned aerial vehicles because we currently have Turkish companies which manufacture UAVs and AUAVs that are the best of the most advanced technological class in the world with indigenous capabilities.” (13.01.2019, Habertürk) Turkey’s UAV-development process had its inception with the contract signed between SSM and TUSAŞ in 2004. Then, in 2009, Bayraktar Block A successfully completed its first automatic flight test. For its part, the Anka performed its first test flight in 2010, staying in the air for ten minutes. Bayraktar, in turn, was placed in service as an armed UAV in 2016. Under a resolution that took effect with President Erdoğan’s signature promulgated in the Official Gazette on 5 September 2019, unmanned aerial vehicle-manufacturer Baykar Defence (Bayraktar Brothers) set the ball rolling for a 600 million Turkish lira investment over an eight-year period. Baykar Makina, whose manufacturing capacity was announced to increase three-fold under this investment alongside the opening of a new R&D centre and which was said to have tax exemption for the duration of the investment period, stated that it would increase annual production of the TB2 Bayraktar from 46 to 92, the Communications System from 23 to 60, the Avionic System from 45 to 100 and the Ground Control System for the tactical unmanned aerial vehicles from 23 to 26. And Sabah newspaper reported as follows on the role of AUAVs in the latest Idlib proceedings, “With a stream of breaking news from Idlib, the success of the AUAVs has become the talk of the world. Experts state that the distance that could be covered in one month by firing from the ground can be covered in one day by AUAVs. With Turkey’s indigenous and national AUAVs causing a storm, some attention-grabbing words have been spoken with reference to T3 Foundation Board of Trustees Chairman, Selçuk Bayraktar. Portuguese Political Scientist and Hudson Institute Researcher Bruno Maçaes said, ‘Selçuk Bayraktar, technical manager of the Baykar company that manufactures the AUAVs and architect of the Turkey’s first national AUAV system Bayraktar TB2, is the man who changed the fate of the Middle East.’” (2 Mart 2020, Sabah)

As is known, Selçuk Bayraktar is President Erdoğan’s son-in-law. The predilection for war of those in power in Turkey, even in a period in which the sectoral consequences of the crisis in the economy are being debated, exerts an expansionary effect on the arms industry’s production and profit capacity. As Erdoğan’s Idlib obduracy and AUAV strikes continue, the ruling media is making “national pride from national arms” propaganda, and son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar is making money, too.

Against this backdrop, Ertuğrul Özkök wrote in his column yesterday, “In selecting the ’20 people of the year in Turkey’ at New Year, I also put Selçuk Bayraktar, head of the company that manufactures AUAVs and UAVs, on that list. I was seemingly quite right.”

You have grasped it, haven’t you? The praise is for Ertuğrul Özkök and the legal action for me!

Article by Fatih POLAT

Translated by Tim DRAYTON

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EMEP: For the withdrawal of Turkish army and all foreign powers in Syria – Peace, not war!

The Labour Party (EMEP) made a written statement after the soldiers’ deaths in Idlib, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign forces in Syria, including the Turkish soldiers.

The Labour Party (EMEP) made a written statement after the soldiers’ deaths in Idlib, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign forces in Syria, including the Turkish soldiers.

The statement of the Labour Party is as follows:

“The death of 34 soldiers in recent attacks in Idlib has shown once again the high cost of Turkish government’s foreign policy, which is one of intervention in Syria and collaboration with the jihadists.

Following the Syrian army’s operation in Idlib against the jihadists, the Turkish government ignored the calls for the retreat of its soldiers, despite the fact that Turkey’s observation points were under fire, and thus paved the grounds for this bitter result.

The politicians, on the other hand, who do warmongering on these deaths and talk about destroying Syria are feeding on war and just thinking about their future at the expense of opening Turkey to bigger threats.

The use of Turkish soldiers as a shield for the jihadist gangs in Idlib, which is controlled largely by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, recognised as a terrorist organisation by many countries, including Turkey, has nothing to do with the interests of our country and its people.

