Who Controls Kyrgyz Drug Running?

The question of questions: Who sits on the Kyrgyz drug trafficking?

Nicholas Levine

Fergana.ru

Kyrgyzstan has announced that seriously begins to fight Afghan drug trafficking. How justified this claim? How long shall continue the struggle? And, as perceived efforts by their colleagues Kyrgyz Russian intelligence services? About this columnist “Fergana” Nikolay Levin spoke in Moscow with a senior representative of one of the Russian security services who wish not to publicize his name.

- This year you have visited in the Kyrgyz Republic on a business trip. How to assess the situation, which they formed?

- Well, if very brief, as was drug trafficking, and goes through Kyrgyzstan. The most serious danger, as you know, is the smuggling of opiates, primarily heroin. According to our estimates, through Kyrgyzstan from Afghanistan, annually receives about 20-25 tons of heroin and opium. In 2010, shipments grew up with traffic as the total lack of power prevented the fight in the country. Now its value is governed not so much the efforts of law enforcement, as the limited need for markets: Russia so much heroin to “digest” simply can not. Schemes, in general, are well known, the key organizers of this “business” too. I can not say that the intelligence agencies of this country just do nothing. In particular, the reconstituted Committee on Drug Control, which was eliminated under Bakiyev. This year, in cooperation with the Committee there have been several arrests, the latest hands-free operation was a joint near Ekaterinburg a few days ago. But the main stream of poison still passes narkobortsev.

- Why?

- I do not think it will reveal a great secret if I say that this “business” of the roof of the big men of force and other government agencies. Therefore, the local drug lords do not then they do not want to arrest, they can not even kick in, say, from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

- You said that traffic patterns do not represent a singular mystery.

- Of course. Heroin comes first in the Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan. Then it different ways, including by foot and horse-drawn vehicles, brought to Kyrgyzstan, in Chon-Alai. From there, the road already, a white powder (in fact the Afghan heroin, more likely, cream-colored) vehicles delivered in the base in Osh and Jalal-Abad. Next shipment is sent by one of two routes.The first – in neighboring Uzbekistan. It’s only for ordinary people to the border is closed and the traffic – no. The second route – along the motorway and through the mountains in the Chui region. There again, there are two possibilities: either the heroin is sent to Kara-Balta, and from there to Kazakhstan and on to Russia, or warehoused in Bishkek, where a small portion is taken to various Russian cities by passenger flights, but the bulk is again being moved through Kazakh border for onward carriage to Russia.   (read HERE)

North Africa: Libya – the Criminal Face of Imperialism

North Africa: Libya – the Criminal Face of Imperialism

 

NATO’s assault on Libya, a criminal imperialist war from the outset more than five months ago, has descended into an exercise in out-and-out murder as special forces operatives and intelligence agents hunt down Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

From the beginning, the central objectives of this war have been to seize control of Libya’s oil reserves, the largest on the African continent, and carry out an imperialist show of force as a means of suppressing and diverting the mass popular movements that only months earlier had toppled the US and NATO-backed regimes of Mubarak in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia.

“Operation United Protector,” as NATO dubbed its military onslaught, would have been more accurately described as “Operation Imperialist Gang Rape.” The US, Britain, France and Italy, each pursuing its own interests in Libya and the broader region, managed to unite for the common purpose of “regime-change.”

To achieve this aim, NATO warplanes carried out over 20 000 sorties, destroying schools, hospitals and homes and slaughtering untold numbers of Libyan soldiers, many of them young conscripts.

Flouting the terms of the United Nations resolution authorising “all means necessary” to protect civilians, NATO powers, including the US, France and Britain, sent in special forces troops, military contractor mercenaries and intelligence agents to arm, organize and lead the so-called “rebels,” whose primary function was to draw out Libyan government forces so they could be annihilated from the air.

The pretense that this was a war to protect civilians has been exposed as a moral obscenity, with the death toll in Tripoli alone climbing into the thousands and NATO bombs and missiles continuing to fall in heavily populated areas.

One has to go back to the 1930s when, as today, world capitalism was gripped by a desperate economic crisis to find fitting parallels. Then, mankind was stunned by the savage aggression unleashed in the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, Hitler’s backing of the Sudeten Germans to achieve the carve-up of Czechoslovakia, and the dispatch of the German Condor Legion to bomb Spain on behalf of Franco’s fascist insurgency.

At that time, these violent acts of aggression were seen as part of world capitalism’s descent into barbarism. Today in Libya, similar acts are proclaimed to be a flowering of “humanitarianism” and “democracy.”

During that period, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appealed to the democratic sensibilities of the American people-while no doubt positioning the US for the pursuit of its own imperialist aims-by demanding a “quarantine” of fascist aggression.

He declared in 1937, “Without a declaration of war and without warning or justification of any kind, civilians, including vast numbers of women and children, are being ruthlessly murdered with bombs from the air.

Nations are fomenting and taking sides in civil warfare in nations that have never done them any harm. Nations claiming freedom for themselves deny it to others. Innocent peoples, innocent nations, are being cruelly sacrificed to a greed for power and supremacy which is devoid of all sense of justice and humane consideration.”

Those words from three quarters of a century ago read like an indictment of the Obama administration and the governments of Cameron, Sarkozy and Berlusconi.

The Nuremberg trials after the Second World War established aggressive war as the “supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

This conception was incorporated into the United Nations, which barred “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

Yet today within the political establishment there is virtually no criticism of the aggressive war carried out by the NATO allies. The scoundrels of the media have fully integrated themselves into the imperialist war machine, literally stepping over corpses and concealing the camera-shy Western dogs of war to better fashion their propaganda about “revolution” and “liberation” in Libya.

The driving force behind the Libyan war is imperialism, aptly described by Lenin as reaction all down the line. It is a war that has been pursued in the predatory interests of finance capital.

It is designed to produce what is being referred to widely in the financial press as a “bonanza,” not only for the major energy conglomerates, but for the banks and corporations, while underpinning the vast fortunes accumulated by the ruling elite by means of financial speculation, the driving down of labor costs in America and Europe, and the exploitation of low-wage labor the world over.

International gangsterism goes hand-in-hand with economic and political criminality at home. Aggression abroad is inseparable from the merciless assault on the living standards and basic rights of broad masses of working people in Europe, America and virtually every major country.

While workers are everywhere being told that there is no money to pay for jobs, education, health care, pensions or vital social services, billions are expended to bomb and invade Libya with no questions asked.

A striking feature of the Libya war is the way it has mobilized behind it a social-political layer of middle class ex-lefts, liberal academics and former protesters.

Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Allegedly Issues Afghan Victory Manifesto

Mullah Mohammad Omar source

AFGHAN Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has confirmed talks between the insurgency and the US, and laid out a manifesto for a Taliban government that protects private business, exploits the country’s mineral wealth and maintains good foreign relations.

An internet message purportedly written by the one-eyed militant to mark the Islamic festival of Eid al-Fitr claims the Afghan insurgency is close to victory, citing recent foreign troop casualties, Taliban expansionism and the killing of a string of high-level Afghan officials. “All these give us good news of an imminent victory and a bright future,” it said.

This month was the deadliest for US forces in the nearly decade-long conflict, with 66 troops killed, 30 of them when a helicopter was shot down on August 6.

The message appeared to acknowledge mistakes of the former Taliban regime overthrown in October 2001, and seemed aimed at projecting a more mature face to an international community hoping to negotiate an exit from the war in Afghanistan. “The future transformations and developments would not resemble the developments following the collapse of communism, when everything of the country was plundered and the state apparatus damaged entirely,”it said.

“Contrarily, strict measures will be taken to safeguard all national installations, government departments and the advancements that have occurred in the private sector. Professional cadres and national businessmen will be further encouraged, without any discrimination, to serve their religion and their country.”

It confirmed talks between the US and the Taliban, although negotiations were restricted to prisoner release and did not represent “comprehensive negotiation for the solution of the current imbroglio of the country”.

Afghan and US officials this week confirmed secret direct talks between Taliban and US representatives collapsed after Afghan officials leaked details for fear President Hamid Karzai was being sidelined.

On three occasions US officials met Taliban negotiator Tayyab Aga, primarily to discuss the release of US army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured more than two years ago, in return for Afghan prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Bagram Air Field near Kabul.

But Omar warned in his message there could be no negotiated end to the conflict without the full withdrawal of all foreign troops. A “limited withdrawal” that left behind US military bases would “in no way solve the issue of Afghanistan”, he said.

In what appeared a softening toward the Karzai administration, he insisted the Taliban did not seek to monopolise power. He called on Taliban fighters to pursue self-improvement through daily exercise, reading and religion, and to avoid extortion, kidnapping or random bans that hurt the common man. Intelligence analysts Stratfor said Omar’s message, and recent willingness to negotiate, suggested the Taliban leader was attempting to build support within and outside of Afghanistan in preparation for the 2014 withdrawal of foreign troops and the inevitable civil war.

“By opting for negotiations the Taliban, who remain the single largest political force in the country, hope to dominate a post-NATO political dispensation and avoid international isolation,” Stratfor said. “This tactic does not mean the Taliban are moderating; rather they are adjusting to constraints that limit their ability to achieve their goals of resurging to power.”

Ma`a as-salaamah Mohammad….. May Allah protect you!

Ma`a as-salaamah Mohammad….. May Allah protect you!

 

Franklin Lamb

 

Tripoli

 

My roommate left our hotel and hopefully Libya last night for his village near Arlit, Niger thanks to the assistance of one of Tripoli’s Christian Churches.  I shall miss him a lot.

It was a recently formed human rights group from the Coptic Orthodox (Egyptian) Church in Tripoli, working to protect blacks from the still lawless Tripoli streets that enabled my roommate to depart this hotel.  The Coptic Church, according to their Prelate here, has the largest Christian communion in Libya with normally 60,000 parishioners and has roots in Libya going back hundreds of years before the Arabs spread westward from Egypt.

Mohammad departed none too soon since “security personnel” arrived at the Corinthia Hotel close to 1 p.m. this afternoon (8/28/11) with gunmen and two “Generals” in fine new uniforms complete with epaulets. Their surprise visit was to check the hotel rooms for Kaddafi supporters. They claimed they had received “reports.”

The Copts did a good job in getting Mohammad to safety.  Most observers here agree that for the immediate future there will be a whirlwind of wild speculation, accusations and even some serious examination of Moammar Kaddafi’s leadership of Libya these past four decades. One fact however is incontrovertible to this observer and it is that under Kaddafi, Christians, whether Roman Catholic, Anglican Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox or Greek Orthodox, the main Christian sects here, have been well treated and allowed virtually complete freedom to practice their beliefs and to celebrate their traditions with some restrictions placed on campaigns to proselytize Muslims of which they have not been any since the Mormons and the “Way of the Cross” evangelicals  left some years back.

Most of the churches here currently have volunteers working to help their Muslim sisters and brothers during this cataclysmic period. My friend Mohammad is one whose life they may have saved.

Mohammad and I have been secretly sharing my room for more than a week since I accidently discovered him hiding and trembling in the hotel’s garden bushes shortly after the rebel entrance into Tripoli.  It was easy to calm Mohammad down and I brought him a shirt from my room, as his was filthy.

