Category Archives: Turkey – Turquie

The mysterious disappearance of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, Turkey


Jamal Khashoggi, a well-known Saudi Arabian journalist and Washington Post columnist who has been critical of his country’s government, disappeared last week.

His disappearance is straining Turkey-Saudi relations and could complicate Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent attempts to recast his government as forward-thinking and reform-minded — as well as his country’s close relationship with the US.The incident has thrown sharp focus on Saudi Arabia’s young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s perceived crackdown on dissidents, his kingdom’s delicate relationship with Turkey, and Khashoggi ‘s influence within the royal court.

The 59-year-old veteran journalist was last seen on Tuesday, October 2, (photo) walking into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. He was there to obtain a document verifying his divorce from a previous marriage so that he could remarry a Turkish woman.

But what happened next is a mystery. Saudi Arabia has strenuously denied any involvement in Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Turkish officials said over the weekend they have “concrete” evidence that the Saudi writer  was killed in the consulate and his body was then clandestinely taken out of the country. Some media have even put forth gruesome theories of how his body may have been dismembered and smuggled out.

The Saudi government, however, says that they had nothing to do with his disappearance and maintains that he left through a back entrance. However, who could trust the Saudi government which during the past year forced the libanese president Mr Hariri to resign while holding him hostage on its ground.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded Monday that Saudi Arabia prove that journalist Jamal Khashoggi left the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on his own, as Saudi officials have repeatedly asserted, after he disappeared last week while inside the mission.

Erdogan’s comments were his most direct suggestion yet of potential Saudi culpability in Khashoggi’s disappearance. But other Turkish officials have said they believe that Khashoggi was killed by Saudi agents inside the consulate.

“Do you not have cameras and everything of the sort?” Erdogan said of the consular officials. “They have all of them. Then why do you not prove this? You need to prove it.”

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Saudi ambassador to urge “full cooperation” in the investigation into Khashoggi’s disappearance, the official Anadolu news agency said Monday.

The ambassador was called to the ministry in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Sunday, the agency said. It was the second time Turkey summoned the ambassador since Khashoggi failed to emerge after a visit to the consulate on Oct. 2.

Turkish officials have said they believe Khashoggi, 59, a critic of the Saudi leadership and a contributor to The Washington Post’s Global Opinions section, was killed by a team of 15 Saudis flown in specifically to carry out the attack. Saudi authorities have called the allegation “baseless.”

A report Monday in the daily newspaper Sabah said investigators were also focused on a convoy of diplomatic vehicles that departed from the consulate on the day Khashoggi vanished. A U.S. official said that Turkish investigators believe Khashoggi was probably dismembered and his body removed in boxes and flown out of the country.

The kingdom’s ambassador in Washington, Prince Khalid bin Salman, told The Post the consulate’s cameras were not recording. But footage from Turkish cameras is believed to be available. Turkish sources have said there are images of Mr. Khashoggi leaving the consulate on a previous visit on Sept. 28 but none from Oct. 2. Formal confirmation of that result from Turkish authorities would support the account of Mr. Khashoggi’s fiancee, Hatice Cengiz, who says she waited for him outside the mission until after midnight but never saw him. It would strongly indicate that the Saudi account is false according to WashingtonPost.

Turkish officials also have disseminated a report that 15 Saudi nationals flew into Istanbul on the day of Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance and were inside the consulate when Mr. Khashoggi disappeared. A private Turkish news agency, DHA, said the group arrived on two Gulfstreams belonging to a Riyadh-based company and that they landed at Ataturk Airport. If that is true, there should be records of the planes landing, and perhaps passenger manifests and passport records, along with more video from the airport and consulate. Its release would belie Saudi claims that no such delegation visited.

Who is Jamal Khassoggi?

The journalist is known for his interviews with Osaba bin Laden. Khashoggi had followed Osama bin Laden’s career since the 1980s and had interviewed him several times. Khashoggi knew bin Laden during his formative years as a radical Islamist and interviewed him in Afghanistan in 1987 during the fight against Soviet troops and pro-Soviet regime. He also met bin Laden in Tora Bora and lastly in Sudan in 1995.It is reported that Khashoggi once tried to persuade bin Laden to quit violence.

  • Saudi Arabia’s new prince Mohammed bin Salman hates criticism

The 33-year-old crown prince has tried to paint himself as a reformer by loosening restrictions on women driving and opening up cinemas in the Kingdom, but he’s also led a purge of opposition within his government under the guise of a crackdown on corruption and championed a bloody, brutal war with Yemen that’s left tens of thousands dead.

And despite his reforms, MBS hasn’t shown any willingness to tolerate political dissent or free speech. He’s even arrested some of the activists who championed the reforms he’s pushed through.

