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Turkish F-16 Shoots Down Syrian Plane, Caught On Live Video | Zero Hedge

Turkish F-16 Shoots Down Syrian Plane, Caught On Live Video | Zero Hedge.

Remember this country, the place which about a year ago was supposed to be “Ukraine” in terms of geopolitical escalations:

Syria map

Well, in the aftermath of what appears a tenuous detente over the Crimea while Putin plans his next step of how to “merge” with east Ukraine as he sets off to rebuild the USSR, Syria just may be set to regain its place at the top of the global geopolitical risk pyramid. Case in point, early this morning, the fragile ceasefire between Syria and Turkey was shatered after a Turkish F- 16 shot down a Syrian plane on Sunday after it crossed into Turkish air space in a border region where Syrian rebels have been battling President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

A photo of the falling plane was caught by twitter:

Anatolian Agency take the photos of Syrian jet down pic.twitter.com/xK59LUawvx

— Cüneyt Toros (@cuneyttoros) March 23, 2014

Reuters reports:

“A Syrian plane violated our airspace,” Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told an election rally of his supporters in northwest Turkey. “Our F-16s took off and hit this plane. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, our slap after this will be hard,”

 

The rebels have been fighting for control of the Kasab crossing, the border region, since Friday, when they launched an offensive which Syrian authorities say was backed by Turkey’s military.

 

Syria said Turkish air defenses shot down the jet while it was attacking rebel forces inside Syrian territory, calling the move a “blatant aggression”.

 

State television quoted a military source as saying the pilot managed to eject from the plane. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said initial reports from the area said the plane came down on the Syrian side of the border.

 

Al Manar, the television station of Assad’s Lebanese ally Hezbollah, said two rockets had been fired from Turkish territory at the Syrian jet.

Amazingly, here is a clip of a live broadcast by HaberTurk which appears to have caught the moment of the plane’s crash live on video.

Why did Turkey really engage? Simple: to distract from PM Erdogan’s relentless political collapse when one after another political scandal is hitting the embattled premier who last week shut down access to Twitter, and it likely set to block YouTube as well, where a phone recording of his admitting graft and embezzlement can still be found. Naturally, it struck at the one country it knows will hardly fight back against the NATO member, although now that Russian foreign policy sentiment is once again shifting dramatically, and may call for far greater support for Syria, not to mention that suddenly Turkey is hardly in “democratic” Europe’s good graces in the aftermath of the Twitter censorship scandal, Erdogan may just have miscalculated.

As for the next steps in Turkey, we repeat what we said on Friday: “We eagerly look forward to see which particular pro-Western agent is groomed to take Erdogan’s place. After all remember: those Qatari gas pipelines that in a parallel universe, one without Putin, would have already been transporting nat gas under Syria, would enter Europe under Turkey.”

Surely following yet another “chess” victory by Putin in the foreign relations arena, the urgency to find that Qatari natgas outlet to Europe is that much greater…

Turkish F-16 Shoots Down Syrian Plane, Caught On Live Video | Zero Hedge

Turkish F-16 Shoots Down Syrian Plane, Caught On Live Video | Zero Hedge.

Remember this country, the place which about a year ago was supposed to be “Ukraine” in terms of geopolitical escalations:

Syria map

Well, in the aftermath of what appears a tenuous detente over the Crimea while Putin plans his next step of how to “merge” with east Ukraine as he sets off to rebuild the USSR, Syria just may be set to regain its place at the top of the global geopolitical risk pyramid. Case in point, early this morning, the fragile ceasefire between Syria and Turkey was shatered after a Turkish F- 16 shot down a Syrian plane on Sunday after it crossed into Turkish air space in a border region where Syrian rebels have been battling President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

A photo of the falling plane was caught by twitter:

Anatolian Agency take the photos of Syrian jet down pic.twitter.com/xK59LUawvx

— Cüneyt Toros (@cuneyttoros) March 23, 2014

Reuters reports:

“A Syrian plane violated our airspace,” Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told an election rally of his supporters in northwest Turkey. “Our F-16s took off and hit this plane. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, our slap after this will be hard,”

 

The rebels have been fighting for control of the Kasab crossing, the border region, since Friday, when they launched an offensive which Syrian authorities say was backed by Turkey’s military.

 

Syria said Turkish air defenses shot down the jet while it was attacking rebel forces inside Syrian territory, calling the move a “blatant aggression”.

 

State television quoted a military source as saying the pilot managed to eject from the plane. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said initial reports from the area said the plane came down on the Syrian side of the border.

 

Al Manar, the television station of Assad’s Lebanese ally Hezbollah, said two rockets had been fired from Turkish territory at the Syrian jet.

Amazingly, here is a clip of a live broadcast by HaberTurk which appears to have caught the moment of the plane’s crash live on video.

