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Turkey : Turning mayoral elections into Armageddon rehearsal

The battle between Turkish jedis is raging in the midst of pastoral Turkish life. To those who know nothing about Gülen and Erdoğan garlands of blue and orange flags of the two major parties in the streets may seem like decorations for a city festival.

On March 30, such a common affair as local elections in Turkey will turn into a battle between two iconic characters of the XXI century – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Fethullah Gülen.

None of them will be running that day, but Turkey’s future as well as the future of the whole Middle East – the place where the world’s destiny is determined, no matter how stilted it may sound – depends on how many of Erdoğan’s candidates win elections.

By force of circumstances two Turks turned into symbols for whom one country is too small.

Islamism versus Americanism

Erdoğan, a NATO country leader, took the path of the Political Islam, which is called Islamism in the West and is considered to be violating rules of democracy which ordains that religion must be separated from politics. NATO and the US are fighting against this Islamism in Afghanistan and Iraq and they have been planning to fight against it in Iran for a long time.

Erdoğan strongly supported Palestinians’ struggle and intentionally and publicly damaged his relations with Israel. After 70 years of a strict ban he rebuilt the Mosques, destroyed by the Turkish reformer Kemal. He restored the forbidden azan (calling for prayer) and the right for Turkish women to wear hijab in schools, colleges and government institutions. It was during his time that Islamic organizations emerged in Turkey, filling in the void left by secularization and spreading Islamic teachings.

Gülen is a living denial of Political Islam. He is a retired imam, a son of imam, a writer and a preacher, the founder of the Hizmet movement, which is opening Turkish secular schools all over the world. Generation after generation those schools produce loyal disciples ready to work for the common cause of enlightenment and better life.

Gülen’s followers are present in all social groups; they can be found among government officials, policemen, prosecutors, journalists and sportsmen. They are also quite numerous among Erdoğan’s people. This is not a party or a religious order, they don’t have membership cards, but they are headed towards rational pragmatism, acceptance of the world and peaceful coexistence with all the things of this world.

Gülen used to support Erdoğan. But after the episode with the “Freedom Flotilla” he stopped supporting him, and lately their relations turned into a direct confrontation.

Gülen has been living in the US since 1999. He has strong political ties there. Gülen supports NATO, the USA and Israel. Shortly before the elections he cursed Erdoğan though he never mentioned his name in his address. And, according to many of Erdoğan’s followers, he is responsible for all the anti-Erdoğan scandals and media leaks before the elections.
Erdoğan called Gülen’s followers “a parallel state” and promised to close all their schools in Turkey.

In March, two former US ambassadors to Turkey Morton Abramowits and Eric Edelman published a report which sounds more like a threat. In their report they predicted that Turkey and Erdoğan will collapse and a coup will happen, if Erdoğan continues to persecute Gülen’s followers.

There is no doubt that these threats, coming from people close to neocons, are not just an emotional reaction from disgruntled officials. Turkey is flooded with Syrian refugees and militants, many of whom are directly linked to US intelligence agencies.

As one of Erdogan’s followers pointed out, groups of Syrian militants have been increasingly active inside Turkey, inciting conflict.

For example, on Thursday, March 27, members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) opened fire on police in Ümraniye, leaving three officers wounded. ISIL is one of the groups fighting against both Assad and rebels in Syria.

The relationship between Erdogan and Putin, on the other hand, seems to be developing in a totally different vein. In 2012, Erdogan thanked Putin for supporting Palestine in its bid for observer status in the UN.

In March alone, Erdogan and Putin talked twice because of the Ukrainian events, including one time on the day of the Crimean referendum. Erdogan asked Putin to take care of Crimean Tatars along with ethnic Russians in Crimea. Moscow responded by promising that the Tatars’ rights won’t be infringed. In April Turkish Airlines plans to renew regular flights to Crimea.

Rehearsal for disorder?

In 2008, Foreign Policy called Gülen the world’s most powerful intellectual of the year. In 2013, Time included him into the top 100 most influential persons.

The global media appear to have chosen to side with Gülen, and in doing so they basically follow Gülen’s own rhetoric. Erdoğan is presented as a “dictator” and is denounced for trying to cut off public access to Twitter and Youtube. At the same time, the media have devoted much less attention to General Sisi who has sentenced to death 529 people in Egypt. The intensity of the media coverage looks to suggest that choosing from these two, cutting off Twitter is a sure sign of a tyrant.

“Erdoğan needs 38% to win, and he will make it, he is supported by half the country, by all rural residents,” – says a bright 22-year-old from İskenderun. This young man sleeps 2 hours a day, he’s been working since he was 12, he is currently in college, learning English, and dreaming of making it to a university. He is one of Erdoğan’s new active and pro-education generation.

“Erdoğan will win. I support him, and all my friends and classmates too, he has fresh ideas and people understand him,” – these are the main messages voiced by many.

