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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




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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‘Hell on Earth’: MSF doctor tells RT of rape, violence, inhumane conditions in Lesbos refugee camp

One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

Alex Christoforou



Via RT

One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

The overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos, built to accommodate 3,100, houses around 9,000 people. “It’s a kind of hell on Earth in Europe,” Dr. Alessandro Barberio, an MSF clinical psychiatrist, said, adding that people in the camp suffer from lack of water and medical care. “It is impossible to stay there,” he said.

According to Barberio, asylum seekers are subjected to violence “during night and day.””There is also sexual violence”which leads to “mental health issues,” he said, adding that all categories of people at the camp may be subjected to it. “There is rape against men, women and children,” and the victims of sexual violence in the camp often have nightmares and hallucinations, Barberio told RT.

Asylum seekers in Moria “are in constant fear of violence,” and these fears are not groundless, the psychiatrist said. “Such cases [of violence] take place every week.”

There is “one toilet for 72 people, one shower for 84 people. The sanitation is bad. People are suffering from bad conditions,” Michael Raeber, an aid worker at the camp, told RT. They suffer from mental health problems because they are kept for a long time in the camp, according to Raeber.

“There is no perspective, they don’t know how their case will go on, when they will ever be able to leave the island.” The camp is a “place where there is no rule of law,” with rampant violence and drug addiction among the inhabitants, Raeber said.

In its latest report, MSF, which has been working near Moria since late 2017, criticized the unprecedented health crisis in the camp – one of the biggest in Greece. About a third of the camp population consists of children, and many of them have harmed themselves, and have thought about or attempted suicide, according to the group.

Barberio was behind an MSF open letter on the state of emergency in Moria, released on Monday, in which he writes that he has never “witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions.”

Calling the camp an “island prison,” he insisted that many of his patients in the camp are unable to perform basic everyday functions, “such as sleeping, eating well, maintaining personal hygiene, and communicating.”

A number of human rights groups have strongly criticized the conditions at the camp and Greece’s “containment policy”regarding asylum seekers.

Christina Kalogirou, the regional governor of the North Aegean, which includes Lesbos, has repeatedly threatened to shut down the facility unless the government improves the conditions. On Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that Greece will move 2,000 asylum seekers out of the severely overcrowded camp and send them to the mainland by the end of September.

Greece, like other EU states, is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since WWII. According to International Organization for Migration estimates, 22,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece since the start of this year alone.

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Erdogan accepts Syria DMZ off-ramp, in deal with Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 111.

Alex Christoforou



The deal struck in Sochi averts a large scale Syria’s offensive on Idlib, as Turkey gives it guarantee to monitor what will effectively become a demilitarized zone.

According to the agreement, troops from Russia and Turkey will enforce a new demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Idlib, from which ISIS/Al Qaeda rebels will be required to withdraw by the middle of next month.

Speaking alongside Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the 15 to 20 km-wide zone would be established by October 15th. The DMZ would require a complete “withdrawal of all radical fighters” from Idlib, including the rebranded Al-Qaeda affiliated Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

Putin also noted that heavy weapons would be withdrawn from the DMZ by all opposition forces by October 10th, which is a move supported by the Syrian government.

The Russian President described the agreement as a “serious result” further saying that “Russia and Turkey have confirmed their determination to counter terrorism in Syria in all its forms”.

Erdogan said both his country and Russia would carry out coordinated patrols in the demilitarized zone:

“We decided on the establishment of a region that is cleaned of weapons between the areas which are under the control of the opposition and the regime.”

“In return, we will ensure that radical groups, which we will designate together with Russia, won’t be active in the relevant area.”

According to Al Jazeera Iran’s foreign minister has hailed an agreement between Turkey and Russia to avert an assault on the Syrian rebel-held Idlib province, as an example of “responsible diplomacy”.

