October 24, 2010

çöl tanrıları

pastel bir odada
küflü bir pervaz önüydü
aramızda duran
omzunun sessiz şalıydı

akşam erken indi
bir hamsine takıldı
tenine sepya bir tül dokundu

nehirlerden, uzaklardan
ve afrika'dan bahsettin
bense ellerindeki
çöl tanrılarını

gözyaşlarım yandı yüzümde
aklından bir kez olsun
geçeyim diye...

24 Ekim-DC

October 19, 2010


senin bir ölü olduğundan başlıyorum
yazdıkça diriliyor, güzelleşiyorsun
boğazım küfleniyor
beni öldürüyorsun

bahçelere çıkıyorum
meydanlara uzanıyorum
köşebaşları olmayan sokaklar


şehirlerim akvaryum
tek bir balık



19 Ekim, DC

Hand Grenades under the Negotiating Table

By Kivanc Ozcan
International Affairs Review, October 18, 2010

The U.S. media is actively covering the latest attempts at an Israeli-Palestinian peace process. But despite this exuberance in the U.S., a closer look at the situation in the Middle East suggests that negotiations may have commenced prematurely and actually endangered the peace process.

Now may not be the right time to hold these talks. Only 32 percent of Palestinians support starting direct negotiations with Israel, according to the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion. There is also strong opposition in Israel, where Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has publicly expressed his discontent with the talks – in direct opposition to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Coming to the negotiating table when major obstacles still exist on both sides may blow up the peace process altogether. Since direct talks trigger such strong objections, the parties should address their internal divisions first. They can continue talking later. The negotiating table is always there.

So far, both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu have been sitting at the negotiating table holding political hand-grenades that make the solution almost impossible. The Palestinian president threatened to leave the talks if settlement construction restarts in the West Bank. In return, Netanyahu has threatened to end the settlement moratorium.

Despite Abbas’ presence at the negotiating table, strong objections to the direct talks persist in Palestinian society and may derail the peace process. On August 31st, Hamas killed four Jewish settlers on the eve of the Washington talks. Thirteen armed Palestinian organizations also threatened to hit Tel Aviv with rockets during the first week of September.

President Abbas’ authority and legitimacy are on the brink of collapse. This will limit his ability to implement an agreement. Many Palestinians view Abbas' willingness to negotiate with the Israeli government as a sign of weakness, if not treason.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also appear to have lost their enthusiasm since the beginning of September. In mid-September, at his press conference in the White House, Obama said that the parties would be responsible for a failure. It looks like he is trying to prepare his public for a potential failure.

Supporters of direct talks should understand that Abbas is not former Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) leader, Yasser Arafat. Both politically and geographically, Gaza is out of his reach. Rather than talking with his Israeli counterparts, Abbas should spend more time talking with the people in Gaza.

Last week, Netanyahu’s threats on the settlement issue turned into a reality. Religious Jews restarted settlement building in the West Bank. Most members of the Israeli government applauded this development. So, we can say goodbye to the direct talks!

So who will help bridge the internal divide in Israel and put a stop to illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank? Obama and Clinton can increase the political pressure on Israel by holding back aid. The international community and media can work more efficiently to lift the blockade of Gaza. These steps would be more helpful than giving lip service to the Palestinians.

So far, Israel has tried to tame Gaza by using various measures, from heavy bombing to man hunting, from mass arrests to blockade. To what end? Further radicalization of Gazans and an increased opposition to Israel? Now, it is time to try the untested: fully lift the Gaza blockade.

People may say that peace is impossible without the pressure of the talks. Sure, the negotiations are needed – but only at the right time. Even if Abbas and Netanyahu were to sign an agreement, who would implement it in Gaza? Nobody, because Abbas has no political control there.

Supporters of Israel maintain that Hamas wants to destroy Israel and so, there is no way to talk with them. They should read Jeroen Gunning’s book Hamas in Politics to discover the pragmatism of Hamas and its internal dynamics. Remember, before the Oslo Accords the Palestine Liberation Organization was the biggest terrorist organization for Israel. Today, its members eat with Israelis at the same table.

Finally, supporters of talks now argue that there will never be a trouble-free time to talk, that we must seize the moment. But past successes have always had greater public support. When then PLO leader, Yasser Arafat was talking with then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the vast majority of Palestinians were cheering him despite economic and political problems in Palestine. Today, these people are cursing Abbas for his efforts.

Some experts say that Abbas is successful in providing economic stability in the West Bank. I agree. But his success is widening the gap between Gaza and the West Bank. This gap would be an obstacle for a possible peace.

