Turkey: Echoes of July 2013, Egypt

The London Guardian opinion pages spin the story that after 22 years and 7 successes in popular elections in a rapidly growing and pluralist Turkey, it is Erdoğan who is perpetrating ‘a slow moving coup’, to use a glaring oxymoron. It is as if the brutal military coup of Friday night is the victim. The Blairite leaning newspaper’s reporters tell us that it is Erdoğan, who ‘unleashed a brutal purge… after heading off an attempted (presumably relatively benign) military coup’.

All this reminds us of Blair’s vehement support for the Egyptian coup, which still sees a president freely and fairly elected in 2012, kidnapped only months into his term, still languishing in jail on trumped up charges. Meanwhile, the Egyptian Junta, installed by the US on the world’s highest security decision-making body, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), blocks condemnation of the Turkish coup attempt, citing that the coup was staged by Erdoğan.

The reported facts, as followed in detail in Middle East Eye, suggest an uncanny prescience of the coup amongst Arab Gulf counterrevolutionary forces and their Western allies, although it plainly took Turkish society and its government completely by surprise. The US government seems of late to have faced terrifying lexical challenges in defining military interventions in the political sphere. It called the coup an ‘insurrection’ just in case, and asked American citizens in Turkey to ‘stay indoors’.

Meanwhile, Iranian journalists choke on their fits of hilarity as they report on the fact that Kerry immediately offers the Turks his services in staging an enquiry into the… ‘coup’? Perhaps we have the legal green light, now that it has failed. Is Kerry – just perhaps – suggesting the sacrifice of Fethullah Gülen in order to come to an arrangement with Turkey over this untidy affair?

Erdoğan has been trying to extradite Gülen for trial in Turkey ever since February 2012, when prosecutors loyal to the ‘Gülen Community’ cult (Hizmet Hareketi) tried to arrest head of Turkish Intelligence (MİT) and Erdoğan right-hand, Hakan Fidan, at gun-point, for organizing secret peace talks with the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), on the basis that recognising the PKK as an interlocutor is a crime. Gülen went to pay his respects to Erdoğan personally, as he recovered in hospital from an intestinal operation, before fleeing to the US on hearing of the failure of the scheme, never to return.

Fethullah Gülen and the ‘deep state’

Gülen, whom Erdoğan blames for the coup attempt, anxiously denies any involvement. Certainly, Gülen was a major beneficiary of the 1980 coup by General Kenan Devren, as he was of the 1997 coup against his pal, the Islamic political figure, Necmettin Erbakan. As a purportedly ‘Islamic’ cleric, Gülen has had strange friends in high circles. He was close personal friends with Prime Minister Tansu Çiller, for instance, under whose rule Turkey descended into a state of daily bloody violence which, inexplicably, she seemed to condone.

Whether or not Gülen personally ordered Friday night’s coup, the fortunes of his rapidly rising organisation have been interwoven fairly tightly with Turkey’s coup history, and he has been closely allied with the country’s ‘deep state’ structures, while in the process of building his own.

A central actor in Friday night’s attempted coup was the Gendarmerie (JİTEM), whose Central Command was the scene of some 200 coup-related arrests early Saturday. JİTEM was a deep state operator, whose existence only came to light in the public sphere in 1996, and has allegedly been responsible for around 5,000 ‘unknown assailant’ murders, including that of the Kurdish politician Vedat Aydın, and 1,500 enforced disappearances between 1989 and 2008 in the Turkish southeast (Söyler 2015: 147). The ‘Gendarmerie’, an official state organ only since 2005, is the name for the heavily armed police responsible for the Kurdish regions, and thus also for the Syria border. It has been central to the perpetuation of the war against the Kurds, being at the centre of an ineluctable symbiotic relationship between the Turkish deep state and the ‘Kurdish question’ (Söyler 2015: 199).

JİTEM and other related deep state operators have always perceived Erdoğan, and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) which he leads, as enemies, ever since Interior Minister Beşir Atalay, a 1970s Erdogan colleague from the committee of the National Union of Students, announced the ‘Kurdish Opening’ in May 2009. When Erdoğan appointed his private secretary, Hakan Fidan, to head up MİT and then hold secret meetings with the PKK in an Oslo hotel on five occasions between December 2009 and January 2010, a brutal turf war erupted.

