Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk)

Turkey’s Corruption scandal? What kind of outrageous news is this?

Dozens of their journalists colleagues are in prison or on trial, thousands of faceless opponents hound them on Twitter, and phone calls from government officials warn them over their coverage – all hazards of the trade for Turkey’s journalists.

Government critics who refuse to be muzzled can find themselves sacked.

Others avoid trouble, such as the broadcaster screening a documentary on penguins last June while police sprayed thousands of demonstrators in Istanbul with tear gas.

DASHA AFANASIEVA published this Feb. 3, 2014 on Reuters:

Corruption scandal tests Turkey’s cowed media

What has erupted in the past few weeks, a probe into alleged corruption at the heart of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan‘s government,  might seem like a gift to Turkey’s cowed and long-suffering press.

With a few exceptions, much of the press is in no position to capitalize on the scandal by taking a more robust line with the government.

The scandal has blown open a feud between Erdogan and the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, (Fathallah-Gulan) a powerful former ally whose “Hizmet” (Service) movement has influence in the police and judiciary, as well as parts of the media, and whom Erdogan blames for orchestrating the graft probe to unseat him.

An anti-government protester holds a placard during a demonstration in Ankara in this June 4, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Umit Bektas/Files

An anti-government protester holds a placard during a demonstration in Ankara in this June 4, 2013 file photo. CREDIT: REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS/FILES

“Gulenist” newspapers such as Zaman and Bugun, previously loosely allied to Erdogan’s AK Party, have reported details of the allegations, from pictures of cash stuffed in shoe boxes to damaging phone recordings between businessmen and Erdogan’s associates, something almost unthinkable just a few months ago.

Pro-government newspapers like Sabah, Star and Yeni Safak have largely portrayed the corruption investigations as a plot against Erdogan.

In the middle is a mainstream media, largely owned by sprawling conglomerates with business ties to the state, which has been cautiously trying to find a more assertive new voice, although its ownership structures cast doubt over whether there can be real change.

“The graft probe is a new opportunity for Turkish journalism to push itself out of suffocation,” said Yavuz Baydar, one of Turkey’s most prominent journalists who launched Platform 24, a media monitoring website, on Monday.

“The question is whether major conglomerate-owned outlets such as Hurriyet and Milliyet will be able to rise up to the challenge,” he told Reuters. Milliyet declined to comment while the editor in chief of Hurriyet did not respond to emailed requests.

Baydar lost his job at Sabah, whose former owner Calik Holding is run by Erdogan’s son-in-law, after criticizing the police crackdown on anti-government protests last June.

Sabah was sold in December to Kalyon, a construction group with major government contracts, in a deal that typifies the ownership structures in Turkey’s media landscape.

At least a dozen newspapers and 10 TV stations are owned by conglomerates with energy, construction or mining interests, all sectors heavily dependent on government business.

“This has created a situation in which media outlets are used to promote the ownership group’s financial interests,” U.S.-based press watchdog Freedom House said in a report published on Monday.

“Members of the media and the government alike describe newspapers’ Ankara bureau chiefs as ‘lobbyists’ for their companies,” it said.


Erdogan has described the corruption investigation as an attempted “judicial coup“. He has reassigned prosecutors and judges and thousands of police officers.

That has brought the probe to a halt and prompted lawyers, despairing at what they view as a lack of transparent judicial process, to leak court documents to those parts of the press not favorable to the government.

But when news website T24 published an article about a parliamentary question from the opposition Republican People’s Party regarding claims of bribery in the sale of Sabah (Morning) and other media assets, it was told to take it down by the media regulator. Then on Monday the same regulator said it had sent the warning by mistake.

“We’re just trying to provide something different from the ‘government newspapers’ that publish the AK Party line that this is a coup d’etat,” said Erhan Basyurt, Bugun’s editor-in-chief.

The paper’s circulation went up to 165,000 from 140,000 in the month after the corruption probe broke.

Other newspapers have had to be more cautious.

A senior editor at one of Turkey’s largest dailies, who did not want to be named and fears for his job after his boss was told to fire him, said he had been the subject of a hate campaign on the Internet and in pro-government newspapers.