All sorts of public polls surface in the media, but I haven’t seen 38% mentioned anywhere.

You could say that the more figures make it to the public domain in Turkey, the more unreliable they start to look.

Erdoğan’s supporters in the media believe that 45% will secure his win.

Rehearsal for disorder?

In 2008, Foreign Policy called Gülen the world’s most powerful intellectual of the year. In 2013, Time included him into the top 100 most influential persons.

The global media appear to have chosen to side with Gülen, and in doing so they basically follow Gülen’s own rhetoric. Erdoğan is presented as a “dictator” and is denounced for trying to cut off public access to Twitter and Youtube. At the same time, the media have devoted much less attention to General Sisi who has sentenced to death 529 people in Egypt. The intensity of the media coverage looks to suggest that choosing from these two, cutting off Twitter is a sure sign of a tyrant.

“Erdoğan needs 38% to win, and he will make it, he is supported by half the country, by all rural residents,” – says a bright 22-year-old from İskenderun. This young man sleeps 2 hours a day, he’s been working since he was 12, he is currently in college, learning English, and dreaming of making it to a university. He is one of Erdoğan’s new active and pro-education generation.

“Erdoğan will win. I support him, and all my friends and classmates too, he has fresh ideas and people understand him,” – these are the main messages voiced by many.

All sorts of public polls surface in the media, but I haven’t seen 38% mentioned anywhere.

You could say that the more figures make it to the public domain in Turkey, the more unreliable they start to look.

Erdoğan’s supporters in the media believe that 45% will secure his win.

Sarıgül is making a promise to build a monument to the “martyrs of democracy” i.e. the victims of the police crackdown on the protests in 2013.

Different sources place Topbaş 7% to 9% ahead of Sarıgül. However, the media keeps predicting a failure for Erdoğan in Istanbul. And it is known that whoever loses the Istanbul election loses the nation-wide election…

Two Turkish men from Anatolia, one young and one old, seem to be equally displeased with the prime minister: “We never voted for Erdoğan, and we hate him. When he started out he had nothing, and now he’s got it too sweet.”

Some of the Erdoğan opponents try to give a more detailed argument.

A 46-year-old Kurd from nearby Diyarbakir who had been to the Gezi Park protests together with his son, says: “Erdoğan is telling everyone that the Gezi Park protests were all staged and orchestrated, but I went there of my own will, no one had asked me to. Erdoğan owns 9 TV channels and most of the newspapers, so journalists cannot write anything against him unless they want to lose a job.”

A shop owner from Edirne, 39:

“Erdoğan will go, his time is over, he’s up to his ears in dirty business. It makes me furious when he dares say the name of Allah and then talks about money. I am a Muslim, but I do not want the rule of the Sharia law. If we had the rule of the Sharia law in place, Erdoğan would have had both his hands cut off. If Kemal had been alive he would have destroyed Erdoğan physically, not just politically.”

“I am no fan of Gülen either, he is even more of a fundamentalist. I want a secular state; Turkey needs the government to make domestic issues a priority over foreign relations. Look what he did – he’s trying to engage in the Syrian crisis, all the while there are loads of unsolved problems at home. That’s no way to do it,” – says a taxi driver, 49, a native of Izmir.

Soon the people will make their choice and we will know what they consider the lesser evil, legalized invasion of privacy or no access to Twitter.

RT Op-Edge.

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Leaked Audio Recording: Turkey Plans False Flag Attacks to Create Pretext for “Humanitarian” War on Syria

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In a devastating exposure of the criminality of the US-led proxy war in Syria, Turkish officials have been caught planning an attack on their own forces to manufacture a pretext to attack Syria.

This is the content of a leaked audio recording, posted to YouTube, of a meeting between top Turkish diplomats and intelligence officials, including Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Hakan Fidan, the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT). At one point in the meeting, these officials discuss the possibility of organizing an attack from inside Syria across the Turkish-Syrian border, or on the Tomb of Suleiman Shah. Under the 1921 Treaty of Ankara between Turkey and France, then the colonial power in Syria, this tomb is a piece of sovereign Turkish territory inside Syria, guarded by Turkish forces.

Davutoglu says: “The prime minister said that in the current conjuncture, this attack [on Suleiman Shah Tomb] must be seen as an opportunity for us.”

Fidan replies: “I’ll send four men from Syria, if that’s what it takes. I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey. We can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah Tomb if necessary.”

Turkish officials responded to the leak by attempting to suppress it, banning access to YouTube inside Turkey. They did not contest the authenticity of the recording, however. Instead, in a speech in Diyarbakir, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the leaking of national security meetings as “immoral.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry called the recording “partially manipulated” and a “wretched attack” on Turkish national security.