Mohammad is a black African devout Muslim and one fine man. When I saw him looking up at me and trembling my thoughts instantly turned to 21-year-old black Mississippian, James Chaney, and the date could have been June 21, 1964. That was when Neshoba County’s law enforcement and the Ku Klux Klan hunted blacks to kill and did kill James and his white companions Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner

The reason Mohammad was hiding outside the Corinthia hotel is that he feared for his life as so many, if not most, black Africans and black Libyans (roughly one third of Libya’s population) do these days. Bands of young rebel “freedom fighters” are still roaming some of Tripoli’s streets, itching it seems, to kill some “African mercenaries”, meaning, it appears, any black man they can find. Although the apparently politically contrived rumors of African mercenaries raping Libyan women which helped NATO get the UN Security Council to green light its bombing and regime change campaign, have been debunked as fake by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and a UN fact finding group, some of the macho young rebels in Libya still insist the smear campaign is true.

Mohammad explained to me that he was never a fighter for anyone in Libya but rather that his employment background, like his father, uncles and brothers, was in Niger’s uranium mines which only the past few years have begun to recover from the late 1980’s collapse. Mohammad’s brother Said was killed in the Tuareg Rebellion of the 1990’s and his father sent Mohammad to Libya to work in construction.

I agreed with Mohammad that he could stay secretly with me until we could get him into safe hands.  The hotel has never been the wiser to my knowledge although my friend Ismail, who works behind the front desk when he is not doing a dozen other jobs during his frequent 16 hour shifts, probably suspected something was going on because he would give me knowing glances as I disappeared toward the elevator with a table cloth covering a big plate of food and contrary to hotel rules of no hotel kitchen food in the rooms.  Luckily Ismail is a black Libyan and, if he knew, he did not rat us out.

With no security at our hotel until the day before yesterday and now packed with journalists, Mohammad took extra precautions and never left room # 1185 except for one night when someone from the Coptic Church came to meet with him in another room and I gave his floor spot to a French activist from Beirut whose boat to Alexandria was delayed again.

Housekeeping, no longer exists at this hotel, and so no one has entered my room for almost two weeks since the staff fled.  In any case Mohammad and I had a good cover story ready in case events demanded one.  Mohammad, we would explain if caught, was a driver for the Italian Embassy before the Italians temporarily pulled up stakes back in March.

I got pretty good at fixing plates of food for Mohammad from the nightly “Iftar buffet.” Because we are both fasting for Ramadan, smuggling Mohammad food only once a day was easy enough, especially as some of the new hotel guests, being journalists from the Rixos Hotel or rushing here to cover the “Fall of Tripoli” from around Libya, are now in the habit of fixing their dinner plates and sitting around the abandoned hotel restaurants. This way they have more space and privacy from the cramped conditions in the rapidly deteriorating “dining room” or their working area.

Personally, this Ramadan, the Iftar feast no longer has appeal for me because we have the very same food every Iftar which now comes almost entirely from cans. At noon today, the Hotel Front Desk posted the most recent Dear Guest Notice. It reads:  “Dear Guests:  Please be advised that there will be no lunch today due to absence of water supply in the Hotel.   We hope for a water delivery this afternoon and hope to serve dinner tonight at 18:30.  Thank you.  The Corinthia Hotel Management.”  No water arrived and when I and an American lady who works for the Sunday Times returned from driving thru Tripoli’s center,  at 7:50 p.m. just in time for Iftar, mine consisted of walking through the dining area picking leftover food bits from  plates where diners had eaten and left.

Before Mohammad left, he helped me with my infected leg and told me about a nearby Dr. which made me happy since no others have been available this past week.  But as dear reader may come to understand, I soon became reluctant to seek treatment from the Dr. who Mohammad recommended although by very great coincidence I have known her wonderful granddaughter, an Arabic-English language interpreter named Aya, for several weeks.

My most recent best bet for immediate medical assistance was my new friend Dr. XX, “Consultant Urological Surgeon” from the British Medical Center here in Tripoli (formerly the Swiss Medical Center until Hannibal Kaddafi had that unfortunate problem with Swiss authorities last winter and his Dad wanted to abolish Switzerland and all things Swiss), hence the fast name change on the Clinic building.   Dr. XX is from New Delhi but studied in England and now normally resides in Sheffield, England.  He spent the past year working here in Libya, loves the people and the country and was most willing to help me.  The problem was that he had to rush to catch the boat out of here for Malta yesterday.  Anyhow, he said I had a couple of days left before I would possibly have major leg problems and he  gave me the phone numbers of two of his colleagues, one an Indian dentist.  So far the phones still don’t work well in Tripoli.

Just a word of background about  Dr. Fatima, recommended by Mohammad now that I am resigned to get treatment late today, come what may, following my brief meeting with the good Dr. this morning.

Dr.  Fatima is very thin, quite tall, has an unusually large head and a red scarf covers part of her face which is stained blue.  Aya explained that while Dr. Fatima is by background Muslim, her Saharan tribe retains some pre-Islamic rites and customs and is genealogically connected with the Delvar Nar. Yet  Aya also told me that Fatma’s tribe claims that they are linked with the Angels mentioned in Luke 24:4 where Christ’s apostle  describes the scene at Jesus’s tomb when two angels appeared to Mary. Anyhow….

Aya says Dr.  Fatima is capable of teleportation, telekinesis and ESP and while I don’t need any of that stuff just now, but could later, Dr. Fatima fortunately is also expert in Saharan medicine including leg infections.  So the good news is that I am very soon to be in experienced medical hands. I have no doubt about that and I shall always be grateful to my friend Mohammad for the referral.

The down side may be what Aya told me about what her grandmother must do to make me well. This may be the tough part for someone who nearly collapses if some nurse even hints that she wants to stick a needle in me.  Aspirin is about the only medicine I have ever taken because my half German sainted Mother did not believe in her large brood getting sick and we all minded her over the years.

Dr. Fatima’s “clinic” is in the Medina not far from my Hotel and the area is coming back to life as some citizens are beginning to peak out and emerge from their homes.  Hundreds of shops and outdoor tables with all kinds of new and used goods have been closed for more than a week. Even the lovely Chadian hospitality ladies who I have good reason to believe rent themselves from dirt floor rooms off the ancient streets of the medina for ten Libyan dinars an hour (about $8) or 16 dinar ($ 12.80)  for two hostesses, (three additional dinars per hour for air conditioning in the room –highly recommended!) have vanished.    This sad fact alone, according to one of the guys from the UN delegation that ten days ago got permission from NATO to fly from Tripoli airport to Tunis for R & R and to assess their “findings,” is reason enough for the UNSC to immediately end NATO’s carnage in Libya.

I admit to being a little apprehensive because Aya told me one of the Chadian ladies, who recently returned and works as a nurse for Dr. Fatima, must first slice my  wound in narrow lines and then rub and wash it thoroughly with Saharan sand and some nasty looking green paste of Sarahan vegetation and insect fluids.

While I sat thinking how that is going to feel, Aya seems to have read my expression and assures me that everything will be ok because her granny also makes a strong alcoholic drink out of Saharan cactus and I will drink some and feel fine.

 “Well, why not we just use that drink rather than sand to cleanse the wound”? I ask.

  Aya gave me one of her, “You stupid American!” glances that communicates, “Please don’t bother to question we who know what’s best for you!”

Aya also promises me that after my “treatment” the now returning Chadian ladies will take care of me for the expected three day recovery period. I immediately feel better.

 If fate rules that these next few days in fact comprise my last chapter, and never having had much interest in being with virgins, the company of these angels will certainly be as close to Heaven as this hayseed from rural Oregon will likely get.

 

US Senator Lindsay Graham Meets with Uzbek President Karimov

Uzbekistan: US Senator Meets with President Karimov

Uzbekistan:  US Senator Meets with President Karimov
Presidential Press Service of Uzbekistan
Sen. Lindsey Graham and Amb. George Krol at President Karimov’s residence, August 27, 2011
Sen. Graham’s last attempt to see President Karimov after Uzbek riots in 2005

US Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina was received by President Islam Karimov at his residence in Tashkent on August 27, Uzbek state media reported. Ambassador George Krol, the new US envoy to Tashkent, also attended the meeting. Uzbek TVquoted Karimov as saying Uzbekistan “highly values relations” with the US and has seen “great positive things in our relations, especially most recently.“ According to the typically filtered government reports, the American senator was said to discuss resolution of the conflict in neighboring Afghanistan and ways to stabilize the region.

Gov.uz quoted Graham as stressing the importance of economic renewal and solving social problems in Afghanistan. While official reports didn’t specifically mention the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) which supplies NATO soldiers in Afghanistan, no doubt the senator discussed Tashkent’s crucial role in helping the NDN. Uzbekistan is known to serve as a key transit air hub through Termez and has supplied food and fuel by train as well. The US has been actively involved in promoting business and economic opportunities around the NDN, seeing it as important to security of the region and an evenutal “Silk Road” to prosperity.

Sen. Graham is not a member of the Central Asian Caucus in Congress. Yet he is on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and could have a role in deciding whether and how much US assistance is given to the Uzbek government. Under legislation passed in 2004, US military assistance is banned until progress is certified in Uzbekistan on human rights and economic reforms.

Graham, a military lawyer who actually performed an active-duty stint in Afghanistan last year, appears mainly concerned over South Carolina’s failure last year to obtain federal funds for public school jobs and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study to deepen the Charleston port,McClatchy reports. Yet his position on a powerful Senate committee means he will also have a say in funding the Pentagon, the war in Afghanistan and other related projects like helping Uzbekistan.

Following the Andijan massacre in May 2005, the conservative Sen. Graham accompanied Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and other US senators to meet with Uzbek opposition members and eyewitnesses, and called for a complete investigation in the atrocities, saying at that time that continuation of the relationship was “very difficult, if not impossible, if a government continues to repress its people,” airforce-magazine.com reported. Uzbek officials refused to meet with the senators, and ultimately served an eviction notice on the US, which left the Karshi-Khanabad (K2) airbase it had been leasing.

The question is whether the US needs Uzbekistan so much that it will start waffling on the aid certification. While the State Department is likely to continue to name Uzbekistan a “country of particular concern” (CPC) for its violation of religious freedom, it failed to downgrade Uzbekistanon its annual assessment of global trafficking in persons, despite Tashkent’s lack of progress.

Uzbekistan has not done anything substantive to improve its human rights record , but it has done the next best thing, shy of actual change: created a commission to monitor allegations of the use of forced child labor — which it continues to deny despite reports — and drafted a national human rights action plan .

The “action plan” is a creature of multilateral institutions as well as bilateral relations, where foreign interlocutors try to devise “benchmarks” or incremental steps towards eventual human rights compliance by urging the drafting of plans, training seminars, and progress reports. Like other massive abusers of human rights, Tashkent has learned that just the gesture of drafting a plan, without at all putting it into practice, is enough to keep its foreign critics happy. The new plan contains easy giveaways like a pledge to honor international legal standards over local law — but not release from prison or registration of the activists who actually ensure such rights are protected. Even so, some human rights lawyers are hoping to take the government at its word to push for reforms, and the State Department can now point to this “progress.”

