October 2, 2011
Sign of the times: on September 27, according to the McClatchey newspapers, Turkey took delivery of a spanking new warship, the TCG Heybeliada. The 300-foot corvette is the first in modern times built in Turkey’s own shipyards. A sister ship is reportedly undergoing sea trials.
In an unusual move, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan attended the ceremony and delivered the principal address. Even more unusual (although, unfortunately, it’s becoming typical of the direction of Turkish foreign policy in the Age of Obama) was what the newly reelected PM said.
Erdoğan began by pointing out that the ceremony was taking place on the 473rd anniversary of the Battle of Preveza in northwestern Greece. There, in 1538, an Ottoman naval fleet defeated a Christian alliance put together by Pope Paul III. After routing the Holy League, the Turkish admiral, the fabulous Hayreddin Barbarossa (“Redbeard”) went on to besiege the Venetian stronghold of Corfu and to raid the Spanish-held Calabrian coast of Italy.
How very odd.
Hayreddin was the Sultan’s greatest admiral. His tomb, a public park, a statue (complete with a fine patriotic poem), and a major boulevard are all major destinations in modern Istanbul. The mausoleum stands next to the Turkish Naval Museum. Traditionally, Turkish warships salute Hayreddin’s tomb with a cannon shot when embarking from the former Sublime Porte.
Said the Turkish Prime Minister: “I recommend the international community take the necessary lessons from the Preveza victory. Turkey’s national interests in the seas reach from its surrounding waters to the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean.” Turkish President Abdullah GUl then underlined Prime Minister Erdoğan’s message.
Notice, please, that Turkey’s newly announced zone of national interest runs right past Israel. That’s no coincidence. It was only this month when Prime Minister Erdoğan blasted Israel for defending its use of naval force to maintain a blockade of the Gaza Strip against the so-called peace flotilla last year. Erdoğan sent the Israeli ambassador to Turkey home and also tore up several military cooperation agreements between the two nations.
Erdoğan also threatened that the Turkish navy — Turkey’s a NATO member, be it noted — might escort any second Gaza peace flotilla to Gaza. That and the PM’s remarks this week are only part of a larger Turkish drive to establish a sphere of influence — both political and military — across the Near and Middle East. Turkey is also presently locked in confrontation with both Greece and Israel over oil drilling rights in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Once again, we see the return of history.
The Greeks and the Turks. The Turks, remembering the Ottoman past. The Kurds (Saladin’s people). The Jews. The Arabs. Not least, the Iranians, heirs to the Persians. Earlier this year, Iran sent its own warships through the Suez Canal and into the Eastern Med (specifically, to Syria). If President Obama’s and the Democrats’ planned scale-back of the U.S. military comes to fruition, we can expect more of this.
Meanwhile, the underreported pushing and shoving among the navies and air forces of China, the United States, Vietnam and the ASEAN nations in, under, and above the South China Sea continue apace. As in the Eastern Med, the issues are access to oil, domination of the potential battle space, and economic choke-points: the Straits of Malacca and the Suez Canal.
By the way, what are Turkey’s national interests in the Indian Ocean? Just asking.
For now, however, how very odd of Prime Minister Erdoğan to make his bellicose allusion to history on the very eve of the Christian naval victory over the greatest Ottoman fleet ever assembled. One must ask: who briefed the PM? Doesn’t he know about the Battle of Lepanto?
There, off the southwestern coast of Greece, on October 7, 1571, another Christian fleet, also assembled by a pope and commanded by Spain, decisively defeated an Ottoman fleet bent on invading the Western Med. It was intended to be a first step towards the Muslim conquest of Western Europe. Eastern Europe had already been taken. Lepanto was the first attempt at a Muslim drive into Western Europe since Martel defeated the Arab army at the Battle of Tours on October 10, 732.
It would not be the last.
Pope Pius V, as G.K. Chesterton tells in his poem, Lepanto, was no pacifist. The first pope to wear white (he was a Dominican monk; Pius V is the reason popes since then have worn white) called for “swords around the Cross” — and got them. A new Holy League formed.
Sultan Selim had told his men that if they cleared the Med of Christian warships, he would personally lead the Ottoman army to Rome. St. Peter’s, filled with the Renaissance art and architecture of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Bramante, would become a mosque. Its church bells — as had been done in 997 by the Muslim armies of the Caliph’s commander, Almansur, with the bells of Spain’s Santiago de Compostela above the tomb of St. James — would be upended and filled with oil, to burn in honor of Allah.
The issue was judged so important that Protestant fighters came from Lutheran Germany and Elizabethan England to join under the pope’s banner.
Catholics of the time attributed what happened at Lepanto to the intervention of the Virgin Mary. It is said that, at a certain moment, the direction of the wind changed. The result is captured in numerous paintings, including by Tintoretto, Veronese, and Vicintino in Venice and Titian in Madrid, among others.
Instead of a victory, the cream of the Ottoman fleet was destroyed (80 ships sunk and 130 captured, including the Sultana, the Ottoman flagship — grappled and carried by storm by the Christian flagship) and 30,000 of the Sultan’s men were killed, wounded, or captured by the Holy League. Some 12,000 Christian galley slaves were freed.
