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Panic in the Streets of London: PM statement following London terror attack: 4 June 2017

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Following the rapid police response of eight minutes on Saturday night, the PM came out the next day to tell the world that Britain’s had enough and that Mrs Merkel’s harsh words of yesteryear are now more valid than ever. But, she started off quite circumspect: “Last night, our country fell victim to a brutal terrorist attack once again. As a result I have just chaired a meeting of the government’s emergency committee and I want to update you with the latest information about the attack. Shortly before 10:10 yesterday evening, the Metropolitan Police received reports that a white van had struck pedestrians on London Bridge. It continued to drive from London Bridge to Borough Market, where 3 terrorists left the van and attacked innocent and unarmed civilians with blades and knives. All 3 were wearing what appeared to be explosive vests, but the police have established that this clothing was fake and worn only to spread panic and fear. As so often in such serious situations, the police responded with great courage and great speed. Armed officers from the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police arrived at Borough Market within moments, and shot and killed the 3 suspects. The terrorists were confronted and shot by armed officers within 8 minutes of the police receiving the first emergency call. Seven people have died as a result of the attack, in addition to the 3 suspects shot dead by the police. Forty-eight people are being treated in several hospitals across London. Many have life-threatening conditions. On behalf of the people of London, and on behalf of the whole country, I want to thank and pay tribute to the professionalism and bravery of the police and the emergency services – and the courage of members of the public who defended themselves and others from the attackers. And our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and with their friends, families and loved ones. This is, as we all know, the third terrorist attack Britain has experienced in the last 3 months. In March, a similar attack took place, just around the corner on Westminster Bridge. Two weeks ago, the Manchester Arena was attacked by a suicide bomber. And now London has been struck once more”.(1)

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In the next instance May gave a brief overview of terror attack to then outline the UK government’s response to the threat of “Radical Islamic or Islamist terrorism”, as the Drumpf has now named the enemy. In factm she also maneged to make some pretty value-laded statements: “In terms of their planning and execution, the recent attacks are not connected. But we believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face, as terrorism breeds terrorism, and perpetrators are inspired to attack not only on the basis of carefully-constructed plots after years of planning and training – and not even as lone attackers radicalised online – but by copying one another and often using the crudest of means of attack. We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. Things need to change, and they need to change in 4 important ways. First, while the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single, evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism. It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth. Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time. But it cannot be defeated through military intervention alone. It will not be defeated through the maintenance of a permanent, defensive counter-terrorism operation, however skilful its leaders and practitioners. It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence – and make them understand that our values – pluralistic, British values – are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate. Second, we cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet – and the big companies that provide internet-based services – provide. We need to work with allied, democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorist planning. And we need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online. Third, while we need to deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online, we must not forget about the safe spaces that continue to exist in the real world. Yes, that means taking military action to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. But it also means taking action here at home. While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country. So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out – across the public sector and across society. That will require some difficult and often embarrassing conversations, but the whole of our country needs to come together to take on this extremism – and we need to live our lives not in a series of separated, segregated communities but as one truly United Kingdom. Fourth, we have a robust counter-terrorism strategy that has proved successful over many years. But as the nature of the threat we face becomes more complex, more fragmented, more hidden, especially online, the strategy needs to keep up. So in light of what we are learning about the changing threat, we need to review Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy to make sure the police and security services have all the powers they need. And if we need to increase the length of custodial sentences for terrorism-related offences, even apparently less serious offences, that is what we will do”.(2)

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May ends her speech on a programmatic note, arguably even somewhat invoking the spirit of Winston Churchill: “Since the emergence of the threat from Islamist-inspired terrorism, our country has made significant progress in disrupting plots and protecting the public. But it is time to say enough is enough. Everybody needs to go about their lives as they normally would. Our society should continue to function in accordance with our values. But when it comes to taking on extremism and terrorism, things need to change . . . As a country, our response must be as it has always been when we have been confronted by violence. We must come together, we must pull together, and united we will take on and defeat our enemies”.(3)

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(1)“PM statement following London terror attack: 4 June 2017”.https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-following-london-terror-attack-4-june-2017.

(2)“PM statement following London terror attack: 4 June 2017”.

(3)“PM statement following London terror attack: 4 June 2017”.

