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Re: Turks can vote – as long as it’s for the AKP

PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2019 10:13 pm
Author: Anthea
Erdogan’s pre-election splurge
helps fuel Turkey’s economy

Turkey’s battered economy is set to leave recession later this month thanks to a politically-driven surge in bank lending and public spending — but analysts warn that key vulnerabilities remain unaddressed and the recovery is likely to be shortlived

Growth figures due to be published at the end of May are widely expected to show that the country emerged from its first contraction in a decade in the first quarter of 2019.

The bounce has been mainly driven by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bid to try to limit the economic pain for voters in the run-up to elections held in March, via a government spending splurge and a lending spree by state-owned banks.

But as the political stimulus push fades, analysts are forecasting that a “double-dip” recession will take hold in the coming months.

Mr Erdogan and his ministers took steps to try to limit the risk of a voter backlash in the early months of this year as nationwide municipal elections loomed and the economy reeled from the lira’s almost 30 per cent depreciation in 2018.

State banks which had scaled back their activity last year following the shock caused by the dramatic currency crisis were encouraged to sharply increase lending in the run-up to the elections, and they faced pressure to lower their rates. The government also adopted stimulus measures including tax cuts and employment incentives.

Although the steps failed to stop the opposition from claiming victory in Ankara, Turkey’s capital, and Istanbul, its largest city, they have had some economic impact. Modest but better than expected upticks in industrial production, retail salesand job creation have forced many analysts to revise their growth expectations upwards.

The country’s finance minister, Berat Albayrak, recently declared that the worst was now in the past. “The light at the end of the tunnel has begun to grow,” he told a Turkish broadcaster last week.

Goldman Sachs analysts Clemens Grafe and Murat Unur predict that the first-quarter figures will show a 1.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter expansion, after a contraction of 2.4 per cent in the preceding quarter.

The pair warn, however, that this “positive surprise” is not sustainable, and forecast another slump in growth.

“I think that in the second quarter, political uncertainty and financial market volatility will weigh again,” said Inan Demir, an economist at the Japanese bank Nomura. “It might be a sort of double-dip in economic activity.”

The path back to strong growth will be difficult and painful, analysts say, and Turkey’s policymakers have limited room for manoeuvre.

Inflation has remained stuck at close to 20 per cent in recent months. That problem, combined with renewed pressure on the currency, has forced the central bank to keep its benchmark interest rate at a sky-high 24 per cent, damping investment.

    The weaker lira and higher market interest rates will weigh on the near-term growth outlook
The capacity for government stimulus is limited given the sharply deteriorating budget deficit, which has endangered Turkey’s hard-won reputation for fiscal discipline during Mr Erdogan’s 16 years at the helm.

At the same time, the government stands accused of seeking to prop up the currency by burning through the central bank’s foreign currency reserves.

That move, combined with the risk of looming US sanctions and the fresh political uncertainty triggered by a rerun of the disputed Istanbul mayoral election, have spooked both foreign investors and locals; the lira has lost 12 per cent of its value against the dollar this year.

“The weaker lira and higher market interest rates will weigh on the near-term growth outlook,” said Ugras Ulku, an economist at the Institute of International Finance, a Washington-based think-tank. “Any further lira weakness will likely have a contractionary impact on activity through reduced corporate profits and the negative impact of a weaker lira on business and consumer sentiment.”

Selva Demiralp, a professor of economics at Istanbul’s Koc University, said the fundamental problem was Turkey’s large corporate debt burden and its impact on the banking sector, which is carrying an increasing volume of non-performing loans.

“Until we clear out these problems, we can’t say the Turkish economy has hit the bottom yet,” she said.

Turkish companies lapped up a wave of foreign capital that washed into emerging markets after the global financial crisis. But the debt — including $285bn in foreign currency loans — has become increasing difficult to service as the Turkish lira has weakened.

Mr Albayrak, the finance minister, promised a plan to tackle bad debt in the beleaguered energy and construction sectors, and to inject TL28bn ($4.7bn) into Turkey’s state banks. But the details have yet to be unveiled.

Ms Demiralp stressed the need to act quickly to clean up balance sheets. “These are necessary steps to re-establish confidence in financial markets and get the ball rolling again,” she said.

Turkey’s dependence on foreign financing makes it highly susceptible to shifts in investor sentiment. Market volatility in recent weeks has triggered renewed talk about the need to seek help from the International Monetary Fund — a prospect that Mr Erdogan has repeatedly ruled out.

Brad Setser, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations, said Turkey’s position was “fragile”.

“If Turkey battens down the hatches, slows credit and accepts a period of deleveraging, then there’s a scenario where [it] can muddle through for the next year or so,” he said.

But, he warned, “if it continues to try to support activity by putting pressure on banks to increase lending, by trying to informally hold deposit rates down and lending rates down, and continues to use its reserves to limit depreciation pressure, it runs the risk of leaving itself vulnerable to a quite significant crisis”. ... 846537acab

Re: Erdogan’s pre-election splurge helps fuel Turkey’s econo

PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2019 10:22 pm
Author: Anthea
Permission to visit Ocalan nothing to do with Istanbul re-election: Turkish Justice Minister

Abdullah Ocalan's lawyers visit hospitalised HDP lawmaker Leyla Guven to hand over the message from Ocalan on May 24, 2019

Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul denied on Thursday claims that his government has granted long-imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan’s lawyers permission to visit him in relation to re-do local election in Istanbul on June 23 or a potential new PKK-Turkey peace process.

Asked whether Ocalan’s meetings with lawyers had any underlying motive, the minister said “This has nothing to do with the peace process … [or] the Istanbul election,” reported state-run Anadolu Agency on Friday.

The minister was answering journalists after an iftar meal in Ankara on Thursday evening.