The leak is an unanswerable indictment of the war on Syria led by Washington and the European powers. Recklessly arming Islamist opposition militias linked to Al Qaeda in a semi-covert dirty war for regime-change in Damascus, the Western powers have devastated Syria and created fertile ground for the type of provocations exposed by the leak.

The leak provides evidence of a conspiracy to attack a state that has not attacked Turkey—implicating Turkey, a NATO member state, in crimes against peace, a violation of international law for which Nazi officials were hanged at Nuremburg after World War II.

In this, the conduct of the Erdogan regime is not substantially different from that of the leading NATO powers. A decade after Washington launched the 2003 war in Iraq based on lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, it tried to launch a war with Syria based on false claims that the Syrian regime had used chemical weapons. NATO powers nearly attacked Syria on this pretext last September, even though similar accusations in May had fallen apart when UN officials stated that the poison gas had been used by the US-backed opposition.

Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) is turning to military provocations as it considers attempting to rally internal support by launching a war. It faces sharp losses in communal elections tomorrow amid an economic and export slowdown driven by recession in Europe. It also confronts continuing protests over its repression of last year’s Gezi Park protests.

Tensions between the AKP and other sections of the ruling elite, including the army brass and the CIA-linked Islamist Gülen movement, are intensifying. Some reports suggest the leak was the result of spying operations within the Turkish state by the Gülen movement or its allies.

Erdogan’s foreign policy has become increasingly aggressive and incoherent. After the Egyptian revolution began, he abandoned his “zero problems with neighbors” policy and positioned the AKP as a model for an Islamist-led Middle East, backing the Syrian war despite its unpopularity in Turkey. This policy collapsed after last July’s US-backed coup in Egypt ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, and Obama in September stepped back from military strikes against Syria.

The Western imperialist powers themselves have turned on the AKP, issuing various hypocritical criticisms of Erdogan, including over the Turkish military’s recent decision to shoot down a Syrian fighter jet. One European official told Al Monitor that it was part of a policy of backing Islamist opposition militias inside Syria, which he called “a stupid move by the Turkish side.”

“Turkey picked up the strategy of helping these radicals. This cannot be reversed now,” he told Al Monitor. “The bombing of the Syrian [MIG-23 fighter jet] was for helping these radicals.”

Since the Erdogan regime “picked up” the “stupid” strategy of arming Al Qaeda forces from the CIA, it only underscores the criminal character of NATO policy in Syria. NATO officials indicated that their main objection to Turkey’s moves to launch a war with Syria was that it would distract from their campaign to back the ultra-right regime they recently installed in Ukraine and isolate Russia.

A NATO source told Al Monitor: “In next week’s NATO foreign ministers meeting [on April 1 and 2]… I assume that people will directly share their concern with Minister Davutoglu over Turkish behavior. They will probably give the message that they do not want to be dragged into the Syrian quagmire while the Ukraine issue is keeping them busy at this stage.”

No one warned, however, of the vast and dire implications of a Turkish decision to launch a war with Syria. Such a war would threaten to escalate into a conflagration involving Turkey’s NATO allies and Syria’s main backers, Iran and Russia, as nearly happened last September.

Underlying this silence is the fact that, in Turkey as in the imperialist states, the ruling elites use war as a tool to divert attention from social and political tensions for which they see no solutions. This state of affairs was brought out particularly clearly by later passages in the leaked Turkish tape.

The undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Feridun Sinirlioglu, complains: “National security has been politicized… All talks we’ve done on defending our lands, our border security, our sovereign lands in there, they’ve all become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit.”

Later, another official adds: “Do even one of the opposition parties support you in such a high point of national security?… In what matter can we be unified, if not a matter of national security of such importance? None.”

As they discuss a major military escalation with unforeseeable consequences for Turkey and the world, the officials themselves seem deeply demoralized about the war in Syria and unclear on what they are trying to achieve. They describe the arming of Islamist opposition militias, a US-led strategy in which the Erdogan regime plays a major role, as a deadly threat to their own interests.

Sinirlioglu says: “There are some serious shifts in global and regional geopolitics… That ISIS [an Al Qaeda-linked opposition militia in Syria] and all that jazz, all those organizations are extremely open to manipulation. Having a region made up of organizations of a similar nature will constitute a vital security risk for us.”

Later on, Foreign Minister Davutoglu appears to complain that Turkey did not mount a major attack on Syria earlier: “The year 2012, we didn’t do it in 2011. If only we’d taken serious action back then, even in the summer of 2012.”

the video that got YouTube banned in Turkey


 

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Breaking news – Ukrainian ultra-right militant leader shot dead – reports

Aleksandr Muzychko, also known as Sashko Bilyi, (сenter)

Aleksandr Muzychko, also known as Sashko Bilyi, (сenter)

DETAILS TO FOLLOW.