While a few political prisoners have been released from imprisonment in a token gesture, other human rights activists and religious believers continue to be harassed and imprisoned, making certification hard to envision.

Turkmenistan – Telecoms, Mobile and Internet

 

Turkmenistan – Telecoms, Mobile and Internet 

Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd

Research and Markets, the largest resource for market research information in world providing essential market research reports, industry research, industry analysis, forecasts, market studies, company profiles and country reports.

Executive summary
Turkmenistan’s telecommunications services are considered to be the least developed of all the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries. Poor growth in telecom services can be attributed to a large extent to the slow development of the private sector and state control over most economic activities.
Overall, the telecom market in this poor and predominantly rural country is relatively small but has been trying boldly to expand in recent years. The state-owned Turkmen Telecom has been the primary provider of public telephone, email and Internet services, and through a subsidiary has also been operating a GSM mobile network in competition with a private mobile operator, BCT (BCT became MTS Turkmenistan in 2005). Combined fixed-line and mobile teledensity was around 40% in early 2010. Not surprisingly it has been the mobile services that have been dominating the expansion activity. In 2008 the country saw annual subscription growth in excess of 140%, although growth slowed significantly to about 33% in 2009. As a consequence, in a two-year period Turkmenistan, one of the smallest markets in the region, saw its mobile penetration jump from 8% to 30%.
It had certainly not been smooth sailing over the 2008/09 period as the mobile operators felt the impact of the global financial crisis on their revenues. The monthly ARPU recorded by BCT in Turkmenistan fell more than 70% to less than €10 by the fourth quarter of 2008. The fall was mainly due to the Central Bank of Turkmenistan changing the exchange rate for the Turkmenistani manat (TMM) from 5,200 to the US dollar in December 2007 to 14,250 in mid-2008. By May 2010 the exchange was still 14,250TMT to one US dollar. In local currency terms, BCT’s ARPU fell 24%, from TMM250 in the fourth quarter of 2007 to TMM189 in the fourth quarter of 2008, because of the further dilution of its customer base with the increased level of subscriptions.
Growth of the Internet sector had been seriously stifled back in 2000 when the four existing independent ISPs were forced out of business due to the government’s decision to grant Turkmen Telecom a monopoly over data services. The abrupt closure of the ISPs was consistent with government policy, which required tight control over all communications in the country. Internet access continued to be severely restricted, and the few Internet cafes that existed in Ashgabat were closed down in 2002.
After two decades of repression, the incoming president, Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, announced in early 2007 that the government had re-opened Internet cafes in the capital Ashgabat and was set to follow this move in regional centres. One hour of computer time cost about US$4, however, a high price in a country where two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line and the average monthly income was less than US$100. It was not immediately clear how far these reforms would go. By 2010 it was evident that the new president was keeping his promise about keeping the Internet cafes open. There were still considerable restrictions on the use of Internet, however.
Market highlights:

By early 2010 mobile subscribers in Turkmenistan were still relatively low in number, having just passed the 1.5 million mark, being a penetration of almost 30%;
For a number of previous years, growth had been outstanding; mobile subscriber numbers increased by almost 300% in the two year period 2008/09;
The country’s mobile subscriber base was still expanding but the rate had slowed in the second half of 2009 and into 2010;
Fixed-line penetration in Turkmenistan was struggling to break through the 10% penetration barrier, and 2009 had seen the fixed market virtually stagnating and it was not clear where further growth would come from;
Although no updated official figures were available, progress on converting the country’s fixed network from analogue to digital was slow; by 2010 the conversion program still had a long way to go;
Internet growth in the country had been hindered by severe government controls until 2007 when there was an apparent easing of restrictions; this has not, however, seen the expected lift in Turkmenistan’s Internet usage; again, it was hard to confirm the precise situation with the limited official figures available;
There were early signs of broadband Internet access being made available in the country; but a low broadband penetration of 0.05% in 2009 did not look promising.Turkmenistan – key telecom parameters – 2009 – 2010
Category20092010 (e)
Fixed-line services:
Total number of subscribers478,000488,000
Annual change0%2%
Fixed-line penetration (population)9.4%9.4%
Mobile services:
Total number of subscribers (million)1.52.0
Annual change32%33%
Mobile penetration (population)29%38%
(Source: BuddeComm)
This report provides an overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications markets in Turkmenistan. Subjects covered include:

Key statistics;
Market and industry overviews;
Major operators (mobile and fixed);
Regulatory environment;
Infrastructure;
Mobile market;
Internet market.

Web and Mobile Status Report, Central Asia

Kazakhstan & Central Asia Telecommunications Report Q3 2011 

Business Monitor International

Research and Markets, the largest resource for market research information in world providing essential market research reports, industry research, industry analysis, forecasts, market studies, company profiles and country reports.

Business Monitor International’s Central Asia Telecommunications Report provides industry professionals and strategists, corporate analysts, telecommunication associations, government departments and regulatory bodies with independent forecasts and competitive intelligence on Central Asia’s telecommunications industry.

BMI’s Q311 update on the telecoms markets of Kazakhstan and its four Central Asian neighbours is built on new mobile subscriber data for Q111, ending March 31 2011, regulatory data and local press reports. Using this data, we have revised our five-year growth forecasts for the development of the region’s five mobile markets. In addition, we have reviewed our five-year forecasts for the development of Central Asia’s fixed and mobile broadband subscriber markets this quarter. Therefore, we include customers who use devices such as netbooks and USB sticks to connect to the internet wirelessly through a high-speed (3G/HSPA) network; however, we do not include smartphone users, only dedicated mobile data subscriptions. In the past few months, operators in countries such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have been have been introducing various promotions, to encourage greater data customer growth and service usage.
In December 2010 Kyrgyzstan became the latest Central Asian republic to introduce third-generation (3G) mobile services, although LTE networks had already been launched in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in 2010 by Kazakh mobile market leader K-Cell, which is owned by the Nordic carrier TeliaSonera, and Uzdunrobita operating as MTS Uzbekistan. BMI forecasts that mobile broadband services based on UMTS/HSPA and LTE technology will make a strong contribution to the growth of internet services in Central Asia because of the limited scope of fixed broadband growth due to a lack of existing infrastructure, income-constrained demand and challenging geography. Our new broadband forecasts for Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan envisage stronger growth as a result of the impact of mobile broadband services. In the long term, BMI believes the spread of mobile broadband services have the potential to stifle the success of competing wireless technologies such as WiMAX and satellite. Meanwhile, in November 2010 3G services were launched in Turkmenistan when MTS Turkmenistan launched a 3G network in the capital Ashgabat. However, the following month it was announced that MTS’ operating licence had been suspended by the Turkmen government. At the time of writing, MTS remained offline and was proceeding with its lawsuit against two state-owned operators Turkmentelecom and mobile subsidiary Altyn Asyr, regarding the termination of interconnection agreements. BMI believes the revocation of MTS’ licence will be to the detriment of the Turkmen market in terms of a loss of competition and international expertise.

The Russian foreign ministry announced on March 7 2011 that it will protect the interests of local telecoms operator Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) in its dispute with Turkmenistan. MTS has itself responded by writing to international firms with the aim of discouraging them from investing in Turkmenistan. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkmenistan has expressed its interest in initiating negotiations with the Russian operator on the buyout of its assets in the country.

The situation became a political issue beyond telecoms after the military were called in to control crowds in early April 2011, after hundreds of customers stormed Altyn Asyr stores when it suspended the distribution of SIM cards due to network congestion problems. The operator began offering vouchers that could be used to acquire a SIM card from May 2011. Only public officials or foreign nationals are currently being issued SIM cards. One positive ramification from the SIM issuance suspension is the political pressure it applies to the Turkmen leadership. Earlier in April, the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, was forced to respond to the political implications of the SIM shortage by criticising the operator’s poor service. He argued poor work organisation is the cause of the low efficiency. He demanded measures be taken immediately to guarantee the high quality of mobile services across the country and obliged the government to establish private companies and joint ventures with foreign businesses. Huawei Technologies and Nokia Siemens Networks have since won contracts for an urgent upgrade of the Altyn Asyr network, according to local reports.

Iran’s Role in Curtailing Afghan Opium

Iran’s Role in Curtailing Afghan Opium

By Brad L. Brasseur

The recent resurgence of opium production in Afghanistan, notably in Balkh and Badakhshan provinces (as reported by Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit) represents a frightening development for Afghanistan and its neighbors. The ineffectiveness of opium poppy eradication in Afghanistan can be attributed to the Obama administration stopping a military drive to wipe out opium poppy crops in Afghan fields.

Although opium poppies economically sustain thousands of Afghan families, opium production has had serious consequences on the stability of Afghanistan’s regional countries, notably Iran, and Russia. If opium production is increasing today, while the international community is heavily involved in Afghanistan then the potential threat of opium production post-2014 will be even more alarming for Afghanistan’s neighbors.

Iran, with its serious domestic drug problems, is in a strong position to further build up its image in the region and take charge of a process aimed at curtailing the regional opium trade. With its close relationship to the Karzai government, such an engagement could not only potentially alleviate Iran’s drug problems but could also help increase their credibility in the region, including with Russia. In order for Tehran to successfully combat the opium trade, they need to build on the momentum from recent agreements and take the lead on regional approach with other countries that are facing similar challenges.

In light of the withdrawal of international forces in Afghanistan, President Karzai badly needs to increase cooperation and trust building among his neighbors. Iran is one of the few regional countries that have a fairly stable relationship with the Karzai government based on strong economic and trade relations (also helps Karzai receives cash from Tehran). Tehran can use their influence in Kabul to push for increased measures on curtailing opium production.

While it is widely known that Afghanistan is an opium hub, accounting for around 90 percent of global illicit opium production. According to UNDOC 2010 report, 37% of all Afghan heroine travels through Iran before reaching its final markets. Tehran believes that the international community’s efforts in Afghanistan have ignored the drug trade and have allowed drug traffickers to roam free. Moreover, Tehran believes that they have not received gratitude for their strong efforts in fighting the Afghan drug trade whose destination is usually Europe.

Iran has almost done everything in its power to combat its serious drug problem as it threatens the stability of their country and exhausts its military and financial resources. National efforts have been undertaken to hold back the flow of drugs and Tehran has spent millions of dollars, simply constructing trenches, concrete dams, planting minefields, and deploying thousands of troops to secure its border with Afghanistan and Pakistan. Despite some achievements in obstructing smugglers, Tehran’s measures, like other regional countries, have been relatively ineffective, mainly due to the vast organized network of the drug traffickers and their advanced technological equipment.

The bottom-line is that success depends on increasing regional cooperation as there are significant limits to what any state can achieve through fighting the Afghan drug trade alone. Moving forward Iran will need to further increase its cooperation and intelligence sharing with the other regional neighbors under threat, most notably Russia.

