Democracy Ends in Turkey

Eric Zuesse

On Saturday March 5th, Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (German Economic News) headlined “Turkish Police Storm Newspaper Office Zaman” and reported that, “Turkish police entered the editorial offices of critical newspaper Zaman on Friday night.” Accompanying videos there showed a police-state in which ‘security’ forces stormed through a crowd of protesters (readers of the newspaper) outside, into Turkey’s leading opposition newspaper, which is also Turkey’s leading English-language newspaper, Zaman, and arrested staffers there, taking them away, to who-knows-what fates.

There’s nothing like Zaman  in just about any country: for examples, the New York Times, Washington Post, London Times, and Guardian, aren’t “opposition newspapers,” though they used to cover the opposition in a moderately fair way, prior to the George W.  Bush Administration, 9/11, and “regime change in Iraq.” By contrast, Zaman  has constantly been very bold in exposing truths that the regime doesn’t want the public to know. But that’s all past history now — it’s at least as radical a change for Turkey as occurred in America with the Bush regime, which controlled the media as effectively as its successor-regime, Obama’s, has done, and which never needed to employ such blatantly police-state methods as Turkey now is clearly doing.

On Thursday March 4th, Tayyip Erdoğan, the Islamist President of U.S. ally and NATO member-nation Turkey, took over Zaman  or Today’s Zaman, where the headline on Friday was: “Court appoints trustees to take over management of Zaman, Today’s Zaman.” Until after that report was filed, this was only a court matter, not a blatantly police-state one — using physical forms of force, including armed ‘security’ forces inside, and water-cannons against demonstrators outside.

Here was that Zaman  news-report’s opening:

An İstanbul court has appointed trustees to take over the management of the Feza Media Group, which includes Turkey’s biggest-selling newspaper, the Zaman daily, as well as the Today’s Zaman daily and the Cihan news agency, dealing a fresh blow to the already battered media freedom in Turkey.

The decision was issued by the İstanbul 6th Criminal Court of Peace at the request of the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which claimed that the media group acted upon orders from what it called the “Fethullahist Terrorist Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY),” praising the group and helping it achieve its goals in its publications.

The prosecutor also claimed that the alleged terrorist group is cooperating with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist organization to topple the Turkish government and that high-level officials of the two groups have had meetings abroad.

The court decision means that the entire management and the editorial board of Feza Media Group companies will be replaced by the three-member board named by the court.

Turkey’s existing conservative regime is typical of conservative governments in using ‘national security’ rationalizations as excuses for clamping down against the public, supposedly in order to ‘protect’ the public. However, the ‘democratic’ gloss over the transition of a democratic government into a dictatorial one can do nothing to maintain as being true the supposition that the nation is a democracy instead of (now) a dictatorship.

The specific ‘national security’ context behind today’s clamp-down and end of democracy in Turkey, is that the Zaman operations were owned by Erdoğan’s enemy, Fethullah Gülen, who had self-exiled to an estate in Pennsylvania after objecting to the Islamicization of Turkey’s government under Erdoğan. Gülen is no ‘secularist,’ but he came to insist upon a separation between church-and-state, so that there will be no favoritism by the government toward any clergy, and thus no favoritism by the clergy toward any government or political party. In other words: Gülen preaches a relatively progressive version of Islam.

By contrast: Erdoğan has, consistently since he first entered politics, moved Turkey more and more toward a standard Sunni dictatorship, aligned with the Saud family, who own Saudi Arabia, and who hold authority over Islam’s two holiest sites: Mecca and Medina. Their Islamic sect is called Wahhabism inside Saudi Arabia, and Salafism outside Saudi Arabia. The founder was Mohammed Ibn Wahhab in 1744, when he swore a mutual oath with the gang-lord Muhammad Ibn Saud, for Saud’s descendants to control the government, and for Wahhab’s preachers to instruct the faithful that the Sauds have God’s blessing to rule. Under this agreement, Wahhab’s preachers determine the laws, based upon the strictest-possible interpretation of the Quran, which therefore functions as Saudi Arabia’s Constitution, while the Wahhabist preachers constitute the legislative and judicial branches of the Saud-led government, who are the executive branch — the Saud-clan’s leaders.

Outside Saudi Arabia, the sect is called “Salafist,” meaning that they derive their authority from their ancestors. This feature authorizes royal rule, because royal dictators achieve their ‘right’ to rule on the basis of whom their ancestors were (i.e., their parents, going ultimately back to some founder who was a conquerer). For this reason, all of the Arabic royal families are Salafists. Inside Saudi Arabia, the Saud family are Wahhabists (the Saudi version of the Salafist sect).

The continued membership by Turkey in NATO would mean that there is a NATO that no longer has any vestige of justification for continued existence after the end, in 1991, of communism, of the USSR, and of the Warsaw Pact. Democracy no longer survives as even a vestigial excuse for its continuation.

NATO, from now on, is just a gang of nations whose aristocracies crave to conquer the world’s most resource-rich nation: Russia. (It’s done by picking off, one-by-one, Russia’s former allied nations and bringing them into the NATO gang.) The U.S. and Saud family, and Erdoğan family, as well as the other Arabic royal families, and the controlling investors in U.S. and allied weapons-manufacturers, etc., constitute the chief beneficiaries of continuing NATO, but the conquest of Russia is not at all the primary goal of the residents  in NATO-member nations. In fact, it’s not a goal that’s even talked about in their ‘elections.’ If those nations were democracies, they’d abandon NATO, as being representative of dictatorship over them all, not of democracy, in any nation.

But we’re all dictatorships now.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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  • Brockland A.T.

    Y’know, I never considered that Erdogan and his clan were ‘normal’ NATO allies, but Zuesse is right; they are now.

    Wonder how long before Europe’s strongmen realize they are in fact strongmen, get tired of ruling from the shadows through empty-headed politicians, and seek a little public megalomania of their own.