“They take you and throw you in a hole”

From an AFP story in The Guardian:

Asli Erdoğan, one of Turkey’s most celebrated novelists, was released from jail Thursday, looking exhausted after 132 days of pre-trial detention, declaring that she could barely believe she was free.

The writer has been in prison on charges of terror propaganda on account of her links to a pro-Kurdish newspaper, in a case that has caused an international outcry over freedom of expression.

“I do not realise it yet, I am in shock,” she said, appearing drawn, tired and emotional in front of the Bakirkoy women’s prison in Istanbul.

“They take you and throw you into a hole. It’s very hard, it’s like I’m still inside,” she added, before bursting into tears.

An Istanbul court ordered that Erdoğan and Necmiye Alpay, an internationally prominent linguist, be released.

The pair were taken into custody in August as part of a probe into the now shut-down newspaper Ozgur Gundem, which Turkish authorities say is a mouthpiece for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

But the fate of Erdoğan and Alpay, author of widely praised translations of Western novels into Turkish who had been in custody for 120 days, is still unclear.

The case against them remains active and they could still face life imprisonment if convicted. The next hearing is scheduled for 2 January.

The Erdogan government goes to an awful lot of trouble to intimidate journalists and writers, but they always seem to get released. There is no death penalty in Turkey although Erdogan made such noises after the July coup which he referred to as “a gift from God.” But he and his allies who seek a suppressive Islamist state based on sharia law may be aware that among the criminal justice apparatus he controls there isn’t the stomach for what’s done in neighboring countries like Iran and Syria. Turkey was a secular society when Erdogan took power 14 years ago and had been one for some time.

The formal arrest of investigative journalist Ahmet Sik is getting world wide coverage. Newspapers in Canada, Germany, France, and Italy. Sik is world renowned and his treatment by the Erdogan government will not go unnoticed.

Sik’s arrest, announced as being for tweets he made in addition to his journalistic endeavors, demonstrates a level of fecklessness in Erdogan’s desires to silence social media. Sik has added 3000 Twitter followers since he announced his arrest two days ago.

Nonetheless, over 40,000 citizens of Turkey are still jailed as a result of the July coup attempt.

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BREAKING: Turkish Investigative Journalist Ahmet Sik Officially Arrested for Spreading “Terrorist Organization Propaganda” on Twitter

From Turkish website Son Dakika (Last Minute) translated to English with Google Translate:

Journalist Ahmet Şık, who was taken into custody because of the 11 separate tweets and writings he posted on the social sharing site “Twitter”, was referred to the court for his arrest on charges of “Terrorist Organization Propaganda”. Ahmet Şık was arrested by the court he was detained. Ahmet Şık, a journalist who was taken into custody and was sentenced to imprisonment for allegedly committing the crime of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” on social media exchanges and some articles written in the republican newspaper, was arrested.

e journalist Ahmet Şık, who was questioned by Fahrettin Kemal Native to conduct the investigation, was brought to the Istanbul Court of Justice in Çağlayan at noon. The prosecutor’s decision about Ahmet Şık, who was kept in the press office of the police in the presence of the cops, became clear at 14.30. The prosecution demanded that Ahmet Şık be arrested on charges of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization”. On top of that, the police were accompanied by the sentenced Istanbul Magistrate Criminal Court. Meanwhile, along with the CHP deputy Barış Yarkadaş, his relatives came to name Ahmet Şık to support him.

The question of Ahmet Şık, who was detained on charges of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” and Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, “publicly insulting the judiciary, the military and the police”, was carried out safely by the prosecutor’s office. An interview with the terrorist organization manager Cemil Bayık with an article entitled “Ya Apo Kandil or Ya İmralı’ya” published on 14 March 2015, an interview with 8 July “Ozki journalism, betraying yours” The writings on MIT TIRs titled “MIT TIRs Prosecutor, MIT, Reyhanlı’a” condemned on 9th July, “13th of February,” “secrets in TIR” were asked. Ahmet Şık’a also on 23-26 September 2014 at the Press Freedom Workshop “the PKK is also a journalist” is also asked about the description.

As the reader can see, translations are imperfect, but it appears that Sik was arrested for his tweets and articles he did in 2014 and 2015 and not any recent tweets as Scathing Purple Musings speculated yesterday.

Sik was jailed previously between 2011 and 2012 and was indicted again immediately after his release for declaring “the police, prosecutors and judges who plotted and executed this conspiracy will enter this prison.”

According to Turkish Minute, a web site produced by Turkish journalist in exile, 650 journalists are to be “investigated.” The journalists write anonymously as to protect loved ones in Turkey.

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650 Turkish Journalists to be Investigated for Using Twitter

From Turkish Minute:

Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Barış Yarkadaş announced on Thursday that 650 more journalists are to be investigated due to their messages on Twitter.

The Ministry of Interior Affairs had stated earlier this week that 10,000 people are under investigation because of their social media posts.

Yarkadaş urged the end of baseless investigations against journalists during remarks in front of the courthouse before a hearing in the trial of the shut-down pro-Kurdish Özgür Gündem daily.

Currently, there are at least 145 journalists in prison in Turkey.

Scathing Purple Musings has been posted yesterday about the recent arrest of Ahmet Sik who announced his arrest on his own Twitter account. He has not tweeted since, but has added 2000 Twitter followers since his arrest. The majority of Sik’s tweets were to send links to other journalist’s work.

The crack down on journalists in Turkey began in July after a failed coup attempt which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan referred to as a “gift from God.”

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Erdogan’s Government Even Arrests Lawyers to Keep Them From Defending Journalists

From Abdullah Bozkurt for Turkish Minute:

The unprecedented crackdown on lawyers who defend critics, dissidents and opponents of the authoritarian regime of Turkey’s strongman, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, paint a dismal picture of how the criminal justice system has been turned into an instrument of oppression at the hands of the country’s Islamist rulers, who give orders to judges and prosecutors in cases where the outcome is predetermined.

How would it be possible to insure a fair trial with unfettered access to a lawyer when lawyers themselves have been arrested en masse or had to flee the country to avoid imprisonment? The government of Turkey, controlled by a brutal dictator, Erdoğan, did not even bother to put on a charade of following due process in criminal prosecutions and trials when judges and prosecutors simply carry out instructions from the political authorities for fear of being dismissed or even arrested themselves.

The harassment and imprisonment of defense lawyers in large numbers have already had a chilling impact in Turkey, where lawyers are shying away from taking on cases that may be politically sensitive, or are demanding exorbitant fees to discourage clients. Bar associations, required by law to provide a lawyer to represent suspects who have no lawyer, are also reluctant to assign lawyers to these cases. Even if they assign one, the lawyers often withdraw, do not mount a vigorous defense or fail to go through the motions to protect the rights of the clients.

It’s safe to say that Turkey is the only member of NATO which arrests journalists, lawyers and domestic political opponents. Small wonder Erdogan is leaping into the arms of Vladimir Putin, a strongman who won’t bat an eye at such a brutal crackdown. While Erdogan was able to get Putin to close all of Fetullah Gulen’s schools in Russia by 2014, it’s not clear how much the Russian position has changed in light of the assassination of their ambassador and Erdogan’s obsession with blaming Gulen as the mastermind.

In 2012, President Barack Obama revealed that Erdogan was a trusted friend among world leaders. By 2016, Obama had changed his mind. In an interview with Jeffery Goldberg for The Atlantic, Obama referred to Erdogan as “a failure and an authoritarian.” Writing for TheGaurdian, Simon Tisdale adds:

Erdoğan has also fallen foul of the Obama administration over how best to fight Isis and his cross-border shelling of Syrian Kurdish militias, who Washington regards as useful allies against the jihadis and the Damascus regime. In a recent interview, Barack Obama described Erdoğan as a failure and an authoritarian. When Turkey shot down the Russian warplane, the US was almost as alarmed as Moscow, especially when Erdoğan called for NATO backup.

Looks like Erdogan doesn’t need, nor does he want that back-up anymore. But he needs continued suppression of dissent and truth from his own people in the mean time.

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Was a Turkish Journalist Arrested for a Link He Provided in a Tweet?

From the BBC:

Police in Istanbul have detained a prominent investigative journalist, Ahmet Sik, in connection with his social media postings.

The arrest of Sik, who has been jailed previously, came shortly before writer Asli Erdogan and linguist Necmiye Alpay appeared in a Turkish court.

Many writers and journalists have been arrested in Turkey since the July coup attempt, in which military rebels tried to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Sik confirmed his arrest in a tweet.

