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What Geert Wilders and the Ottomans have in common

The legal and philosophical conclusions of Geert Wilders’ proposals look oddly like something from Ottoman history

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Upon the break-up of The Beatles, John Lennon wrote a song called God, a kind of pessimistic surrender to nihilism after the idealism of his quests for spiritual fulfilment and his idealistic Beatles years, came to an end at the same time.

The Netherlands, the culture that once sheltered Spinoza and the first western European society to embrace the idea of freedom of religion, has now surrendered to nihilism.

It is not difficult to understand why this surrender to nihilism has come about. Many of the shibboleths upon which contemporary Dutch society is built, have crumbled. Many of the modern Dutch ideals have failed.

The Netherlands is a country where certain regions remain highly religious and it is one where big cities are filled with legalised drugs and prostitution. However strange this contradiction might seem, it is one which the Netherlands has just about been at peace with in the modern era.

The Netherlands is a country that has prided itself on tolerance and open borders, but increasingly finds itself ill at ease with what this has looked like in real life, as opposed to mere theoretical pontificates.

Now, a man who is correctly known as a tyrant, a supreme egotist, an irrational individual and political Islamist, has done more to expose the contradictions of Dutch society than he has done to weaken Turkish society. The contradictions he has exposed may be insurmountable, unless the Netherlands radically reconstructs its present legal and cultural realities.

Although Erdgoan appears to be as powerful as ever in terms of his iron grip on Turkey, as Ataturk wisely said, “They go as they come”. When Erodogan finally bites off more than he can chew and with such men this is almost inevitable unless he dies or retires suddenly, Turkey may indeed have a Kemalist backlash that many are hoping for.

Holland’s future path is far more murky because it is mired in contradiction whereas Erdogan’s Turkey is a more straightforward clash between Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman, strongman political Islam versus the secular Kemalism which defined the Turkish state and Turkish cultural identity  from the 1920s up to Erdogan’s consolidation of power.

After years of  legally allowing and indeed welcoming foreigners into The Netherlands,  many mainstream Dutch politicians seem unwilling to live up to their end of the bargain.

The foreigners that came to the Netherlands came to a land of free speech and multi-culturalism. The foreigners did not invent such laws, the Dutchmen and Dutch women did so.

Now, generations later, many Dutch people do not like what they see. In many ways it is too late to undo the changes that Dutch leaders brought on as a result of their own policies.

If one has selective free speech laws, then free speech is dead. One cannot say that Dutch people can speak freely about issues ranging from Protestantism versus Catholicism versus atheism, but that Moroccans legally living in Amsterdam cannot pray to Mecca in public or that Turks legally in Rotterdam cannot make public speeches about Turkish political affairs.

It would be hypocrisy to have selective free speech and call it a right. The Dutch are however, welcome to have free speech as a privilege for some and not for others, but this of course would mean having several classes of citizenship, which isn’t unheard of in world history.

Prior to and in some instances even after the Tanzimât reforms of the 19th century, Ottoman Turkey had what we can retrospectively label as multi-tiered levels of citizenship or more accurately, subjecthood.

Ottoman society was divided into Millets, legal units wherein each confessional community had their own degree of autonomous law making. Leaders of Orthodox communities, Armenian communities, Jewish communities etc, had leaders who would determine the local/community destinies of their own people within the Ottoman Empire.

In exchange for this, non-Muslims had to pay a jizya (religious tax for non-Muslims) to the Ottoman state. It was a tremendous source of revenue for the Ottoman Empire. Additionally, non-Muslims had to acknowledge the legal supremacy of Islam in the wider legal system, although at times local autonomy worked surprisingly sufficiently in day to day legal disputes.

In today’s Dutch society, it is both possible and legal to prohibit non-EU migration. If the Netherlands withdraws from the EU and from associated border agreements such as Schengen, it will be possible for The Netherlands to end all immigration should they wish to. It is their legal right.

The more immediate issue though is what to do with non-Dutch individuals living legally in The Netherlands?

The legally simple solution would be to have one law for all. This is how things work at present, but Dutch people are largely unhappy with it, as it means that Turks can use their free speech rights to wave Turkish flags in public and give speeches about Turkish politics with the same legal ease as a Dutch protestant preaching about Christ or a Dutch atheist displaying pornography.

If the popularity of politicians like Geert Wilders is any indication, many in The Netherlands are happy to have Protestants and pornographers in public, but not politically minded Turks. This is their right to favour both moral ends of the native cultural spectrum over foreign cultures, but legally things will need to drastically change in order for Dutch people to see this come to pass.

Legally, it is very difficult to kick people out of a country who have the legal right of residence. It is almost impossible to kick out citizens, even if they hold the passport of more than one nation. Ethically, many think it is wrong to withdraw one’s legal rights in such circumstances anyway. I am not passing judgement on any of these issues, I am simply listing manifest realities.

So if the same free speech and freedom or worship laws for all is unacceptable to people like Wilders (who speaks for a large portion if not the majority of modern Dutch society) and kicking all non-ethnic Dutch people out would be too fraught and likely violent, where does that leave The Netherlands?

It logical leads to the concept of various tiers of citizenship/legal residence. It leaves the Netherlands with, a Millet system. Under such a system, Dutch Christians and atheists and given the philo-Semitism of Wilders, Jews as well, would be able to have the full rights of free speech and worship.

Likewise, Muslims whether Arab or Turkish or Indonesian would not be able to pray publicly, not be able to build mosques and not be able to engage in political demonstrations, however peaceful, in support of Muslim politicians from foreign lands, men like Erdogan.

