Monthly Archives: October 2015

AK Party gaining allies ahead of tomorrow’s elections

Dozens of members from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Felicity Party (SP), Grand Unity Party (BBP) and Central Party (MP) pledged allegiance to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) yesterday on the brink of Sunday’s Nov. 1 general elections.

The new members attended an initiation ceremony organized by the AK Party’s provincial organization in Istanbul’s Eyüp district.

On Oct. 22, Kemal Saraçoğlu, the MHP candidate who ran for mayor in Şanlıurfa province during the March 30 local elections, announced that he had joined the AK Party. According to reports, former labor minister and AK Party’s Şanlıurfa deputy Faruk Çelik visited Saraçoğlu and congratulated him during his visit to the province.

Prior to that, 150 MHP members also resigned from their party on Oct. 20 to join the AK Party.

Tuğrul Türkeş, son of the MHP’s founder, Alparslan Türkeş, and one of the party’s most influential figures, announced his resignation from the MHP following the party’s central disciplinary committee’s decision to expel him for accepting to participate in the caretaker cabinet.

The meaning of Angus Deaton’s 2015 Nobel Prize in Economics

Angus Deaton was awarded the Nobel ‘Memorial’ Prize in Economics this month. The prize was never funded in Alfred Nobel’s will. It was actually established on its 300th anniversary in 1968 by the Swedish Central Bank in honour of Nobel, and is simply awarded alongside the other Nobel prizes.

Deaton’s award is part of a tradition followed by the bank of rewarding heterodox as well as orthodox economists for their work, which began in 1974 with the honouring of Gunnar Myrdal, one of their own, leading light of the Stockholm School in the 1930s, and critic of the policies surrounding the Vietnam experience in Asian Drama.

Read on – click here:

Angus Deaton’s Nobel Prize in economics

UK government should withdraw its invitation to Abdel Fatah al-Sisi

Letter to the UK government by the undersigned:

We are concerned to hear that the government has invited the Egyptian dictator, Field Marshal Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi, to visit the UK. We believe it violates the British values which the government claims to champion to welcome a ruler who has overthrown an elected government and instituted a regime of terror which has thrown back the cause of democracy in Egypt and the wider Middle East many years.

While not necessarily supporting deposed President Morsi or the policies of his Freedom and Justice party, we note that he was democratically elected, and that his removal from office was effected by means of a military coup led by Sisi.

Since then Sisi’s military-directed regime has massacred thousands of civilians. Hundreds of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, including President Morsi, have been sentenced to death in mass trials that were a travesty of justice. Almost all independent political activity has been suppressed, including that of liberal and leftwing organisations. Women’s rights have been violated across the country.

Sisi was “elected” president in 2014 in a vote that did not meet the most minimal democratic standards. The parliamentary elections currently taking place in the absence of any real opposition have been shunned by the vast majority of Egyptian voters with record low turnout, in the expectation that the new Egyptian parliament will be no more than a fig leaf for Sisi’s authoritarian regime.

Meanwhile, security and police forces have illegally arrested, detained and tortured Egyptian citizens, media freedoms have been suppressed and many journalists arrested and abused.

Such renunciation of democracy and human rights has surely contributed to the upsurge of terrorism in Egypt, which we repudiate but regard as a consequence of, rather than a justification for, Sisi’s barbarism.

Under these circumstances, we regard any visit to the UK by this despot as an affront to democratic values. No considerations of commerce or realpolitik can justify such an invitation. We urge the government to withdraw it.
Diane Abbott MP
Caroline Lucas MP
John McDonnell MP
Lindsey German Stop the War Coalition
John Pilger Journalist
Dr Anas Altikriti The Cordoba Foundation
Andrew Murray Chief of staff, Unite
Dr Daud Abdullah British Muslim Initiative
Ken Loach Film-maker
Dr Abdullah Faliq Islamic Forum of Europe
John Rees Counterfire
Dr Maha Azzam Egyptian Revolutionary Council
Harjinder Singh
Prof John L Esposito
Victoria Brittain Writer
Salma Yaqoob Former councillor
Peter Oborne Journalist
Bruce Kent CND peace campaigner
Aaron Kieley Student Broad Left
Kate Hudson CND
Chris Nineham Stop the War Coalition
Michael Rosen Author and political activist
Carl Arrindell Broadcaster
Dr Omar el-Hamdoon Muslim Association of Britain
Dr Farooq Bajwa Solicitor
Reverend Stephen Coles St Thomas the Apostle Church
Steve Bell Treasurer, Stop the War Coalition
Carol Turner Labour CND
Dr David Warren University of Manchester
Tanya Cariina Newbury Smith
Ibrahim Vawda Media Review Network
Nabeweya Malick Muslim Judicial Council
Hilary Aked University of Bath
Alastair Sloan Al-Jazeera columnist and investigative reporter
Dr MF ElShayyal Visiting professor, King’s College and SOAS
Asim Qureshi Author, Rules of the Game
Shaykh Abu Sayeed Da’watul Islam UK & Eire
Dr S Sayyid University of Leeds
Dr Muhammad Feyyaz University of Management and Technology, Pakistan
Dr Haider Bhuiyan University of North Georgia
Dr Osama Rushdi National Council for Human Rights, Egypt
Prof Mohammad Fadel University Toronto, Canada
Prof Scott Poynting University of Auckland, New Zealand
Maher Ansar Sri Lankan Islamic Forum-UK
Dr Alain Gabon USA
Na’eem Jennah
Dr Muhammad Abdul-Bari
Imam Ajmal Masroor
Dr Sarah Marusek
Yahya Birt
Shanon Shah
Robina Samuddin
Sameh Shafei Stop Sisi
Anne Alexander Co-Founder, MENA Solidarity Network and Egypt Solidarity Initiative
Medea Benjamin Code Pink



November 1 elections in Turkey and the matter of the presidential system

We are in for a slight increase in the AKP vote, with a flight of votes from the smaller parties and the MHP back to the AKP.

Even if an absolute majority is reached, which is unlikely, collaboration will be needed with the CHP to pass legislation, given the divisive nature of many of the current Turkish problems, which are not only pitting parties against each other, but also factions within them.

Erdogan’s hold on te AKP will allow him to pursue an executive role as President. The pity is that there will be considerable opposition to an constitutional change. This is necessary not only to address the status of the Kurds in the Turkish polity, but also to pass Erdogan’s massively unpopular idea of a presidential system.

This is opposed by those elements opposed to Erdogan. However,this is short-sited because Erdogan’s hold on the AKP is what allows him to interpret the new popularly elected presidency as he wishes. However, he will eventually leave the political scene. There is also an opportunity for a credible challenger to replace him, before a second and final term, in 4 years time.

Not passing to a presidential system like that of the US, and staying with a parliamentary system like thart of the UK, will in the long term place all power in the hands of whoever is prime minister in Turkey, which not much in terms of countervailing mechanisms to offset that power. Prime Ministers before Erdogan didn’t have much power because of the military tutelage. This ended dramatically in 2007.

The UK prime minister’s position is the most powerful in the political systems of the major Western countries, because ever since Robert Walpole the position of British Prime Minister benefited from an unwritten transfer of the King’s absolute power.

The Egyptian currency crisis and the Suez Canal project

British Defence Secretary and MP for Sevenoaks, Michael Fallon, attended the August 6 function for the opening of a new branch of the Suez Canal. Fallon, writing an op-ed in the local Egyptian state paper, hailed the ‘rejection of authoritarianism’ by the régime of Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, while some 46,000 of the best minds and the most active people in Egypt languish in the régime’s prisons on trumped up charges, in filthy conditions and without medical care. 176 of those are parliamentarians.


Fallon’s hagiography in Egypt’s state paper during in 6 August visit to the Suez Canal tells us how Sisi was about to “unveil a modern wonder”. The new 40m wide lane added onto 35 of the 192 km length of the Suez Canal would allow ships to pass in both directions, and reduce waiting times to 8 hours from the current 18 hours.
The whole exercise had nothing to do with commercial opportunity, but was an attempt by Sisi to shore up his damaged reputation both at home and abroad. His 6 February call for mobs to go the streets in their millions to support a new crackdown on internal ‘terrorism’ as a show of virility to the ‘international community’ at the Davos conference had been met with deathly silence.

The Suez Canal project is now sinking Egypt financially. Shipping demand barely existed for the old capacity of the Suez Canal before its expansion.


Furthermore, the massive $8bn expense of digging out this channel could not qualify as a good long-term investment, in view of the fact that enterprising Chinese carriers are now braving the arctic route in the summer months to cut 13 days off the trip from the Yellow Sea to Rotterdam via Suez. The rush to build the extension to the canal as a PR stunt had seriously deleterious effects.

Mohamed Aly-Hassan of the Kyoto Institute of Technology predicted the collapse of the Egyptian currency, as a result of the unstudied headlong dash to complete the crazy project, on his Facebook page on 18 October 2014.