Why did Turkey really engage? Simple: to distract from PM Erdogan’s relentless political collapse when one after another political scandal is hitting the embattled premier who last week shut down access to Twitter, and it likely set to block YouTube as well, where a phone recording of his admitting graft and embezzlement can still be found. Naturally, it struck at the one country it knows will hardly fight back against the NATO member, although now that Russian foreign policy sentiment is once again shifting dramatically, and may call for far greater support for Syria, not to mention that suddenly Turkey is hardly in “democratic” Europe’s good graces in the aftermath of the Twitter censorship scandal, Erdogan may just have miscalculated.

As for the next steps in Turkey, we repeat what we said on Friday: “We eagerly look forward to see which particular pro-Western agent is groomed to take Erdogan’s place. After all remember: those Qatari gas pipelines that in a parallel universe, one without Putin, would have already been transporting nat gas under Syria, would enter Europe under Turkey.”

Surely following yet another “chess” victory by Putin in the foreign relations arena, the urgency to find that Qatari natgas outlet to Europe is that much greater…

Turkey PM Acts On His Threat To “Destroy Twitter”, Blocks Countrywide Access | Zero Hedge

Turkey PM Acts On His Threat To “Destroy Twitter”, Blocks Countrywide Access | Zero Hedge.

When we reported early yesterday that Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan warned that since Twitter had ignored court orders to remove content related to a government corruption scandal., that he would “destroy Twitter” and that “we’ll dig up Twitter – all of them – from the roots,” he raged, “they’ll see the power of the Republic of Turkey” it may not have been quite clear what he meant. A few hours later it was revealed, when virtually all Twitter access was blocked in Turkey ten days ahead of the general election in a move that has already enraged the nation and resulted in a powerful public outcry.

Bloomberg reports that the “tweets targeted by the premier are from two anonymous users: one going by the name of Haramzadeler, a phrase translated by Turkish media as “Sons of Thieves” though it could also mean “bastard,” and another called Bascalan, or “Prime Thief.”  The person or persons have been leaking documents and audio files, some described as the results of a 15-month prosecutor-led investigation into corruption in Erdogan’s government. The leaks have captured the attention of Turkey’s 74 million citizens as the prime minister prepares for local elections on March 30. Zero Hedge reported on the leaks one month ago, which revealed that the PM and his sons were scrambling to hide their stolen money from the local prosecution during an anti-corruption raid in late 2013.

The leaks also call into question everything from the financial probity of ministers to their religious piety, and provide evidence of a media browbeaten by the government. That’s enlivened the opposition and put Erdogan on the defensive amid public allegations of graft involving the premier’s family and businessmen who’ve profited during his 11 years in power.

Turkey’s Information Technology and Telecommunications Board, or BTK, said Twitter had been blocked upon “complaints from our citizens” and “violations of personal rights and privacy,” according to a statement on its website today.

“The Internet site called Twitter has ignored decisions made by the courts of the Republic of Turkey,” the board said in the statement. “Left with no other choice to prevent the incompensable victimization of our citizens, a preventive measure blocking access to Twitter has been imposed in line with court decisions.”

Of course, the sheer idiocy of hoping to spread information by blocking one medium needs no commentary. What is worse for the embattled corrupt PM, however, is that worse revelations are coming:

Local media has reported that the most damaging leaks were yet to come. In a column in Yeni Safak newspaper yesterday, Hayrettin Karaman, a retired professor of Islamic law, pre-emptively denied the validity of a tape he said would be aired, showing him advising Erdogan on whether Islam would permit him to order the killing of politician Muhsin Yazicioglu, who died in a helicopter crash on March 25, 2009.

Yesterday, a prominent Turkish news anchorwoman denied rumors of a sexual affair with the prime minister. The pro-government media had been warning this week that new leaks would use “Hollywood” technology including silicon masks to make actors look like recognizable Turkish personalities.

While the original investigation stalled after prosecutors were removed, laws changed and thousands of police officers transferred, some of the files leaked from “Haramzadeler” have been incorporated into parliamentary record by the opposition.

As for the explanations from Erdogan, they have long since moved beyond the merely ridiculous:

Speaking across Turkey, Erdogan has dismissed one recording as a “montage,” described another as “natural” and said the entire investigation is backed by “foreign powers” and spearheaded by followers of a U.S.-based Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen. The latter has denied the allegations.

Regardless, the leaks are set to go on.

In a message on Twitter on March 19, “Haramzadeler” promised the leaks would continue until municipal elections and beyond.

“These publications will continue not just until March 30, but until Turkey sees the whole truth,” according to the post.