He explained that it was purely a “judicial” matter, as the lawyers’ visits to Imrali Prison in the Marmara Sea had repeatedly been prevented in the past by some courts.

“In this framework, it was simply a visit. There is no need to link it to the Istanbul [re-]election. It was a meeting granted by court,” he said referring to Ocalan’s first meeting in eight years on May 2.

Asked about the future of the visits to Ocalan, the justice minister said it depended on the ability to access the island prison and “measures required by legislation.”

He had previously said that the Kurdish leader can be visited regularly.

Swinging the balance of power

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost control of three major Turkish provinces - Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir - to the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the March 31 local election.

The AKP accepted defeat in Ankara and Izmir but did not give up Istanbul, where the CHP’s Ekrem İmamoglu beat the AKP’s Binali Yildirim with a slight majority.

The loss of Istanbul would undoubtedly have been a bitter pill to swallow for Turkish President and AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The city has been held by the parties he has belonged to, the Welfare Party and the AKP, since 1994.

The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) had announced a “strategic” plan before elections by not fielding candidates in western provinces like Istanbul, home to millions of Kurds. This was interpreted by many as the HDP indirectly throwing its support behind the CHP’s Imamoglu, and is believed to be one of the key reasons behind his victory.

The AKP is said to be after the HDP’s estimated million voters in Istanbul in the run up to the re-election, potentially swinging the balance of power in the metropolis.

Messages to hunger strikers

The lawyers who visited Ocalan on Wednesday carried a message from him to HDP lawmaker Leyla Guven, initiator of the months-long hunger strike for the PKK leader in late 2018. More than 3000 people worldwide have since joined the hunger strike.

Guven, who was in jail when she declared her hunger strike but was later released due to her deteriorating health, said on Friday that she had received the message but would not disclose its contents for now, as requested by Ocalan.

“Asrin Law Office lawyers have visited me and handed me Mr Ocalan’s message,” she said in a tweet on Friday, referring to the legal office whose lawyers represent Ocalan.

“There are attempts to send messages to other strikers as well. Soon we will disclose our correspondence to the public,” she added.

Asrin Law Office confirmed earlier today that they have been conveying their client’s messages to Guven and will later disclose its contents.

Judicial Reform Strategy Document

Justice minister Gul said on Wednesday that Erdogan will announce a Judicial Reform Strategy Document on May 30.

Describing it as a “roadmap” for Turkey’s 82 million citizens, he claimed that it will increase people’s confidence in the judicial system.

The slogan and philosophy of the reform is “Trusting Justice,” Gul said during the iftar in Ankara. “We have made preparations as per this motto for the last 8-9 months.”

The objective of the reform, he said, is to make people say “‘There really are judges, prosecutors and justice, and I trust in the judicial system’” when they pass by a court.

Abdullah Ocalan is co-founder of the PKK, who have fought a sometimes armed struggle for Kurdish rights in Turkey. He has been imprisoned on Imrali Island since 1999. From his jail cell, Ocalan was able to broker a short-lived ceasefire and a two-and-a-half year long peace process that broke down in July 2015.

Turkey and the PKK have been in decades-long conflict inside the country and in the Kurdistan Region’s mountainous areas, leading to the deaths of more than 40,000 people.

Why is it nobody ever mentions the facts that Turkey has been slaughtering Kurds for 100 years and long before Ocalan was born, Kurds were fighting for FREEDOM and INDEPENDENCE from the barbaric Turks

Re: Erdogan hopes Kurds will support him in Election

PostPosted: Mon May 27, 2019 1:20 am
Author: Anthea
Turkish election board cites polling station
irregularities in annulment decision

Turkey's High Election Board (YSK) on Wednesday cited a series of irregularities, notably in the appointment of polling station officials, in justifying its annulment of March's mayoral election in Istanbul

In a 250-page document it released more than two weeks after announcing that the ballot - which resulted in a razor-thin defeat for President Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party - was to be re-run on June 23, the YSK said the irregularities were sufficient to have an impact on the outcome.

"The irregularities were regarded as incidents which ...undermined election credibility," said the document. Four of the 11-member panel, included its head, voted against the annulment decision.

Final results from the March 31 election gave victory to the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), ending a 25-year rule by the AKP and its Islamist predecessors.

However, after weeks of appeals by the AKP and its nationalist MHP allies, the election board decided on May 6 to annul the mandate of CHP candidate Ekrem Imamoglu.

The decision to reverse what was a rare election setback for Erdogan was described by Turkey's Western allies as incomprehensible. Critics said one of the last checks on his ever-tighter hold on power had suffered a damaging blow.

"It is a legal requirement that the heads of polling station be chosen from the list of civil servants," Wednesday's YSK document said.

Polling station heads were appointed in an illegal way for 754 ballot boxes and that this affected the result, given that the difference between the two top candidates was just 13,729 votes, it said.

Seven members of the electoral board voted in favor of the annulment, while four opposed it. Those against included YSK head Sadi Guven, who said the irregularities were not sufficient to justify voiding the election.

"Appeals after the election to the formation (of polling station committees) cannot alone be brought forward as a reason to annul the elections," Guven said in Wednesday's YSK statement.

The YSK had faced harsh criticism from opposition parties, who said the annulment had no legal basis and destroyed the last bastion of democracy under Erdogan. ... Nfb7sAcTA4

Re: Erdogan hopes Kurds will support him in Election

PostPosted: Tue May 28, 2019 6:22 pm
Author: Anthea
To correctly analyze the
accelerating political process

As of May 22, it has been made public that the lawyers have returned from another visit to Imrali after the meeting held on May 2. We do not have any other information on the meeting as of the writing of this article. For instance, how long did the lawyers meet with Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Ocalan and what did they discuss?

Were they able to meet with their other clients who are also in the Imrali Prison? What messages have Leader Ocalan and other revolutionary prisoners given? We do not know any of these.