Because the pope had ordered that the Rosary be said continuously until the result of the Ottoman invasion was known, October is today the Month of the Rosary, with October 7 celebrated on the Catholic liturgical calendar as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Originally, it was the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, as numerous churches and works of art commemorate across Europe.
The Sultan’s banner, by the way, once hung in the Vatican. It’s since been, er, lost. The banner was made of green silk and supposedly bore the name of the Prophet some 28,000 times, in gold thread. The Battle of Lepanto is also the reason that “Our Lady, Help of Christians” is one of the Virgin Mother’s titles, so ordered by the Holy Father.
Why is this relevant? The 1500s were not, to put it mildly, a politically correct time. Why bring up all this unpleasant history now — in the 21st century?
Well, we didn’t. The Turkish prime minister just did. What in the world was he thinking?
August 25, 2011
The progressive dismantling of Turkey’s experiment in Westernization/ secularization — which began within a decade of Ataturk’s death — came to popular, if ugly, fruition with the election of the Necmettin Erbakan government in the early 1990s.
Erbakan was a full-throated, unapologetic promulgator of mainstream, “sacralized” Islamic Jew-hatred. The modern fundamentalist Islamic movement Erbakan founded (the Islamic Milli Gorus movement, which originated in 1969) has continued to produce the most extreme strain of Antisemitism extant in Turkey, and traditional Islamic motifs, i.e., frequent quotations from the Koran and Hadith, remain central to this hatred, nurtured by early Islam’s basic animus towards Judaism. For example, Milli Gazete published articles in February and April of 2005, which were toxic amalgams of ahistorical drivel and virulently anti-Semitic and anti-dhimmi Koranic motifs, including these prototypical comments based upon Koran 2:61/ 3:112:
In fact no amount of pages or lines would be sufficient to explain the Qur’anic chapters and our Lord Prophet’s [Muhammad's] words that tell us of the betrayals of the Jews. … The prophets sent to them, such as Zachariah and Isaiah, were murdered by the Jews…
Erbakan mentored current AKP leaders President Gul and Prime Minister Erdogan. Both were previously active members of Erbakan’s assorted fundamentalist political parties, serving in mayoral, ministerial, and parliamentary posts. The IHH — whose violent operatives featured prominently in the Mavi Marmara flotilla anti-Semitic incitement and subsequent bloodshed — has its origins in this same Orthodox Islamic Milli Görüş movement.
In 1974, Erdogan, while serving as president of the Istanbul Youth Group of his mentor, former Prime Minister Erbakan’s National Salvation Party, wrote, directed, and played the leading role in a theatrical play entitled Maskomya, staged throughout Turkey during the 1970s. Mas-Kom-Ya was a compound acronym for “Masons-Communists-Yahudi” – the latter meaning “Jews.” The play focused on the evil, conspiratorial nature of these three entities whose common denominator was Judaism.
Now, finally, we learn that Erdogan’s religiously-inspired Jew-hatred has not passed unnoticed by Gabby Levy, the Israeli ambassador to Turkey, whose term is scheduled to expire in a week. As recorded in a Wikileaks cable from October 2009, sent by the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey:
Levy dismissed political calculation as a motivator for Erdogan’s hostility, arguing the prime minister’s party had not gained a single point in the polls from his bashing of Israel. Instead, Levy attributed Erdogan’s harshness to deep-seated emotion: “He’s a fundamentalist. He hates us religiously and his hatred is spreading.”
August 7, 2011
By Janet Levy
In Germany, where Holocaust denial is punishable by up to five years in prison, Stuttgart University recently capitulated to pressure from resident Turkish Muslims and canceled an event entitled, “Persecution, Expulsion and Annihilation of Christians in the Ottoman Empire 1912-1922.” Ironically, this occurred in a country that was forced to confront its own genocidal past, educate its population and pay restitution to victims. University officials explained that they wanted to “remain neutral” on the subject of the nearly 100-year-old, well-documented Turkish massacre of more than two million Christians. Citing neutrality in the face of crimes against humanity is deeply troubling, particularly in light of Germany’s Holocaust past and the missed opportunity the event represented to educate students about genocide and potentially prevent its recurrence.
Equally troubling is Turkey’s continued denial and banning of information about these crimes, not only within its own borders, but, as exemplified in Germany, within other countries as well. In contrast to Germany where laws since the end of World War II seek to prevent a Holocaust from ever happening again, the Turkish government under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, passed in 2005, makes it a crime punishable by up to two years imprisonment to insult the Turkish state. This provision prevents any public commemoration or consideration of the Turkish Muslim atrocities committed against Ottoman Christians.
This silencing and strong-arming of other nations by a country that is majority Muslim represents Islamization embedded within a national policy of Turkification. Turkey’s past aggression, labeled the “Armenian Genocide,” follows the Islamization pattern that exists today: annihilation of all non-Muslims, no matter their religion, ethnicity or national origin. It was a jihad against Anatolian Christians. Further, Turkey destroyed genocide documentation, many of its killers went unpunished, restitution was never paid to victims and the perpetrators are eponymously commemorated in the naming of landmarks, cities and streets. Tragically, Hitler was inspired by the Turkish extermination of Armenian Christians and justified his “Final Solution” with a statement that “no one remembers the Armenian Genocide.”
