Turkey edges toward ‘intense corruption’ status in global index

Turkey edges toward ‘intense corruption’ status in global index
Turkey was edging closer to being branded as a country run in an environment of “intense corruption,” a global report has revealed. (File/AFP)
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Updated 29 January 2021

Turkey edges toward ‘intense corruption’ status in global index

Turkey edges toward ‘intense corruption’ status in global index
  • The survey’s status grading system showed the country was only 40 points away from falling into the index’s “intense corruption” category
  • Index publisher Transparency International said that broad consultation in political decision-making was associated with lower levels of corruption

ANKARA: Turkey was edging closer to being branded as a country run in an environment of “intense corruption,” a global report has revealed.
Transparency International’s latest Worldwide Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranked Turkey 86th out of 180 countries and warned that the nation was losing ground in defeating dishonesty and fraud in high places.
The survey’s status grading system showed the country was only 40 points away from falling into the index’s “intense corruption” category.
Index publisher Transparency International said that broad consultation in political decision-making was associated with lower levels of corruption.
On Turkey’s case, the report said: “There is little space for consultative decision-making in the country. The government recently cracked down on NGOs, closing at least 1,500 foundations and associations and seizing their assets, while continuing to harass, arrest, and prosecute civil society leaders.”
Oya Ozarslan, chairwoman of Transparency International’s Turkish branch, pointed out the worrying trend in Turkey’s backsliding in the fight against corruption.
She told Arab News: “Worldwide CPI 2020 results indicate that democracy in countries is directly related to corruption.
“Countries governed by dictators and authoritarian regimes or frequently experiencing human rights violations, conflicts, chaos, and wars are the countries that are performing badly in the CPI, usually scoring less than 50 out of 100.”
In assessing Turkey’s index ranking, Transparency International focused on nepotism, bribes, and the inclination for giving state tenders to pro-government companies.
The ownership by government officials of several businesses was commonplace in Turkey regardless of criticisms about conflict of interests.
The country’s Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy drew public anger last year after becoming the new owner of the luxurious Hilton hotel in the resort town of Bodrum.
Turkey’s Education Minister Ziya Selcuk owns one of the biggest private school chains in the country, while Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has a chain of private hospitals.
Meanwhile, the Turkish health ministry’s tender for the preservation and distribution of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines was given to a company investigated three years ago by the country’s Court of Accounts over the spoiling of 1.6 million doses of measles and rubella vaccines which came at a cost of 11.3 million liras ($1.5 million) to the public purse.
“When we compared CPI results with the health care spending of each country, we saw striking results. Countries that are fighting better against corruption spend more on health care,” Ozarslan said.
Separately, after candidates from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) ousted the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) nominees from Ankara and Istanbul municipalities in the 2019 Turkish local elections, the decades-long patronage system in the two cities came under the spotlight.
The mayors of both cities claimed that several public works projects were outsourced to pro-government private companies, resulting in unnecessary expenditure using public resources.
“The recently elected mayors of municipalities like Ankara and Istanbul give very positive messages on transparency with their practices. Transparency was the main slogan they used to reach out to the masses in these cities and they pursued very innovative approaches in the fight against corruption that were appraised by the people,” Ozarslan added.
In January, Istanbul mayor and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s long-time challenger, Ekrem Imamoglu, submitted 35 files about alleged previous irregularities. The municipality was also working on 40 other corruption files covering transactions carried out when the municipality was governed by an AKP-affiliated mayor.
In December, the mayor of Ankara, Mansur Yavas, filed a criminal complaint about alleged irregularities involving executives of the previously AKP-led municipality over the purchase of malfunctioning “rotating telehandlers.”
Ozarslan said such moves by the municipalities would set a precedent for the way politics was done in the country, with the prospect of “clean politics” gaining ground. “People who are fed up with corruption allegations can support this new transparent governance approach,” she added.


Six loyalist fighters killed in Syria arms depot blast: monitor

Six loyalist fighters killed in Syria arms depot blast: monitor
Updated 20 October 2021

Six loyalist fighters killed in Syria arms depot blast: monitor

Six loyalist fighters killed in Syria arms depot blast: monitor
  • It was not initially known what caused the blast

BEIRUT: Six members of a pro-government militia were killed Wednesday in an arms depot blast in the central Syrian province of Hama, a war monitor reported.
Seven other members of the National Defense Forces militia were wounded in the blast, the cause of which remains largely unclear, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.


Kuwait’s emir launches process for amnesty pardoning dissidents

Kuwait’s emir launches process for amnesty pardoning dissidents
Updated 20 October 2021

Kuwait’s emir launches process for amnesty pardoning dissidents

Kuwait’s emir launches process for amnesty pardoning dissidents
  • This could potentially end a months-long standoff with opposition

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s ruling emir on Wednesday paved the way for an amnesty pardoning dissidents that has been a major condition of opposition lawmakers to end a months-long standoff with the appointed government that has paralyzed legislative work.
Emir Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah tasked the parliament speaker, the prime minister and the head of the supreme judicial council to recommend the conditions and terms of the amnesty ahead of it being issued by decree, Sheikh Nawaf’s office said.