By the time you read this, you will probably know the answers to some important questions. As such, we will try to draw attention to general truths, taking the situation into consideration.

It can be assumed that the Erdogan administration will occasionally allow lawyers’ visits in Imrali. Maybe even family visits. This will be the case until at least the June 23 Istanbul municipal elections.

Because the Tayyip Erdogan administration is stuck, both in the country and abroad, and there is no other way for them to win the Istanbul elections. It is now abundantly clear that the most critical vote to determine the outcome of the elections is the Kurdish vote.

Of course it is not actually clear that allowing visits in Imrali will bring gains to the fascist AKP-MHP government: It is also a serious possibility that upon seeing the resistance push open the gates of Imrali, the Kurdish people may increase the resistance further.

Whatever may come, it is clear that the two Imrali visits in May have accelerated the current political process.

The political-military process had already picked up speed, with the increasingly tense US-Iran relations pushing the AKP-MHP government, and the Turkey-Russia relations prolonged by necessity increasing tensions between the Tayyip Erdogan government’s relationship with the US.

The ever-deepening economic crisis has started to affect people to the point of unemployed citizens setting themselves on fire in protest.

Of course on top of these, there are the protests developed by the Kurdish people and their allies with the Break the Isolation Smash Fascism resistance move.

The death fast resistance in prisons is on day 25. The indefinite non-alternating hunger strike launched by Democratic Society Congress Co-chair and HDP Hakkari MP Leyla Guven on November 8, 2018 is close to the end of its 7th month.

Thousands of prisoners in Turkish prisons have been on hunger strikes for 6 months. In all four parts of Kurdistan and all around the world, there have been hunger strikes against the Imrali isolation and torture system for six months.

With the momentum of these protests, Kurdish people and their allies in all four parts of Kurdistan and abroad have been up in arms, organizing dozens of demonstrations daily. The prisoners’ mothers have been on the streets of Kurdistan and Turkey around the clock.

With the coming of the spring, the steadily developing guerrilla actions have spread throughout all areas. From all around the world, forces of democracy and various political circles issue statements warning the Erdogan government against the Imrali isolation.

Everybody knows that the resistance move has created a defeat for the Tayyip Erdogan administration in the March 31 elections that made them lose power. To alleviate the situation and to reverse the defeat, Tayyip Erdogan’s government has developed the process to renew the Istanbul elections by the hands of the Supreme Board of Elections.

Tayyip Erdogan was saying there would be no more elections for 4.5 years before March 31, and before 3 months have passed since, he is pushing for another election. The Istanbul elections can be seen to further increase political tensions.

In short, the narrowing foreign relations, the increasing economic crisis, the developing Break the Isolation Smash Fascism resistance move with the death fasts, the results of the March 31 elections and the June 23 Istanbul elections to be held have accelerated the political process.

To that mix the Imrali visits have been added now, which necessitates ever more vigilance, intense focus, awareness and a ready-for-action stance around the clock if one is to draft a correct path and come out standing under such circumstances.

This is necessary for all who deal with politics, but is especially true for the press and media in general, who are an active element of politics. In such processes, it is not the one with the most resources but the one who reads and maneuvers the political process the best who prevails.

Going back to the Imrali visits, they need to be correctly understood and relayed. For one, lawyers going to Imrali and meeting with their client is in a way nothing but the implementation of constitutional and administrative law. As such, it is necessary and important to stress this continuously.

The normal thing would be that these meetings have no political significance at all. What has been done is a legal procedure determined by the constitution and the country’s laws that is implemented in every other prison in the country. But Imrali is not a place built under the law, the persons held there are not legal criminals, this we know.

We also know that the Erdogan government, with their extremely pragmatist character, abuse everything for political gain. In short, there is not even a semblance of law or morality in Imrali, on the contrary, there is an immoral policy of hostages in place. This is the truth, and we must always know this truth.

But despite that, we should still stress the legal right aspect of the Imrali visits, and situate the lawyers’ and family’s visits as such to render them unimbuable with political significance. If there will be politics in Imrali, that should be through not the family or the lawyers, but other forces and bodies.

Secondly, we must never forget that the lawyers’ visits, which were not allowed for the last 8 years, which was a crime against the constitution, happened twice this May because of the resistance by the Kurdish people and their allies, i.e. the Break the Isolation Smash Fascism resistance move.

We must continue to stress this and keep it current, because this is the absolute truth. Everything is made possible through the people’s and the guerrilla’s valiant resistance. This is what is necessary to properly respect the resistance, the resisters, the hunger strikers who have been losing themselves cell by cell, and most importantly the heroic martyrs who lost their lives in the resistance.

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, it must be acknowledged that the true force that allowed the May 2 and 22 visits in Imrali was the Break the Isolation Smash Fascism resistance and the people in the resistance. We must never allow for any other understandings or analyses in this matter.

Lastly, it is also necessary and important that we see the meetings’ connection to the June 23 Istanbul elections and develop the correct approach accordingly.

As much as we say that the lawyers’ visits to Imrali are legal and have nothing to do with politics or the election, as much as that is the truth, that is not the approach the Tayyip Erdogan government has as facilitators of these meetings as they abuse anything and everything for political gain and the elections.

This is a fact of the personality and politics of Tayyip Erdogan. In this sense, it is a clear fact that Tayyip Erdogan’s government has “allowed” the visits to influence the Kurdish vote in the Istanbul elections, there is no actual change in their policy or mindset.

So, the fascist, colonialist and genocidal mindset and policies are still in place. As such, what they aim to do is hunting for votes with a simple tactic. Then we must see this fact and know how to employ tactics ourselves.

