Losing Turkey

Losing Turkey

Posted By Ryan Mauro On June 11, 2010 @ 12:30 am In FrontPage | 24 Comments

The most significant outcome of the Mavi Marmara incident is that there can no longer be any doubt that Turkey has joined the anti-Western bloc that includes Hamas, Iran and Syria. The Muslim country was once devotedly secular, an ally of Israel, and remains a member of NATO, but under the direction of Prime Minister Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (often referred to as the AKP), Turkey has gone in the completely opposite direction with enormous strategic consequences.

“Unfortunately, the AKP government of Mr. Erdogan and the oil-rich regime of Qatar joined the regional bloc opposing the more traditional governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco,” Dr. Walid Phares told FrontPage.

Erdogan’s turn to the other side is not the result of a single incident such as Operation Cast Lead or the Israeli raid on the flotilla, but is the culmination of an agenda long held by Erdogan and the AKP.

“In fact, it is not secular Turkey that we see moving against the U.S., West, Israel and Arab moderates. It is the AKP Islamist cabinet which is uncovering its long-term ideological agenda. The West should have projected this since 2002,” Dr. Phares said, referring to the year in which Erdogan’s party won a majority in the Turkish parliament.

Erdogan was imprisoned in 1998 for his involvement with the banned Welfare Party, which the Turkish government considered Islamist. Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy describes [1] the Welfare Party as the “motherboard of Turkish Islamists since the 1980s,” saying it was inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood. Erdogan was specifically punished for reading [2] a poem at one speech with the lines, “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets, and the faithful our soldiers.”

In 2001, he founded the AKP, which took a more moderate line, portraying itself as committed to separation of mosque and state but “faithful governance,” as Dr. Essam El-Erian, the chief of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political bureau, described [3] the AKP’s “moderate Islamist” ideology. There was no anti-Western rhetoric and the party strongly supported membership in the European Union. The group won a large victory in the 2002 elections, resulting in Erdogan taking the post of Prime Minister.

Dr. El-Erian praised Erdogan’s victory, saying that it was the result of the “exposing of the failure of the secular trend.” El-Erian confirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood had close ties to the AKP, but the West treated Turkey as if nothing had changed. It wasn’t until Turkey steadfastly refused to allow U.S. soldiers to transit their territory to overthrow Saddam Hussein that the West began questioning the allegiance of Erdogan’s government.

The Erdogan government soon began a concerted effort to fuel anti-Israeli and anti-American sentiment, knowing that such feelings help the AKP politically and hurt its opponents in the secular military that have long ties to the West. The Turkish media consistently reported [4] alleged U.S. atrocities, fanning the already massive anti-war sentiment. The outrageous claims can only be compared to the anti-Israeli propaganda seen in the Arab world and Iran, echoing similar themes such as the use of chemical weapons against civilians and the harvesting of organs from killed Iraqis.

The AKP won an even larger share of the vote in the July 2007 election and had even more dominance over the government. Since then, the ideology of Erdogan has become more apparent as Turkish opinion has become less hostile to anti-Western Islamism.  Shortly after the victory, Turkey’s moves towards Iran and other enemies of the West became more visible and aggressive.

Turkey began entertaining the prospect of Iran’s natural gas being delivered to European markets through its territory, and the two countries launched joint military attacks against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq. The Party of Free Life for Kurdistan, or PJAK, claimed it actually saw Turkish officers working alongside the Iranian military. Newsmax.com reported [5] that eight Turkish officers were in Iran coordinating the attacks with the Revolutionary Guards.

In the spring of 2009, Moqtada al-Sadr, the Iranian-backed militia leader whose followers killed dozens of American soldiers in Iraq, met [6] with Erdogan and Turkish President Abdullah Gul for “political consultations.” Most recently, Turkey has opposed sanctions on Iran and helped put together a deal with Brazil meant to delay any United Nations measures despite Iran’s lack of cooperation on the nuclear issue.