Gülen’s links to JİTEM are evidenced by two events in particular. The first was mentioned above, and involved prosecutors and police under his influence attempting the arrest of Hakan Fidan on charges of negotiating with the enemy in February 2012. The second involved the collaboration between the Gendarmerie and Adana prosecutor and known Gülenist, Ozcan Sisman, in uncovering MİT arms shipments to Syrian rebels in January 2014, while instantaneously broadcasting the catch in the Gülen news media.

This last event has since become a cause célèbre in Western media since the Istanbul-based Cumhuriyet republished the piece, and its editors subsequently jailed. Erdoğan’s seizure of two Gülenist newspapers, Zaman and Bugün, has also added to his negative reputation for interfering with the freedom of the press. However, it is notable that over half the remaining 45 newspapers in Turkey remain highly critical of Erdoğan, reporting everything freely without entailing any reprisals.

One has to ask then what the purpose is of singling out 3 newspapers in this way and incurring such negative publicity? It seems illogical until one considers the circumstances. JİTEM had always, whether unofficially or officially, been in charge of arms transfers over the Syria border. So the MİT arms to Syria events are a case of journalists caught in the middle of a turf war for control of the state, beginning with Hakan Fidan taking over General Intelligence with the purpose of squeezing out the deep state.

The news is out there, so it’s not about suppressing the news. It’s about the people involved in their quality as political actors.

Régime change and turf wars

Turkey was a founding part of the NATO alliance and the fight against communism since 1947-9. Ever since Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit discovered the Special Warfare Department (ÖHD) in 1974, it has become common knowledge that the US is frequently involved in running deep state operations in Turkey (Söyler 2015: 119). A deep state operation is effectively an organised group of government employees taking orders, on a systematic basis, from someone outside the official command structure: hence the name ‘parallel state’.

For this reason reporting on deep state operations is fraught with confusion and uncertainty, with players constantly switching hats. An understanding of events is only possible speculatively by looking at the wider picture and triangulating between them. One thing that Friday’s attempted coup has finally made clear is that Erdoğan isn’t paranoid, despite the risible claims of the Egyptian buffoon sitting on the UNSC council.

The fact that it was actually the Turkish public that stood as the first line of defence, in response to a broadcast on FaceTime by a bemused Erdoğan on holiday at the coastal resort of Marmaris, puts such explanations in the realm of the ludicrous. Many died while making citizens’ arrests of rebel soldiers as helicopters rained bullets down on them, leading to a frenzy of retribution, which had to be calmed down.

The turn of events is a testament to the depth of democratization of Turkish society. However, the principal reason for the failure of the coup is the fact that this was no full-blown coup, but a mere manifestation of a turf war. I have been arguing throughout that political events in Turkey cannot be read at face-value and are invariably the symptom of struggles for power within the executive. Highly-organised as it was, the coup was still the action of a ‘parallel’ structure that was activated (by whomever), and which soon found itself at sea. This is what explains the tragi-comic impression it gave.

The fact that Erdoğan and his flight escort of F-16s, flying back to Istanbul Atatürk airport, where an occupying but bemused military was being citizen arrested, found themselves in the sights of rebel F-16s, and that nothing happened, is an indication of the uncertainty troubling many of the players. If the idea was simply to drive a wedge in what was perceived as deep rifts in the political landscape, such hopes quickly faded as all the country’s parties met, in a scarred parliament building on Saturday morning, to pass a unanimous condemnation of the coup.

As the leaders of the opposition parties rallied round the government on this motion of censure, however, things could have been very different for Devlet Bahçeli, leader of Nationalist Party (MHP). For some time Gülen had been trying to seize control of the party as a platform for him to return to Turkish politics, by promoting, although ultimately failing, to install his disciple and follower Meral Akşener in Bahçeli’s place. As it is democracy survived.

The most obvious manifestation of the turf war is the sheer scale of the terrorist onslaught since July 2015, which is incomprehensible for a state with the extraordinary level of security that Turkey has always had, unless the terrorists concerned are in fact aided and abetted by insiders – by deep state operators. The coordination between the media onslaught on Erdoğan and these insider elements is reminiscent of what took place between January and July 2013 in Egypt with regard to President Mohamed Morsi. Rightly or wrongly, those journalists from 3 of the 47 newspapers mentioned above, who have been arrested, are perceived by Erdoğan’s government, personally, as actors within the ‘parallel’ state.

