4 Şubat 2009
And therefore, Israel will hesitate to turn its "close friend" Turkey into an enemy while it sees Iran, one of the two biggest regional powers, "number one enemy." Israel will try to tune down.
Adamant Jewish circles in United States expect Israel to fiercely react against Erdoğan. If the Turkish citizen Soner Cagaptay, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has already written an article titled, "Turkey’s Turn From the West," and published in the Washington Post, then it means a "signal flare" is already sent for reactions against Erdoğan.
Anti-Erdoğan circles in Turkey reading this article will try to build up their case and say "Look, United States sees that Turkey is drifting apart from the West. Davos will cost us a lot." People in United States and in the West after reading it will consider the fact that Çağaptay is a Turkish expert on Turkey and they will begin to emphasize that Turkey is shifting toward the Iranian-Arab axis, as claimed in the article, or Turkey is becoming a "Middle Eastern country," rather than a Western country. The "signal flare" has already been sent. Not everyone can touch Israel. And the price will be paidÉ
Probably a few people only will remember that Çağaptay for so long is acting like an enemy of the governing Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and Erdoğan; in many of his articles Çağaptay is reflecting that he behaves like American rightist pro-Israeli encouraging a military coup d’etat in Turkey.
The first paragraph of his article is like a "message" by itself:
"Under its current government by the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, Turkey is losing special qualities. Liberal political trends are disappearing, EU accession talks have stalled, ties with anti-Western states such as Iran are improving and relations with Israel are deteriorating. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan walked out of a panel at Davos, Switzerland, after chiding Israeli President Shimon Peres for ’killing people.’ If Turkey fails in these areas or wavers in its commitment to transatlantic structures such as NATO, it cannot expect to be President Obama’s favorite Muslim country."
In short, this is a call for Obama to "stay away" from Erdoğan.
Since the Davos drama, I have been writing the opposite of these "advises" published in the Washington Post. I have never thought that Erdoğan’s step he took in Davos is "risk free." I have always been aware that Mr. Prime Minister’s political moves may be too much in favor of Hamas. But Erdoğan’s move at Davos has placed Turkey into a brand new position in the "Middle East equation" and therefore has changed the equation for he, as the "Prime Minister of Turkey," was representing Turkey.
This happened for three reasons:
1. Turkey was the one in action making a change in the political ground. Turkey is the main heir of a state that ruled the region including Israel, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt for 400 years. The said countries have left the Ottoman dominance almost 100 years ago. Some, primarily Israel, did not even exist then. The attitude of such a Turkey, in addition to being a NATO member and being a country in membership talks with the EU, against the blood bath in Gaza in 2009 has brought a "moral leadership" in the Arab and the Muslim world. While doing so, Turkey has adopted not the "religious values" but the "Western values" and that eventually led to a change in the "Middle Eastern equation." (Including United States though, this could take some time to be digested and perceived by the actors in the Middle East.)
2. Inactive policy of the United States, the only super power in the world.
3. The Middle East stage emptied by the collapse of the Soviets Union has not been filled by either wrong or inactive policies of the United States as Americans drag their allies such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan into ineffectiveness in the region. That provided Iran a broad space of maneuverability. Turkey has transformed into a "regional center of gravity." This is the result of the regional conjuncture. It also functions to automatically restrict Iran’s maneuverability.
Therefore, it is impossible for United States to make "future planning" in the Middle East any other country but Turkey. The United States cannot do this with Israel due to their "special relations." Israel is a problematic regional element in need of U.S. protection. The United States cannot make such plans with any of the Arab countries because none is suitable.
Most importantly, the reason is the inactive U.S. policy in the Middle East. This is taken care of by American-Jewish experts. For instance, Nathan Brown of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in his article titled "Pointers for the Obama Administration in the Middle East: Avoiding Myths and Vain Hopes," says,
"The incoming Obama administration is faced from its opening days with a difficult dilemma. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has forced itself onto the diplomatic agenda, but there is no obvious path of action. On the one hand, the new U.S. leadership can pick up where the Bush administration left off, going through the motions of a peace process and whistling past the graveyard of past efforts. Alternatively, it can acknowledge that the ground has shifted so fundamentally that the diplomacy of the past two decades has died without leaving any legitimate heir."
After Brown points out that groups seeking a "peaceful solution" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict despair of solution, stresses that there is all too much sense in their despair and there will be no comprehensive solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict any time soon. At this point he suggests:
"The task for the incoming Obama administration is to use diplomacy to manage the conflict and steer it back into directions that will make it possible to live for the present and, at a later date, move back toward a solution."
In other words, what Obama can do now is to control the conflict, rather than finding solution. This has already revealed the limited-restricted role of the United States that cannot keep trump cards in hand. Is it possible for the United States to play its role with any country but Turkey which has been elevated to "moral leadership" of the significant part of the region as a U.S. ally?