Turkey and Saudi Arabia already have a strained relationship, for a few reasons. The gulf monarchy is engaged in an ongoing blockade of Qatar, one of Turkey’s allies, and Riyadh doesn’t agree with Turkey’s embrace of political Islam or its close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Khashoggi’s disappearance could escalate matters, and cause either country to cut off diplomatic or economic ties.

  • Press Freedom in danger

These are dark times for press freedom globally. The number of reporters imprisoned and killed has risen. The independence and diversity of the media in many countries is diminishing. New commercial pressures and the growth of the internet at the expense of news publishers are part of the explanation. So are the resurgence of authoritarian politics, and anti-democratic attacks on “fake news”. Turkey has seen some of the harshest repression, which intensified after the attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016, with titles closed down and many journalists put in prison.

Credits: VOX, CNN.com, JPOST.com, Daily Sabah, the Guardian, WashingtonPost.com, Wikipedia.

 

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A BARD’S LIFE OF LOVE: KARACAOĞLAN


Karacaoğlan is a 17th-century Ottoman Turkish folk poet and ashik. His exact dates of birth and death are unknown but it is widely accepted that he was born around 1606 and died around 1680. He lived around the city of Mut near Mersin. His tomb, which was organized as a mausoleum in 1997, is at Karacaoğlan hill in the village of Karacaoğlan, Mut, Mersin. In this regard, he was the first known folk poet and ashik whose statue was built.

His poetry gave a vivid picture of nature and village life in Anatolian settlements. This kind of folk poetry, as distinct from the poetry of the Ottoman palace, was emphasized after the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 and became an important influence on modern lyric poetry, with Karacaoğlan being its foremost exponent.

Karacaoğlan was a captivating folk poet who took pleasure in capturing women’s hearts. He was handsome with dark features and soulful eyes. His love poems are among the most enchanting in the Turkish language. He sang these as he accompanied himself on a simple string instrument called the saz. Many of them were improvised when the poet was inspired by the delights of nature or the beauty of women.

The topics of his poetry reflect the nature in which he was embedded, along with the Turkish nomadic culture of the Toros mountains of which he was a part. The main themes of this poetry stemmed out of nature, love, longing for home, and death. As with other Turkish folk poetry of his time in Anatolia, his language was expressive, yet unadorned, direct, and simple. With a big heart, he fell in love with women and wrote poetry about them getting water from a fountain or making bread. His poetry were in the forms of koşmatürkümanivarsağıüçlemedestangüzelleme and koçaklama. More than five hundred of his poems have survived to this day.

This “bard of love” lived in the 17th century (no one really knows his years of birth and death). He was probably raised among nomadic tribes in Southern Turkey. But, during his long life (he lived to be seventy or possibly eighty), he roamed far and wide, singing his poems in innumerable places. He went to towns and villages in Anatolia and visited Egypt, Tripoli, and the Balkans. His life of love, of poetry, of music became legendary. Today, people in many parts of Turkey cherish Karacaoğlan’s simple, melodious, touching lyrics.

In his youth, Karacaoğlan was passing through a town. Strumming his saz, he came upon a rose garden. As he grew ecstatic from the vivid colors and the exquisite smell of the roses, suddenly his eyes fell on an indescribably beautiful girl sauntering among the flowerbeds. He stood there, bewitched. He was already feeling in his heart the flames of love – – and, unable to restrain himself, he broke into song. The lovely young woman took a few steps toward him and listened with heart and soul. When the song was over, she started to walk away without uttering a word. Alarmed that he might never lay eyes on her again, the poet implored: “You are the loveliest of all lovely women. Please stay a while. At least tell me your name?” She hesitated. Then, in a barely audible voice, she said, “Elif.”

Karacaoğlan was struck by the symbolic significance of “Elif”, a name common among the Turks for many centuries: It is derived from “aleph”, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, with the numerical value of l. Elif stood there, the epitome of gracefulness, dainty as a leaf. For the young poet, this slender girl was the beginning of all things.

They exchanged a few polite words. She had heard of the minstrel. After a few sentences, she revealed that she was married and had children. Karacaoğlan was distressed: He had found and lost his beloved in the same instant. He also found out that she came from a well-to-do family and could read and write.

Desperately in love at first sight, the young minstrel began to serenade this exquisite woman. He chanted a poem that has enchanted the Turks for more than three centuries now. The poem celebrates her among the many splendors of nature – – and bemoans the pain inflicted by unrequited love:

With its tender flakes, snow flutters about,
Keeps falling, calling out “Elif… Elif…”
This frenzied heart of mine wanders about
Like minstrels, calling out “Elif… Elif…”

Elif’s robe is embroidered all over;
Her eyes – like a baby goshawk’s – glower.
She smells lovely like a highland flower,
With those scents calling out “Elif… Elif…”

When she frowns, her glance is a dart that goes
Into my heart: I fall into death’s throes.
In her white hand she holds a pen – she knows
What she writes, calling out “Elif… Elif…”

Right in front of her home a trellis stands;
There’s Elif, holding glasses in her hands.
It’s as if a duck whose head has green strands
Gently floats, calling out “Elif… Elif…”

I am the Minstrel: your slave for my part.
There’s no love for other belles in my heart.
Unbuttoning the shirt, I tear apart
The collars, calling out “Elif… Elif…”

Rumors were afoot among the people who heard these poems and songs that the handsome minstrel lavished on Elif. When her husband heard the rumors, he asked the feudal lord of the region to take action. Already in trouble because of his satirical poems criticizing the powers that be, Karacaoğlan was forced to leave town and his beloved Elif.

