Saturday, September 3, 2016

What's Next For Turkey's Journalists Following Post-Coup Crackdown?: New Age Islam's Selection, 02 September 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau
02 September 2016
What's Next For Turkey's Journalists Following Post-Coup Crackdown?
By Cengiz Çandar
Yemen and the Idea of Fighting ISIS
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Is Japan A Role Model For The Middle East?
By Abdulaziz Turkistani
How Is Nouri Al-Maliki Not In Prison?
By Dr. Azeem Ibrahim
Bikini versus Burkini: Which One Is Winning?
By Mohamed Chebarro
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
What's Next For Turkey's Journalists Following Post-Coup Crackdown?
By Cengiz Çandar
September 1, 2016
Aug. 30 is the date of the decisive victory won against the invading Greek force in 1922 that led to the foundation of the Republic of Turkey a year later. Since then, every year, Aug. 30 is a national holiday celebrated as “Holiday of Victory.” In effect, it is “Army Day.”
This year, because of the trauma of the failed July 15 coup attempt, military parades in the major cities of Turkey and celebratory cocktail receptions in the country and abroad did not take place.
Replacing the fanfare of previous years was a surprise: a new wave of intimidation and suppression of independent journalism. The day began with police raids on the homes of various world-renowned journalists.
We learned from Platform 24 that “on Aug. 30, detention warrants were issued for 35 journalists as part of the probe launched into the July 15 coup d’etat attempt, officially called the ‘Fethullah Gulen Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETO/PDY)’ investigation. Nine of the 35 individuals on the most recent list were detained in raids that started at dawn.”
Platform 24 or The Independent Journalists Platform is a two-year-old watchdog organization of journalists. Its founding president is the veteran journalist Hasan Cemal, a former editor-in-chief of the daily Cumhuriyet and the senior columnist of Milliyet. Considered by many as “the dean of journalists,” he has nearly half a century of experience in the profession.
Among those for whom a detention warrant was issued was one of the founders of Platform 24, Yavuz Baydar. Baydar was not at home during the raid. Police broke down the door and entered and searched the house as if trying to find the weapon used in a murder.
Baydar won a European Press Prize in 2014 and has been a television host for 30 years. Among his many other credentials, the most important are that he has been the president of the world Organization of News Ombudsmen and has been closely associated with and known by the editors of major media outlets all around the world.
Police raids of residences have targeted many linked to the failed coup. But to associate Baydar with the coup is impossible. As Nesrin Nas, former chairwoman of the centre-right Motherland Party, tweeted, “Yavuz Baydar and putschism. … They can never come together. This is mental paralysis.”
Another notable name in a detention warrant was Ali Yurttagul. He is well-known, having served the last 15 years as a political adviser for the Greens-European Free Alliance Group in the European Parliament.
Yurttagul’s residence in Istanbul was also raided. The police broke in and left a copy of the formal search log at the premise.
Yurttagul played a tremendously important role in the resolution of the European Parliament in December 2004 that opened the way for the start of Turkey’s accession talks with the European Union.
Yurttagul now advises Greens/EFA co-leader Rebecca Harms on the topic of EU-Turkey relations, and the raid on his home triggered the indignation of the Greens. Harms, in an Aug. 31 press release, said, “Mr. Yurttagul was a trusted and well-respected member of our staff and continues to advise me on relations with Turkey. I am deeply concerned at the way he has been treated.”
She also mentioned her concern about the growing number of police actions against various parts of Turkish society, including independent journalists, judges and academics.
Murat Aksoy, an Alevi by origin who is an adviser to Kemal Kilicdaroglu, chairman of the main opposition Republican People's Party, did not have the luck to not be home when the raid occurred on his residence, unlike Baydar and Yurttagul. Aksoy was detained and put behind bars.
Were they Gulenists? No. Never. A Swedish-trained leaning leftist, a German Green and a Turkish Social Democrat of Alevi faith cannot possibly be Gulenists.
A warrant also was issued for Eyup Can, the former editor of the daily Radikal and former digital press coordinator for the daily Hurriyet. He had been at the daily Zaman about 15 years ago. There is nothing to link him to the July 15 coup attempt, because for the past year or so he has been living in London with his wife, the internationally renowned novelist Elif Shafak, and their children.
Apart from their having no ideological links to Gulen or Gulenism, each one of the journalists is known to have strong anti-putschist credentials. Therefore, the detention warrants for them have nothing to do with the coup problem but rather with suppressing the freedom of press.
Many other names can be included on this list to indicate or prove that the coup probe has gone beyond the Gulenists. P24’s website regularly updates the journalists who are arrested, detained or persecuted with terms such as “Journalists detained under State of Emergency outside coup probe” and “Detentions outside the coup probe.”
