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Visiting Exciting Turkey in the Throes of Restoration

Visiting Exciting Turkey in the Throes of Restoration

Old Sep 30th, 2014, 04:12 AM
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What type of deal do you think occurred to get the hostages released?
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Old Sep 30th, 2014, 04:37 AM
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IMDonehere,

There is a great deal of speculation on that issue. here are some probabilities :

1. Turkey promises not to move against ISIL in Turkey?

2. Turkey gets grant from Qatar which was visited by president Erdogan a few days before hostage release to pay large ransom?
This grant could be in exchange for providing asylum to Moslem brotherhood leadership.

3. Turkey promises not to move against ISIL in Iraq or Syria?

4. Turkey promises to allow or help ISIL victory against PYD Kurds at Rojava on Turkey-Syria border.

5. Turkey promises to allow ISIL petroleum free transit through Turkey?

6. Turkey promises to supply food, medicine and arms to ISIL?

7. The whole hostage station was a scenario played by Turkey and ISIL to give cause to allow Turkey to stay back and not interfere without drawing undue criticism from Turkish and International public opinion?????


What really bothers many analysts is that the Turkish government did not withdraw the Mosul mission almost four months ago (even the babies) despite dire warnings not only from intelligence sources but from the Iraqi governor of Mosul and the Turkish Consulate itself which kept on asking for permission to vacate, until they were surrounded by ISIL.

Ankara just told them that they were safe and they need not worry!!!!!!!? What gave Ankara this confidence????? Did they believe that ISIL were friends they were helping until then?

The Turkish Lira continues to lose value. Although the loss is not that much against Euro, it is still more than that of similar countries despite the gains of the USD in international markets.

This has caused a 9% increase in electricity and natural gas unit costs for homes and industry from October 1, 2014, as announced today.
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Old Sep 30th, 2014, 06:02 AM
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bookmarking
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Old Sep 30th, 2014, 06:28 AM
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OC:, your posts continue to be invaluable...thank you for al. of your obsevations and wisdom.

My family members, currently in Belgium, are planning a visit to Istanbul AND Cappadocia in the next weeks. They have 2 pre - teen children. They are most eager to come, but are asking me if I think it might be 'safer' to just spend the time in Istanbul. ( I had earlier encouraged them to add Cappadocia to their trip ).

What do you think? I suppose that the fewer internal movements the better....but a flight between Istanbul and Cappadocia ? And the tenor of Cappadocia itself ?

I value your, and Eser's opinion, so ..... Hope you both are well.
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Old Sep 30th, 2014, 07:21 AM
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Hi MarnieWDC,

Everything at Cappadocia is business as usual. the hotels are almost all full for the religious holidays starting this weekend.

i know some people living and working at Cappadocia from twitter whom I follow and they see no problems. That is not an easy location for any unusual activity to go unnoticed.

Domestic flights and all airports have always had a great deal of security and there has been no problem even when the separatist PKK activity was high in Turkey.

Eser is "as good as it gets." Thanks. Actually she is radiant these days because we may be expecting a grandchild and she thinks it will be her child all over again.

I hope you're also all well.

here's a new tweet for you :

Too bad all the people who know how to run this country are busy running taxicabs or cutting hair. G. Burns (though he didn't know #Turkey)
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Old Sep 30th, 2014, 07:27 AM
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OC Teshekurederem !

You are always there...for all of us on this Forum.....and so much appreciated. I am grateful for your response.

This will, also, be Eser's Baby. , take it from another Grandma.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2014, 11:20 AM
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Turkey is dragging its feet in joining the coalition action against IS despite the possible slaughter of tens of housands by IS at the North Syrian villages in Kobani area.

As a result 170,000 more refugees crossed into turkey in one week although Turkey initially tried to keep them out.

Parliament majority (the ruling AKP and the Nationalists) voted to day to authorize the government to act against "any foreign country, group or force and to allow any armed force to domicile or move through Turkish territory." There is no mention of the Coalition or IS or Al-Qaeda or Al Nusra, but there are nine mentions of Syria. The enmity against Syrian government which belong to a different sect seems to be much more significant than any criticism against any islamist, Jihadist terrorist groups which are all of the Sunni Sect like the Turkish government.

It was also leaked out that Turkey has now an immediate response plan against any attack towards the Suleiman Shah Mausoleum, with helicopters and green berets at the ready to help within less than 20 minutes and tanks in place to reach location in less than an hour.

