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Turkey’s Erdogan problem – Al-Monitor

Turkey‘s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The March 30 local elections in Turkey were not really local elections but a de facto referendum on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ability to govern the country. The outcome came as “a kiss of life” for Erdogan, whose legitimacy had been in a downward spiral since May 2013 when his authoritarian attitudes fanned the Gezi Park revolt. His legitimacy took a further blow with the massive corruption probe in December, which came coupled with a slew of wiretaps leaked on the Internet that exposed the government’s dirty affairs.

But despite those enormous setbacks, the popular support lost by Erdogan in the March 30 elections was less than expected. His party had garnered some 50% of the vote in the 2011 general elections. At the local polls, the party mustered 43.3% in the municipal assemblies’ vote — the only criteria that allows for a comparison — meaning that its popularity declined only by about six percentage points.

Now, let’s see how those less-than-expected losses or more-than-expected gains have since translated on the ground.

Prior to the polls, the Gezi Park events and the ensuing corruption scandal had nourished an impression — both at home and abroad — that Erdogan’s days were numbered. But the election results showed that Erdogan is here to stay.

Prior to the polls, a wide range of dynamics — economic fragility, social polarization, the government’s conflict with the Gulen movement, its deadlocked foreign policy and international isolation — were all negative. The election result came as a “lifesaver” that psychologically relieved the beleaguered government and boosted its self-confidence. The government was now armed with the “legitimacy of the ballot box” to counter the loss of legitimacy it had suffered over the Gezi Park events and the corruption scandal.

The March 30 results revived Erdogan’s presidential prospects, which were widely considered to be dead prior to the polls.

But even though Erdogan’s election victory seems to have smoothed his political route ahead, it has failed to improve the negative dynamics mentioned above. All those grave problems remain intact despite the electoral boost he got.

What is more, Erdogan’s deficiencies in democracy, freedom and the rule of law are far from diminishing and seem to be getting even worse. The latest example came in the form of an authoritarian law, approved on April 25 by President Abdullah Gul, which gives the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) extraordinary powers over citizens and institutions, while minimizing its accountability and control.

Erdogan’s electoral boost has resulted also in a tangible increase in media censorship and pressure to silence critical journalists.

Many of the problems and adverse dynamics besieging Erdogan arise mostly from Erdogan himself. Similarly, his authoritarian policies are the primary source of Turkey’s shortcomings in democracy, freedom and rule of law.

In sum, one can conclude that Erdogan had become Turkey’s biggest problem long before the Gezi revolt, and that the March 30 elections indirectly amplified that problem, with Erdogan failing to produce solutions to the trouble he himself creates.

At the helm of a vibrant and fast-changing Turkey for as many as 12 years, Erdogan has completely lost his problem-solving capability since the Gezi revolt. His authoritarian and arbitrary approach to the problems he personally creates or exacerbates makes him the root of the problem itself. Yet, Erdogan keeps aggravating the problems and generating conflict because power makes him even more overbearing, intolerant and hubristic. The relief his government got from the March 30 outcome, it seems, will be short-lived.

On May 10, a ceremony for the 146th anniversary of the Council of State demonstrated anew that Turkey’s strongest man is its biggest problem, exposing all anomalies of the regime in an episode overladen with symbolism. Each and every moment of the drama that unfolded in Ankara underscored that Turkey is going through extraordinary times.

Gul, Erdogan, cabinet ministers, Chief of General Staff Necdet Ozel and main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu were all seated in the front row when the head of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations, Metin Feyzioglu, took the floor. Feyzioglu began speaking by addressing the president — a show of respect to the highest-level statesman in presence. But his speech, lasting an unusual 50 minutes, was directed at Erdogan, raising the problems the premier was responsible for: crippled press freedoms, social media bans, restrictions on May Day celebrations, the MIT law, the eradication of judicial independence and the blocking of corruption probes.

Only 15 days earlier, Erdogan had faced similar criticism from Constitutional Court President Hasim Kilic, who denounced the prime minister’s and his government’s unlawful practices at a ceremony marking the tribunal’s 52nd anniversary. Erdogan and his ministers did not spare Kilic, but they waited for the ceremony to end to vent their anger.

