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WHAT IS TO BE DONE? The burning questions of these times in Turkey

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Mustafa Kemal Ataturk


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What to do? A presidential election, the first of its kind, is soon coming to Turkey. There are three candidates. One is the prime minister, about whom the less said the better. Another is Selahattin Demirtaş, the Kurdish parliamentary representative, affiliated with the PKK, a separatist, armed terrorist organization. The third is a life-long Islamist now tricked out as a secularist. He, Ekmelledin İhsanoğlu, characterized himself politically as a loaf of bread. ("Ekmek için Ekmelledin") While perhaps appropriate, it was not meant to be funny.

Think of it this way, the presidential race is a Turkish-American trifecta. Usually one must pick the exact order of finish, 1-2-3, to win. But not in Turkey's three-horse run-for-Çankaya. America wins regardless. Erdoğan, who America tried to dump last December, is the odds-on favorite. Demirtaş is the long-shot Kurdish candidate to uphold Joe Biden's pipedream of a Kurdistan from his days on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And İhsanoğlu, America's new boy, a smiling loaf of plain, white bread who will make a race of it for awhile. He will be run into the ground by the Erdoğan machine and opposition party voter apathy (and anger). Unless America pushes some magic election buttons at the finish line.

Nevertheless, all three America-bred candidates will win. Erdoğan gets his last gasp of glory until America figures a way to excuse him permanently. İhsanoğlu, entering his first race, is not likely to win (break his maiden) in this one. But he gains experience and will earn a place in America's stable in case Erdoğan breaks down in a future outing. And Demirtaş gains credibility and track-time as an American entry for the next political operation in Kurdistan. So you see, America wins! The American-bred candidates win! And as usual, those swindled into believing that the presidential race matters, that is, the Turkish people, lose, again. Such is life at Imperial Downs, the American home of rigged elections, puppet shows and broken dreams.

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Such are the dire electoral conditions in Turkey today. After a decade of Islamic fascist rule, and opposition-party collaboration, its secular democracy is in ruins. This hapless trio of candidates puts the final nail in the coffin of Ataturk's secular, anti-imperialist republic. This slate was selected by the political parties seated in parliament not the people. The domineering Erdoğan, finishing his third and final term, wants to move into the presidential chair. He will also change the power structure so that his steel-handed, brutish reign will continue. He should win easily. The Kurdish candidate is there to keep his separatist constituency happily dreaming of autonomy and oil revenues. The third candidate, the political opposition's answer to the religious fascist government, is Ekmelledin İhsanoğlu. He is running because... because... well, because... perhaps because he was born and educated in Egypt, is a career Islamist, has been mute for years about the continuing dangers of shariah being imposed on secular Turkey and has an unconvincing commitment to the principles of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. All this irrelevance somehow fused into a bewildering symbol of a loaf of bread. And, accordingly, his equally bewildering sponsors concluded that he will surely defeat the undefeated and undefeatable Erdoğan. This so-called thinking is called the "Alice-in-Nightmareland Syndrome."

So how did a loaf of bread come to represent the adherents of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk? The two major opposition parties, cooperating for the first time, swept the countryside seeking a suitable secular, democratic, Ataturk-loving candidate to face the imperialist-puppet Erdoğan. Amazingly, they could find none. Why? Because the opposition parties are deficient in their knowledge of secularity, democracy and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The truth is that they have both collaborated in the destruction of Ataturk's republic. They have enabled the religious fascists to come to power and remain in power. One need not be a genius to see this. Being marginally alive in Turkey is enough. And Kemal Kiliçdaroğlu's secretive selection, even to his own party members, of an Islamist bread loaf is first-hand evidence of his treachery.


IF ONLY

So what is to be done? Oh, if only Mustafa Kemal Ataturk were here to save us. He'd know what to do. Yes, he would. Falih Rıfkı Atay, Ataturk's close friend, biographer and confidant, told us in 1968. "What would Ataturk do if he were alive today? Shall I tell you? He would curse the lot of us."

On Sunday 13 July 2014, Ümit Zileli wrote a compelling column in Aydınlık entitled "To Think Like Ataturk" (Mustafa Kemal gibi duşunmek!). It is well worth reading. Briefly put, Zileli says it is now fight time! I agree. So fight. Here's why.

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First, the coming election. American self-interest, ignorance and criminal negligence prevails. And their puppet government loves to see elections. It validates their crimes. Winning recent local elections allowed Erdoğan to feel vindicated of massive theft and bribery allegations. It allows them to lie to their ignorant constituency, shower them with bribes and become more beloved. And America claps hands and showers their pet fascists with praise and good wishes.

Remember the elation a few years ago when the Iraqis "embraced democracy" and voted for candidates they didn't even know, a puppet slate installed by the occupying power? Suddenly, thanks to America's brave men and women, Iraq had become democratic. All it took was purple ink for the index fingers. Some democracy. A deception. Examine Iraq today.

The coming election in Turkey is another deception. It is, as Ataturk said in earlier, similar times, "the work emanating from the brains of traitors." Turkey is now a totalitarian, de facto one-party police state. And the Turkish people are worrying about whether to vote in a phony election? Vote for what? To be a loaf of bread or not to be a loaf of bread? Hardly a burning question, it's an empty and insulting exercise.

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James (Cem)Ryan is a writer living in Istanbul, Turkey. A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, he holds a Ph.D. in literature.
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