World View: Syria and Russia Continue ‘Grozny Model,’ Killing Women and Children in Aleppo

A 48-hour ceasefire took hold in Aleppo on Thursday after fierce violence in and around the city

This morning’s key headlines from

  • With Turkey already in chaos, Erdogan forces PM Davutoglu to resign
  • Davutoglu’s resignation may complicate the EU-Turkey migrant deal
  • Syria and Russia continue ‘Grozny Model,’ killing women and children in Aleppo refugee camp

With Turkey already in chaos, Erdogan forces PM Davutoglu to resign

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan (center) and prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu at a rally earlier this year (AP)
Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan (center) and prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu at a rally earlier this year (AP)

I always thought that Turkey’s prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu was like Russia’s prime minister Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev is a puppet who does what Russia’s president Vladimir Putin tells him to do, apparently without question. I’ve thought that Davutoglu was also a spineless puppet doing the bidding of Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and a lot of other people have thought the same.

But that apparently is not true. Davutoglu has apparently vigorously opposed several of Erdogan’s policies. According to reports, there was a stormy meeting on Wednesday evening between Erdogan and Davutoglu, leading to Davutoglu’s resignation as prime minister and as leader of the governing AK party.

Davutoglu, a former professor, made it clear that recent events made it impossible to support Erdogan’s policies as a matter of conscience, although he would remain loyal to Erdogan:

My term [as prime minister] was one of success. With this decision, there is no feeling of unsuccessfulness or regret over what I have done. I did my job properly and with honor.

The fact that my term lasted far shorter than four years is not a decision of mine but a necessity. Our party is on the verge of a new era. This is the time of unity. […]

Especially after six months of the elections in which our party received 49.5 percent of the votes and the support of 24 million voters. Why is the AKP’s leader leaving while all three opposition leaders who lost the elections are still there?” he added.

Well, why have I taken such a decision? Life teaches many things, but I have my principles that I have never left since my academic days.

The strongest person in life is the one who can be at peace with himself,” the prime minister said. “In life, I have never defended anything I have not believed and I have never taken a step back on issues I have believed in. I have never negotiated for any post or position over the values and principles I have. …

Therefore if friends are important and the objective is important, then we should all examine ourselves. As a result of my own examination and consultations with my friends with political experience, including our president, I have come to the conclusion that instead of changing colleagues, it’s much better to change the party chair for the unity of the AK Party. […]

[T]he fate of the AK Party is the fate of Turkey. Whatever will happen, I will continue my relation with our president [Erdogan] … until my last breath. The honor of our president is my honor. His family is my family. No one should dare to initiate new plots.

Under Erdogan, Turkey has been moving in the direction of a dictatorship.

  • Erdogan has proposed a constitutional change that would give him, the president, a great deal more power. Davutoglu’s support of this change has been tepid.
  • Davutoglu has opposed jailing journalists and the government takeover of Zaman Media, the largest opposition media company.
  • Erdogan has appointed a central bank manager who will do his bidding — reduce interest rates to spur growth. Davutoglu has opposed this, in order to preserve market confidence in Turkey.
  • In negotiating with the European Union on the migrant deal, Davutoglu has been more conciliatory than Erdogan.

There will be an AK Party congress later in May, where Erdogan is expected to select a new prime minister who will be much more obedient and compliant. One possible successor would be Erdogan’s son-in-law.

Whatever else happens, Turkey is already is a state of political chaos. There have been regular terrorist attacks by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and by the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh). The government war against the PKK has led to actual fistfights in Turkey’s parliament. And Russia’s boycott of Turkey has caused economic hardships. Hurriyet (Ankara) and VOA

Davutoglu’s resignation may complicate the EU-Turkey migrant deal

It is thought that there is too much at stake for both sides to allow a political dispute between Erdogan and Davutoglu to endanger the EU-Turkey migrant deal. Nonetheless, the resignation gives ammunition to opponents of the deal in both the EU and Turkey to argue that the deal should be scuttled.

The crux of the deal is the agreement to lift visa restrictions by the end of June, so that citizens of Turkey can travel freely around the 26 countries in Europe’s Schengen Zone without a visa. This is something that Turkey has wanted for years, as it is enormously popular with Turkey’s citizens, and it was a key demand of Turkey in making the migrant deal.

However, lifting the visa restrictions is very controversial in some parts of the EU, and the policy change is expected to face stiff opposition when the European Parliament votes on it within a few weeks. Opponents point to the fact that Turkey has not met all the preconditions for lifting the restrictions, including freedom of the press and human rights. The resignation of Davutoglu will allow opponents to say that Turkey is becoming less democratic and more authoritarian, and therefore doesn’t qualify for lifting the visa restriction.

The same issue about lifting visa restrictions is a thorn in the side of Erdogan, because it places a number of restraints on Erdogan’s policy changes. The EU can threaten to restore the visa restrictions at any time if Erdogan becomes too authoritarian, and so the agreement effectively places restraints on Erdogan’s otherwise unrestrained policies.

Prime minister Davutoglu has offered a cautious counterweight to an increasingly radical president, who increasingly defines himself against Western values and goals. By replacing his hand-picked prime minister with someone still more subservient, Erdogan will get the power he seeks, unless he’s stopped by the chaos that’s likely to follow Davutoglu’s resignation. Bloomberg and Euro News and Daily Sabah (Ankara)

Syria and Russia continue ‘Grozny Model,’ killing women and children in Aleppo refugee camp

At least 30 people were killed on Thursday when warplanes struck a refugee camp in northern Syria, killing many women and children. It is believed that the warplanes were from either Russia or the Syrian regime of president Bashar al-Assad.

The people living in the refugee camp were civilians who had fled the Russian warplanes bombing Aleppo. As we wrote in February, Russia is following a policy used against Grozny in the 1990s war against Chechnya. ( “19-Feb-16 World View — Russia’s attacks on civilian hospitals in Aleppo follow the ‘Grozny model'”)

Under this policy, Russia bombs schools, hospitals and civilian neighborhoods, in order to create a a refugee crisis, and to empty the urban residential areas. Once that is achieved, heavy weapons can be deployed to eradicate the remaining population, entailing widespread destruction of homes and infrastructure.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that the policies of Syria and Russia are going to cause a humanitarian disaster, resulting in a flood of 400,000 refugees pouring into Turkey. Turkey has tried to set up refugee camps in northern Syria along the Turkish border, in order to prevent such a flood of refugees. Russia and Syria have been following the Grozny Model to eradicate the civilians in Aleppo, and now are bombing the refugee camps in order to make sure that the refugees pour into Turkey, from which they may once again flood into the Greece and the European Union.

The Syrian regime, which practices genocidal war crimes every day with barrel bombs and chemical weapons, and considers all Sunni Muslims as terrorist cockroaches to be exterminated, issued a statement saying that Aleppo has become like the heroic Stalingrad and gave a promise that “despite the brutality and cruelty of the enemy, and the great sacrifices and pains, our cities, towns, people and army will not be satisfied until they defeat the enemy and achieve victory serving the interests of Syria, the region and the world.” VOA and Syria Online

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ahmet Davutoglu, Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Putin, Zaman Media, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, Europe, Schengen Zone, Greece, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Chechnya, Grozny, Aleppo, Ban Ki-moon
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