Meanwhile, across the Black Sea and in the mountains of Pennsylvania
March 22, 2014 6:54 AM   Subscribe

Turkey: The Erdogan-Gulen showdown - "A political fight to the death had just broken out between Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's prime minister, and his former allies in the movement of Mr Gulen... The prime minister argues that the Gulenists have set up a 'parallel state' within the bureaucracy, following orders from Pennsylvania and pursuing an agenda of their own."

Dani Rodrik summarizes the situation...
During the last decade in which he has been in power, Erdogan has allowed the Gulen movement to take control over the police, judiciary, and large parts of the state apparatus. The Gulen movement in turn established a republic of dirty tricks, with illegal wiretaps and video recordings, fabricated evidence, framing of innocent people, slander and disinformation as its modus operandi. The monster Erdogan created eventually turned against him as the common enemy, the military and the rest of the secular establishment, were vanquished. He is now trying to slay the monster. That means purges, bringing the judiciary under his control, tightening the screws on the Internet and social media, and greatly expanding the powers of MiT, the national intelligence organization. The collateral damage for Turkish democracy – or what remained of it – is huge.
and apportions blame - "What a tragedy Turkey has turned into. So much promise a decade ago, and so sharp the fall."
  • Culprit #1: the military/secular old guard, who repressed diversity and religiosity for far too long, making a backlash almost inevitable
  • Culprit #2: the Gulenists, whose sham trials, blackmail, slander, wiretaps, ... turned the country into a republic of dirty tricks
  • Culprit #3: Erdogan, who gave Gulenists carte blanche, and whose hubris and willingness to polarize the country apparently has no limits
  • Culprit #4: Turkish intellectuals who mistook Gulenists' and Erdogan's abuses far too long for democratization
Turkey's Effort to Block Twitter Falters - "Embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan seemed on Friday to have failed in an attempt to block Twitter Inc. in Turkey, as countless Turks—including his longtime ally, President Abdullah Gul—bypassed the ban to criticize the government, just nine days before local elections."
posted by kliuless (30 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
They are spreading word of Google's public DNS with graffiti.

And seriously the attempt to "block Twitter" was to mess with its DNS? LOL.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:47 AM on March 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

DNS cache poisoning is one of the means by which China maintains its Great Firewall.

It's not 100% effective but it doesn't have to be, since to avoid it you need to know what DNS is, need to know how to diagnose a DNS problem, and have foreknowledge of how to route around the problem. Spraypainting "" on a wall gets the word out, but it's not a complete set of instructions.

Of course, China's method is a lot more comprehensive, in part because they also operate the gateways through which all international network traffic flows; anybody trying an external DNS server like Google's will (a) not necessarily be able to resolve any specific domestically-hosted site, and (b) out themselves as somebody trying to get around the wall.
posted by ardgedee at 7:55 AM on March 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks for making this about the mess in Turkey and not just about Twitter. Now on to the articles...

(I've seen a lot of commentary that seem to have totally missed that court-mandated DNS fuckery happens regularly, to the extent that switching DNS servers is basic "even my granddad" knowledge, and all parties involved are well aware of that. A turkish expat friend mentioned yesterday that his friends in the country hadn't even noticed the block, they had to switch back to verify. Also, Twitter wasn't the first site being blocked in this round...)
posted by effbot at 7:59 AM on March 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

The main FT article isn't working for me. It redirects to a subscription page.
posted by Thing at 8:19 AM on March 22, 2014

[non-gated version]
posted by kliuless at 8:44 AM on March 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

If someone speaks Turkish here, can you answer a quick question for me? The Erdogan soundbite that's getting the most play is this:
“Twitter, Schmitter! We have a court order now. We will wipe out all of these sites. The international community can say this or that, I don't care at all. Everyone will see how powerful the Republic of Turkey really is.”
I'm just really curious what the original version of "Twitter, Schmitter!" is, and how Turkish formulates this type of linguistic device. CNN has it as "Twitter, Mwitter," but I can't tell if that's a literal translation or not.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:51 AM on March 22, 2014

AAAAAAhhhhh, it's an expat in Pennsylvania! At first glance, it looked like the US was running a new secret puppet-government service from Scranton.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:51 AM on March 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

"Twitter, mwitter" is the original turkish; Hürriyet has a bit more on that.
posted by effbot at 8:57 AM on March 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

IanAT, I think LanguageLog has what you want on "mwitter".
posted by benito.strauss at 10:00 AM on March 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Erdogan deserves Gülen, but Turkey deserves neither of them.
posted by Thing at 10:07 AM on March 22, 2014 [6 favorites]

thanks, guys
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:18 AM on March 22, 2014

2012 60 Minutes bit on Gulen which is criticized as being too sympathetic to him.
posted by XMLicious at 10:33 AM on March 22, 2014