Back to the Kurdish Question and the Erdoğan ‘Sultanate’

Ultimately the turf wars come down to who controls the Syrian border, JİTEM, MİT/ Erdoğan, or the PKK (together with their Syrian counterpart the YPG). The stakes are high –Kurdistani dreams, Assad’s nightmares, Hezbollah’s survival, Russian and Iranian security, Israel’s machinations, the ISIS/DAESH football, and US hegemony defined by the widely differing agenda of the White House, the State Department, and the Pentagon – are all ingredients in the sheer insanity that this border area has become. But a new Middle-east is forming around the gravitational pull of this geopolitical black hole, which makes Turkey an extremely important player. I shall come back to this.

The idea that MİT’s Hakan Fidan and Erdoğan have had total control of the Syrian border, and can therefore be held entirely accountable as to what happens there is risible. The war between the Turkish state and the Kurds, for instance, seen in the context of Erdoğan’s overall policies, and ignited by the terrorist bombing event on 20th July 2015 in Suruç, South-east Turkey, makes no sense. Once again a contextual understanding is necessary.

Erdoğan has changed the face of Turkey and Turkish politics over two decades. His ‘Islamic’ politics is what permitted him to reconstitute the conception of Turkish nationalism as including the Kurds in a higher level identity (Pérouse 2016: 105). This cosmopolitan notion is quite a standard Muslim principle. For instance, the Albanian baker round the corner, or the Somali who runs the mobile phone shop up the road, share little with me in terms of ethnicity, background, education, language or indeed perception of the world, but we have names and certain understandings that nevertheless transcend all of that and bind us invisibly. This was a revolutionary idea for late 20th century Turkish society, which had been conditioned by the so-called ‘Turkish-Islamic’ synthesis of General Kenan Devren, backed by the military, and policed by the State Directorate of Religious Affairs (DIB). This was set out in a textbook called Ataturkism, and it explained Islam as being a genetic characteristic of ethnic Turks, thus perversely excluding the Kurds (Yavuz 2003: 69-75).

So the renewal of the war with the PKK makes no sense from the point of view of the AKP party’s policy of reconciliation and inclusiveness. The PKK unilaterally declared this process at an end after Suruç, which was claimed by ISIS/DAESH but perpetrated by ethnic Kurd Şeyh Abdurrahman Alagöz, whose brother Yunus Emre Alagöz was responsible for the even worse October 2015 Ankara train station bombing. In both cases travelling Kurds were the main target, and the PKK blamed both atrocities on the Turkish state. But if it was the Turkish state, then which part? And why was the PKK response to the Suruç incident so violent and disproportionate?

To start with the motives on the Kurdish side: the PKK, as a militant organisation, has clearly been uncomfortable with losing ownership of the ‘Kurdish Cause’ to the Turkish democratic political space. The June 2015 elections had, for the first time, returned an AKP government without an absolute majority, and the main beneficiary was the HDP, a party with a Kurdish majority, which suddenly burst onto the political scene with 13% of the vote and 80 seats in parliament. At the time, an HDP coalition with the AKP would have mustered 338 seats, more than the 317 seat absolute majority acquired by the AKP in the re-elections of November 2015.

This would be short of the 75% required to pass constitutional amendments in parliament, but enough to push through legislation for referenda on single issues that could alter the constitution in stages, and enough of a threat to also potentially bring the other parties to more constructive discussions on constitutional reform. The problem was that for the constitutional amendments favouring the Turkish Kurds which the AKP had trouble getting past the Republican Party (CHP) and the MHP on its own, the AKP had a quid pro quo, namely constitutional amendments to create a new separation of powers between the legislative and the executive, i.e. a presidential system.

The thing to understand, a point almost all media are blind to, is that Erdoğan isn’t seeking power for himself in proposing a presidential system. That’s not because he is a selfless angel. Legally and personally Erdoğan has total power right now, and there is no need to legislate for that. The General Kenan Devren coup constitution of 1982 is current and gives the president absolute and total discretion. This power had been given the presidency, however, at a time when the president was elected by parliament.

This changed in May 2007. At that time President Ahmet Sezer was stepping down. Erdoğan and the AKP wanted to nominate Abdullah Gül for president against the declared wishes of the military, who saw Gül as not secular enough – his wife wore a hijab for heaven’s sake! As it was, the CHP filibustered the vote, and so it went nowhere (Pérouse 2016: 206). Erdoğan retaliated by passing a law which required the Turkish president to be elected by popular vote. In the sense then that Erdoğan, by virtue of this May 2007 amendment, holds all his power from the people over the heads of parliament, he is at this moment effectively Sultan.