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The Manchest Bombing and Libya

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Posting on his Facebook page, on 27 May 2017, the intrepid Pepe Escobar this time gives his readers and followers the lowdown on the Libyan backstory to the suicide attack on the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester:

THE MANCHESTER-LIBYA CONNECTION IN FIVE MINUTES

Let’s focus on Ramadan, father of the Manchester “martyr” Salman Obeidi; now that’s a nasty piece of work. He hails from the al-Obeidi tribe, from al Gubbah in eastern Libya. Under Gaddafi he was a Sgt. Major, very pious and Islamist-connected. He left Libya in 1991 and settled down in the Saudi Wahhabi paradise where – crucially – he trained mujahideen fighting in Afghanistan against the Najibullah government, after the Soviet retreat. In 1992 the mujahideen enter Kabul, as in bomb it to death, including the recently ‘normalized’ Hekmatyar. Ramadan goes to London and then Manchester, joining the Libyan Islamist diaspora that coalesces around the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). Ramadan connects with none other that Abu Anas Al-Libbi – who also lives in Manchester – and will become the brains behind the al-Qaeda attacks on Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Ramadan also connects with the infamous Abdelhakim Belhaj – former mujahid in Afghanistan and VERY close to… Osama Bin Laden. Belhaj convinces Ramadan to go back to Libya. After the Cameron/Sarkozy/NATO “liberation” of Libya, Ramadan joins the Al Umma party, whose leader is Sami al Saadi, one of the LIFG’s top commanders, and gets very close to the Grand Mufti Sadeq al-Ghariani, the spiritual guide of hardcore Islamist militias linked to Belhaj. Three years ago Ramadan was part of the Islamist militia raid that re-conquered Tripoli’s airport; son Salman flew from Manchester for this one, was shot, and treated in Turkey. Ramadan was also part of the Benghazi Defense Brigades; a mish mash of Islamists from Katiba 17 (financed by Qatar and instrumental in the Benghazi revolt against Gaddafi) and Ansar al Sharia. You all remember what happened on 9/11, 2012; it was Ansar al Sharia operatives who attacked the US consulate in Benghazi. Arguably the key point in all this mess is that Ramadan profited from the MI5 rat line transporting Libyans back to the home country to fight Gaddafi. The minister in charge of authorizing this ‘policy’? Theresa May. MI5 and the British government always knew, all along, what Ramadan was all about. He was certainly an asset; the Brits were heavily involved in eastern Libya from the start. He has not been arrested; he’s now under protection, Mafia-style. His ‘arrest’ took place – how lovely! – just as a shadow flight carrying US Special Forces landed in Misrata. The only missing link is why son Salman ‘betrayed’ his al-Qaeda Dad by converting to Daesh. This is just an ultra-concise summary of the whole stinking-to-high-heavens scam. But you get the drift”. (1)

We Can Survive 2014

Drumpfian Leaks: The Washington Post

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Posting on his Facebook page, on 18 May 2017, the intrepid Pepe Escobar appears to reveal some inside knowledge hidden from view:

THE WAR ON TRUMP

My source “X” is furious:

The major question is who in Trump’s inner circle is the traitor leaking to the Washington Post? The Washington Post is conducting a campaign against Trump led by Trotskyite elements. The key national interest for the US is a rapprochement with Russia to avoid a nuclear war that the Russians are ready for. Trump is also trying to stop the attack on the American wage level by the .1% Trotskyite element on Wall St. who is stealing the nation’s wealth through their cash settlement manipulations, and other acts of pickpocketing. Trump must stick to his guns.”

That’s not far from the credible narrative put together by old school intel ops not totally controlled by the War Party; “The issue is not necessarily what Trump has done or said. It is that Trump cannot trust even his inner circle of advisers. Whoever leaked the information was either in the room or had access to the minutes of the meeting. That means that someone with fairly robust access was willing to risk not just his or her own career but also the effectiveness of U.S.-Russia moves against the Islamic State, as well as U.S. credibility in the world and with allies that share intelligence. It makes Trump look bad, it makes the United States look worse, and it damages U.S. credibility for as long as the Trump administration is in power”.1

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As “X” says, “The issue is not necessarily what Trump has done or said”, but rather as expressed by the well-known conservative political and cultural commentator David Brooks now more than a month ago, “Trump’s greatest achievements are in the field of ignorance”, elaborating in the next instance that “Trump’s ignorance is not just an absence; it is a rich, intricate and entirely separate universe of negative information, a sort of fertile intellectual antimatter with its own gravitational pull”.2 Brooks really explains the Drumpf in living colours: the “normal incompetent person flails and stammers and is embarrassed about it. But the true genius at incompetence like our president flails and founders and is too incompetent to recognize his own incompetence. He mistakes his catastrophes for successes and so accelerates his pace toward oblivion. Those who ignore history are condemned to retweet it”.3

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But these insights should not surprise us . . . Tony Schwartz, the actual author of the Art of the Deal, has been warning people ever since the Drumpf decided to run for president.4 And, the investigative journalist David Cay Johnston has been doing the same for years now, as he knows the man that is the Drumpf up close.5

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2 David Brooks, “The Coming Incompetence Crisis” New York Times (07 April 2017). https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/opinion/the-coming-incompetence-crisis.html.

3 David Brooks, “The Coming Incompetence Crisis”.

4 “Tony Schwartz: The Truth About Trump” The Erimtan Angle. (s.d.). http://apob.tumblr.com/post/160224262702/tony-schwartz-the-truth-about-trump.

5‘ ‘David Cay Johnston: “The Making of Donald Trump” The Erimtan Angle. (s.d.). http://apob.tumblr.com/post/160129875497/david-cay-johnston-the-making-of-donald-trump.

