Showing posts from June, 2013

The PKK is not a defeated army: it is much more complicated than that

When Johnny comes marching home again, Hurrah! Hurrah!
We'll give him a hearty welcome then Hurrah! Hurrah!
The men will cheer and the boys will shout The ladies they will all turn out
And we'll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home. ----------------------------------------- Marching song of the Northern Armies in the American Civil War (1861-1865). At that time the word "gay" only meant happy.
This song spoke of the welcome that surviving Northern soldiers would receive when they came home at the end of the war. Southern soldiers went back to the desolate aftermath of defeat.

And what should be sung for the returning thousands of PKK militants who have sacrificed years of their lives in a struggle, deemed to be terrorist by the Turkish, US, and EU governments?

Certainly the PKK was not defeated. Many of its goals for the Kurdish people seem to be on the verge of being realized. And  yet, they are not going home. Unwelcome in Turkey and officially unwelcome by the Baghda…

What if the army joins the police and protesters and Erdogan's faithful followers in the streets?

The AKP says it may bring the army out against the protesters. Having thrown hundreds of top military leaders into jail, does Erdogan really want to play this card? Is he so certain of being adored by the officer corps? Just a question.

The situation gets very murky. The army has been bashed by Erdogan's assertion of control and his throwing so many of the top brass into prison. But being bashed is one thing. Loyalty is harder to measure. Sometimes lower echelon officers in other countries have been at the heart of resistance and revolt in times of upheaval.

AKP loyalists, protesters, unions, police, and perhaps the army all in the streets. The ensuing chaos may not be what the prime minister wants.

President Obama Announces Military Theme Park to be built in New Yurk’s Central Park

The New Yurk Times
President Obama Announces Military Theme Park to be built in  New Yurk’s Central Park
Environmentalists Protest, Police Respond, Turkish Prime Minister Praises Obama
The USS Battlestar Pegasus, a gigantic stealth satellite built ten years ago in an orbit beyond the moon is for the first time revealed to the public. It will be dismantled piece by piece and returned to become a permanent exhibit in the new Outdoor Military Museum. For the convenience of the millions anticipated to visit the park, K-Mart, a string of fast food restaurants, and a Mercedes dealership will be located adjacent to the theme park’s entrance.
Some protesters, hearing of the plans to tear up ten acres of Central Park, gathered to sing protest songs and feed the ducks in the fabled duck pond - soon to be demolished as the site of a new multi-story Kentucky Fried Chicken adjacent to the museum.
NYPD officers, supported by elements of the New York National Guards removed the protestors, showering the…

The IMF finally admits it made a booboo, but there is no talk of throwing a life line to the drowning

For one who loves Greece, at least the way it was five, or better, before it entered the candy shop of the Eurozone, there is nothing at all in the news to cause optimism about the future. The country is being systematically destroyed by very clever people who have no eye on the consequences of their actions. These clever people are financiers and politicians in Brussels, Berlin, and Athens (among other places). They wear extremely expensive suits, speak in an incredibly sophisticated econ-talk, and are expert in spotting their own short-term interests.

We all know that the way in which the leading Greek politicians and financial king pins first smuggled the Greek economy into the Eurozone and then systematically set about exploiting it. We all know that these policies have led to the disaster in the nation. People outside of Greece for some reason cannot understand that these same people are leading the country to complete political implosion and perhaps civil war. Yes, civil war. The…

Greek political leadership, as blind as Oedipus

The Greeks invented the concept of tragedy over two thousand years ago. They realized that often it was not the bad intentions of political actors that led to disaster, but a fatal flaw that the leader was unaware of. In the end Oedipus blinded himself as punishment for the evil he had done, but in fact he had been blind throughout his career. Like the Samaras led government.

It was never clear to me as a foreigner resident in Greece why the Greeks kept the same team of center left and center right political parties in power after these same actors were the ones that first led the country into the disastrous spending spree after joining the Euro zone. After successfully branding Syriza, the left-wing opposition, as extremist and irresponsible, they went ahead with the austerity programs that the International Monetary Fund now recognizes caused the total collapse of the Greek economy. An editorial in the Guardianyesterday points out that the call for a default on the impossible debt bu…

A new blog, same old content

Because Facebook for some reason would not allow me to post any comments mentioning my old blog name, I have opened this new blog to cover events in Turkey, Greece, and the Kurdish lands.

Sorry for the inconvenience. I still do not know why the old blog was blocked. Older articles can still be found on

Learn a little about the Kurds and their language

Introduction to Sorani Kurdish:The Principal Kurdish Dialect spoken in the Regions of Northern Iraq and Western Iran
Authored by Livingston T. Merchant PhD

List Price:$12.00 6" x 9" (15.24 x 22.86 cm) 
Black & White on White paper
138 pages ISBN-13: 978-1483969268 (CreateSpace-Assigned)
ISBN-10: 1483969266
BISAC: Language Arts & Disciplines / General This basic textbook is an introduction to the Sorani dialect of Kurdish. It contains dialogues, vocabularies, elementary grammar, and exercises. The basic sentences are written in Latini, the romanized script, and also in Sorani Kurdo-Arabic for the convenience of a tutor or teacher.
     Available on and Amazon Europe

When police attack peaceful protesters, when protesters attack property, everyone loses.