“I am being detained. I will be taken to the prosecutor’s office regarding a tweet,” he tweeted.

Sik has been accused of spreading “terrorist propaganda”, reports say.

While Sik isn’t afraid to be a public advocate in opposition to the Erdogan government, he wasn’t a prolific tweeter. What may well have prompted his arrest this tweet he posted ten hours before his arrest:

Translated into English:

:Russian sources: assassination could not share with us all the information about-

Was Sik arrested for his tweet which implied he had a Russian source which told him that the Turks weren’t being truthful about assassination of the Russian ambassador? Or was it for the article he linked. Written by Russian journalist Maxim A. Suckoff, Ph.D for Washington DC-based Al Monitor, the article Sik linked is unflattering – to say the least –  of the Erdogan governments investigation:

Few share what seems to be the main version Ankara is trying to present — the “mad Gulenist” theory. Speaking on a radio show soon after the assassination, Yevgeny Satanovsky, the head of the Moscow-based Institute for the Middle East, denounced the idea, saying, “Fethullah Gulen doesn’t take to such violent methods in his practices.” Earlier this year, as part of the reconciliation process with Ankara over Russia’s downed jet, Moscow closed about 150 Gulen schools across Russia. There’s little evidence that the Kremlin believed that Gulen was behind the downing, but at the time it was a necessary political move that many Russian politicians thought was in the country’s national interests. This time, however, attempts to sell the same idea would only stain the relationship.

Russian decision-makers who spoke with Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity signaled a concern over whether Turkish officials know more than they are actually telling. They believe that, to a large extent, all of the assassination hypotheses Ankara is presenting reflect the desire of the Turkish leadership to get Moscow onboard in its struggle against its own opponents — the Gulenists and the Kurds — rather than to truly and openly investigate the assassination. Indeed, the killing of Altintas raised all kinds of suspicions. The general feeling now is, even if killing the assassin was a forced measure under those circumstances, trying to shove the narratives, which on all accounts look artificial and don’t hold together under scrutinized examination, casts a dark shadow on the potential involvement of the Turkish security apparatus or someone in the government.

It’s clear that was Sik tweeted was supported in the article, so its fair to speculate that Erdogan’s journalistic control apparatus wanted to keep the work of a particular well-sourced journalists, like Suchov, away from the eyes of their on countrymen. Moreover, Erdogan’s suppressive media blocking needs to keep Al Monitor, which appears to be available in Turkish out as well.

The Erdogan governments efforts to block Twitter clearly aren’t all that. Otherwise Sik’s tweets wouldn’t be available to western eyes and he wouldn’t have been able to announce that he’d been arrested on Twitter. According to his Twitter profile, Sik has 557,000 followers some of which now know what the Russians think about Erdogan’s attempt to cover-up the assassination of the Russian ambassador. Worse, they know that what he’s been saying about Fatullah Gulen and his movement isn’t shared by the Russians either.

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When Liberals Blame Racism and Conservatives Blame Public Schools

I was hopeful this morning when I began to read a column by Naomi Schaefer Riley titled How to Save More At-Risk Kids in the NYPost.  In the often overly thick world of what educators refer to a pedagogy, “at-risk” broadly refers to children whom are in danger of poor academic outcomes. Some pedagogical researchers caution that the term is too-broadly utilized. In Riley’s column she narrows at-risk children to those in state-run protective services “at-risk” for abuse and neglect.

Riley opens effectively with the tragic death of Zymere Perkins of Harlem before moving on persuasively from an anecdote to a data based point-of-view:

…apparently all his mother had to do was tell the ACS workers that he had fallen — down the stairs, off a scooter, whatever — and they would close the case.

Now it turns out that as many as 10 children died in the 12 weeks before Zymere Perkins, despite each being the subject of at least four abuse or maltreatment complaints.

It doesn’t have to be like this. More and more cities are adopting predictive analytics as a powerful tool in determining which children are at the greatest risk for repeated abuse and even death at the hands of the adults in their lives.

Maura Corrigan, a former justice on the Michigan Supreme Court who studies child welfare, told a recent panel at the American Enterprise Institute, “If we were able to mine data in child welfare and intervene with good casework by the mining of that data, perhaps we would reduce the 1,500 to 3,000 deaths from child abuse and neglect in this country each year.”