Fighting the Caliph: U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and the Kurds

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On 9 May 2017, while holding a joint press confererence with the Danish Minister of Defence Claus Hjort Frederiksen in Copenhagen, General Mattis told reporters the following in response to a query regarding the decision to arm Syria’s Kurds: “Yes, they — we had very open discussion with the Turks. It’s a NATO ally, and NATO allies stick together. That’s not to say, we all walk into the room with exactly the same appreciation of the problem or the path forward. We work that out through extensive dialogue. We’ve been conducting military and diplomatic dialogue with the Turks, and it was a very, very useful discussion today. We’re getting — as you know — into the position where we will have Raqqa surrounded. The idea is, ladies and gentlemen, that the foreign fighters not be allowed to escape and return to constitute a threat against free and innocent people elsewhere, whether it be in the Arabian Gulf, North Africa, and certainly Europe. By taking, for example, Manbij away from the enemy, that was the spoke of the hub and spoke of their terrorist effort against Europe, and that’s how they conducted the attacks against Brussels and Paris. So our intent is to work with the Turks, with — alongside one another to take Raqqa down and we’re going to sort it out and we’ll figure out how we’re going to do it, but we’re all committed to it and that’s what came out of today’s discussion”.i

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The U.S. Secretary of Defense clearly sidestepped the thorny issue of Turkey’s opposition to the Pentagon’s decision by means of simply ignoring the question and talking about the U.S.-Turkish relationship as if everything were hunky dory. Still, as reported by Reuters: “U.S. President Donald Trump has approved supplying arms to Kurdish YPG fighters to support an operation to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from Islamic State, U.S. officials said on Tuesday [, 9 May 2017]”.ii Ankara regards the YPG as but the Syrian incarnation of the PKK, Turkey’s homegrown Kurdish terror group. In this connection, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White made the following declaration: “We want to reassure the people and government of Turkey that the U.S. is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our NATO ally . . . We are keenly aware of the security concerns of our coalition partner Turkey”.iii

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Bülent Alirıza, director of the Turkey project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, on the other hand, made the following observations: “There have been bad episodes in the relationship between the United States and Turkey, but this one is serious because it gets to the heart of Turkish security priorities . . . You’ve now got a question mark over the U.S.-Turkish security relationship that is pretty serious”.iv Now, all eyes are on Tayyip Erdoğan’s upcoming visit to Washington, D.C.

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i “Joint Press Conference with Secretary Mattis and Minister Frederiksen in Copenhagen, Denmark” U.S. Department of Defense (09 Mauy 2017). https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1177882/joint-press-conference-with-secretary-mattis-and-minister-frederiksen-in-copenh/.

ii Phil Stewart, “U.S. to arm Syrian Kurds fighting Islamic State, despite Turkey’s ire” Reuters (10 May 2017). http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-usa-kurds-idUSKBN18525V.

iii Phil Stewart, “U.S. to arm Syrian Kurds fighting Islamic State, despite Turkey’s ire”.

iv Phil Stewart, “U.S. to arm Syrian Kurds fighting Islamic State, despite Turkey’s ire”.

Caliphal Origins: THE ORIGINS OF DAESH IN ONE MINUTE

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On his facebook account the intrepid Roving Eye that is the world-renowned journalist and commentator Pepe Escobar posted the following interesting tidbit on Wednesday, 22 March 2017:

‘James Shea, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Emerging Threats at NATO – how lovely is that title? – recently gave a talk at the Liberal Club in London on Daesh. Shea, as you all remember, was NATO’s spokesman during the NATO war on Yugoslavia in 1999.

After his talk Shea engaged in a debate with a source I very much treasure. The source later gave me the lowdown.

According to Saudi intel, Daesh was invented by the USG – in Camp Bacca, remember? – to essentially get rid of the Shi’ite-majority Maliki government.

But then there’s the juicy issue of Daesh routing the Iraqi Army on its way to Mosul. The Iraqi Army fled. Daesh operatives then took over ultra-modern weapons that took US instructors from six to twelve months to train the Iraqis in and…surprise! They incorporated the weapons in their arsenals in 24 hours.

So yes, Shea frankly admitted that Petraeus had trained these Sunnis now part of Daesh in Anbar Province in Iraq.

Saudi intel still maintains that these Iraqi Sunnis were not US-trained – as Shea confirmed – because the Shi’ites in power in Baghdad didn’t allow it. Nonsense. The Daesh hard core is indeed a US-trained militia.

