Special Women's Day N & P

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I've been getting mail from readers about the N & P. Where's our N & P?, they ask. Why can't you get us our N & P?

Well folks, it's not like N & P grows on trees. And even if it did, that would mean I'd have to pick it. And who has got time to pick N & P when you're trying to write some B & A?

(Books & articles)

But today is a special day, people. It's International Women's Day. And while this day isn't really observed in the US, it's a big deal in the ex-USSR. It's also observed, to some extent, in Turkey.

So International Women, this N & P is for you!

The Turkish Daily News sez that at least some of the military's capacity for tapping telephones has been transferred to the country's National Intelligence Organization (MIT), on order of Prime Minister Erdogan. 

Control of Turkey’s highest-capacity electronic intelligence and wiretapping center will be transferred from the military to intelligence officials on orders from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, military sources have confirmed.

The Jamestown crowd's man in Turkey has this piece on the Turkish government's approach to the Libya crisis. The piece emphasizes a supposed rift between Washington and Ankara over how to handle the crisis, with Turkish economic interests in Libya supposedly guiding what is described here as a softer Turkish policy.

Not quite sure what I make of this argument, but here's a sampling:

Ahead of the UN Security Council meeting last weekend, where the UN decided to impose a range of sanctions against the Libyan regime, President Barack Obama telephoned Erdogan to discuss the developments. Although the statement released by the White House maintained that the two sides agreed on joint action, representatives from the Turkish government stressed that Turkey would not support any action that could be considered in contravention of the principle of “nonintervention in domestic affairs” and Turkey would prefer that international involvement remained limited to providing humanitarian assistance. Turkish journalists based in Washington started to talk about a “rift” between Ankara and Washington (Zaman, February 28).
Meanwhile, Uncle Louis sez: give back the $250,000 you got for the Qaddafi prize.

With the uprising in Libya, Erdoğan’s integrity has been tested. In November 2010, the Turkish leader who portrays himself as on the “side” of the people received the Gaddafi International Human Rights Prize, walking away with a large monetary prize of up to $250,000. Yes, you heard right. Among many shenanigans of the soon to be past dictator of Libya was the founding of a human rights prize in his name! Erdoğan in fact can claim that he shares this honor with Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, among others. Also, he can be proud that he won this prize due to his endless commitment to the Palestinian cause. And, now he will also be the last recipient.  
Here is another piece on Erdogan's supposed pro-Qaddafi sympathies.

Predictably, Today's Zaman sez no, Erdogan doesn't support Qaddafi.

Here, by the way, is an old piece in Slate
explaining why, after more than forty years in power, Qaddafi is still just a colonel
I was grumbling the other day about the way Ergenekon used to be treated in the English-language media. But things have changed over the past year or so. Here is a piece that gives a bit more oxygen to criticisms of the Ergenekon narrative, one of several that you can find in response to recent events.

The credibility of a four-year investigation into a vast coup conspiracy in Turkey is coming under assault after Istanbul prosecutors accused two journalists acclaimed for their work revealing military abuses of being co-conspirators.
The journalists, Ahmet Şik and Nedim Şener, were arrested March 3 along with five other journalists and two writers. They were charged three days later with "membership of a terrorist organization," according to their lawyers. Şik and Şener join more than 200 people accused in an alleged plot in 2003 and 2004 to persuade Turkey's military to step in against the government, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The investigation, dubbed the Ergenekon case, has divided Turkey from the start. Some have belittled it as a ploy by a government rooted in political Islam to undermine the staunchly secular army. Others have depicted the arrest of scores of once untouchable military officers as evidence Turkey is moving to eradicate a tradition of military meddling that has claimed countless lives since Turkey suffered the first of its four coups in 1960.
The tone in this BBC piece is also nicely skeptical.

Here, too.

Here's a more bellicose-sounding piece from a group I've never heard of.

All in all, people covering Turkey today seem a lot less credulous about the Ergenekon story than they were in past years.

From the land of sausage and beer steins: here's an interesting piece in Der Spiegel on Erdogan campaigning for votes in Germany.

In Women's Day-related comments, Erdogan spoke out against violence against women in Turkey. According to Zaman:

"Violence against women is unjustness, cruelty and shamefulness," Erdoğan said while addressing Women Convention organized in Buyuk Anadolu Hotel in Ankara.
But Kamil Pasha sez talk is cheap.


Schengen al-sharki: Bloomberg sez Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran to issue joint visa.

We'll see if that ever happens...


Russia & ex-USSR

RFE sez: Emulating protest movements in the Middle East, a Day of Protest has been called for in Azerbaijan--this Friday, March 11.

Here is their Facebook page.

The NYT writes on Russia cashing in on ME crises:

Russia, which pumps more oil than Saudi Arabia, is reaping a windfall from the steep rise in global energy prices resulting from instability in oil regions of the Middle East and North Africa. Riding the high oil prices, the Russian ruble has risen faster against the dollar this year than any other currency, which is helpful because it will curb consumer inflation during an election year.
Russian stocks are buoyant, too: the Micex index closed last week at 1,781, up nearly 6 percent since the beginning of the year. (Monday was a holiday in Russia.)

Fifty Turkish businesses closed in Uzbekistan for alleged support of Islamic radicalism.

Fifty Turkish-owned businesses in Uzbekistan were closed this week by the Uzbek government for allegedly providing support to underground Islamist groups, media sources reported on Friday.
The businesses were forcibly closed and the Uzbek government confiscated approximately $238,000 in assets, according to reports from Uzbekistan’s Harakat news agency, cited by Kazakhstan Today (KT).
The businesses were shut down because they were “engaged in distributing literature that promotes the activity of a religious movement Nurchilar, banned in Turkey,” KT reported, citing Harakat.

Ramzan Kadyrov has been appointed to a second term in Chechnya.

Here's a rare piece on Tajik-Iranian relations from Eurasianet.org:

The casual visitor could not be blamed for believing Iran’s influence is ascendant in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe. Iranian pop music blasts from many of the city’s cafés. Iranian-made yellow taxis ferry a bevy of fashionable Iranian businessmen around downtown. Market stalls are stacked with Iranian cookies and cakes. And some government buildings are even adorned with signs in three languages: Tajik, Russian, and Persian.
Given the close cultural connection between Tajiks and Iranians, the strong Persian flavor in Dushanbe isn’t so surprising. But on the diplomatic front, there are abundant signs suggesting Tajikistan’s leaders are seeking to distance themselves from Tehran, long the country’s most ardent patron. Although the change can be attributed to Dushanbe’s fears of Islamic radicalism, it has long been clear that Iranian money is welcome in Dushanbe and the Islamic Republic’s politics are not.
Not sure why this should be considered surprising or newsworthy, but I don't see pieces on Tajikistan every day.

US & World

Here's a fascinating article written from a liberated zone in Libya:

Days after authority collapsed, residents set up a local council. They said they avoided terms like popular and revolutionary because they smacked of Colonel Qaddafi’s statements. Of its six members, one is from a group called the Youth of February 17, the date people have given the uprising here. Two others are Muslim clerics, one a professor of agriculture and another a businessman. It is led by Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, a former justice minister from Bayda acclaimed as a transitional leader who is now in Benghazi.
Answering to it are impromptu committees for everything from security to education, though schools remain closed here. Underneath a tent in Bayda’s downtown, organizers added more names to a list of 750 volunteers, who identified themselves as everything from students to a tank gunner. Detachments have tried to collect trash every morning. Others have organized aid from Egyptian relief convoys crossing the border.
Al-Jazeera, meanwhile, has someone blogging live from Libya.
Well that was your IWD N & P--I hope you enjoyed it!

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