Yet, the Erdogan government insists on this wrong policy, which has made the country to pay a heavy price for the past 9 years, a policy which is based on intervention in Syria and the use of jihadist gangs as an instrument for the expansionist desires.

If it is question of national security, as is claimed, then the right thing to do would be the withdrawal of the Turkish soldiers and to take steps to resolve the problems with Syria with peaceful means, rather than putting the soldiers into a position of war with the Syrian army.

The government’s efforts to negotiate with the US on Idlib and to call NATO into action has no use but to drag Turkey into a wider war and open the country to imperialist interventions.

This is confirmed by the fact that the US imperialism was quick to turn the Idlib attack into an opportunity to bring Turkey against Russia and called the Erdogan government to cooperate with the US.

The solution is not in calling NATO into action or turning the country into an area of the ongoing inter-imperialist fight between the USA and Russia for the re-division of the Middle East.

The Labour Party calls on the government and its supporters to stop warmongering and immediately withdraw the soldiers who are under fire in Idlib. The intervention in Syria and cooperation with the jihadist militias must end as this policy has cost the so much and brought it face to face with the threat of war.

The road to peace in Syria and in the region depends on putting an end to imperialist interventions and on the withdrawal of all military forces. Thus, all pro-labour, peace and democracy forces in Turkey and in the Middle East have the task of heightening the struggle for peace on the face of warmongering. Therefore, our party will continue to be part of the fight for democracy in the country and peace in the region.”

Article posted by EVRENSEL DAILY

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The Erdoğan administration’s jihadist impasse and Kurdish quandary

With it now apparent that the Erdoğan administration’s aims are no longer feasible, one could describe the way it has become bogged down thanks to its obdurateness over its Syria policy as its “jihadist impasse and Kurdish quandary.”

There is no let-up in either the Erdoğan administration’s obdurateness over Idlib or the deaths of soldiers in the clashes occasioned by this obdurateness. Yesterday, the Ministry of National Defence and President Erdoğan first announced that two soldiers had lost their lives in air raids and then a further three soldiers in clashes. On the one hand, talks are being held on Idlib between Turkish and Russian delegations and, on the other, the Syrian army’s operation with Russian air support to remove jihadists from the city continue. Having previously announced that a “quadrilateral summit” would be held on March 5 in Istanbul with the participation of Germany and France as well as Russia, President Erdoğan said in the statement he made in the plane returning from Azerbaijan – Russia evidently not wishing to involve other actors – that on this occasion he would hold bilateral talks with Putin.

Well, if the leader of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS – formerly al-Nusra), which Turkey and the UN officially regard as being a “terrorist organization,” al-Julani says, “HTS is waging at least seventy-five per cent of the war going on in the region. Hay’at is in at least eight of the ten regions in which there is resistance and attacks,” why the obdurateness over the policy of acting as a shield for jihadists?

This is because the campaign the power holders in the country launched nine years ago to conquer Syria with expansionist designs and neo-Ottomanist dreams is today bogged down in Idlib and through support for the jihadists in Idlib who are resisting the Syrian army that is intent on capturing the city.

With it now apparent that the Erdoğan administration’s aims are no longer feasible, one could describe the way it has become bogged down thanks to its obdurateness over its Syria policy as its “jihadist impasse and Kurdish quandary.”

Why jihadist impasse?

This is because the situation in Idlib bears testament that the end is nigh for the policy of using jihadists to prop up the intervention in Syria.

The period in which jihadist groups such as ISIS and Ahrar al-Sham were influential on the ground was the period in which the Erdoğan administration’s interventionist Syria policy had the most props. In this period, these jihadist groups were supported in conjunction with the policy, on the one hand, of overthrowing the Syrian/Assad administration and, on the other, of destroying the autonomous administration the Kurds had created in Rojava. However, for one thing, as part of the “Strategy of Combatting ISIS” it put into implementation to restore its authority in the region (Middle East) that was starting to wane, the USA’s move towards cooperation with the Kurdish forces (Syrian Democratic Forces-SDF) that were battling ISIS and, for another, Russia’s post-2015 military engagement in support of the Syrian administration changed the balances and upset the calculations.