Notorious Ukrainian right-wing militant leader Aleksandr Muzychko, also known as Sashko Bilyi, has reportedly been shot dead in western Ukraine, where he coordinated actions of local groups belonging to the nationalist Right Sector movement.

According to local media and the Facebook account of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (parliament), he was killed by unknown gunmen out in the street.

Some suggest the shooting followed a fight in a nearby cafe.

Aleksandr Muzychko, also known as Sashko Bilyi,

Aleksandr Muzychko,

DETAILS TO FOLLOW.

Muzychko himself earlier said he believed he could be killed. In a video address recently posted on YouTube he said that the leadership of “the Prosecutor General’s office and the Interior Ministry of Ukraine made a decision to either eliminate me or to capture me and hand me over to Russia, to then blame it all on the Russian intelligence.”

The man was known for his radicalism, attacks on local officials during the coup in Kiev, and refusing to give up arms after the new authorities were imposed.

DETAILS TO FOLLOW.

Russia’s Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case against Aleksandr Muzychko in early March. The Ukrainian was accused of torturing and murdering at least 20 captured Russian soldiers as he fought alongside Chechen militants.

Under the name Sashko Bilyi, he took an active part in the First Chechen War in 1994-1995, when he headed a group of Ukrainian nationalists fighting against Russian troops.

Aleksandr Muzychko came under the spotlight of the Russian authorities after a series of scandals in Ukraine, when the radical nationalist leader went on with the rampage against regional authorities, lashing out at a local prosecutor and threatening local authorities with an AK-47.

Related articles

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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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China and Russia Threaten to Destroy the Dollar

Russia Threatens to Drop The Dollar and Crash The U.S. Economy if Sanctions Are Imposed – Obama Signs Sanctions Anyway

Is Russia bluffing, or is the world as we know it about to change for ever?

On Tuesday Reuters reported that a Kremlin aid Sergei Glazyev had announced that if the U.S. were to impose sanctions on Russia Moscow may drop the dollar as a reserve currency and refuse to pay off any loans to U.S. banks saying that Moscow could recommend that all holders of U.S. treasuries sell them if Washington freezes the U.S. accounts of Russian businesses and individuals.

“We would find a way not just to reduce our dependency on the United States to zero but to emerge from those sanctions with great benefits for ourselves,” said Glazyev.
“An attempt to announce sanctions would end in a crash for the financial system of the United States, which would cause the end of the domination of the United States in the global financial system”

That statement is startling by itself, but the true gravity of this situation is only evident when you consider it in context. China has taken Russia’s side in the Ukraine conflict (they are after all allies) and China holds the lion’s share of U.S. treasuries. If Russia puts out the call to drop the dollar China would have a choice: either hold on to those treasuries while the dollar slides (losing their shirt in the process) or join Russia and dump their holdings as well. It should be pretty obvious which way China would go.

Related: The Extreme Right Emerging as the Dominant Voice in Ukraine
http://scgnews.com/the-extreme-right-

The effects of a coordinated bond sell off by China and Russia would be earth shattering. This would be the financial equivalent of a nuclear bomb being dropped. It is no exaggeration to say that such a move would mark the end of an era.

You would think that this would prompt some serious reflection and that diplomats would be scrambling to resolve this peacefully, but instead today Obama signed a sanction order anyway and revoked the visas of a number of Russian officials. All of this supposedly in response to the violence in Kiev even though we now have leaked phone conversations that indicate that it was in fact the new coalition government in Ukraine that was responsible for the shootings and that the West knows this. Combine this with the fact that several U.S. officials met directly with known Neo-Nazi leaders prior to the coup in Ukraine and these sanctions are even more non-nonsensical.

Related: Ukrainian War: Russian Council Unanimously Approves Military Deployment – Seizes Two Airports
http://scgnews.com/the-extreme-right-

Sources:
Russia warns the U.S. that they will drop the dollar if sanctions are imposed, and says they will call for others to drop the dollar as well:

http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/03……

In response the U.S. imposes sanctions and visa restrictions on Russian officials: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014……

China and Russia are in Agreement about the situation in Ukraine: http://news.sky.com/story/1219922/rus……

Russia warns it could crash the U.S. economy if sanctions are imposed:

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/03/04……

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Turkey blocks Twitter after PM threatens to wipe it out

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Turkey has blocked Twitter hours after embattled Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan threatened to close it down ahead of a key election. It comes after audio recordings purportedly demonstrating corruption among his associates were posted on the site.

Just before midnight, access to Twitter was blocked, Hurriyet Daily reports.

“We now have a court order. We will wipe out Twitter,” the Islamist-leaning leader told a crowd of adulating supporters during a campaign rally in the northwestern city of Bursa on Thursday, AFP reported.

“I don’t care what the international community says. They will see the Turkish republic‘s strength,” Erdogan added.

According to the Press Advisory of the Prime Ministry, Twitter officials are currently ignoring court rulings demanding they remove some links.