True to form, at the end of the debate, Shea went on to blame Russia for absolutely everything that’s happening today’.i

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“Jamie Shea is Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges” is what it says on his requisite NATO website.ii In 2015, at a conference entitled ‘NATO-Turkey relations’ in Bahçeşehir University, Mister Shea was able to pronounce the following with a straight face and full of conviction: “We need very good cooperation with Turkey . . . much better quality of dialogue between Turkey and Europe. That’s actually very critical [n the fight against Daesh or IS/ISIS or the Caliph and his Merry Men] . . . It is not just Turkey’s question. Everybody has to accept the responsibility . . . What we all have to do is do a better job by understanding the complexity of the situation in the reality“.iii

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ii “Jamie Shea” NATO. (Last updated: 27 Jul. 2012 16:00). http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/who_is_who_50159.htm.

iii “NATO, Turkey cooperation vital to tackle Daesh: official” AA (11 March 2015). http://aa.com.tr/en/turkey/nato-turkey-cooperation-vital-to-tackle-daesh-official/67758.

AKP Turkey’s Favourite Terrorists in Syria: Ahrar al-Sham

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The Berlin-based SWP (or Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik or German Institute for International and Security Affairs)’s Dr Guido Steinberg relates that “Ahrar al-Sham belongs to the Islamist/Salafist part of the rebel spectrum. It aims to topple Asad and replace his regime with an Islamic state based on sharia. While its leadership has never spelled out in detail what the political system of such a state would look like, it is sure to be strongly authoritarian”.(1) Founded by “by Hassan Aboud (aka Abu Abdullah al-Hamawi) [died on 16 March 2016 “from wounds received in a battle near Aleppo”],(2) the group is a coalition of Islamist and Salafist units fighting to unseat Bashar al-Assad. Over time, Hassan Aboud’s outfit even became the ‘principal constituent force’ of the Syrian Islamic Front (or SIF), set up in December 2012 as a ‘Salafi umbrella formation, which is arguably the best fighting force within the opposition’ to the Assad regime in Damascus, in the words of the Richard Borow Fellow at the Washington Institute and founder of the website Jihadology, Aaron Zelin and Charles Lister, the Visiting Fellow, Brookings Doha Center”.(3)

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According to the journalist and freelance writer Aron Lund, “the Ahrar el-Sham Brigades are made up of nearly fifty jihadi groups, such as the Qawafil el-Shuhada (Idleb), Ansar el-Haqq (Idleb), and Salaheddine Brigade (Hama). They exist in most of Syria’s Sunni-populated governorates, but are particularly concentrated in the Idleb Governorate (half of the brigades listed), with Hama a distant second. [In 2012 p]ress reports appear to confirm that the group has a strong foothold in the Sunni countryside stretching from the northern Ghab Plain west of Hama, towards Idleb and the Turkish border, east of the Alawite mountains. Also judging from its own website, the Ahrar el-Sham Brigades are conspicuously weak in some Sunni-majority governorates otherwise known for intensive rebel activity: Homs (only two brigades, in the Houla region and Tel-Kalakh respectively), Deraa (one brigade, no location specified) and Deir el-Zor (no presence)”.(4) On a dedicated website, the group itself posits that “The Islamic Movement of Free Men of the Levant [or Ahrar al-Sham] is an Islamist, reformist, innovative and comprehensive movement. It is integrated with the Islamic Front and is a comprehensive and Islamic military, political and social formation. It aims to completely overthrow the Assad regime in Syria and build an Islamic state whose only sovereign, reference, ruler, direction, and individual, societal and nationwide unifier is Allah Almighty’s Sharia (law)”.(5)

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In spite of the above-quoted programmatic statement, “the movement is generally not seen by the Syrian public as fame or power-hungry, and Syrian activists’ comments on social media often describe the movement as working quietly and in an organised manner”, as expressed by Al Jazeera’s Malak Chabkoun.(6) Ahrar al-Sham’s supposed moderate character also seems to have induced AKP Turkey’s then-Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoğlu to utilize the groups as a middleman in negotiations between the National Intelligence Organization (or MİT) and the Islamic State (or ISIS or the Caliph and his Merry Men) in 2014.(7)

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(1) Guido Steinberg , ‘Ahrar al-Sham: The “Syrian Taliban”’ SWP Comments, 27 (May 2016). file:///C:/Users/K55V/Desktop/Ahrar%20al-Sham.pdf.

(2) C. J. Chivers and Karam Shaoumali, “Hassan Aboud, an ISIS Commander, Dies From Battlefield Wounds” New York Times (17 March 2016). https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/18/world/middleeast/hassan-aboud-an-isis-commander-dies-from-battlefield-wounds.html?_r=0.

(3) C. Erimtan, “Turkey between rock and a hard place in US fight against ISIS” RT Op-Edge (18 September 2014). https://www.rt.com/op-edge/188796-turkey-isis-usa-conflict-syria/.

(4) Aron Lund,, “Syrian Jihadism” UIBrief, 13 (14 September 2012). file:///C:/Users/K55V/Desktop/Syrian%20Jihadism%20(012).pdf.