Russia’s military engagement and involvement in the operations led to the shelving of calculations to overthrow the Syrian/Assad administration. Meanwhile, faced with the USA, moving towards cooperation with the Kurds (SDF), providing heavy weapons to the SDF for the operations undertaken most prominently in Raqqa and the subsequent staging of the coup attempt in July 2016 that drew strength from tension between the USA and the Erdoğan administration, the Erdoğan administration moved into cooperation with Russia. Of necessity, cooperation with Russia resulted in the sidelining of the goal of overthrowing the Syrian administration and the prioritization of the policy of eliminating the attainments in Syria of the Kurds, also perceived as being a threat with regard to the furtherance of the policy being waged at home within the Kurdish problem.

For Russia, the cooperation with Turkey was fairly expedient cooperation when it came both to eliminating the jihadist bands and engaging NATO-member Turkey to upset US calculations. On this basis, the jihadist bands in areas such as Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta and Dera’a were on the one hand liquidated bit by bit and moved to Idlib under the auspices of the power holders in Turkey, and, on the other, Turkey’s operations targeting the Kurdish autonomous administration starting with “Euphrates Shield” were permitted in the interests of both limiting the Kurds’ power and upsetting US plans.

In short, both their influence over jihadist groups and their potential to upset US plans led to Russia making the power holders in Turkey into one of the major actors in Syria. However, this situation started to change after Turkey’s “Fountain of Peace” operation. The US withdrawal from the border regions where it had been cooperating with the Kurds and the brokering by Russia, having subsequently become involved, of an agreement on border security between the Kurdish forces and the Syrian administration altered the balances here, too. Russia’s involvement brought the operation to an end and the preconditions no longer applied for Turkey’s intervention in regions apart from Tell Abyad and Serêkaniyê (Ras al-Ayn) which it had taken in the initial periods of the operation. Moreover, under Russia’s guarantee, negotiations were started between the Syrian administration and the Kurdish forces (Syrian Democratic Council) on the Kurds’ status in the new Syria.

These developments pressed the power holders in Turkey bit by bit into their impasse because, even though, to halt the operation the Syrian army had commenced, the Erdoğan administration signed the Sochi Agreement with Russia in September 2018 in which it made undertakings concerning the liquidation of jihadists, it did not fulfil these undertakings, nor could it. It could not do so because the fulfilment of these undertakings would entail losing the most important card it had used to become an influential actor in Syria. But their current plight shows that there was/could have been no possibility of the non-fulfilment of the undertakings altering the outcome apart from gaining time for the power holders in Turkey.

At this juncture, it can be said that a fresh agreement may also emerge from negotiations held/to be held with Russia whereby Turkey and the jihadist groups consent to the new situation in Idlib, that is Syria and Russia having captured many of the city’s strategic points. Erdoğan’s pronouncements signal their readiness for such a compromise with a view to at least delaying departure from the other regions of Syria that have been taken and not fully relinquishing the position vis-à-vis the Kurds.

However, the jihadist impasse for the Erdoğan administration does not amount purely to the jihadist groups becoming functionless with regard to the interventionist Syria policy because going forward it will face the problem/question of what is to become of the tens of thousands of jihadists who will throng to the border gates and pose a significant security threat to Turkey.

Essentially, what has been said until now also applies to various aspects of the power holders’ Kurdish quandary.

The Kurds’ attainments in Syria also played a decisive in role in the ending of the “solution process” by the Erdoğan administration, seeing that under these conditions it would be unable to impose its own solution. Hence, the policies of oppression domestically – and Erdoğan once again signalled fresh operations against the HDP on his return from Azerbaijan – and the operations against the Kurdish autonomous region in Syria were waged simultaneously. However, as has already been stated, we have reached a point at which the preconditions for waging these operations against the Syrian Kurds no longer apply. Conversely, the talks between the Syrian administration and the pollical structures in the autonomous Kurdish region show that the Kurds in Syria will be part of the solution, even if its framework/scope will be shaped in keeping with the balances and developments in the region. This process will most certainly have inevitable effects/consequences as far as policies that are pursued in the country within the Kurdish problem are concerned.