She then take us to a predictable culprit: professionals are afraid of being accused of racism:

So why haven’t more states and cities — like New York — started using data from past cases in order to inform decisions about current ones? Joette Katz, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, which has started to introduce predictive analytics, told the gathering: “Not surprisingly, predictive tools have been treated with suspicion in the child-welfare area, and you all know who I’m talking about.”

Who is she talking about? For one, she is talking about academics, lawyers and politicians who worry about everyone’s favorite topic — disparate impact. It turns out that there are a disproportionate number of racial minorities who are reported to and investigated by child services. So if an algorithm incorporates data about who has been engaged in abuse in the past, it might inadvertently target more black and Hispanic families.

Indeed, it is those same “academics, lawyers and politicians” who now serve as our societies insta-punditry through social media, talk radio and as TV talking heads. And Riley is correct, too. Her piece is an extremely effective take down of a poorly run children’s services bureaucracy and the oppressive politically correct pressures they cannot overcome.

But Riley couldn’t stop there. Like Democrats attempting to score political points with racialist dog whistles like “institutional racism” and the aforementioned “disparate impact,” she blamed “inner-city public schools.”

Perhaps this sounds familiar. A system that’s supposed to help the children but is really turning into a jobs program for adults? Yes, it’s our inner-city public schools. And just like low-performing public-school teachers don’t want the accountability that comes with teacher evaluations, so many case workers would be pretty unhappy if we tried to inject greater accountability into child services.

Riley inserted her own dog whistle at the end of what otherwise would have been a constructive critique which offered solutions of the sad triad of poverty, failing inner cities and the thankless task of children’s services. Instead she chose what’s become the opposite of the Democrat race-based mantras to one of equally misguided disingenuousness which blames public schools.

The insertion of the swipe at the inner city public schools by Riley is surprisingly lazy for writer of her talent and accomplishment. So lazy, in fact, that a public school teacher with a lap top can dispatch her conclusion.

First, Riley led her column off with the tragic story of an abused child.  Zymere Perkins was 6 and according to this NY Daily News story, his mother never registered him for school. A public school professional – one of those Riley callously described as in  “a jobs program for adults” never saw the child. This was a cheap shot, but one that many Republicans cheer.

Second, in the event that Perkins had made his way into a public school, those professionals in Riley’s jobs program wouldn’t have had to worry about accusations of racism, because federal statutes protects then when they report suspected abuse. It’s done so anonymously and procedures for doing so are detailed clearly for all.

Third, Riley cites statistics from the state of Michigan, but fails to mention anywhere that a large number of charter schools – without union teachers or employees part of a state bureaucracy educate a higher number of children in poverty than do public schools.  Moreover, the Detroit Free Press reported this past August that Michigan spends $1 billion a year on charter schools and “the state demands little accountability in how taxpayer dollars are spent and how well children are educated.”

Fourth, as Riley bemoans  how in”low-performing public-school teachers don’t want the accountability that comes with teacher evaluations” she fails to take the example from the one state she cites data from in Michigan. She also doesn’t tell readers that those “teacher evaluations” are based on test scores, something which teachers from any school oppose. Indeed, children in poverty score demonstrably lower than do children who don’t.

Incoming Department of Education Secretary  Betsy DeVos is as responsible for the failing charter school model of Michigan as anyone.

As someone familiar with Riley’s exemplary body of work, the cheap shot against inner-city public schools surprised me in it’s out-of-leftfield style. Perhaps she has some experiences as a mother with public schools living in New York. I hope that she didn’t insert such a flimsy aside  at the end of an otherwise solid column to please her editors at the New York Post who never miss a chance to take a shot at our nation’s public schools and teachers.

There are around 1200 posts in this blog that are written in support of public schools. I dare say that I am the only regsitered Republican voter with such a writing record. Indeed I share more in common ideologically with Riley and her husband, Jason, an excellent conservative Wall Street Journal writer, than anyone on the other side of the political spectrum I’ve worked with in support of public schools.

While it’s long past time for the left to stop blaming racism for failing inner-city public schools the same can be said for the right’s rhetorical war against public school teachers. Neither side seems inclined to recognize that the common denominator is poverty as they cannot retreat from a position which is most politically expediant. Someone needs to begin to bridge the devide. Hopefully, thoughtful conservative intellectuals like the Riley’s can help.

As for me, I’ll continue trying.