We must crown the June 23 Istanbul elections with a result that completely shatters the fascist-genocidal mindset and politics. With the June 23 Istanbul elections, we must be able to bury in history those who got their start in politics in Istanbul.

Re: Erdogan uses Ocalan while attacking PKK in South Kurdist

PostPosted: Wed May 29, 2019 11:54 pm
Author: Anthea

Erdogan needs more support to win the election

Does he hope to gain that support by using Ocalan?

If so, why is Turkey still attacking the PKK?


Visited by lawyers who had never previously met him

Supposed to be in isolation and kept away from newspapers; TV: radio; internet and other sources of news

Uninformed as he supposedly is, Ocalan is now being returned to the political arena

The only information available to Ocalan is that which Turkey has deemed fit to impart

What is on evil Erdogan's devious brain

One thing I do know is that after 20 years in isolation, there is no way Ocalan should be used to influence Kurds

Re: Erdogan uses Ocalan while attacking PKK in South Kurdist

PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:21 pm
Author: Anthea
Did Turkey fire a ballistic missile at PKK?
If so, it marks a worrying trend

Turkey reportedly fired a ballistic missile at a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) target in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq this week. If the reports prove correct, it would be a first in the long-running conflict and another worrying example of the Region’s neighbours using it as a testing ground for ever deadlier weapons

State-run Turkish news outlets report the Turkish military fired its Bora-1 ballistic missile in combat conditions for the very first time against a suspected PKK target.

They claim Turkey launched the missile from its southeastern Hakkari province at a target in Hakurk, inside the Kurdistan Region near its borders with both Iran and Turkey.

“Terrorist targets in Qandil, Asos and other locations were hit by domestically-produced land fire-support weapons for the first time,” said Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on May 29, appearing to confirm the missile’s combat debut.

Turkey has tended to use artillery in such cross-border operations in the past.

The Bora-1 is a domestically-made tactical Turkish short-range ballistic missile. It can deliver a 470kg warhead to a target up to 280km away.

According to its manufacturer, Roketsan, it is accurate to within 50 meters of its target. It is the first and only ballistic missile in Turkey’s arsenal.

In recent days, the Turkish military has hit suspected PKK targets in the Region with air and artillery strikes, as well as commando raids in the Hakurk area.

Ankara’s ongoing Operation Claw is shaping up to be its most significant against the PKK in the Kurdistan Region in at least a year.

Last summer, Ankara also launched a ground incursion, capturing several villages inside the Region and vowing to expel the PKK from its Qandil Mountain stronghold once and for all.

Such operations against the PKK are nothing new. Turkey routinely launches airstrikes against Qandil and has carried out a series of ground incursions against the group since the 1990s.

However, Turkey’s reported use of the Bora-1 missiles could be just the latest example in a disturbing trend in which the Kurdistan Region’s neighbours use their respective campaigns against enemy groups inside the Region as an opportunity to test new and ever more lethal weapon systems in combat beyond their own frontiers.

After all, Turkey could have hit the target just as easily (and more affordably) with a regular airstrike.

The alleged missile strike come just nine months after Iran launched six long-range Fateh-110 ballistic missiles at a headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) in Koya on September 8 during a meeting of its leadership.

The building was picked out by an Iranian drone flying overhead. At least 18 people died in the missile strike and scores more were wounded.

The Koya attack was not the first time Iran has used its domestically-manufactured ballistic missiles against adversaries in the wider region. It was, however, the first and only time Iran has used ballistic missiles against a target inside the Kurdistan Region.

Judging by the way it was executed, Tehran also seems to have taken the opportunity to verify its ability to accurately strike its adversaries from a significant distance.

The Koya attack followed another unprecedented attack just one month earlier.

In August 2018, Turkey proved without a doubt its ability to carry out an airborne assassination when a guided missile, fired by either a drone or an F-16, killed Zaki Shingali, a senior PKK figure, after it tracked and targeted his convoy in the Shingal region.

This was the first time Turkey managed to successfully assassinate a PKK leader in this manner beyond its own borders.

“Before this operation, no other country in the region except Israel had the means to carry out targeted killings beyond its own borders,” noted Turkish military analyst Metin Gurcan at the time.

By upping the ante in this way, Gurcan argued, Turkey could have invited the PKK to utilize similar game-changing techniques, possibly through devising armed drones of its own or reverting again to using lethal vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) against Turkish Army positions in response to such attacks.

“New weapons and techniques used by the state on the front lines are bound to give rise to new maneuvers and tactical evolutions by its non-state adversaries – as well as a reversion to old tactics,” he warned.

“The action-reaction cycle could take an unexpected route that’s not intended or wanted by either side of the conflict.”

Both the Shingali assassination and the Koya strike were precise, unprecedented, and aimed at taking out leadership elements of Ankara and Tehran’s Kurdish opponents inside the Kurdistan Region.

Using such weapons runs the risk of creating unintended consequences, as Gurcan outlined, as well as the dire risk of killing civilians.

Although Tehran’s Koya strike, carried out in an urban centre, successfully hit its intended target, two other Iranian missile strikes against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Deir ez-Zor, eastern Syria were not such resounding success stories.

In its June 2017 strike, its missiles reportedly crashed in Iraq, hundreds of miles from their targets and in the wrong country.

In its October 1, 2018 strike, two of Iran’s Qiam-1 missiles malfunctioned seconds after launch and crashed in a village in Iran. It was only due to sheer luck that no civilians were killed in that incident.

Turkey’s alleged use of Bora-1 missiles could have similarly gone wrong, given they have only been fired on the testing range before, a controlled environment that can never fully replicate conditions of actual combat.

And as mentioned above, Ankara’s ability to hit those same targets with fighter jets underscores how unnecessary and arguably reckless this alleged missile strike was.