In conclusion, the jihadist impasse and Kurdish quandary summarize the point the incorrect policies of nine years have reached. Rather than reverting from this error and adopting a policy based on popular interests, Erdoğan is attempting to lengthen the life of this policy that today is bogged down in Idlib even though it will impose a heavy price on the country and create fresh dangers because he regards it as a prop for furthering his own rule.


Article by Yusuf KARATAS

Translated by Tim DRAYTON



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It has come to this: Refugees as instruments of war

Turkey is pushing refugees over the border and Greece is pushing them back. What we are watching is a Turkish-Greek jointly produced film of shame. The refugees are like a ping-pong ball toing and froing across the tennis table.

The right-wing government in Greece is pitiless towards refugees. Be they old, children or handicapped, the people massing at the border gate are stifled with gas and bombarded with stun grenades. The war launched against refugees is called a “push back.” Greece previously came to attention for the countless cases of torture along the Maritsa river.

So, what should the method the Turkish government is implementing be called? I think it could be called a “push forward.” Turkey is pushing refugees over the border and Greece is pushing them back. What we are watching is a Turkish-Greek jointly produced film of shame. The refugees are like a ping-pong ball toing and froing across the tennis table. The false hopes and torment are incalculable.

Becoming isolated in the Syrian theatre, the AKP administration is using the refugees as a political trump card. It wants to spread the crisis to Europe by means of the refugees. This is what it basically boils down to. The world saw two big imperialist wars in the twentieth century and millions of refugees were displaced. But it fell to the AKP in the twenty-first century to use refugees as an instrument of war.

Nothing but disgrace meets the eyes:

Millions of refugees are transported in municipal vehicles in the knowledge that the gates will not be opened. Speaking to NTV, a woman refugee says, “Officials say, ‘The gate is closed. Go by sea.’”Human traffickers brag, “The Chief has given permission anyway. We have started to transport the refugees.”The boarding of children and babies onto dinghies is broadcast live, gangs dispatch people on deadly journeys, etc.

All of these things are for sure crimes against humanity. Those who turn a blind eye to and facilitate this need shed no crocodile tears when the first child drowns in the Aegean because they hold political responsibility for this entire disgrace.

So, what about society?

You see the throngs along Vatan Street in Istanbul seeking to get aboard the buses. Refugee babies are tossed from hand to hand. A woman refugee is separated from her husband and screams. And, with all this going on, passing cars honk their horns and swearing emerges from the windows. Some shout, “Piss off and don’t come back again.” While in Adana, shops are shuttered and people stay indoors to keep Syrians from being lynched.

Do you know what this means? This means the pent-up hatred of Syrians over nine years is manifesting itself as a social eruption. How can there be intermingling under such circumstances? Where will things end up when those who leave are forced to return? We are clearly in a period in which everyone needs to exercise common sense. Questioning government decisions? OK. Criticizing political power, erroneous foreign policy and the erroneous refugee policies this policy engendered? This, of course, is what is called for at the same time. But directing the anger towards refugees can and must never be accepted.

Do you know who the first to go were when it was announced that the border gates would be opened? Those at the bottom – Syrians, Afghans, Uzbeks, Congolese. Those incapable of enduring a life devoid of status, harrowing working conditions and half-price wages, in short, the cog wheels of capitalism. A textile-worker refugee in Istanbul has the following comment: “It’s better if I go to the border rather than living under the fear of repatriation and dodging the police on the way to work.”

Are all these circumstances not being experienced thanks somewhat to the inability of workers, local and refugee, to join hands and their failure to change this ruleless working order in unison?

Look what a father on the Edirne border says speaking to Evrensel with his child in his hands and among a cloud of gas: “This is a political game. They made plenty of mistakes towards us. Neither Turkey nor Greece or Europe recognize us as people. You won this game so well done.”

The European Union also bears plenty of guilt in this refugee exchange founded on political disputes. They asked EU spokesperson Stano in Brussels about the refugees crossing the Greek border. The man’s reply was precisely, “If we are witnessing any increase … we will act accordingly.”

So, how will these developments change course?

It is clear that, however much they have been tabled, imperialist solutions have not been the solution in Syria. If the region is to breathe freely, the bloodshed is to stop and the tears are to cease, the brotherhood of peoples and struggle for peace will open the way to this. Only then will refugees avoid being made into an instrument of war.

A final note:

Why, faced with the human drama taking place at the border gates, are Thrace’s and Istanbul’s trade unions, associations and democratic mass organizations unable to display effective solidarity? Let us ask ourselves this question on behalf of every woman, child and even swaddled baby refugee. And, whatever steps can be taken, let us take them quickly.


Article by Ercüment AKDENİZ

Translated by Tim DRAYTON


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Idlib message from Selahattin Demirtaş

Former HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş has made a statement following the death of 33 soldiers in Idlib.

Former HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş, detained for more than three years in Edirne Prison, has sent a message regarding the 34 soldiers who were killed in the air raid staged by the Syrian army in the Syrian town of Idlib.

Demirtaş’s message read as follows:

“May God bless the souls of the security staff who lost their lives in the attack in Idlib and I send my condolences to their relatives and wish the injured a speedy recovery. I share their pains and concerns with all my heart.

I hope the policies of war, conflict and tension being pursued at home and abroad will not lead to further destruction and pain.

Pushing for the solving of problems through peace and dialogue under all conditions is the most honourable and virtuous approach. Let us raise our voice of peace, not cries of war.” (EVRENSEL DAILY)


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Is a government to promise “martyrdom” to its citizens?

Erdoğan appears to have reached the stage of holding “martyrs” in a tighter embrace and saying, “God willing, the mound of martyrs will not remain empty” in accentuating the religious-ideological grounds for his policy.

Speaking at a foundation-laying ceremony for the tram line in Izmir’s Kınık sub-province, for the second time in the past two weeks Erdoğan again aired the promise, “God willing, the mound of martyrs will not remain empty.”

This is because Erdoğan is now having great trouble replying to the questions, “Why are we in Syria?” and “Why are we in Libya?” through advancing political justifications. This is because the Erdoğan administration, which now portrays Idlib as being Turkish territory, not Syrian territory, and has reached the stage of going to war against Syria to topple the Syrian government, has become incapable of maintaining its defence of its current position in Syria with its former justifications.

The arrival now of soldiers’ remains from Libya will also bring the reason for being in Libya into greater questioning. Hence, faced with the collapse of the political justifications for his neo-Ottoman foreign policy, Erdoğan has turned to trotting out ideological reasons of Medieval provenance so as to prevent disintegration in his own base if nothing else!


Arguing in his speech in Kınık that, “Turkey’s Syrian and Libya policies are neither an adventure nor a trifling matter,” Erdoğan, in saying, “We say that we are engaged in a new independence struggle as a country and people. We are there (Libya) along with our directing heroic military and our teams from the Syrian National Army (SNA). Of course, we have a few martyrs. My brothers, we will never forget that the mound of martyrs will not remain empty!” clearly articulated the jihadist, conquestorial mentality behind the neo-Ottomanist policy in Libya, Syria and in all corners of the globe.

Let me point out straight away that the Erdoğan administration’s neo-Ottomanist policy is in dire straits in both Syria and Libya. These straits have by now stripped demagogic justifications aimed at concealing the truth of their credibility. Indeed, in invalidating propaganda premised on “We do not have our eyes on an inch of Syria’s territory” or “We respect Syria’s territorial integrity,” the Erdoğan administration has reached the stage of speaking of going to war against the Syrian regime.