Erdogan’s government simultaneously became more anti-Israeli, particularly once the Israeli military offensive into Gaza began in response to the rocket attacks of Hamas. Erdogan went so far as to predict [7] that Israel’s actions “would bring it to self-destruction,” saying “Allah will sooner or later punish those who transgress the rights of innocents.” He accused [8] Jewish-controlled media outlets of “finding unfounded excuses to justify targeting of schools, mosques and hospitals.”

On January 29, 2009, Erdogan publicly confronted [9] Israeli President Peres at the World Economic Forum over the Israeli offensive. When he was denied extra time to continue his criticism of Israel, he stormed out. Erdogan was a hero overnight in the Muslim world.

Soon after, an exhibit opened [10] in a major state-controlled metro in Istanbul that included many viciously anti-Israeli and anti-American cartoons, portraying Israeli soldiers as massacring innocent people with American weapons. The AKP won the March 29 local elections, further cementing their hold and convincing Erdogan that he was politically safe to follow the agenda he held from the beginning. Later that year, Israel had to confront [11] Turkey over anti-Israeli propaganda on prime-time state-controlled television.

In October, Turkey refused to allow Israel to participate in annual military exercises also involving Italy and the U.S. Instead, Turkey and Syria announced [12] that they would hold their own joint exercises. The Turkish-Syrian alliance began shortly after Erdogan came to power, with Syrian President Bashar Assad visiting Turkey and a free trade agreement being signed.

Turkey has also moved closer to Sudan, refusing [13] to describe the situation in Darfur as a genocide. Erdogan’s government also opposes the International Criminal Court’s indictment of President Omar al-Bashir for human rights violations. His defense of Bashir is that “no Muslim could perpetrate a genocide.”

Now, Turkey is taking center stage in the wake of the Mavi Marmara incident. Turkey is openly considering cutting off all diplomatic ties with Israel and is saying that its warships will escort future convoys to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. There are reports that Erdogan himself may actually join a convoy. Erdogan now openly says [14], “I do not think that Hamas is a terrorist organization…They are Palestinians in resistance, fighting for their own land.”

He was among the first to accept Hamas after it was elected in Gaza, and he is calling [15] their rule a “democracy” based on elections alone. Democracy is much more than elections, but Erdogan, like the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists, want to equate democracy with elections so as to give themselves legitimacy as they move against the other pillars of democracy. Professor Barry Rubin says [16] that as the AKP won election victories, the Erdogan government “repressed opposition and arrested hundreds of critics, bought up 40 percent of the media, and installed its people in the bureaucracy.”

Today, the government has begun the country’s “largest-ever crackdown” on the military, prosecuting [17] 33 current and former military officers for allegedly planning a coup to overthrow the AKP government in 2003 including the former head of the special forces. Those arrested have been accused of planning to carry out acts of terrorism including the bombing of mosques, which they deny. Given the military’s pride in acting as the guardian of Turkey’s secularism, it isn’t surprising that elements of the military would desire to see the AKP overthrown. However, this could be an Islamist attempt to weaken the military and paint them as dangerous and anti-Muslim.

Erdogan’s defense of the vessel owned by the IHH, [18] a Turkish Islamist group tied to Hamas and other terrorist activity, is particularly insightful. Any true opponent of terrorism and radical Islamism would ban the group or at least officially investigate them. In 1997, the Turkish authorities raided the IHH’s office in Istanbul and made numerous arrests. IHH operatives were found with weapons-related materials and the French counterterrorism magistrate said that they were planning on supporting jihadists in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya.

“The essential goal of this Association was to illegally arm its membership for overthrowing democratic, secular, and constitutional order present in Turkey and replacing it with an Islamic state founded on the Shariah,” the French magistrate’s report said. [19]

If the goal of the IHH is to establish Sharia Law in Turkey, and Erdogan’s government is describing them as a “charity,” what does that say about Erdogan’s plans? The Washington Post has raised alarm [20] over this connection, noting the IHH leadership’s praise for Erdogan.