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Assassin of Russian Ambassador Linked to Cleric Who Supports Erdogan

From Turkish Minute:

While the Turkish government insists on claiming that Mert Altıntaş, the police officer who assassinated the Russian ambassador to Ankara, is linked to the Gülen movement, it has been discovered that the gunman attended the sermons of Nurettin Yıldız, a staunch supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The Hürriyet daily reported on Saturday that police officer Altıntaş, who shouted al Nusra Front slogans after shooting the Russian ambassador in an art gallery on Monday, attended the sermons of Yıldız at Ankara’s Hacı Bayram Mosque.

Yıldız, the president of the Social Fabric Foundation (Sosyal Doku Vakfı), had sparked a public reaction after he argued that marrying a 6-year-old girl is legitimate. In addition to this remark that caused outrage, Yıldız also said it is a sin to watch a woman news anchor on TV and that women should be grateful to be beaten.

In an interview with the state-owned Anadolu news agency, Yıldız voiced support for Erdoğan, saying that it was a requirement of his faith to support the president.

This guy’s a real card. Naturally, an Erdogan mouthpiece has an explanation:

Minister of Interior Affairs Süleyman Soylu, however, claimed on Saturday that the murderer is linked to the Gülen movement and that the radical Islamist clues in his life were efforts to disguise his links to the movement, which is known for its promotion of interfaith dialogue and is frowned upon by Islamists for those efforts.

Turkish Minute is not government controlled. Read their Who We Are:

Turkish Minute is a web portal presenting news on Turkey in English amid ever-increasing pressure on the critical and independent media in the country. Due to unprecedented oppression inside Turkey, journalists in exile do not write under their own names in an effort to protect loved ones back home. The staff at Turkish Minute — operating under the belief that presenting independent news about Turkey is essential in the absence of critical voices at home and that if they don’t report the news in English, it simply will not be available to the outside world — contribute to this website with personal sacrifice and at great risk to themselves and their families.

At the time of this post it appears that Turkish Minute is the only new outlet in English which is carrying the story.

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Russians Unlock Assassins iPhone

That didn’t take long. The Russians aren’t inhibited by niceties as are the FBI. From Andrew Blake in the Washington Times:

Russian authorities have reportedly succeeded in unlocking an Apple iPhone owned by the off-duty police officer who shot and killed its ambassador to Turkey at an art show in Ankara last week as investigators look for potential links to terrorism.

Both Russian and Turkish authorities sought the contents of the gunman’s iPhone in the aftermath of the Dec. 19 shooting, but a 4-digit passcode initially prevented the device from being unlocked, according to an article published by MacReports this week.

On Thursday, the website reported that the Russian team had successfully managed to unlocked the device, paving the way for investigators to begin scouring the smartphone for evidence that could potentially explain why Mevlut Mert Altintas shot and killed Ambassador Andrei Karlov during a Dec. 19 art exhibit in the Turkish capital.

Karlov, 62, was giving a speech at the art show week when Altintas, posing as his bodyguard, drew a 9mm pistol and fired several shots, killing the ambassador. Altintas, 22, was fatally shot moments later, but not before shouting: “Do not forget Aleppo, do not forget Syria.” Russia’s Foreign Ministry has called the incident an act of terrorism.

The website for Pravda, a former propaganda organ of the Soviet Communist Party, reported on Friday that Russian investigators had offered their phone-cracking skills to Turkish authorities after Apple failed to respond to Ankara’s request for assistance — evidence of Apple’s “unwillingness to render assistance,” Pravda reported.

As Russian skepticism is on record that the assassin was a follower of Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethulla Gulen, they’ll be letting people know if they were right. Everybody who isn’t an Erdogan groupie feels the assassin is a member of the al Nusra front, a jhidaist organization Erdogan negotiated with to end the seige in Aleppo. Even though Erdogan has attempted to band coverage of the assassination inside Turkey, the Russians will make sure everyone knows they were right.

Erdogan will eventually pay a price at home for yelling, “Gulen,” at every opportune time. Do his most rabid followers like this  cozy up with the Russians and Iranians? And what breaking bread with the Syrians? He badly needs a Pennsylvania area code to be on Altintas’ phone.