In fact, Aaron David Millers as the top U.S. negotiator for the Middle East over a decade sees Obama’s Middle East Envoy George Mitchell has a slight chance to achieve a Palestinian-Israeli Agreement" if it is not zero. Miller interprets the appointment of Mitchell as that the Obama administration prefers the process itself to the content of it.
The Obama administration adopts a policy to remain in the middle field at some point in the Middle East. It is difficult for the new U.S. administration to do this without Turkey after the Davos incident or by exclusion of Turkey. Obama cannot stand an administration screw up right at the beginning.
For this reason, let’s not pay attention to doomsayers who scream, "Turkey will face the wrath of Israel. If you do not want the Armenian genocide bill being passed in the U.S. congress, say nothing against Israel’s actions in Gaza."
Turkey and Erdoğan could not, and shouldn’t, tolerate the incidents in Gaza. Look what the 92-year-old renowned historian Hobsbawm, who has never involved in the subject of the Middle East conflict, says:
"For three weeks barbarism has been on show before a universal public, which has watched, judged and with few exceptions rejected Israel’s use of armed terror against the [1.5] million inhabitants blockaded since 2006 in the Gaza Strip. Never have the official justifications for invasion been more patently refuted by the combination of camera and arithmetic. Thirteen dead on one side, 1,360 on the other: it isn’t hard to work out which side is the victim. There is not much more to be said about Israel’s appalling operation in GazaÉ
"Israel in action in Gaza is not the victim people of history, nor even the ’brave little Israel’ of 1948 to 1967 mythology, a David defeating all its surrounding Goliaths. Israel is losing goodwill as rapidly as the United States did under George W. Bush, and for similar reasons: nationalist blindness and the megalomania of military power. What is good for Israel and what is good for the Jews as a people are evidently linked, but, until there is a just answer to the Palestinian question, they are not and cannot be identical. And it is essential for Jews to say so."
One of the greatest historians of the 20th century, Hobsbawm says this and what he says pretty much likens what Erdoğan told PeresÉ
2 Şubat 2009
But there are a lot of things to tell those who are implied as "monsieurs" by Tayyip Erdoğan and who are from the "monsieurist" thinking school. They cannot help seeing the world as "static" and they are worried because they are from the traditional status quo wing of Turkish foreign policy and are making incorrect comments.
Israel will not forget this. America will take out the bill with the influence of the Jewish (to put it more succinctly, Israel) lobby within. Even the political future of Tayyip Erdoğan can be affected by this. Turkey will encounter problems in the world.
More or less, these are the points concerns and criticisms focus on.
If we believe that the world moves on a big dynamic of change and the world’s most turbulent geography the Middle East will take its share from this, we must say that the said concerns and criticisms are not based on sound data.
Very close relations between Turkey and Israel and their positive impact on Turkish-American ties date back to the 1990s. The end of the Cold War and its reflection on the Middle East with the Madrid Peace Conference (1991) and the beginning of the Oslo Peace Process with the Palestinians provided objective circumstances for fostering relations.
The limits were exceeded in the revival of Turkish-Israeli relations. Especially in the Feb. 28 process Israel was approached too much. Very tight military links were established with Israel.
I previously underlined for numerous times that it is wrong to put Turkey, which has the huge Ottoman heritage, into the political arena in the Middle East as a "backup power" of a small state; Israel.
In many conferences on Turkey and Israel relations, some of them held in Israel, I said trusting the military in Turkey as a guarantor of the relations with Israel and avoiding democratization and civilization process in Turkey is wrong for Israel and this will show a "boomerang" effect and return to them with a negative result. The wild attacks in Gaza returned to them in the drama in Davos. Now in a clever way they have started to repair their losses. Can Israel see Iran as "the number one enemy" in the region and oppose Turkey, a big power in the region and also not Arab?
Those who believe Israel is more powerful than Turkey may fear from the picture in Davos, but Israel is taking it in stride with the fear of losing Turkey. Israel knows that it is not stronger than Turkey.
Turkey is stronger. Moreover, Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkey have become more powerful in the Middle East after Davos.
We should see that Israel has not grown stronger but rather lost power with the last Gaza offensive. Could Israel attempt a similar 22-day offensive again? That is the utmost limit that Israel could render its military power and this has led to a loss of "moral power" that cannot be regained so easily.
Israel’s immunity was blemished. What Tayyip Erdoğan has done in Davos was displaying Israel’s loss of immunity in a way that has been never seen or done before, and thus saying, "The king is naked."
Israel’s immunity is similarly not the same in the U.S compared to in the old days. The book by prominent American academicians John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, named "The Israeli Lobby and US Foreign Policy" was published in 2007. It is a critical and monumental book that could no one could have dared to write by anyone until a couple of years ago. After the Gaza offensive, the period under Obama will stage similar outspoken work like this one.
Meanwhile it is obvious that special envoy of the Middle East Quartet Tony Blair favors talking to all sides including Hamas, and French President Nicholas Sarkozy has a similar tendency. Even the UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon himself has targeted Israel with strong criticism in a way that his predecessors have not done before. The massacre in Gaza also weakened Israel’s hand in Europe.