And since Turkey will certainly not stop at just Twitter, here is what is coming next: “Last week, Erdogan said the country could also block Facebook and YouTube.” One wonders how long until other despotic regimes – the Eurozone comes to mind – encourage Erdogan and decide to adopt some of his more radical measures.

Turkey PM Acts On His Threat To "Destroy Twitter", Blocks Countrywide Access | Zero Hedge

Turkey PM Acts On His Threat To “Destroy Twitter”, Blocks Countrywide Access | Zero Hedge.

When we reported early yesterday that Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan warned that since Twitter had ignored court orders to remove content related to a government corruption scandal., that he would “destroy Twitter” and that “we’ll dig up Twitter – all of them – from the roots,” he raged, “they’ll see the power of the Republic of Turkey” it may not have been quite clear what he meant. A few hours later it was revealed, when virtually all Twitter access was blocked in Turkey ten days ahead of the general election in a move that has already enraged the nation and resulted in a powerful public outcry.

Bloomberg reports that the “tweets targeted by the premier are from two anonymous users: one going by the name of Haramzadeler, a phrase translated by Turkish media as “Sons of Thieves” though it could also mean “bastard,” and another called Bascalan, or “Prime Thief.”  The person or persons have been leaking documents and audio files, some described as the results of a 15-month prosecutor-led investigation into corruption in Erdogan’s government. The leaks have captured the attention of Turkey’s 74 million citizens as the prime minister prepares for local elections on March 30. Zero Hedge reported on the leaks one month ago, which revealed that the PM and his sons were scrambling to hide their stolen money from the local prosecution during an anti-corruption raid in late 2013.

The leaks also call into question everything from the financial probity of ministers to their religious piety, and provide evidence of a media browbeaten by the government. That’s enlivened the opposition and put Erdogan on the defensive amid public allegations of graft involving the premier’s family and businessmen who’ve profited during his 11 years in power.

Turkey’s Information Technology and Telecommunications Board, or BTK, said Twitter had been blocked upon “complaints from our citizens” and “violations of personal rights and privacy,” according to a statement on its website today.

“The Internet site called Twitter has ignored decisions made by the courts of the Republic of Turkey,” the board said in the statement. “Left with no other choice to prevent the incompensable victimization of our citizens, a preventive measure blocking access to Twitter has been imposed in line with court decisions.”

Of course, the sheer idiocy of hoping to spread information by blocking one medium needs no commentary. What is worse for the embattled corrupt PM, however, is that worse revelations are coming:

Local media has reported that the most damaging leaks were yet to come. In a column in Yeni Safak newspaper yesterday, Hayrettin Karaman, a retired professor of Islamic law, pre-emptively denied the validity of a tape he said would be aired, showing him advising Erdogan on whether Islam would permit him to order the killing of politician Muhsin Yazicioglu, who died in a helicopter crash on March 25, 2009.

Yesterday, a prominent Turkish news anchorwoman denied rumors of a sexual affair with the prime minister. The pro-government media had been warning this week that new leaks would use “Hollywood” technology including silicon masks to make actors look like recognizable Turkish personalities.

While the original investigation stalled after prosecutors were removed, laws changed and thousands of police officers transferred, some of the files leaked from “Haramzadeler” have been incorporated into parliamentary record by the opposition.

As for the explanations from Erdogan, they have long since moved beyond the merely ridiculous:

Speaking across Turkey, Erdogan has dismissed one recording as a “montage,” described another as “natural” and said the entire investigation is backed by “foreign powers” and spearheaded by followers of a U.S.-based Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen. The latter has denied the allegations.

Regardless, the leaks are set to go on.

In a message on Twitter on March 19, “Haramzadeler” promised the leaks would continue until municipal elections and beyond.

“These publications will continue not just until March 30, but until Turkey sees the whole truth,” according to the post.

And since Turkey will certainly not stop at just Twitter, here is what is coming next: “Last week, Erdogan said the country could also block Facebook and YouTube.” One wonders how long until other despotic regimes – the Eurozone comes to mind – encourage Erdogan and decide to adopt some of his more radical measures.

Turkish Lira Blows Out As Graft Scandal Comes Back With A Vengeance | Zero Hedge

Turkish Lira Blows Out As Graft Scandal Comes Back With A Vengeance | Zero Hedge.

Update as things just got worseTURKISH POLICE CLOSE DOWN GEZI PARK IN ISTANBUL, CNN-TURK SAYS

As we reported previously, on Monday new revelations in the graft scandal surrounding Turkish PM Erdogan in the form of a leaked phone conversation between him and his son, Bilal, detailing plans how to hide huge sums of cash, by some estimates up to $1 billion, brought back the political crisis that has gripped the nation front and center, and led to renewed demands by the opposition party that the PM resign. It also sent the USDTRY surging to levels not seen in weeks. We said: “Somehow we doubt that Erdogan will resign, however, this latest confirmation that the graft scandal that is and will continue to dodge the Turkish Prime Minister is not going away, may just be the catalyst that pushes the TRY, and with it some of the other recently pacified EMs, back into volatile mode.” Today the crisis is fully back and so is the predicted volatility, with the Lira blowing out by another 400 pip to a level of 2.240, not seen since the first week of February when the Turkish central bank was scrambling to restore confidence in the imploding currency.