The point of the presidential system, therefore, is clearly not about empowering Erdoğan personally. The intention is to complete Turkey’s transition from a tutelary to a representative democracy by institutionalising and therefore limiting executive powers. The CHP and MHP opposition parties don’t see what’s in it for them in such change, and hold to the idea of parliament’s undiluted sovereignty. However, they fail to see that parliament has functioned smoothly since 2002 because of back-to-back AKP absolute majorities (except for June 2015), and that once this breaks down, Turkey would risk becoming ungovernable. The CHP, MHP on the one hand, and the HDP on the other, are irreconcilably split on the Kurdish issue, and only the AKP can provide a uniting force.

The deeper problem is that political realism in our time has to address the problem of the ‘security state’ as separate from the ‘democratic state’ (Morgenthau 1962: 400). We are all too aware of the power of intelligence agencies in Western society, but in Turkish society the deep state represents a security environment which has never been organised to serve the people, thus bringing into question whether Turkey has truly reached the stage of representative democracy. To what extend is parliament sovereign when a ‘parallel’ state exists that serves mysterious, often foreign, interests? At the centre of Erdoğan’s drive for a presidential system, is the rationalisation of the entire ‘security state’ under MİT. This is not in the interests of such as JİTEM, or Gülen. Hence the ferocious terrorist war waged on the AKP government and its constitutional plans during 2015-16.

Despite the gains that the HDP could have made by a coalition with the AKP in June 2015, Erdoğan’s constitutional plans for Turkey were about a consolidation of the Turkish state, which is anathema to the PKK, whose idea is actually to break it up. Given that HDP leaders found it hard to sail away from the gravitational pull of the militant organisation, there was no prospect therefore of a coalition coming from this direction. But when the HDP succeeded electorally in June 2015 beyond its wildest dreams, in the context of the Turkish democratic political space, it misunderstood the electorate.

The HDP thought it had finally attracted the Kurdish electorate away from the AKP, for the PKK’s projects. The Kurdish vote was always going to be an important swing vote from the start, but only in the context of the democratic space. The Kurds who switched their vote to the HDP in June 2015 did so on the basis of a continuing reconciliation process and as an expression of their ‘Kurdishness’ at the same time. But when the PKK aggressively re-launched its terror campaign after July, and new elections were called for November (as a result of the failure of coalition talks), two million Kurdish voters instantly switched allegiance from the HDP back to the AKP, with the AKP ending up with well over three times the number of Kurdish MPs than the HDP.

These traditionalist voters have always understood Erdoğan’s Islamic cosmopolitan message, and their temporary migration to the HDP was actually a voluntary expression of that philosophy. It would never be, however, an open subscription to the idea of rule by Marxist-Leninist councils of their countrymen issuing edicts while dressed in fatigues.

Of course, the collapse of the HDP in the November elections was blamed on Erdoğan’s fear tactics and his ‘re-starting of the war’. Who was it then who started the war in July 2015 unilaterally, with a massive killing spree of service personnel all over the country after the killing of the 33 students in Suruç, which we are supposed to take on trust that Erdoğan personally ordered? This was a repeat on the part of the Qandil leadership of the events 2009, when Kurdish leader Öcalan re-started the war then, to avoid at any cost collusion between nascent Kurdish civil parties and the AKP in the democratic space that might eventually trump his military chain of command (Wikileaks 02Dec09).

The Obama non-doctrine, the Syrian black hole

Clearly, Erdoğan had been intransigent to demands for help in the Kurdish effort to free Kobane, a Syrian Kurdish town, from occupation by ISIS/DAESH in October 2014. It looked really bad, especially from the perspective of liberal newspapers like the Guardian, who are part of the English pro-Kurdish Romantic Movement that dreams of carving a new state out of Turkey, Iraq and Iran, in the same way perhaps that the Philhellenes led by Lord Byron, famously painted in this role dressed in Albanian garb, sought to carve a new Greece out of the Ottoman Empire 200 years ago.

But this was not the first time an AKP government refused to invade a neighbouring country. After a brief honeymoon between Erdoğan and the American Embassy during his early meteoric rise as Mayor of Istanbul, relations soured with the US when G. W. Bush’s invitation to join the Iraq War was rejected. Relations with Obama also soured, after an initial sunny spell during which Erdoğan was buying his act.