The West’s loss of Turkey has frightening strategic consequences. They are so frightening that the West refused to acknowledge the trend until it became undeniable in recent weeks. Professor Juan Cole, who already was a strident critic of Israel, bluntly states, [21] “Strategically, if the U.S. had to choose between Turkey and Israel, it would have to choose Turkey.” The pressure on the U.S. to restrain Israel so as to court the stronger bloc has now become greater than ever.

The situation is even more precarious for other countries in the region previously bonding together to oppose Iran. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa that are hostile to Iran’s ambitions now face an even more threatening bloc that has been enlarged by the defection of Turkey. The temptation for them to surrender the mantle of leadership to the Iranian-Syrian-Turkish bloc in order to save themselves will now reach unprecedented levels, regardless of whether Iran obtains nuclear weapons or not.

To make matters worse, Erdogan’s prestige as the preeminent challenger of Israel will lead to competition with Iran, sparking an escalation where each side tries to establish superior anti-Israeli and anti-Western credentials. Israel is now in its most isolated and dangerous situation since its birth in 1948.

Captured “garbage truck” from Gaza

                                   NOTE HOW IT’S FITTED TO SHOOT MISSILES

 

                                           Captured “garbage truck” from Gaza 

This is a captured “garbage truck” from Gaza.

The truck is set up to fire Kasem rockets and then drive off innocently.

The note pasted on the driver’s door says – “In case of traffic violations, please contact The Palestinian Authority.”

 

The Israelis have evidence of ambulances and emergency vehicles set up the same way.

The Turkish Conundrum

The Turkish Conundrum  
Monday, 07 June 2010
Baffled by the strict secular culture of their modern state and the European Union’s opposition to Turkish membership, at least not until a decade from now, more Turks feel nostalgia for the glory days of their lost Ottoman Empire. In the recent flotilla incident, off the coast of the Gaza, “a hardcore of 40 Turkish jihadists on board the Mavi Marmara was responsible for the violence that led to nine deaths and dozens of injuries on the flotilla taking aid to Gaza, the Israeli government claimed.”Perhaps, the Turks’ intention was to flex their muscles for the prospect of leadership of the Islamic Ummah and attract the attention of the Muslim world. And the shortest distance to achieve this goal is to wrestle with none other than the most despised state in the Middle East, the State of Israel.  Since time immemorial, the Jews have been victims of hatred and violence by many groups and many nations and have been used as scapegoats.

Israel, in reality, is a culmination of thousands of years of gestation during which the Jewish people, dispersed through much of the world, endured immense degrees and varieties of suffering. The Nazi murderers and their collaborators capped the crimes committed against Jewish people by brutally slaughtering six million innocent men, women and children. But today, Israel is a strong and sovereign state yet, hardly safe. She is surrounded by nations and peoples who are constantly bent on her destruction.

Since 2002, the Turkish military has been slowly losing its once strong grasp over the government of Turkey. The year 2002 was the first time in 15 years that a single party government was formed. Erdogan’s election as Prime Minster in 2002 and again in 2007 shows the huge support the AKP had gained among the Turkish population. This was followed by Abdullah Gul’s election as President in 2007, making this the first time the two most important offices of state were occupied by devout Muslims.

Despite an earlier close relationship between Israel and Turkey, it has slowly begun to fall apart.  Turkey is one of the few Muslim countries to have dealings with Israel, but relations have been strained since the Islamist-rooted AK Party was elected to power in 2002. The tension became obvious when Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stormed off the stage

at the 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos after a heated debate on Gaza with Israel’s president, Shimon Peres.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

angrily told the Turkish parliament last Tuesday that the “bloody massacre” of at least four Turkish activists among nine passengers slain by Israeli naval commandos was a turning point in the long-standing alliance.

In April 2009, at a joint news conference in Turkey, President Obama

said: “I’m trying to make a statement about the importance of Turkey, not just to the United States but to the world. I think that where there’s the most promise of building stronger U.S.-Turkish relations is in the recognition that Turkey and the United States can build a model partnership in which a predominantly Christian nation, a predominantly Muslim nation — a Western nation and a nation that straddles two continents,” he continued, “that we can create a modern international community that is respectful, that is secure, that is prosperous, that there are not tensions — inevitable tensions between cultures — which I think is extraordinarily important.”

In June 2007, the Pew Research Center polled citizens of 47 countries on their attitude toward the US. Turkey turned up at rock bottom, with 83% of respondents holding an unfavorable view of the United States and only 9% of Turks expressing a favorable view, compared to 21% of Egyptians and 29% of Indonesians. In 2000, 52% of Turks expressed a favorable view of the United States. This is not a general result. Only 46% of Nigerians held a favorable view of the United States in 2000, for example, compared to 70% in 2007. Here is the 2005 research on the Anatomy of Anti-Americanism in Turkey by the Brooking Institution

.

There is an important lesson to be learned from the drama presently unfolding in Turkey. Modern Turkey, the only democracy in the Islamic Middle East, was established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

. He abolished the caliphate in 1924, replaced Islamic rules with modern secular laws and barred the mosques from politics. Ever since, the mosque has been fighting and gradually succeeding in dragging Turkey back under its rule. Presently, what the Western mainstream media calls a “mildly Islamist” party rules Turkey under the rightfully suspicious eyes of the secularist heirs of Ataturk, the Turkish military. All kinds of Western leftists loudly proclaimed that there was nothing to worry about, that the forthcoming Turkish election that was going to install “mildly Islamists” as president as well as the Prime Minister is no cause for the millions of Turkish secularists to pour into the streets against such an outcome.

Why all the fuss? After all, the “mildly Islamists” are not all that bad and they are coming to power through free elections, the leftists keep preaching. In reality, even coining the term, “mildly Islamist” is a clear instance of the leftists’ treachery. Being “mildly Islamist” is as plausible as being mildly pregnant. There is no such a thing as mild Islam. It only starts mildly, just the way Muhammad himself started it in Mecca. Then, it builds momentum and settles for nothing less than the total imposition of its dogma and will. Being “mildly Islamist” is only the head of the camel poking into the room, wherever the head of the animal goes, if it is not chopped off, the body eventually follows. And the body of Islam is a disease-bearing body that will infect the healthy secular societies.

The Turkish people demonstrating

against creeping Islamism in their government are still a minority, a minority that has first-hand experience with both secularism and Islamism. They also see the horrors of Islamism next door in Iran and are rightfully alarmed by the ever-encroaching Islamism in their government. They know full well that they must resist the backward march of their country and must do all they can to protect their precious freedom. Do we, in America and the West, have the same sense and the will to forestall “mild Islamism” from evolving into a real Islamism?

Just a sobering note, “Mild Islamism” is already here in our country, the Muslim cab driver the of Minneapolis Airport’s refusal to ferry passengers with alcohol or even those with seeing-eye dogs; Muslim inmates’ demand to be served only halal food ; building of a 13-story high mosque at the ground zero

; Muslim students badger universities for special facilities for their meetings; and, the first ever Muslim Congressman’s oath of office by swearing on the Quran and not the Bible.

Mild Islam is not all that obtrusive, since it is similar to the early stages of pregnancy. Yet, pregnancy it is. And before long the full-term beast will make its appearance. If we don’t want to deal with the beast, we need to prevent the pregnancy in the first place.

By advocating “moderate Islam” on the Turkish model, the United States undermines the secular state founded by Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish state after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. That is perhaps the reason why many secular Turkish nationalists despise America just as much as Turkish Islamists.

We do well to pay close attention to the words of Prime Minister Erdogan himself. Speaking at Kanal D TV’s Arena program, Prime Minister Erdogan commented on the term “moderate Islam”, often used in the West to describe AKP and said, “These descriptions are very ugly; it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.” And he is right.