What prompted this latest risk flaring? Several things. As Turkish media outlet Hurriyet reportedTurkey’s main opposition took to the streets of Istanbul on Feb. 26 to throw away millions of fake bills, in protest against the latest leaked voice recordings incriminating Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an and his son.

In the call, apparently made in the wake of the Dec. 17 graft investigation, the prime minister and his son can be heard desperately trying to hide considerable amounts of cash.

“Everywhere is bribery! Everywhere is corruption!” shouted the demonstrators, a chant coined following the graft scandal, in reference to the symbolic slogan of the Gezi Park protests, while urging the government to resign.

The Republican People Party’s (CHP) candidate for the Istanbul mayoralty Mustafa Sar?gül used harsh language targeting the government over the revelations.

All across Istanbul you can see billboards of the prime minister saying ‘strong will.’ Here is a test of your will. Either you prove [that you are not guilty] or you resign and go,” Sar?gül said, referring to the campaign launched by an NGO close to the government after the corruption scandal surfaced. Huge posters of Erdo?an with the motto “strong will” can be seen across Istanbul, plastered near main arteries, on construction buildings and even on stadiums.

The fresh tape, leaked onto the Internet late Feb. 24 and allegedly featuring four phone conversations, is significant for being the first source to implicate Erdo?an personally in the vast corruption scandal.

The recordings feature Erdo?an and his son discussing how to get rid of a sum of cash equivalent to 2.2 billion Turkish Liras, according to the opposition. In one part of the alleged recording, the son, Bilal Erdo?an, is heard saying that he still needs to dispose of 30 million euros.

In a clear reference to the tape, CHP officials handed out fake money amounting to 30 million euros during a demonstration near Taksim Square, throwing the paper banknotes in the air like confetti.

“We are ashamed of this situation. Those 30 million euros are only a small share of the amount of cash that the prime minister told [his son] to ‘clean’ on Dec. 17. There is also the mother share. Think about how huge that must be,” said the CHP’s Istanbul provincial head, O?uz Kaan Sal?c?.

Erdo?an has virulently rejected the voice recordings on Feb. 25, calling them “fake” and denouncing as a “montage.” CHP head Kemal K?l?çdaro?lu has claimed that they are “as authentic as the Mount Ararat.” The Ankara Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into the tapes, following a request from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

As we said on Monday, “since Erdogan has already eliminated any judges that are not sympathetic to his regime, the question of how much justice will be revealed is irrelevant.” However, in an indication of how desperate the government is to redirect attention from this latest scandal, a follow up article from Anadolu news agency, reported that a Turkish attorney, Hudaverdi Yildirim, has filed a complaint to Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office against Fethullah Gulen on Wednesday, asking him to be tried of crimes such as, “forming an organization”, ” an organized coup attempt” and “organized deceit”.

Yildirim claimed in his petition that national ‘economic secrets’ and the activities of National Intelligence Service (MIT) were disclosed and an illegal chase was launched.

Referring to the December 17 anti-graft operation, Yildirim said: “National secrets were disclosed at the end of the anti-graft operations, which were illegally conducted and the country’s economy was damaged by around US$ 200 billion.”

Crimes of treason, a coup against a legal government, qualified deceit, and abuse of power were committed at the same time and by the same people, alleged the petition, adding that Fethullah Gulen, “used his political and moral power on prosecutors, by which he becomes instigator of the prosecutors that target legal government”.

The attorney demanded Gulen and his allies be tried of crimes of “forming an organization”, “an organized coup attempt” and “organized deceit and abuse of power.”

An anti-graft operation was launched on December 17 in Turkey, which resulted in the detentions and arrests of high-profile bureaucrats, including the sons of three former cabinet ministers and businessmen.

Turkey’s government claim it is targeted by a group within the state that has international links. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and senior government officials have blamed the group for ‘attempting to run an agenda of its own with the December anti-graft operation’.

Recall that Gulen, a dissident who currently lives in Pennsylvania, was the person whom the government accused of staging the graft probe which revealed just how deep the government corruption rabbit hole truly goes. That the PM is willing to go all the way in this latest scapegoating persecution perhaps confirms just how concerned the administration is, even if for the time being nothing dramatically has changed except for ever bolder revelations of just how much theft and corruption the current Turkish regime has engaged in.