If these proposals seem hyperbolic, they are not. Wilders wants to do all of this, but I don’t know if he’s thought the legal and philosophic implications through.

If the Netherlands leaves the EU and its associated conventions, it could do this as a sovereign state. It could create its own Millet system in all but name. Of course there would be differences with its Ottoman Turkish counterpart.

If Wilders is to be believed, the legal and fiscal autonomy of the Dutch Millets would be far more restrictive than those in pre-Tanzimât Ottoman Turkey. But that would be his right if he became the head of government in a sovereign Dutch state.

In regretting the collective decision to allow for mass multi-faith and multi-ethnic immigration for decades, the Dutch have found themselves backed against the wall. The small, sub-sea level Kingdom may become a bite-sized Ottoman Empire after all. The road paved by Dutch nihilism has ironically led an exasperated people not on the road to Damascus but to Ottoman Constantinople.

The irony is confounding to say the least.

 

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran

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Via RT


Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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Five Saudis Face Death Penalty Over Khashoggi Killing; Crown Prince Cleared

According to the Saudi prosecutor, five people charged are believed to have been involved in “ordering and executing the crime.”

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Via Zerohedge


Saudi Arabia public prosecutor Sheikh Shaalan al-Shaalan said on Thursday that the kingdom will seek the death penalty for five suspects among the 11 charged in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, confirming suspicions that members of the murder squad purportedly sent to “interrogate” Khashoggi will now themselves face beheadings as the Saudi Royal Family closes ranks around the Crown Prince, per the FT.

As for Mohammed bin Salman who runs the day to day affairs of the world’s top oil exporter and is the de facto head of OPEC, the prosecutor said had “no knowledge” of the mission, effectively absolving him of any domestic suspicion, if not international.

The charges were handed down after the kingdom dismissed five senior intelligence officers and arrested 18 Saudi nationals in connection with Khashoggi’s disappearance. The Saudi insider-turned-dissident journalist disappeared on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to pick up documents that would have allowed him to marry his fiance. Khashoggi was a legal resident of Virginia.

According to the Saudi prosecutor, five people charged are believed to have been involved in “ordering and executing the crime,” according to CNN.

The prosecutor said that the former Saudi deputy intelligence chief, Ahmed al-Assiri, ordered a mission to force Khashoggi to go back to Saudi Arabia and formed a team of 15 people.

They were divided into three groups, the Saudi Public Prosecutor said: a negotiation team, an intelligence team and a logistical team.

It was the head of the negotiating team who ordered the killing of Khashoggi, the prosecutor said.

The Saudis stuck by latest (ever changing) narrative that the Washington Post columnist was killed after a mission to abduct him went awry. The deputy chief of intelligence ordered that Khashoggi be brought back to the kingdom, Shaalan said. The team killed him after the talks failed and his body was handed to a “collaborator” in Turkey, he said.

Asked whether Saud al-Qahtanti, an aide to Prince Mohammed, had any role in the case, Shaalan said that a royal adviser had a coordinating role and had provided information. The former adviser was now under investigation, the prosecutor said, declining to reveal the names of any of those facing charges.

Al-Shaalan did reveal that a total of 21 suspects are now being held in connection with the case. Notably, the decision to charge the 5 comes after National Security Advisor John Bolton repudiated reports that a recording of Khashoggi’s murder made by Turkish authorities suggested that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was behind the murder plot.

But as long as OPEC+ is planning to do “whatever it takes” to boost oil prices, the US’s willingness to give the Saudis a pass could always be tested if crude prices again turn sharply higher.

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U.S. May Impose Sanctions Against Turkey Over S-400 “Threat” To F-35

The United States continues to consider the S-400 air defense system a threat to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform.

The Duran

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Authored by Al Masdar News:


Turkish officials have repeatedly insisted that Ankara’s purchase of the advanced Russian air defense system poses no threat whatsoever to the NATO alliance. Last month, the Turkish defense ministry announced that delivery of S-400s to Turkey would begin in October 2019.

The United States continues to consider the S-400 air defense system a threat to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform, and may impose sanctions against Ankara, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency has reported, citing a high-ranking source in Washington.

“I can’t say for certain whether sanctions will be imposed on Ankara over the S-400 contract, but the possibility is there. The US administration is not optimistic about this issue,” the source said.

While admitting that Turkey was a sovereign state and therefore had the right to make decisions on whom it buys its weapons from, the source stressed that from the perspective of these weapons’ integration with NATO systems, the S-400 was “problematic.”

The source also characterized the deployment of S-400s in areas where US F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighters are set to fly as “a threat,” without elaborating.

Emphasizing that negotiations between Washington and Ankara on the issue were “continuing,” the source said that there were also “positive tendencies” in negotiations between the two countries on the procurement of the Patriot system, Washington’s closest analogue to the S-400 in terms of capabilities.

Designed to stop enemy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles at ranges of up to 400 km and altitudes of up to 30 km, the S-400 is currently the most advanced mobile air defense system in Russia’s arsenal. Russia and India signed a ruble-denominated contract on the delivery of five regiments of S-400s worth $5 billion late last month.

Last week, the Saudi Ambassador to Russia said that talks on the sale of the system to his country were ongoing. In addition to Russia, S-400s are presently operated by Belarus and China, with Beijing expecting another delivery of S-400s by 2020.

Washington has already slapped China with sanctions over its purchase of S-400s and Su-35 combat aircraft in September. India, however, has voiced confidence that it would not be hit with similar restrictions, which the US Treasury has pursued under the 2017 Counter America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

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