At the Council of State, however, Erdogan’s angry shouts startled the audience just as Feyzioglu was concluding his speech. The premier was accusing the head of the bar associations of lying, ill-manners and abusing his speaking time. Gul was tugging on Erdogan’s hand, trying to calm him down.

As Feyzioglu finished his sentence, Erdogan rose from his seat and moved toward the rostrum, still shouting. Then, he turned back and gesticulated to Gul that they should leave, showing the door. While Erdogan and his aides left the hall, Gul and his entourage, who had also stood up, followed suit, joined by the army chief.

Normally, a prime minister rising from his seat and shouting at the speaker in the presence of the president — the constitutional head of the state and the executive — would have been only a show of force shattering the state protocol. But what made things worse was the prime minister inviting the president out and Gul heeding the call.

The walkout was a visual illustration of how the state protocol and hierarchy has collapsed, giving way to the real political hierarchy — the one of the “one-man regime” — in a thought-provoking show directed by Erdogan himself.

Most recently, Turkey’s Erdogan problem erupted not in an auditorium but in the streets. On May 14, protests greeted Erdogan when he visited the western town of Soma, where Turkey’s deadliest mining disaster had occurred the previous day. With the death toll climbing to 200 that day, it was only natural for Soma’s people to call the government to account for the poor supervision and negligence that caused the disaster. Moreover, in the speech he made there Erdogan implied that the grieving families should accept the tragedy as natural, arguing that death was inherent in the mining industry and citing examples of fatal accidents dating back to the 19th century. In remarks at a press conference, he also used the term “exitus cases” for the men who perished in the coal mine.

Erdogan’s comments were bound to fuel anger, as Soma’s pain was still raw. And indeed, when he emerged in the streets he faced booing and resignation calls, which forced his bodyguards to lead him into a supermarket. In the evening, the news broke that inside the supermarket, the Turkish republic’s prime minister had slapped a citizen of his country in the face.

A young man, Taner Kuruca, claimed he had come for shopping when he suddenly came face to face with the prime minister, who gave him a slap. He added he was not planning to sue Erdogan. Footage of the incident clearly shows Erdogan grabbing Kuruca by the neck with both hands and saying “Where are you running!” His bodyguards are then seen brutally beating the man.

In the meantime, another image from Soma made the rounds across the world, showing Erdogan’s adviser Yusuf Yerkel kicking a protester already overpowered on the ground by two special-forces police.

Erdogan’s callous, intolerant, arrogant and detached response to protests and criticism — supposedly the most natural freedoms in a democracy — show that Turkey’s biggest problem is growing even bigger.

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Violent protest clashes in Turkey after mine blast kills over 280

Riot police run away from the flames of a fire bomb thrown by protesters as they demonstrate to blame the ruling AK Party (AKP) government on the mining disaster in western Turkey, in Ankara May 14, 2014.

Riot police run away from the flames of a fire bomb thrown by protesters as they demonstrate to blame the ruling AK Party (AKP) government on the mining disaster in western Turkey, in Ankara May 14, 2014.

Clashes have erupted across Turkey as residents rally in anger at a mining accident which killed 282 people in the western Turkish town of Soma on Tuesday. Eight hundred marched on Ankara’s Energy Ministry as police fired tear gas and water cannon.

Nearly 450 miners have been rescued in the efforts.

Violent protests have been reported in Soma itself, where relatives of the dead miners are unleashing their anger at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Those who keep up with privatization… policies, who threaten workers’ lives to reduce costs… are the culprits of the Soma massacre and they must be held accountable,” Turkey’s Public Workers Unions Confederation (KESK) said on its official website. The body is one of the major national trade union centers in the country, representing 240,000 employees.

PM Erdogan visited Soma, the site of the disaster, on Wednesday. There, he was confronted with a spontaneous protest with locals booing and whistling at him as he made statements regarding the disaster at a news conference.

Erdogan visited Soma, the site of the disaster, on Wednesday.

“We have witnessed one of the biggest industrial accidents in our recent history… We as a nation of 77 million are experiencing very great pain,” he said at a news conference.

He promised that investigations will be launched into the accident, but he rejected claims that the government was to blame.

Riot police fire plastic paintball gun pellets to disperse protesters during a demonstration blaming the ruling AK Party (AKP) government for the mining disaster in western Turkey, in central Istanbul May 14, 2014.