[In Erdogan’s speech] it is stated that as long as Twitter fails to change its attitude of ignoring court rulings and not doing what is necessary according to the law, technically, there might be no remedy but to block access in order to relief our citizens,” the statement says, as quoted by Hurriyet.

Last month, Turkey passed a controversial law tightening control over the internet, raising major concerns about free speech. It enabled authorities to block access to web pages within hours without a prior court order.

The Communication Technologies Institution (BTK) lists four court rulings on its website as the reasons for the latest block.

Twitter Inc says it is looking into reports that it has been banned in Turkey, Reuters says.

Multiple recordings have recently emerged not just on Twitter, but also on Facebook and YouTube, purportedly showing Erdogan – whose AK Party dominates the parliament – illegally meddling in political, legal, business, and media affairs.

In one recording, he instructs his son to hide tens of millions of euros worth of cash in the house. In another, he tells off an editor of a major newspaper for producing negative coverage. Erdogan has dismissed most of the recordings as “vile fakes” and accused a “robot lobby” of targeting his government through Twitter.

The leader also threatened to shut down YouTube and Facebook – which is used by 35 million Turks – last month.

The run-up to the local elections on March 30 – which will be followed by parliamentary and presidential polls – has been marked by constant rancour, with allegations of fraud adding to the protests over corruption and the suppression of political and civil freedoms from the opposition.

But the AK Party, which has been in power since 2002, is set to maintain its supremacy, if polls are to be believed.

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Sons of Thieves Tweet Secrets While Erdogan Scolds YouTube

In the epic corruption scandal that has enthralled Turkey, where the private affairs of powerful men are leaked daily on the Internet, one secret has remained stubbornly elusive: Who is Haramzadeler?

The nom de plume, employed by an anonymous user on Twitter Inc. (TWTR)’s messaging service, means Sons of Thieves in Turkish. Its owner or owners have achieved notoriety and outsized influence by posting links on Twitter to a large cache of secret documents and hours of audio described as police wiretaps, part of a 15-month corruption investigation that has swept up Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his family and his friends.

Haramzadeler’s proficiency in harnessing the anonymity of Twitter with the reach of YouTube has unleashed more than 1,000 pages of transcribed tapes and dozens of tape recordings. Postings also comment on current events: Today, as tens of thousands of protesters marched toward central Istanbul to mourn yesterday’s death of a 15-year old boy hit by a tear-gas canister last year, Haramzadeler posted a stylized drawing of the victim wearing angel wings.

The leaks have enlivened the opposition and put Erdogan on the defensive amid the public allegations of graft that stretch from the prime minister’s family to the businessmen who’ve profited during his 11 years in power.

With more than 500,000 followers across two related accounts, the posts have drawn the ire of the prime minister, who said in a television interview last week that he might consider blocking YouTube and other social media.

‘Media Blackout’

Twitter itself has become a zone of dissent, rooted in the government’s violent response in 2013 to protests over the demolition of Istanbul’s Gezi Park, said Ethan Zuckerman, director for the Center of Civic Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. The revelations have made Haramzadeler a major source of anti-Erdogan information, especially in a country where the largest television channels and newspapers are openly supportive of the prime minister.

“Twitter has become a channel both for sharing news and commenting on the failings of Turkish media,” Zuckerman said in an e-mail. “It developed quite specifically in response to what many protesters and their supporters see as a media blackout.”

Erdogan didn’t mention Twitter in last week’s interview on the ATV channel, whose 2013 sale from a company run by his son-in-law to another run by a business ally was itself the subject of a Twitter post by Haramzadeler. Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul are among the five most-followed world leaders on Twitter, with more than 8.4 million combined followers.

YouTube’s Mercy

The prime minister focused instead on the linked sites, usually on YouTube, where followers can find recordings, photographs and police records. And he mentioned Facebook (FB), which has 34 million active users in Turkey.

“We will not leave this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook,” he said in the interview, and said he would make a decision on any ban after the March 30 elections.

Turks will choose between mayoral candidates from Erdogan’s AK Party and the opposition CHP, which has used the information leaked by Haramzadeler to attack Erdogan on the floor of parliament and in campaign speeches around the country.

While the authenticity of the recordings or the police records couldn’t be independently verified, Erdogan and his government have addressed the allegations in a lawsuit, in parliament and on the campaign trail. Speaking across Turkey, the prime minister has dismissed some of the recordings as fake, embraced one as “natural” and has said of the entire investigation that it is sparked by “foreign powers.”

Prime Thief

Haramzadeler hasn’t said where the recordings and documents come from. The posts call them court-ordered wiretaps, conducted by the police under the direction of a prosecutor. The results of that investigation, which became public on Dec. 17 when dozens of people related to Erdogan’s government were arrested, haven’t been officially released.