Do not misunderstand: peace without peace talks is impossible. But the time must be right for talks to produce a durable peace. Both Abbas’ and Netanyahu started to blow up the hand-grenades under the table. The explosion will not injure only these two politicians. The whole region is in danger.

October 15, 2010

Generals without epaulets

Since when can the further consolidation of prime ministerial power be called an advance for democracy?

By Kıvanç Özcan

Haaretz 15.10.2010

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was extremely happy on the night of September 12 in the wake of his AKP party’s victory in the constitutional referendum. Fifty-eight percent of the country’s voters gave their approval to the first major reforms in the country’s constitution since a 1980 military coup.

Some Turkish commentators characterized the results as a slap in the face to Turkish fascists, while in some foreign media Erdogan was described as an “Eastern star” and a “hero.” In the prime minister’s view, the referendum results amounted to an affirmation of democracy.

But “one minute!” − to recall Mr. Erdogan’s interjection from Davos, in January 2009, when a moderator tried to cut him off while he responded angrily to Israeli President Shimon Peres.

Since when can the further consolidation of prime ministerial power be called an advance for democracy? In fact September 12 will be remembered as yet one more slap in the face for Turkish democracy − no less devastating than the 1980 coup, though without the violence.
It’s true that the referendum had nothing to do with Israel, but as our regional neighbors, Israelis should be concerned about the ways in which it weakens Turkish democracy.

To begin with, the very process was itself anti-democratic. Citizens could only give a simple, single “yes” or “no” to a list of 26 different articles, most of which were unrelated to each other and were not arranged by theme on the ballot. Surveys revealed that most voters did not know most of the points they were voting on.

Unfortunately, it was the leaders’ personalities in both camps that influenced many people in their voting.

For his part, Erdogan did not hesitate to harshly warn people against a “no” vote, which he implied would be tantamount to supporting future coups d’etat. In effect, he left the public little option but to vote “yes.” As a result of the vote, the executive has increased its control over the judiciary.

Until now, the constitutional court has served as the last effective check on the government, by hearing challenges to the constitutionality of laws. Additionally, the court also hears cases against the president and prime minister. The referendum increases the number of judges in the court from 11 to 17, and gives the president a larger role in their selection. Little surprise, then, that shortly after the vote, Erdogan ‏(who is suspected of having his eye on the presidency‏) and his followers initiated a discussion on the presidential system.

Another supposed democratic measure of the referendum package was a clause that makes it legal for civil servants to enter into collective bargaining agreements. Since they are still denied the right to strike, however, the measure is an empty one. That right is to be discussed later.

The main claim of the government in pushing for a “yes” vote was that the constitutional changes weaken the power of the military in favor of the legislative branch. And in fairness, that’s true. It limits the role of the military judiciary in civilian matters, something that even most opponents of the referendum package agreed with. However, this should not overshadow the fact that Erdogan and his party at the same time have weakened the checks on the legislative and executive branches as well.

Erdogan’s ruling party and its supporters maintain that the vote of September 12, 2010, serves to settle an old account with leaders of the September 12, 1980, military coup. That’s very welcome. But if that’s the case, one might have thought that the reforms would include the abolition of the Council of Higher Education. The council, the central ruling body of Turkish universities, may have been the most significant and tangible “gift” of the coup. Its power, which includes the appointment of university rectors, hangs over our institutions of higher learning like a sword of Damocles. But the council is still with us.

Turkish democracy is hardly a lost cause. But if the Erdogan government is serious, as it says it is, about strengthening democracy, it could start by ending the illegal police wiretaps that are used for surveillance of the government’s political enemies.

Erdogan could also apologize to the Turkish people for unethically pressing them to vote “yes” on the referendum. And as the referendum is a temporary measure, and is supposed to be followed by the drafting of a new constitution, he could include the opposition, such as Kurdish deputies in the parliament, in that process.

Some outsiders have asked whether the referendum strengthens the role of Islam in the state. It doesn’t. But a creeping theocracy is not the only concern of Turkish democrats. The changes dictated by the September 12 referendum increase the powers of the executive and legislative branches over the judiciary, and that weakens the separation of powers.

Democratic maturity necessitates respect for the referendum results. But democratic maturity and responsible citizenship require speaking up as well. The results of the vote may be a victory for Erdogan, but they give the Turkish republic no cause for celebration. The crowds applauding Erdogan and his government were actually cheering a new set of generals − without the epaulets.

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