The UNDOC points to Russia being the country that has experienced the worst effects from the Afghan drug trade. Recently, the head of Russia’s federal drug control agency Victor Ivanov lashed out at NATO for not doing enough to curtail the production of drugs in Afghanistan. He stated that around 90% of the 30,000 heroine deaths each year come from Afghanistan. In order to combat the drug trade, Iran and Russia have initially teamed up with the three other Caspian Sea states (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan) and agreed to form ‘a Caspian Anti-Drug Information Center”.

While, this represents an important step as it includes two regional powers Russia and Iran using their common interest in a similar manner to their strategy in Tajikistan, where they stopped Turkey and the United States from expanding their influence in the region. The pressing need for addition cooperation among regional countries is needed before true steps in combating the opium trade can take place as the United States has shown no signs in changing their position on eradicating opium in Afghanistan(despite recent joint drug patrols with Russia troops).

In light of the transfer of security in Afghanistan from international troops to Afghan National Security Forces, increased cooperation through a multi lateral approach will be vital moving forward in the fight against the illicit Afghan drug trade. Such an approach can be successful with Iran is in the lead with close cooperation from Russia and other regional countries, including the Caspian Sea states and the Central Asian states.

Brad L. Brasseur works on Afghanistan-Pakistan at the EastWest Institute in Brussels. The views of the above article are not attributed to the EastWest Institute but rather to the individual himself.

Afghanistan invites bids for Hajigak iron deposit

Afghanistan invites bids for Hajigak iron deposit

Posted by 

 

Jan 19 (Reuters) – Afghanistan on Wednesday invited 22 companies, including 15 from India, to bid for its giant Hajigak iron ore deposit despite concerns over a worsening insurgency.

The country’s Mines Ministry set Aug. 3, 2011 as the deadline for bids for what it says is the largest unmined iron deposit in Asia. It said it expected exploration to begin in 2012, pressing ahead with the project despite security concerns weighing on investors.

The Hajigak deposit straddles Bamiyan, Parwan and Wardak provinces, with only Bamiyan relatively peaceful. The ministry estimates the worth of its reserves at as much as $350 billion.

The United States has trumpeted Afghanistan’s rich mineral deposits as the key to future prosperity, but experts say the bounty is years, even decades away and point to massive security and infrastructure challenges for potential investors.

Violence in Afghanistan is at it worst since U.S-backed forces overthrew the Taliban in late 2001 with record casualties on all sides and a raging insurgency spreading to once-peaceful areas of the country.

The government has a specially trained force to protect mines and other infrastructure, with many of its members drawn from villages surrounding the asset under guard.

The ministry said the interested companies included India’s Jindal Steel and Power Ltd , JSW Steel , Tata Steel , NMDC , Steel Authority of India and Ispat Industries . UK-based Stemcor was also named, as well as Canadian-based Kilo Goldmines Ltd .

“The development of Hajigak will involve major infrastructure improvements and will stimulate the local economy and improve and lives of the citizens of Bamiyan province and beyond,” Mines Minister Wahidullah Shahrani said in a statement.

United Mining and Minerals Co. was the only Chinese company on the list, the ministry said.

China’s top integrated copper producer, Jiangxi Copper Co , and Metallurgical Corp of China are developing the vast Aynak copper mine south of Kabul after they were handed the contract in 2007. The $4 billion project is the biggest non-military investment in the country so far.

Metallurgical Corp pulled out of an earlier tender for Hajigak in 2009 following accusations it had won the Aynak contract by giving bribes. The firm denied the charges.

The Mines Ministry cancelled the tender, blaming the cancellation on the global recession and changes in the world market structure for iron. (Reporting by Matt Robinson, additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi, editing by Miral Fahmy)

Afghan govt derailed US talks with Taliban

Afghan govt derailed US talks with Taliban

By Anwar Iqbal
Pakistan had also been kept in the dark about the talks, said the original Associated Press report which was later confirmed by senior US counter-terrorism officials who spoke to various US media outlets. — File Photo

WASHINGTON: US officials confirmed on Monday a media report that the Afghan government deliberately leaked details of the United States’ secret meetings with a Taliban emissary, scuttling the US-Taliban talks and sending the intermediary into hiding.

Pakistan had also been kept in the dark about the talks, said the original Associated Press report which was later confirmed by senior US counter-terrorism officials who spoke to various US media outlets.

According to the AP report, the Taliban insurgents also wanted to keep Pakistan out of the talks and had asked their American
interlocutors not to share details of the meetings with Islamabad.

The United States, however, held separate meetings with the Pakistanis as well to assess how they would react to a possible deal with the Taliban. The Americans believe that senior Taliban leaders are hiding in Pakistan.

As part of these efforts, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator John Kerry had met Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani in a Gulf country last month.

In this marathon eight-hour meeting, peace talks with Afghanistan’s insurgents featured prominently, the report said.

A US official familiar with the talks said Gen Kayani made a pitch during his marathon meeting with Senator Kerry that Pakistan should take on a far larger role in Afghanistan peacemaking.

The AP report, however, observed that “the United States considers Pakistan an essential part of an eventual deal, but neither the US nor Pakistan trusts the other’s motives in Afghanistan”.

According to the report, the US met at least three times with Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar’s personal intermediary Tayyab Aga, who has now gone into hiding in Europe fearing for his life. The Afghan government, angry at Washington’s
decision to confer secretly with the Taliban emissary, intentionally leaked details of the talks.

The leak that scuttled the talks stemmed from Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s fear that US-Taliban talks would leave him on the sidelines and undercut his authority. The officials said someone in the presidential palace, where Mr Karzai’s office is
located, intentionally made the information public.

US officials, however, said that Washington would continue to pursue negotiations, although it had not had direct contact with Mr Aga in months.

The talks between Mr Aga and US officials were preliminary but had begun to show promise. The breakdown of the discussions has ended, for now, the possibility of a brokered agreement between the US and the Taliban.

The US had offered small concessions to the Taliban just before the leak to help move talks forward. These included the US promising not to block the Taliban from opening an office in a third country, allowing Mr Aga to safely travel to Germany and
handling the Taliban and Al Qaeda differently under international sanctions. The US and the Taliban also discussed the release of a captured US soldier and Taliban fighters.

A member of the Afghan High Peace Council told the AP that the leak showed just how much distrust existed among the major players in any potential peace deal. He said the US, the Afghan Government, the High Peace Council and the Afghan National
Security Council were all conducting secret, uncoordinated talks.

Fate of Egyptian revolution uncertain

Fate of Egyptian revolution uncertain

David A. Super

Americans like to think of revolutions as simple one-act plays. The colonists rose up against the British, ultimately defeated them at Yorktown and won liberty for us all.

In fact, it was more complicated. The nation’s future was by no means certain in the period following victory. George Washington struggled to keep the Continental Army from revolting after Congress refused to raise taxes to honour its salary commitments. And, of course, it took 80 years before the country began extending the blessings of liberty to the millions held in slavery.

So too today is the fate of the Egyptian revolution uncertain. We wanted to believe that the drama had reached its final, happy conclusion when Hosni Mubarak resigned in the face of widespread demonstrations. But the struggle was not over.

The military replaced Mubarak, an air force general, with a committee of other generals, and this junta has retained many stalwarts of the Mubarak regime. Secret military courts have sentenced civilian bloggers and other activists to long prison terms for criticising the military. Escalating sectarian violence has frightened millions of Egyptian Christians. The security police continue to arrest and torture peaceful demonstrators, even subjecting female protesters to “virginity tests” in front of male soldiers, according to Amnesty International.

Elections have been scheduled, but without a democratic constitution or credible election laws, it is unclear how free they will be. Despite Egypt’s history of corrupt elections, the generals are so far refusing to allow international monitoring. Indeed, in pursuit of an apparent alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, the generals initially scheduled the elections immediately following the month of Ramadan. This ploy would inhibit secular parties’ campaigning while giving Islamists captive audiences five times a day in the mosques. The military has quickly recognised Islamist parties but stalled registration of secular ones.

After tens of thousands of people turned out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, birthplace of the revolution, to protest, the election date was modified slightly. But the army is increasingly allowing heavily armed thugs to move through its lines to attack and sometimes kill peaceful democracy advocates. Two weeks ago, the army itself swept through Tahrir Square, beating and arresting demonstrators and forcibly ending the protest.

The coming months will be a crucial time in determining Egypt’s future, and it’s worth again considering the lessons of our own revolution as the US considers how to aid the cause of democracy. We tend to forget the crucial role that foreign support played in our revolution. Without Lafayette, Rochambeau and the French fleet blocking British reinforcements, Yorktown might have ended very differently.

The US role in Egypt is not as direct as that, but this country does have the ability to influence the Egyptian junta’s treatment of peaceful demonstrators. The United States gives more than $1 billion in military aid each year to Egypt, and hundreds of millions more has been committed to the nation since Mubarak fell.

We can’t allow Egyptian leaders to hide behind that support. In some countries in the region, regime troops have deliberately used weapons marked “Made in USA” against demonstrators. One democracy activist in the region reported that the secret police played a recording of President Obama’s speech at Cairo University while torturing him, emphasising that American words about freedom and human rights were hollow.

To date, the United States has played into the hands of oppressive regimes trying to cling to power. Vice President Joe Biden insisted that Mubarak was not a dictator, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton characterised Syrian President Bashar Assad as a reformer, undercutting and demoralising brave Egyptians and Syrians as they risked their lives for democracy.

The Arab media have mocked the Obama administration’s self-described policy of “leading from behind.”

MCT

ERGENEKON, SLEDGEHAMMER and FETHULLAH GULEN MOVEMENT

[Readers should be aware of the Zionist MEMRI source of the following explanation of the current Turkish political scene.  Either ignore it, or take it with a grain of salt, but the Israeli mind-twisters are projecting Ergenekon and Sledgehammer as false flag deceptions by the Turkish Islamists' party, JDP  (Islamist Justice and Development Party), which just might be true.  In my reading of these things, I think that Ergenekon is a smokescreen thrown-up by the CIA-backed Gulen Islamists, to turn the Turkish people against their military leaders before Turkey reaches a point of absolute crisis, when the military just might be needed.  The "Ergenekon" investigation into the old Turkish Gladio network put in place by NATO, was generated by the discovery of a crate of grenades and the investigation into how they got buried in the first place.  The investigation revealed the Gladio-type "Sledgehammer" plot that was on somebody's books, similar to Operation Northwoods, the American version of the same plot-type.  Northwoods, like Sledgehammer, were plots intended to implicate leftists and liberals in seditious plots against the state.  These "stay-behind networks," like the Turkish "Deep State" are old plots, concerning old, perhaps outdated weaponry, representing little threat to the state today.

The real threat from these Deep State elements, which are busily at work undermining every country on the planet, is not from these old networks, but from the new conspiracies, which have sprung-up from the military and spy service personnel who were involved in the original plots.  Today's conspirators operate in an entirely different manner, no longer content with simple false-flag attacks intended to defame and slander liberals and leftists, today they sponsor terrorism outright, for the seditious purpose of staging destabilizing governments.  Even though both the new terror-masters and the old Gladio killers are pushing terrorism as an excuse for military intervention, the excuse of providing covert resistance to an invading power has been cast aside, in favor of instigating outright insurrection.  

The real plot involves CIA-related interests and "private security" arrangements, promoting the "moderate Islamist" power structure.  Turkish interests are used to project CIA activities in the Middle East and Central Asia.  Uncovering the CIA/Gulen connection is the most important investigation that has yet to begin.  Getting past the smokescreen of Ergenekon is just the beginning.]   

ERGENEKON, SLEDGEHAMMER, AND THE POLITICS OF TURKISH JUSTICE: CONSPIRACIES AND COINCIDENCES

Since it was launched in June 2007, the Ergenekon investigation has become the largest and most controversial case in recent Turkish history, resulting in over 300 people being charged with a membership of what is described as a clandestine terrorist organization seeking to destabilize the country’s Islamist government. In the parallel Sledgehammer investigation, 195 members of the fiercely secularist Turkish military stand accused of plotting a coup in 2003. Yet not only is the evidence in both cases deeply flawed, there are also increasing indications that much of it has been fabricated.

 

On June 12, 2007, acting on an anonymous tip-off, the Turkish police discovered a crate of grenades in a shantytown in the Istanbul suburb of Umraniye in the beginning of what later became known as the Ergenekon investigation. By May 2011, a motley collection of over 300 people had been formally charged with membership of what public prosecutors described as the “Ergenekon terrorist organization,” which was allegedly plotting to use violence to try to destabilize the government of the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (JDP). In January 2010, prosecutors launched a parallel investigation into claims that members of the Turkish military had plotted to stage a coup against the JDP in early 2003. By May 2011, 195 serving and retired members of the Turkish military had been formally charged with involvement in the alleged plot.

In a country where conspiracy theories are rife and where the Turkish military has a record of intervening in the political arena, initially at least, many were prepared to take the allegations at face value. However, as the investigations progressed, another–more disturbing–picture began to emerge. From the outset, the investigations were characterized by outlandish claims and numerous abuses of due process. The indictments against the accused ran to thousands of pages. Yet not only were they riddled with absurdities and contradictions, but they contained no convincing proof that either the Ergenekon organization or the coup plot existed. On the contrary, some of the evidence adduced to support the prosecutors’ claims had clearly been fabricated.

Equally troubling was the profile of the accused, particularly in the Ergenekon case. Not only was there no proof that they were members of Ergenekon but they held disparate views, covering almost the entire political spectrum except for the Islamist right. Indeed, the only characteristic that the accused all appeared to share was an opposition to the JDP; and particularly to the movement inspired by the exiled Islamist preacher Fethullah Gulen, which has been the JDP’s more important political ally.

 

COUPS, CONSPIRACIES AND THE DEEP STATE

 

For most of the last 50 years, politics in Turkey has been conducted under the watchful eye of the country’s military. Fiercely secular and nationalistic, it seized power in full-blooded coups in 1960 and 1980. In 1971, it forced the elected government from office and replaced it with a government of technocrats. Most recently, in 1997, the military instigated a campaign of pressure and persuasion to topple modern Turkey’s first ever Islamist-led government. Even between interventions, the military effectively set parameters for civilian governments, which varied both over time and between policy areas; with military control being tightest on issues that were regarded as being strategic or security-related and relatively loose in areas such as the economy.

Yet by the beginning of the twenty-first century, the military’s political influence was based mainly on bluff and bluster. Its past record of staging coups and its still considerable public prestige meant that few civilian governments were brave enough to defy a warning from the Turkish General Staff (TGS). Nevertheless, there was a general awareness inside the officer corps that–even if they had wanted to do so–a seizure of power was impossible in all but the most extreme of circumstances. The price had simply become too high.

Unlike in 1980, when the military had last staged a full-blooded coup, Turkey was now integrated into the global economy and vulnerable to shifts in international investor confidence. The end of the Cold War and the disappearance of the perceived threat from the Soviet Union had made the United States less willing to tolerate military regimes among its allies; particularly in a country that, since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Washington had been touting to the Islamic world as an example of a Muslim, pro-Western democracy. In addition, in December 1999, Turkey had been named as an official candidate for EU accession; a process that still enjoyed overwhelming public support when the JDP first came to power in November 2002 and that would have been immediately suspended if the Turkish military had seized power.

As a result, although many members of the officer corps wanted General Hilmi Ozkok, who had been appointed chief of the TGS in August 2002, to warn repeatedly the new JDP government to preserve the secular state, they were also aware that their options were limited if the JDP refused to take his advice. In the event, much to the frustration of his subordinates, Ozkok adopted a low profile and rarely attempted to apply pressure on the government.[1]

In addition to direct pressure on the government, one of the means by which members of the Turkish military had traditionally exercised political influence was through the networks known to Turks as the derin devlet, or “deep state.” The Turkish deep state had its origins in the Gladio-style organizations created by NATO during the Cold War in order to form the basis of a resistance movement in the event of a Soviet occupation of an alliance member. Selected members of the Turkish military received specialized training in covert warfare and intelligence gathering in what was called the Special Warfare Unit (SWU). They subsequently returned to their units, where they pursued a normal career path in parallel to their new responsibilities. In theory, this meant remaining in a state of readiness for a possible Soviet invasion. In practice, many put their newly-acquired skills to immediate use; running intelligence-gathering networks, planting black propaganda and even becoming involved on the side of the rightists in the factional fighting that brought Turkey to the brink of civil war during the 1970s–not least because they regarded the Turkish leftist movement as a Soviet fifth column.

However, contrary to the image in the popular imagination, the deep state was never a single, centrally-controlled organization. In fact, officers were specifically trained to create small, self-contained cell networks, in which only one member of each cell had contact with anyone else from the same network. As a result, it would probably be more accurate to speak of the Turkish deep state in the plural, in which there was a multitude of autonomous and semi-autonomous groups, gangs, and networks, which shared merely common goals and–if the need arose–an ability to ensure that they enjoyed immunity from prosecution.

The end of the Cold War robbed the SWU of its original raison d’être. In the early 1990s, it was closed down and replaced by a new unit, which focused on conventional counter-insurgency training. Yet the disappearance of the Soviet threat came at a time when the deep state had shifted its focus to trying to combat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (KWP), which in 1984 had launched a violent campaign for greater rights for Turkey’s Kurdish minority. There is considerable evidence to suggest that through the late 1980s and early 1990s, SWU-trained officers played a key role in what rapidly became a dirty war against the KWP; recruiting KWP defectors, forming links with ultranationalist elements in the Turkish underworld, and running death squads responsible for the deaths of hundreds–probably thousands–of Kurdish nationalists and KWP sympathizers.

By the late 1990s, the KWP was in retreat. In 1999, following the capture and imprisonment of its leader Abdullah Ocalan, the KWP announced an indefinite suspension of violence. At the time of Ocalan’s capture, the influence of the deep state was already in decline. With the KWP insurgency apparently contained, the groups and networks that had been formed to combat it either disintegrated or turned full-time to organized crime. No new members were being trained in the SWU. Many officers who had received covert training in the past either retired or concentrated on pursuing a conventional career. Those who remained active focused almost exclusively on intelligence gathering, particularly against the growing Islamist movement.[2]

 

FROM PLAUSIBLE PARANOIA TO THE POLITICS OF THE ABSURD

 

On April 27, 2007, General Yasar Buyukanit, a hard-line secularist who had replaced Ozkok as head of the military in August 2006, posted a memorandum on the TGS website implicitly threatening a coup if the JDP pushed ahead with its plans to appoint Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to the Turkish presidency a move secularists feared would give the JDP a stranglehold over the apparatus of state. The JDP responded by calling an early general election for July 22, 2007, which it won by a landslide, taking 46.6 percent of the popular vote. On August 28, 2007, Gul was sworn in as president. Buyukanit did nothing.

Despite Ozkok’s lack of assertiveness, during its first term in power, the JDP was sincerely convinced that the TGS might stage a coup and tried to avoid doing anything that could provoke the military. The decision to hold an early election was the first time it had effectively called the military’s bluff. Buyukanit’s passive response to Gul’s election as president demonstrated to the JDP what many in the military already knew; namely that the military was now powerless to respond if the civilian government ignored its warnings. The result was a massive surge in confidence among the JDP and its supporters, and a rapid expansion of the Ergenekon investigation.

On October 5, 2007, Zekeriya Oz, the main prosecutor in the Ergenekon case, applied to Police Headquarters in Istanbul for details of a string of assassinations, racist murders, terrorist attacks, and even protest marches going back to 2002. On January 21, 2008, the police arrested 27 people on charges of membership of the organization, which had allegedly hidden the crate of grenades in Umraniye. Two of those detained were retired military officers widely regarded as having been involved in the death squads that had terrorized southeast Turkey in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Their arrest triggered excited speculation in the Turkish media that, freed from the threat of a military intervention, the JDP was finally going to bring to justice those responsible for one of the darkest chapters in modern Turkish history. However, it soon became evident that something else was going on, although initially it was unclear whether it was politically motivated or simple paranoia.

From the evidence subsequently presented in court, it is clear that when he applied to the police in October 2007, Oz had not uncovered anything to link those in custody with the files he had requested. The doubts intensified through the first half of 2008, as wave after wave of arrests led to the detention of scores of suspected members of what the pro-JDP media was now confidently referring to as the “Ergenekon” organization,[3] which they claimed was synonymous with the deep state. Yet the profile of those detained suggested something different. Those named in the arrest warrants included university rectors, lawyers, journalists, television presenters, the author of some erotic novels, retired generals, the head of the Ankara Chamber of Commerce, and even Turhan Comez, a dissident former parliamentary deputy from the JDP who had resigned in 2007 in protest at Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian management style. Indeed, the only thing that all of the detainees appeared to have in common was opposition to the JDP.

More worrying was the regularity with which, starting in spring 2008, transcripts of wiretaps– some of alleged Ergenekon members, others of government opponents or those who had begun to question the Ergenekon investigation-began to appear in pro-JDP newspapers and on pro-JDP websites. Under Turkish law, both the tapping of telephones by private individuals and the publication of the contents of court-approved wiretaps are crimes. Yet no attempt was made to investigate the sources of the leaks.

The first indictment in the Ergenekon case was published on July 10, 2008. A total of 2,455 pages in length, it formally charged 86 suspects with “membership of an armed terrorist organization” and “inciting the people to armed rebellion against the government of the Turkish Republic.” It maintained that Ergenekon was a single, centrally-coordinated, hierarchical organization, which had been responsible for every act of political violence in Turkey over the previous 20 years. The indictment further argued that the organization was controlling every military group active in the country–from the Marxist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (RPLP/F) to the KWP and the Islamist organization known as the Turkish Hizballah (unrelated to the Lebanese organization of the same name). Yet, despite its extraordinary length, the indictment provided no convincing proof to support its claims. More remarkably, neither did it provide any evidence that Ergenekon even existed, much less that the accused were members. Indeed, the indictment was so riddled with absurdities and contradictions that it frequently defied credulity. For example, on page 81, it asserted that Ergenekon planned to “manufacture chemical and biological weapons and then, with the high revenue it earned from selling them, to finance and control every terrorist organization not just in Turkey but in the entire world.”[4]

Nevertheless, the indictment was hailed by the pro-JDP media, particularly Zaman, the daily newspaper of the Fethullah Gulen Movement (FGM), which described it as “analyzing a contra-guerilla organization with cogent reasoning and fluent language.”[5] Indeed, by summer 2008, the FGM’s media outlets had become a major player in the Ergenekon case, repeatedly running stories about “evidence” it claimed investigators had uncovered and conducting smear campaigns against those who questioned the conduct of the case, several of whom were subsequently detained and themselves charged with membership in Ergenekon.