What worries me is that the government may come up with a drummed up scenario of Syrian government troups or air force attacking the mausoleum site which is currently totally within IS territory. There was a discussion of exactly that with Minister of Defense, Director of the Intelligence agency and their undersecretaries, beginning of this year, which was bugged and the whole conversation was put on youtube.

This authorization, not appearing to be a move against IS, does not increase the risk of traveling to Turkey.

We may only expect some PKK activity against government institutions and security forces in Southeastern Turkey. So anywhere to the East of Adana and South of Malatya-Kars line may be considered to have medium to high risk.

Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Mardin, Midyat, Urfa are possible problem areas under the circumstances in addition to Hatay and Iskenderun, with Kahta/Nemrut also to be considered risky.

The weather is much cooler this year than the recent years. We are also getting more than our share of rain although it is still not sufficient to make up for the dry Winter and Spring.

It is advisable for visitors to istanbul to bring light cardigans, wind breakers, etc as well as water proof shoes.

Just a note that many cafes and some restaurants have space heaters to allow outdoor seating in Istanbul even on very cold days and nights.

Current Istanbul - Nicaea temperatures range from 13 (55F) at night to 24 (75)daytime. Partially cloudy with possibly some showers through the weekend.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2014, 01:54 PM
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Thank you OC for considered opinions. I truly appreciate it.
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Old Oct 7th, 2014, 11:02 AM
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We are unfortunately at a higher than normal risk stage in Istanbul, Ankara, Adana, Mersin in addition to the Southeastern cities of Diyarbakir, Urfa, Mardin, Adiyaman, Bingol, Tunceli, Batman, Sirnak, Hatay and Eastern cities of Agri, Van, Kars, Dogu Beyazit, Elazig, erzincan, Mus, Bitlis.

The rerason is not ISIL.ISIS/IS supporters but the Kurdish population and Human Rights activists in turkey who are rising up in protest to the Turkish government which is staunchly against helping the North Syrian Kurdish cities currently under attack by ISIS and about to be taken over, resulting in the torture and death of tens of thousands of Kurds in the area who have relatives in Turkey.

Turkish armed forces has placed some armoured and purple beret battalions on Turkish side of the border to stop any Turkish Kurds crossing over to aid Kobani, with the police firing tear gas at those who try to sneak across the border.

This is happening with crying and mourning crowds are watching the resistance and population in Kobani, about a mile away from the border being murdered.

Unfortunately the stupid Turkish government continues to talk about their friendship and desire to make total and final peace with the Kurds and Kurdish population in Turkey.

Alligator tears, smiling denials and falsehoods are not acceptable to many any more.

However, there are also racist ultra nationalists in Turkey who believe that Kurds are enemies. hence, when the Kurds started protesting against the government today, the racists also started to gang up and attack them while sometimes protected by the police.

So, we have large numbers of Kurds (possible total population 10-15 million), Human Rights activists plus leftists, radical leftists, some liberals, possibly some Alevites (8-12 million) who are starting to protest.

Opposing them, there are the ultra nationalists (about 3 million), Islamists (anything from 1 to 5 million) The ruling party, AKP supporters who do not fall into other categories (15-20 million) (Many Kurds supported AKP in past 6-8 elections)

NOW none of these groups are against tourism or tourists. However, it is possible that ISIS may sneak in to garner advantage and conduct certain operations if they see Turkey moving their clandestine(?) support away from them.

Thus, currently, touristic areas and tourism are not targets.

But, all protests, crowds, large groups of security forces, groups of people wearing religious garb, flag waving groups chanting groups, Banks and ATM s at areas where any of the above are present, foreign missions, consulates, embassies should be avoided as much as possible.

Do not visit mosques on Fridays after 11 AM.

Boat tours, Bosphorus cruises, restaurants and cafes on the Bosphorus have no risk.

By passing Taksim, Besiktas and Kadikoy squares or not lingering there is a good idea.

I will get back to Istanbul for a lunch meeting on Friday and can tell you my first hand experience, especially since I will be driving through some of the areas above after I leave the ferry.

Stop press : The main Minority Party, CHP, called for a protest in support of Kobani and against ISIS to gather at Tunel, end of Istiklal and march towards Taksim Square.

It is very likely that other groups will join the march and the police will try to stop it before it reaches Taksim, resulting in chaos, violence and in some possibly unfortunate events.
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Old Oct 8th, 2014, 03:11 AM
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Thanks OC. I'm closely watching the situation with hopes of not having to cancel/delay my upcoming trip to Turkey in March.

jdc
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Old Oct 8th, 2014, 07:39 AM
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CHP wisely cancelled the protest march.