And, on the day following that on which he spoke of war in Syria, Erdoğan, by saying the other day, “We are there along with our directing heroic military and our teams from the SNA” following on from his comments, “We are consulting with the Serraj administration. Members of the Turkish armed forces are not participating in the war” acknowledged that Turkey was waging war along with the Haftar forces in the guise of the Turkish Armed Forces and SNA.

Here, Erdoğan brushes off the affair by saying, “We have a few martyrs,” but, in conjunction with the deaths of three Turkish armed forces members, one of whom was Colonel Okan Altınay, in clashes in Libya, it will be no great error to say that the “numerical measuring of martyrs” will also raise questions in his own base.


The Erdoğan-AKP administration, its political justifications gradually losing credibility, needs to cloak events in an ideological sheath to prevent disintegration among those of its own persuasion if nobody else.

With the political justifications for his Libya and Syria policies becoming less credible, Erdoğan appears to have reached the stage of holding “martyrs” in a tighter embrace and saying, “God willing, the mound of martyrs will not remain empty” in accentuating the religious-ideological grounds for his policy.

What this means, in turn, is, “We will and must yield far more martyrs on the road embarked on today!”

This thinking constituted one of the predominant concepts of Islamic culture in the “wars of religion” that Islam waged against non-Islamic religions, chiefly Christianity, in the seventh century in which Islam’s period of “conquest” occurred and which has become crystalized in the “martyrdom” that such bunches as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood have popularized.

Indeed, to cover up the administrative issues and administrative liability that was clearly apparent in the Elazığ earthquake and in Van, on 7 February following the avalanche disaster in Van Erdoğan attributed what had happened to “accident and fate.” However, Erdoğan did not stop at this and, saying, “We will walk undauntedly and fearlessly towards the Shahada so that, God willing, the mound of martyrs will not remain empty,” set out to make the declaration that “the mound of martyrs will not remain empty” not just into a veil for his own liability but, at the same time, into good tidings, a promise!


As has been seen, to prevent its own goals from henceforth coming into open view and the quagmire into which it has dragged Turkey in the interests of a handful of capital groupings from becoming visible and to furnish legitimacy for its bankrupt foreign policy, the Erdoğan administration is using the slogan of the jihadist and conquestorial mindset of “martyrdom” and trying to save face.

Today, unless it is of a jihadist and conquestorial ideological persuasion, no sensible government or state promises becoming martyrs to its people and populace! And, for sure, it does not try to turn the “arrival of martyrs” from across borders into a “martyrdom” that is the product of its own policies and an occurrence that is to be “coveted” and “encouraged” based on “nature,” “fate” “faith” and “hadith.” On the contrary, today, the first duty of every state, every political party and every administrator imbued with a degree of modern thinking is to ensure citizens’ safety of life.

The chief aim of domestic and foreign policy is thus ensuring citizens’ safety of life!

If the government’s domestic or foreign policy opens the way for the “martyrdom of youth,” to secure the success of these foreign policies, it renews policies, not in a way that encourages the yielding of far more martyrs and becoming martyrs, but that changes these policies and prevents citizens from becoming martyrs.

The eighteen-year AKP rule has brought Turkey into a domestic and foreign political orientation fashioned on a foundation that is rooted in seventh-century jihadism and hallows the concepts of “jihad,” “conquest” and “martyrdom” of such bunches that conduct politics through religion as ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood and that is combined with the issue of “survival” coloured by these concepts.

This orientation will see far more “martyrs” coming from Libya, from Syria, from Iraq, …!

Article by İhsan Çaralan

Translated by Tim Drayton

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İlhan Uzgel and Kerim Has’s assessment: Idlib doggedness full of risk

Prof. Dr. İlhan Uzgel and Russia expert Kerim Has assessed the latest developments in Syria and Idlib for Evrensel.

The Idlib tension continues to mount. The Ministry of National Defence announced the deaths of two soldiers and the wounding of another five soldiers in İdlib. At around the same time, the Anadolu Agency intimated that members of the “moderate” opposition had launched an operation against the Syrian army in the Idlib-located town of Nayrab. Issuing a statement following the reports, the Russian Ministry of Defence in turn stated that the assault had been repulsed with the intervention of Russian air forces and called on Turkey to stop supporting armed militants.