At the outset of the Arab Spring, Turkey had sought good relations with Assad, but then its advice and help, as the Syrian régime began barrel-bombing its people, were simply rebuffed. After that, Turkey merely fell in line with various US/International plans, backing first the Arab League’s plan (November 2011–January 2012) and then the UN’s ‘Annan Plan’ (February–August 2012) (Phillips 2012: 6). In September 2012, the Syrian National Congress (SNC) was established in Istanbul to plan to provide a logical alternative political structure for the Syrian state, and to begin negotiations with the existing cadres in the Syrian military that were Sunni, to pre-arrange a plan of integration.

The plan to launch the SNC was scupperred by the State Department and Hillary Clinton, who killed off any chance of making a success of the SNC, because of her outright opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood, calling the SNC a waste of time and a mere ‘talking-shop’. Obama lamely accepted Clinton’s tantrum without a word, just as he later rolled over with State Department acquiescence to the military ‘coup that wasn’t a coup’ in Egypt, which Erdoğan strongly opposed. Furthermore, Obama refused to engage US troops in Syria, and sought régime change using jihadi groups funded by Saudi Arabia.

Unsurprisingly, Erdoğan would then sit on his hands, whilst the Washington foreign policy establishment launched a campaign of vilification in retaliation that would have it that the whole Syria mess was his doing and that he was responsible for the rise of ISIS/DAESH. We now know from documents that this eventuality was actually part of Department of Defense planning (DOD Aug2012). The fact that Obama was leading Erdoğan up the garden path was clear from Jeffrey Golberg’s ‘Obama Doctrine’ sour grapes legacy article when he writes about Erdoğan that “Obama… considers him a failure and an authoritarian, one who refuses to use his enormous army to bring stability to Syria”.

In Obama’s Alice-Through-The-Looking-Glass world the bar for being a democrat is set, one supposes, by his Egyptian client, Abdelfattah el-Sisi. Goodbye authoritarianism! Hello ‘road to democracy’! One only hopes that Obama has ensured Sisi’s memoirs-in-the-making to be ready for Hillary Clinton’s coronation. There would be lots pointers about how Congressional elections could be organised by the NSA, and about how the Pentagon budget could escape all oversight.

As Obama was also deaf to Erdoğan’s entreaties that US funding and arming of the Syrian Kurdish militias aggravated the situation with the PKK in Turkey, it is clear that everything that could go wrong between the two men, did go wrong. As Erdoğan said, he could never figure out what Obama was up to, and had to start talking to Biden to get some sanity. So when Obama asked Erdoğan to push ISIS/DEASH out of Kobane, what do you think he said to the US President? Something beginning with f… perhaps?

The new international order

The collapse in the Turkish relationship with the US, together with its chafing at the bit caused by the increasing introversion and protectionism of the EU, is one cause of the end of the Atlantic project. Brexit, and British dissatisfaction with the EU, is another, the sudden realisation of which some three ago sent shock waves through Washington. The recent NATO summit, triumphally staged in the green Column Room of the Presidential Palace in Warsaw, where the Warsaw pact was signed in May 1955 in response to the creation of NATO in 1949, was intended to reinforce US hegemony after the Brexit shock.

For the deluded assembly, a plaster laid over the fatal cracks in the alliance by the NATO spokesperson, naming Russia as ENEMY NUMBER ONE ahead of ISIS/DAESH, looked as if it would solve the problem: “Russia’s aggressive actions… are a source of regional instability, fundamentally challenge the Alliance, have damaged Euro-Atlantic security, and threaten our long-standing goal of a Europe whole, free, and at peace.” Actually, NATO has always been mainly about containing a potentially resurgent and hyper-competitive Germany, so Brexiting Britain could now revert to the original 1949 containment plans through a security architecture, reversing its previous intentions for a NATO budget cut. Forcing all members to follow suit thus on the US-imposed expenditure levels, might then make dreams of a European army fade away.

For the time being, Germany’s economic interests are served by creating a barrier between its East-European neo-colonies and Russia, just as the deploying new NATO forces and new nuclear and anti-nuclear missiles against Russia serve US hegemonic interests. But the scales have long since fallen from German eyes, and they do give as good as they get. If, however, the Baltics and Poland have an appropriate anti-Russian stance, this is not the case in the south, especially not with Hungary, Bulgaria and Greece. This is especially not the case with Turkey, with Erdoğan indicating that he was in a decided hurry to normalise ties with Russia, a mere week prior to his attendance at the NATO summit, for which attendance he was distinctly apologetic.