Another account, Bascalan, a play on the Turkish word for prime minister that means Prime Thief, sends out additional files. The user doesn’t say whether the wiretaps posted were authorized by law enforcement.

In Istanbul, Turkey’s richest and most populous city, Haramzadeler’s tweets are followed avidly, said about a dozen people interviewed in coffee shops in the city’s center.

“He’s a true hero,” said Asla, a mid-30s advertising executive who asked that her name not be used because she didn’t want to publicly criticize the government. “Everywhere in the news there are nothing but lies, but I trust these things because I can hear them, see them and show them to my parents and my friends.” Her laptop lay on the table in front of her at the outdoor cafe, open to her Twitter account.

Changing Handles

Through all of this, Haramzadeler has remained nameless, changing Twitter handles as the previous ones are spammed by government supporters. The user also shuffles the websites used to display material and recently started adding web proxies to the links. Those shield followers from exposing their own identities when they follow the links.

The user didn’t respond to a request for comment sent to a website mentioned in the Twitter bio. A spokesman for Facebook Inc. declined to comment. Nu Wexler, a spokesman for Twitter, declined comment, as did Ozlem Oz, the Turkey communications manager for Google Inc. (GOOG), owner of YouTube.

Haramzadeler has remained prolific as the government has stalled the investigation by replacing prosecutors and thousands of police officers. Last weekend alone, he posted about alleged bribes to bank executives, domestic spying and the purchase with loaned money of a cargo ship named “Pretty.”

Sons of Thieves Tweet Secrets While Erdogan Scolds YouTube – Bloomberg.

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A Guide to Turkey’s Tape Scandal

ISTANBUL–As Turkey prepares for crucial local elections March 30, the country has been convulsed by the release of recordings of private conversations of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and media executives, bureaucrats and businessmen.

Mr. Erdogan says his private conversations were wiretapped and confirmed the authenticity of some of the dozens of recordings, but says many have been edited to distort their meaning as part of a plot by his one-time political ally Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Turkish imam with millions of followers. Mr. Gulen has repeatedly denied any involvement and the movement’s representative said on Monday he had “nothing to do with the tapes.” Mr. Erdogan’s spokesman did not respond to calls for comment.

The recordings have been posted on social media, including YouTube and TwitterTWTR +0.89%, by accounts with the usernames Haramzadeler (the Sons of Sinners) and Bascalan (the Prime Swindler), but no one has claimed responsibility. Here is a look at recordings that have received the most attention.

The Cash

The most explosive tape, published Feb. 25, purports to show a conversation between the prime minister and his son, Bilal, discussing how to hide tens of millions of dollars in cash stored in the family’s home. The tape was alleged by the Prime Swindler to have been secretly recorded on the morning of Dec. 17, the first day of a sprawling corruption probe in which dozens of the premier’s allies, including three former ministers’ sons, were arrested on allegations of corruption.

On the tape, a voice alleged to be that of the prime minister instructs a person identified as his son to get rid of all the money, preferably after dark to avoid attention. The other speaker, purportedly his son, says he has moved everything except €30 million ($41.6 million), which is proving difficult to shift.

The prime minister has labeled the recording an “immoral montage,” and voiced anger at having his phone secretly wiretapped. The younger Mr. Erdogan has remained quiet through the scandal, and did not respond to calls for comment through his wholesale food company.

Pro-government media went to recording studios in the U.S. and asked them to assess the tapes. Employees at the studios had no clue they had been involved in a Turkish political scandal, and though they reported the tapes had been edited they later said their analyses had been misused.

The Court Case

On March 4, the Prime Swindler published a tape accompanied by tweets alleging it showed that Mr. Erdogan meddled with a high-profile tax case against a government critic five years ago. Mr. Erdogan appears to tell Turkey’s then justice minister, Sadullah Ergin, of his disappointment with the acquittal of media mogul, Aydin Dogan, in a trial over price gouging.

The prime minister appears to complain that Mr. Ergin had not followed the case closely enough. The men then appear to discuss in detail the prospects for reversing the decision.

A person close to Mr. Dogan said the case apparently discussed on the tape concerned charges brought against his company by Turkey’s Capital Markets Board for allegedly causing losses to investors by overcharging its subsidiaries for products sold by a Dogan-owned firm. The case continues despite the company being acquitted several times in separate courts, the person said.

Mr. Dogan, who was involved in a public row with Mr. Erdogan, has also received a handful of fines over tax irregularities that included one for $2.5 billion. They were eventually reduced by a large amount through court appeals and a government restructuring program.

Mr. Dogan’s company issued a statement the day after the tape was released, saying it would “further shake the judicial system in Turkey” if it was authentic.

Last week, Mr. Erdogan confirmed he discussed the case with Mr. Ergin, but said “it was only natural” to urge the justice minister to follow it more closely because it contained “dangerous” details, though he did not elaborate on what they were. He says the recording was “put together piece by piece.”

