Monthly Archives: August 2015

Turkish politics and why once again Rousseau and Kant were right about parliamentary democracy

Both Rousseau and Kant were sceptical of the ability of an English-style parliamentary democracy to truly represent the will of the people, rather than than degrading into factional politics. Weber was also convinced that political parties in and of themselves are not democratic institutions.

An example of this can now be seen in the behaviour of the rise of Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) since the June 7 elections. MHP Chairman Devlet Bahçeli’s strategised a deadlock on the Turkish political scene.

Immediately after the elections Bahçeli told his supporters that his party had no interest in joining a coalition government, although he urged the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) to come up with a solution. He obviously thought that the MHP’s interests would be better served by avoiding an ill-fated coalition government.

Those coalition talks having failed, and given that the AK Party and the MHP are theoretical and in social policy terms closely matched, many blame Bahçeli for the failure. Bahçeli knew that withdrawing in this way, the AK Party would end up constitutionally having to give positions to the MHP ultra-antagonist HDP, and this would have allowed Bahçeli to accuse the AK Party of forming a coalition with the PKK’s political wing, thus drawing yet more disillusioned AK party  supporters to the MHP on the campaign trail, as new snap elections were announced.

This would have mired Turkey in years of political turmoil, creating ever greater divisions between Turks and Kurds, and, who knows if Bahçeli didn’t have the backing of foreign elements who didn’t like the AK Party’s policies (Israel, Gülen, etc…).

It took a true Turkish nationalist in the form of Tuğrul Türkeş, MHP deputy chairman and the son of MHP founder Alparslan Türkeş, to join the caretaker government, breaking ranks with Bahçeli. Ahmet Davutoğlu attempts to form a caretaker government would, as a result, not fail after all. Türkeş also made it clear that some other prominent figures in the MHP leadership were unhappy with Bahçeli’s strategy, sending a message to Turkish nationalists that the MHP may not be their political home after all.

So in the end, Bahçeli’s  gambit proved quite costly to his own party. In an effort to prevent lower-ranking MHP officials from starting a rebellion, Bahçeli petitioned the party’s ethics committee to expel Türkeş. Now, tension between the AK Party and the MHP will grow, and what Turkish nationalism actually means will be a hotly debated issue, as the MHP assumes an increasingly reactionary tone.

It is quite likely that, like the HDP, which is the mirror-image of the MHP on the other side of the political spectrum, the MHP will lose voters in the upcoming elections. While the HDP were (more-or-less) cooperative on the formation of coalition governments, they didn’t distance themselves from the PKK spree of violence. They blamed the AK Party for starting the new war with the PKK, although this hardly stands up if the AK Party were prepared to lose Turkish nationalist votes to back a Kurdish reconciliation process.

The Turks and Kurds will want to move away from the extremes.

New Turkish elections loom ahead

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli doesn’t know what to do. In the face of a collapse in coalition talks between the AKP and CHP, he opposes snap elections and is reluctant to form a coalition with the AKP. In the one case his support base will be wittled away, and in the other he will be engulfed by the AKP.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said that snap elections were ‘the only option’ for Turkey, given that the MHP had made it clear that it wanted to stay out of a coalition government. The fact that Bahçeli is nevertheless willing to enter into coalition talks with what he calls “the previous preconditions,” essentially means that he wants to share power – not to be engulfed.

When Bahçeli said that he was disappointed by the failed coalition talks between AK Party and the CHP he was expressing a hope for a political landscape that would maintain his party’s integrity.

Davutoğlu and Bahçeli are supposedly scheduled to meet on August 17 to discuss coalition government options, although they appear doomed given Davutoğlu’s criticism of the MHP leader’s conditions for starting coalition negotiations, saying that no one is in a position to “give anyone a lecture.”

Davutoğlu’s AK Party had been seeking a coalition partner after no party won a simple majority in the June 7 general elections, but he failed to reach an agreement with CHP Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu after several days of talks. He said ” Snap elections have become the only option for Turkey. It is obvious that the AK Party and CHP have deep conflicting opinions… mainly in foreign policy and education.”

Davutoğlu also said that the perception that Erdoğan did not want a coalition was “completely false.”

Actually, the dramatic change in the political landscape recently, with the rise of terrorism and the open conflict with the PKK, is in Erdoğan’s and the AK party’s favour. The tensions are likely to make anti-Kurdish defectors to the  MHP return to the AK party as a result of its harsher stance, and pro-Kurdish defectors to the HDP return to the AK party because of their disappointment in the behaviour of the HDP leadership over recent PKK attacks.

Turkey went to the polls on June 7 to choose its lawmakers for the country’s 25th Parliament, shaping the future of Turkish politics. The two significant outcomes of the elections were that the AK Party, which was vying for a fourth term of single-party power, had a clear victory but failed to secure the 276 seats required to form a government single-handedly, and the HDP attempt to pass the 10 percent national election threshold to make its way into Parliament, crushing the hurdle and receiving 80 seats in the chamber.

Although the AK Party got the most votes, receiving 40 percent, roughly 15 percent more than the CHP, which received the second highest number of votes, some interpreted the elections as an AK Party failure as its rate dropped 8 percent from the 49 percent it received in the 2011 general elections. Since the bare minimum to retain a simple majority in Parliament was not achieved, the AK Party started looking for a coalition partner to form a government, which appeared to be a tough undertaking, taking into consideration the rigid differences between the policies of the parties in Parliament.

The MHP won 80 seats in Parliament, and combined with the AK Party’s 258 seats, the two parties could easily forge a coalition and parliamentary majority.