“Explosions like this in these mines happen all the time. It’s not like these don’t happen elsewhere in the world,” he said.

Erdogan said that at least 120 might still be trapped. Reports from rescue workers on the scene say the figure could be higher, said AFP. Seven hundred and eighty-seven workers had been inside the Soma mine when the explosion hit a power unit.

Proteters run from Turkish police‘s tear gas in Ankara on May 14, 2014 during a demonstration gathering hundreds after more than 200 people were killed in an explosion at a mine.

The PM was soon confronted by a spontaneous protest, with locals booing and whistling at him as he made statements regarding the disaster at a news conference. Some locals were chanting “Erdogan resign.”

Erdogan was forced to shelter in a local supermarket to escape the enraged crowds.

Clashes also erupted in Istanbul, 480km northeast of Soma where police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse several thousand demonstrators. People were gathering in the city subway and outside the headquarters of the company which owns the mine. Graffiti alleging that the company had committed murder was daubed on the walls of the Soma Holdings office, while others painted their faces black in solidarity with the miners.

A fire is seen in a street of Ankara on May 14, 2014, during a demonstration gathering hundreds after more than 200 people were killed in an explosion at a mine

In Ankara, between 3,000 and 4,000 people marched on the energy ministry yelling anti-government slogans and hurling rocks. Law enforcers responded by deploying tear gas and water cannon against the protesters.

The company stood accused of sacrificing safety for the sake of profit.

This mining corporation came out and talked about how successful they were. And then what happened? Together with this explosion, we’ve seen that no precautions were taken, the lives of the workers were not valued, and their lives were put in danger for more profit,” protester Emre Erkaslan told AP.

Riot police fire tear gas against protesters as they demonstrate to blame the ruling AK Party (AKP) government on the mining disaster in western Turkey, in Ankara May 14, 2014.

Thousands of relatives of the miners gathered outside the town’s hospital searching for information on their loved ones.

“We haven’t heard anything from any of them. Not among the injured, not among the list of dead,” a local woman, Sengul, told Reuters, “It’s what people do here, risking their lives for two cents … They say one gallery in the mine has not been reached, but it’s almost been a day.”

Meanwhile, Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz declared that the accident was likely to be the country’s worst ever mining disaster.

The cause of the fire is not yet clear, according to an emailed statement from the mine’s operator, Soma Komur Isletmeleri. However, “the subsequent spread of carbon monoxide is, unfortunately, the reason for the loss of life,” according to the statement.

Turkey’s last worst mining accident in recent years was a gas explosion in 1992 near the Black Sea port of Zonguldak, which left some 270 workers dead. Since then, Turkey has witnessed to several mining accidents.

Proteters clash with Turkish police in Ankara on May 14, 2014 during a demonstration gathering hundreds after more than 200 people were killed in an explosion at a mine.

Proteters clash with Turkish police in Ankara on May 14, 2014 during a demonstration gathering hundreds after more than 200 people were killed in an explosion at a mine.

Protesters run away from water canon fired by the riot police during a demonstration blaming the ruling AK Party (AKP) government for the mining disaster in western Turkey, in central Istanbul May 14

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Turkish police use water cannon against rally

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ANKARA: Turkish riot police Tuesday deployed water cannon against protesters who claimed vote-rigging in weekend local polls in which the Islamic-rooted party of Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared sweeping victories.

About 2,000 supporters of the main secular opposition party had massed outside the elections authority in the capital Ankara, chanting “Thief Tayyip!” and “Ankara, don’t sleep. Stand up for your vote!”

Police then unleashed water jets to disperse the vocal and passionate crowd — recalling the street clashes that started last June in Istanbul’s Gezi Park and kicked off months of political turmoil in the country.

The top spokesman for Erdogan’s party condemned the rally, saying on TV: “You cannot claim a victory that the people have not given to you by massing crowds in front of the election board.

“Everyone has a natural right to object but no-one can achieve anything by mobilising the crowds through social media and provoking them,” added Huseyin Celik of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Sunday’s municipal polls were seen as a referendum on the 11-year-rule of Erdogan, who is popular with many Turks for driving strong economic growth but has been accused of an increasingly authoritarian ruling style.