In January, angry Kurdish civilians in Sheladize, Duhok province attacked a Turkish military outpost following the killing of six Kurdish civilians in an airstrike that month. That unprecedented action demonstrated just how fed-up local Kurds are of being terrorized by the Turkish-PKK conflict on their own doorstep.

It also showed how civilian casualties can have consequences for Ankara’s position in the Region.

Furthermore, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has consistently addressed the concerns of both Ankara and Tehran. It openly opposes the PKK using its presence in the Region and has on numerous occasions called on the group to leave to prevent turning the Kurdistan Region into another battlefield in the decades-old Turkish-PKK conflict.

The KRG has taken the same stance regarding the Iranian Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) presence in the Region over the years. Then-president Masoud Barzani visited Tehran in October 2011 to emphasize the importance of maintaining safe borders between the two neighbours.

Ultimately, both Turkey and Iran may risk unnecessarily escalating their conflicts with their Kurdish adversaries inside the autonomous region, which could fatally backfire down the road.

Re: Erdogan uses Ocalan while attacking PKK in South Kurdist

PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2019 10:43 pm
Author: Anthea
Deciphering the hidden messages in Ocalan’s prison letters

Prison letters penned by Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan and released in recent days have sparked a wave of discussion

Some have inferred from their content that the PKK-Turkey peace process could be about to resume.

Others interpret them as the result of Turkish state bargaining designed to secure the Kurdish vote in the upcoming rerun of Istanbul’s municipal election.

Some even say the letters show Ocalan has strayed from his original motivations.

Whatever interpretations can be drawn from the letters, they include some underlying messages for both the PKK and the Turkish state.

What did Ocalan say?

Ocalan met his lawyers twice over the course of 20 days – the first such meetings in eight years. In the first meeting, he released a short letter including the phrase “democratic dialogue”.

He emphasized the need for “soft power” to resolve issues, reminiscent of his 2013 Newroz letter.

Regarding the situation in northern Syria – known to Kurds as Rojava – he advised “staying away from conflicts” and urged the resolution of issues through “local democracy with … the preservation of the territorial integrity of Syria.”

Ocalan’s second letter was disclosed following days of negotiations with more than 3,000 hunger strikers, most of them prison inmates. The strikes ran for several months, with 25 of them committing to death fasts.

Ocalan said he hoped the hunger strikes would end, urging supporters not to take action that would “threaten their health or result in death”. He also reiterated his stance from previous letters on Turkey and Rojava.

There are two interesting elements to draw from his second letter.

Firstly, Ocalan says the result of his messages will be clear after 30 days; a nod to the Istanbul election – when the Turkish government’s motivations for allowing Ocalan visits will be made clear. It will then be evident whether the visits form part of a new peace process or are simply a maneuver in time for the election to buy Kurdish votes.

Secondly, the PKK founder says he is ready to do whatever it takes to achieve a democratic solution and dignified peace. This hints at his steadfastness in mediating for change, despite being ignored by both the PKK and Turkish state during the 2013-2015 peace process.

What were the hidden messages?

To unearth Ocalan’s hidden messages, we have to rewind a little bit.

Ocalan’s recent comments are far from new. He has presented them on multiple occasions in the past 20 years. After his arrest in 1999, he drifted away from the Kurdish question and instead focused on the democratization of Turkey.

Additionally, he chose to move away from armed resistance towards democratic means, dialogue, and what he now terms as “soft power”. But the PKK did not obey Ocalan, directly or indirectly. The Turkish government also ignored him, leading to the failure of the peace process.

When Ocalan sends new messages, he takes two things into consideration. The first is that the PKK may once again disobey him. The second is that the state may use him as a pawn in issues like the hunger strike and the Istanbul election. Therefore, Ocalan issued a coded message to the PKK on May 2, and another to the Turkish state on May 26.

By adding the names of three former PKK members to the signatories of the May 2 letter, Ocalan – who does not normally like to form political partnerships – is sending a message to Qandil (where the PKK are currently headquartered) that he now carries the clout of an alliance and that he won’t be disobeyed again.

When Ocalan says in his second letter that “the result of his messages will be clear after 30 days”, he is telling the Turkish state he does not fully trust its motives.

Re: Erdogan uses Ocalan while attacking PKK in South Kurdist

PostPosted: Wed Jun 05, 2019 10:39 am
Author: Anthea
Families of Öcalan and three other inmates traveling to Imrali

The families of Abdullah Öcalan and the three other inmates in Imrali are on their way to the prison island.

Mehmet Öcalan, brother of Abdullah Öcalan, applied to Bursa Public Prosecutor's Office on Friday to be granted permission to visit Imralı.

The same did Hamili Yıldırım's brother Polat Yıldırım, Ömer Hayri Konar's brother Emin Konar and Veysel Aktaş's elder sister Sabiha Aslan who applied to visit their relatives through their lawyers.

The Bursa Chief Public Prosecutor's Office gave a positive response and families arrived at Gemlik Gendarmerie Station in the morning.

After the formal procedures families set off to Imralı.

The people on Imrali have undergone many years of indoctrination and brainwashing, they are now little more than puppets

We know that Erdogan is not allowing Ocalan visitors out of the kindness of his heart

I wait in anticipation, and a certain amount of dread, to find out what devious plan Erdogan has in mind

There is absolutely no doubt what-so-ever that it is connected to the upcoming election

Could be to obtain Kurdish support in the election

More likely, to show Turks that he (Erdogan) is in control of Ocalan and the Kurdish (PKK) situation inside Turkey through the manipulation of Ocalan

Also, his oppressive tactics and military attacks in both Iraq and Syria

Re: Erdogan uses Ocalan while attacking PKK in South Kurdist

PostPosted: Tue Jun 11, 2019 2:07 am
Author: Anthea
Turkey’s PKK offensive: New tactics, same strategy

Turkish commandos launch an operation in Hakurk, northern Kurdistan

Turkey’s latest military offensive against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Kurdistan Region has been underway for two weeks now. Launched on May 27, Operation Claw is so far proving to be the most significant offensive Turkey has mounted against the PKK since at least last summer, but how strategically or tactically significant will it ultimately prove to be?