Therefore, Tayyip Erdoğan’s attitude is not counter to or in contradiction with the changing dynamics of the world; on the contrary it is in harmony with the developing international trend and actually leading that trend. As long as Erdoğan does not forget about Turkey’s EU perspective and the fact that Turkey belongs to the Western bloc while he plays his cards. Just so, he does not lead Turkey to run after Hamas like some led Turkey to run after Israel over the last 10 years. Just so, Turkey finds itself in a position that the other regional players would feel compulsory to knock on its door.
28 Ocak 2009
Every time I see Sannin, I remember my al Fatah member friends who died while trying to take over Mount Sannin during the Civil War in 1976. "Saraya Tullabiyya" (Student Brigades), had the most intellectual members of the Fatah; or in other words, of the Palestinian world, who died in Sannin.
After the latest developments in Gaza, we got together with old friends and talked about a common friend, Abu Khalid Corc. Born in Bir Zeit, next to Ramallah, Corc died in Sannin when he was 30. Did all die for nothing? Will the "cause" which tens (thousands) died for be taken over by Hamas that hasn’t paid a high price compared to what al Fatah had gone through?
The Fatah-Hamas split among Palestinians is being projected as separation of "Fathavi and Hamasi," pro-Fatah and pro-Hamas, everywhere in Lebanon, especially at the capital Beirut where al Fatah is headquartered for a long time. Interestingly enough, Lebanese Sunni sympathize with al Fatah as Lebanese pro-Hezbollah Shiite are the supporters of Sunni Hamas. Majority of Palestinians are Fatah supporters though.
That is the problem. "Pro-Fatah" are awfully demoralized. Israel’s Gaza offensive that started on Dec. 27, 2008 caused for Mahmoud Abbas, Abu Mazen, loss of credibility in a period where the support for Fatah was higher than that of Hamas among Palestinians and the attack became a kiss of life for Hamas. Abbas is being pushed aside now. General opinion is that if Hamas isn’t involved in peace talks, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will never be resolved.
New President of the United States Barack Obama follows a different approach in the Middle East issue than his predecessor George W. Bush. Obama rejuvenates the principle of "two state;" i.e. formation of an independent Palestinian state. The new U.S. president appointed half-Lebanese George Mitchell as his special envoy to the Middle East, in replacement of a Jewish decent Dennis Ross. Radical Israelis are disturbed by this appointment. However, Obama asked Hamas to stop rocket attacks against Israeli settlements in the south and to accept previous agreements made between the Palestinian Liberation Organization, or PLO, and Israel, in order to have "legitimacy". The new U.S. administration doesn’t recognize Hamas as the "representative of Palestinians" but it doesn’t either say that no talks will be held with Hamas. That is to say if Hamas meets the aforementioned pre-requisites, the U.S. administration may not reject inclusion of Hamas in the negotiation process.
Americans, by the way, see Abbas as the leader of Palestinians and Selim Fayyat as the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, the "legitimate authority" and "representative of Palestinians."
From now on, I mean in the aftermath of the Gaza cease-fire, the course of the process is yet a dogs dinner. Discussions and assessments are made about Hamas but the organization has no particular desire to be involved in talks. Their prime goal is to exploit the current situation al Fatah is in and become the "only representative of the Palestinian people" just like the Fatah-controlled PLO once was. On account of the Gaza offensive, Hamas has reached a point where without Hamas neither the negotiation process in Palestine nor solution to the conflict is realistic. Therefore the real problem now is to re-establish national unity among Palestinians, to have truce between Hamas and al Fatah, to set up necessary mechanism, and to make the Israeli clich "We are ready but have no addressee in the Palestinian side" null and void.
Israelis first held the late Palestinian Authority Leader and the "national icon" Yasser Arafat in his compound in Ramallah under siege for years. For the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Arafat couldn’t be his "Palestinian partner" because Arafat was introduced as "irrelevant." After Arafat died Israelis did nothing to strengthen new Palestinian leader Abbas’ hand and his legitimacy. And now they see Abbas as their addressee and refuse Hamas. So Israelis is reducing the affect of Abbas to zero by doing so. Israelis will not sit with Hamas, but with whom they will try to negotiate?
Does Israel really want a peaceful solution based on "land concession" or do they really want a "two state" solution in the areas stretching from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River? I doubt it. Still, things are so fragile and ready to burst in the Middle East, especially in Gaza that they cannot be left alone. So the U.S. diplomacy will take the stage. The U.S. administration will wait for the Israeli elections to be held on Feb. 10 and will see who the Israeli addressee is. Until then the Palestinian addressee will be determined. We are approaching a period that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may be involved in the issue although seems he burned the bridge with Israel.
The Middle East is going through the most dramatic scenes of its near past. The deep split among Palestinians, serious polarization in the Arab World and the gap getting deeper between the Arab regimes and the Arabs in street. Israel took advantage of this exact picture and held the Gaza offensive. The Gaza attack proves the recklessness of the Zionist state as much as it shows the incredible weakness of the Arab World.