Only a strong, rational, and calm prime minister can settle Turkey into a political process that reintegrates the society. Is Tayyip Erdoğan up to this challenge?

Good article: regimes have changed; political culture has not.

Sub Categories: » HOMEPAGE / OPINIONMUSTAFA AKYOL Saturday,June 8 2013, Your time is 7:43:28 AM MUSTAFA AKYOL The troubles of a very immature democracyIt is sad these days to see that many officials and supporters of the governing AKP (Justice and Development Party) sound like the Kemalist establishment that they overthrew.

They, for example, believe that mass demonstrations against their government are orchestrated by “foreign powers” who have evil intentions toward Turkey. Some headlines report about the “spies” caught among the demonstrators, supposedly proving the “international conspiracy.” Even the fact that the Western media has shown a great interest in the events is seen as a proof of this paranoia. (The shameful fact that most Turkish TV channels failed to show the necessary interest perhaps creates a distorted perception of “the normal.”)

Kemalists were really like this, too. They would believe all of Turkey’s troubles were created by foreign imperialists…

The protesters have a voice but no clear message

One of the tragedies of the protests in the Turkish cities, especially Ankara and Istanbul, is that those taking part in the civil disobedience have no clear political stance. It started out over trees in a central park in Istanbul when the Prime Minister announced that he would build an Ottoman barracks with a shopping mall, no wait, a mosque, no wait, an opera house - something, anything. Anything but trees.

The entire situation changed due to a police riot. The excessive use of force against peaceful demonstrators brought tens, then hundreds of thousands into the streets. The trigger was the police riot. The result was a strong desire among the larger body of demonstrators to get rid of the Prime Minister, who was perceived to be the instigator of that riot. It was no longer pro-trees, but it became anti-regime.

A series of grievances became attached to the rioters' angry protests: the limited ban on alcohol, the PM's words that all Turkish women should bear three children in…

Social unrest in Turkey and Greece

In a college class one of my students in Ankara said, "We hate Greeks." Full stop. No rationale. In my favorite cafe on the Greek island of Zakynthos, where I have a home, the owner lectured me for an hour on the horrible nature of the Turks. These reactions were extreme and unusual, but expressions of mutual suspicion are not. But both Greeks and Turks admit that their cultures, music, cuisine, and life styles are very similar due to their living for hundreds of years together under Ottoman rule, but this does not eliminate centuries of discord. I have said that I feel like I have two sisters I love but who do not like each other.

Today the two countries have developed in different ways. The Greek center left and right governments in the past decade or so, lied their way into the Euro zone, recklessly used the Euro to rack up an unsustainable debt, and destroyed the economy in part by selling out to the IMF and the European Union and Central Bank . The IMF has just recognize…

Aptal yabanciyim. I am just a stupid foreigner. But I love Turkey and have an opinion.

I am aware that as a foreigner anything I say about Turkey can be easily dismissed and will be doubly irritating to some. I arrived over ten years ago to Robert College and a pre-AKP Istanbul. Within a month I had been yelled at by one of my teachers for using the word "Kurdistan". People were annoyed that I could not understand why women should not wear head scarfs in schools. The head of CNN-Turk phoned me furious because my school was chosen to represent Armenia in the Model United Nations. I had been taken unawares by the MUN action, but he held me responsible. Later at Bilkent University I was criticized for visiting an Alevi ceremony. One teacher in another school accused me of splitting the country when I asked her about the size of the Alevi minority. I was criticized by an administrator about my university class in which I discussed ethnic differences with my students.

In other words I stepped on every  possible landmine and set off angry reactions. But I also learne…

Is Erdogan sleepwalking?

We were in Köln Sunday and encountered a major demonstration supporting the demonstrators in Taksim and elsewhere in Turkey. Hundreds of Turks were demanding that Erdoğan resign and calling for support for the demonstrators in Istanbul. When we returned home to Maastricht, we looked at the news and found that the Prime Minister had said that the opposition party was behind the demonstrations and that he had not need to give in to "looters", that he could do whatever he wanted because he had been democratically elected, that he could bring out a million party members to oppose the demonstrators. A certain Italian leader in the 1920s and 1930s used party members to break up the opposition.

Tayyip also made some odd comments about the plans for Taksim:

At first it was a shopping mall to be built in the form of an Ottoman military barracks.
Then he withdrew that plan.
Now it was to be a mosque to be built on the place where the Ataturk Culture Center was to be torn down.

What next?


The downward spiral of Turkish democracy

When I was a curious teen-aged kid, I subscribed to a series of Time Life books on history and civilization. One was a beautiful book entitledIslam, the Religion of Peace. It was the early fifties and this was the only source of my knowledge of Islam at the time. It was illustrated with photos of the great achievements of Islamic cultures: quiet courtyards with fountains, beautiful mosques, calligraphy.
Such a book would now present a different face. The world is fixated on suicide bombing, wars, revolutions, terrorist movements.
The fact is that both presentations of the religion are wrong. Religion is neither peaceful nor warlike, though the history of a religion may be one or the other or both. Who was not surprised to learn the Buddhist monks in Myanmar were leading murderous raids on Muslim communities?

Christian history has periods which are drenched in blood, often the blood of opposing Christian groups. It is not the religions that are peaceful or genocidal: it is the human being…