Turkey claims that it has “neutralized” – read as captured, wounded, or killed – 43 PKK fighters since Operation Claw commenced. The operation is taking place in the Hakurk region near the Kurdistan Region’s borders with both Turkey and Iran, indicating that Turkey wants to limit the PKK’s movements between Turkey and its Qandil Mountain stronghold.

The operation has seen Turkey hit suspected PKK positions with both air and artillery strikes. Turkey’s T129 ATAK attack helicopter, which saw its combat debut in Ankara’s invasion of the Syrian Kurdish Afrin canton in early 2018 (with the loss of one in unclear circumstances), have also reportedly participated in the operation.

This is noteworthy, as Turkey until recently relied heavily on its far older AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters to strike the PKK in the Kurdistan Region, terrorizing Kurdish villagers in the process.

The Turkish press has also claimed Turkey’s new Bora-1 tactical ballistic missile was used for the first time in combat, which, if verified, is also very significant.

On the ground, Turkish commandos have been dropped by helicopter onto Hakurk’s rugged terrain to attack the PKK in their caves and shelters. The Turkish Defense Ministry claims its armed forces have rendered 74 caves and other shelters hitherto used by the PKK unusable and destroyed 53 mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) among other weapons.

As with past incursions into the Kurdistan Region against the PKK, however, it is unclear whether Turkey can afflict lasting damage to the movement and its activities.

Operation Claw is the most significant campaign Turkey has mounted against the PKK in over a year. At the beginning in March 2018, Ankara mounted a substantial offensive operation against the group that also included the use of ground forces. It vowed to finally end the group's presence in Qandil.

Turkey penetrated 20 kilometers deep into the region and captured at least 28 mostly vacant villages previously controlled by the PKK, some since the 1990s. It also established new outposts in the Kurdistan Region, including in Erbil province for the first time.

This was a significant advance, but it did not lead to any major uprooting of the PKK from its Qandil stronghold.

Before these developments the last major, albeit brief, Turkish incursion against the PKK was all the way back in February 2008. On that occasion, Turkey sent thousands of troops into the region backed by air and artillery strikes and attack helicopters, which engaged the PKK in close quarters combat.

On that occasion, Turkey faced more serious backlash from both Baghdad and Erbil and the operation only lasted a week.

The February 2008 incursion was the first since Turkey’s operations into the region in the 1990s. The 1995 Operation New Dawn and the 1997 Operation Hammer each saw approximately 30,000 troops advance into the region in an attempt to completely destroy the PKK presence in the Kurdistan Region.

Despite these enormous offensives, the PKK managed to endure and retain its presence in the region to this day.

At a strategic level, it is unlikely Operation Claw will be much different to these precedents. However, in tactical terms, Turkey’s incursions are clearly dealing the PKK a series of setbacks that it could take the group some time to recover from.

“The armed conflict between the Turkish state and the PKK has a very pronounced seasonal (cyclical) pattern – with the important exception of the summer 2015 to spring 2017 period characterized by intense urban warfare,” Güneş Murat Tezcür, chair of the Kurdish Political Studies Program at the University of Central Florida, told Rudaw English.

“Most of the clashes take place in the rugged region on either side of the Turkish-Iraqi Kurdish border,” he said.

“The ebb and flow in the intensity of these clashes are shaped by weather conditions (i.e., very limited activity in winter times with the exception of the February 2008 Zap Operation).”

Consequently, Operation Claw is the latest example of Turkey’s preference for increasing the pressure on the PKK in the summer season.

“The Turkish incursions into the south of this border targeting PKK camps are a regular pattern depending on relations with the Iraqi Kurdish authorities, being complacent in recent years, and Turkey’s threat perception being highly aggravated since the summer of 2015,” Tezcür said.

“This latest operation builds on a pattern established last year aiming to limit PKK attacks within Turkey by putting the insurgents on defense.”

That said, Tezcür also noted that Operation Claw is very limited compared to the operations of the 1990s.

“The change in the technology of warfare (drones being now essential to the Turkish strategies), the professionalization of the army (significant decline in the number of conscripts involved in battlefield operations), and (probably) higher public sensitivity to casualties (cross-border operations in the 1990s were bloodier) are important to note in this regard,” he said.

Tezcür concluded by pointing out that Operation Claw does not represent “a fundamental political change in the nature of the armed conflict.”

“It ups the ante in terms of military clashes but that is consistent with what we have been observing for the last four years,” he said.

Re: Erdogan uses Ocalan while attacking PKK in South Kurdist

PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2019 9:35 pm
Author: Anthea
Demirtas supports opposition
candidate’s call for unity in Istanbul

Jailed Kurdish leader Selahattin Demirtas welcomed a call of unity from the opposition candidate for the mayor of Istanbul on Tuesday, amid a tense electoral race

Istanbul’s mayoral candidates Ekrem Imamoglu, running with the Republican Peoples' Party (CHP), and Binali Yildirim, running with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), held a rare debate ahead of the June 23 repeat elections for the city.

During the televised debate, Imamoglu said that he is against partisanship in Istanbul and would rather see unity between all political parties--including the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Demirtas, the former co-leader of HDP who was jailed in November 2016, said that he endorses the call.

“I believe that today we have to endorse Mr. Imamoglu’s appeal because we are beautiful when we are together,” said Demirtas, former co-chair of the HDP, in a tweet on Tuesday, echoing Imamoglu’s “We are beautiful when we are together” election slogan.

Turkey held local elections on March 31, with a tight race playing out between the AKP and the CHP.