During his travels, he fell in love again – – this time with the daughter of another lord. He had just arrived in a town where he noticed a large gathering in front of a luxurious mansion. They told him the lord was holding a contest among poets. Karacaoğlan went in and sang a few of his love lyrics. Everyone was spellbound. He was declared the winner. The lord became his patron and often invited him to recite and sing.

Karacaoğlan found the lord’s daughter Suna adorable. But he was cautious and circumspect. One day, when he was strumming his saz in the garden, Suna came to him and said: “I just love your poems. Would you please compose a poem for me? Please…”

The minstrel broke into song immediately. For his Suna he started a poem that started with…

Loveliest of all, how lovelier you are now
Since no one else saw you, no one laid eyes on you:
That black lovelock of yours is curled up on your brow
Since there is no braid on it, just no braid on you.

and ended with…
Call, go on, keep calling out, Karacaoğlan:
The rock weighs heavy only in its own place.
The brave young man might cool off if his loved one
Gives him no embrace, gives him no loving embrace.

So, a passionate love affair started between Suna and the poet.
But, before long, her father heard about the affair and was so furious that he had Karacaoğlan thrown into jail.

After some time, Suna found a way of having him escape. About to leave, Karacaoğlan begged her to elope with him. But she was reluctant to abandon her family’s life of wealth and power for a wandering poet’s life of hardship. So, Karacaoğlan bade farewell and went on the road all by himself.

Wherever he went he was never without the company of beautiful women. They took a fancy to him…many of them chased him…they cherished his love lyrics.

Karacaoğlan always responded affectionately. When he ran into three wonderful beauties who did a special dance for him, he mused heartily and a bit naughtily:

If I were to love the elders the best,
Wouldn’t that be unfair to the youngest ?

The great Anatolian minstrel spent the rest of his life roaming villages and towns, hills and valleys. He had countless love affairs and composed tender lyrics as well as erotic poems for the women he loved.

Some of his poems express a chilling fear of death. It was as if the poet kept traveling far and wide to make it impossible for death to catch up with him:

Death, do not tire yourself out by stalking me;
Be gone for a while, Death, come some other time.
You won’t spare me, you shall have me in the end;
Be gone for a while, Death, come some other time.

I often roamed from this highland to that plain
Where I would eat, drink, be merry, entertain.
I kept fleeing from you, yet you came again.
Death, be gone for a while, come some other time.

Howling like the gray wolf has not been my fate.
This false world I can neither praise nor berate.
With friends and loved ones I failed to congregate.
Be gone for a while, Death, come some other time.

I am the Minstrel who is gripped by dismay
In the garden where nightingales sing and play.
Stop! You snatched my father and mother away –
Be gone for a while, come some other time, Death.

The people of Anatolia feel that Karacaoğlan escaped death, because his lovely poems and songs have achieved immortality.

His poetry in songs: Ala Gözlerini Sevdiğim Dilber ( A beauty whose hazel eyes I love)

A beauty whose hazel eyes I love
Don’t gossip about me with the world
Don’t stand before me showing your white neck
Don’t kill me before my fatal hour

I wandered around the mountains and stopped here
I found myself in the fire of your sorrows, my love
I found myself in hopeless griefs
That’s enough, don’t burn me

I was crying for days, for nights, never smiled
I was searching, but haven’t found the cure for my anguish
For so many years had no gratitude
Show me some kindness, don’t send me away

I wandered around the mountains and stopped here
I found myself in fire of your sorrows, my love
I found myself in hopeless griefs
That’s enough, don’t burn me

I wandered around the mountains and stopped here
I found myself in fire of your sorrows, my love
I found myself in hopeless griefs
That’s enough, don’t burn me

A beauty whose hazel eyes I love
Don’t gossip about me with the world
Don’t stand before me showing your white neck
Don’t kill me before my fatal hour

Don’t kill me before my fatal hour

Sources:

1.Prof. Talat S. Halman Chairman, Department of Turkish LiteratureBilkent University http://www.byegm.gov.tr/YAYINLARIMIZ/newspot/2001/sept-oct/n5.htm

2.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karacao%C4%9Flan