Turkey’s two biggest cities, Istanbul and Ankara, were the top prizes in the elections, in which Erdogan’s AKP declared sweeping wins, despite recent graft claims against the premier’s inner circle and an Internet clampdown.

Claims of election fraud have circulated on social media, including a photo which purportedly shows ballots in a garbage heap, and there have been complaints over power blackouts in some areas during the evening vote-count.

The race was especially symbolic in Ankara, the inland capital built by the secular founding father of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who established the Republican People’s Party (CHP), now the main opposition group.

Pro-CHP demonstrators massed outside the Supreme Electoral Board building after Ankara mayor Melih Gokcek, in power for 20 years, had declared victory with a wafer-thin margin of about one percent.

The crowd chanted, “We are the soldiers of Ataturk”, a popular CHP slogan.

Protester Tulay Ozturk told AFP: “I believe the elections are marred by wrongdoing. That’s why I am here. I want fair elections.”

Gokcek dismissed his rivals’ claims, saying: “They want to stir up Turkey … They want to give the impression that democracy in Turkey is being crushed.”

In the tight race, Gokcek scored 44.79 percent against 43.77 percent for CHP candidate Mansur Yavas, according to the provisional results — a margin of about 30,000 votes in the city of five million.

Yavas wrote on Twitter that a recount “will reveal the truth” — the short message post itself defying an official ban on the social media site, which has been used to leak corruption claims against Erdogan’s allies.

In Istanbul the official AKP lead was much wider, at 48 to 41 percent, but the CHP candidate Mustafa Sarigul there also challenged the results.

Unless irregularities are addressed, he said, “this election, regardless of its outcome, will be etched in our history of democracy as contentious.”

Energy Minister Taner Yildiz meanwhile blamed most voting-day power outages on weather conditions and said: “Those who lost the elections should not use power cuts as an excuse for their defeat”.

In Ankara — where in some areas ballots were counted by candle-light — he blamed a cat that had slipped into a power transmission unit and presumably was electrocuted when it caused a short circuit.

“I am not joking, friends,” he said. “A cat walked into a transmission unit. That’s why there was a power cut. It’s not the first time this has happened.”

Trouble also flared in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, where the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) declared a ceasefire a year ago amid efforts to resolve a conflict that has claimed 40,000 lives in three decades.

In the town of Ceylanpinar, near the border with war-torn Syria, police fired tear gas and used water cannon against hundreds of supporters of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

The party had governed the district since 2004 but lost it to the AKP last weekend, amid claims BDP ballots were burned and dumpened onto a garbage heap.

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Turkey blocks Google service used to sidestep Twitter ban

Protesters hold placards reading “do not touch my twitter ” and “communication right is a basic human right” during a demonstration against the ban on Twitter during a demonstration against Turkish government in Ankara on March 22, 2014.

Turkish authorities have blocked the Google DNS service used by the local Twitter community to get around the ban on the social network. The number of tweets, however, jumped 138 percent.

The measure has come as Erdogan starts a final electoral push to stifle rivals who he has described as an “alliance of evil.”

After the ban imposed on Twitter late on Thursday, with Erdogan’s vow to “wipe out” the messaging service, the Turks began using Google’s DNS service to access the social network. The users typed 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 into their network settings to bypass the ban. Also, these numbers appeared in graffiti on the walls of some houses.

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical distributed naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the internet or a private network. Apart from bypassing blocking, it can be used for faster internet surfing speeds.

The authorities said that Twitter had been banned for a reason, though, saying there are “hundreds of court rulings in Turkey” over Twitter content.

“Twitter has been used as a means to carry out systematic character assassinations by circulating illegally acquired recordings, fake and fabricated records of wiretapping,” Erdogan’s office of public diplomacy said on Saturday.

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Also, the social network was “biased,” they stressed.

Twitter was blocked ahead of the March-30 local elections for the campaigning period.

However, President Abdullah Gul has said that the presidency is in talks with Twitter to reach a speedy resolution to the block on the website in Turkey, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

“It is not legally possible to shut down the internet and platforms [like Twitter]” he told reporters in Ankara. “This is of course an unpleasant situation for such a developed country as Turkey, which has weight in the region and which is negotiating with the European Union. Therefore, it will be overcome soon.”