While the AKP won the majority of municipalities throughout Turkey, the CHP took Istanbul and Ankara and retained Izmir—the three most populous cities in the country.

Turkey’s electoral body later decided to dissolve the Istanbul results based on AKP claims of voter record irregularities, declaring a June 23 re-run of the election.

Demirtas’ tweet coincides with his trial over terror-related charges. He is facing a sentence of up to 142 years if convicted on all charges.

Most of the charges stem from allegations of ties with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – a banned political party in Turkey. Demirtas led negotiations during peace talks between the PKK and the Turkish government several years ago.

Will the HDP support Imamoglu?The HDP has called on Istanbul’s Kurds to support Imamoglu, even launching a campaign to defeat the ruling party’s Yildirim.

Azad Baris, deputy leader of HDP said on Sunday that HDP has gone through what CHP is currently experiencing, referring to when the Turkish government replaced elected officials with appointed trustees.

In 2016 HDP mayors were stripped of their positions and replaced by pro-government administrators, called “trustees”, after Turkey’s failed coup.

The government blamed the attempted coup on its former ally Fethullah Gulen and led a crackdown to silence criticism, with over 120,000 police, military, academia, media and civil servants detained or dismissed from their jobs.

“A trustee was appointed to Istanbul following the March 31 elections,” Baris told Mezopotamya Agency (MA) on Sunday.

“We [HDP] have been through this a lot. The latest being the appointment of trustees to six municipalities we won,” he said.

“Therefore, we say that we will win, as democracy has a candidate. We will vote for Mr. Ekrem [Imamoglu] who is on the democracy front,” said Baris.

The HDP did not field candidates in western provinces such as Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir for the March 31 elections, in a strategic bid for the opposition to gain more votes against the AKP.

Demirtas called on supporters on March 29 to follow the HDP's strategy in the west.

“Let’s not forget the past, what we saw and what we have experienced. But the future is more important. For a better future, I urge all our voters to support the electoral strategy of our party,” he said.

Sezai Temelli, co-chair of the HDP, has been campaigning against Yildirim in Istanbul for the past week.

During his speech to the audience, Temelli said that when people ask who he thinks will win the repeat election, he responds: “I say, Binali will lose and democracy will win”.

Re: Erdogan uses Ocalan while attacking PKK in South Kurdist

PostPosted: Thu Jun 20, 2019 12:09 am
Author: Anthea
Go to the polls to defeat the AKP-MHP in Istanbul

What the Istanbul election means for Kurds and democratic forces

“We urge democracy forces, especially Kurds, - he said - to go to the ballot box and then to protect the polls and votes.”

Istanbul has a historical accumulation and depth, it is not just any city. It is not like Ankara. Ankara's historical memory, its accumulation, its depth, its capacity, and its people are not like Istanbul.

The people of Istanbul and society have historical advantages. Because every city has a language and an identity. Cities should not be seen without an identity. Each of the cities has different characteristics and has superior features. In this respect, perhaps the city of Istanbul in Turkey, is a city at the forefront in terms of quality, values.

It became the capital of Rome, Byzantine, and the capital of the Ottomans. Such a city, of course, expresses cultural, economic, social and political power. It makes its economy, culture and politics strong. The population there may be 15 million, but it should be understood as a city with influence, power in the capacity of 30 million people.”

Losing Istanbul is losing governance power, losing governance ability. In other words, if you lose Istanbul you are actually losing the ability of governance in Turkey.

As to the potential and real strength of the HDP in Istanbul, Mustafa Karasu said: “The potential of HDP in Istanbul is very strong. So it can still take three times the votes it last got. There is no doubt that Kurdish votes are important. HDP gets the majority of the votes from the Kurds in Istanbul. Of course, there are Alevi Kurds among these Kurds. However, HDP needs to get more votes in Istanbul.”

Karasu continued: “The HDP is Turkey's democracy alliance, it should appeal to all democratic forces and it needs to get the votes of all democratic forces.”

As to why it is important that the AKP lose the elections again on 23 June, the problem of freedom of the Kurds, means the problem of democracy in Turkey. The choice of both the Kurdish people's democratic and freedom forces and the revolutionary forces to solve the Kurdish issue is actually the choice to solve the problems of democracy. The goal of all Kurds is independence.

Re: Kurds need to vote for CHP to free Istabul from AKP

PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 7:41 pm
Author: Anthea
Who will be victorious in June 23 Istanbul polls?

The renewed Istanbul mayoral election is this weekend. In addition to the two major candidates' performances in the first televised debate, the meeting between Nation's Alliance candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu and moderator İsmail Küçükkaya met on a TV program still dominate the news in mainstream and social media

With no clear winner on the night, neither candidate could top the other. The format of the debate forced the People's Alliance's candidate Binali Yıldırım and İmamoğlu both to avoid taking any risk that could cause a potential communication crisis just days before the election. Thus, voters, especially undecided constituents, could not find a way to overcome their confusion as to whether they will go to the ballot box this time. However, the latest poll indicates that the number of swing voters has declined from 5.5% to 3.4%.

Thus, a very recent poll conducted by the ORC Research Center indicates voter turnout will be higher than in the previous election – 84.6% on March 31. The research company estimates that this time the turnout will be around 88-89%; thus, the participation rate on June 23 should be at least 4% higher than the March 31 polls.

"There are a couple of reasons for this increase in voter turnout," said ORC President Murat Pösteki whose team had the closest results in their polls and predictions in March.

Emphasizing the determinative role of voter turnout on final results, Pösteki said based on their latest surveys the increase of people who will go to the ballot box this time would boost Yıldırım's votes. "Our research shows that most of the undecided voters who did not vote on March 31 are AK Party [Justice and Development Party] and MHP [Nationalist Movement Party] constituents, more than 60% in all. Based on our latest survey, Yıldırım will increase his votes between 0.6-2% and win the election because of this factor," Pösteki said.