In fact, the world does remember but is held at bay because of continued denial of historical truths, insistence on the Islamic point of view and political pressure to silence others with opposing views, prevalent throughout the Muslim world today on other fronts and continuing today in the jihad against the Anatolian Christians.
The “Armenian Genocide”
Most historians regard 1912 to 1925 as a time of massive Christian annihilation and relocation by the Muslim Ottoman Empire. Although commonly given the misnomer “Armenian Genocide,” the atrocity was a carefully planned ethnic cleansing to rid Asia Minor of Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks and other minorities in order to establish an exclusively Muslim Turkish state. Some scholars date the first phase of the Christian genocide from the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid and his Hamidian Massacres of 1895-1897 through the Istanbul Pogrom of 1955 .
The Hamidian massacres attempted to assert Muslim supremacy and advance the cause of Turkification. French ambassador Pierre Paul Cambon described Turkey at the time as “literally in flames” with “massacres everywhere” and Christians murdered “without distinction.” Marauding Kurdish chieftains in the region were encouraged to join in and channel their aggression into the killing, pillaging and raping of non-Muslim populations. Estimates of the number of Christians who perished during the reign of Sultan Hamid range from 100,000 to 300,000.
From the 1900’s to 1922, the Christian population declined from 25% to less than 5% within Anatolia. Under Islam, Christians had few rights, paid exorbitantly high taxes – the jizya – and enjoyed limited political representation and access to government services. Their testimony was inadmissible, no provision existed for their legal protection, they were prohibited from owning firearms, and their property, wives and children were vulnerable to spontaneous attacks.
Approximately 2.5 million Armenians, Assyrians and Greek Christians were massacred during this period. Kurds were encouraged to settle in Christian territory, demand the payment of tributes and illegally seize land. They were given free rein against local Christians in exchange for their loyal service to the Ottoman government.
The Turkish campaign began five years prior to World War I, when the Young Turks, a secret society of students and military officers, seized control of the Ottoman government. Initially, in an attempt to solidify their control, the Young Turks promised equality for all non-Muslims. Once in power, they rescinded this policy and devised a scheme of plunder to obtain much needed economic resources for the declining Ottoman Empire. To encourage and justify the attacks, they promulgated rumors that Christians were traitorously assisting the Empire’s enemies. A fatwa was declared against Christians and was announced in mosques throughout the empire. A two-fold plan was devised to homogenize Turkey through: 1) the assimilation or dilution of non-Turkish Muslims by dispersing them throughout the empire and 2) the elimination of non-Muslims who were deemed infidels and enemies of Islam. Convicts were released from prison to staff the Special Organization, which was formed to carry out the final solution to the Christian problem. Escorted by military troops, they raped, robbed and killed innocent Christian men, women and children.
The Christian genocide was a three-phase process. First, able-bodied men were rounded up and deported for labor battalions. Second, community leaders and influential people were publicly executed. Then, defenseless women, children and the elderly were massacred or resettled and enslaved.
Ethnic Greeks, uprooted from their ancestral home of 3,000 years, were the first to be victimized in what in Greece is called, the “Great Catastrophe.” During the first six months of 1914, a concerted effort began to exterminate Greeks with the goal of clearing them out of Asia Minor to make room for Muslim refugees from the Balkans. All Greek men, aged 18 to 50, were ordered to report for military duty. They were incorporated into the Ottoman army then transferred to labor battalions where they died by the thousands of exposure, cold, hunger and deprivation.
House-to-house searches were conducted for firearms. Greeks were taken from their homes, deported and massacred. Greek men and women were tortured and accused of disloyalty to the Ottoman government. Women and girls were raped and forced to convert to Islam. Boys and girls were kidnapped and transported into the interior of the Empire. The government was more reserved in its treatment of Greeks than the Armenians, Assyrians and other minorities and did not subject them to general massacre. That’s because the Greek government had expressed concern for the welfare of the victims and the Turks were afraid that Greece would enter World War I on the side of the Allies.
Armenians & Other Minorities
In 1915, the Young Turks moved against the Armenians, Assyrians and other minority groups. All non-Turks were disarmed and troops dispatched to collect weapons. In the process, the Young Turks murdered men, raped women and burned houses. Armenians and Assyrians serving in the army were removed from combat ranks and forced to serve in labor battalions. Non-Muslim leaders were removed from the community under the pretext that they were conspiring against the government. Imprisoned and marched out of town, they were roped together and forbidden to bring any possessions or bid farewell to their families. Once the population was disarmed and the men removed, the reign of terror began, similar to the Greek Genocide.
Published compilations at the time provided details of the deliberate massacre of innocent Christians from eyewitness accounts by diplomats and missionaries from various parts of the Ottoman Empire as well as from American, German, Italian, Scandinavian, Greek, Kurdish, Russian, Assyrian and Armenian witnesses. Volumes included the British Blue Book, “The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-1916,” “The Black Book of Sufferings of the Greek People” and “Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story” by the American Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913-1916, who witnessed the genocide of the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek population.
Descriptions of the atrocities were horrific. Witnesses observed villages surrounded and often set ablaze with no possible exit for villagers. Property, livestock and homes were confiscated by the authorities. Children were poisoned or murdered with injections of morphine and entire schools pumped with toxic gas. Women and children were loaded into boats and taken out to sea to be capsized or thrown overboard. Women and girls were striped naked, beaten with tree branches, raped in full view of family members and skinned and burned alive. The bellies of pregnant women were bayoneted and fetuses tossed into the air and impaled on swords. Some victims were injected with live typhus and suffered a slow death from the ravages of disease. Others were made to march naked with horseshoes nailed to their feet. No water or food was provided and they endured constant beatings by the gangs that escorted them. People were tied to horses and dragged to their deaths or had their bodies torn in half by being tied to opposite tree limbs. Others were crucified, hacked to death and sawed into pieces.
Churches were ransacked and priests beaten and made to march naked as they were massacred. Men were beaten on the soles of their feet until they swelled and burst and their limbs required amputation. The Turks pulled out facial hair, extracted nails, ripped out tongues, applied hot irons to the chests of victims, poured hot butter into their wounds and taunted them about Christ coming to their aid. The Ottoman Turks even reviewed the records of the Spanish Inquisition to come up with ideas for torture.
Some Christians were deported with the idea that they would die en route without food or water. During the journey, they were robbed, whipped, bayoneted and murdered by Muslims who prohibited them from stopping for water. Others were hit with saws, hammers and clubs and left to be devoured by wild animals.
Christian victims who weren’t killed were enslaved in harems, kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam. Surviving women were required to remand their children to the government to be raised as Muslims.
Postwar & Modern Genocide
After World War I and during the Greco-Turkish War 1919 to 1922, assaults against the Greeks continued as hundreds of thousands of Greeks and Christians were killed and expelled. Again, conflict between Muslims and Christians was misidentified, this time with a nationalist label as most Greeks were Eastern Orthodox Christians. The Treaty of Lausanne, which contained the terms to end the Greco-Turkish war, included a compulsory exchange of population – Greek and Turks – as well as a provision forcing Greeks to relinquish their rights to pursue compensation for the victims of genocide and deportations. Successive legislation harmed the economic prospects of Greeks in Turkey by barring them from certain trades and professions and imposing a significant wealth tax on their earnings.
In September 1955, further efforts of Turkification led to the Istanbul Pogrom directed at the Greek minority. Triggered by Greece’s appeal to the United Nations for self-determination for the island of Cyprus, Turkey falsely claimed that Greece was planning to attack Cyprus. Turkish forces set off a bomb[Ukendt fo9] at the birthplace of Mustafa Kemal in Thessaloniki, blamed Greek residents and initiated the Pogrom. Turkish mobs were supplied with shovels, pickaxes, crowbars and other tools and transported into the city to attack the Greek community. Following the pogrom, Greek emigration accelerated.
Tragically, the Greek population in Turkey decreased from 120,000 in 1927 to 7,000 in 1978 and 2,500 in 2006. Today, the Greek government avoids the topic of Cyprus as well as the genocide in order to maintain good relations with Turkey. Neither Greek nor Turkish schools teach the Greek Genocide.
The Christian population in Turkey today is less than 1%. Before World War I, Turkey was 33% Christian. Today, fewer than 10,000 Assyrians, 60,000 Armenians and 2,000 Greeks live in Turkey. Turkey has been allowed to avoid punishment and has kept the spoils of the victims of its mass genocide. Whenever the Christian genocide is mentioned, Turkish officials express anger at having Turkey’s national honor besmirched. Western reluctance to “humiliate” Turkey with charges of genocide aid and abet the denial of any wrongdoing by the Turkish government which has eliminated all traces and references to the Christian genocide from Turkish history.
Along with persisting in its policy of denying its history of jihad against Christians and minority genocide, Turkey continues to pursue its goals of Turkification and Islamization. Discriminatory practices against minorities continue unabated. Full political participation, equal rights and freedom of expression and religion are curtailed by the Islamist Erdogan government. The denial of the well-documented historical truth and the memorializing of its murderers perpetuate the crime of genocide and is an affront to its victims, families and survivors. The descendants of the Armenian, Assyrian and Greek victims deserve nothing less than full recognition of this atrocity and a full apology by the Turkish government. Western governments, which like Stuttgart University, fail to speak up and plead neutrality to avoid offending Turkey, should recognize they are abetting a jihad, which has persisted for nearly 100 years and will only expand worldwide.
June 29, 2011
Turkey continues its regression to full re-Islamization — a process already begun within a decade of Ataturk’s death in 1938 — and about to be fully realized under the fundamentalist Erdogan regime.
Shredding the Turkish Constitution, which institutionalized Turkey’s harshly imposed secularism by assigning the military as “protectors of the secular order,” there are now more generals that have been imprisoned for purported “coup attempts” against Erdogan’s fundamentalist rule than are in active service for the military.