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Earlier, Twitter officials expressed hope that full access to the website will be restored shortly, after a lawyer representing the platform met with Turkish authorities in the capital Ankara on March 21, local media reported.

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Turkish people strike back, tweeting against Twitter ban

Demonstrators, members of the Turkish Youth Union, shout anti-government slogans during a protest against a Twitter ban, in Ankara yesterday.

Ankara has found the internet difficult to silence over allegations of corruption. Hours after Turkey’s government moved to block access to Twitter, Turkish citizens struck back – on the social media network itself.

Some circulated a manipulated picture of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister, sinking his teeth into the blue bird that serves as the network’s mascot. They were not alone: the number of tweets sent after the midnight ban rose 140 per cent over normal levels, according to data provided by analytics firm Brandwatch.

Dodging the ban
Twitter sent out mobile numbers that allowed Turkish consumers to keep using its service. In another technical fix against the ban, Turkish downloads of Hotspot Shield, the world’s most popular virtual private network service, rose to 270,000 on Friday – from a daily average of 7,000.

The Turkish users’ defiance and the sheer scale of their activity suggest no immediate end to the battering Mr Erdogan has suffered in cyberspace.

Seeking to silence allegations of corruption against him and his government in the run-up to local elections on March 30th, he has removed some 7,000 policemen from their posts and boosted Ankara’s powers over judges and prosecutors.

But the internet has proved harder to handle. A formal corruption investigation has stalled, Twitter and YouTube have been used to circulate apparently incriminating voice recordings of Mr Erdogan and his circle – including some he has acknowledged as authentic.

Yet more explosive leaks are expected ahead of this month’s elections – according to one rumour, more revelations will come on March 25th.

But if Turkey’s Twitter ban was intended to thwart the dissemination of such allegations, it has backfired spectacularly.

“Erdogan is constantly on the run now. I don’t think he has time to think,” said Soli Ozel at Kadir Has university in Istanbul. “He is trying to keep the scandal as muted as possible at all costs, but he can’t control the technology. Instead, he is fuelling the fire of suspicion and making everyone anticipate what, if anything, will come out on the 25th.”

Mr Erdogan took aim at Twitter, saying he would “root out” the microblogging service for national security reasons. But he failed to account for Turkey’s predilection for social networks – a response, many say, to a cowed media – which means Twitter has greater penetration among web users here than in any other country.

Even President Abdullah Gul, who signed a Bill increasing government control over the internet, tweeted his opposition to the measure.

Free speech
Before long, the European Commission, the Council of Europe, the UK government, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and many other non-governmental and international bodies had sent tweets deploring what they depicted as an attack on free speech. Celebrities such as Russell Crowe, Richard Branson, Mia Farrow and Elijah Wood piled in.

The Turkish bar association filed a criminal complaint against the ban, which it said was illegal. As sporadic Twitter service returned, mystery surrounded who had formally imposed the measure, supposedly in response to court complaints about invasion of privacy.

The government says it was done as Twitter had failed to respect such court complaints; a lawyer for Twitter was in Ankara for meetings yesterday.

“These steps are very crucial for the Turkish legal system,” said Selin Erciyas, at Mehmet Gun & Partners, an Istanbul law firm. “We will see if there is a true objective legal system or whether it is just Erdogan that decides things in court.”

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Protesters clash with police across Turkey as thousands mourn 15yo teen death

Police and protesters have clashed in several cities in Turkey as the country is gripped by unrest following the death of 15-year old Berkin Elvan. He was hit by tear-gas canister shot by police and died in hospital after 269 days in a coma.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Turkey’s biggest cities in Ankara and Istanbul after the family of Berkin Elvan confirmed his death and made the announcement on Twitter.

“To our people: We lost our son Berkin Elvan at 7am this morning. Condolences to us all,” Berkin’s parents wrote.

Hashtag #BerkinElvanÖlümsüzdür (“Berkin Elvan is eternal”) trended globally on Twitter, as news of his death spread.

Berkin Elvan became an accidental victim of anti-government protests over the Gezi Park re-development plan. On June, 16 he left home to buy some bread for his family, but on the way he was hit in the head with a tear-gas canister shot by the police during clashes with protesters.