The offensive shed a light on such weakness and has deepened it. One of my Lebanese friends couldn’t help himself to say "Just like in 1948 and in 1967. Why don’t we say we have failed a big time?" This is the situation. The next step is to determine how the "national unity" will be achieved again, how the representation issue is to be resolved.
"Unless the polarization among Arabs in the region transforms into a regional consensus, there is nothing to do," says another friend. I dive in at this point, "For this reason, it is meaningless to say Abu Mazen is not representing Palestinians because he is a Palestinian preferred by Sunni Arab regimes in the region. I mean by Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Just like Hamas is being preferred by Syria and Iran."
My remarks receive general approval.
That, for this reason again Erdoğan’s pro-Hamas appearance may be functional. Turkey is not an Arab country and it is not either a regional country taking a side in the issue as Iran does. To the more, Turkey is the only country regarded by Sunni Arab actors in the region as a "member of the family" yet looking after Hamas to the contrary. It seems that Turkey barely has a chance to play broker between Israel and Syria. But it will stand a chance to take place as a prestigious player and an "activist" in the Middle East process, in efforts by the Egypt-Saudi Arabia duo and in American initiatives, owing this to "Hamas’ condition" or its relations with Hamas in this period.
26 Ocak 2009
In each its important curve and wave for months, Ergenekon investigation has brought about the surmises that it will stop now, prime minister and the military conclude the issue behind the scenes and the issue will not proceed beyond this point. These surmises and remarks failed each time. The investigation continues and seems to continue. Things have come to a pretty pass, critical mass rules work from now on. It cannot return or cannot stay at the point which it reached. It will go to the point where it should go. Because the point where Ergenekon investigation reached has become directly related to how Turkey’s today will be defined and how tomorrow will be shaped.
How Turkey’s today will be defined and how tomorrow will be shaped has not only "domestic dimension" proceeding over Ergenekon but also has "external dimension." This external dimension will be affected especially by the great change in the U.S. administration and especially by the "encounter" of two countries in the Middle East. Many centers, which encourage anti-Americanism in Turkey, spread the claims that Ergenekon is an American operation which aims to suppress those who oppose America.
Even if the claim, itself, is nonsense, there is no reason for America to be disturbed by the Ergenekon investigation in ally Turkey which has a state structure based on the rule of law. Does Barack Obama administration support the Ergenekon operation which seems to cause a serious polarization in Turkey? When I face with this question, I think the answer is very easy. I remind Obama’s first address on Jan. 21 which he delivered in the oath-taking ceremony of new top American authorities. They are the first statements which Obama uttered after he settled in the White House. Obama said: "In this city (Washington), issues are discussed secretly. We will turn the United States into a transparent one, we put the rule of law into effect."
The new U.S. president showed that he is not a kind of person, who will just talk but do not take action, by shutting down notorious Guantanamo prison at first and banning the maltreatment against the prisoners during the inquiry. As a person who complained about the obscurity in his own capital city and promised for "transparency" and "rule of law," why does Obama desire his ally Turkey to become a country which is the paradise of secret assault rifles buried under the ground and a country where the law is prevented in some places by shelving the "coup diaries?"
It is out of question that Obama, who is full up with business, is busy with Ergenekon like us but if the question "what does Obama tell about Ergenekon?" is asked, the answer is easy: Obama will support the Ergenekon operation!
Democrat and liberal Obama needs cooperation with Turkey especially in the world’s most problematic region, the Middle East. He needs Turkey which is democratic and which is stick to the West over European Union and accordingly American alliance system.
The U.S. president started to show his "cards" that he will play in relation to the developments in Palestine-Israel axis, which needs urgent attention in the Middle East. Moreover, with quickness that many, including me, did not expect. If Tayyip Erdoğan reads Obama’s hand and follows a fine tuning Middle East politics Ñ despite his apparent disproportions in the latest Gaza crisis Ñ this chance will help Turkey start a multi-functional cooperation with new U.S. administration in the Middle East.
I can clearly observe Turkey’s (Erdoğan’s) this "chance" from Beirut which is the "radar screen" of the Middle East. As soon as we stepped in Beirut, we started to discuss Gaza and after. There is no other issue, here.
Despite the lost of credibility before Israel and the just anxiety, which American Jews have because of clear anti-Semitism in Turkey, Erdoğan has an esteem in the Middle East’s Arab environment which any Turkish leader could not have until today. (We will give place to Middle East impressions in detail in the following days.)
To move toward peace and stability in the Middle East, the first and the urgent works to do are to fix the disconnection between Palestine administration and Hamas, heal the wounds, fill the gap and maintain the "national unity." Unless these actualize, "Obama project" has no possibility to work. At this juncture, Turkey has a role. It is a must to include Hamas into the process. There is no way to go by excluding Hamas. However, it is beneficial to actualize this by achieving a "compromise among the Palestinians." Instead of Erdoğan’s understandable emotional tendency to only one of the Palestinian fractions, Turkey, which draws a profile of the most effective country in the region when looked from the inside, should undertake a guiding role to make Palestinian fractions embrace each other. This is expected from Turkey and Turkey can do this. The effort to do this will cause Erdoğan and Obama to become closer to each other in "the Middle East route." Such closeness will bring about the most solid assurance to do the required thing on Ergenekon trouble.