Experts who have assessed the ongoing developments for Evrensel stress that the doggedness in Idlib is full of risk.

Recalling that there had been previous losses of lives of soldiers in Idlib, Prof. Dr. İlhan Uzgel pointed out that the military operation would have high-cost consequences in both political and diplomatic as well as legal and military terms. According to Uzgel, who says, “America is not troubled by the conflict in Syria,” the carrying of this conflict into a new dimension by Turkey is compatible with America’s interests.

According to Russia expert Kerim Has, for his part, what is entailed in Idlib is not Turkey’s interests but the AKP-Erdoğan’s “political” ambitions. Saying that for this reason the soldiers under the Syrian army’s control at the observation points have not been withdrawn, Has commented, “The power holders in Ankara think that ‘news of the fallen’ coming from Syria serves as it were as ‘petrol’ for the perpetuation of their own existence.”


Prof. Dr. İlhan Uzgel considers there to be a low probability of a direct operation. Recalling that Turkey had primed itself as if conflict was in the offing and had amassed troops in the region, Uzgel said, “I mean, the prevailing intention in military terms here was for deterrence. Why do I say this? You know the Turkish observation points in Idlib have remained in places the Syrian army controls and it is at the very least trying to secure these and to attain deterrence with a strong build-up to ward off attack. This is the first stage.”

Saying that the second stage is, “Expelling the Syrian units beyond the Sochi Agreement borders,” Uzgel continued, “This would be a riskier action. It would be an action that engenders far more high-cost consequences in both political and diplomatic as well as legal and military terms. There is a lower probability of encountering this because in the end you are in another country’s territory and would be battling it to secure spatial expansion. The perception of this in the world, including the Arab world, and especially the perception of this in Russia, would be extremely negative. I mean, build up as many troops as you like, in the end you are in another country’s territory. Furthermore, Turkey’s military units and observation points are at extremely fatigue-prone locations. The operation would have high-risk consequences because a countermove could come and military fatalities have previously been experienced in any case. If further such instances occurred, it would come at a heavier price in domestic politics and I do not really imagine this would be a strain it could withstand.”

Saying that there may nevertheless be surprise steps, Uzgel continued, “All of this has to do with the extent to which it takes these risks, for example will it risk the loss of soldiers or will it risk appearing more aggressive in the international arena, given that Turkey has appeared to be complying with the agreement until now?”


Assessing the unfolding process in Syria since 2011 also from the viewpoint of the peoples of the region, Uzgel had the following to say: “With talk of strategy, security and such like starting, the attrition of peoples is beginning. That is, if there is talk of a strategy somewhere, it means a process in which there is an attrition of peoples has begun. And this is what we are experiencing, not just in Syria; all the peoples of the region are experiencing this.”


Well, where is the USA in these discussions? With US President Donald Trump saying, “We are working together with Erdoğan over Idlib,” President Erdoğan has pronounced, “We may have all kinds of solidarity with the US at any time.”

Assessing the US’s attitude, Prof. Uzgel says, “America wants Turkey to stay in Idlib and for the presence of Islamist radicals to continue, too. In the end, a portion of them were trained under America’s train-equip programme and it inserted a portion of them there in conjunction with Turkey; they consist of warriors to which it blinded its eyes. America is not actually troubled by the dynamic of conflict in Syria, and the carrying of this conflict into a new dimension by Turkey is not contrary to America’s interests and America is consequently at Turkey’s rear in this affair. This in fact is one of the reasons lying behind the ease with which Turkey acts.”

Stating that America and Russia have never come into confrontation and will not do so, Uzgel said, “Just as today, they get on pretty fine by involving other countries. It is taking place through Turkey’s frontal war with Syria, not with Russia – Russia will not wage war with Turkey, it has America and NATO behind it and it has called them to duty, too. America has found a fresh means to keep Turkey on the anti-Russian front and, as such, it hopes to confront the Syrian army here without touching Russia.