Anti-government protesters run as riot police fires a water cannon during a demonstration in Ankara March 11, 2014.

“Elvan had an epilepsy attack on March 7th, when his heart stopped for nearly 20 minutes,” the attorney told Anadolu on Sunday adding that “Berkin who was 45 kilos when he was shot, shrunk down to 16 kilos.”

Upon learning about his death about 1,000 people staged a rally outside the Istanbul hospital where the teen was treated.

Outside the hospital security forces tried to disperse the crowd as some of the mourners attacked police cars with stone and sticks while forming barricades with rubbish containers, Anadolu Agency reported.

In Istanbul police used tear gas and water cannon after several dozen protesters outside the hospital hurled stones at a police bus and stole helmets and shields, English-language Hurriyet Daily News reported. It also cited an AFP photographer, who said that one demonstrator was injured.

Riot policemen shield themselves as fireworks thrown by protesters explode next to the statue of a bull, during an anti-government protest in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul March 11, 2014.

The boy’s mother Gulsum Elvan has blamed the death of her son on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who back in June praised the “legendary heroism” of police forces in quelling anti-government protests.

“It’s not God who took my son away but Prime Minister Erdogan,” she told reporters outside the Istanbul hospital.

Angry people confronted riot police, shouting “killers”.

Police reportedly announced that they would let the protesters give a press statement in Istanbul’s Istiklal Avenue, but they would not allow marching to Taksim Square.

Protesters are hit by water cannon during clashes with riot police in Kadikoy, on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, on March 11, 2014.

In the capital city of Ankara around 2,000 students gathered outside the Middle East Technical University. As the crowd marched towards the headquarters of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, it partly blocked traffic on one of Ankara’s main streets.

Protesters chant slogans behind a barricade during clashes with riot police in Kadikoy, on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, on March 11, 2014.

As the protesters ignored a warning from security forces, police fired tear gas and water cannons to scatter the crowd.

People in many other cities around Turkey also went on to the streets to mourn the death of the young man.

Police and protesters have also clashed in the cities of Izmir, Adana, Antalya, Kocaeli and Mersin, according to Dogan News Agency reporters on the ground.

Anti-government protesters run as riot police fires a water cannon during a demonstration in Ankara March 11, 2014.

 

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Erdoğan confirms tapes genuine, admits to meddling in judiciary

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has confirmed the authenticity of a voice recording in which he can be heard meddling in the judiciary by ordering a former justice minister to “closely monitor” judicial proceedings so that a media mogul would not get off scot-free.

At a meeting in Ankara on Wednesday with representatives of local media outlets from Turkey’s 81 provinces, Erdoğan dismissed criticisms directed at him regarding the recording. He said it was appropriate that he told former Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin to keep an eye on a court case concerning Aydın Doğan, the honorary chairman of Doğan Holding.

After a lower court ruled in Doğan’s favor in a trial over allegations that he broke the capital markets law, Ergin can be heard in the recording telling Erdoğan not to worry because the case would go to the Assembly of Criminal Chambers of the Supreme Court of Appeals for a final decision.

Erdoğan said on Wednesday that the SPK, which regulates markets, sectors and companies to ensure fair competition between firms, provided him with “very dangerous information” on Doğan. Doğan was involved in “parallel structures and dirty relations,” Erdoğan said to justify his actions. “This required me to tell [Ergin] to closely follow the case,” Erdoğan said, adding that he wanted this for his “country and nation.”

Doğan, whom the prime minister has criticized on a number of occasions over the years, owns a number of mainstream TV stations and newspapers that are critical of the government. In a statement run by his flagship media outlet, the Hürriyet daily, Doğan said the recorded conversation, if true, would mark a “clear interference in the judicial process.” He added that it could shake people’s trust in the rule of law in Turkey. Doğan called on the government to clarify the content of the phone recording or prove that the recording is invalid.

Erdoğan has been accusing the Hizmet movement of illegally wiretapping thousands of telephones in Turkey for years to create criminal cases against its enemies and try and influence governmental affairs. The movement’s representatives have denied these accusations and the government has not offered any tangible proof to back up its assertions so far. The wiretappings have been leaked by Twitter users with usernames like Haramzadeler, Başçalan and fuatavni. They claim that all the tapes were legally recorded under court orders as part of a series of graft probes that were interrupted after the government removed hundreds of prosecutors and as many as 10,000 police officers from their posts.