(5) Ahrar al-Sham official webpage: http://ahraralsham.net/?page_id=4195. Translated and quoted by Malak Chabkoun, “Syrian Revolution’s Path after Attacks on Ahrar al-Sham” Al Jazeera English (17 September 2014). http://studies.aljazeera.net/en/reports/2014/09/2014“Syrian Revolution’s Path after Attacks on Ahrar al-Sham” . 9147499306405.html#a2.

(6) Malak Chabkoun, “Syrian Revolution’s Path after Attacks on Ahrar al-Sham” .

(7) C. Erimtan, “Turkey between rock and a hard place in US fight against ISIS”.

Establishing the New Turkey: Tayyip’s Dream

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The momentous events of 15 July 2016 have shaken the Turkish nation to its core, in the process even awakening hitherto unknown reserves of popular courage and unquestioning obedience. The official narrative has it that the people of Turkey, supported by their political leadership (government as well as opposition), resisted the country’s military and so thwarted a coup that would have spelled the end of Tayyip Erdoğan’s political career and life.[1]  And now, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (aka the Prez) and his ruling Justice and Development Party (or AKP, led by the hapless PM Binali Yıldırım) have emerged stronger than ever, and Turkey will never be the same again . . .

Terror Distractions and Other Threats

A little more than a month later, a terror attack occurred that was to have serious consequences in the weeks and months to come: “[o]n August 20, 2016, ISIS carried out a suicide attack in Gaziantep, Turkey targeting a Kurdish neighborhood wedding ceremony killing fifty‐one people and wounding sixty‐nine others.” And, as always seems to happen in Turkey Tayyip Erdoğan personally entered the controversy, this time by means of blaming a child suicide bomber for the attack (August 21), only to have his proxy deny this claim subsequently. Speaking to reporters in Ankara, the hapless PM stated namely that “[w]e do not have a clue about who the perpetrators behind the attack were. Early information on who did the attack, in what organization’s name, is unfortunately not right.” In other words, this terror attack is now quite cosily fulfilling the function of a distraction, with the news media happily participating in the frenzy. Yet another factor that always seems to occur in Turkey whenever the Caliph and his Merry Men (aka the IS or ISIS/ISIL) are involved, “[n]o group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.” The weekly news magazine Newsweek‘s Jack Moore muses that “ISIS rarely claims attacks in Turkey, which analysts speculate to be because of its use of Turkey as a transit country to get foreign fighters into its self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria.”

But Moore’s statement seems rather weak and unconvincing. The Turkish state under the AKP has namely had warm relations with many, if not all, Islamist factions across the border in Syria. But, last year the “suicide blast in the Turkish border town of Suruç” (20 July 2015) was then the first effective spill-over of violence from the Syrian theatre into Turkish territory.[2]  That particular “attack was targeted at a meeting organized by the Federation of Socialist Youth Associations (SGDF), bringing together young people from all around the country planning to travel across the border in order to offer aid and support for the re-building of the recently liberated Kurdish town of Kobanê.” The terror attack was thus specifically aimed at Turkey’s Kurdish minority, its sympathizers and political representation. Even though AKP-led Turkey was quick to blame ISIS or the Islamic State for the outrage, responsibility for the attack was never claimed and this suicide blast effectively brought an end to the Kurdish Peace Process. Following this first foray into Turkish territory many more suicide attacks followed, particularly in Ankara and Istanbul — attacks which the government was always keen to blame on the Caliph and his Merry Men, though following renewed hostilities with the country’s Kurds, the name PKK also managed to pop up occasionally. The parallels between the Suruç and Gaziantep attacks appear striking, the latter taking place exactly a year-and-a-month after the former. And in both cases, the official narrative has it that Islamist terrorists hailing from across the border were targeting Turkey’s Kurds . . . Last year, I wondered whether “the Suruç suicide bombing [was] a false flag attack?? [Whether] the Turkish Army [would] now enter Syria to fight the IS and the Assad regime??” . . . In the end, Turkey’s Armed Forces (or TSK in acronymized Turkish) stayed put and, according to Russia, Turkey traded freely with the Islamic State, importing stolen oil and reaping huge profits. The relations between the Prez, the Caliph and the Kurds seem most tangled up. Or is AKP-led Turkey merely using the name ISIS (or ISIL or the IS or DAESH, the Arabic acronym now also popularly used by Turkish politicians and media alike) to deflect attention from those really responsible for inflicting grave harm on the Turkish Kurds??  And this question would then lead us to ask who is hiding behind this government-sponsored obfuscation . . . For one thing, the local Kurds seem rather clear about the matter: following the recent Gaziantep suicide attack, “AKP members were protested and expelled from the funeral of 42 people that had been massacred in [Gazi]Antep,” as reported by the Kurdish news agency Ajansa Nûçeyan a Firatê (ANF), even adding that the massacre was perpetrated by “ISIS gangs supported by the AKP.”[3]