15 Ocak 2009
As this point, regarding the attempts to obscure and dilute the Ergenekon crime gang investigation there cannot be more striking evaluation than the above. The assessment was on the weapons, explosives and ammunition unearthed in Ankara after the sketches found in the house of İbrahim Şahin, a Susurluk convict and a key Ergenekon suspect undergoing trial. This is a perfect example for the attempts to mark Ergenekon with the Susurluk incident via Şahin and to prove that the Ergenekon is of no importance or no gravity.
But this bright "slogan" turns meaningless at two points:
1. The Susurluk debris revealed weapons, explosives, bombs; or in short, weapons of sabotage and assassination. And apparently, the date that they were buried was long after the Susurluk incident. To the more, Şahin doesn’t claim the sketches and the handwriting on it.
2. The weapons stack discovered in the Zir Valley of Sincan in Ankara after another sketch was found at the house of Lt. Col. Mustafa Dönmez, now held in a military prison after his surrender Monday.
Dönmez has nothing to do with Susurluk. He is an Ergenekon suspect. In the meantime, two lieutenant colonels and four active officers who were detained in the 10th wave of arrests regarding the cell houses are also Ergenekon suspects.
Forget that the Ergenekon has turned a shipwreck, but it is on shore on the contrary. Arms and exclusives unearthed are the weapons of sabotage and assassination, so there is nothing to joke about and say "this is a treasure hunt."
The Ergenekon probe has reached to a point in the last 48 hours that it cannot be covered by hook or by crook.
At this point, questions are more than answers. But if you try to make up questions for the answers already given or if you make others to suspect about your ability to perceive the issue or if you nurture unnecessary reservations, let’s forget about all and try to tackle with the questions waiting for answers. The following is a question one naturally is preoccupied with:
Lt. Col Dönmez escaped from the police and the Ergenekon prosecutors for over two days.
He knew while he was a "fugitive" that the sketch for the underground ammunition stack in the Sincan district of Ankara was confiscated with 22 hand grenades found in his Sapanca house. Still, he ran away. With whom and about what he got in touch for two days?
I believe the Ergenekon probe will ask this question and seek for answers.
This is not a joke. Weapons are being unearthed not the treasure. Everywhere is full of explosives; underground is filled with weapons.
Who knows what we will have after more excavations. There must be some people who erased the serial numbers of weapons found and then buried them into deep for a purpose to use them at a later point. Organization of such people is called the "Ergenekon;" I mean this is not a complex issue. Given that 17,000 people were killed by unknown perpetrators, so many received death threats, lists of traitors were prepared in several military quarters by some who were busy with coup attempts and that evidence pile up based on the 10th wave of arrests, we can have an idea about what the "Ergenekon" is.
Is the involvement of professors, authors, high-level public authorities in such an organization possible? Who could believe this? Is it possible to explain a probe on these figures as nothing but "revenge" of the government? Yes it is. This is reasonable and can be explained.
If you read the headlines of five months ago, between Aug. 6 and 12, in the Radikal daily, you could find answers to the above questions through the Ergenekon probe. Let’s remember the headline in the Aug. 8, 2008 copy in particular: "Critical documents to freeze ’Coup Diaries’ out."
The following remarks on July 15 to 16, 2008, in one of the meetings convened for a coup attempt were in the spot: "Prime Minister should be insulted in private meetings. Prominent figures of laic circles such as the Chairman of the Higher Education Council, or YÖK, and President of Istanbul University should be supported and visited..."
The critical documents freezing "Coup Diaries" out were published in sequel for a week. And they were pointing out to the "Coup Diaries." Action plans code named as the "Gold Coin" and the "Moonlight" were prepared in the 2003 meetings for coup attempts in order to be actualized in 2004. A couple of "civilian" figures involved in the Ergenekon investigation at some point are included in these "action plans" or their names are mentioned in them.
If you ask "what do they have to do with the Ergenekon?" you better read the "Coup Diaries" then you will understand.
There is no need to ask some silly questions, like "Were they to make the coup with the ’ammunition’ unearthed?" Important "civilian" figures were supposed to function as those who would prepare the environment. Sabotages and assassinations to be committed with the ammunition confiscated today were supposed to prepare the physical environment. Of course the coup was not to be attempted by these figures nor was it not to be made by that "ammunition."
If the Ergenekon investigation can bring the "Coup Diaries" together with the said "critical documents" freezing out the "Coup Dairies," it will reach the target because the weapons and explosives unearthed are not leading the Ergenekon case to the Susurluk incident, as it is thought.