Syrian army shelling kills at least 11 civilians

Syrian army shelling kills at least 11 civilians
Updated 20 October 2021

Syrian army shelling kills at least 11 civilians

Syrian army shelling kills at least 11 civilians
  • Among the casualties were several school children

AMMAN: At least 11 civilians died on Wednesday in a Syrian army shelling of residential areas of rebel-held Ariha city, witnesses and rescue workers said.
The shelling from Syrian army outposts, which came shortly after a roadside bomb killed at least 13 military personnel in Damascus, fell on residential areas in the city in Idlib province.
Among the casualties were several school children, witnesses and medical workers in the opposition enclave said.


13 killed in Damascus army bus bombing: state media

13 killed in Damascus army bus bombing: state media
Updated 20 October 2021

13 killed in Damascus army bus bombing: state media

13 killed in Damascus army bus bombing: state media
  • Images released by SANA showed a burning bus

DAMASCUS: A bomb attack on an army bus in Damascus killed at least 13 people Wednesday in the bloodiest such attack in years, the SANA state news agency reported.
“A terrorist bombing using two explosive devices targeted a passing bus” on a key bridge in the capital, the news agency said, reporting an initial casualty toll of 13 dead and three wounded.
Images released by SANA showed a burning bus and what it said was a bomb squad defusing a third device that had been planted in the same area.
Damascus had been mostly spared such violence in recent years, especially since troops and allied militia retook the last significant rebel bastion near the capital in 2018.


Those who want to stop Beirut port blast probe are involved in the crime, say activists

Those who want to stop Beirut port blast probe are involved in the crime, say activists
Updated 20 October 2021

Those who want to stop Beirut port blast probe are involved in the crime, say activists

Those who want to stop Beirut port blast probe are involved in the crime, say activists
  • Civil society members stage a sit-in outside the Justice Palace to show ‘solidarity with the judiciary’

BEIRUT: Tarek Bitar, the judge leading the investigation into the August 2020 port explosion, resumed investigations on Tuesday after being notified by the Lebanese Civil Court of Cassation of its second decision to reject the request submitted by the defendant in the case of MP Ali Hassan Khalil.

Normal service resumed at the Justice Palace in Beirut after a long vacation. The Lebanese army guarding roads leading to the palace and Ain Remaneh, which was the arena of bloody events on Thursday, over protests to dismiss Bitar from the case. The repercussions of these events have affected the political scene, its parties and the people.

Civil society activists under the auspices of the “Lebanese Opposition Front” staged a sit-in outside the Justice Palace to show “solidarity with the Judiciary carrying out its national duties and support for Judge Bitar to face the threats.”

Speaking on behalf of the protestors, activist Dr. Ziad Abdel Samad said: “A free and sovereign state cannot exist without a legitimate authority, judiciary and justice.”

Abdel Samad urged “the defendants to appear before Judge Bitar, because the innocent normally show up and defend themselves instead of resorting to threats.”

“We have reached this low point today because of a ruling elite allied with the Hezbollah statelet, protected by illegal arms.

“They want to dismiss Judge Bitar in all arbitrary ways and threats because he has come so close to the truth after they managed to dismiss the former judge, hiding behind their immunities because they know they are involved in the crime.”

Abdel Samad claimed that “those making threats are involved in the crime.”

Regarding the Tayouneh events that took place last week, he said: “They took to the streets to demonstrate peacefully, as they claimed, but they almost got us into a new civil war as a result of the hatred and conspiracies against Lebanon.”

Lawyer May Al-Khansa, known for her affiliation with Hezbollah, submitted a report at the Lebanese Civil Court of Cassation against the leader of the Lebanese Forces party, Samir Geagea, Judge Bitar and “all those who appear in the investigation to be involved, accomplices or partners in crimes of terrorism and terrorism funding, undermining the state’s authority, inciting a strife, and other crimes against the law and the Lebanese Constitution.”

Hezbollah Leader Hassan Nasrallah on Monday night waged an unprecedented campaign of accusations and incitement against the Lebanese Forces party and its leader.    

Nasrallah accused them of being “the biggest threat for the presence of Christians in Lebanon” and said they were “forming alliances with Daesh.”

In a clear threat to Geagea and his party, Nasrallah bragged in his speech of having “100,000 trained fighters,” calling on Christians to “stand against this murderer.”

Nasrallah accused Bitar of “carrying out a foreign agenda targeting Hezbollah in the Beirut port crime” and of “being supported by embassies and authorities, turning him into a dictator.”

During the parliamentary session on Tuesday, no contact was made between Hezbollah and the Lebanese Forces. However, a handshake was spotted between the Lebanese Forces’ MP Pierre Abu Assi and the Amal Movement’s MP Hani Kobeissi.

Minister of Culture Mohammed Mortada, who represents Hezbollah, said “Hezbollah’s ministers will attend the ministerial session if Prime Minister Najib Mikati calls for one, but the justice minister and the judiciary must find a solution to the issue of lack of trust in Bitar.”

Several calls were made on Monday night between different political groups to prevent escalation and calm the situation.

Efforts are being made to reach a settlement that allows Bitar to keep his position and for defendants in the Beirut port case — who are former ministers and MPs — to be referred to the Supreme Judicial Council for prosecution.

Elsewhere, parliament dropped the proposal of a women’s quota ensuring female participation through  a minimum of 26 seats.

It passed a move to allow expats to vote for the 128 MPs and dropped the decision to allocate six additional seats representing them.

The parliament’s decision angered Gebran Bassil, who heads the Strong Lebanon parliamentary bloc. Following the parliamentary session, Bassil referred to “a political game in the matter of expats’ right to vote, which we will not allow to happen.”