He points out that in its first phase the project, which had been due to excavate 341 million m3 of earth, hit a snag after just 40 of them, it was discovered that the Suez Canal Authority hadn’t planned for the right sort of equipment to complete the project. This resulted in a doubling of costs, as the equipment had to be hired from foreign contracting companies at exorbitant cost.

Aly-Ḥassan’s prediction was borne out when Egypt Central Bank Governor, Hisham Ramez, said, a year later to the day on 18 October 2015 that the country had run out of foreign exchange as a result of the Suez Canal Project. No sooner had he said that, Ramez was removed from his position and replaced with Tarek Amer, ex-head of al-Ahli Bank and close friend of Gamal Mubarak, the ex-president’s son.

Embarrassed by this outcome to the Suez Canal project, Sisi decided to blame the collapse of the Egyptian currency on Muslim Brother leading figure Hassan Malik, who was arrested a few days ago on charges of currency manipulation.


This accusation flies in the face of the fact that all of his assets had already been frozen by the state, and the 68 companies that make up his commercial group closed, as of 21 January this year. He has more or less house bound since.
Malik had not been arrested with the rest of the Muslim Brother leadership in the hope that pressure could be applied on him to back the new régime and swing public opinion. But his stubborn refusal to bend to the junta’s will has created problems for Sisi.
Malik’s 28-year old son Omar was consequently imprisoned and sentenced to death along with Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohamed Badie, in order to force the father to the negotiating table. Malik’s response to the new pressure was nevertheless and predictably negative, which infuriated the junta even more.

The collapse of the currency together with the crushingly low turnout in the parliamentary elections, which were unchanged despite personal appeals by Sisi for the population to go out and vote, has resulted in a week of panicky reactions by the Sisi junta.


So What about the PKK and the YPG in the current situation?

The PKK established the PYD in 2003, and since then, the Syrian group has been deferential to the leadership and ideology of its Turkish parent. Turkey understandably considers the PYD to be a terrorist movement like the PKK.

If Moscow has reportedly encouraged the YPG to unite the Kobane/Jazira and Afrin cantons to create a continuous belt of Kurdish controlled territory on Turkey’s border, then the PKK by extension will be considered a Russian client and peace within Turkey will be exceptionally difficult.


Furthermore, consider the PKK’s actions within Turkey over the past two years:

March 21, 2013: Abdullah Öcalan made his first call for the disarmament of the PKK.

May 7, 2013: Murat Karayılan declared that the PKK would withdraw all of its forces from Turkey.

July 2, 2013: the PKK attacked police stations in Lice, Diyarbakır.

Sept. 9, 2013: Cemil Bayık was elected as the head of the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK). In his first statement, he hinted at the restart of terrorist attacks.

Sept. 30, 2013: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced a comprehensive democratization package. The PKK responded by announcing the formation of a new urban youth militia called the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H).

March 21, 2014: Öcalan made another call on the PKK to disarm. His message was read in both Turkish and Kurdish in Diyarbakır.

June 1, 2014: a Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) delegation went to meet Öcalan. The month of June saw numerous terrorist attacks by the PKK, killing soldiers and civilians.

Oct. 8, 2014: HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş called for street protests on the pretext of Kobani despite the fact Turkey allowed the Iraqi peshmerga to enter the city and accepted over 190,000 residents to the country. Demirtaş’s call led to the death of 50 people and polarized the society again. The opposition parties attacked the government for being too soft on the PKK.

Dec. 20, 2014: Cemil Bayık said “disarmament means death” for the PKK.

Feb. 28, 2015: Öcalan made another call on the KCK/PKK to disarm. In April and May of 2015, the PKK attacked security forces in eastern and southeastern cities, terrorized people before the June 7 elections, blocked roads, collected money by force, burned vehicles, attacked dams and threatened anyone who did not follow their orders. After the terrorist attack in Suruç on July 20, which left 33 people dead, the PKK intensified its terrorist attacks and declared open war. In September and October of this year, the PKK carried out tens of attacks on security officers and civilians across the country.

Intifada or not, something powerful is going on


As the student cafeteria at Birzeit University empties after the lunchtime rush, Ehab Iwidat leans back on his chair and sips from a bottle of mineral water. The wiry, 20-year-old business and French student is suffering from a cold, but that has not stopped him from attending some of the recent demonstrations in the West Bank.

“It’s the first time in a long time that we’ve seen this,” he says. “I’ve seen young people, old people, females, males, protesting in the streets together. You can see rich people alongside poor people too.”

See report from al-Jazeera