Let’s go back to the beginning. The Ergenekon case especially since the last 48 hours has been following the route to a "marriage with the Coup Dairies" and got a divorce from the Susurluk incident.
8 Ocak 2009
Two conditions are related. French President Nicolas Sarkozy; Karel Schwarzenberg, foreign minister of the Czech Republic, the new term president of the European Union; Carl Bildt, foreign minister of Sweden, the next EU term president in line; Ms. Benita Ferraro-Waldner, EU external relations commissioner; and Javier Solana, EU foreign policy and security chief, are on a tour in the region. But apparently even such a high-level diplomatic initiative is not enough to stop the Gaza offensive by Israel. Therefore, it is revealed that only the United States can stop Israel.
Let’s be realistic and let’s not expect that the Bush administration which is about to complete its last two weeks in office will unbearably pressure Israel to stop the attacks. This means the Gaza tragedy will at least continue until Jan. 20, the day on which the new U.S. President Barack Obama officially settles in the White House or until a closure date. Since multilateral shuttle diplomacy has already given a start the new American president will seemingly reach a cease-fire decision.
What I mean by a permanent cease-fire is to have a truce over a different cease-fire remained effective between June 2008 and Dec. 19, 2008. That is to say, not going back to "status quo ante." Or in other words, not falling back to the situation before the military offensive launched between Christmas and the new year. And this means ensuring that Hamas will not rocket fire Israel and opening the border gate to Egypt in Rafah under the control of the Palestinian Authority and the EU or an international force.
At this moment, we are in between of the EU’s diplomatic initiative in the region and a resolution to be adopted by the United Nations Security Council, if possible.
Israelis talked to the EU delegation in a strong tone of voice. "Europe must open its eyes. We are not in the business of public relations or improving our image. We are fighting against terror, and we have every right to defend our citizens," said Shimon Peres, as the most reasonable Israeli politician around, adding that Israel was "fighting a comprehensive war against murderous terror, which is of Iran's making."
Scary remarks these are because it seems that reactions escalating in the international public opinion and the EU’s diplomatic initiative have no deterrent effect on Israeli strategic calculations targeting reshuffling the "regional security equation."
Europeans said what needs to be told to Israeli leaders in face-to-face meetings. The remarks that our leaders, primarily Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have made in front of cameras everyday in Turkey. For instance, Ferraro-Waldner told Peres that "Israel's image is being destroyed," because of its refusal to listen to international cease-fire appeals.
Ferraro-Waldner was quoted as saying that every nation has the right to defend itself, but that Israel's actions in Gaza were disproportionate.
Useless. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that they will not accept an agreement allowing Hamas to rocket fire within a few months again. "Before the last cease-fire with Hamas began, Hamas had missiles with a range of 20 kilometers. By the end of the cease-fire, the range of the missiles grew to 40 kilometers," told Olmert referring to outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush’s comment who said that the end result of the Gaza offensive is not to prevent Hamas’ rocket attacks but to remove capability of sending rockets in the future.
At this point, the EU cannot stop Israel.
As a matter of fact, they told Sarkozy that the U.N. Security Council presiding by France not to represent a resolution draft envisaging "urgent cease-fire" or Israel will not follow even if one is adopted.
Ironically the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, told on Monday the EU delegation that "Hamas must not be allowed to win its conflict with the IDF (Israel Defense Forces)." Under these circumstances, how the blood bath in Gaza would be prevented?
The issue will end up at the United States door again, which seems remarkably inactive so far. An Israeli columnist, Yoel Marcus, in a "hawkish way" makes the following assessment, "If the United States doesn't come to the Middle East, the Middle East comes to it. The complex repercussions of the conflict make it too dangerous to leave us alone on the battlefield."
This is ironic too; poor Palestinian people are cornered in the Gaza Strip and left alone. As they are showered with bombs, Israel sends warning to United States "not to leave us alone."
These are the bitter facts of the atrocious political stage in the Middle East. This war has introduced a criterion about who will be strong and how much they will be effective in the first quarter of the 21st century in which apparently the "power" will rule.
Unfortunately, Turkey’s "foreign policy capital" which the country is proud of, takes place in the losing side. The Jerusalem Post daily in Israel concluded its editorial the other day as follows:
"ÉWe're not convinced that Turkey has earned the right to lecture Israelis about human rights. While world attention focuses on Gaza, Turkish jets have bombed Kurdish positions in northern Iraq. Over the years, tens of thousands of people have been killed as the radical PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) pursues its campaign for autonomy from Turkey. Kurdish civilians in Iraq complain regularly that Ankara's air force has struck civilian areas where there is no PKK activity.
"THE NEXT Israeli government should weigh whether Israel can accept as a mediator a country that speaks, albeit elliptically, of our destruction. Meanwhile, if Turkey persists in its one-sided, anti-Israel rhetoric, the Foreign Ministry might consider recalling our ambassador in Ankara for consultations.
"Turkey needs to choose between bridging the gap between East and West and flacking for the kind of dead-end Islamist policies championed by Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas Ñ policies that threaten to destabilize the entire region."