The total of 34 officers being held at the military prison in Hasdal, explained the daily, was reached following the arrest of rear admiral Mucahit Sislioglu…
May 12, 2011
Turkey’s PM Erdogan: Hamas is not a terror groupNATO-member Turkey, which came close to gaining membership in the EU, is accelerating its slide into Islamism. Its Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last night told PBS’s Charlie Rose Show:“Let me give you a very clear message, I don’t see Hamas as a terror organization. Hamas is a political party — it emerged as a political party that appeared as a political party,” Erdogan told Charlie Rose, adding: “it is a resistance movement trying to protect its country under occupation.”Going further, the Turkish PM said the world should not “mix terrorist organizations with such an organization, and they entered into the elections,” adding that Hamas “won the elections, they had ministers, and they had parliament speakers who were imprisoned by Israel, about 35 ministers and members of parliament in Israel prisons.”“Where is terrorism? They entered into the elections and after the elections this is how they were reacted, I mean, calling them terrorists, this would be disrespect to the will of the Palestinian people,” Erdogan added.Referring to the impact the unity agreement Hamas signed with Fatah, Erdogan said: “I am very pleased with what had happened. I am very pleased. Let me express it very clearly, because this is what we wanted to see for many years.”
Yonatan Silverman aptly notes:Yes, Yes Mr. Erdogan. The Nazis were a political party in their day too. Perhaps he can explain his position on Hamas to the 1000 Israeli civilians who Hamas murdered in suicide bombings in the Second Intifada? Their blood is on his head now.Hamas has not changed its charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel.
Pro-Palestinian activists said on Tuesday that they are in the final stages of organizing their sea convoy to the Gaza Strip, which is planned to be much bigger than last year’s flotilla, which was raided by Israeli forces.
Eight Turks and one Turkish-American died in the botched commando operation on a Turkish boat, the Mavi Marmara, that was part of the flotilla on May 31, 2010. The incident drew world attention to the humanitarian situation in Gaza and plunged ties between former allies Israel and Turkey to a new low.
Huseyin Oruc, a spokesman for the group that operates the Mavi Marmara – said this time an international coalition of 22 non-governmental groups hopes to send 15 vessels with up to 1,500 people. Last year, six ships and about half that number participated.
The target date for departure of the new flotilla is the first anniversary of the raid, but it could be delayed, partly because it clashes with Turkish election campaigning. Organizers say the new effort includes activists from Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Canada and the United States.
On being returned to Turkey in August, the Mavi Marmara was renovated by activists for the new flotilla. The boat has since become an icon for the IHH, which hands out small plastic models of the ship, emblazoned with the Turkish and Palestinian flags, to visitors at its headquarters.
“Everybody is getting ready,” Oruc said in an interview with The Associated Press at the Istanbul office. He predicted that Israel, mindful of negative fallout from last year’s raid, would not try a similar operation this year.
Israeli military officials say naval forces have been busy preparing for the new flotilla for weeks. They said the navy is taking the flotilla very seriously, but plans to use different tactics this time around. They declined to elaborate, but said the goal is to stop the flotilla while avoiding casualties.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the operation.
Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said a recent conference of donors to the Palestinians had called on all parties to send any humanitarian aid through land crossings.
“People coming by sea are doing it as a provocation and are looking for violent confrontation. We call on all relevant parties to display responsibility and shun violence,” said Palmor, noting aid for the region is provided by the United Nations, international groups and through the Palestinian Authority.
Espen Goffeng, an activist in Norway, said the target for departure of the new flotilla was early summer, and that activists might finalize the date at a meeting in Europe in early May.
“It’s not like a march up the street,” he said by telephone. “We need to buy boats, we need to buy cargo, we need to move people around, we need hotel rooms, we need food.”
Turkey holds parliamentary elections on June 12. IHH, which says it plans to send 100 to 150 people on the flotilla, is inclined to launch its ship after the vote for fear any controversy could disrupt the election debate. The group communicates closely with the Turkish government, but says it does not need permission to send its boat to Gaza.
– Prophecy News Watch
April 26, 2011
The Islamist government of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has just been invited by the Person Who Does Not Like to Be Referred to as the Leader of the Free World to expand Turkey’s role in the Middle East.
Ankara has to be delighted. The Levant, until 1919, was part of the national territory of the Turkish Republic’s predecessor state, the Ottoman Empire. Throughout its former imperial domains, economically-booming Turkey (which refused in 2003 to allow American troops to invade Iraq from Turkish territory) is now pushing to expand its influence and access. It has also been trying to play a role in Libya, formerly the Ottoman provinces of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica.
In a joint statement released by the White House, Prime Minister Erdogan and President Obama announced that they had conferred by telephone and agreed to a condemnation of the violent repression currently underway in Turkey’s neighbor, Syria. The two leaders demanded that Syria President Bashir Assad end all government-sponsored violence and enact a program of meaningful democratic reform. The statement came in the wake of reports that the Syrian Army on Monday used tanks for the first time against demonstrators.