A Policy of Sunnification or Tayyip’s Dream

It really looks like the Prez and the current hapless PM Yıldırım are keen to insinuate that the Republic of Turkey is under constant threat from either foreign terrorists, Kurdish separatists or, as recently witnessed, from apparently U.S.-directed “traitors,” as the coup-plotters have been termed now. And these threats are all sneakily used to deflect attention from the fact that Tayyip Erdoğan is in the process of establishing a new land on the Anatolian peninsula, a New Turkey (as the AKP now self-assuredly also boasts), a new country completely at odds with the state founded by Mustafa Kemal [Atatürk] in 1923. From late 2013 onwards, I have been using the term “policy of Sunnification” to describe the AKP’s domestic agenda.[4]  In fact, Turkey’s affairs next door in Syria are but a continuation and sounding-board of this self-same policy, as the Assad regime in Damascus is supposedly led by an Alawite clan, though in reality, the Syrian government appears to be much more inclusive than that, counting its fair share of ethnic and religious minorities among its members, in addition to a number of Sunni Muslims.[5]  Arguably, a circumstance most displeasing to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the self-proclaimed champion of Sunni Islam, arguably forever dreaming of a revived Islamic Turkey emboldened by righteous and obedient believer-citizens pledging allegiance to the Prophet and his representative on earth, Tayyip Erdoğan. After all, as long ago as 20 January 2004 the then- U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman penned a confidential report for his masters in Washington, D.C. describing Erdoğan as “a natural politician,” possessing an “unbridled ambition stemming from the belief God has anointed him to lead Turkey.”[6]

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At the outset of his political career, on 22 November 1994, to be precise, when he was Mayor of Istanbul the then 40-year old Erdoğan participated in a television programme via the telephone and proclaimed in a loud and clear tone of voice, “alḥamdulillāh [or praise be to God or Allah], I am a Muslim . . . alḥamdulillāh, I am a proponent of the Shariah.”[7]   As a result, it should not come as a far-fetched idea to assume that the ambitious (yet also apparently equally avaricious)  Tayyip Erdoğan would someday like to overthrow the Kemalist consensus and even venture to re-introduce the Shariah in Turkey. Some have argued that the AKP’s long-term goal for the year 2023, the centenary of the Republic’s foundation, has always been to “transform the nation state Turkey into an Anatolian federation of Muslim ethnicities, possibly linked to a revived caliphate” and a re-introduced Shariah legal system . . . The botched military coup of 15 July came as a “gift from God [or Allah],” offering the opportunity to effectively emasculate, if not extinguish, the opposition and other unwanted adversaries. That fateful night, when the Prez used his FaceTime interview on CNN Türk to call upon the people to take to the streets, they responded in huge numbers filling the main squares of Istanbul, Izmir, and Ankara imbued with a religious zeal that, according to some, seemed to mirror the fanaticism displayed by the Caliph’s suicide commandos (ISIS/ISIL or IS) and other religiously inspired agitators. The masses took to the streets, proclaiming their allegiance to the Prophet and his cause by means of shouting “God is great” (or ‘Allahu Akbar’) over and again. The political scientist Professor Alpaslan Özerdem, present in Ankara during the coup attempt, relates that, following Erdoğan’s FaceTime words of encouragement, “members of the public stormed the state TV studios in Ankara, and the same broadcaster who read out the coup statement only a few hours before announced that the state TV had been brought back under civilian control. However, an army unit then stormed the studios of CNN Türk just after 3.30am, and the Turkish public were treated to the bizarre spectacle of a military coup taking over a TV broadcast and journalists fighting back. Half an hour later, the public stormed the CNN building too, chanting ‘Allahu Akbar.’ A man entered the studio itself from the fire escape and asked his fellow protesters to join him there, apparently without realising that all cameras in the studio were broadcasting live – instantly making him something of an unwitting national icon.”[8]

The news agency Reuters adds that “[m]ore than 290 people were killed in the violence, 104 of them coup supporters, the rest largely civilians and police officers.” And that means that about 186 Turkish individuals have now joined the ranks of martyrs, arguably residing in heaven in clear reciprocal sight of Allah. The AKP-led government after all ensured that Turkish civilians-perishing-for-the-cause-of-Turkey would join their military martyr brethren: “as explained by Erdoğan himself (March 2012): now ‘[w]e are including civilians who died in terror events into the category of martyrs. Civilians who become invalid or die by reason of a terror event and their relatives will receive compensation and a monthly allowance’. In this way, the Turkish state takes on the responsibility to take care of those who have died (or suffered) for the cause of the fatherland, which has now become equal to the cause of God.”[9]  In this way, the Prez encouraged his followers to become Mujahids (or individuals striving for the cause of Allah) and potential martyrs (or Shaheed), with 186 civilians actually sacrificing themselves for the sake of their leader, the Prez or rather Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: “This uprising is a gift from God [or rather, Allah] to us because this will be a reason to cleanse our army” and the whole of the nation of opposition-minded antagonists, desperately clinging to the memories of Atatürk and the achievements of Kemalism.