Finally, should indeed the central bank once again lose control of Turkish FX rates, and should the EM crisis once again return, perhaps the DE Shaw correlation algos will finally realize just how far ahead of themselves they have gotten by simply chasing various carry funding currency pairs as an indicator of “fundamental” value.

14 Turkish Protesters Jailed For 2 Years For “Insulting” Prime Minister | Zero Hedge

14 Turkish Protesters Jailed For 2 Years For “Insulting” Prime Minister | Zero Hedge.

Forget throwing Molotov cocktails; don’t worry about throwing stones or hand to hand combat with the Police… the real trouble for Turkish protesters appears to be “insults” and “tree-hugging”:

  • *TURKEY PROSECUTOR REQUESTS JAIL FOR TREE-PLANTING STUDENTS: NTV
  • *Turkey Protesters Given Jail for Insults to Erdogan

The punishments vary from 2-years to 14 years in jail!!

So it seems sticks and words can hurt one after all…

If you can’t do the time, don’t plant a tree…

Prosecutor asks for jail time for students protesting the construction of a road at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, NTV news reports.

Three students detained after planting trees as part of protest and charged with obstructing public works

Prosecutor asks for jail sentences ranging from 2 yrs, 6 months to 14 yrs, 6 months

or dare to insult the Prime Minister…

 Court in Eskisehir gives 17 suspects jail terms for insulting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a demonstration, state-run Anatolia news agency reports.

14 suspects get two-year jail sentences each, 3 other suspects get 1 year imprisonment each, Anatolia says

All seems very “fair”…

How Turkey Put A Prompt End To Its Dramatic Corruption Investigation | Zero Hedge

How Turkey Put A Prompt End To Its Dramatic Corruption Investigation | Zero Hedge.

The main reason Turkey’s government has been roiled with resignations, the Turkish Lira and domestic assets are plunging, the central bank is paralyzed, and pundits are ever more concerned about what the potential contagion effect is should the worst happen to the country, has been an ongoing scandal involving corruption at the very highest echelons of power as we reported late last year. So, what is a perturbed government, on the verge of losing legitimacy and credibility, to do? Well, following Stalin’s advice always works: “no man, no problem“… if perhaps not quite as “terminally” then just as decisively. According to Reuters the corruption investigation has been brought to a screeching halt, after Turkey’s government ‘purged’ both the judiciary and police systems, firing and transferring dozens of judges and officers and making it impossible for any ongoing investigative efforts to continue.

However, this may just be the beginning of Turkey PM Erdogan’s problem: “Turkey’s purge of the judiciary and police has brought a corruption investigation shaking the government to a grinding halt and could undermine confidence in state institutions, senior legal figures and the opposition said on Wednesday.”

Reuters has the details on Turkey’s decisive (if not yet final) “solution” to its problems:

Ninety-six judges and prosecutors were reassigned overnight, the biggest purge of the judiciary since a graft scandal erupted on December 17 with the arrest of businessmen close to Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and three ministers’ sons.

 

Erdogan has portrayed the corruption inquiry as an attempted “judicial coup” orchestrated by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose network of sympathizers, known locally as “Cemaat” (religious community), hold considerable sway in many parts of the state including the police and legal system.

 

The government’s response, transferring thousands of police officers and seeking to tighten its grip on the courts, has brought sharp criticism from the European Union, which Turkey has been seeking to join for decades, and rattled investors, helping send the lira to record lows.

 

“Turkey is ablaze with the justice agenda,” said Metin Feyzioglu, chairman of the Turkish bar association.

 

“Everyone in the country has started to ask when there is an investigation or trial what side the judge, prosecutor or police officer is on,” he said. “The foundation of the state and the country’s legal order has been shaken.”

 

The roughly 120 judges and prosecutors reassigned since the graft scandal broke make up a fraction of the 13,000 working in Turkey as a whole, but the move has put sensitive cases on hold and shaken confidence within the profession.

The government’s party line so far has been simple: as explained before, “Erdogan has portrayed the corruption inquiry as an attempted “judicial coup” orchestrated by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose network of sympathizers, known locally as “Cemaat” (religious community), hold considerable sway in many parts of the state including the police and legal system.”

As a result, Erdogan decided to simply reassign the entire judicial branch!

Judges and prosecutors across the country – from Istanbul in the west to the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, and from the southern border region with Syria to the northern Black Sea coast – were reassigned in the move announced late on Tuesday.

 

The High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), already headed by the justice minister and set to fall further under government control under a ruling party bill before parliament, said the 96 were being transferred to new locations. The government denied involvement.

 

“These appointments have absolutely nothing to do with our ministry. This is completely at the discretion of the relevant (HSYK) chamber,” a senior justice ministry official said.