This joint Turkish-American initiative on Syria follows on a unilateral offer last week by Prime Minister Erdogan for Turkey to mediate a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Now that President Obama has welcomed Turkey to an expanded role at the diplomatic table, let’s see if he can persuade the Turks to bar the so-called Gaza Peace Flotilla from undertaking its second proposed voyage to Gaza City later this month. The new expedition to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip has been dubbed by its organizers “Freedom Fleet 2.”
Posted: 26 Mar 2011 09:40 PM PDT
By Barry Rubin
For several years I’ve been telling you that under its current Islamist regime, Turkey has become less and less of a democratic state. Hundreds of peaceful dissidents have been arrested, thrown in prison, and accused of seeking to overthrow the government violently when there is no real evidence. The regime has moved into an alliance with Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah. It has bought up much of the media and intimidated much of the rest.
Yet the idea that somehow this regime is a model of democracy in a Muslim-majority state–something for others to emulate, for goodness sakes!–has remained dominant in the West.
Still, one abuse has followed another, with the nature of this anti-democratic would-be dictatorship becoming increasingly apparent. Following on the arrests of journalists and closing of a publication merely because it asserted that it was about to publish proof that the arrests have been made on trumped-up charges, even the U.S. government finally protested, albeit very mildly.
But now the regime has trumped even that human rights’ violation.
An investigative journalist named Ahmet Shek has been working on a book about Fatitullah Gulen. But Gulen, a controversial Islamist who has huge amounts of money, his own media empire, has bought off some American Middle East experts, runs lots of schools, practically owns the Turkish police, and engages in a variety of stealth Islamist activities, is apparently not to be criticized or investigated.
So not only was Shek arrested–as an alleged terrorist!–and all the copies of his manuscript seized by the police, but the authorities then went on to raid his publisher’s office and two of his friends’ places. They deleted the versions on all of their computers. Then, realizing that an expert can restore deleted files, the police returned and took the hard disks with them.
One wonders how much repression is going to have to happen in Turkey before foreign media acknowledge and Western governments admit that the regime is oriented toward dictatorship and Islamism, making it an enemy of Western interests and certainly only a negative role model for the Arab world!
The leader of Turkey’s opposition says that the current, Islamist regime’s supposed policy of getting along with everyone–though really it means aligning with radical Islamist forces in the Middle East–has actually led to bad relations with a lot of countries.
And he also discusses relations with Israel:
Question: “Does the deterioration of relations with Israel…serve Turkey’s interests?”
Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu: “The answer is no. In the first place, the deterioration of our relations with Israel has caused significant losses….Trade and tourism went down….But the greater loss is of a strategic nature and affects the entire region….[The fact that Turkey is] no longer enjoying the trust of Israel puts it out of the Middle East equation, further weakening the prospects of peace and stability in this key region [and]…could unexpectedly lead to situations that might hurt Turkey’s vital national interests.”
And here’s another brilliant article by Soner Cagaptay which gave me a new perspective on Turkish issues. Briefly, he points out that the current, Islamist regime in Turkey has dropped all the good things from Kemalism (secularism, gender equality, good relations with the West) and simply adapted all the problemmatic aspects (hardline stand on the Armenian and Kurdish issues; unbending nationalism, etc.)
Finally, the current Turkish regime–which likes Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi–is refusing to support NATO involvement in the Libyan crisis. Instead, it wants to mediate. Whose side is this regime on? Not that of NATO or the West. But it is on the side of Iran, Syria, Libya, Hamas, and Hizballah.
Posted: 26 Mar 2011 11:55 AM PDT
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By Barry Rubin
I’ve seen a lot in media expressing the views of the Gulf Arab states and officials’ statements–not all of them public, and not to mention similar expressions from Turkish and Iranian oppositionists–expressing horror and shock at Obama Administration Middle East policy. Remember, al-Jazira is NOT typical, as it is run by Islamists and follows the pro-Iran line of its owner, the Qatari government.
In this article in al-Sharq al-Awsat (translated by MEMRI), a Saudi-controlled but also relatively liberal newspaper, Tariq al-Homayed, the chief editor, expresses the combination of shock and horror at the Obama Administration. The conflict was hot over Egypt and even hotter over Bahrain, where the Saudis want the current regime to survive and U.S. officials have criticized Saudi intervention.
Indeed, he complains, the statements coming from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,
sound “more like what we’d expect to hear from the Iranian foreign minister.” The “contradictory statements coming out of Washington have become more than merely perplexing; they are also suspicious.”
Why suspicious? Because it isn’t clear whether the U.S. government is more concerned about stopping revolutionary Islamism or undermining those who oppose it, more interested in containing Iran or letting Tehran’s influence spread, supporting moderate Arab countries or overthrowing their regimes.
The editor accuses U.S. policy of ignoring Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen and Iranian statements claiming Bahrain. (Reminds me of how Iraq used to claim Kuwait and that was ignored until 1990, when Iraq invaded and annexed that country.)
How, he asks, can U.S. policymakers complain when the Gulf Cooperation Council states intervene in Bahrain–according to previous agreements–and then demanding that these countries support intervention in Libya?
Israel could now say to Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, and several other Arab governments (plus the Iranian and Turkish oppositions): Welcome to our world.