The names in these lists keep growing. On Aug. 31, it was Necmiye Alpay’s turn to go to jail. A respected academic in her field, an expert on linguistics, and a peace activist whose name appeared on the highly symbolic advisory board (that never meets) of the recently banned pro-Kurdish daily Ozgur Gundem, Alpay was sent to prison under the charges of “aiding a terrorist organization.”
The matter of suppressing freedom of press is getting very serious. Cemal was summoned to police headquarters along with eight others for being at the Ozgur Gundem offices in May to display solidarity, months before the coup and the ban on the daily.
I spoke with Baydar, Yurttagul, communicated with Can and finally with Cemal.
He was at home. I realized later when I read his T24 column that he had not shared his true feelings with me. He had sounded somewhat sanguine on the other end of the phone.
But in his column, he had presented quite a different mood. In the previous two days he had been hearing about the detention warrants for colleagues and the arrest of Alpay, whom he had known since his youth. After shuttling back and forth between prosecutors all day responding to the charges against him, he had come home. He had morosely placed a glass of whiskey in his hand and watched a documentary about Ernest Hemingway.
The following are his concluding lines:
“I was in a very bad mood while watching a documentary on Hemingway on television. At one point there was a sign that said, ‘In this bar, you don’t drink to get drunk, you drink not to wake up sober!'
“I murmured to myself, ‘Can I find a bar like that one?'
“The phone rang. I was asked to go to the police to account for my stand of solidarity at the premises of Ozgur Gundem.
“If I go out, can I find Hemingway's bar?”
When I read his lines, I asked myself, “Has Turkey itself, already, turned out to be Hemingway's bar?”
Yemen and the Idea of Fighting ISIS
By Abdulrahman al-Rashed
1 September 2016
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) carried out another suicide bombing in Aden, killing more than 60 fighters loyal to the legitimate government. This is part of a series of terrorist operations that ISIS is carrying out there with its sister organization al-Qaeda.
The fighting clarifies the nature of alliances in the Yemen war. The rebel Houthis, supporters of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, al-Qaeda and ISIS are in one camp, against that of the legitimate government, loyalist tribes and the Saudi-led Arab military coalition.
The US State Department said the bloody operation in Aden “underscores the urgency of a full and comprehensive settlement that will shrink the political and security vacuum that has been created by the ongoing civil war. In the absence of a political solution, we remain concerned that [ISIS] and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will continue to take advantage of the instability.”
There is no dispute that chaos nurtures terrorist groups, and that a political solution is the best option for Yemen and for all the fighting parties. However, giving in to the Houthis and Saleh, and handing them governance or allowing them to stay as an independent and influential power through any future agreement, will pose greater threats.
A political solution is the best option for Yemen and for all the fighting parties. However, giving in to the Houthis and Saleh will pose greater threats
For two years now, al-Qaeda and ISIS have targeted and attacked the legitimate government. They dealt in the past with Saleh’s government, and continue to deal with him as well as the Houthis until today. Even before the war, most al-Qaeda operations that were planned inside Yemen and targeted the US and Europe were exposed and thwarted by Saudi security forces, which handled the task of pursuing the organization during past years.
During the past 12 months, the terrorist organizations have mainly targeted Emirati and Saudi forces in Yemen, and have tried to kill Yemeni government officials in the temporary capital Aden. The terrorist groups have played an influential role in obstructing coalition forces allied with the legitimate government, systematically targeting them in areas liberated from Saleh and the Houthis.
Political Solution
There is an alliance between the terrorist groups and the rebels, so a political solution must not reward Saleh and the Houthis with great influence, otherwise they will enable terrorists to again attack the legitimate government to weaken it and dominate the state’s other pillars.
Saleh did so in the 1990s against his rivals in the unity government of the newly established republic of Yemen. He planned the assassination of dozens of South Yemen leaders, using extremist Islamists for that purpose. He repeated using al-Qaeda in the past 10 years, something the US refused to believe until it gathered a huge amount of information linking him to the group and revealed Saleh’s plans to attack his Yemeni rivals.
ISIS and al-Qaeda know that the Houthis and Saleh are their best allies in any solution, because those fighting the terrorist groups in Yemen today are Saudi and Emirati forces, and US forces that depend on drones.
Now the US wants a peaceful solution more because it is the best option. This is true, but it must not come at the expense of the solution that the UN adopted, which is based on holding elections, not on quotas that give the Houthis and Saleh seats and more influence just because they carry arms. The concept of quotas, which Iran promotes in Iraq and Lebanon, sabotaged these countries and led to the chaos we see there today.