The police fared similarly:

Nearly 500 police, mostly in Ankara, were also removed from their posts and reassigned on Wednesday, media reports said, bringing the total since December 17 to several thousand. Erdogan’s supporters say the police and judiciary are dominated by Cemaat sympathizers and that the government’s actions strengthen not weaken their independence. Erdogan himself refers to a “parallel state” within the judiciary.

 

But Aykut Erdogdu, the chief corruption investigator for the main opposition CHP, said the purge had become so broad that many of those removed were not even linked to Cemaat.

 

“We’ve reached the point where members of these institutions are unable to do their job,” Erdogdu told Reuters. “More important is the damage done to these institutions. It can take decades to build up competent staff to run the institutions of state. Moreover, it will take years to undo the memory of this among prospective candidates in the future.”

It seems that the people, at least some of then, aren’t buying it:

“While the government claims that it is fighting against a parallel structure, it is actually closing off the corruption investigations … It is taking away those who know their cases best. It causes a great deal of harm,” said Murat Arslan, chairman of the YARSAV association of judges and prosecutors.

 

“It is quite clear there is political intervention here … they are quite clearly intimidating the whole of the judiciary. It is sending the message that ‘you cannot conduct an investigation which touches me’,” he told Reuters.

Welcome to Banana republic status gents… incidentally Turkey is way behind of the US, where no investigation that touches the people in charge is allowed, while any prosecution of corporate CEO that are deemed Too Big To Prosecute is promptly killed by none other than the Justice Department. The corrupt Justice Department.

But importantly, unlike the US where the myth that one party is different than another is just that, in Turkey the people do have the power to replace those in charge:

Erdogan has essentially banished the army from politics in 11 years in power. His popularity seems as yet largely unaffected by the current turmoil and there is no sign of the summer demonstrations that shook his government reigniting on a similar scale. He will, in short, be trusting voters will flee towards the elected power.

And if voters support him, well, they too deserve the government they “pick.”

Turkey passes controversial medical aid bill – Europe – Al Jazeera English

Turkey passes controversial medical aid bill – Europe – Al Jazeera English.

After 11 years in power, Erdogan is accused of becoming increasingly authoritarian [AP]
A controversial medical bill that makes it a crime for doctors to provide emergency first aid without government authorisation has come into force in Turkey despite an outcry from rights groups.Under the legislation that was approved by President Abdullah Gul on Friday, those convicted could be imprisoned for up to three years and face fines of nearly $1m from January 18.

Critics fear it could be used to bar doctors and medical workers from treating protesters wounded in anti-government demonstrations as reportedly happened during mass street protests in June last year.

The US-based Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) branded the legislation another attempt by the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to quash dissent.

“Passing a bill that criminalises emergency care and punishes those who care for injured protesters is part of the Turkish government’s relentless effort to silence any opposing voices,” PHR senior medical adviser Vincent Iacopino said.

“This kind of targeting of the medical community is not only repugnant, but puts everyone’s health at risk,” he said in a statement on the PHR website.

The legislation, drawn up by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), bars medical professionals from working outside state health institutions and is aimed at preventing doctors from setting up private clinics for example.

Medical professionals who break the law would face up to three years in prison and be fined up to $985,000 (728,000 euros).

Political protesters

Last month, the United Nations had also raised concerns about the bill and urged the government to reconsider it.

“If adopted, it will have a chilling effect on the availability and accessibility of emergency medical care in a country prone to natural disasters and a democracy that is not immune from demonstrations,” UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Anand Grover, said in a statement.

“Enacting laws and policies criminalising provision of medical care to people challenging state authorities, such as political protesters, will certainly deter healthcare workers from providing services due to fear of prosecution,” he said.

During the unrest which gripped the country last year, the Turkish doctors’ association repeatedly accused government forces of preventing medics from treating injured people.

At least six people were killed and about 8,000 hurt in nationwide clashes between police and protesters who took to the streets in a wave of public opposition to Erdogan.

After 11 years in power, Erdogan is accused of becoming increasingly authoritarian and of trying to impose greater government control and his conservative religious values on all sectors of the traditionally secular society.

No Truce in Turkey as Erdogan Party Sees Graft Probe as Coup – Bloomberg

No Truce in Turkey as Erdogan Party Sees Graft Probe as Coup – Bloomberg.

Turkey’s ruling party will continue to purge police and judiciary members pursuing corruption charges against government officials and will then seek to prosecute them for attempting a coup, a top party official said.

“My opinion is that they are criminals — the police and the judges and prosecutors,” Osman Can, a member of the central committee of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, said in a Jan. 6 interview in Istanbul. “If you can destroy this organization, you can save democracy.”

The remarks suggest there’s little scope for easing tensions between the government and followers of the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen. Erdogan’s party accuses Gulen supporters in the judiciary and police for pursuing the graft probes in an effort to discredit it before local elections in March.