The Turkish Bin Laden or Pennsylvania

The Prez and the whole of the AKP apparatus immediately blamed the self-exiled former government employee-or-cleric Fethullah Gülen, and, capitalizing on the Ankara judiciary’s inventive phraseology (7 May 2015), accused a “shadowy, clearly elusive, and possibly even non-existent, organization” known only as the supposed terror group FETÖ (Fettullahçı Terör Örgütü or Fethullahist Terror Organization) of being behind the coup attempt.[10]  In fact, for all intents and purposes, one could put forward that Gülen has now become Turkey’s very own Usamah bin Laden, as the shadowy figure veiled in a cloak of Islamic learning and authority threatening life and limb across the nation from behind the scenes, supposedly orchestrating last July’s momentous Friday happenings: but “[b]y 5am, [on Saturday morning 16 July] it [had] bec[o]me clear that the coup attempt . . . failed” and Erdoğan made a public announcement, addressing Gülen by means of a rhetorical flourish: “I have a message for Pennsylvania: You have engaged in enough treason against this nation. If you dare, come back to your country” — using the name of the Keystone State as a means to directly appeal to the figure of the fugitive former government employee-or-cleric Gülen (totum pro parte). The same night, quite some time after all was said and done, a clearly relieved Prez stated confidently that “[t]he army is ours . . . I am the Commander-in-Chief.”

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Post-coup-attempt, Erdoğan, his proxy Yıldırım, and the whole of the AKP establishment immediately started a concerted campaign to ensure that the momentum was not lost, encouraging citizens to take to the streets in so-called “Democracy Guards” and giving speeches left, right and centre — television sets as well as purposefully erected large screens in public squares constantly airing the figure of the Prez admonishing his followers and threatening his opponents. The press reported on 25 July that a “total of 13,165 people have been detained in connection with the foiled coup attempt in Turkey, President Erdogan said on Sunday [, 24 July]. He mentioned that 8,838 of those arrested are soldiers, 2,101 are judges and prosecutors, 1,485 are police officers, 52 are local authorities and 689 are civilians, as reported by the Hurriyet daily. He added that 934 schools, 109 dormitories, 15 universities, 104 foundations, 35 health institutions, 1,125 associations and 19 unions were closed as they belonged to what he described as the ‘Fethullahist Terrorist Organization’.” And the authorities also determined then that “8,651 members, or 1.5%, of the nation’s armed forces took part in the failed coup on 15 July.”

Official Backlash: Purging the State

Following the successful suppression of the coup attempt, the official reaction has been nothing but a severe continuation of the repression that occurred in the wake of the corruption scandal, commonly referred to as #AKPgate.[11]  But now, these purges are much more severe, as a three-month  State of Emergency has been proclaimed on Wednesday, 20 July 2016, following a five-hour meeting of the National Security Council and a meeting of Erdoğan’s privy cabinet. The Prez then told the press that the “aim is to rapidly and effectively take all steps needed to eliminate the threat against democracy, the rule of law and the people’s rights and freedoms.”[12]  It seems ironic that an act allowing the president and the PM “to bypass the parliament in enacting laws” is cited as a means of protecting and safeguarding democracy. On the same day, two members of Turkey’s constitutional court were arrested, in addition to more than 100 judiciary officials also taken into custody. In early October then, the Turkish cabinet agreed to extend the State of Emergency for another 90 days, as then made public by the government spokesman Numan Kurtulmuş. According to the Turkish Constitution, a state of emergency can only last for a maximum period of six months and this could mean that a possible constitutional amendment could by the end of January 2017 very well turn the current State of Emergency into the new normal and the Republic of Turkey into a veritable AKP-led police state, known as the New Turkey.

Thousands of private schools, charities and other institutions were forcibly closed down on Saturday , 23 July. At the same time, the authorities immediately set out to purge the ranks of government officials and employees, abolishing vacations and restricting foreign travel. While, the “licences of 21,000 staff working in private schools have been revoked, [and] more than 20,000 employees at the education ministry fired, and the state-run higher education council demanded the resignation of 1,577 university deans. The Turkish education ministry [also] announced the closure of more than 600 state school across the country,” as expressed by the journalists Josie Ensor and Zia Weise. The much-anticipated meeting of the High Military Council of Turkey (or YAŞ, in acronymized Turkish) in early August was moved forward as a clear means to cull the ranks of suspected (or possibly unwanted) members — in short, a grand total of 149 generals and admirals, more than a thousand commissioned and 436 non-commissioned officers have been made redundant or nearly 1,700 military personnel have been summarily discharged. The five-hour Council meeting, headed by the hapless PM Yıldırım and the Defence Minister Fikri Işık, came to an end Thursday night (28 July) and was greeted by numerous “democracy supporters” taking to the streets to celebrate in honking cars. The news agency Reuters‘ Ece Toksabay and Daren Butler remark insightfully that Tayyip Erdoğan “wants the armed forces and national intelligence agency brought under the control of the presidency,” moving towards an absolute presidency. Also 45 newspapers, 16 television channels and 23 radio stations have been shut down, muffling the free press basically. And on 31 July an emergency decree effectively closed down all military high schools and military academies, venerable institutions going back to the Ottoman era and representing a tradition that seems to be at odds with the current regime. These institutions used to furnish an officers’ class steeped in Kemalist ideology and thus ensured that the Turkish Armed Forces be led by a cadre that saw its function primarily as safeguarding the status quo. Or, as expressed by the BBC in 2007, “[t]he army sees itself as the guardian of Turkey’s secularism.”