The fears of relatively moderate Arabs (and Turks and Iranians) that they are getting thrown under bus are not merely imaginery at all. For example, the New York Times had an article March 17 with the following headline:
“Interests of Saudi Arabia and Iran Collide, With the U.S. in the Middle.”
Now, of course, one understands what this means in linguistic terms. Yet the headline is amazingly revealing. Yes, the Saudis, not the United States, are now carrying on the main battle against the spread of Iranian influence and revolutionary Islamism. Of course, they cannot sustain this burden long without U.S. support.
Which raises the question: What’s the United States doing in the “middle” between Iran and Saudi Arabia! It should be backing the Saudis against Iran. Indeed, it should be leading the anti-Islamist coalition!
To be fair, the Obama Administration is putting early-warning stations into Saudi Arabia for the day when Iran has nuclear-tipped missiles. The Reagan Doctrine (is that still in force?) commits the United States to protect Saudi Arabia from an overt Iranian military attack.
Yet the headline is true. The current U.S. government is essentially neutral between the two sides. Sort of like a headline from 1941 reading, “Interests of Nazi Germany and Britain Collide, With the U.S. in the Middle.”
Saudi Arabia isn’t exactly like Britain under Winston Churchill but it is now on the front-line against the greatest threat of our time. U.S. policy already mishandled Iran in the 1970s and, more recently, the Obama Administration has watched Lebanon fall, Turkey’s government change sides, and Egypt jump ship.
Already a headline would be accurate that read: “Interests of Palestinians and Israel Collide, With the U.S. in the Middle.”
Or how about: “Interests of Venezuela and Moderate Latin American States Collide, With the U.S. in the Middle.”
Or: “Interests of Russia and Central Europe Collide, With the U.S. in the Middle.”
Yes, with this administration being in the “middle” is the best-case analysis. At worst, it’s on the wrong side altogether.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at http://www.gloria-center.org and of his blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com.
For the moment, Turkey seems to be a major winner in the midst of the unrest in the Mideastern and North African Muslim world. This is not a result of anything it has done, but derives largely from the loss of power of other nations.
As far as population is concerned, there are three major nations in the Middle East – Turkey, Iran and Egypt, each with 70-80 million inhabitants. Saudi Arabia has a substantially higher Gross Domestic Product per capita than all three, but its population of 25 million is much smaller.
After Mubarak’s fall, it will take many years before another internationally relevant leader emerges in Egypt. In the meantime, Iran is trying to use an increasing power vacuum to raise its own profile. Sending warships through the Suez Canal to Syria is a small but visible sign of this. Iran also hopes to benefit from the partial shift away of Western focus upon it, as there are so many problems elsewhere in the Muslim world. At the same time, Iran is vulnerable as it has to cope once again with growing internal protests.
For Turkey, the Iranian situation offers two alternative scenarios. The first one is that Ahmadinejad stays in power, but is weakened. In this case Turkey, due to the Western sanctions against Iran, can substantially develop its exports there. The second scenario is that the mullah regime falls. There may be ongoing unrest in Iran, yet this is unlikely to inconvenience Turkey too much because its own power centers are located in cities rather far away from the Iranian border. In that scenario, Iran as a competitor for hegemony in the Middle East falls by the wayside.
A new kind of Ottoman “empire” may emerge – no longer colonial in nature but one of influence. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is an academic who promotes “neo-Osmanism”, a kind of Turkish Muslim commonwealth. A decline in influence of other countries in the region will subsequently also change the rules for those who need protection. If the Iranian regime collapses, not only Hamas with whom Turkey has good relations but several countries and groups including Hezbollah, will soon have to turn to Turkey for guidance and assistance of various kinds.
Turkey’s situation in the West has also improved further, due to its stability in a region of increasing instability. As a member of NATO, it has access to a large number of defense secrets of the West. As it is unlikely that Turkey will gain access to the European Union, it still can play its game showing that the EU is snubbing it, thereby justifying verbal attacks on some member countries.
In the meantime, there remain allies in the EU for the promised acceptance of Turkey as a member country. Its strongest supporter is Britain, but there are others as well, for instance Sweden and Belgium (which held the European presidency until recently.) In Germany former socialist chancellor Gerhard Schröder this week again came out strongly in support of EU membership.
Turkey does not have to worry – if it is not brought in as an EU member, it will have to be bought off with substantial economic concessions to compensate for the change in European policies. Thus, it can simultaneously benefit from the EU and claim that it has been cheated by it.
Jews as litmus test
Many ask where enigmatic and undiplomatic Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to take his country. In the meantime he seems to want it to eat from all sides of the cake.
There are increasing signs of the failure of the integration of substantial numbers of Turkish immigrants into several Western countries, in particular, Germany. Erdogan is undoubtedly not pleased about the sharp turn away from multiculturalism by the German government. For one reason or another, he may try to stir up more trouble among non-integrated Turkish immigrants there and elsewhere in Europe.
Thereafter he may show signs of reconciliation again. It may be difficult for quite some time to understand to what extent he is shifting positions rather than just benefitting as much as possible from whatever opportunities he sees. The best early comprehension of this can probably be gained from closely watching Turkey’s attitudes toward Israel and the Jews.