In an interview last week with CNN Turk, Mr. Ergin said the conversation was taken out of context by editing, and that he and Mr. Erdogan were discussing complaints over alleged manipulation of court documents they were trying to figure out how to correct.

The Ship Contract

On March 4, the Prime Swindler published a tape and alleged it contained conversations between Mr. Erdogan and a shipyard owner, Metin Kalkavan, in which the prime minister appears to manipulate a tendering process.

The Prime Swindler alleged the conversation was recorded shortly after the Turkish military awarded a $2.5 billion warship-construction contract to Koc HoldingKCHOL.IS +0.49%, a Turkish conglomerate that criticized Mr. Erdogan’s government during antigovernment protests last summer.

In the recording, Mr. Kalkavan, owner of the Sedef Gemi Insaat shipbuilding company, appears to tell Mr. Erdogan he had not officially applied for the bid in writing, but the premier tells him he should formally complain about an unfair bidding process. Mr. Kalkavan appears to promise he would enter a bid if it were reopened.

In the end, the bid was canceled and the contract was taken up by the Turkish navy, which has started work on building the ships.

Shortly after the cancellation, a separate $3 billion government shipbuilding contract was offered to Mr. Kalkavan and Spanish Navantia, a Spanish state-owned shipbuilding company.

Last week, Mr. Erdogan confirmed at least part of the recording, saying it was natural for him to advise someone to file a complaint to reverse wrongdoing. “As a result of the lawsuit, the bid is canceled. And the state earns a hundred, two hundred million dollars,” he said, in a reference to the navy contract.

“They are as lowly as to wiretap this conversation,” he said in a televised speech, referring to followers of Mr. Gulen.

According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, Mr. Kalkavan confirmed the conversation, but stressed it was “wrong to make conclusions based on just some parts of it.”  A spokesman for Spanish Navantia said the company had no doubt it won the tender based on the strength of its product.

The Media

The Sons of Sinners published a series of tapes, the first on Feb. 4, in which government officials allegedly order media bosses to change headlines, censor opposition politicians’ speeches and write stories planted by officials. According to the tapes, the orders were apparently executed without resistance.

Mr. Erdogan did not challenge their authenticity and directly confirmed one recording in which he personally called a media executive to order the removal of headlines from an opposition speech as he watched them airing on TV. “Yes, I made the call… because there were insults against us, against the prime minister… and they did what was necessary,” Mr. Erdogan said in televised remarks mid-February. “We have to also teach them these things. Because the insults were not normal.”

The content of many tapes was confirmed by Turkish editor in chief Fatih Altayli, who said in a television interview that the government would regularly interfere with the content published in his newspaper, Haberturk.

A Guide to Turkey’s Tape Scandal – Emerging Europe Real Time – WSJ.

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Snowden leak: NSA plans to infect ‘millions’ of computers

The Threat Operations Center inside the National Security Agency (NSA)

Yet more previously secret surveillance operations waged by the United States National Security Agency were made public Wednesday morning thanks to leaked documents supplied by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The files — published first by The Intercept this week and dissected over the course of a 3,000-word article attributed to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher — bring to light a number of previously unreported programs undertaken by the secretive US spy agency, including operations that have given the NSA the potential to infect millions of computers around the world by relying on malicious software that’s sent to targets through surreptitious means.

In recent years, however, the NSA has reportedly made adjustments to these operations that enable them to by carried out automatically without the direct aid of human spies — a decision that experts say is undermining the internet as it is known today,

“Top-secret documents reveal that the National Security Agency is dramatically expanding its ability to covertly hack into computers on a mass scale by using automated systems that reduce the level of human oversight in the process,” the journalists wrote.

That automated system named “TURBINE,” they said later, is designed to “allow the current implant network to scale to large size (millions of implants) by creating a system that does automated control implants by groups instead of individually.”

NSA presentation from theintercept.com

According to The Intercept, the NSA has escalated offensive cyber operations significantly since 2004 in order to spy on targets, and has used an array of tactics and “implants” that were previously undisclosed in order to carry out these missions.

The website reported that the agency’s British counterpart, the GCHQ, “appears to have played an integral role” with regards to developing these implants, which have grown in number exponentially in recent years from only 100 or so to tens-of-thousands, according to the report.

These implants, the journalists wrote, allow the NSA “to break into targeted computers and to siphon out data from foreign Internet and phone networks.” They can also be combined with a number of specialized plugins to provide analysts with additional surveillance options, the likes of which could likely leave many thinking staying secure on the Web seem impossible after reading the Greenwald and Gallagher report.

NSA presentation from theintercept.com

n one example cited by The Intercept, the NSA disguised itself as a fake Facebook server in order to intercept connections attempted to be made between account holders and the social networking site’s real computers. Instead, however, the NSA sends those unsuspecting Facebook users to a real site embedded with malware that then has the ability to infect that target’s computer.