In another voice recording, the prime minister allegedly reproaches Ergin for failing to have kept adequate watch over the progress of Doğan’s case. “You said a hearing [of the case] was not conducted. [But] the hearing was conducted,” Erdoğan, who noted that the court had issued a verdict on July 2, can allegedly be heard saying.

In comments that, if authentic, could point to a policy of profiling against Turkey’s Alevi minority community, the voice attributed to Ergin says that the judge who ruled on the issue is of Alevi origin. In Turkey, Sunni Islam is widespread and Alevism is considered by some to be an unorthodox sect of Islam.

“This man [the judge] has announced a verdict. He defended the previous verdict of the court. Naturally, the SPK is shocked,” the prime minister can allegedly be heard saying.

Ergin, who is now running for mayor in the March 30 local elections in Hatay, where a respectable number of Alevis reside, has denied the validity of these phone conversations, claiming that the wiretappings were a “montage.” But Erdoğan contradicted him the next day when he admitted that he had actually called the minister.

Tender-rigging in MİLGEM

The prime minister also confirmed the authenticity of another voice recording released on Tuesday that revealed he had instructed a well-known shipping magnate, Metin Kalkavan, to engineer the reopening of a public bid on the national warship project (MİLGEM).

In the phone conversation, which was reportedly made in April 2013, Erdoğan asks Kalkavan, the owner of a maritime company, to say that the necessary conditions for competition had not been met in the initial bidding for MİLGEM. Although Kalkavan tells Erdoğan that his company failed to make an official application for the bid, Erdoğan insists that Kalkavan submit a petition to the Prime Ministry’s Coordination Center (BİMER).

The MİLGEM contract, which was awarded to Koç Holding subsidiary RMK Marine for $2.5 billion in January of 2013, was cancelled by the Defense Industry Implementation Committee (SSİK) in September, 2013. At a meeting chaired by Erdoğan and attended by Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, the SSİK approved a report prepared by the BTK on the MİLGEM contract that stated it was not in the public interest.

In another phone call alleged to date from Sept. 27, 2013, Erdoğan is claimed to have talked to Kalkavan again, instructing him to offer a competitive price in the new bid for MİLGEM.

Erdoğan justified his phone conversation with Kalkavan by saying that a businessman who had been sidelined during the tender had appealed to him. But the voice recording, if genuine, clearly shows Erdoğan instructing Kalkavan to reapply for the bid.

Prime Ministry building ‘cannot be destroyed’

Erdoğan also challenged those who have called on the Ankara Governor’s Office to halt construction of the Prime Ministry building on the Atatürk Forest Farm (AOÇ) following a court decision on Tuesday. “If they have the power, let them destroy it,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan said they “had done nothing illegal” and that they were planning to open the building either in April or May.

Tilting at windmills

Embattled by serious corruption allegations since Dec. 17, 2013, Erdoğan has characterized a “parallel state” structure as the culprit behind these “fabricated” voice recordings, which allegedly aim to harm the image of his government in society. The prime minister has confessed that several of the recorded conversations actually took place. He accused the “parallel state” of tapping his encrypted phone calls, a comment which was interpreted by many as an admission of the authenticity of those recordings. Erdoğan, however, denies certain conversations with his son Bilal, which appear to demonstrate him ordering Bilal to get rid of nearly $1 billion in cash on the morning when the police raids started and another in which he advises Bilal not to take $10 million from a businessman until he brings the full amount he had promised.

For Erdoğan, these recordings are a part of a campaign to weaken his government ahead of the local elections that are scheduled for March 30 and the presidential elections in August. He has claimed that this “parallel structure,” a phantom villain that he never clearly identifies, has intercepted not only his conversations but also those of other statesmen, including President Abdullah Gül.

Gül: No bug in my office

Gül instructed the State Supervisory Council (DDK) to examine the regulations governing the wiretapping of communications as part of a review of Turkey’s capacity to tackle graft in state institutions on Tuesday. He also asked the auditors to examine the process by which judges and prosecutors are chosen and to assess the rules surrounding “state secrets,” despite the fact that he had previously approved a controversial government bill concerning the structure of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which will vest the government with unchecked power in the judiciary. His approval of the law had come after commenting that 15 points of the law contradict the Constitution.