As in many other situations, attitudes toward Israel and the Jews are early indicators of political shifts. In 2004, Erdogan accused Israel of state terrorism. To mend the fences, he came on a visit in 2005. In hindsight we can understand this as an early sign of eating from two sides of the cake. Israel was the first to be confronted with this behavior. However, it was not the only one.
In 2008 during a speech in the German city of Cologne, Erdogan upset many Germans with remarks about the integration of Turkish immigrants into the country, stressing that they should not assimilate. This was particularly relevant as Germany has the largest number of Turkish residents in Western Europe. This week, during a visit to Germany he said that Turkish children born in Germany should consider Turkish as their native tongue. He also claimed that there were now five million Turks in the EU, including three million in Germany.
The Turkish Jewish community is one of the few remaining in a Muslim country. Local Jewish scholar Rifat Bali doubts whether it has a future. He says that in recent years, the community has become the target of many verbal attacks from the country’s Islamists and nationalists. Bali writes that in a country where widespread anti-Israeli resentment and anti-Semitism already exist, it came as no surprise that the public perceived the Gaza flotilla affair as the murder of Muslim Turks by the Jewish army and started asking Turkish Jews whose side they were on.
In the final analysis, Erdogan may be able to maintain his ambiguous attitude for a long time to come.
– Prophecy News Watch
- A Terrorist Promoting Mosque In Washington DC
- New York Times’ Promoting Muslim Brotherhood; Hilary Clinton Promoting al-Jazira: It’s Beyond Satire!
- Iran: Regime Escalates Repression. Where’s The International Reaction?
- Turkey Bans Blogspot in Legal Dispute
Posted: 03 Mar 2011 07:21 PM PST
By Barry Rubin
Well, not exactly in Washington itself but just across the river in northern Virginia. And the mass media is largely ignoring the story, certainly as part of a pattern of how Jihad is being spread in America. Patrick Poole has the detailed, documented story.
Posted: 03 Mar 2011 08:25 PM PST
By Barry Rubin
I have pointed out several times how the New York Times has been whitewashing the Muslim Brotherhood, including the publication of a terrible set of lies by Tariq Ramadan. Now, without having to my knowledge published a single piece pointing to the Muslim Brotherhood’s radical Islamism, anti-Americanism, antisemitism, and terrorism, the Times published on February 10 still another op-ed by a Muslim Brotherhood leader in the newspaper. Once again we are told they are great, moderate guys.
Things have gone beyond anything I ever would have believed. With Secretary of State Hilary Clinton holding up al-Jazira as a role model for the American media, I think I’ve seen just about everything wrong being said and done. Is she aware of how al-Jazira slants the news? I still remember their reporting that the United States had used a nuclear weapon in Baghdad during the 2003 war.
Does she have any idea what goes on in the discussion shows, where a radical faces off against a moderate, the host sides with the radical, all the telephone callers side with the radical, and some make death threats against the moderate? When al-Jazira began it was staffed by radical Arab nationalists. At a certain point several years ago, as Qatar moved closer to Tehran, they were almost all replaced by Islamists.
In the “good old days” must of the American intellectual and sometimes governmental establishment sided with the Arab nationalists–including Yasir Arafat–against Israel. I at least could understand that. But now we see many of these people siding with revolutionary Islamists against both Israel and the Arab nationalists!
Nowadays the political line of the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times doesn’t seem all that different from al-Jazira on many issues.
We have gone beyond all satire. What’s next? Yusuf al-Qaradawi hosting Saturday Night Live? Mahmoud Ahmadinejad getting the Nobel Peace Prize?
Here’s an eight-minute film on the Muslim Brotherhood that has some good material.
Posted: 03 Mar 2011 08:20 PM PST
By Barry Rubin
It is now confirmed that the Iranian government–taking advantage of the world being distracted by events in Arab countries–has kidnapped the two leading opposition leaders, Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. They are being held in an undisclosed location and, since their abduction has not been made official, could be facing torture or even death.
This is the most serious single act of repression there in recent times. The situation demands the strongest possible reaction from the U.S. president, the Western world, the media, and everything else in what is so often called the “international community.”
If the Iranian regime gets away with this and there’s no significant cost, no one in that country is safe from the most dire treatment. The Iranian government is denying the kidnapping but their families say they haven’t seen them in 18 days. Here’s a protest by an Iranian human rights group on the issue.
Incidentally, the president of the United States has called so far for the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Libyan ruler Muammar Qadhafi. When is he going to call for the ouster of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose fradulent election brought congratulations from the State Department, and Syrian President Bashar al-Asad, who backs terrorists in Iraq to kill Americans?
Posted: 03 Mar 2011 01:45 PM PST
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By Barry Rubin
Readers from Turkey reports that when they try to go to Rubin Reports the text is blocked and the following message appears:
Bu siteye erisim mahkeme karariyla engellenmistir.
Which means: “Access to this site has been denied by court order.” It’s frequently seen on sites with “objectionable political content.” In other words, none of my Turkish readers can see the article you are reading now.
I am now told this is due to a legal dispute between the Digiturk Company and Blogspot and that all Blogspot items are banned.