Talking Turkey Where is the apology to Israel — or, for that matter, to the Armenians?…

Talking Turkey

Posted By Dov Fischer On June 7, 2010 @ 12:25 am In FrontPage | 8 Comments

Turkey has been at the center of the now infamous flotilla incident involving a Hamas-connected Turkish “NGO” [1] which attempted to run an Israeli naval blockade off the coast of Gaza. The flotilla was supported financially by Hamas and peopled primarily by their Turkish allies. [2] It was purportedly seeking to transport 10,000 tons of humanitarian supplies to Gaza.  But in fact, Israel supplies Gaza with 15,000 tons of food, medicines, and related humanitarian support every week [3].  There seems to be more here than meets the eye.

Turkey remains a prime transit route for Southwest Asian heroin into Western Europe. International trafficking organizations that operate within the country, from Ankara to Istanbul and beyond, excel at evading narcotics blockades and interdicts. With all the focus on Turks sailing towards the Hamas seas, defying Israel’s determined effort to bar delivery of military weapons and material to the terrorist government that runs Gaza, one wonders how genteel Turkey’s own internal borders have been.  Does her treatment of religious and ethnic minorities model Western humanitarian values? Consider Turkey’s treatment of her Armenian, Catholic, and Kurdish minorities.

Adolf Hitler, a personal friend and ally of Grand Mufti Haj Amin el-Husseini, the founder of modern-day Palestinian Arab nationalism [4], said in 1939:  “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” [5] Certainly not Istanbul.  For nearly a century, Turkey steadfastly has refused to acknowledge their barbaric genocide between 1915-1918 of 1,500,000 Armenian men, women, and children. Turkey will not apologize or even acknowledge the genocide [6] they perpetrated, assuring that one of the most heinous war crimes of the twentieth century festers unresolved. American President Theodore Roosevelt [7] contemporaneously wrote in 1918: “[T]he Armenian massacre was the greatest crime of the war, and the failure to act against Turkey is to condone it…[T]he failure to deal radically with the Turkish horror means that all talk of guaranteeing the future peace of the world is mischievous nonsense.”  British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said [8]: “In 1915 the Turkish Government began and ruthlessly carried out the infamous general massacre and deportation of Armenians in Asia Minor…There is no reasonable doubt that this crime was planned and executed for political reasons.”  In 1981, Ronald Reagan urged in a Presidential proclamation [9] that the lessons of the Nazi Holocaust never be forgotten “like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it.”

Throughout the week, Israel has acknowledged and publicly regretted [10] the loss of human life due to the flotilla incident, even as Israel has explained why she must continue blockading Gaza – namely, because recent experience has evidenced again [11] and again [12] that Hamas supporters will not stop trying to ship rockets, grenades, and anti-tank missiles to Israel’s bordering enemies to launch terror assaults against Jewish civilian communities. Meanwhile, Turkey still denies the Armenian Genocide ever happened.

As for the country’s Catholics, Bishop Luigi Padovese, a Roman Catholic bishop, was stabbed to death in Turkey [13] on Thursday shortly before he was scheduled to depart for nearby Cyprus to meet with Pope Benedict XVI.  Three years ago, three missionaries’ throats were cut out [14] in central Turkey. Their deaths were meant to send a message. The men were disemboweled, and “their intestines sliced up in front of their eyes. They were emasculated and watched as those body parts were destroyed…Fingers were chopped off…Noses and mouths and anuses were sliced open.” One was stabbed 156 times, another 99 times, and their “throats were sliced from ear to ear,” according to International Christian Concern [15], an American organization based in Washington, D.C.   There is no record of sorrow from Rachel Corrie [16] backers or the IHH.

