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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Obama's BFF Erdogan's Praetorian Guard or the new Turkish surveillance state.


Obama's BFF Erdogan's Praetorian Guard or the new Turkish surveillance state.(RT).
Turkey's current political leadership has been going through a severe crisis ever since corruption allegations emerged on Dec. 17. Bribery charges and shoeboxes filled with money provided catchy sound bites that are still being reiterated today. 

In conjunction with these embarrassing "facts" coming to light, Turkey's involvement in neighboring Syria's bloody war has also been in the spotlight of late – particularly, the scandal involving trucks carrying either "humanitarian aid" or "weapons and ammunition" into Syria, as part of Turkey's National Intelligence Organization’s (MIT) secret mission.

Founded in 1965, the MIT is tasked to collect intelligence to do with threats to the country and the nation's integrity and security. It reports to the prime minister, the president and the chief of the General Staff.

On Feb. 26, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan approved a new law that gives "broader powers for [Erdogan's] intelligence agency, including more scope for eavesdropping and legal immunity for its top agent," Reuters correspondent Orhan Coskun reported, after it was approved by Turkey's parliament Sunday.

This public scrutiny of a body directly attached to the figure of the prime minister by means of laws #644 (1965) and #2,937 (1984) has prompted the present incumbent, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, well-known for his tendency to micro-manage Turkey's business and other affairs, to undertake a far-reaching revision by means of a law proposal.

This legal adjustment, tabled by the MPs İdris Sahin and Alpaslan Kavaklıoglu late Wednesday, Feb. 19, proposed changes among other things would allow Turkey's intelligence officers (MIT) to perform operations abroad and listen to international telephone conversations. In addition to somewhat copying actions carried out by the now more than infamous NSA, Sahin and Kavaklıoglu's proposals would also stipulate jail terms of up to 12 years for the publication of leaked documents.

In this way, Turkey would not just be replicating the exploits of America's National Security Agency, but even actively participate in President Obama's war on whistleblowers.

The bill would thus also force official institutions as well as private companies to surrender consumer data and technical equipment. In fact, at the beginning of December 2013, the prime minister expressed his feelings on the topic, explaining that "[e]xposing state secrets is not freedom but absolutely treason to the country and homeland." 

The new MIT measures are meant to bring Turkey's intelligence agency "in line with the requirements of the [current] age, grant it the capabilities of other intelligence agencies, and increase its methods and capacity for individual and technical intelligence [gathering]," the bill says.

Sahin and Kavaklioglu's proposals would thus create a direct link between the Turkish and US governments.

Fortuitously, the US President called Tayyip Erdogan on the same day as the bill was being presented.
The White House released a statement indicating that "President Obama spoke by phone with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey on a range of bilateral and regional issues. The President affirmed the value he places on a strong, mutually respectful bilateral relationship with the Republic of Turkey and expressed his view that Turkey can demonstrate leadership in the world through positive engagement." The US thus appears to be at pains to placate its Muslim ally to act swiftly with regard to the ongoing corruption allegations so as not to undermine the healthy business relations enjoyed by Turkey over the past decade.

In this way, Barack Obama seems to be expressing his approval of what I have termed “Turkey's pseudo-Ottoman policy” with regard to the erstwhile Ottoman hinterland and beyond. On a related note, the two leaders also discussed the war in Syria, underlining support for "continuing efforts to advance a political solution to the Syria conflict."

But the two men also spoke at length about the energy relationship between Ankara, Erbil, and Baghdad – an indication that Turkey's pseudo-Ottoman ambitions to acquire a significant stake in a regional part of Pipelineistan are also being followed closely by Washington.

 The new internet bill in tandem with the new MIT law would undoubtedly transform Turkey into an "intelligence" and "surveillance state," somewhat rivaling the US.

Ever since the days of Prime Minister (and later President) Turgut Özal (1927-93), the Republic of Turkey has been trying hard to transform itself into a "little America" in its own right. Özal's free market and Islam-friendly policies in many ways stand at the root of the current AKP-led government's success and prosperity. In his day, Özal was a close friend and ally of George H.W Bush and Tayyip Erdogan appears to be emulating his predecessor in this respect as well, cozying up to Obama and trying to turn Turkey into a Muslim nanny state with access to the latest state-of-the-art surveillance infrastructure and technology.

Against the backdrop of these clear moves to turn Turkey into a tightly-controlled, quasi-Orwellian "little America," recordings incriminating the prime minister and his son Bilal have emerged. As a result, Turkey's media and the Turkish population are at present trying to come to grips with a political class trying to extend its hold on power, while being embroiled in an ever-widening corruption scandal, which, in turn, appears to be but a pretext for a power struggle behind the scenes.

The upcoming local elections and the scheduled presidential poll later this year will reveal the direction Turkey will take in the coming years. Will it be steady as she goes or instead a course that would see a return of Turkey's self-proclaimed secularist political class?Hmmm......'By their fruits you will know them'. Read the full story here.

Related:

Obama 'Admin' just rubber stamped the totalitarian rule of Pm Erdogan.

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