The concerns about the real motives of the Ergenekon investigation increased as hundreds more suspects were taken into custody through late 2008 and into 2009. They included an improbable array of academics, journalists, retired members of the police, serving and retired members of the military, doctors, businessmen, actresses, charity workers, politicians, and even a transsexual concert organizer. Two more prodigiously long indictments followed. The second indictment of March 8, 2009, ran to 1,909 pages and charged 56 people with membership in Ergenekon. The third indictment of July 19, 2009, was 1,454 pages long, and accused a further 52 people of belonging to the organization. As with the first indictment, both documents were strewn with absurdities and contradictions and failed to provide any convincing proof that Ergenekon existed much less that the accused were members.

More disturbing were increasing signs that the case was being used as an instrument of intimidation. For example, pages 188-189 of the third indictment contain a transcript of a tapped telephone conversation from December 2008 between the Ergenekon suspect Professor Mehmet Haberal and the former JDP Minister Abdulatif Sener, in which the latter discussed a recent family holiday in Spain. Nothing else was mentioned, and Sener was not charged. However, the indictment was published at a time when JDP supporters were concerned about the possibility of Sener establishing a rival political party. Similarly, the third indictment also includes a transcript of a tapped telephone conversation between one of the more elderly male suspects and his young mistress. The conversation is so brief and innocuous that it is difficult to explain its inclusion in the indictment except as a means of psychological intimidation.

 

THE NARROWING FOCUS

 

In recent years, the provision of educational scholarships in Turkey has become dominated by Islamist organizations, such as the FGM, which currently provides financial support for tens of thousands of students, many of whom live in dormitories regulated in accordance to the FGM’s values and precepts. There are only two large non-religious organizations that provide educational scholarships: the Association for the Support of Contemporary Living (ASCL) and the Daddy, Send Me to School (DSMTS) campaign, which specializes in providing financial assistance to enable young girls in the east of Turkey to attend school. On the morning of April 13, 2009, police raided ASCL and DSMTS offices across the country, seizing computers and taking staff–most of them women–into custody. The police later announced that they had received intelligence that the two organizations were recruiting students to Ergenekon and then using them to infiltrate and control terrorist organizations. Most of the members of the ASCL and DSMTS staff were later released, albeit after spending up to 60 hours in custody. It was several months, however, before the police returned the computers, thus severely disrupting the ability of the organizations to function. After a lengthy investigation, on March 18, 2011, seven executives from the ASCL appeared in court on charges of belonging to Ergenekon.

In retrospect, the raids of April 13, 2009, can be seen to have marked a turning point in the Ergenekon investigation. Few impartial observers inside or outside the country genuinely believed that the ASCL and DSMTS were grooming children in order to control terrorist organizations. Yet the relentless disinformation and defamation campaigns by the pro-JDP media and the alacrity with which critics of the Ergenekon investigation were themselves imprisoned or intimidated into silence meant that few Turks were prepared to speak out. Emboldened, those driving the investigation gradually abandoned any attempt to disguise its real purpose.

Starting in 2007, Ilhan Cihaner, a public prosecutor in the eastern province of Erzincan, had begun investigating the activities of local elements of the FGM and another Islamist organization known as Ismailaga, including allegations that they were using their connections with leading members of the JDP to fix state contracts. In late 2009, the JDP began to try to pressure Cihaner to drop his investigation. He refused. They then tried to have him suspended for alleged abuse of office. Eventually, they succeeded in physically removing him from his office and transferring his investigations to Osman Sanal, the public prosecutor from the nearby province of Erzurum, who was widely regarded as being sympathetic to the JDP. The investigations were then quietly shelved. On February 17, 2010, Cihaner was arrested and charged with membership in Ergenekon.

In August 2010, Hanefi Avci, the veteran head of the police in the central Anatolian city of Eskisehir published a book of memoirs.[6] During the 1970s and 1980s, Avci had frequently been accused of overseeing the torture, and sometimes disappearance, of leftist activists. Personally pious, Avci had long been regarded as being sympathetic to the FGM and had even sent his children to schools run by the organization. Yet in his book, Avci claimed that his conscience would not allow him to remain silent in the face of what he described as the infiltration of the police force and judiciary by the FGM, who he alleged were protecting corrupt members of the JDP, fixing appointments and promotions, and fabricating evidence against perceived opponents of the movement. On September 28, 2010, two days before he was due to hold a press conference at which he had promised to provide documentary evidence to support his claims, Avci was arrested and charged with membership in a militant leftist organization. On March 14, 2011, while he was still in prison pending trial, Avci was also formally charged with membership in Ergenekon.

Through 2009 and 2010, a series of anonymous tip-offs had resulted in investigators uncovering what they claimed were secret arms caches belonging to Ergenekon. Yet the discoveries had raised more questions than they had answered; not least because they contained material of no obvious military value for a covert organization, such as empty shell casings and ammunition for an anti-aircraft gun but no gun. More bizarrely, many of the small number of weapons that would have been genuinely useful–such as assault rifles–had been buried in damp soil wrapped only in newspaper, something no one with even the most basic knowledge of firearms would ever have done. On February 14, 2011, police raided the premises of an anti-JDP internet television channel called OdaTV as it prepared to post footage on its website apparently showing members of the police planting weapons in the alleged Ergenekon arms dumps. Four OdaTV employees were arrested and charged with membership in Ergenekon.

On March 3, 2011, investigators ordered the detention of nine journalists who were known for their opposition to the FGM. All were subsequently charged with membership in Ergenekon. They included Nedim Sener of the daily Milliyet, who had won international press awards for his work on the alleged involvement of the security forces in political assassinations, and Ahmet Sik, a left-wing reporter for the daily Radikal. Sik had recently completed the first draft of a still unpublished book on the activities of the FGM in the police entitled The Imam’s Army. On March 25, 2011, the police raided the offices of Radikal and Sik’s prospective publisher and deleted every digital copy they could find of Sik’s manuscript. Prosecutors subsequently refused to allow Sik’s lawyers to see a copy of the manuscript they had taken from his home computer on the grounds that it had been produced by a “terrorist organization”. Yet on March 27, 2011, pro-JDP newspapers, such as Zaman, published detailed of a leaked 49-page police report on the book, including copious quotations. However, Sik had already taken precautions. On March 31, 2011, a copy of his manuscript appeared anonymously on the internet and immediately went viral recording over 100,000 downloads in the first 48 hours.

As if to confirm the allegations in Sik’s book, on March 30, 2011, the day before his text appeared on the internet, police raided premises associated with seven Islamic theologians, and confiscated documents and computer files. The only characteristic that the seven shared was that each had questioned Gulen’s credentials as a theologian.

 

SLEDGEHAMMER

 

Since January 2010, the Ergenekon investigation has been running parallel to what has become known as the “Sledgehammer” case, after the alleged codename of a purported coup plot. On January 20, 2010, an article by a journalist called Mehmet Baransu appeared in the daily newspaper Taraf. Though largely staffed by anti-militarist leftists, the publication has long been vigorously supported by the FGM. Baransu claimed that an anonymous member of the military had provided him with a suitcase full of documents containing details of a planned coup, which had been discussed at a seminar at the Turkish First Army Headquarters in Istanbul on March 5-7, 2003. Over the weeks that followed, scores of serving and retired members of the military were arrested on charges of complicity in the alleged coup attempt.

Doubts about the plausibility of a coup plot being debated at a seminar attended by 162 members of the military were reinforced when it emerged that First Army Commander General Cetin Dogan had ordered audio recordings of what he claimed were discussions not of coup plots but war gaming scenarios similar to those that are conducted in all other NATO countries. Suspicions about the plausibility of the alleged coup plots had been further fuelled by stories that appeared in the pro-JDP media–apparently based on sources involved in the investigation–through early 2010. For example, one of the elements of the coup plot the pro-JDP media claimed was discussed at the seminar on March 5-7, 2003, was a plan to try to destabilize the country by bombing a mosque on February 28, 2003.

Any possibility that such inconsistencies were the result of clerical errors was demolished by the “evidence’ contained in the Balyoz indictment, which was finally completed on July 6, 2010. Although Baransu had been given 2,229 pages of documents, 19 data CDs, and 10 audio cassettes, all of the material related to the purported coup plot was contained on just one CD, which was named “No. 11” in the indictment.[7] The other CDs and hard copies were all genuine documents, which had apparently been stolen from the military’s archives, including some dating back 30 years.

According to a forensic report presented to the court, the metadata of CD No. 11 showed that all of its contents had been burned to the disk in a single session on March 5, 2003, and there had been no subsequent additions, deletions, or changes. However, the documents on the CD contained numerous errors and inaccuracies. Most damning were the anachronisms. For example, the CD contained a list of newspapers, including Gurcu Ekspres (which was not established until September 12, 2003) and Ilk Adim (founded August 15, 2005). A list of NGOs regarded as being sympathetic to a coup in 2003 included the Turkiye Genclik Birligi, which was not founded until 2006. A list of pharmaceutical companies that would be taken over during the coup included a reference to Yeni Recordati Ilac. Yet in March 2003, the company was called Yeni Ilac and did not acquire its new name until October 2008, when it was bought by an Italian company. Similarly, another document referred to NATO’s southern command as CC MAR NAPLES. However, in March 2003, it was called Headquarters Allied Naval Forces Southern Europe (HQ NAVSOUTH). It was not called CC MAR NAPLES until July 2004.

CD No. 11 includes hundreds of other similar errors and anachronisms. The unavoidable conclusion is that the documents have been fabricated and the clock on a computer changed–which is a very straightforward procedure–in a clumsy attempt to make it look as if they were part of a coup plot discussed at the seminar in March 2003.

On December 6, 2010, acting on an alleged anonymous tip-off, investigators raided the Turkish naval base in Golcuk on the Sea of Marmara and found another haul of documents and CDs. The pro-JDP media hailed the finds and, ignoring the documents cited in the Sledgehammer indictment, began to trumpet the new evidence as conclusive proof that the coup plans were genuine. However, it soon became clear that the material from Golcuk was as riddled with errors and anachronisms as the documents given to Baransu. For example, one of the documents has a reference to a naval vessel being part of the Turkish fleet in 2003, whereas it did not actually join the fleet until 2005.