He was followed and threatened, his car-license plate at one point published online, he said.

Sometimes he did not put bylines on stories to protect reporters. He also might soften the headline or put material damaging to Erdogan lower down in stories.

Restrictions on press freedom and attacks on journalists are nothing new in Turkey.

Commemorations of the 2007 murder of Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, widely viewed as a political assassination, still draw tens of thousands each year.

But the taboos have changed.

Where once criticism of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the revered founder of the modern secular republic, or portraying Kurdish militants as anything other than “terrorists” might have resulted in a jail sentence for “insulting Turkish identity,” now it is criticism of the government which is problematic.

Editors and reporters said they had received phone calls from officials close to the prime minister asking them to change their coverage or dismiss journalists for critical stories.

“The voice on the end of the line says, ‘Beyefendi rahatsız olmasın,’ which can be translated as ‘Better not upset sir’,” said prominent author and columnist Ece Temelkuran, fired from the Haberturk newspaper after a series of such warnings for her coverage of a Turkish air strike which killed Kurdish civilians.

“The use of the word ‘sir’, ‘beyefendi’ makes your realize straight away what you are dealing with,” she said.

Government and AK Party officials declined to comment.


Turkey is the world’s leading jailer of journalists, with 40 in prison as of December, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Reporters Without Borders‘ press freedom index ranks Turkey 154th out of 178.

The government says no journalist is being held or tried for their work.

“They are facing situations like these solely because they have got mixed up in other activities,” a senior government official, who did not want to be names, told Reuters.

But government influence, such as the indirect sackings and threat of loss of business for parent companies, which poses the main threat to press freedom, journalists and rights groups say.

“The government seems to have acquired the habit of shooting the messenger whenever it is in trouble. Journalists should not have to suffer because of high-level administrative in-fighting,” Reporters Without Borders said in a December report.

These criticisms come ahead of local elections in March, a presidential race in August and parliamentary polls next year.

Opposition candidates complain that Erdogan’s frequent speeches are broadcast live and in full by a slew of television stations, a degree of coverage his opponents do not enjoy.

One of the most pernicious effects of the widespread firings of reporters and editors from the ‘mainstream’ media is that there are fewer moderate voices to be heard,”  Freedom House said in its report.

(Additional reporting by Orhan Coskun and Gulsen Solaker in Ankara; Reporting by Dasha Afanasieva; Editing by Alexandra HudsonNick Tattersall and Giles Elgood)

Note 1: Turkish Cultural expansion in Central Asia

Note 2: How many terms a President or Prime Minister has to serve before turning a dictator or an oligarch? Is Putin of Russia any better?

The US Constitution didn’t mention any restriction on the number of times a President can be candidate. Luckily, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson refused a third tenure on account of facing great difficulties during their second term. Only Franklin Roosevelt served 4 terms because of the WWII and couldn’t finish it.

The Constitution was amended to only two terms since then.

Story of an Absolute Dictator: Turkey’s Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Part 2.

You may read Part 1:

On June 13, 1921, The Greek King Constantine arrived to Izmir with an army of fresh 85,000 strong, and on August 13, the Greek army launched an offensive toward Ankara where Mustafa Kemal had his headquarter.

There was panic in Ankara and Kemal got himself the rank of “Generalissimo” or Field-marshal, a rank reserved for the Sultan. Kemal decided that the last natural defensive line, 100 km from Ankara, would be River Sakarya.

During 22 days and nights the battle raged, and on Sept. 11, the Greek army retreated.

For an entire year, the military lines were stable and quiet. Finally, on August 26, 1922, Kemal launched his counter-offensive and recaptured the cities of Aydin, Manisa, Usak…

By September 9, the troops of Kemal entered Izmir. On Oct. 11, the Greek navy repatriated its troops.

The French ambassador Franklin Bouillon announced the retreat of the French mandated power from the region of Cilicia.

Shortly after, Kemal abolished the Sultan political system and replaced it with a Republic. He forced the hands of opposition in the Parliament in majority to vote against the Sultanat.