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Gulen: Russian Ambassador Was Supportive of Our Movement

Writes Chuck Ross for the DailyCaller from a video statement from  Cleric Fethulla Gulen on the assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov:

During his remarks on Thursday, Gulen repeated his previous statement condemning Karlov’s assassination.

He also suggested that Karlov was supportive of the Hizmet movement.

“This person had sympathy for Hizmet activity in Russia,” Gulen claimed. “I heard from my friends that he attended their activities in Russia and talked favorably.”

Gulen did not entirely embrace the theory that Erdogan’s regime is behind Karlov’s murder. He referred to Altintas’ comments about the Syrian civil war and his jihadist rhetoric.

While the Russians won’t care this little aside from Gulen will make Erdogan’s sycophants go bonkers.

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Erdogan’s al Nusra Problem

While it was predictable that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey would blame the so-called FETO terrorist organization run by cleric Fettulah Gulen in his Pennsylvania compound for the assissination of the Russsian ambassador earlier this week, he knows that he badly needs to keep the truth from his own countrymen. Within hours of the , DEBKA Files, a news organization closely associated with Israeli intelligence reported that wasn’t the case:

The 22-year old Turkish special operations police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas, who assassinated Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov in Ankara Monday, Dec. 12, was a member of the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch. Atlintas approached the ambassador as he gave a speech opening a photo exhibit in the Turkish capital and shot him in the back five times. After yelling “We die in Aleppo, you die here,” he recited sentences from an Arabic prayer which are Nusra’s anthem. He went on shouting “We made an oath to die in martyrdom…it is revenge for Syria and Aleppo.”

The Russian probably agree as Russian President Vladimir Putin dryly commented that “we don’t know yet who is responsible.” Al Nusra claimed responsibility themselves yesterday.

As Erdogan controls the media in Turkey, his own people will raise their eyebrows if they find out it was al Nusra – and not the Gulenists – who killed the ambassador. They are well aware that Erdogan was soft on al Nusra earlier this year in June.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the European Union (EU) for not designating the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) as “terrorist,” and said “So al-Nusra [Front] is also fighting Daesh [Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)], then why do you call it a terrorist organization?”

Erdoğan made the remarks during his speech following an iftar –dinner for breaking fast in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan- held for nongovernmental organizations on Tuesday night at the presidential palace. The president accused  the EU of hypocrisy in terms of terrorism.

Erdoğan had made a similar statement back in February 2016. “Al-Nusra is fighting against Daesh as well. Why are you calling it bad? Al-Nusra is bad but PYD and YPG [Kurdish Peoples’ Defense Units, the armed wing of PYD] are good. The issue is different. Because al-Nusra’s position is different, [they are being differed as] good terrorists and bad terrorists,” Erdoğan had said.

Syrian radical group Al-Nusra is designated as a “terrorist organization” by Turkey, as well as the United States (US), United Nations (UN) and many countries.

In October, Erdogan went so far as to imply he had “influence” over al Nusra in Syria. From Turkish Minute in October:

In a move that came as confirmation of his influence on radical Syrian group the al-Nusra Front, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said Russian President Vladimir Putin sought his assistance in clearing al-Nusra militants from the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Al-Nusra, which is linked to terror group al-Qaeda, is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey, as well as the United States, the UN and many other countries.

“We had a phone conversation with Mr. Putin yesterday [Tuesday] evening. We talked about Aleppo. He said they stopped aerial bombardment there as of 10 p.m. He made a request [to me for my assistance] in the eviction of al-Nusra from there. I gave the necessary orders to my fellows on this issue,” said Erdoğan, adding that Turkey and Russia reached an agreement to take al-Nusra out of Aleppo for the peace of the people of Aleppo.

Erdoğan’s remarks came during one of his regular meetings with muhtars, or neighborhood heads, at the presidential palace in Ankara on Wednesday.

The Turkish government and Erdoğan are frequently accused of supporting radical groups in Syria to ensure the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

According to this BBC report from December 15, about 30 percent of the fighters left in besieged city of Aleppo were al Nusra jihadists. Along with 50,00o trapped civilians they were allowed to leave after the phone call between Putin and Erdogan.

So Erdogan has to keep the Big Lie alive in his own country as it would be quite clear to the Turkish people that he was using a jihadist group with ties to al Qaeda for domestic political gain. His position is complicated further by the reality that his new BFF in Putin is letting him twist in the wind by not supporting his Gulenist narrative.


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