That program — QUANTUMHAND — became operational in October 2010, The Intercept reported, after it successfully allowed the NSA to gain access to “about a dozen targets.”

A spokesperson for Facebook told The Intercept he had “no evidence of this alleged activity,” but QUANTUMHAND is far from the only program that, thanks to Edward Snowden, have linked the NSA to relying on already established websites and programs to pry into the communications of targets.

In another example, The Intercept included images from an internal NSA slideshow presentation that indicates surveillance missions can be waged by the agency against targeted email addresses, IP addresses and the “cookies” created by websites like Google, Yahoo, YouTube and countless others to track visitors, often for advertisement and user experience purposes.

NSA presentation from theintercept.com

Ashkan Soltani, a DC-based independent security researcher, remarked on Twitter that the information in that presentation “looks a lot like a catalog of ad tracking tech.” Instead of being used by the likes of Google to give YouTube users a more “personalized” browsing experience, however, the NSA and GCHQ can use these selectors to spy on the habits of unknowing subjects of investigation.

GCHQ targeting sheet looks a lot like a catalog of ad tracking tech: UDIDs, Google prefIDs, doubleclickID, WiFi MAC pic.twitter.com/oOMl0yJj4k

— ashkan soltani (@ashk4n) March 12, 2014

Other programs disclosed by Mr. Snowden and described by The Intercept include CAPTIVATEDAUDIENCE (“used to take over a targeted computer’s microphone and record conversations”, GUMFISH (“can covertly take over a computer’s webcam and snap photographs”), FOGGYBOTTOM (“records logs of Internet browsing histories and collects login details and passwords”), GROK (“used to log keystrokes”) and SALVAGERABBIT to exfiltrate data from removable flash drives connected to a target’s computer.

To infect computers with these implants, The Intercept said, the NSA can avoid trying to trick targets into going to fake websites by instead spamming them with unsolicited email containing links to malware.

If we can get the target to visit us in some sort of web browser, we can probably own them,” an NSA employee wrote in one of the previously secret documents. “The only limitation is the ‘how.’”

NSA presentation from theintercept.com

The Intercept’s latest report was published only two days after Snowden spoke remotely to the audience of the SXSW Interactive tech conference in Austin, Texas and urged attendees to use encryption — a tactic, he said, that is still relatively successful with regards to thwarting snooping like the kind carried out by the NSA.

Encryption, Snowden said on Monday, makes it“very difficult for any sort of mass surveillance”to occur.

If The Intercept’s report is anywhere close to representative of the NSA’s actual capabilities though, then the agency’s operations are expanding regardless and relying on new tricks and techniques to track down and monitor persons of interest in the name of national security.

“When they deploy malware on systems,” malware expert Mikko Hypponen told The Intercept, “they potentially create new vulnerabilities in these systems, making them more vulnerable for attacks by third parties.”

RT USA.

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New Scandal – Erdogan Government Hit With New Recording Of Alleged Corruption

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan‘s regime, mired in a corruption scandal, suffered a new blow on Sunday with the online release of another allegedly incriminating phone call involving an ex-minister and a businessman.

The recording of the phone conversation posted on the Internet was purportedly between Reza Zarrab, an Azerbaijani entrepreneur, and a confidant to whom Zarrab explains how former economy minister Zafer Caglayan allegedly complained about not having received a promised kickback of 10 million euros ($13.8 million).

The voice supposedly of Zarrab says he was “very surprised” that the ex-minister hadn’t received the money which came from his company, saying it must have been “a mistake”.

Caglayan and three other ministers were ousted from Erdogan’s cabinet after a police raid on December 17 in the vast corruption probe, which involved Caglayan’s son and several dozen high-profile political and business allies of the Islamic-rooted government.

Zarrab was among those arrested in the raid and charged before being released last week along several other suspects pending trial.

According to police documents, the minister’s son Kaan Caglayan is accused of acting as an intermediary for giving and taking bribes, while Zarrab was suspected of forming a ring that bribed officials to disguise illegal gold sales to sanctions-hit Iran via state-owned Halkbank.

The latest online leak comes after a number of audio recordings were posted on social media sites, one allegedly of Erdogan himself discussing hiding large sums of cash and conspiring to extort a bribe from a business associate.

Erdogan, who has dismissed the recordings as fabricated by his rivals, has threatened to ban popular networks like YouTube and Facebook as part of his government’s effort to get a tighter grip on the Internet.

The Turkish premier has accused supporters of exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who wields considerable influence in the judiciary and police, of launching the corruption probe to destabilise his government ahead of March 30 local elections and a presidential vote in August.

via Erdogan Government Hit With New Recording Of Alleged Corruption – Business Insider.

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