The Ottoman monarch, his extended family members and his retinue found their civil list of stipends drastically reduced.

The institution of Caliph of the Commander of the Moslem believers was not cancelled, not yet.

Caliph Abdul Majid, around 55 of age, was gaining popularity from all the strata of society.

In the meantime, Kemal was losing support.

1. He had divorced his wife Latifa Hanoun

2. His cousin Fikryeh was licked out when she payed him visit, and she was found dead from a pistol shot in a ditch the next day

3. He erected a large statue of himself in Ankara, a decision that no Sultan ever contemplated for fear of contradicting the religious connotation of idolatry

4. Kemal toured the night bars daily and was a drunk addict…

Caliph Abdel Majid asked to increase the stipend commensurate to the Caliph position. Kemal replied”

“A Caliph must lead a modest life, and this religious position is but a historic relics that its existence is no longer justified…”

Many dailies maintained that the Caliphat was a treasure to Turkey toward the millions of Moslem around the world. By diminishing the stature of the Caliph, the 10 million Turks would be viewed by the European countries as a small State.

It happened that the Agha Khan of the Ismaeli community around the world, and residing in London,  published a letter in 3 Istambul dailies reading:

“The position of the Commander of Believers must be insured the esteem and the confidence of the Islamic nations…”  That was like pouring oil on the fire.

Kemal cried treason instigated by foreign powers. He voted on “Treason Law” that stipulated that whoever manifests against the Republic will be hanged.

Two months later, Kemal paid a visit to Izmir to supervise a big military maneuver, and discussed for days with his military chiefs. The military agreed to rally Kemal against the position of Caliph.

On Feb. 27, the Kemalist movement demanded the abolition of the Caliphat.

On March 3, after a week of mass protests, the Great Assembly in Ankara voted by “raised hands” to send into exile the Caliph and all the family princes and princesses, never to return. He allocated 1,000 gold coin to every family member, a sum that barely covered a few months in exile. The Ottoman monarchy was given 3 days to leave Turkey, for no return.

The Caliph opted to be transferred to Switzerland. Other members settled in Beirut (Lebanon) on the ground that cosmopolitan Beirut is very close to Turkey, and they will be returning very shortly…

Note 1: Part of Ataturk biography was taken from Kenize Mourad book “From the Departed Princess“. Mourad published several books on her origin and was a specialist grand reporter in Middle-East affairs and India subcontinent for over 12 years.

Note 2: The Moslems in India were the most vocal and marched against the British mandated power for backing the elimination of the institution of Caliph. Gandhi backed and rallied the Moslem demands to have a Caliph.

Cursed Cities: Kars


There are geographical locations and regions that are cursed historically, located on the cross roads of invading powers. 

This essay is not about cities that experienced frequent disasters by natural calamities. For example, we have cities that had vanished because built near active volcanoes such as Pompeii in Italy, others because of being located on seismic faults such as Beirut and lately the Abruzzi region in Italy, and others succumbing to tidal waves and hurricanes such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, the USA Gulf regions, and Rangoon where people perish by the hundred of thousands every year and keep rebuilding in the same devastated areas… 

This article is about cities located on major trade routes and suffered recurring genocides because of human greed for domination and power.  I will focus on the city of Kars in Turkey on the eastern side of the Anatolia Plateau (Anadol). 

Kars is built by the river Kars and a must cross location on the route from Georgia, Tabriz (Iran), the Caucasus and Tiflis. I urge my readers to recollect other cursed cities through history.

Eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus form one homogeneous geographic area in economy, culture, and social communication and trades. The Armenians on both sides preferred to pay allegiance to Christian Russia and wished that Russia would grant them administrative autonomy in the Caucasus. The Moslems on both sides paid allegiance to the Moslem Ottoman Empire. The triangle of the current States of Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan were the scenes of major battle fields and invasions through history and is still a hot area till now.

The Nobel Literature Prize winner Orhan Pamuk published “Snow” that described the calamities suffered by the inhabitants of the Kars region.  The Armenian people lived in that region for a thousand years and then many waves of immigrants and refugees from persecutions flocked to it.  The Kars region hosted people from the Empires of Persia, Byzantium and then Moguls, Georgians, Kurds, and Cherkessk.