Turkey has gained value with the image that it can do what the EU cannot do and with its contributions to the solution of the regional issues. At this point and in this issue, Turkey seems way behind the EU. We’ll see soon how much this will cost to Turkey’s foreign and internal policies.
The war in Gaza has affected Turkey, battered the country’s political influence and wounded our conscienceÉ
31 Aralık 2008
Considering that this "bloody bill" is coming out of a 360 square kilometer area populated with 1.5 million people, the result equates to, let’s say, a total of approximately 15,000 casualties and 70,000 injuries in Turkey. If you add the material damage on top, this is such a scene of cruelty!
Since Hamas announced the six-month truce is over on Dec. 19 and held missile attacks, up to 80 missiles a day, in especially the southern Israeli town of Sderot in the Gaza Strip, Israel had signaled a large-scale military operation against Palestinians. Israeli assault on Gaza was imminent. But the emerging tableau is an atrocious Israeli reaction even beyond disproportional use of force.
Without having the world standing up against, to calm down Israel is not possible. And the world generally means Washington for Israel. People behind the attacks have no doubt that outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush will give a "green light" to assaults as President-elect Barrack Obama’s keeping his silence guarantees that the Israeli attacks will continue for a while.
The important thing is that Germany and Europeans in general hold Hamas responsible for the assaults. Backed by United States and distrustful to the European Union circles, Israel this time feels more comfortable.
Moreover, and most importantly, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as the two leading countries of the Sunni Arab world, expect to see that Hamas will be weakened by Israeli attacks in Gaza, though they don’t express this openly. There cannot be bigger opportunity presented to Israel than allowing unlimited Israeli recklessness.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia view Hamas as "an Iranian ally" and a "tool to spread the Iranian influence in the region." Pervasive Iranian influence in the Middle East means "fatal" results for Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Egypt holds Hamas responsible for the failure of conciliation talks with al Fatah mediated by the Egyptians last month. Saudi Arabia put the blame on Hamas for the subversion of the "Mecca Accord" reached between these two major Palestinian organizations in 2006.
Israeli Haaretz daily’s columnist Zvi Bar’el wrote on Dec. 29 that without those two states, the Arab League will have trouble even convening an emergency summit. But its absence indicates that "Arab solidarity with the Palestinians" is crumbling under the leadership of Hamas.
An accurate assessment, it is. In addition to the fact that the Israeli brutality rips the hearts, Hamas’ leadership doesn’t play a strengthening role for the Palestinian people. In fact, the Taliban in Afghanistan called all Muslims to unit and fight against Israel.
This call is a kind to reduce the Palestinian intifada to the ground of "Muslim solidarity" and turn this into a "clash of civilizations." But it is, at the same time, may isolate Palestinians and push them into more despair. Actually, Israel’s racist-colonialist view and state of mind from which this Jewish state has always failed to disengage is behind this bloody strike. Therefore, disproportional use of force by Israel is something to do with a behavior pattern that could be explained only by a "clash of civilization" rather than a political-military rationale.
As a matter of fact, one of the prominent Israeli "revisionist historians" against Israel’s "official history," Tom Segev, makes the following striking assessment on the Gaza strike:
"Israel is striking at the Palestinians to ’teach them a lesson.’ That is a basic assumption that has accompanied the Zionist enterprise since its inception:
We are the representatives of progress and enlightenment, sophisticated rationality and morality, while the Arabs are a primitive, violent rabble, ignorant children who must be educated and taught wisdom via, of course, the carrot-and-stick method, just as the drover does with his donkey.
The bombing of Gaza is also supposed to ’liquidate the Hamas regime,’ in line with another assumption that has accompanied the Zionist movement since its inception: that it is possible to impose a ’moderate’ leadership on the Palestinians, one that will abandon their national aspirations."
This time there will not be an exception either. However, the last attack on Gaza seems to confute the Palestinian social structure and political arena.
Hamas took a heavy blow; this is obvious. But Israeli aggression will not bring any advantage to al Fatah either. Al Fatah cannot act like the "collaborator of Israel." And that will delay negotiation talks between al Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas, Abu Mazen, the Palestinian National Authority leader, and Israelis for a "two-state solution." The Fatah-Hamas tug of war will become definite on the other side.
Elections in Israel are scheduled for Feb. 10. The Likud Party leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is an extremist in the Gaza issue and the laxest in finding peace, was in lead. Barbaric attacks orchestrated by his biggest rival the Kadima Party leader and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and the Labor Party leader and the Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak will turn the election campaign into a "race of extremists." And that will shelf the words "peace" and "reconciliation" in the Middle East for a while.
The tableau we have seen reveals that Turkey’s role as an effective broker able to talk with all sides in the Middle East is likely to be weakened. Over the weekend, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan showed harsh attitude against Israel in a way to set one’s mind at rest. But this adamant stance of his was reflecting emotionality of a Muslim rather than being a product of "political mind."
I wonder if the inactivation of Turkey’s act as a mediator and a "pro-peace actor" will be in favor of the Palestinian people.
We should consider this. And the criterion is not the protection of Hamas’ political status, but the prevention of the Palestinian people’s blood loss.
24 Aralık 2008
There were Armenians among my class and school friends. In those years, an Armenian neighborhood even existed right behind the high school from which late President Turgut Özal and current President Abdullah Gül graduated. Our Armenian friends in this neighborhood were going home for weekends. And we were invited to their houses at times.
I had my Armenian friends in my early teenage years while I was attending secondary school in the middle of Anatolia and while I was attending high school in Tarsus in the middle of the Çukurova. But I do not remember us ever talking about the 1915 incidents.
We didn’t talk about this subject when we ran across our school friends or when we had new Armenian friends years later because there was nothing to talk about. If the subject was opened somehow, they said they didn’t talk about it at home either. But they all knew of the incidents.
All Armenians knew 1915 even if it was not talked over at all. Information was in their genetic codes.
As a matter of fact, we, as Muslim Turks, knew that too. As the subject was never mentioned by Armenian at their homes, it was not talked at our homes either. My parents met and got married in the city of Malatya. Through family memories from Malatya, I remember the word "deportation" and know that Armenians lived in this city. But the year of 1915 was never mentioned.
A year ago, I learned from my old friend of 45 years that Oral Çalışlar that the high school we attended in Tarsus was actually located in the Armenian neighborhood. We never mentioned 1915. But we, just like Armenians, knew that there was something about 1915 because it was in our genetic codes too.
Due to the online apology campaign, there are people now trying to turn ferocious nationalist reactions into a "lynching campaign." But such reactions result from "information" not from "ignorance;" information embedded in genetic codes, very disturbing information. When we look in the mirror, so to speak, and face ourselves, we are exposed to a sudden flood of rage.
This is one side of the story. The other side candidly expresses the great injustice and misery Albanians, Bosnians, Circassians or Abkhazians and Georgians; i.e. what Muslim communities united by Turkish identity, went through last years of the Ottomans. In the meantime, Azerbaijani Turks, primarily those living in Karabakh, remind of what they have been through lately and react to say, "We were displaced and subjected to atrocity. We lost tens of thousands too."
That is correct. This, on one side, points out to what extent a significant population of people living in Turkey feel "aggrieved" and "treated unfairly." And it, on the other side, shows how much Turkish people are "traumatized" as a society.
Such a reaction naturally includes the acknowledgment of "calamity" and "tragedy" of 1915. But if the objection voiced as "We were exposed tooÉ" includes an emphasis on "Our grief is as important as theirs," it means corroboration of 1915 as the "Great Catastrophe."
The said signature campaign gave birth to a "historical and social psychoanalysis," though that was not the aim at all. Pages of the history are being revisited again. We are looking in the mirror again. This is painful in so many aspects.
One should also see that similar issues cannot be left to the discussions of historians only. Historians may have very different interpretations on the same subject or even on the same piece of document.
This is the case for every profession. Have you ever seen jurists reach a consensus over a legal case, or politicians over a political issue. So how will historians agree on what is 1915 and what is not, even if all archives are opened and read line by line?
The important thing is to include "conscience," own history and society in discussions. That is what happened with the signature campaign and it worked well.
However, we cannot ignore an array of unacceptable attitudes in the debates. That "proto-type" assessment voiced by Parliament Speaker Köksal Toptan is just one of them. "The apology campaign was unfair as it was an attempt to unilaterally convict Turkey. I am having a hard time to see what our friends are trying to do with this apology campaign and what they want to obtain through this campaign. But something extraordinarily wrong happened," he said.
First of all, we don’t have any one issuing an "apology statement." Despite all attempts to sabotage the campaign, there was a "citizens’ act" with over 20,000 signatures as I was writing this piece. If Toptan and others read these two sentences once again, they will see how they are wrong:
"In my conscience I cannot accept the insensitivity toward the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915 and the denial of it. I refuse such injustice and I do apologize to my Armenian brothers and sisters, share their pain."
Where is on the earth "unilateral conviction of Turkey?" Where is "taking Turkey to the point of execution through this apology?"
We have to assume that people reading this two-sentence statement are not disabled. Such a reaction is originating from the aforementioned information embedded in genetic codes; the "denial reflex" about something annoying and unlikeable and the attitude of distortion as a result.
Isn’t the two-sentence statement reading "In my conscience I cannot accept the denial?" And there is no mention of Turkey in the statement.
Besides, attitudes of somewhat known intellectuals are far away from being convincing. They mainly raise objections to "I apologize to." Some of them say if the statement had ended with "I share the pain my Armenian brothers and sisters feel," they could have signed it.
This was an attitude acceptable last week. But what we had during this week formed such dynamism that their articles or remarks about "I apologize to" are read something like "kmtrsşvytlmnszplmnvjz" and sound like "kmtrsşvytlmnszplmnvjz."
I mean, they are meaningless, incomprehensibleÉ