Heard from a British friend in Istanbul for a conference that some of her colleagues were received more than a whiff of pepper gas last night at Istiklal.

Some of the Southeastern and Eastern cities I mentioned above now have a night curfew and at some, elementary and secondary schools are closed till the coming Week.

Weapons and armed forces build up continueing at certain spots on the Syrian border.

Turkey made its assistance to Kobani conditional on permission by the coalition or just the United States to set up a no fly zone within Syria and eventually attack Assad.

I guess the united States and the European Union are playing with the Turkish leadership, getting the President and his henchman to think that they may actually get their imperialistic wishes fulfilled with a green light from Europe and America. OR the Turkish leadership do not understand the messages they get because of their poor language skills, lack of empathy and difficulty in understanding other cultures as well internaional diplomatic conversation.

So far 12 protesters killed last night by the police and/or Islamists and/or nationalists.

The neighborhoods where the protests have reached dangerous proportions in Istanbul are in the outskirts and/or nowhere close to where any tour or tourist is likely to wander.
The protests near Taksim are more orderly and civilized, but should still be avoided.
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Old Oct 8th, 2014, 12:35 PM
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Thank you so much for all of the historical information you provided as well as keeping us aware of the current situation.
We are arriving in Istanbul on Oct. 25th and staying in an apartment in Cihangir-Beyoglu. Actually, you recommended the address to another person and we decided to stay there also. The actual address is Turkguci caddesi, Balikesir.
Do you think that is a relatively safe place to stay at this time. I know that you will have more informationon Friday and I will read what you think is going on then. I was just wondering if I should think about cancelling my trip as it is getting very close.
Thanks again
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Old Oct 8th, 2014, 02:21 PM
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Cihangir is a good place to stay; Safe, fun and a pleasant neighborhood with an old Istanbul feel.

You can get to Istiklal and Taksim from Cihangir also as long as there are no protests or as long as you walk back if you see crowds.

I drove through Taksim and some other areas, coming home from the ferry and everything was fine.

The troubles seem to be in 6-7 cities in the East and Southeast and two districts at the outskirts of Istanbul, neither of which I have ever visited or driven through in my 70 years in this city.

It is possible that the vandalism is the work of not the protesting Kurds, but some agents of extremist far left, far right or Islamist groups.

As I wrote before, there has been nothing against the common folk or tourists.
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Old Oct 8th, 2014, 07:29 PM
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Personally, I do not feel that this is a good time to travel to Turkey. Erodogan demanded an "apology" from Vice President Biden for telling the truth about how Turkey helped ISIS here. The facts as of today, October 8th, show that Biden was speaking the truth.

The Turkish government is simply not concerned about the welfare of its Kurdish citizens. It pretends that they are "mountain Turks" (the Kurds speak a language totally unrelated to Turkish; they are a separate ethnic group). Unfortunately, my belief is that Erodogan would be happy if some Kurds get killed as he would have fewer of them to deal with. A by product of this will be the churning up of Kurdish resistance again.

Insofar as travel is concerned, there are probably other countries one would feel more comfortable visiting at the present time. Unrest is bound to continue for a long time here with over violent response by the police as per usual.
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Old Oct 10th, 2014, 08:53 AM
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There is no change in everyday life in Istanbul proper.

- Traffic as heavy as ever
- Business as usual, Malls and shops doing reasonably well.
- TL which had gained for a day or two, lost again to over 2.29 to 1 USD
- Drove to Northern business district from our Taksim home and back and then to the ferry past Sultanahmet and Aksaray and did not see anything out of place.
- Back at Iznik where I had to fight against lots of tractors visiting the town before going back to their farms and villages.
- Bought some farm tomatoes, cucumbers and zuccini about 10 kilometers to Iznik town from roadside farm stand.
- Already ate some of the tomatoes in a fresh baked sour dough sandwich with Iznik white cheese (definitely better than any feta)
- Will have to go to compound restaurant for dinner where you can get a 12 ounce aged T-Bone for $15 and a cesar salad for $3.
- Eser already gone to watch the sunset beyond the lake and drink Raki instead of wine in memory of one of the three civil engineers who designed and built this 460 home compound 35 years ago.

Politically : The President and the PM have put Turkey up the creek by meddling in affairs of neighboring countries. They still have no idea what they have done, have no regrets and no realistic plans to pull the country out.

They had started a rapprochment with the armed Kurdish group and the moderate Kurds two years ago, but screwed that up by helping ISIS and not assisting the Kurdish Kobane where ISIS is massacring them.

