GeriGündem From the Columns
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From the Columns

Columnists in the Turkish press focused on an article by Robert Pollock published in the Feb. 16 issue of The Wall Street Journal titled “The Sick Man of Europe – Again,” which dealt with anti-Americanism in Turkey.

Pollock's provocative article

Kürşat Bumin, in his article in Yeni Şafak, a paper that was specifically mentioned in Pollock's article and described as being among the “religious media,” differentiated between criticizing U.S. foreign policy and “radical anti-imperialism.” This radicalism anti-imperialism, he said, was hampering the Turkish people's quest for freedom. Bumin wrote that a nationalist tendency that goes far beyond criticizing the United States could be observed in many circles, including the media.

After listing the positions he thought Pollock had rightfully taken, Bumin said some points Pollock made, such as the “the subtle yet insidious Islamism of the AKP,” were completely irrelevant.

Touching on Pollock's criticism of Yeni Şafak, Bumin said that within the boundaries of freedom of the press, the newspaper had every right to criticize the “wrongdoings” of the United States in Iraq.

Is tension between the US and Turkey manageable?

Radikal's Murat Yetkin began his article by asking whether the tension between the United States and Turkey was a crisis and replied: “No, it is not. Despite the tension between the countries mounting more than ever, neither of the countries is trying to hinder the other in any of their moves in the international area.”

He continued his article by speculating on ways of managing the tension. “Maybe the U.S. administration is waiting for Prime Minister Erdoğan to deliver a speech in Parliament that would clearly assert that Turkey is not an enemy of the United States,” he wrote.

“We will see whether the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government can transform the reaction of the Turkish people -- to whom they ultimately answer -- which originated after the Sulaimaniya incident [referring to an event in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaimaniya in which 11 members of the Turkish Special Forces were captured by U.S. troops in August 2004] into a healthy foreign policy or whether they will prefer to stick to exaggerated nationalist rhetoric,” he concluded.

Touching on the same issue Milliyet's Hasan Cemal reported a anonymous quote that said since the article was published in The Wall Street Journal, which is usually read by leading figures in global capital, it could have specific economic implications for Turkey.

Cemal continued by asking whether it would have negative implications for Turkey or the Turkish government or whether Prime Minister Erdoğan would do something to calm mounting anti-Americanism in Turkey to ease relations.

Commenting on criticism leveled at Turkey due to its approach to neighboring Syria and Iran, Cemal also says it is clearly the wrong policy to undervalue the long-standing hostility between Iran and Syria and put the United States on the enemy side.

 Background of the tension

Sabah's Soli Özel drew attention to the background of tension between the United States and Turkey and took the issue back to a March 1, 2003 session in which the Turkish Parliament voted against a motion requesting permission for deployment of U.S. troops on Turkish soil to attack Iraq. Özel says, “No doubt this has created a certain sense of disappointment among U.S. politicians towards Turkey.”

Concerning Turkish disappointment, Özel said, “The United States not taking necessary steps in Iraq has no doubt deepened the crisis of confidence between the countries.”

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