Iran, whose government has been pushing for a rapprochement between Turkey and Russia, is happy to begin negotiating a new security architecture for the Middle-east, based on negotiated relationships between the three powers in Syria and Iraq. We already know that there are Turkish backchannels into the Assad régime, and it is primarily this Syrian situation that Russia wants to settle with Turkish help. Were Turkey a fully-fledged NATO combatant, under the leadership perhaps of one of the hare-brained coup-plotters of last Friday night, Russia’s military position as strong as it is with its dominance of the skies guaranteed by the S-400 in Latakia, could still be exposed to constant jihadi attacks in a new ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’.

In this way Turkey, Iran and Russia could create a security architecture, if all three countries’ interests are addressed, that could take in all of Syria and Iraq as de juro states that are de facto split into communities that would have allegiances to one or the other power. Sunni, Shia and Christian etc.., respectively would acquire the protection of one of the three states, in the manner in fact that European powers used to acquire permits to open consulates in Jerusalem under Ottoman rule, and in a geopolitical version of the Islamic cosmopolitan principle.

Most significant would be the fact that the Iraqi Sunni community, facing a Baghdad government that is incapable of addressing its needs, could be brought in from the cold by the Turkish government, in the same way that it addressed the needs of Gazans in its recent deal with Israel, without Israel, or in this case Iraq, sensing an infringement of its sovereignty. The new agreement gives Turkey the right to supply food, medicines, toys and educational materials to the enclave on an ongoing basis, together with reconstruction which will include a hospital, a power plant and waste water treatment works.

This would presumably drain the largest swamp wherein ISIS/DAESH has thrived. No amount of funding from Saudi Arabia would allow violent groups to continue dominate in communities whose needs are addressed. We know that al-Qaeda in Iraq, the ISIS/DAESH precursor, began with the Iranian military strategist Qasim Suleimani actively organising Sunni jihadi groups to supply the insurrection against US occupation in 2003, and we know the Bashar al-Assad contributed to this by acting as a conduit for European jihadis travelling to Iraq. We also know that ISIS/DAESH was subsequently recognised as a tool by US military strategists to achieve their objectives in Syria (DOD Aug2012).

With Saudi Arabia in decline and facing serious financial deficits as far as the eye can see, and potentially also facing increasing internal tensions and war-weariness in a devastated Yemen, and with farctate Egyptian coup leaders very regrettably cannibalizing Egyptian society, the two main US allies in the region will be marginalised.

These developments could prove to have even more dramatic consequences than one might imagine. Increased stability in the region achieved through a new security architecture guaranteed jointly and severally by Turkey, Iran and Russia in their different spheres, might draw Israel out of its cabin. Netanhayu describes the new agreement with Turkey as having ‘immense implications’ for Israel’s long-term interests. Having done one deal with Turkey and relaxed some restraints, perhaps more could follow, up until the point that Israel sees itself as belonging to the region, rather than as a staging post for the Apocalypse.

As usual, Erdoğan has drawn vitriolic comment from his opposition over the deal with Israel, most especially from the Humanitarian Relief Organisation IHH, the original organisers of the Navi Marmara flotilla. It was this flotilla which had been attacked by Israeli commandoes and was the reason for the break in diplomatic relations between the two countries. Nevertheless, Hamas was more careful to praise Turkey’s normalization with Israel, saying it was ‘consistent with the overall Turkish position in regard to the Palestinian cause…’, while restating its commitment to end the occupation and achieve Palestinian national rights: ‘The Hamas movement looks forward to Turkey further supporting the Palestinian cause and ending the blockade completely…’.

The BDS movement has shown us that the most difficult situations can best be resolved by piecemeal multilateral ethical action in the context of civil society. The prospects described in this concluding section really came together when Russia established dominance of the skies in Syria and Turkey now sees its interest in protecting that position as it now looks east for its next growth phase.


But, finally, what of the London Guardian? What of English coup-loving liberalism? A recent coup in the British Labour Party against Jeremy Corbyn would seem to have failed. Nothing seems to change. We can safely say that English liberalism never has been about social justice, if we recall how Fabians Sidney and Beatrice Webb vilified radicals and Cobdenists, the 19th century version of Corbynistas, and how they backed the Liberal Party’s imperialist adventures.

One of the great educators of the Victorian Age, Thomas Arnold, headmaster of Rugby public school, commented on those professions in England that usually form the core of the liberal classes and wrote “In no country… do the professions so naturally and generally share the cast of ideas of the aristocracy as in England” (Wiener 2004: 16).

Omar Kassem can be reached through his website at http://different-traditions.com/