Turkeys previous assistance to ALL groups opposing Saddam in Syria (except the Kurdish PYD) possibly resulted not only in hundreds of thousands of deaths but also the almost two million refugees into Turkey, which they blame on Assad. Even my wife and children learned at an early age (45, 18 and 26 respectively) that blaming me for their problems does not solve anything -

Previous Turkish governments had played it cool, showing rightuous ire at russia, iran and Iraq in the past for murdering Kurds within their countries but not meddling at all, received some refugees who had eventually gone back and continued living in reasonably peaceful co-existence except for some local issues.

This government made the whole thing a major international issue with their greed to set up the Ottoman Empire again and under the impression that the United States was backing them.
Additionally, the PM and President keep on talking and provoking not only racial and sectarian groups but also humane societies, human rights activists, peace groups and anyone with compassion and empathy.

And Eser is off drinking raki!!!!!
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Old Oct 10th, 2014, 10:13 AM
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I do agree with the above post, but the unrest is bound to spread. I have no idea what the last comment about Eser is all about.

The bottom line for travel boards is that the unrest in Turkey, which I saw in the Hamas support/antisemitic graffiti when I was there in July, is not going away and will affect tourism. No one wants to travel anywhere when there is unrest/risk of unrest. While Istanbul is normal now, that might not last for long. There is a risk of Civil War here.

And Ataturk? He is turning in his grave.
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Old Oct 10th, 2014, 09:36 PM
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My basis for antisemitic slogans is that I saw them. There are two photos on the photos that go with my blog. I felt very uncomfortable taking the photos because I felt unsafe taking them. I took two and called it a day. I said before when I mentioned this that I would put up the photos I took. They are located at:

http://altecockertravels.weebly.com/...otos-2014.html

Believe me I saw much more than the two I photographed. Personally, I did feel uneasy and was glad to leave Istanbul when my month long home exchange was up. Turkey very vociferously supported Hamas during the Gaza war. While I supported Israel during the war, I want to state that I despise Netanyahu's settlements which I feel are very counterproductive.

With everything going on now with ISIS, I am not looking for a return trip to Turkey.

The Jewish American couple you met at dinner proves nothing. I do know what I saw.
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Old Oct 12th, 2014, 01:42 PM
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We will be meeting a British friend (of four years from Trip Advisor) tomorrow morning. She was at a conference for 4-5 days and witnessed police presence at Istiklal Saturday night but wisely walked away before she could see if it was against a protesting group or just a show of force.

We will take her and her BF to a long ride on the Bosphorus coast and possibly to Sabanci museum for the Miro exhibition plus lunch at Changa, the best fusion restaurant in Turkey, or a decent kebap restaurant, depending on how it all works out.

I will check her views on safety and her feelings about being in Istanbul this year (as opposed to possibly 8-10 previous visits) and post about that here, from her perspective.

The violence provoked to undermine the concern for Kobani and against ISIL seems to have tapered off, after 40 deaths, mostly by the security forces and possibly by one hitherto low lying Islamist group (they denied any involvement in spite of photographs)

There was one large and peaceful gathering of Alevis in Ankara today, possibly against forced Sunni Islamic classes for secondary students, and the government ignoring their requests for their religious edifices to be recognized as temples.

For your information, Alevis pray in mixed groups, sing, recite poetry, play music and dance in their religious ceremonies. The women do not cover their heads or any part of their bodies due to religious customs. Most of the folk singers, folk poets and sufis have their roots among the alevis. Although you have to be born an Alevi, you can become a bretheren and follow their traditions by becoming a "Bektashi" a sect known to upset all strict adherents of Islam, by freely drinking alcoholic beverages, and not praying at mosques.

The Ottoman administration wisely indoctrinated their palace guard into Alevism, so that they could not be converted to become Islamists or jihadists by the dominant sunni religious establishment.

We were on and around Istiklal 11 AM to 3PM today, visiting the last day of the "Used Book Fair", watching the new 3D film by the old master, Jean Luc Godard at one of the film festival cinemas, and eating a decent doner kebap at Kasap Doner between Galatasay and Tunel. The crowds were thinner than usual for a Sunday although there were many tourists. We even saw three South American Indians carrying shopping bags of fruit.
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Old Oct 12th, 2014, 02:54 PM
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Thanks, OC, for taking the trouble to update us on the present situation.

so much more informative and accurate than the representatives of the turkish government who keep trying to explain their actions to us on the radio and TV.
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Old Oct 13th, 2014, 07:47 AM
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Amen !
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