Forging an Absolute Presidency for Turkey

But those days are over now, and talk of “defending democracy” and of reintroducing “capital punishment,” as oftentimes voiced by anti-coup protesters as well as the AKP machinery, should really be understood as coded messages. I would argue that the use of the term “democracy,” invariably accompanied by enthusiastic proclamations that God is great or ‘Allahu Akbar’ by Erdoğan supporters is nothing but a veiled call for the re-introduction of Shariah law in Turkey. And in this context, the return of capital punishment could very well function as a catalyst that would convince wider swathes of the population that stricter and more stringent laws are in order . . . an no law is stricter than the law of God, or the Shariah in an Islamic context. And the strongman that is Tayyip Erdoğan, as the “anointed” leader of Turkey is the one to achieve this feat, something that seemed all but unthinkable and even unimaginable just ten years ago. As voiced by an anonymous intellectual in Istanbul interviewed by the veteran journalist Patrick Cockburn: “Erdogan’s lust for power is too great for him [to] show restraint in stifling opposition in general,” and pursuing his ultimate policy aims, no doubt.[13]  And in this connection, his first goal has to be seen as a changed constitution and the introduction of a presidential system to replace the parliamentary one, in place since 1923 (or 1908, if you want to include its Ottoman forebear). In other words, Tayyip Erdoğan seems intent on turning “15 July” into a symbolic date, comparable to “31 March” in reverse. The so-called ’31 March Incident’ (or in Turkish, 31 Mart Vakası) refers to the defeat of a 1909 countercoup, a countercoup that would have abolished the constitutional regime introduced the previous year and reinstated Sultan Abdülhamid II as an absolute autocrat ruling the Ottoman lands. At the time, counter-revolutionary army units were joined by hordes of theological students (softa) and turbaned clerics (ulema) shouting, “We want Shariah.” Future history books might very well relate the events of “15 July” as a successful counter-revolution that established Tayyip Erdoğan as Turkey’s first absolute president, overseeing Turkey’s successful return to its Islamic roots of yesteryear.

On 24 August, the Prez addressed a crowd of disabled citizens at his residence, the so-called Beştepe Palace in Ankara, boasting more than a 1,000 rooms,[14] making an announcement befitting an absolute ruler guiding the state’s ship: “This morning at 04:00 our army, our security forces have begun an operation in the north of Syria, aimed at terror organizations posing a continuous threat to our country from there.” And in this way, following years and years of looking for a convincing casus belli,[15] Erdoğan has now taken the initiative and unilaterally invaded Syria (the military operation receiving the moniker ‘Euphrates Shield’ and its own requisite English-language twitter feed. . . and one could argue that he has in this way started acting as Turkey’s absolute president, making do without any constitutional amendments or parliamentary approval . . . at one fell swoop, Tayyip Erdoğan has now established a new Turkey, the New Turkey that is not afraid to invade its neighbours for political gains at home.

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[1] http://theduran.com/failed-coup-attempt-dawning-sharia-law-turkey/

[2] https://www.academia.edu/27954206/False_Flag_Terror_Attack_in_Suru%C3%A7

[3] http://kurdishdailynews.org/2016/08/22/akp-members-expelled-from-the-funeral-ceremony-held-in-the-kurdish-city-of-antep/

[4] https://www.rt.com/op-edge/role-of-turkey-syrian-crisis-826/

[5] http://bostonreview.net/blog/dangerous-illusion-alawite-regime

[6] https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/04ANKARA348_a.html

[7] http://journal-neo.org/2016/05/13/insulting-the-prez-tayyip-erdogan-satire-and-islamophobia/

[8] https://theconversation.com/turkey-struggles-to-make-sense-of-a-surreal-failed-coup-detat-62596

[9] http://journal-neo.org/2015/12/02/putin-tayyip-erdogan-and-the-issue-of-sunnification-a-duel-of-words/

[10] http://theduran.com/failed-coup-attempt-dawning-sharia-law-turkey/

[11] https://www.rt.com/op-edge/turkey-scandal-erdogan-247/

[12] http://bianet.org/english/politics/177013-content-of-bans-restrictions-in-state-of-emergency

[13] http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/04/after-the-coup-turkey-is-being-torn-apart/

[14] http://journal-neo.org/2016/03/08/turkey-in-turmoil-moving-towards-an-authoritarian-sultanate-of-kitsch/

[15] https://www.rt.com/op-edge/turkey-military-attack-kassab-696/