In the 17th century, the Kars region was predominantly of Moslems and Armenians were second in numbers.

The Russian Empire vied for this region since the 18th century.

In 1827, Russia entered Kars and chased out over 27,000 Moslems and transferred 45,000 Armenians to this city from Iran and the Anatolian Plateau. The city of Yerevan (Capital of the current State of Armenia) that was mostly of Iranians was transformed demographically in 1827. 

In every Russian invasion to the Kars region, the Russian troops could rely on the Armenian population for auxiliary regiments, logistics, and intelligence services. As the Russian troops vacated the region in 1829, over 90,000 Armenians fled with the Russians fearing well deserved persecussion.

During the Crimea War, which confronted Russia against the combined alliance of Britain, France, and the Ottoman, the Russians put siege on Kars in 1855 for many months and all the Ottoman army within the city was massacred.  The Paris treaty of 1855 forced the Russians to vacate the Kars region. The Ottoman troops retaliated heavily on the Armenians.

In 1859, the Cherkessk, lead by their leader Shamel, revolted against the Russians and were defeated; many Christian Russian Orthodox were transferred to Kars to replace the Moslem Cherkessk.  The same eviction process befell three quarter of the Moslems of Abkhazia in 1867.  Thus, in less than 30 years, the Russian Empire changed the demographics of the Caucasus from mostly Moslems to mostly Christians.

Over 1, 200,000 Moslems were forced to transfer to other regions; 800,000 of the Moslems settled in the Ottoman Empire. 

In 1877, the Russians amassed troops on the border with Kars.  Sultan Abdel Hamid preempted the invasion by massacring the Armenians on ground that they will inevitably aid the Russians. After 93 days of war, the Russians entered Kars and a pogrom on the Moslems proceeded for many days.

The treaty of San Estephanos relinquished the region to the Russian Empire. The Russians built a new city south of the city of Kares where the Emperor Alexander III met with his concubines and hunted.

In the next 43 years, the Armenians harassed the Moslems of this region and thousand had to flee. In retaliation, Sultan Abdel Hamid formed in 1891 a special regiment of Kurdish cavalry with the purpose of harassing the Armenians of the Kars region and the pogrom around Lake Van raised an outcry in Europe.

During the First World War, the Armenians again aided the Russians and formed semi-regular armies to fight the Ottoman Empire.  Consequently, in 1915, the Ottoman Empire launched the genocide plan against the Armenians and thousands died of famine during the long march out of Turkey. The Armenians who were settled in Constantinople (Istanbul) and Adana shared in the mass persecution. Only the Armenians in the Caucasus, within Russia, were spared.  The British occupied the Kars region in 1919 and gave some authority to the Armenians who gathered arms from the Moslems and gave them to the Armenians and another round of harassment and massacres took place.

The Turkish General Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) re-occupied the Kars region in 1920 after defeating the Armenian army: the Bolsheviks were then allied to the new Turkish Republic. The Russians transferred the Armenians from the region of Patum to Yerevan.

In 1927, all the properties of the Armenians in Kars were confiscated. The Armenians were robbed of a homeland because Turkey ceased Cyprus to Britain in exchange of guaranteeing the Kars region to Turkey.  Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) also negotiated a political deal with France to relinquish the Syrian region of Alexandrite to Turkey, setting the premises for future regional feuds.

Nowadays, there are no Armenians in Kars. The imposing buildings of Tsarist Russia are government Administrative offices; a vast villa of 40 rooms is transformed into hospital, and a Jewish museum. An entire century of struggles, massacres, harassments, genocides, and useless hate to their neighbors in order to gain self-autonomy rewarded the Armenians nothing. 

The Armenians had to wait for the break down of the Soviet Union to enjoy the Armenian State that is totally dependent in its economy on the neighboring States. 

Kosovo, Kashmir, Jerusalem, Gaza, and Palestine are current examples of lost opportunities for stability and peace.




February 2023

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