FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Human Landscapes: Turkey’s Secret Trials of Journalists

by

The secret trial of two Turkish journalists from the liberal mainstream daily CUMHURIYET—its Chief Editor Can Dundar and Erdem Gul—began this. They are charged with high treason for publishing material on a sensitive subject: Turkey’s collusion with ISIS and the US in the Syrian war.

Confronted with the human landscapes of contemporary Turkey, what might the late and great Communist poet Nazim Hikmet (who even Erdogan used to quote in his speeches) have written? Some things would have been familiar: the never ending transportation of political prisoners; the continuing suffering and torture of the Kurds (Hikmet was sentenced to 15 years after the 1925 Kurdish revolt); the endless talk in prison, reinterpreting the past; life in what could become a one-party state where the government exercises a virtual monopoly of information. A limiting of liberties…

Hikmet would not have been surprised in the least by the collapse of Republicanism, but the success of the Islamists would have stunned him. After all as a leftist he thought the only alternative was socialism. He had been a guard of honor at Lenin’s bier in that ice-cold January of 1924. He could never have believed that history would be so cruel. He certainly would never have signed the supportive letter that some liberal, secular intellectuals drafted a few years ago offering broad support to Erdogan’s government, a list that sadly included names like Murat Belge. Hikmet would have meditated on why this had come to pass and done so as a poet who wrote of his own work that ‘it is never for me a question of form or content but of consciousness, of philosophic, economic and social conception.’

The assault on the Kurds and dissidents, the imprisonment of journalists, the closure of Radikal, the disintegration of the ruling elite, the fantasies of Erdogan fuelled by the elixir of power, has created an extremely serious crisis. NATO’s favorite Islamists split with Gulen’s faction detached itself from Erdogan. The emergence of the HDP as a progressive party of all Turks—Kurds and non-Kurds, and its electoral successes appear to have unhinged Erdogan. I refer to him because he is the first among unequals in a government desperately short of talent. Power appears to have blinded him to the realities of his own country and region. He behaves more and more like a dictator.

Once a friend of Assad in Syria, making friendly noises to Teheran, he changed when the West decided to take advantage of the Syrian uprising and topple Assad.   Turkey was the obvious conduit for supplying rebels of every stripe with weaponry and ‘advisers’, i.e. CIA units who were guiding the ‘armed resistance’ to the embattled regime in Damascus . Erdogan did what he was required to do and thought that he could also gain some advantage at home by acting as NATO’s key point man in the region. Damascus countered by giving the Syrian Kurds virtually complete autonomy.

In response there is little doubt that Turkey became the centre of the ISIS initiative to crush both Rojava and Damascus. The supply routes were on Turkish territory. This is hardly a secret, so why arrest senior journalists for writing the truth? The real problem for Erdogan and the Saudis is that ISIS, who took arms and money from anyone and everyone, were not a force that could be fully controlled by either Riyadh or Ankara. They live their own fantasy, of reuniting the Arab world under an iron Sunni dictatorship they call the Caliphate. In Turkey they must have established links with Turkish intelligence and, indeed, the deep state in Ankara did not deny that the horrific bombing of a peaceful demonstration was an ISIS initiative. They admitted that some of the ISIS personnel in Ankara were under watch, but that they had no idea of what they were planning. Perhaps this is true, but I find it difficult to believe. I think some people averted their eyes to let the outrage happen and frighten away many supporters of the HDP prior to the last general elections.

In Hikmet’s poem, Halil (Hikmet himself) meets an egotistic middle-class physician represented as the voice of an isolated and neurotic bourgeoisie, who finally commits suicide while in a neighboring hospital ward a child is being born. I’m not sure that Erdogan knows this poem but I would strongly recommend he read it even though mirrors are sometimes frightening. I would suggest the same to Davutogulu, but I don’t want to tax his brains too much.

More articles by:

Tariq Ali is the author of The Obama Syndrome (Verso).

February 21, 2018
Cecil Bothwell
Billy Graham and the Gospel of Fear
Ajamu Baraka
Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire
Edward Hunt
Treating North Korea Rough
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail