21st Century Wire | April 27, 2016
All of the recent, worrying attacks on free speech in Germany are starting to make sense.
It has just been announced that the German Air Force is set to start work on a $65 million project to establish a new military air base at Turkey’s Incirlik air base. It is set to be finished by Summer 2017.
RT reports that the project is looking to build accommodation for the permanent deployment of around 400 German soldiers, a fully equipped command and control post and facilities for a full wing of Tornado fighter-jets and an Airbus tanker.
In the weeks before this announcement, Germany began using a very obscure and rarely used law that apparently prevents citizens from criticising foreign heads of state to begin prosecuting a German comedian that had mocked Turkish President Erdogan.
German Chancellor Merkel took much criticism for allowing the prosecution to go ahead, but now we can see why Merkel was doing everything possible to appease the Turkish President.
It is definitely possible that Erdogan threatened to stop the proposed development of the German air base in Turkey unless Merkel stamped on his critics.
Erdogan has many reasons to fear criticism, primarily because the vast majority of it is absolutely justified. Turkey has been documented to be working with ISIS to smuggle oil out of Syria, and the Turkish government has just faced protests for suggesting a religious constitution should be enacted.
The economic situation is also taking a turn for the worst in Erdogan’s Turkey, as tourism to the nation has dropped a massive 40% due to the government’s reckless actions.
The fact that what is clearly free speech has been so openly trampled upon, to further the development of military progress, suggests that supposed Western priorities with peace and democracy are far from sincere.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Turkey exercises a “decisive influence” on the so-called opposition group High Negotiations Committee (HNC) which is in peace talks with the Damascus government.
Lavrov made the remarks on Monday while commenting on the progress of the latest round of negotiations between the Syrian government and HNC, which began in Geneva on April 13.
Syria peace talks are going on despite the absence of the Saudi-backed opposition as the group’s leaders left the talks on April 19 to protest at what they called escalating violence and restrictions on humanitarian access in Syria.
A ceasefire, brokered by Russia and the US, went into effect on February 27 across Syria. Fighting, however, picked up and left the truce in tatters. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has agreed on a six-month deadline for drafting a new constitution for the Arab country in line with the proposal of the International Syria Support Group.
“In order to come to terms over six months it is necessary not to slam the door and dig in heels, as several delegates of the so-called Riyadh group have done, Lavrov said, adding that “it’s no secret” that Turkey has a “decisive influence” on them.
“So one should not come for talks with ultimatums but should sit down at the negotiating table and reach an agreement,” Lavrov added, noting that the situation at the UN-brokered talks could have been better if HNC had not left Geneva.
The top Russian diplomat also said that Moscow was preparing a report for the UN Security Council to extend the list of terrorist groups in Syria.
“We are currently collecting information that Jebhat al-Nusra (al-Nusra Front) subjugates groups that seemed to have declared truce and readiness to join ceasefire,” Lavrov said, adding, “We will summarize facts and present them to [the] UN Security Council to adjust terrorist lists.”
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. Damascus says Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar are the main supporters of the militants fighting the government forces.
According to UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, some 400,000 people have lost their lives as a result of over five years of conflict in Syria.
Greek freelance photojournalist Giorgos Moutafis, who was trying to travel through Turkey on an assignment from German tabloid Bild, has been barred from entering the country without explanation.
Moutafis, 38, was denied entry to Turkey after landing in Istanbul on Saturday and sent back to Athens. He was kicked out of the country less than an hour after German Chancellor Angela Merkel left it after visiting a refugee camp in Gaziantep, the newspaper pointed out. He intended to go to Libya from Turkey.
“I was told at the passport control that my name was on a blacklist and that I’m not allowed to enter Turkey. Then my passport was taken from me until the early morning. I had to spend the night in a room in the airport. The reasons why I’m on this list were not explained to me,” Moutafis said.
He added that he entered Turkey six months ago with no problems, and that he cannot explain why he could have been banned since then.
Moutafis is an internationally-acclaimed journalist and filmmaker, who has covered stories for outlets such as Newsweek, TIME, the New Yorker, Der Spiegel, the Guardian, Al Jazeera, CBS, CNN and the BBC, among others. He received the 2014 Press Freedom Award from Reporters Without Borders.
The focus of his work is on the perils of asylum seekers travelling to Europe from the Middle East, but he also reported on the battle for the Kurdish city of Kobani in Syria, which may explain the Turkish authorities’ attitude.
Last week, Turkey barred Volker Schwenck, a journalist working for the TV channel ARD, from entering the country. Ankara cited “security reasons.” Schwenck, who heads the channel’s Cairo bureau, intended to travel to Gaziantep to cover Merkel’s visit.
Turkey’s crackdown on the media is a hot topic in Germany after Merkel failed to oppose the prosecution of a comedian who recited a crude poem criticizing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Ankara had complained that the poem was insulting.
Some 2,000 libel cases have been filed in Turkey against people accused of insulting the president.
Longstanding US/Israeli plans call for redrawing the Middle East map – including partitioning Iraq and Syria, installing pro-Western/Zionist puppet regimes.
Turkey wants a Syria buffer zone to annex border areas between both countries. Weeks earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov blasted the idea, saying creating one would “violate every principle of international law and will lead to a substantial, qualitative escalation” of tensions.
In February, John Kerry told Senate Foreign Relations Committee members that establishing a buffer or safe zone in Syria would require up to 30,000 troops to enforce it, according to Pentagon estimates.
Last November, Trump endorsed the idea, saying “(b)uild a big, beautiful safe zone, and you have whatever it is so people can live, and they’ll be happier.”
Hillary Clinton earlier urged establishing a no-fly zone, the same scheme she used to wage US-led NATO aggression on Libya.
Merkel supported the idea. Now she seeks creating “safe zones” on the phony pretext of protecting internally displaced Syrians, saying:
Establish “zones where the ceasefire is particularly enforced and where a significant level of security can be guaranteed.”
Syria and Russia categorically reject the idea, a thinly veiled partition plan, flagrantly violating international law, also aiming to stem the refugee flow caused by Obama’s war – NATO and regional rogue states complicit in his high crime.
On Friday, Syrian chief peace talks negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari minced no words blasting Western and regional regimes for supporting “organized networks of international terrorism,” continuing to send them cross-border into Syria, “sabotaging the rules of international law,” while claiming to support diplomatic conflict resolution.
War without resolution continues. Peace prospects are unattainable as long as Washington demands regime change.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Ebru Umar, Dutch writer © wikipedia.org
The Turkish police have detained a Dutch columnist over a critical tweet she posted about Turkish President Recep Erdogan, her newspaper said. The woman intends to go back to the Netherlands after being released.
Ebru Umar is a Dutch columnist of Turkish origin, who writes for several newspapers, including Metro. On Saturday, the Turkish police detained her at the resort of Kusadasi and seized her laptop, the newspaper reported.
Umar said she was questioned about critical tweets about the Turkish president. She expects to be released soon and leave for the Netherlands, Metro reported.
Dutch and Turkish officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment, the newspaper said.
It comes amid public outcry in the Netherlands over a letter sent by a Turkish consular to its citizens asking to report insults to the Turkish leader they encounter.
The Turkish authorities have launched some 2,000 lawsuits against people accused of insulting Erdogan.
Umar is a regular guest on Dutch TV panels on Muslim-related issues. She has a reputation for being highly critical of Islam and was reportedly targeted with retaliation in Amsterdam.
‘Kindly send us names and quotes insulting our president’: Ankara’s Consulate asks nationals in the Netherlands
Turkey’s General Consulate in Rotterdam has called on Turkish nationals in the Netherlands to report on Ankara’s and President Erdogan’s critics, Dutch media reported.
Ankara’s office has reportedly emailed a number of Turkish organizations in the European country, urging their employees to warn the consulate of any “insulting” messages received via personal online accounts.
According to the letter shared on Twitter, it said:
“To whom it may concern,
If you or the employees working in your NGO or their relatives or the people around you received messages from people who are insulting our president, the Turkish nation or Turkey in general in to your mailboxes or social media accounts, we would kindly ask you to send the names and the quotes that they put to the mail address of our Rotterdam Consulate General.”
The campaign is “aimed against everything that’s being shared on Twitter, Facebook and even in private emails,” Dutch freelance journalist and author Frederike Geerdink told RT, adding that Ankara’s move has “immediately caused big discussion in Holland.”
“Politicians in Holland worry, they say this is what in Holland is called ‘the long arm of Ankara,’ meaning that the government in Ankara tries to get a grip on their diaspora communities” in various European countries, including Germany, Britain, Belgium, and now in the Netherlands, Geerdink said.
“They try to influence how Dutch Turks behave,” she added, saying that the European officials “will talk with the Consulate about this and express their worries.” There will be a debate on the matter in the parliament as well, the journalist told RT.
On Wednesday, the Dutch government announced its plans to scrap legislation which makes insulting a friendly head of state a criminal offense, Dutch News reported.
Following the Consulate’s call, Ankara’s consul should be called to The Hague to explain it, the Dutch news source reported, citing an MP from the country’s right-wing VNL party. “Turkey needs to be reminded of the right to freedom of speech,” Joram van Klaveren was quoted as saying.
There has been no official comment from the Turkish Consulate. When it was approached by Dutch journalists asking as of what the information the officials were aiming to receive would be used for, “the Consulate played it down saying there is not much to worry about, [as they] only want to make an inventory of what is being said in Holland,” Geerdink told RT.
An officer with the Russian Consulate in Turkey on Wednesday met with the chief editor of Sputnik News Agency’s Turkish bureau, Tural Kerimov, who has been stranded at the Istanbul airport since morning after he was denied entry.
Kerimov, who was also stripped of his accreditation and residence permit in Turkey, is currently at the Ataturk International Airport awaiting deportation.
“I met Tural Kerimov at the airport and talked to him in the presence of a police officer,” the Russian diplomat told RIA Novosti.
Tural Kerimov arrived to Istanbul on Wednesday but was stopped by a border control officer who said the journalist was flagged as persona non grata by the Turkish authorities. The Turkish officer told the Russian diplomat that the reason for barring the Sputnik Turkey editor-in-chief from entering was not specified.
This comes a week after Turkish authorities shut down the agency’s Turkish-language website citing “administrative measures.” The shutdown is the most recent episode of the government’s crackdown on media and free speech in the country following the imprisonment of 14 local journalists.
Regime change, the term hundreds of millions hear on the nightly news is rendered innocuous by the sheer repetitiveness. But regime change is almost always accompanied by death and destruction, and after effects that affect us all, no matter where in the world it occurs. The overthrow of Libya’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 by an American president and co-conspirators is truly a case for an international tribunal. Here’s a starting lineup for an international war crimes double header.
Every time I think of Barack Obama’s former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, images of her gloating and bragging over Libya flood into my mind’s eye. Then my mind races cognitively, to a culvert in a ditch near the town of Sirte, to a bruised and bloodied figure, staring up and fearful of his captors, just before they kicked and beat him, then riddled his body with bullets, Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al- Gaddafi’s life surely passed before his eyes. In the blink of a US drone electronic eye, the most powerful man in Africa was dethroned, and the Middle East was set on fire. History will inquire, “Who was it that set a whole people adrift in the world?” Well I have history’s answer.
Exhibit A: A US President Misleads His People
On March 28th, 2011 the Obama White House issued this transcript of the American president’s address to the people he swore to lead and protect. Within this insulting and misleading address, there are many lies and reversals of fact, but there are also great truths as well. For instance, the nations complicit in the violent coup d’é·tat in Libya were named by Obama, they were: the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, and Qatar along with the United Arab Emirates. Each of these nation’s geo-political interests in Libya and Gaddafi can be traced directly to big business or US surrogacy, this is irrevocable and irreconcilable. The involvement of US, UK and European agents inside Libya, the levers put in place to unseat the standing Libyan government, are just now coming into the daylight. I’ll shine more light on these further on, but right now characterizing the unmitigated audacity of Barack Obama is important. Not only did the US president mislead the American people on March 28th, 2011, his character would not allow him to pass up the opportunity to brag about how swiftly and decisively he had acted. On the mandate for unseating Gaddafi, the president said:
“It’s true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs. And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action. But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right. In this particular country -– Libya — at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale.”
This statement is key for understanding the truth of not only Libya, but Syria, Ukraine, and even for policies as far back as the NATO agenda in Bosnia. In a caveat to this, Obama also frames a hidden strategy beneath by discussing what we now know as the larger European tragedy. The president claims “our interests” were served by preventing:
“A massacre (that) would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya’s borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful –- yet fragile -– transitions in Egypt and Tunisia.”
Not only did Barack Obama and his administration sell this lie to the American people, he also committed one of his worst political mistakes ever.
“Of course, there is no question that Libya -– and the world –- would be better off with Qaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.”
This was 2011, take note of this. The Obama team now openly professed a US and coalition plan to take down Gaddafi, they foretold of a larger scheme, the Arab Spring and western expansionism that grips the world today. Violence on a horrific scale, instigated by the Bush and Obama administrations. The refugee crises, which are clearly “ordained” in the quotes above as “warnings”, these were in fact part of a regional plan of destabilization.
Exhibit B: Obama – the Little Big Man 2016
Russian President Vladimir Putin is not often wrong, but his statement last week about Barack Obama being “strong” enough to admit the mistake of Libya, it’s dead wrong. Barack Obama is not at all strong. He’s a decent actor, and can read a teleprompter like nobody’s business. Being strong in the Putin sense, it means serving the people, and not the hidden masters of the policy universe. In a now famous interview with Fox News anchor, Chris Wallace, Obama admits not planning for the aftermath of the ousting of Gaddafi was his biggest mistake as president. Obama says (via the transcript) on being asked “Worst mistake?”, by Wallace:
“Probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya.”
This is not the statement of a strong president, it is weak and pitiful in so many respects. The man cannot even come to grips with a truth, let alone take responsibility. “Probably”, the “right thing to do”, “think” – the whole snippet hints at lying or misdirect. Wallace never returns to the issue, the “central issue”, as it were, for America’s role in world terror and upheaval. The “facts” of Barack Obama’s regime change agenda contravene any suggestion Libya was simply an error. Most Americans are completely unaware of the battle in the US Congress to forestall this coup.
“Despite its failure to obtain legal approval from Congress, the Obama administration continued to provide the bulk of the military support for the NATO operation until the overthrow of Gadaffi in October. Before the official termination of Operation Unified Protector, US Permanent Representative to NATO Ivo Daalder said that “the United States led in this operation… It led in the planning of the operation, it led in getting the mandate for the operation, and it led in the execution of the operation… the United States conducted more sorties than any other country in this operation, twenty six percent.”
Barack Obama, with the adamant support of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Neocons like Arizona’s Sen. John McCain, and military industrial complex lap dog, Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, ousted Gaddafi circumvented the people of the United States of America. For those wondering at my vehemence here, General Dynamics and the US Navy will name a new destroyer after Levin, just in case any out there are reticent in disbelief of my assertions. The arrogance, the insolence of these people staggers the imagination, but I must frame another constituent’s part in America’s export of revolution. Obama was not owning up to a mistake in Libya, he was sliding past a question by a sellout Fox reporter. The only reason for him even answering the question was to insert a tenant of plausible deniability later on.
Accept Open Society or Else
No one reading this report will be surprised to hear George Soros’ Open Society Foundations is neck deep in this regime change. The man who essentially got Obama elected in the first place, he and his NGO have been implicated in many political machinations. This Arizona Daily Independent opinion piece casts a blistering light on John McCain, the aforementioned Levin, and a neocon system of levers most are aware of, but know not how to confront. I’ve not the space to go into McCain’s shady past here, but his face on crisis has been adequately established. It was the Soros connection to the defense spending champion that caught my eye.
George Soros’ gift of $100 million dollars to Human Rights Watch did not make big news back in 2010. Human Rights Watch was thrilled though. A few months later, Human Rights Watch reported on the International Criminal Court (ICC) charging both Muammar Gaddafi, and his son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi with crimes against humanity. Human Rights Watch’s position in this strategy was to validate and provide presidents for a tribunal, at least in my view. This quote from the report by HRW is telling:
“Should the court issue an arrest warrant for Gaddafi, it would not be the first warrant for a sitting head of state by an international court. In 1999, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia issued its first indictment against Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo.”
Almost immediately after ICC head prosecutor Moreno Ocampo issued an arrest warrant for the Gaddafis on 7 June 2011, 30 nations recognized the Libyan rebels of the NTC as the legitimate government of the country. A key in understanding how collusion and influence parlay uprisings is in understanding how the Open Society Foundations grants and meetups operate. Central to the legitimacy of Gadaffi’s overthrow, was the notion he was a tyrant and a killer. Legitimacy for the White House agenda comes in many forms.
Legality: The Ultimate Lie
In December of 2005 the Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor was part of a Soros backed roundtable series, which was an initiative of OSI and the Security and Peace Initiative, which is a joint initiative of the Center for American Progress and an interesting think tank, The Century Foundation. The goals of these organizers, was ostensibly described in the title of published essays by these think tank elites, “Restoring American Leadership: 13 Steps to Improve Global Cooperation.” I believe it was the purpose of these meetings to establish Moreno Campo’s legitimacy and position within the greater scheme of things. After these meetings, and the associated United Nations meetups back then, the ICC played an ever-increasing and interesting role. Please remember, the Center for America Progress is funded by not only Soros, but Bill and Melinda Gates, huge corporations, and even the government of the United Arab Emirates. The UAE should ring bells for their part in the coalition to overthrow Gadaffi.
Subsequent Open Society Foundations rhetoric and policy showed us the ICC’s mission. First in Uganda, then in the crucial case of Sudan, the ICC allegedly became the tool of Soros and the people behind him. While I do not always agree with the controversial activist Lyndon LaRouche, there’s no denying his insight and investigations often bear fruit. In this report from 2008, the implications are black and white in this press release:
“The Soros organization also directly funded another agency at the Hague, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, which prosecuted and judicially murdered Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.”
Yugoslavia rises from the mist once again. I’ve drummed on the notion of “templates” enacted by western leadership, on think tanks and their roles, and Yugoslavia in the Clinton era was a crucial turning point. The “legality” in all this, the big lie of democracy’s validity as a new quasi-religious crusade, this is where Soros funding, American leadership role playing, and regime-policy change meet globally. Gadaffi was essentially assassinated. His son is now under a death sentence in Libya, and the old school Cold War warriors want to install a king in his place. It’s all illegality made to look legal, Soros the Nazi sympathizer transformed into the philanthropist. It’s Barack Obama, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the biggest killer of innocent civilians since Idi Amin.
In conclusion, the question I began with remains; “Who was it that set a whole people adrift in the world?” Why the very people swearing oaths to protect us, that’s who. The champions of industry, the philanthropist, their paid for brain trusts, the money has bought out the entire democratic system of governance. The world has the true war criminals by the scruff of the neck now. But the wrong men and women will die, just as sure as I am writing this. The mission of Soros, his NGO, and the elites in power in the west is the eradication of the idea of the sovereign state. Killing Gaddafi was central to this goal.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe.
Syrian moderate opposition has failed to withdraw from areas controlled by Al-Nusra Front terrorists, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, blaming the US for failing to exert influence on the opposition and questioned its claims of being moderate.
Washington has itself earlier raised the issue of moderate opposition forces, who are part of the ceasefire agreement in Syria, being present in Al-Nusra-controlled areas, Lavrov told reporters on Monday.
Washington officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, agreed with Moscow’s stance “that if these groups want to fulfill the conditions of the ceasefire and don’t want to look like terrorist supporters, they must do a simple thing – change their dislocation area and physically separate themselves from the terrorists,” the minister elaborated.
According to Lavrov, the US has repeatedly promised Russia to exert their influence on moderate opposition, but the minister said that “those promises are still not fulfilled.”
“If this moderate opposition doesn’t want to leave the areas occupied by Al-Nusra, maybe it is not moderate? Maybe they are just those, who cooperate with Al-Nusra despite the UN Security Council resolution?” he asked.
The FM assured that the Syrian government forces “aren’t carrying out military action against that part of the opposition, which accepted the terms of the truce.”
“The Syrian army, backed by the Russian Air-Space Forces, is fighting against the terrorists,” he stressed.
The top Russian diplomat said that “around the city of Aleppo, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has very strong positions and there’s quite a large area occupied by Al-Nusra Front.”
“Both terrorist groups are trying to improve their positions in the Aleppo area. They are, I stress once again, a legitimate target for those, fighting against terrorism in Syria,” he added.
‘Washington must bring Ankara to its senses’
Lavrov again urged the Syrian Kurds, who were very effective in fighting Islamic State, to be granted a seat at the intra-Syrian talks in currently underway in Geneva.
He stressed that the opposition delegation at the negotiations in the Swiss capital must of a “truly representative character.”
“This would require out US partners to just bring to senses their Turkish allies, who are blocking the Democratic Union Party of Syrian Kurds (PYD) from joining the talks,” the FM said.
Turkey is also among the nations, who are pushing for the military solution in Syria counter to the international peace effort, Lavrov stressed.