Based on ORC's recent survey, Yıldırım will complete this race ahead of his rival with 48.3% to 47.7%. Another fact suggesting that Yıldırım will win is that undecided constituents and İmamoğlu votes have reached the saturation point.

"There is no way to get additional votes from the undecided for İmamoğlu. He will reach the highest margin that he can get now, and his constituents already vote for him. So Yıldırım is likely to make a difference at this point," the ORC president said. In addition to the surveys, Pösteki said the AK Party voter tendencies have changed compared to the previous election.

"In March, AK Party supporters thought that it would be an easy ride and could give a message to their party not to be overcome by languor. But they did not think that they would be facing a slight margin between İmamoğlu and Yıldırım. This is exactly the same psychology that happened in the 2015 general elections where AK Party undecided voters did not go to the ballot box," he added.

Turkey's November 2015 general elections took place as a result of the June 2015 election, which failed to produce a government that held 276 of the 550 seats in Parliament. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the decision to hold snap elections Aug. 21, 2015, and said that Nov. 1 would be an appropriate time to open the polls again. As a result of the November election, the AK Party obtained 49.5% of the votes and formed the government with 317 of the 550 seats in Parliament.

Emphasizing the importance of social media during the elections in Turkey, Pösteki said both alliances use social media intensively. "During this election, we have also seen that conventional media has not had an enormous effect on voters. In contrast, social media has more influence on people. This is how İmamoğlu's image was shaped in only six months but now Yıldırım's supporters caught him in social media. Perceptions created on social media are now more important than before," Pösteki said.

It's commonly accepted that: "Turkey is the center of the world and İstanbul is the heart of this center." This explains how important this election is for both alliances and candidates beyond being an ordinary local race. With less than 48 hours for the final results, not only Turkish people and İstanbul voters but also the whole world will hold its breath to see the winner. Who will be the winner? There is always a margin of error in this type of contentious election, but arithmetic indicates that Yıldırım will reach the finish line at least one step ahead of his rival. ... nbul-polls

Re: Kurds need to vote for CHP to free Istabul from AKP

PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2019 11:33 am
Author: Anthea
Ocalan - now seemingly totally controlled by the Turkish government - has told Kurds not to take sides in the forthcoming Istanbul election

Jailed militant leader Abdullah Ocalan has called on the main pro-Kurdish political party and it's supporters, to remain “neutral” in Istanbul’s mayoral election in what was widely seen as an entreaty to abandon its support for the opposition candidate and help President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party retain control of the city

Remaining neutral is NOT an option

The failure of Kurds to support the CHP will guarantee Erdogan's AKP success

We now know that Erdogan allowed Ocalan to meet with people purely in order to use him to manipulate the Kurdish population of Istanbul

Kurds must vote for CHP to free Istabul from AKP

Re: Kurds need to IGNORE Ocalan and vote for CHP in Istanbul

PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2019 6:53 pm
Author: Anthea
Opposition wins rerun of Istanbul election

A political gamble by Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan backfired spectacularly on Sunday as the opposition won a resounding victory in the repeat of an Istanbul mayoral election according to early results

Ekrem Imamoglu, the opposition challenger in a race for control of Turkey’s biggest and most important city, had won the contest in a previous vote but was stripped of his narrow victory after claims of fraud by Mr Erdogan’s ruling party. On Sunday, preliminary results showed that the 49-year-old former district major not only won the rerun of the vote but massively increased his majority.

“This amounts to everyone together opening a new page for Istanbul,” Mr Imamoglu said after the result became clear.

“Today 16 million Istanbul residents have renewed our faith in democracy and our trust in justice,” he added. He described the result as a new chapter not only for Istanbul but for everyone in Turkey. “It’s a new start,” he said

The second defeat will come as a crushing blow for Mr Erdogan, who has for years warned his party faithful that losing Istanbul means losing Turkey

Mr Imamoglu won close to 54 per cent of the vote, compared to 45 per cent for Binali Yildirim, the former prime minister who stood for the ruling party, according to initial results published by the state-run Anadolu news agency.

In a televised speech, Mr Yildirim said that his opponent was in the lead and appeared to concede defeat.

“My opponent Ekrem Imamoglu is ahead. I congratulate him and wish him success,” Mr Yildirim said. “An election means democracy. This election once again proves that democracy works extremely well and flawlessly in Turkey. The final results will be announced later. I hope these results will be fortuitous for Istanbul.”

Mr Imamoglu increased his lead in the city of 10.5m voters from less than 14,000 votes in the initial vote to more than 700,000. Those figures were based on almost 98 per cent of ballot boxes, Anadolu said.

The former district mayor ran an upbeat campaign that highlighted the injustice that he says he and his supporters suffered when he was stripped of his original victory. He promised to deliver better services to Istanbul’s 16m residents, and to cut corruption and waste.

Mr Erdogan’s party sought to echo Mr Imamoglu by striking a more positive tone than in its previous campaign, which was dominated by warnings about the threat of terrorism. It focused much of its energy on intensive door-to-door campaigning, trying to win over those who stayed at home in the first vote and seeking to persuade members of the country’s Kurdish minority to back them.

The Turkish president, who built his own political career on the back of winning Istanbul mayorship in 1994, must now add an insurgent opposition to the wealth of challenges that he is facing, including a struggling an economy and high tensions with the US. ... 5cbb98ed36

Re: Erdogan has LOST Istanbul

PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2019 6:57 pm
Author: Anthea
Unofficial returns from today’s election show Imamoglu beating Erdogan’s candidate, former Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, by more than 777,000 votes.

AKP still controls 25 of Istanbul’s 39 districts and holds a majority of seats in the municipal assembly.