An agreement to halt plans for an offensive on the last major rebel-held stronghold was announced in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday after a meeting between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On his Twitter account, Zarif wrote: “Intensive responsible diplomacy over the last few weeks-pursued in my visits to Ankara & Damascus, followed by the Iran-Russia-Turkey Summit in Tehran and the meeting (in) Sochi-is succeeding to avert war in #Idlib with a firm commitment to fight extremist terror. Diplomacy works.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the agreement reached in Sochi, which for now avoids full scale conflict in Idlib, Syria. Who won, who lost, and which interests were met with the DMZ agreement?

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Via Xinhuanet

An anticipated Syrian military offensive on the northwestern province of Idlib is on hold after Turkey and Russia reached a deal following Ankara’s guarantee on behalf of the rebel groups, experts said.

The deal was reached Monday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, as the two sides agreed to create a demilitarized buffer zone in Idlib, the last rebel stronghold.

This agreement brings Turkey to a position of giving a guarantee on behalf of the rebel groups, the experts said.

“Moscow is convinced that it would not be able to handle the burden of a humanitarian tragedy in case of a military offensive in Idlib,” said Metin Gurcan, a Turkish security analyst with the Istanbul Policy Center of Sabanci University.

Russia has also secured its airbases in northern Syria, including its airbase in Hmeymim as a guarantee by Turkey under the Sochi agreement, he said.

Gurcan recalled a trilateral summit of Turkey, Iran and Russia held in Iranian capital Tehran early September, which ended without agreement as Erdogan’s call for a ceasefire in Idlib was rejected by Moscow and Tehran.

Erdogan’s proposal for a ceasefire by all parties in Idlib was rejected by Putin on the grounds that those groups were not represented at the table there, he said.

“Now Turkey has given a guarantee on behalf of radical groups which Putin earlier said that ceasefire cannot be discussed because they were not represented at Tehran meeting,” Gurcan said.

Now everyone is curious how Turkey has given guarantee to Moscow and how will those radical groups accept a proposal for demilitarization by surrendering heavy weapons and withdrawing from the demilitarized zone, Gurcan noted.

“Ankara has given this promise relying on its military power on the ground and on its capacity to convince armed opposition groups,” he said.

Turkish army has reinforced its presence in Idlib in the past few months, and Turkey has 12 military outposts with 1,200-1,300 troops on the border line of the province separating the rebel stronghold from the pro-Iran militia-controlled South of Aleppo and the government-controlled southeast, Gurcan said.

Rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army, in the region are gathered with Turkish backing under the banner of the “National Front for Liberation.”

Putin and Erdogan agreed on Monday in Sochi to create a 15-20 km buffer zone along the line of contact between rebels and regime troops by Oct. 15.

The agreement entails the “withdrawal of all radical fighters” from Idlib as well as “heavy weaponry from this zone,” Putin said at the joint press conference after signing the deal with Erdogan.

By the end of the year, transportation routes between the key port of Latakia and Aleppo as well as the city of Hama must be restored, Putin added.

The Russian leader also said all heavy weapons had to be withdrawn from the zone by Oct. 10, according to Erdogan’s proposal.

Ankara has been warning against any military offensive by Russia-backed Syrian regime forces in Idlib, warning that it would lead to a humanitarian crisis and refugee influx to the Turkish border.

Turkey and Russia, along with Iran, are guarantors of the Astana deal which declared ceasefire in four de-escalation zones in Syria, including Idlib.

Turkey will deploy more troops in Idlib province after the Sochi deal, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.

“We will need extra troop reinforcements. Turkey and Russia will patrol on the border areas. Civilians and moderate (opposition) will stay here,” Cavusoglu said.

Another outcome of the Sochi deal is that Turkey and Russia prevented a possible attack by the United States in Idlib, Naim Baburoglu from Aydin University said.

He recalled that the U.S. was giving signals that it wanted to intervene in the situation in Idlib, if Syrian government troops launch an assault on the rebel stronghold.

Washington recently threatened to take swift and decisive actions against any use of chemical weapons in Idlib.

“This agreement showed that the U.S. has room for maneuver only in the east of Euphrates and Manbij region,” Baburoglu said.