“Despite the denial from Washington, there are many people, who wish to think about certain ‘Plan B’, if not in the heart of the Pentagon, then certainly in the [Middle Eastern, Western Asian] region,” he explained.
“In particular, I can mention Turkey, which doesn’t leave the attempts to intervene [into Syria] by force” and topple the country’s government of President Bashar Assad, the minister added.
Those, behind the ‘Plan B,’ are “counting on the collapse of the Syrian peace talks, which would allow pumping more arms into Syria for the inappeasable opposition so that it could solve the task of removing the government militarily,” he said.
The Russia-US brokered ceasefire kicked off in Syria on February 27 and was supported by various armed opposition groups, but excluded terrorists from Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front.
Lavrov also refuted rumors of secret talks on the fate of President Assad, calling them another attempt to derail the peace process in Syria.
“The claims that there is some sort of a secret negotiation channel and that, moreover, in the framework of this secret channel someone promised to decide the fate of Assad outside the framework of the intra-Syrian talks … are not true,” he said.
“It’s an attempt to disrupt the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions, in which… it’s directly stated that only the Syrian people will determine the fate of Syria,” the FM added.
The minister also criticized the European Union for not trying to suppress what he called Turkey’s aggressive ambitions towards Syria.
He noted that Ankara repeatedly proposed various ideas of handling the Syrian crisis, such as introducing no-fly zones or security zones, which were nothing but “attempts to cover up possible Turkish aggression.”
According to Lavrov, it is “very disturbing that the EU… doesn’t suppress such ambitions by Ankara and even tries to indulge it in a certain way.”
On March 26 President Erdogan of Turkey “harshly criticized” foreign diplomats for being present at the trial of two journalists in Istanbul. At a meeting of businessmen he erupted in fury and expostulated that “The consul-generals in Istanbul attended the trial. Who are you? What business do you have there? Diplomacy has a certain propriety and manners. This is not your country. This is Turkey.”
President Erdogan had made it clear that “this is Turkey” by declaring, before the trial even began, that the accused journalists will “pay a heavy price” for reporting that his National Intelligence Agency (MİT) had been smuggling weapons to rebel groups in Syria. Naturally, there was international interest in such a judicial process and, as is usual around the world, foreign diplomats attended the hearing in order to report to their governments the facts of the case as presented in court.
But the President of Turkey informed the world that diplomats accredited to his country are not expected to be present in his country’s law courts to witness judicial proceedings. He went even further by telling foreign diplomats in Istanbul that they “can move inside the Consulate building and within the boundaries of the Consulate. But elsewhere is subject to permission.”
Mr Erdogan is telling the world that international law means nothing to him. He rejects with contempt the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations which lays down that in all countries foreign diplomats are to be granted “freedom of movement and travel” provided, of course that these should be “subject to laws and regulations concerning zones, entry into which is prohibited or regulated for reasons of national security.”
Prohibited zones do not include courts of law. And the trial of the journalists, who had been in solitary confinement for half their 90-day detention, has nothing to do with national security — only national dishonesty.
Western media reporting of Mr Erdogan’s violation of international rules and values has been low-key to the point of self-induced evaporation and there has been little condemnation of his open scorn for the basic principles of diplomatic conduct — and none at all from the Consul General of the United States in Istanbul, Mr Charles F Hunter, on whose website on the day of Mr Erdogan’s abusive outburst the main headline was:
WORLD ERUPTS OVER
RUSSIA’S UNJUST SENTENCE
OF UKRAINIAN PILOT
Mr Hunter wrote that “the global community has been quick to condemn the 22-year sentence handed out by a Russian court to Ukrainian pilot and parliamentarian Nadiya Savchenko,” which was absolute nonsense, because even the western media had not given the trial much cover. Not only that, but Mr Hunter omitted to mention that Savchenko’s status as a “parliamentarian” had been granted by the Ukrainian government after the prosecution had begun. Ms Savchenko had never set foot in Ukraine’s parliament, but Wikipedia, an easily manipulated online information site, describes her as “a Ukrainian politician and former Army aviation pilot in the Ukrainian Ground Forces.”
As part of the anti-Russian propaganda campaign about Savchenko, US State Department spokesman John Kirby stated that Russia has “blatant disregard for the principles of justice,” which is an absurd declaration, coming from the nation that for fifteen years has maintained a prison camp in a colonial enclave in Cuba in which not a single wretched captive has been permitted access to the process of international law. It’s a bit much, too, coming from a nation that refuses to release the thousands of photographs that were taken of torture by its soldiers.
Some photos were published in the media, but the really horrible ones have never been seen, except by some selected Senators and Members of Congress who were sworn to secrecy.
The US Supreme Court agreed with the “the judgment of the President and the Nation’s highest-ranking military officers that disclosure of the photographs at issue here would pose a substantial risk to the lives and physical safety of United States and allied military and civilian personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Given the policy of the US Establishment — the President, the Congress and the Supreme Court — concerning the importance of concealing disgusting and potentially embarrassing facts it is not surprising that there has been no criticism in Washington of President Erdogan for his persecution of journalists who revealed embarrassing facts about his illegal action in supplying Syrian-based terrorist groups with weapons, or about his insulting diatribe concerning the presence of a US diplomat at their trial.
On March 18 the UK’s Independent newspaper reported that “the President of Turkey has said democracy and freedom have ‘absolutely no value’ in the country after calling for journalists, lawyers and politicians to be prosecuted as terrorists.” But this means nothing to the US or British governments which both support President Erdogan without demur. While at the recent (and totally useless) summit on nuclear security in Washington on March 31, five days after he insulted their country, Mr Erdogan met with both the president and vice president of the United States.
Following the meetings, the Voice of America reported that President Obama “assured his Turkish counterpart of American commitment to the security of Turkey” and “extended condolences to Erdogan for a terrorist attack earlier in the day in the Kurdish-majority south-eastern city of Diyarbakir.” And Vice President Biden “reaffirmed the close alliance between the United States and Turkey . . [and] discussed ways to further deepen our military cooperation.” So Mr Erdogan felt free to continue his anti-democratic diatribes after he returned home.
Like many national leaders who have managed to get to a rank and position whose demands vastly exceed their modest capabilities, Mr Erdogan continued to justify his erratic behaviour by abusing “those who attempt to give us lessons in democracy and human rights.” On April 4 he said that the press was free in Turkey and claimed that some publications had branded him a “thief” and a “killer” without being shut down and that “Such insults and threats are not permitted in the West.”
Then he said that Turkey’s Constitutional Court had ‘betrayed its very existence’ because it had ordered release from pre-trial custody of the two journalists who, as noted above, he had declared would “pay a heavy price” for reporting that his Intelligence operatives had been smuggling weapons to rebel groups in Syria.
Turkey is in chaos. As Human Rights Watch records, its ruler “ has demonstrated a growing intolerance of political opposition, public protest, and critical media. Government interference with the courts and prosecutors has undermined judicial independence and the rule of law.”
When they met with President Erdogan, neither President Obama nor Vice President Biden offered the mildest criticism of him for his hysterical outbursts rejecting democracy and international law.
Perhaps their advisers pointed out to them that Mr Erdogan had a reasonable point to make, in that “those who attempt to give us lessons in democracy and human rights must first contemplate their own shame.”
Russia proposes deploying international observers at Turkey’s border with Syria to monitor the situation, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.
“Since Turkey itself denies the very existence of the problem, we suggest, not formally at this point, a draft resolution or another decision so that Turkey invites independent international observers to its territory to monitor the actual situation on the border,” Lavrov told reporters.
Russia hopes that the West will be able to get clear answers from Ankara regarding the possibility of deploying observers, he said.
“US officials assure us that they are also concerned about the problem on the border and are working with Ankara to solve it,” Lavrov added.
The Turkish authorities are not so much fighting with the radicals, but working side by side with them instead, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his annual Q&A session, noting that there is a civil war going on in southern Turkey.
“We believe that the current Turkish leadership not so much fights the radicals, but rather cooperates with them,” Putin said.
“In fact, there is a civil war going on in southern Turkey. We try to ignore it, the international community pretends not to notice it, but it’s a fact. Moreover, [the war goes on] with the use of heavy weaponry and equipment, artillery and so on,” he said, highlighting the fact that terrorist attacks take place in Turkey “nearly each week.”
Commenting on the possibility of Russian tourists returning to the ‘Turkish Riviera’, Putin said that there are no security guarantees for Russians in Turkey.
“The Turkish leadership will seek to ensure the safety of tourists, but the big question is whether they will succeed in doing this,” he added.