The government has removed prosecutors and dismissed about 1,800 police officers since news of the 15-month secret investigations broke on Dec. 17, when sons of three cabinet ministers were among dozens detained, according to Hurriyet newspaper. In a new wave of dismissals announced today, the government reassigned Muammer Bucak, a deputy head of the national police force, and recalled chiefs of 15 provinces, including the capital, Ankara, according to a decree in the Official Gazette.

Markets Hit

In Brussels, a spokesman for the European Commission expressed concern that developments in Turkey “could weaken investigations in progress and the capacity of the legal system and the police to conduct independent investigations.” As a candidate to join the European Union, Turkey must respect EU entry criteria, including rule of law, and deal with corruption allegations “in a transparent and impartial manner,” Olivier Bailly told a news conference.

The political turmoil has hit markets. Turkey’s currency and bonds have been the world’s biggest decliners since the arrests began, while the benchmark stock index fell 8 percent. Fitch Ratings said yesterday that the turmoil could lead Turkey to lose its investment-grade rating, should it undermine the government’s ability to maintain economic stability.

Gulen’s movement and Erdogan’s party were allies for most of the past decade. They split over issues including Erdogan’s pursuit of a peace accord with Kurdish militants and the government’s decision to close the university exam prep schools that are a source of influence and income for Gulen followers, according to Can, a former official at the Constitutional Court.

‘To the End’

He said the government would only go after Gulen followers who have sought to topple Erdogan’s elected government, and that sympathizers working in state institutions won’t face retribution. Can said the group’s structure and obedience to one leader mean that its more “militant” members aren’t compatible with democratic systems.

“They have their own agenda, which definitely does not fit with civil democracy,” Can said. “After they are removed, the government should prosecute them to the end.”

Prosecutors in the city of Izmir yesterday widened the graft probe by detaining officials at Turkey’s state railways authority. The government retaliated by removing the police officers in charge of the raids, according to Radikal newspaper.

‘Notable Casualty’

“The rule of law is by far the most notable casualty of the ongoing crisis,” Wolfango Piccoli, an analyst at Teneo Intelligence in London, said in e-mailed comments on Jan. 6. “It is unclear whether the government is committed to this principle, and it is equally questionable whether the judiciary and the police can actually deliver justice.”

Can said that while some of the corruption charges may be true, the way in which the probes were carried out made them part of a coup attempt.

Among those arrested are a son of the interior minister, who was found with several safes at his house filled with cash, and the chief executive officer of a state-run bank, who had $4.5 million stuffed into shoeboxes, which he said had been donated to build Islamic schools.

Erdogan says the detentions aim to block Turkey’s economic progress by targeting businessmen involved in major infrastructure projects.

‘Manipulative Tool’

“In all democracies, there is corruption,” Can said. “But if you don’t have a democratic system, those with bureaucratic power can destroy the political will, destroy political parties, for instance, by using corruption as a manipulative tool. They are very dangerous.”

Flaws in Turkey’s democracy stem from a system inherited by Erdogan’s party in 2002 and a constitution written under military rule in the 1980s, Can said. The government has been unable to redraft the charter due to opposition from parties with vested interests in the status quo, he said.

Gulen supporters dominate “all the control points” of Turkey’s judiciary, even though they account for about only 15 percent of its personnel, Can said. He said the government is “discussing every possible option” to remove that influence.

Late yesterday, the ruling party submitted a proposal to parliament to cut powers of the board that elects judges and prosecutors, which last month criticized the government for damaging the independence of the judiciary. The proposal empowers the justice ministry to appoint most judges.

The party also may consider changing its self-imposed three-term limit for members of parliament, after which they are required to step down from office, Can said. That rule applies to much of the party’s leadership, including Erdogan, whose third term comes to an end next year.

“You have rules, but if you have exceptional situations, you can make exceptions,” Can said. If the crisis persists “they could make an exception, and I would support this exception. This crisis can’t continue.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Benjamin Harvey in Istanbul atbharvey11@bloomberg.net; Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara at shacaoglu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

Erdogan Says Graft Probe Aims to Derail His Government – Bloomberg

Erdogan Says Graft Probe Aims to Derail His Government – Bloomberg.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out four times yesterday at a graft probe that’s ensnared his government as anger over the scandal sparked protests and clashes.

Protests erupted in at least five cities overnight, including Istanbul and Ankara, before being broken up by police with tear gas and water cannons, reminiscent of anti-government demonstrations that roiled the country in June. Police detained 70 people in Istanbul, the state-run Anatolia news agency said.