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Pat Buchanan: “The Late Hit” On Judge Kavanaugh

Wha exactly is professor Ford’s case against Judge Kavanaugh?

Patrick J. Buchanan



Authored by Patrick Buchanan via

Upon the memory and truthfulness of Christine Blasey Ford hangs the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, his reputation and possibly his career on the nation’s second-highest court.

And much more. If Kavanaugh is voted down or forced to withdraw, the Republican Party and conservative movement could lose their last best hope for recapturing the high court for constitutionalism.

No new nominee could be vetted and approved in six weeks. And the November election could bring in a Democratic Senate, an insuperable obstacle to the elevation of a new strict constructionist like Kavanaugh.

The stakes are thus historic and huge.

And what is professor Ford’s case against Judge Kavanaugh?

When she was 15 in the summer of ’82, she went to a beer party with four boys in Montgomery County, Maryland, in a home where the parents were away.

She says she was dragged into a bedroom by Brett Kavanaugh, a 17-year-old at Georgetown Prep, who jumped her, groped her, tried to tear off her clothes and cupped her mouth with his hand to stop her screams.

Only when Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge, laughing “maniacally,” piled on and they all tumbled off the bed, did she escape and lock herself in a bathroom as the “stumbling drunks” went downstairs. She fled the house and told no one of the alleged rape attempt.

Not until 30 years later in 2012 did Ford, now a clinical psychologist in California, relate, in a couples therapy session with her husband, what happened. She says she named Kavanaugh as her assailant, but the therapist’s notes of the session make no mention of Kavanaugh.

During the assault, says Ford, she was traumatized. “I thought he might inadvertently kill me.”

Here the story grows vague. She does not remember who drove her to the party. She does not say how much she drank. She does not remember whose house it was. She does not recall who, if anyone, drove her home. She does not recall what day it was.

She did not tell her parents, Ford says, as she did not want them to know she had been drinking. She did not tell any friend or family member of this traumatic event that has so adversely affected her life.

Said Kavanaugh in response, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

Mark Judge says it never happened.

Given the seriousness of the charges, Ford must be heard out. But she also needs to be cross-examined and have her story and character probed as Kavanaugh’s has been by FBI investigators as an attorney for the Ken Starr impeachment investigation of Bill Clinton, a White House aide to George Bush, a U.S. appellate judge and a Supreme Court nominee.

During the many investigations of Kavanaugh’s background, nothing was unearthed to suggest something like this was in character.

Some 65 women who grew up in the Chevy Chase and Bethesda area and knew Kavanaugh in his high school days have come out and spoken highly of his treatment of girls and women.

Moreover, the way in which all of this arose, at five minutes to midnight in the long confirmation process, suggests that this is political hardball, if not dirt ball.

When Ford, a Democrat, sent a letter detailing her accusations against Kavanaugh to her California congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, Ford insisted that her name not be revealed as the accuser.

She seemingly sought to damage or destroy the judge’s career behind a cloak of anonymity. Eshoo sent the letter on to Sen. Diane Feinstein, who held it for two months.

Excising Ford’s name, Feinstein then sent it to the FBI, who sent it to the White House, who sent it on to the Senate to be included in the background material on the judge.

Thus, Ford’s explosive charge, along with her name, did not surface until this weekend.

What is being done here stinks. It is a transparently late hit, a kill shot to assassinate a nominee who, before the weekend, was all but certain to be confirmed and whose elevation to the Supreme Court is a result of victories in free elections by President Trump and the Republican Party.

Palpable here is the desperation of the left to derail Kavanaugh, lest his elevation to the high court imperil their agenda and the social revolution that the Warren Court and its progeny have been able to impose upon the nation.

If Kavanaugh is elevated, the judicial dictatorship of decades past, going back to the salad days of Earl Warren, William Brennan, Hugo Black and “Wild Bill” Douglas, will have reached its end. A new era will have begun.

That is what is at stake.

The Republican Senate should continue with its calendar to confirm Kavanaugh before Oct. 1, while giving Ford some way to be heard, and then Kavanaugh the right to refute. Then let the senators decide.

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