As more inconsistencies in the Golcuk documents emerged, on April 27, 2011, acting on yet another anonymous tip-off, police raided the Eskisehir home of a retired air force colonel called Hakan Buyuk, where they claimed to have found more documents related to Sledgehammer. These too, however, were plagued by errors and anachronisms. For example, one of the documents, which according to a police report had last been saved on April 5, 2003, included quotations from what it described as the “current” Armed Forces Personnel Law. Yet the passages quoted included amendments that were not made until June 15, 2005.[8]

Still, the flaws in the Sledgehammer evidence appear to have had little impact on the prosecution of the case. By July 2011, 223 serving and retired members of military had been charged with plotting a coup in 2003, of whom a total of 177 remained in custody pending the completion of the trial. Those imprisoned included more than 10 percent of the Turkey’s serving generals and admirals.

 

A COMMUNAL CONSPIRACY?

 

By July 2011, more than 300 suspects had been formally charged with membership of Ergenekon, many of whom had already spent years in prison, their requests for bail consistently refused. Despite the construction of a purpose-built courthouse in Silvri, approximately 100 miles west of Istanbul, there appeared little prospect of an imminent conclusion to the case. Indeed, with new suspects continuing to be arrested and charged, the Ergenekon trial appeared likely to drag on for years.

Although the JDP has undoubtedly benefited politically from Ergenekon and Sledgehammer–not least because they have made many of its opponents reluctant to criticize the JDP for fear of being arrested–the government appears to be allowing the cases to proceed rather micromanaging or actively driving them. Exactly who is behind the cases remains a topic of often heated debate, but most critics blame the FGM.

To date, no evidence has emerged to tie Fethullah Gulen, who has been living in Pennsylvania in the United States since 1999, personally to the investigations. Nevertheless, there is no question that elements from within the FGM community are heavily involved. Gulen sympathizers now dominate large swathes of the judiciary and the police force, particularly the intelligence branches, which have been providing most of the evidence for the investigations. Since the outset, the FGM’s media outlets have sought to shape domestic and international public opinion about the cases by running vigorous disinformation campaigns, including inaccuracies, distortions and outright untruths. They have also mobilized their resources to launch vicious defamation campaigns against anyone who criticizes or questions the investigations.

Nor is it possible to ignore the regularity with which, particularly since 2009, the Ergenekon investigation has targeted the FGM’s critics and rivals. Through early 2011, there were increasing signs that, even in a country as awash with conspiracy theories as Turkey, the public was finally beginning to question the plausibility of the outlandish claims made for Ergenekon and Sledgehammer. Similarly, the frenzied coverage of the investigations in the FGM media and the consistency with which they targeted the movement’s rivals and opponents for arrest and imprisonment was increasingly looking like a coincidence too far.

 

*Gareth Jenkins is a writer and analyst who has been based in Istanbul since 1989. He is currently a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program.

 

NOTES


[1] For example, in May 2004, when the General Ozkok issued a statement opposing the JDP’s attempts to make it easier for students at Islamic seminaries to enter university. See http://www.tsk.mil.tr/genelkumay/bashalk/aciklama/2004/a07.htm.

[2] For more details on the deep state see Gareth Jenkins, Between Fact and Fantasy: Turkey’s Ergenekon Investigation (Washington/StockholmCentral Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, 2009), pp 14-24.

[3] Ergenekon is the name of a valley in Turkish nationalist mythology where the Turks of Central Asia are reputed to have taken refuge before emerging to conquer the surrounding region.

[4] Author’s translation. The full Turkish text of the first indictment is available at:http://www.cnnturk.com/2008/turkiye/07/25/ergenekon.iddianamesinin.tamami/485342.0/index.html.

[5] Mumtaz’er Turkone, “Ergenekon Dedikleri Neymis?” [“What Is This Thing That They Call Ergenekon?”], Zaman, July 27, 2008.

[6] Hanefi Avci, Halic’te Yasayan Simonlar: Dun Devlet, Bugun Cemaat [“The Simons Living on the Golden Horn: Yesterday the State, Today the Community”] (Ankara: Angora, 2010).

[7] Page 81, Balyoz Iddianamesi, July 6, 2010. The complete indictment, in Turkish, can be found at http://www.ergenekonteror.com/readfile.php?id=108.

[8] Changes to Law No. 926 of June 15, 2005, published in the Turkish Official Gazette of June 20, 2005.

 

The Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center
Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, P.O. Box 167, Herzliya, 46150, Israel

Obama‘s Race to Top Policy Helps Turkish Gülen Missionary Charters Schools Race to Conquer America

Obama‘s Race to Top Policy Helps Turkish Gülen Missionary Charters Schools Race to Conquer America 

Kurdishaspect.com – By Dr. Aland Mizell
The American education system has become a hot issue. Commenting that “It’s time to make education America’s national mission,” President Obama defended the cornerstone of his administration, his education policy called the “Race to the Top.” A part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, it is a 4.35 billion dollar competitive grant program that gives incentives for states to adopt pay for performance systems and removes the cap on charters schools.[i] After the President’s speech on education reform, some civil right organizations released joint statements criticizing the Race to the Top policy. President Obama’s main theme on education included the notion that education is a civil rights issue, but if it is a right, then why should students race for it? What happens to the youth from impoverished backgrounds? What happens to marginalized groups who cannot succeed? Who is a loser and how does one become a winner? What is the role of charters schools? According to recent whistleblowers, some charters schools have contributed to the problems in education and become the subject of much debate. Therefore, it is important to separate out those charged, the Turkish Muslims’ missionary charter schools called the Gülen movement, from the normal American-run charters schools.
Controversy surrounds the Gulen’s Islamic schools. Some people are extremely opposed to the Turkish charter schools, even though a few of these schools are serving underprivileged and economically poor communities. Officials of these Turkish-led schools deny any kind of formal relation with Fethullah Gülen, a powerful and wealthy Turkish imam seeking residency in the U.S. Yet, he requests a US green card claiming he is an international educator. A few outspoken supporters argue that they are the best schools around the world, but detractors purport that they are getting support from foreign intelligence. Some say they are working for Mossad, Israel’s state-run intelligence operations, while others claim that they are working for the U.S.’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Some will pronounce that they are working for greater Middle Eastern projects, yet others reply that they are serving the Vatican. Some see them as the savior of the world, but others contend that they have a hidden agenda to deconstruct current governments in order to bring on their new one. Some will exclaim, “No, they are advocating global peace and preventing a clash of civilizations.” Others point out that they took over Turkey by infiltrating Gülen’s students into the top rungs of the Turkish government. Some believe that they are just Turkish people, and therefore have a right to be at the highest level in government agencies, the police, the intelligence, and the military. Some posit that God chooses them and that is why they have been successful as well as because Gülen is the Mehdi or messiah. Members of the organization view themselves as the 21st Century Sahabe, meaning followers of Mohammed. Yet, adversaries say they are a cult because the leaders intimidate Gülen’s followers by instilling fear in them to force them to stay in the community. Some hold that they are very democratic and honest; on the other hand, their foes say they are thirsty for power and yet others Asks where is the water of the Mill? Some indicate that charters schools promote integration, yet analysts show that they do not promote integration of disparate elements because members of the community are under social and psychological pressure to conform to strict edicts. Some imply that there is no central leadership and no one person is in charge; the others point out that there are life rules, determined and administered by the supreme leader whom each member must follow absolutely. The imam of the region, a middle man, is the one who decides where the follower works, when he will marry, and whom he should marry. Those decisions come from statutes from Gülen himself. Some will infer that they are very democratic and that there is freedom of thought; the others will reveal life’s complete regulation including the reading of particular books, observating of Islamic rules, voting for a particular party, buying a particular brand, listening to the superiors even if they are wrong (Itaat etmek meaning to obey, submit, or comply); all rules are imposed so that the organization can have control over the members.
The Turkish charter schools engender many questions. How do they get support? What are the structures of the movement? Who is in charge? Is it centralized? If so, is it centralized like a Catholic hierarchy but getting fatwa from Gülen? What makes them different from any other public school in the community? Some will say this system represents the rise of the Neo-Ottoman Empire that wants to conquer the world. But Gülenists will argue that they are advocating global peace, that they do not have any agenda, and that they do not teach any religion. The main question is do they really proclaim global peace or are they trying to bring the back Ottoman Empire system that practiced conquering? Do they want to have global power? Why are they more successful than any other movement in Turkey? How could researchers conclude that teaching a common language of love, peace and harmony is equal to the processes of Turkification, assimilation, and indoctrination of the Gülenist version of Islam?
Neither Gülen nor his followers are really working for the CIA or for any other significant powers; neither is he the Mehdi who can predict the future nor is he chosen by God, but Gülenists are great opportunists and know how to infiltrate important governmental agencies to get information, and based on the information that they get, they make their moves and decisions. Also, some do not believe Gülenists are the best at what they do, but actually they are well indoctrinated and well trained not to tell the truth but to deny the truth. They are also not the most tolerant and democratic organization, but rather one of the most dictatorial, militaristic, highly reiterative and decidedly centralized organizations with the goal to provide an alternative to today’s systems of government; in other words, to bring back the Ottoman Empire. The question is what type of system did the Ottomans have? Was it one of absolute power and did it exemplify the principle that absolute power is corrupt?
Obama’s Race to the Top policy is problematic in that it probably is not going to work the way President Obama thinks it will. Specifically, in my view, the money will not filter down to the American teachers but rather will be allocated to the Gülenists’ missionary teachers who are already taking advantage of the U.S. system, and if the money does not sift down, then how will it be distributed? If it is distributed individually, according to the student’s performance, ethical issues will arise. There are already cases filed against the Gülen missionaries’ charter schools in several states charging them with mismanagement and lack of accountability. Also, this US educational policy’s financing gives more capital to the Gülenists to bring more of Gülen’s missionaries at the expense of the American taxpayer in order to disseminate his ideology. How well educated are these teachers who come to America? How much experience as teachers do they have? Obama’s Race to the Top policy means for Gülenist missionaries a race to conquer the American education system.
What are the main goals of the Race to the Top policy? It encourages states to improve their efforts in the following areas: States and school districts should build robust data systems for measuring students’ growth and success. While this seems a good educational tool, this is expedient for the Muslim missionaries to recruit and have access to the smart students, so they can indoctrinate them, a tactic used in Turkey and Central Asia. Second, the goals are that districts should pay teachers more when they are particularly effective or teach in priority subject areas or in low performing schools. Gülenists already know how to play the game, and they will build the system that fits the funding. Another trick that the Gülenists use to fool people is that they hold mathematic Olympics or physics Olympics to have good public relations and marketing, saying that they are the winner. If someone does the research, the inquirer will find that in almost all countries at least in one college they will have a winner of one subject. The question is how could that happen? In Turkey, some have claimed that the organization stole the answers for the Turkish National Police exam to gain access for its members;[ii] would it be possible for the same to be true in other countries? The success of the Gülenists is dependent on information they receive and the information they give. The main difference is that the American education system encourages students to question masters or teachers, whereas the Gülenists education system discourages asking new questions, but instead it encourages them to follow the leaders without inquiry and to replicate what people in the past did. Critical thinking, an important outcome in US education, is not an option in Gulenists’ charter school curriculum.
This attitude is not limited to education systems but is also prevalent in other social aspects of society. Isn’t questioning oneself and others the first important aspect of intellectual growth? The growth of large entities, even nations, depends on how much they are ready for and engage in self-criticism. This aspect does not exist in Gülen’s community. If a member questions authority, the leaders get upset but always eagerly blame others for their own shortcomings. Total power is corrupt. Thomas Jefferson said, “A government afraid of its citizens is a Democracy. Citizens afraid of government is tyranny.” Isn’t that the case with Turkey? In Turkey, the majority of the right is dominated by the Gülenists in the government and in important positions, so that whoever criticizes Gülen ends up in jail. One of the hallmarks of the West is freedom of speech and freedom of expression, permitting critiques of claims about religious truths, but Islamic law does not allow such debate or criticism. The question many scholars as well as political leaders ask is whether Gülenists’ education system is compatible with American and Western educational systems? Does it hold the same ethical values or does it teach the children that they can learn the truth, but they don’t have to tell the truth anywhere or everywhere, or does it teach the kids that they can lie if it necessary?
The American university is a laboratory for ideas such as dialectic exchange and deliberative democracy, in which students and teachers participate in free exchange of ideas without any fear of being punished or excommunicated from the community. If America is the champion of education around the world, it is because open dialogue is fundamental to the system of education in the United States. What exactly do close-minded Gülenists’ missionary charter schools hope to accomplish by establishing more than 130 charters schools in America in a short period of time?[iii] How did Gülenists missionary schools, now over 300 in number, accomplish their goals inside Turkey? Even though there are the more than 1000 schools worldwide, why are they not in Saudi Arabia and Iran, for example, since these countries symbolize intolerance? Did the charter schools in the US leave room for free exchange of ideas for students or academics to discuss and teach what they think is right, not what Gülen thinks is right? The American culture and education system has been enriched by the values and belief systems of virtually every part of the world. Individual freedom, and whether we call it individualism or individual freedom, is the cornerstone of American society, because the concept of an individual’s having control of his or her own future is guaranteed in the Constitution. Under the Gülenists missionary schools systems individualism is not important, but collective thinking is important, and individual freedom is limited because individuals must follow the organization’s rules implemented by the central decision-maker–Gülen himself. Unfortunately questioning and testing the truth in the Gülenists community is non-existent and never happens; under this tutelage they quote Gülen more often than the Quran. Students will hear, “Hoja Effendi says this about these topics,” or Hoja Effendi says this about that topic.” Even though Newton was a great scientist, Einstein had freedom to question his ideas, but under the Gülenists education system, none has freedom to challenge Gülen’s views because his view is seen as absolute truth, and whoever challenge it gets “burned.” The mentors promote Gülen more than Prophet Muhammad, for example
This ideology wields considerable power in American politics because his followers are actively involved in lobbying Congress to promote his interest in Washington. Gülen was recently honored under Texas Sates Resolution No. 85, which recognized his contributions and promotions, and their goal is to let the other 49 states honor him. The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justified the end. For Gülenists any method is justifiable; it just depends on the organization’s perceived notion of “if the good outweighs the bad, then the action is moral.” Even lies are justifiable under the some circumstances, because for Gülenists everything depends on circumstances. However, when someone really does more thorough research about Gülen’s movement, he or she will see this kind of double standard and unethical methods behind the movement. Otherwise it would not be as successful. For example, the political impact of Gülenists in Turkey before 2001 and Gülenists’ stand with the ruling political party and the army has shifted substantially. Gülenists mostly talk about the non-partisan nature of the movement and insist that his movement keeps equal distance from every Turkish ruling administration, seeks no office, and has no political goals, but now when observers look at the Gülenists’ newspaper Zaman that has a circulation of a million just in Turkey alone; when they look at the TV stations, the radio channels, and the civic organizations; they don’t just have educational matters, but rather they have a political impact. Also perusing the Zaman’s archives from pre-2001 will reveal no negative statements about the army, politicians or parties.
But today the Zaman and other Gülenists’ media seem like the AKP owns them, so when one of its leading journalists, Huseyin Gulerce, campaigns for the AKP and tells people to vote for the AKP, when Gülen himself says that if he could bring the dead people from their grave to vote for the AKP, he would say yes; when Ekrem Dumanli writes articles in the Zaman; when Huseyin Gulerce and others write their perspectives in the Zaman, that journalism impacts the political process. Gülenists argue that the movement is almost completely decentralized and is primarily built on local actions and initiatives; however, Fethullah Gülen does not like hierarchy in terms of power. There is no central office or bureaucracy. But when someone do something with out asking Gulen they automatically been punished for not obey the Gulen. When an organizational chart has levels of leaders but all without their own input, it can start its own dynamic, and it can go counter to the existing political climate because of the force of the unified command coming from the top. This chain of command works because Gülenists believe God is in charge, so that ostensibly they don’t have any leader, but at the same time, with every breath they take, they promote Gülen’s name. Also, Gülenists do not unite people in peace and harmony as some Western self- proclaimed Gülenists movement experts have come to believe. Actually, the opposite is true. An underpinning of the movement is the idea that “You’re with us or you’re not with us, in Turkish (Hizmetten and Hizmet disi or bizden veya bizden degil).”
What is the ultimate goal? Doesn’t all-human activity—in communities, societies, and nations– have a goal in one form or another? So does this one. This movement was born in Turkey, Fethullah Gülen is a Turkish citizen, he cares about Turkey, and he’s trying to improve the Turkish educational system. He’s done a great deal within the country, but Why would Gülen come to the USA to open the schools all over America? Is it because the fate of America depends on Gülen’s movement through educational systems? The primary aim of Gülen is to have total power and to dominant the world. History has shown that when an individual or group is concerned with having more power, it does not serve the community well nor does it create harmony and peace. The world has already seen this in Turkey, how the Gülenists treat others, because total power does corrupt. For example, Gülenists do not leave space for other NGOs to work in the same area. They do not want any competition, especially in the fields of education and relief organizations. Unfortunately, some of his publications have been known to discredit some very good NGO workers, schools, scholars, generals, officials. Instead, the Movement gives exorbitant credit to itself, especially S. Jill Carroll and Akbar Ahmed’s A Dialogue of Civilizations: Gulen’s Islamic Ideals and Humanistic Discourse (2007)   and Muhammad Cetin’s books Gülen-Inspired Schools and SMOs (2008), both quite biased and full of propaganda about the Movement and Gülen.
In addition, anyone wanting to learn more about how Gülen and his followers are inconsistent with their claims should read Mehmet Kalyoncu’s analysis of how certain distinguished scholars, who are well respected in their field, like Huntington, Lewis, and Pipes, are said to have monopolized the task of interpreting Islam and Muslim world for them. Speaking on behalf of Gülen’s website, Mr. Kalyoncu, touted as an independent analyst, claims that recently American and European media have “misrepresented and even if not deliberately created doubts and prejudices about him [Gülen}” [iv] Because Gülenists only accept those who agree with the Gülenists’ ideas and do not tolerate or welcome any second opinions, the average reader can see that any controversial statements will be denounced as “misrepresentations.” Clearly, they want to monopolize the whole world under the one tent, the Gülenist version of Islam and the Ottoman’s version of a government system.
Further, Gülenists deny that Gülen is accepting any funds or financial aids from other countries. Really? Do researchers not count the millions of dollars from the US government that have funded his organization in the past? Gülenists are the best opportunists, and they know how to use events for their interest. From Gülen’s point of view, the best way to defeat the enemy is to use the enemy’s own weapons against that enemy. What is the enemy’s weapon? The enemy’s weapons are democracy, technology, language, and Western values. How can he use these against America or the West? He does so by establishing Islamic centers, non-governmental organizations, such as Interfaith institutions, and cultural centers; by sending graduate students who get scholarships from Americans taxpayers; by providing a good education, albeit his brand, and particularly by disseminating Islam under the principle of freedom of speech. In charter schools his proponents have seen another opportunity to get donations from the American government to attract American young people to one man’s dominate religion and to indoctrinate them about Gülenists’ idea of global Turkish Islam. In other words, they took advantage of an opening to teach revisionist history in that Turks are the best race on earth and God’s favored people, all the while denying the reality of the Kurds’ suffering for decades and denying the genocide of Armenian 1915. How can such a person claim one race or nation is the best and chosen by God, deny history, for example the Holocaust, yet affirm that all atheists who do not share their same values have lost their human nature and have lower themselves to the basest of animals and at the same time advocate peace and tolerance?
In Turkey the Gülenists label those who oppose him as part of Ergenekon; in America they will call the opponents friends of Ergenekon because of Gülenists’ unethical methods in attempting to silence their critics around the world especially in Turkey and in the US. For example, Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a Zaman columnist who spoke at the a panel at Harvard University on May 05 2011, has falsely accused Dani Rodrik, the Rafiq Hariri Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, of dissuading people from attending the event. However, Rodrik wanted both perspectives not only one view. “My fear is that the Harvard community is being exposed to a rather one-sided and ill-informed view of what is really taking place on the ground. In the interest of balance, if you want ideas for names of those who can present a fuller picture, I am happy to pass them on to you.”[v] Cengiz’s false accusation was picked up by a recent Zaman article, which then produces an erroneous story headline “Rodrik dissuades people from attending rights advocate’s address.”[vi] Professor Rodrik denies that he did in any way discourage attendance. Another example of unethical news from the Gülenists’ Zaman newspaper in Turkey claims that Kurdish people in the PKK stirred up trouble before the March 16th, 2011 elections, another lie. The Zaman argues, “The PKK will create chaos as” but the prosecution noted that this allegation proved to be unfounded.[vii]
If this organization is about peace and love, it will not do underhanded things. However, Gülenist missionaries would like their movement to be seen as a civic movement, or peace loving social entrepreneur organization, because it helps them to disseminate their ideology well and to minimize the controversy. Yet, they are inconsistent with their answers. Gülenists outside of Turkey present themselves as loving, caring, honest, chosen, errorless, righteous, multi-faithed, tolerant, and peace -loving people. In reality Gülenists never tell the truth about Gülen or his movement because he encourages his followers to appropriate only the positive things from the West, such as technology and education, and to leave the negative things, such as religion and social norms. According to Islam, an individual can lie for three reasons: to make peace between a father and a mother, to save oneself, and to lie to an enemy when one is at war. Since many Muslims believe that they remain at war with non-Muslims in realms called a house of war and a house peace, devotees can lie to gain power, and then they can declare war or resist non-Muslims as the Qur’an says to lie to the unbelievers, Christians, and Jews. They are told to be nice on the surface until they gain the majority in numbers and power and then to take over and impose Qur’an law or Shari law on the population. Once the community accrues the majority, Americans cannot do anything but accept it like Europe is doing right now. Obama’s Race to the Top should gain the interest of every thinking American, particularly those in leadership, so that the policy-makers ask, “Who are we enabling to race and reach the top and if they get there, do we want their ideology and their legal system?” We might ask those who have been jailed in Turkey for exerting freedom of speech to see if they have an opinion on charter schools in America or on Gulen’s movement of peace and tolerance; ironically, they cannot speak to us.
Dr. Aland Mizell is with the University of Mindanao School of Social Science, President of the MCI and a regular contributor to the Kurdishaspect.com.
You may reach the author via email at: aland_mizell2@hotmail.com