The New Republic had a long, interesting profile on Gülen and his movement in 2010. Excerpt:
As I became more acquainted with Turkey, it began to seem as if everything there was somehow linked to Gülen. Not only NGOs, businesses, and schools, but also people. “This article is good,” I would say. “Yes, but you know, that writer is Gülen,” would come the reply. Sometimes, calling someone “Gülen” seemed to reflect fear or prejudice, and pinning down whether or not any given organization was tied to the Gülen movement was rarely a simple matter. As someone at the Rumi Forum in Washington—another organization where Gülen serves as honorary president—put it, “If you say you are in [the Gülen movement], if you say that at 12:20, and say you are out at 12:21, you are out.” One Turkish acquaintance joked to me, “Who knows? Every day, when I go to the bakery or get my groceries, I could be giving money to Gülen. Who knows!” “They’re everywhere” is a common refrain. At times, suspicions about the Gülenists sound like anti-Semitism—they run the media, they’re rich, they stick together, they only help their own.
posted by Kattullus at 10:41 AM on March 22, 2014

So to get this straight, this is a NATO ally that hosts some of our nukes and is also dependent on Russian natural gas (as well as being sort of the hall monitor in the Black Sea)?

The making of Freedom Sausage is truly not a sight for the squeamish.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:47 AM on March 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Apparently the recordings have some pretty crazy stuff, like Erdogan's son telling his father "OK, I was able to stash most of the money, but I've still got 30 million euros and I don't have anywhere left to put them, do you have any advice?"

That said, the extent of the recordings that got posted on Youtube indicates that there was a fairly sophisticated and organized surveillance effort here.

One other interesting factor is how Swiss bank accounts aren't the secure refuge they once were, which is apparently making life difficult for various people in power in various countries.

Not sure what has changed, but it seems like someone wants Erdogan out.
posted by A dead Quaker at 11:34 AM on March 22, 2014

This is a good overview by the WSJ of some of the dozens (!) of tapes that have come out exposing the corruption in Turkey. Everyone kind of knew this was going on, but Turkey's mostly government-controlled press wouldn't investigate any of it.

My friends in Turkey are reporting now that the government is blocking redirects from Google DNS; Erdoğan won't ever back down from a fight.
posted by Theiform at 12:22 PM on March 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

This profile by Claire Berlinski from 2012 is another great English-language look at the Gulen movement.
posted by Theiform at 12:24 PM on March 22, 2014

the government is blocking redirects from Google DNS

That sentence is a bit confusing. DNS is an address service, not something that redirects traffic. The government isn't controlling the DNS server in question and not Twitter's servers, so what's being redirected?
posted by effbot at 12:50 PM on March 22, 2014

Ok, multiple sources report an IP block (which may have been temporary, not clear). Looks like Level3 and Yandex DNS IPs are spreading...
posted by effbot at 1:11 PM on March 22, 2014

Reports on Turkey's everything2/wikipedia-style public forum Ekşi sözlük say, as far as I can understand, that some ISPs in Turkey (the national Cable provider and Turkcell's fiber-optic service) are redirecting traffic from users with those DNS settings so that no website can be reached. OpenDNS is apparently still working.
posted by Theiform at 1:12 PM on March 22, 2014

Yeah, to clarify my previous comment, it looks like they're blocking traffic to and from the Google DNS servers (which means that your computer cannot use it for lookups, so nothing works). Guess the graffiti artists will have to memorize a few more numbers...
posted by effbot at 1:25 PM on March 22, 2014

It seems pretty obvious to me that the followers of the Gulen movement have long since taken the ball and run with it. They don't need Gulen anymore... and perhaps that is a good thing. It doesn't have to be a centralized conspiracy, though it does function in a way that tends to watch out after itself.

So, what you're left with is a conspiracy of smart, well-educated technophiles, dedicated to expanding their influence and subverting the Turkish government... even if that means resorting to dirty tricks against pro-government individuals... to make it happen.

Hard to say it would be worse than the current government. At least it's not Dianetics.
posted by markkraft at 2:39 PM on March 22, 2014

Huh, apparently he thinks he's up against robots of some sort now.

Which goes to show that he must be totally off his rockers. Robot lobby! That's ridiculous.
If he thinks the Internet is inhabited by robots now, then he must be delulululululululululululululululu1110101101010110001010010010010101001010 11001010000101001001!!00!=!!!&!&&!%

00000000`736b5cbf 89442450
mov dword ptr [rsp+50h],eax ss:00000000`0011ddc0=00000060
mov dword ptr [rsp+50h],eax ss:00000100`0011ddc0=00000061
mov dword ptr [rsp+50h],eax ss:00000010`0011ddc0=00000062
mov dword ptr [rsp+50h],eax ss:00000000`0011ddc0=00000063

> Timeout
posted by sour cream at 4:41 PM on March 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Says they're moving to a real block at the IP level. I think Anon will probably set up the requisite seven proxies.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:52 PM on March 22, 2014

This is lovely: fabulously popular Turkish (OK, Kurdish) popular singer Ibrahim Tatlises comes out in support of Erdogan: King of folk İbrahim Tatlıses backs Twitter ban – on Twitter
posted by zaelic at 1:46 AM on March 24, 2014

Turkey's twitter ban has been lifted.
posted by Kattullus at 3:23 AM on April 4, 2014

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