The country’s stock, currency and bond markets fell this week on concerns the scandal is widening. Erdogan said the investigation, which has split the judiciary and pitted bureaucrats against one another, is an attempt to derail the government and will only benefit financial speculators.

“The operations that started under the guise of corruption are an obstacle to building a new Turkey,” Erdogan said yesterday from Sakarya, a city east of Istanbul.

Turkey’s economy, the largest in the Middle East, has more than tripled in size in nominal terms over Erdogan’s 10-year leadership. The majority Muslim country, the region’s only member in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, shares borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Erdogan is slated to address his supporters in the western city of Manisa later today.

Last night, on his return to Istanbul, Erdogan was greeted by supporters at the airport. They chanted “traitor Bayraktar,” in reference to former Environment Minister Erdogan Bayraktar, who this week urged Erdogan to step down. One woman, her head covered with a scarf, kissed Erdogan’s hand after he addressed flag-waving supporters from on top of a bus.

Coverup Alleged

“There is an effort to cover up corruption allegations and the public is aware of this,” Haluk Ozdalga, a lawmaker who quit the ruling party yesterday, said in a press conference in Ankara. “Turkey must immediately turn away from this wrong path.”

Erdogan spoke after a top judicial body blocked his order requiring the government to be notified of probes, deepening a standoff that has sent markets tumbling. That ruling was unconstitutional, Erdogan said.

The currency weakened as much as 2.3 percent to 2.1764 against the dollar on Dec. 27, before trading at 2.1549 in Istanbul. The Borsa Istanbul 100 Index (XU100) fell 1 percent at the close to 63,885.22, the lowest level since August 2012. Two-year bond yields climbed above 10 percent for the first time since August.

U.S.-Based Imam

The corruption investigation has become the battleground in a struggle between the government and followers of a U.S.-based imam, Fethullah Gulen, who is blamed by Erdogan’s supporters for instigating the crackdown. The cleric broke with Erdogan recently, ending a partnership that has helped sustain the single-party government since 2002.

“They brought the issue this far,” Erdogan said. “These incidents are a continuation of the prep school process,” he said in a reference to tensions with the movement over a government decision to shut down prep schools, a major source of influence and income for Gulen’s followers.

Erdogan said no one had the right to put innocent people, including himself, under a cloud of suspicion and vowed to hold accountable anyone found guilty of stealing from the state.

As police moved in on demonstrations overnight, onlookers in Istanbul chanted “government resign.” Police also clashed with hundreds of anti-government demonstrators in the Turkish capital, Ankara.

“They are attacking for the last time,” Erdogan said of those pushing for the investigations. “God willing, and with the support of our nation, we will destroy this resistance and repel these attacks.”

Spreading Fallout

The fallout spread, with former Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay and Ozdalga quitting Erdogan’s ruling party yesterday, a day after the resignation of lawmaker Erdal Kalkan. All three faced expulsion for their criticism of the party’s response to graft allegations.

“Security forces can’t collaborate with the government,” Gunay told reporters in Ankara. “I’m warning civil servants who are following unlawful orders not to carry them out — you will be held accountable tomorrow, for today’s violation of the rule of law.”

European Union Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said he was concerned by “the removal of a large number of police officers from their duties” and urged Turkey to “take all the necessary measures to ensure that allegations of wrongdoing are addressed without discrimination.”

Police Dismissals

Turkish police have been caught in the power struggle between Erdogan and Gulen. About 500 police chiefs were dismissed after the sons of three cabinet ministers were among dozens detained. Sons of former interior and economy ministers were charged and jailed so far, while the son of Bayraktar was released pending trial. All three ministers were replaced by Erdogan this week.

“The government seized the judiciary in a government coup,” Faik Oztrak, deputy chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, said in a statement. “The prime minister must resign to be held accountable as soon as possible.”

Turkey’s military, which as recently as 1997 pressured the country’s first Islamist prime minister to step down, has stayed clear of the fray.

“The Turkish Armed Forces in no way wants to be involved in political debates,” the military said in a statement.

Selling Bonds

Foreign investors have dumped Turkish bonds at the fastest pace in two years amid the growing scandal. Investors pared their holdings by $532 million to a three-month low of $53.8 billion in the week through Dec. 20, after selling a net $1.38 billion the week before, the central bank said this week. They’ve cut their holdings from a record $72 billion in May.

“The government’s response to corruption allegations grew into the question of the rule of law,” Mahmut Akpinar, a professor of political science at Ankara’s Turgut Ozal University, said by phone. “This may have consequences in the ballot box, especially if people begin to feel the worsening in economy in their pocketbooks.”

The outflows are a reversal of the investment that helped finance Turkey’s growth during Erdogan’s more than 10-year stint, a period in which nominal gross domestic product more than tripled and the country’s dollar bonds posted an average 9.7 percent annual gain.

 

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