If the threat of al-Qaeda and its sisters in Yemen is the main motive behind American enthusiasm, they must adopt the concept of one strong central state that can fight terrorism, instead of allowing the establishment of a state of militias, which is currently being proposed under the name of reconciliation.
Is Japan A Role Model For The Middle East?
By Abdulaziz Turkistani
1 September 2016
From my experience as a former ambassador, I can say that Japan can be a role model not only to Middle Eastern countries, but to all countries. There are a lot of things that can be said and learned from the Japanese model.
Contrary to popular belief, Japan has spent over 200 years building its strength and did not only flourish only after the second World War II. In order to understand why Japan could be used as a model, it is important to address some of its historical traits and characteristics.
What makes Japan distinctive is its strong belief in investing in and educating its people as a precondition for successful national development. For the Japanese, investing in human resources is considered as a precondition to any successful development of a country. To achieve that, they began by focusing on education at both the academic and moral levels.
Lessons to Be Learned
There are two important factors in this regard. First is teamwork, starting with Japan’s agrarian nature, where family members had to work together to produce crops. This expanded to cooperation between families in the villages, then in the cities. In addition, the country being prone to natural disasters - such as earthquakes, typhoons and volcano eruptions - have convinced Japanese that such challenges can only be overcome by teamwork.
The region should learn from Japan’s experience in training programs and administration. Such programs could contribute to lowering unemployment in Arab countries
There is no doubt that teamwork is one of their most notable traits both historically and presently that have helped harmonize the Japanese society.
The second factor is that Japan was able and willing to open its doors to the world and learn from other traditions – both East and West – without losing the essence of its own culture. This is still true, as Japan has stayed true to its identity and culture despite waves of globalization.
Power of the Youth
The Middle East can learn from its experience in developing basic industries such as petroleum and petrochemicals, and in extracting useful metals from the ground. More importantly, Japan has expertise in transforming those metals and products into industries that serve the community.
The Middle East should convince Japanese companies that technology is needed in the region to create knowledge-based economies through research and development.
The region should also learn from Japan’s experience in training programs and administration. We should learn from the Japanese business philosophy of Kaizen where continuous improvement of working practices and personal efficiency are emphasized.
We can follow some of their training programs, whether on-job or technical. Such programs, especially for youths, could contribute to lowering unemployment in Arab countries. A key example of Japanese harnessing the power of their youth was by training them in the technicalities of the car, electronic and plastic industries.
Finally, it is also worth learning about Japan’s successful experience in sports and arts. For instance, the country won more medals than it expected to at this year’s Olympics.
How Is Nouri Al-Maliki Not In Prison?
By Dr. Azeem Ibrahim
1 September 2016
The received wisdom in the West is that the United States is the main culprit for why Iraq today is a failed state. And there is certainly plenty, well documented evidence that the poorly planned invasion in 2003 had set the scene for years of conflict in the country.
What is less understood is that the military and diplomatic failures of the initial invasion had largely been corrected, at great financial and human cost, through the Surge and the Awakening, by 2008-2009.
The Surge, when the US recommitted itself to bringing order in the country in the wake of the Sunni-Shiite insurgency – and the awakening by which many of the militias formerly hostile the US and the American-backed Baghdad government had been brought around and persuaded to turn their weapons on the rising al-Qaeda elements in the country – had set the scene for a functional state, and even a working democracy in Iraq. The real failure since 2010 has been administrative.
In this, the key culprit has been the Iraqi former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki. Maliki was elevated to the post of prime minister in 2006 by the Americans, as one of the few Shiite leaders of Iraq who would be able to command broad support amongst the diverse demographics of the country. And indeed, in his first years in the job he had been a major asset. He was key to the success of the initiatives which had brought Iraq to a promising position in 2009-2010.
But his commitment, it turns out, was not to a united Iraq. Apparently, his primary allegiance was to his party, the Shiite Islamist Dawa party, and to his own pockets. As soon as the Americans, now under the pacifist-minded leadership of the Obama administration, looked all set to leave Iraq, Maliki moved in to capture the institutions of the Iraqi state for his Dawa party.
He allegedly set up a system to funnel US aid funds out of the reconstruction effort and into allegedly his own private patronage network, buying the support of just enough followers, Shiite but also some Sunni and Kurdish leaders, to keep the gravy train rolling indefinitely. Some $500bn are alleged to have been funnelled off through various schemes during his 8-year tenure as Prime Minister, mostly from US companies and taxpayers.