When the deadline to form a government expires on Aug. 23, either Erdoğan or Parliament can decide to hold early elections. If the president issues the decision, then polling is supposed to be held the first Sunday following a 90-day period starting from the end of the first deadline.

In the current set of circumstances, this scenario suggests early elections in November.

However, if Parliament makes the decision for a new election, then the Supreme Election Board (YSK) can cut the 90-day period by half.

Threat of arrest delays junta leader Sisi’s visit, while FO keeps open the invitation

In a continuation of the ridiculous ‘road to democracy’ rhetoric over the Egyptian coup, on the anniversary of the Raba’a massacre, which is nowhere condemned, the Foreign Office continues to maintain that:

The UK is working to support Egypt’s security, and progress on political and economic reform. We have a frank and honest relationship, allowing us to raise concerns with our Egyptian partners on a consistent basis, including on human rights issues. The Egyptian government has taken some steps in the right direction, for example releases of small numbers of activists and international journalists and a new constitution enshrining a wide range of human rights. But we are very clear with Egypt about the economic reform, human rights and democracy needed for long-term stability, and to open the way to deeper partnership with the international community”.

In a remarkably similar ‘frank and honest’ relationship with Israel the FO continues to dodge arrest warrants issued under universal jurisdiction for the bloodthirsty tyrants it has for clients.

The premeditated massacre at Raba’a al-‘Adawiyya – HRW: “All according to Plan”


In July and August 2013, many of Egypt’s public squares and streets were awash in blood…. police and army forces systematically and intentionally used excessive lethal force in their policing, resulting in killings of protesters on a scale unprecedented in Egypt.


Obama doing his ‘constitutional duty’ snatches the towel from a corrupt Congress

Obama appeals to the figure of JFK to defend his political position and drive Congress into a corner:

“I want to thank President Kerwin and the American University family for hosting us here today. Fifty-two years ago, President Kennedy, at the height of the Cold War, addressed this same university on the subject of peace….”

“… he [Kennedy] rejected the prevailing attitude among some foreign-policy circles that equated security with a perpetual war footing. Instead, he promised strong, principled American leadership on behalf of what he called a practical and attainable peace”.

“I believe the facts support this deal. I believe they are in America’s interests and Israel’s interests, and as president of the United States it would be an abrogation of my constitutional duty to act against my best judgment”

“Let’s not mince words: The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war — maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon… How can we in good conscience justify war before we’ve tested a diplomatic agreement that achieves our objectives?”

Aaron David Miller, from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, who has served in Republican and Democratic administrations, said that Mr. Obama’s speech was bold and left no doubt that those who oppose it are either uninformed or, in the case of the Iraq war comparison in his speech, recklessly marching to the next war in the Middle East.



Alarm in respect of deaths in Egyptian prisons as international community turns blind eye

Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) revealed that an increasing  number of Egyptians detainees are dying in police custody after being held under life-threatening and completely inhumane conditions.

Continued wide human rights abuses, including arbitrary arrests, forced disappearances and holding political opponents without trial for extended periods of time, has fostered a culture of impunity among security forces. Many detainees have died in custody from torture  and medical neglect in respect of serious ailments in violations even of standard Egyptian  prison regulations.

Three political detainees died on 1st and 2nd August 2015 after a sharp deterioration in their health, and refusal by authorities to allow even minimal treatments.

Ramadan Abdulaziz Badawi (46), died on Sunday 2 August 2015 at the Central Prison of Al-Jabal Al-Gharabi in Sohaj, a year following his arrest. He was taken to Sohaj hospital on Saturday 1 August 2015 after complaining of diarrhea, vomiting, and fever, symptoms that strongly suggested he was suffering from food poisoning. The medical report did not specify the cause of death. His family said that he was well when they visited him on Friday 31 July 2015.

A second detainee, Ahmed Hussein Ghozlan (52),  died on Saturday 1 August 2015 at a local hospital in Damanhour in Behira Province following deterioration in his health. Apparently on the evening of 30 July 2015 he complained of fatigue and a high fever, but prison officials refused a doctor’s visit, leading other prison inmates to respond by trying to reduce his fever using cold cloths made from their own clothes. His family informed AOHR UK that Ghozlan had not been allowed to take his high-blood pressure medicine since his arrested on 12 March 2015.

EzzatHussein Mohammed Hussein Al-Salamouni (59), died on 1 August 2015 at Tora Prison from a bowel obstruction and consequent organ failure in the prison clinic.

It is estimated that more than 262 Egyptians have died in police custody since the 3rd of July 2013 military coup, including 71 since January 2015, resulting from medical neglect, torture, overcrowding and bad ventilation.

Most of those languishing in detention are political opponents arrested on bogus charges without evidence.

AOHR UK warned on 5th August 2015 that more prisoners are likely to die if Egyptian authorities do not take effective measures to change its prison policies. It also urged the UN Secretary General, the EU and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to intervene to secure the release of all political detainees, especially those suffering from serious ailments.

Gaza on Gaza Art Exhibition

Gaza on Gaza

Exhibition dates: 7 th – 22nd August 2015: Tues – Fri 12-6pm, Sat 12-4pm, Wed 12-8pm

Gaza on Gaza is an exhibition of work by Palestinian artists in response to the lives devastated by the last year’s conflict. During the military offensive 1,500 Palestinian civillians were killed and over 500,000 were displaced from their homes. Across Gaza, the UN estimates that nearly 400,000 children require some form of mental health support to cope with the events they witnessed or experienced over the summer of 2014.


P2 Gallery 21 Chalton Street, London NW1 1JD

open Tuesday – Friday 12 – 6pm, Saturday 12 – 4pm, Wednesdays until 8pm