Local and Global N & P

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Well folks, there's a lot going on these days, both at the Borderlands Lodge and in the world more generally.

Locally, there's a flurry of activity taking place in anticipation of upcoming travels. Globally, meanwhile, things are going to hell as usual.

Whether you like it local or global, here is your N & P!


Some news from Montana: the horrid killing of a Turkish-German youth named Diren Dede. Diren was an exchange student at a high school in Missoula, a city about four hours west of Bozeman and home to the University of Montana. He was shot by a man who had set up a video feed to catch burglars, who'd apparently been breaking into the garage recently.

Court records obtained by KPAX said Kaarma and his wife, Janelle Pflager, had set up sensors outside their garage, a video monitoring system in the garage and left the garage door open.
Pflager said she put personal items that she had cataloged in a purse in the garage 'so that they would take it.'
Early Sunday, the sensors went off, and Kaarma and Pflager looked at the video feed and saw that someone was in the garage.
Kaarma went outside with his shotgun. He told investigators he heard a noise that sounded 'like metal on metal,' and he was afraid the intruder would come out and hurt him.
He said he did not see anyone in the darkened garage and did not communicate with anyone before sweeping the garage with four shotgun blasts. Dede was struck in the head and arm and died at a Missoula hospital, court records said.
Diren Dede's funeral in Hamburg

Recent reports indicate that the killer, Markus Kaarma, may have been angry about recent thefts of his pot stash from the garage
Things are looking bad for the Crimean Tatars. First their leader Mustafa Jemilev was told that he cannot return to Crimea for five years. Now their community-based governing body is being threatened with dissolution.
On the outside looking in: Mustafa Jemilev


As I've discussed elsewhere, the Russian annexation of the peninsula is an outright disaster as far as they're concerned. And they've got good reason to feel that way.
I know this is off-message and will likely sound very sour, especially as the Crimean Tatars are going through a period of genuine crisis right now. One thought, however, keeps coming back to me. Despite the fact that the Crimean Tatars consider themselves to be the victims of genocide, their rulers opposed Ukraine's recognition of the Armenian genocide when it came up before the country's parliament last June.

“Even if the bill passes the Parliament, I don’t believe the President will have enough will to sign it,” Mustafa Dzhemilev (Jemilev), the Crimean Tatar leader and member of the Ukranian Parliament said.
He called the legislation an “inconsiderate and unsound step” by the Ukrainian Parliament. 
“The number of Turkic people in Ukraine is much greater than that of Armenians. The authors of the bill should be aware of the consequences its adoption could lead to,” Dzhemilev said, adding that Ukraine’s relations with Azerbaijan, Turkey and other Turkic nations could be jeopardized in the event of the bill’s passage.
I don't wish to wade into the morass of this debate right now, and respect the right of these figures to oppose the bill on a variety of grounds. Maybe they just feel that politicians shouldn't be responsible for interpreting history. At the same time, my sense is that given the chance, the Crimean Tatars would jump at parliamentary recognition of their own claims to genocide in 1944. Indeed, Crimean Tatar representatives have sought that recognition for their own collective experiences

Think about it: Turkey was one of the only countries other than Ukraine that paid any attention to the Crimean Tatars at all. There are historical connections between Turkey and Crimea, and many Turks are the descendents of Crimean Tatars who immigrated to the Ottoman Empire/Turkey. The idea of sitting on their hands while the Ukrainian parliament debated the issue wasn't, I imagine, an option. Instead of speaking up in favor of victims--whatever term you want to use, it's difficult to deny the powerful similarities between the Crimean and Armenian experiences with industrialized killing--the Crimean Tatar leadership seemed to care more about alliances. Or, maybe they just have a different view of these sorts of things from me.