Maliki’s twin moves to monopolize the political process in Iraq while also robbing it of the funds it needed to rebuild seem to be the key reasons for the implosion of political consensus in the country
Implosion of political consensus
Maliki’s twin moves to monopolize the political process in Iraq while also robbing it of the funds it needed to rebuild seem to be the key reasons for the implosion of political consensus in the country, and the rise of violent confrontation between diverse groups.
What is more, the chronically under-equipped Iraqi army was so vulnerable to the early advances of ISIS, arguably because the money it had received to buy equipment had largely been siphoned off by Maliki’s cronies.
But while the main blame falls squarely on the corrupt Iraqi political leadership for the catastrophic mismanagement of the country since 2010, the United States is not without fault either. They had been warned by many of those working in the country for the American mission that Maliki was going to squander all the blood and money the US had invested in Iraq, for his own political and financial gain. Yet eager to leave Iraq as quickly as possible once it looked remotely stable, the Obama administration failed to heed the warnings.
And, perversely, after all the Bush-era rhetoric about bringing democracy to Iraq, it was the liberal Obama administration which first signalled the catastrophic direction Iraq would take when they decided to stand by Maliki despite the charges that he had stolen the March 2010 election, in which he had nominally lost to a moderate, pro-Western, multi-ethnic coalition. However, he apparently managed to coerce the courts to rule in his favour.
In doing so, the United States, led by Obama, chose to favour corrupt autocrats for the sake of “stability” over prospects of potentially destabilizing democracy. Except this time, the United States has not reaped “stability” from its choices. It has reaped ISIS. The question that still remains relevant though is the following: how is Nouri al-Maliki not in prison?
Bikini versus Burkini: Which One Is Winning?
By Mohamed Chebarro
1 September 2016
It is puzzling to follow the ongoing debate over the Burkini in Western countries that are home to Muslim communities, since only a minority of this minority are likely to wear it. The debate coincides with the 70th anniversary of the invention of the bikini. This begs the question: Will the bikini be eclipsed by the Burkini?
The “conseil d’état,” the highest judicial council in France, intervened and rejected municipalities’ ban on the Burkini on public beaches. The ban could be due to the politics of fear gripping European cities following terror attacks in the name of Islam, a peaceful religion.
It is important not to mix the arguments for and against the burkini with those for and against the Hijab, another divisive form of religious wear tolerated in most Western countries but frowned upon whenever there are bouts of terror attacks in the world. The full Burqa and Niqab are banned in schools, offices and hospitals in France, Belgium, Holland, and elsewhere in the world.
Most Muslim schools of thought agree that it is necessary for religiously observant Muslim women to cover their hair. Covering the face with the Burqa or Niqab is debatable in various societies, from the Gulf to South East Asia. The Burkini is supposed to give observant Muslim women access to the beach.
The “conseil d’état” was right to uphold the freedom to choose what to wear, saying the decree banning the Burkini “seriously, and clearly illegally, breached the fundamental freedoms to come and go, the freedom of belief and individual freedom.” The debate will not stop here in an election year in France. A few mayors have vowed to continue to apply the ban.
By being on a beach, observant Muslim women are exposed to half-naked men and women. Islam calls on the devout to avoid places where nudity is rampant
However, some seem to support the Burkini out of a desire to antagonize and carve out a political identity, rather than champion women’s right to be on public beaches and wear attire that enables them to enjoy the sea, sand and sun.
Furthermore, observant Muslim women being on a mixed beach and wearing a Burkini defies the essence of their religious teachings about upholding modesty by keeping their bodies hidden. The Burkini clearly shows the body’s contours and shape.
By being on a beach, observant Muslim women are exposed to half-naked men and women. Islam calls on the devout to avoid places where nudity is rampant. By wearing a Burkini, women may be observing one rule and flouting another.
The West
In the Arab and Muslim worlds, one can see the emergence of beach clubs with women-only spaces or segregated beach access for observant men and women. This is unlikely to be replicated in the West anytime soon. Veils, beards and Burkinis will continue to be divisive issues in the West, as we try to find the fine line between applying one’s freedom to live, pray and dress without infringing the freedoms, beliefs and cultural sensitivities of others.
In Australia, France, the UK or US, liberty for all is guaranteed by written and unwritten constitutions. However, certain trends emanating from the expansion of political Islam are encouraging some to subscribe to a very visual Muslim identity.
This is making some feel - and rightly so – that their way of life and identity are being infringed upon and maybe threatened, especially if random attacks continue to target shopping malls, beach promenades and concert halls in Western cities due to a twisted interpretation of Islam.
- See more at:,-02-september-2016/d/108439#sthash.FxeX0Blq.dpuf

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