Gül told the press in Ankara on Tuesday that the DDK assessment should help to determine the shortcomings in the implementation of the laws. He also denied Erdoğan’s words that even the president’s office had been bugged and that his phones had been wiretapped. “But he told me that some audio surveillance really exists,” said Gül.

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Mother fucker Erdogan after expulsion of Turkish ambassador in Egypt : I will never respect those who come to power after coups.

فقفقغMother fucker Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday his government would never respect military-installed rulers, in remarks made after Egypt’s expulsion of Ankara‘s ambassador.

“I will never respect those who come to power after coups,” Mother fucker Erdogan told reporters.

Egypt announced earlier that it was downgrading its diplomatic relations with Ankara, and expelled the Turkish ambassador over Erdogan’s “provocative” criticism of Cairo, in the latest escalation of tensions between the two countries.

Both Turkey and Egypt had recalled their respective envoys in August for consultations, but while the Turkish ambassador eventually returned to Cairo in September, Egyptian Abderahman Salah El-Din stayed home.

Mother fucker Erdogan, a supporter of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, angered Egypt’s new rulers after calling the July ouster of Morsi an “unacceptable coup.”

Mother fucker Erdogan said Saturday his government backed democracy movements in the world, adding: “We never respect those who do not respect the people’s sovereign rights.”

After the spat with Cairo, Mother fucker Erdogan flashed the “Rabaa” salute during a rally in the northern Turkish city of Trabzon early on Saturday.

Breaking News – Egypt expels Turkish ambassador.

65445747Egypt has told the Turkish ambassador to leave the country, a day after the Turkish leader called for ousted Mohammed Morsi to be freed.

Relations with Ankara would be lowered to charge d’affaires, officials said.

On Friday, Turkish Tayyip Erdogan repeated his criticism of the July overthrow of Mr Morsi and urged the Egyptian authorities to free him.

Egypt’s foreign ministry accused Mr Erdogan of provocation and interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs.

Turkey has been a vocal critic of the military overthrow of Morsi, who is in prison awaiting trial on charges of inciting murder and violence.

Erdogan renewed his criticisms on Friday, condemning the violent dispersal of pro-ousted Morsi protesters in August.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty accused Mr Erdogan of “interfering in Egypt’s internal affairs”.

He said Turkey was “attempting to influence public opinion against Egyptian interests, supported meetings of organisations that seek to create instability in the country”.

A bitter row over the August crackdown led both countries to recall their ambassadors.

Turkey’s ambassador to Cairo returned in September, but the Egyptian ambassador to Turkey was never reinstalled.

Erdogan, like ousted Morsi, has his roots in political Islam. Ankara and Istanbul have hosted a series of meetings of the international Muslim Brotherhood.

BBC News – Egypt expels Turkish ambassador.

Turkish police fire water cannon to break up protest | Reuters

5678899(Reuters) – Turkish police fired water cannon and teargas on Monday to break up a protest by around 2,000 people outside an Ankara court over the handling of the trial of a policeman accused of killing a demonstrator earlier this year.

A group of protesters wielding sticks descended on the court entrance after a ruling that the accused officer could take part in court hearings via video link, prompting police to intervene, a Reuters witness said.

Several protesters were wounded and 18 detained, according to local media reports. Ankara police declined to confirm the arrests and the crowd was later dispersed.

Officer Ahmet Sahbaz is accused of killing Ethem Sarisuluk, shot dead in June during a wave of nationwide anti-government demonstrations set off by a tough police response to a protest over the redevelopment of a park in Istanbul.

Six people, including a police officer, died during the weeks of unrest, which presented one of the biggest challenges to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan‘s decade-old rule.

Demonstrators, some armed with rocks, fireworks and petrol bombs, fought police firing tear gas, water cannon and pepper spray night after night, with the worst of the violence in Istanbul and Ankara.

Amnesty International said this month Turkish authorities committed widespread rights abuses during the unrest, beating and harassing protesters. Turkish officials have defended the police response and said such abuses will be investigated.

The hearing was adjourned to December 2, media reports said

Turkish police fire water cannon to break up protest | Reuters.