Under the Turkish Constitution enacted by Kemal Ataturk nearly a century ago, ethnic minorities were barred from expressing cultural distinctiveness in Turkey.  Thus, even as the United States is home to many foreign-language television and radio stations, the Kurdish language was absolutely banned in 1991.  Expressions of Kurdish nationalism continue to be repressed; Kurds in Turkey are restricted from giving their children Kurdish names [17]. Turkey has moved closer to the governments of Syria and Iran [18] in dealing with Kurdish nationalism.  In 1995, Leyla Zana, the first Kurdish woman ever elected to Turkish parliament, was sentenced to fifteen years incarceration for “separatist speech,” and her political party was barred. While she was incarcerated in Turkish prison, the European Parliament awarded her the Sakharov Prize in Human Rights. (By contrast, an Arab member of the Israeli Knesset was aboard the Gaza flotilla [19] and returned safely to Parliament after the it was stopped.)  In the 1990s, the Turkish government was spending some $8 billion annually deploying 300,000 troops in southeastern Turkey [20] to suppress Kurdish nationalism.  For numerical perspective, consider that President Obama announced last week that he is dispatching 1,200 National Guard troops to provide administrative support [21] along the porous American border with Mexico.

Turkey killed approximately 25,000 Kurds in the mid-1990s, destroying some 3,000 Kurdish villages during the effort to repress Kurdish nationalism and producing more than 2,000,000 Kurdish refugees.  According to Minority Rights Group International, in a report funded by the European Union, [22] as many as 40% of Kurdish women in Turkey are illiterate and nearly half the children of Kurdish refugees receive no education.  In addition, the government obstructs Armenian and Greek minorities’ school educational efforts.  The Turkish war against the Kurds is so visceral that it threatened Turkey’s willingness to join with American troops against Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda in neighboring Iraq. In an official EU 2006 “Progress Report” on Turkey’s fitness [23] for acceptance in the European Union, it was concluded inter alia that “Turkey [still] needs to significantly improve the situation of fundamental rights in a number of areas and address the problems that minorities are facing.”

Now that the world has been talking Israel for the past week, slowly coming to understand more fully why Israel needs to protect her borders from Hamas state-sponsored terrorism in Gaza, it seems it’s time to talk Turkey.

Dov Fischer is a legal affairs consultant and adjunct professor of the law of civil procedure and advanced torts. He was formerly Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review and writes extensively on political, cultural, and religious issues.  He is author of General Sharon’s War Against Time Magazine and blogs at www.rabbidov.com [24]

Turkey Responsible for Flotilla Deaths

Turkey Responsible for Flotilla Deaths

June 2, 2010 | David A. Ridenour V.P.
The National Center for Public Policy Research
The international community should be denouncing Turkey, not Israel, for the loss of life on the so-called “Freedom Flotilla.”

That’s because Turkey, the flag state of the ship, had an obligation to ensure that the ships making up the flotilla adhered to international law.

It didn’t.

Though neither Turkey nor Israel are parties to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, the treaty presumably spells out what the states ratifying the treaty believe to be acceptable rules of behavior. Many of those countries are now, rather hypocritically, denouncing Israel.

The Free Gaza Movement announced its intention to breach Israel’s barricade of Gaza – requiring it to violate Israel’s territorial waters.

Article 19 of the Law of the Sea Treaty specifies that “any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defence or security of the coastal state” or “the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws or regulations of the coastal state” are deemed “prejudicial to the peace, good order or security” of that state. This flotilla – as with ones before it – would have done both if allowed to proceed.

While Article 19 only gives the coastal state the authority to act within its territorial waters, the bloodshed may well have been greater had Israel waited until then. If reports are accurate that some activists carried arms, Israeli commandos would have lost the element of surprise.

It also appears that Israel may have been within international norms in boarding the ship as all states have an obligation under Articles 109 and 110 of the treaty to stop unauthorized broadcasts (those intended for the general public, but not distress calls), including in international waters. The so-called “Freedom Flotilla” was broadcasting its voyage live.

Blood is on Turkey’s hands.

President Obama should do the right thing and recall the U.S. ambassador.