Either way, here's my question--and forgive me if I'm being unfair: the Crimean Tatar leadership made a point of lining up not on the side of victims, but rather to support Turkey in the name of Turkic solidarity. What did this strategy get them when they needed help the most? During their greatest period of crisis since the breakup of the USSR, what assistance have the Tatars received from Turkey? 
As I mention here, it seems to me that--in the interests of Russian-Turkish regional friendship--the Crimean Tatars have gotten lost in the shuffle. Even though the Turkish Foreign Ministry has criticized Russia for its treatment of Jemilev, the words they have chosen have been pretty mild. When Erdogan had the chance to tell Charlie Rose and America what he thought about Putin, the Prime Minister had nothing to say about the Tatars, preferring to state 'we respect and like each other.'

As I've discussed in my academic work, the Crimean Tatars have a long history of emigration and return. I wonder if, in the upcoming years, we might see a return to this pattern as a result of the Russian annexation of the peninsula. I wouldn't be at all surprised if a number of these Crimean Tatars ended up in Turkey, at least part-time.

Chaos hits Odessa. As I mentioned in my borderpost from the other day, I think the real stakes are in Kyiv, not eastern Ukraine per se. 

Odessa is an important city in the southwest of the country
And the events of this week haven't really changed my mind. The big date is May 25, when presidential elections are supposed to be held across Ukraine.

My guess is that the elections will be boycotted in certain regions, and perhaps even nationwide by some groups. Moscow's overall goal, I think, is not eastern Ukraine--otherwise they would have gone in by now. Instead, they want Kyiv to capitulate. If the elections of May 25 take place, it will be in Moscow's interest to see to it that they seem meaningless. Putin's ideal, I think, would be to bring Kyiv to its knees and create a weak and federalized Ukraine with a strong pro-Russian government. As lovely as Kharkiv can be on a midsummer's night, I think these larger goals matter a lot more to the Kremlin than eastern Ukraine (or at least they should).

I think there's a chance we'll soon be seeing more news from Kyiv. Rather than go through the hassle of a war in eastern Ukraine, it might be easier for the Kremlin to simply sponsor a coup in the capital.

Apparently, people in Turkey who wish to own pets will now be obliged to take classes from the government. My first thought upon hearing this was: who on earth will they find to actually teach these classes? Maybe this is something that all the old Gulenist cram school teachers would be interested in.

Another interesting part of the pet reform package: no more sex with animals!

There will be a 2,000 liras fine for those who torture animals, 1,000 liras for those who ill-treat animals on purpose, 500 liras for those who walk their dangerous and risky dogs without a strap and nozzle and the penalty for sexual intercourse with animals is jail sentences from three months to two years.

It seems like both protesters and security officials saw May 1 as a pre-season scrimmage of sorts for the summer. As I mentioned in a post, this is basically spring training for the one-year anniversary of Gezi.

I obviously have no idea, but my guess is that this summer will be quieter than last year. After the recent municipal elections, I think the anti-Erdogan groupings are too stunned to really mobilize.

But who knows? It's not like Turkish college students get jobs for the summer. And I think last year many of the protesters had the time of their lives. For sure, there will be many who seek to re-live the magic this year. My guess, however, is that the numbers will be considerably smaller, as the elections have taken the wind out of the opposition's sails. 

This piece from Eurasianet.org (or is it Eurasiaorg.net?) raised a question that I've been wondering about lately: how will the latest events in Russia-Ukraine impact the southern Caucasus? I wonder how, in an increasingly bifurcated region in which Russia and the United States are acquiring allies, the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey will respond. 

Will we see a repeat of the 2009 effort at Armenian-Turkish reconciliation? Well, we did see the expression of condolences lately...
My sense is that Armenia will end up closer to the Russian camp, but Azerbaijan--by virtue of its oil $$$--will continue to try to maintain good relations with both the US and Russia. Look for American officials to try to use Turkey as a means of developing closer relations with Baku.
Hedo Turkoglu has won his battle with Omer Asik to claim the Mehmet Okur trophy, which goes to the last surviving Turk in the NBA playoffs. Congratulations, Hedo!
Mehmet Okur was the first Turk to win an NBA championship

And on that note, my friends, I'll finish up the N & P. Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to report on my travels before too much time has passed. 

Also see: Special Springtime N & P
More links, commentary and other stuff can be found at the Borderlands Lounge.

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