According to Russia expert Kerim Has, President Erdoğan’s pronouncement, “The operation against Idlib is imminent” and Russia’s reply, “Ankara waging war against the Syrian armed forces on Syrian territory is the worst-case scenario” need to be taken seriously. Has said, “I am of the opinion that President Erdoğan is seriously contemplating the option of war with Syria, not because Turkey’s interests demand it, but to further his own political ambitions and cravings. In my estimation the power holders in Ankara think and are calculating that ‘news of the fallen’ coming from Syria serves as it were as ‘petrol’ for the perpetuation of their own existence.”

Considering the non-withdrawal of troops from the remaining Turkish observation points in Idlib that are besieged on all sides by the Syrian army and have to meet all their needs including day-to-day provisions under Russian supervision as a pointer towards this, Has commented, “If a war breaks out, it is probable that the Turkish troops surrounded by regime forces which will become priority targets will needlessly be left virtually hostage.”


Pointing out that the tension the AKP is experiencing with Russia over Syria has further accentuated the squabbles and differences of opinion between groups known to be “nationalist and Eurasianist” and the “components in the depths,” Kerim Has thinks that the discussion of coups and assassination allegations that have become hot issues of late are directly related to developments in Syria.


According to Kerim Has, assessing Dmitri Peskov’s comment, “It would be the worst-case scenario for Idlb” in responding on Russia’s behalf to Erdoğan’s operation pronouncement, Russia’s policy is clear: “It is an updated Sochi Agreement whereby the M4 and M5 motorways pass into Damascus’s control, the terrorist and jihadist elements are shoved away towards the Turkish border and at the very least the besieged Turkish troops are removed from the region. But it is abundantly clear that this agreement will also be temporary and regime forces, having rested for a while, will advance inside Idlib.

Secondly, President Erdoğan directly and openly targeting Syrian military positions in Syrian territory without any attack would lead to an increase in the support Russia gives the Damascus administration, which it stands behind anyhow. In this case, the Turkish army would be confronted not just by Assad regime forces, Hezbollah and Iranian-supported militias, but by Russia. If the conflict did not remain confined to Idlib and spread to Afrin and the Peace Fountain region, Russia might engage the Syrian Kurds and take certain critical steps that could lead to Ankara suffering ‘rout’ on the ground.

The AKP administration for its part appears to wish for the regime to withdraw to the borders of one and a half years ago in Idlib. It is no exaggeration to say that it is impossible for Ankara to attain this goal under prevailing conditions.”

Has stresses that all these possibilities depend on whether “President Erdoğan will acquiesce even temporarily to an updated Idlib with a changed map.”


Russia expert Kerim Has noted that, if Ankara embarks on direct war with Syria, Moscow may bring the ISIS dossiers down from the shelves that it submitted to the UN Security Council at the time of the plane crisis which initiated the process leading to President Erdoğan apologizing or that fresh ones may follow these. Has continued, “Such personal ‘blackmail tools’ that may lead to the airing of ‘dirty laundry’ ranging from relations with diverse warriors in Syria to transfers of Jihadists to Libya and from the ledgers of Reza Zarrab, whose men were apprehended at Moscow Vnukovo airport, to the lowdown on 15 July are contained in Pandora’s Box and its opening and use has in fact been awaited for a long time.

One of the most important points the Kremlin learnt in the plane crisis is that it can attain a speedier and easier result if, rather than bringing itself into confrontation with Turkey as a country, it squeezes its rulers. Otherwise, it would neither have been able to sell Ankara the S-400s for which Turkey has absolutely no need in military terms nor construct TurkStram without giving Ankara anything in return. Hence, the price of such actions as calling NATO into Idlib, needing Trump’s aid or adopting a position that encourages the US to stage an air operation in Syria will most probable serve no other purpose than increasing the cost of the war for Ankara.”

Article by Meltem Akyol

Translated by Tim Drayton




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