By Roger Annis, A Socialist In Canada, Nov 14, 2017
Stephen Kinzer of the Boston Globe has written an informative article outlining the significant tensions which characterize relations between NATO members Turkey and the United States. The article is here: NATO is headed for a very messy break-up, by Stephen Kinzer, in Boston Globe, Nov 14, 2017.
The title and premise of the article posits a NATO military alliance which is adrift and lacking purpose. That is a highly dubious assertion. The large military powers which dominate in NATO–the U.S., Britain, Germany and France–as well as the alliance’s secondary powers (Italy, Spain, Holland, Canada, etc) are entirely united in their ‘new cold war’ targeting of Russia and other countries and political movements which dare to challenge unilateral NATO (imperialist) diktat. (For a roll call of NATO country members, see Wikipedia.)
The Boston Globe article fails to report the violent repression during the past two years by the Turkish government against Kurdish and other progressive political forces in the country. The repression began with the legislative election of November 1, 2015 in which the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a majority in the Grand National Assembly (Parliament). That election was a snap re-run of the June 2015 election in which the AKP failed to win a legislative majority.
The repression by the AKP president and Grand National Assembly majority has seen the jailings of the co-leader of the left-wing People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Dermitas, former co-leader of the party Figen Yüksekdağ, and many of the party’s other election MPs. In June of this year, Figen Yüksekdağ received a fifth conviction and jail sentence, this one a sentence of one year in prison for “overtly insulting the government of the Turkish Republic” in a press statement and a speech she gave in the southern province of Adana in October 2015.
The HDP won 11 per cent of the votes (5.1 million) and 59 seats on November 1, 2015 (out of 550 seats total in the Grand National Assembly). That made it the third largest party in the Assembly.
The repression against the HDP, related parties and the Kurdish-populated regions of eastern Turkey deepened as of July 15, 2016, using the pretext of an attempted military coup on that date (Wikipedia). The HDP vigorously opposed the coup.
Parallel to the repression against Kurdish and other progressive political movements has been a vast repression against the political/social movement in Turkey led by the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. The ‘Gulenist’ movement stands accused by the Turkish government of conducting the failed coup. Tens of thousands of people have been jailed; tens of thousands of teachers, university professors and government workers have been fired from their jobs; more than 4,000 judges and prosecutors have been fired; hundreds of journalists have been jailed or fired (presently, there are 153 journalists in jail in Turkey); and more than 3,000 schools have been shut down. Much of this has been waged under bogus accusations of allegiance to Fethullah Gulen and the movement he leads spiritually or support to the July 2016 coup attempt.
While the Boston Globe article provides valuable information and insight, no assessment of Turkey which ignores its internal political polarization and upheavals can be said to be complete. As well, the volatile situations in Syria and Saudi Arabia are major factors in relations between Turkey and its fellow NATO members. These are beyond the scope of the foregoing short analysis, as is consideration of Russia’s ongoing diplomatic efforts to convince Middle East countries with large Kurdish populations to agree to forms of political autonomy (eg federalism) that would address historic demands of Kurds for national rights and political self-determination.
Western media keeps a studied silence of the ongoing political repression in fellow NATO-member Turkey, including the fate of their journalist colleagues. Instead, it wants to talk about big, bad ‘Russia’ and ‘Venezuela’. ‘With friends like that, who needs enemies?’ goes the old saying.
Here are several leading websites in English of news of Turkey: