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Where is Turkey Heading?

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Turkey’s ruling Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) nomination of its foreign minister Abdullah Gul to the country’s presidency to replace a secular incumbent in April set off a political standoff with the secular military. The staunchly secular army, apprehensive that Mr. Gul’s election may undermine Turkey’s secular and democratic principles, issued a veiled threat of coup. Their main cause of concern lies in Mr. Gul’s public display of piety and his wife’s donning Islamic headscarf. The same applies to Gul’s more religious boss, Prime Minister (PM) Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his wife.

The worried secular citizens, including women, the likely worst victim of Islamization of Turkey, also took to the street in large numbers protesting Mr. Gul’s election, with one rally attracting about 1.5 million protesters. These events forced the incumbent Islamist government call an early election, which gave them a resounding new mandate, bagging 47% of the votes (surpassing 34% in 2002), over secular Republican Party’s 20%, which enabled Mr. Gul’s election to Turkey’s presidency on 28th August.

Commentators and pundits almost universally share the notion that Turkey is the sole bastion of secular democracy in the crisis-ridden Islamic world, which may potentially act as the torch-bearer for the rest to follow. Turkey is, thus, an important test-case for Islamic nations to demonstrate that they can be compatible with secular democracy and modernity, and what lies ahead for Turkey will bear profound significance not only for Muslim countries, but also for the world at large ― more so, since Turkey is seeking entry into the European Union.

This victory of ballots in Turkey has elated both Islamist political movements and their secular-democratic opponents all over the world. In the post-9/11 era, discussion about Islam’s likely incompatibility with secularism and democracy has gripped the world, which may potentially lead to a civilizational clash with Islam and the West ― which, many believe, is already underway.

In this context, Turkey’s Islamist party’s adoption of ballots – and its promise to respect the secular constitution – have raised unprecedented optimism worldwide that secularization and democratization of the Islamic world is very much possible. Commentators have emphasized that the victory of the Islamist AK party in a free election in Turkey was an “affirmation of democracy” and proof that “Islam and democracy are compatible.” Others suggested that this signaled victory for Muslim democrats in general and its snowball effect may sweep across Islamic nations. Therefore, the military’s undemocratic interference in the democratic process in Turkey attracted widespread condemnations internationally.

In the midst of these clashing viewpoints, an investigation of the history and nature of the modern Turkish republic – and the rise of the AK Party – is necessary to grasp what may lie ahead for Turkey’s democracy and secularism.

Modern Turkish republic was founded in 1923 by General Kemal Atatürk by dismantling the theocratic Ottoman caliphate. He held Islam responsible for the deplorable state of Muslim countries and instituted secularism as Turkey’s inviolable foundation. Atatürk (d. 1938) and his successors aggressively secularized and westernized Turkey during the 1930s and 1940s, which separated Islam from politics. Turkish military has acted as the guardian of secularism ever since. They have intervened four different times to depose pro-Islam parties from power and safeguard the secular fabric of the republic.

During the era of secularization, the Islamists, under threat from the powerful military, laid low before restarting their political revival in 1970 when Professor Necmettin Ebrakan founded the Party of National Order. It had clear goals for bringing the state in line with Islamic holy laws (Sharia), violating Turkey’s constitution, which prohibits any organization from influencing the ‘basic social, economic, political or judicial orders of the State (according) to religious principles and beliefs’ and was dissolved in a year.

Prof. Erbakan soon founded the National Salvation Party (NSP), with a carefully worded manifesto, to avoid conflict with the constitution. Behind the overriding force of secularization, the presence of an Islamist undercurrent among the populace soon became evident when the young NSP won 48 parliamentary seats in 1973, bringing it into ruling alliance with the secularist Republican Party, ironically founded by Kemal Atatürk. Prof Erbakan became Deputy PM in January 1974, and his remarks and speeches during his tenure underlined pan-Islamic overtures. Prof Erbakan, along with NSP's media mouthpiece, the Milli Gazette (founded 1973), has since emanated increasingly fanatic verbal tirades against the Jews, Zionism, and Israel. While promoting his Islamist Happiness Party (SP) in the latest election, Erbakan gave interviews in TV channels comparing the Zionists and Jews with 'Bacteria,' and 'Disease'. "Do you know what the safety of Israel means? It means that they will rule the 28 countries from Morocco to Indonesia. Since all the Crusades were organized by the Zionists…”

In his election campaign rallies, attracting large crowds, across Turkey, the professor frequently repeated his anti-Semitic messages. Furthermore, Milli Gazette published articles in February and April of 2005 which were virulently anti-Semitic, referring to protoypical anti-Jewish verses (3:112, 2:61 etc.) of the Qur'an. “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…,” read one commentary.

Erbakan is the de facto spiritual leader of Islamic politics in modern Turkey, since all Islamist parties, including AKP, are off-shoots of his political movement, launched in 1970. Top AKP leaders were groomed by Ebrakan’s political movements. PM Erdogan and President Gul served as mayoral, ministerial, and parliamentary candidates in Erbakan's parties to hone their political careers.

This anti-democratic and anti-secular past of AKP leadership raises concerns among secular Turks. AKP’s leaders seek to reassure the skeptics that they have distanced themselves from their past Islamist aspirations. "A political party cannot have a religion, only individuals can," said Erdogan in 2003. Such assurances have led many western leaders and commentators, to believe that AKP is an Islamic equivalent of Europe’s Christian Democratic parties.

PM Erdogan’s various statements and actions in recent years, however, raise questions about the mindset and ideals of AKP leadership. He has embraced the militant Islamist Hamas movement of Palestine over the secular Fatah party and has supported an al-Qaeda financier. His theocratic aspiration can be gauged from a series of statements between 1994 and 1996. He sought to turn all secular schools into religious ones and to inaugurate the parliament by reciting the Qur'an. He further claimed that he was “a servant of the Sharia" and “the Imam of Istanbul."

PM Erdogan expressed his dislikes for secularism by deriding Kemal Atatürk's commemoration events in 1994. He disapproved of a liberal lifestyle and individual freedom by expressing opposition to New Year's celebrations, seeking to ban alcohol, and saying that "swimsuit commercials are lustful exploitations". During his tenure as the mayor of Istanbul (1994-1998), he consistently pushed for Islamist agendas, including a ban on alcohol.

AKP’s leaders have cut down such theology-inspired statements during their latest tenure in power. But their occasional statements suggest that an undercurrent of Islamism is still alive. For example, PM Erdogan reaffirmed his desire to turn the secular schools into religious ones again last year. Despite Turkey’s many pressing problems, the ban on headscarf in government institutions has remained AKP’s major concern. Both PM Gul and President Erdogan have, at the earliest opportunity, started work on a new constitution to reverse the ban. Moreover, despite serving as the ruling party since 2003, AKP leaders have never condemned their mentor Prof. Ebrakan’s continued spewing of hatred against the Jews and Israel.

The development in Turkey must also be taken in the context of developments in the wider Islamic world. Since the European colonizers evacuated, free Muslim nations have been undergoing steady Islamization. Pakistan, for example, emerged in 1947 as a secular nation, but now stands as one of world’s most fanatic theocratic Muslim state. A parallel Islamization of both political and cultural fabric has been occurring in all Islamic countries, including among Muslim communities of the West. The triumph of the Islamists in Turkey, despite serious effort by the secular army and judiciary to keep them at bay, is simply a manifestation of that Islamization trend.

Islamization is taking an increasingly violent trend in last couple of decades in Muslim countries, from which Turkey has failed to shield itself, too. A Turkish Muslim fanatic shot Pope John Paul II in 1981. Al-Qaeda allied Islamic terrorists conducted double suicide bombings against the British consulate and HSBC bank headquarters in Istanbul in a week in November 2003, killing 50 people and injuring 400. A week earlier, two synagogues were bombed in Istanbul as men, women, and children gathered for prayers. Last February, an Islamic fanatic shot a Catholic priest to death, while three Christians were murdered by fanatics in April by cutting their throats for publishing the Bible.

Moreover, under current trends in Islamic countries, Muslim leaders, keen to maintain secular fabric of their nations, are losing grip to the rising tide of Islamizing pressures from among the common masses and extremist elements. When AKP is elected for their Islamist credentials, it will be doubly harder for them to ignore the popular Islamizing pressures, even if they want so.

The Turkish military is not democratic in the true sense of it. Hence, many commentators hope that AKP’s triumph in recent standoff with the military may enable them to institute Muslim world’s first true secular democracy in Turkey. But they ignore the obvious fact that democracy has consistently acted as a tool for Islamization, not for secularization.

For example, free-and-fair democratic elections in Palestine brought militant Hamas to power, while in Lebanon, Hezbollah became the true winner. The same applies to Iraq. AKP’s victory in Turkey only reflects a parallel phenomenon of what has happened in Palestine and Lebanon. Furthermore, many Muslim countries emerged as secular democracies after achieving independence from European colonial powers, but have lost much of their secular credentials during last few decades of often-democratic self-rule.

To the question of whether the ruling AKP will manifest their past Islamist color; it is unlikely that they will do so, even if they truly want, as long as the army remains secular and powerful. Their true intentions will be reflected in how they seek to reform the secular military and judiciary over the coming years.

However, a few developments since the latest victory of AKP suggest that an Islamizing trend and pressure is already underway in Turkey. Economist reports that a public bus had to stop at a mosque for prayer upon demand from passengers on 2nd October. Such demands are now reportedly coming from all over Turkey. In another incident, a 28-year-old divorcee woman was detained by Istanbul police on “indecent exposure” charges for wearing a knee-length tunic and leggings.

These incidents, along with AKP’s rushing to work on reversing the headscarf ban as the top priority, are making Turkey's secularists concerned that Atatürk's secular republic may be becoming another theocratic Iran. But PM Erdogan once said, “Democracy was a train, from which you could alight once you reached your destination.” The democracy-train has brought AKP to their destination. Will they now alight from it as Erdogan promised remains to be seen?

Economist sees President Gul as an “undoubted democrat” in the ruling Islamist party, who, it believes, will bolster AK's secular credentials. If president Gul is the one to maintain Turkey’s secular credentials, he may have to step out of his boss Erdogan’s footsteps and may even have to confront the latter. Will Mr. Gul do so? It needs to be seen as well, although all emerging indications point to the contrary.

Veteran American journalist Eric S. Margolis, who disapproves of the military’s undemocratic interference in Turkey’s politics, opined that “AK’s victory likely means the end of the cult of Kemalism.” By ‘cult of Kemalism’ he undoubtedly meant Turkey’s staunch French-style secularism. The on-going developments in the Islamic world suggest that Turkey probably has two ways ahead: keep in the path of Kemalism, or join the rest of its Islamic brethren.

If Margolis is correct, Turkey’s eight decades of secular legacy will progressively be eroded and may eventually cease to exist. The obsessive democracyphilia in the post-9/11 era may render the Turkish military incapable to take actions for safeguarding secularism as in the past. In a few decades, Turkey may well be left with the kind of democracy seen in Iran, Palestine, or Sudan.

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About Muhammad Hussain

  • Franco

    Alamgir

    Well written and very instructive.

    In this context, adding to that the US Congress taking up at this time the 1915 genocieds. In your opinion, how will this have the biggest effect.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Another great article.

    If Turkey becomes Islamist, would they be expelled from the NATO? Would that prevent their entry into the EU? Or would the secular West cave?

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Franco:

    It seems that Democrats in the Congress are hell-bent on turning a historical event from 92 years ago into a political wedge issue that will drive the US and Turkey apart, thereby damaging the war effort in Iraq.

    But none dare call it treason…

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Treason might be a bit much, but I think we can certainly call it incredibly stupid.

    Dave

  • Alamgir Hussain

    The recognition of Turkey’s genocide of Armenians has been a long due. There are two peoples on earth — the Armenians and the Nubians (Sudanese) — who have suffered the most at the hands of Islamic Jihadists. It started at the birth of Islam and continued well into 20th century for Armenians and it continues today for the Nubians.

    This recognition is neccessary because Muslims see those acts of cruelty, executed in the cause of Allah, as something to be proud of. Forceful condemnation of these barbaric acts may help change Muslims’ realization. Muslims need to learn from the way westerners are remorseful of what their forefathers have done to indegenous people in Australia, North and South America and elsewhere.

    Whether this recognition is going to have any adverse impact on Iraq is different proposition. I don’t think it will make much difference. Such scares were spread after the death of Saddam and Zarqawi. But nothing really changed.

  • Franco

    #5 —Alamgir Hussain

    “The recognition of Turkey’s genocide of Armenians has been a long due. This recognition is neccessary because Muslims see those acts of cruelty, executed in the cause of Allah, as something to be proud of.”

    I agree….

    So why do you think the US Congress is doing this right now, when they have had so many years, if they turly wanted to, to get it on the table before. Specificly what do you think they are trying to achive in making this move right now?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Another home run hit out of the park, Almagir. Great job.

    The comments here from RJ and Dave show that when anybody in the American government tries to do something decent or good, some call it treason, and others call it stupid. Realpolitik is the art of sweeping unspeakable evil under the rug, eh, Dave?

    The Armenians are entitled to some recognition of the suffering they have undergone at the hands of the Turks – by the cowardly Israeli government that is insisting on kissing Turkey’s ass, the cowardly Jewish American organizations that have as much courage as the traitors they support, and by the American government that seems always to back the assholes in the world and shun those who have any decency in them….

  • Franco

    RJ:

    Well said, I think you’re right on.

    Treason? I don’t know yet.

    Proof that it has put US troops in harms way needlessly is were it will rest. If it becomes clear that US troops die for any reason as a direct result, Congress is going to find it more then impossible to maintain their current faults cover of piety as there true motivational reasoning, when considering the seriousness of what many in high places are saying right now who object the timing of Congress on this matter.

    And of equiel importance, if I were Armenian, even though I would be glade the atrocities of 1915 were finally recognized as genocide, I would know in my heart that all those who suffered and died and were killed in 1915, were not, in and of themselves, enough reason alone to carry this act of Congress.

  • Franco

    Ruvy #8

    “The comments here from RJ and Dave show that when anybody in the American government tries to do something decent or good, some call it treason, and others call it stupid. Realpolitik is the art of sweeping unspeakable evil under the rug, eh, Dave?”

    Foul! Uncalled for Ruvy. No one is advocating sweeping unspeakable evil under the rug.

    What RJ, Dave and myself included are concered with is the timming of Congress on the measure. The question is why right now. And the answer Ruvy, has nothing to do with addressing evil for evils sake, no one is disputing that. The question is why now after all these years. Could is measure not have waited for a more appropiate time so its merrits could and would stand on their own apart from having politicly prostitued?

    Ruvy, you have some good insites on several matters conceing the Middle East and its complexities. So stay on subject. What is the real reason for Congress acting now, and what serious life threatening fallout, anywhere, if any, do you see possalble as a result?

  • bliffle

    The Turks will decide what Turkey will become. If they decide to go Islamic there is little we can do to prevent it. And even if we could change their course by some stunt, ala CIA, it would be a violation of sovereignty and eventually backfire. Witness the 1956 overthrow of Mossadegh. IMO it’s unknowable whether the Turks will follow some reason-based course and weigh all the pros and cons of being a religious state and alienating a number of western countries that have made strong allies and aides for them, or whether they will follow a faith-based course and just sweep secularism out with blind fervor for Islam.

    So, maybe the best US strategy is to plan without depending on them.

    If we make a plan that reduces Turkeys importance in our strategy it becomes useful to us to support the Kurds and the Armenians, two outfits that traditionally irritate the Turks. Why not? In that light the Armenian declaration by congress is a very useful bargaining chip.

    Perhaps it’s time to abandon the notion that Turkey is so essential to our strategy that we must cater to their every whim. Remember, when GWB wanted to invade Iraq the Turks wouldn’t let him go in from their area.

    In that light the congressional resolution is a good harassing attack on a fitful ally. It’s a good flanking move. And at worst it becomes a good bargaining chip.

    In fact, if this administration had any real strategic brains they would have initiated the resolution. But they don’t. They have no capability or incentive to plan beyond the end of their noses. Everything they do is reaction, and usually the reaction of a petulant child. I wonder why?

  • Franco

    #10 — REMF

    I understand you point. It would be interesting in hearing your view of Congress’s timing in pushing this issue into the face of Turkey at this exact moment in time, and what, if any, increased dangers it could force upon those brave enough to actually put their words into action by serving over there.

  • Martin Lav

    The spread of Islamism is a direct result of US aggressive policies towards Muslim countries in Muslims eyes. If GWBush has stayed the course in Afghanistan and leveraged the good will that kind-hearted Muslims felt after 9/11 (even Iran) then we wouldn’t have so many taking the Democratic Train non-stop to conservatism. After all the worst thing that could happen with Turkey acknowledging their past atrocities would be for them to take a typical guilt ridden liberals position and start to treat their minorities, poor and woman folk like equals/welfare state.
    Eh Dave?

  • moonraven

    Excuse me, rube mcboobs, but Turkey is NOT being admitted to the EU precisely BECAUSE the Turks refuse to admit to the genocide committed against 1.5 million Armenians in 1915.

    That particular crime against humanity gave rise to the first usage of the term HOLOCAUST.

    It was not a few Little Eichmanns we are talking about here.

    The US had damn well better hold the Turks accountable for genocide, or face an increasing downward spiral of credibility in Europe.

    After all, Germany is the strongest country in that union–and it has had to admit to genocide.

    It is not–oh redneck oracles of the east–going to let Turkey off the hook and into the EU.

  • Franco

    #12 — bliffle

    You have made some interesting points bliffle. But I can not see Congress as having any of your points in mind as motivation when they choose NOW, to push this in Turkey’s face. So the question remains. What do you think is Congress’s real motivation for doing this now.

  • bliffle

    Congress? Well, congress, the institution, has no real incentive to pass such a resolution since it diminishes their power, once again, to the benefit of the executive. Not a good thing for the congress. However, there is no proof that congress-critters have enough intelligence to fathom that truth, so they often succumb to the opportunity to shift blame to the executive (they hope, usually in vain) while confining their herculean efforts to fleecing the electorate with chimerical pork projects. We all know the routine. It’s non-partisan.

    The dems, however, have a real interest in further embarrassing this administration which has already fulsomely humiliated itself with it’s stupendous blunders. It’s called “piling on”.

    The True Patriot might recoil at another increment of International Hostility being heaped on the USA, but it’s small potatoes, really, compared to all the other sins we will be held responsible for.

    And it may mitigate that International Hostility by appealing to International Righteousness, you know, human rights and all that.

  • Franco

    #17 — bliffle

    You’ve described a very seriously dysfunctional Congress, uniquely void of even basic distinction, let along greatness. All at a time in our history when we need it in spades.

    They say a picture is worth a 1000 words. It would be appropriate to have a picture of Nancy Pelosi, and her cohorts in today Congress, found under the definition of the “Peter Principle”.

  • bliffle

    Anyway, seems to me Bush ought to respond to the current posturing by various Turks in the method he knows best: reflect the criticism back. Complain about the Turks recent transgressions against the US. Like fighting the Kurds, disallowing Turkey staging for the Iraq Invasion, backsliding on secularism, etc.

  • bliffle

    Anyway, seems to me Bush ought to respond to the current posturing by various Turks in the method he knows best: reflect the criticism back. Complain about the Turks recent transgressions against the US. Like fighting the Kurds, disallowing Turkey staging for the Iraq Invasion, backsliding on secularism, etc.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    “The question is why now after all these years. Could this measure not have waited for a more appropriate time so its merits could and would stand on their own apart from having politically prostituted?”

    Franco,

    There is a basic point you seem to miss. Politics is, among other things, the art of prostituting issues for economic political or military gain. That principle applies generally. Applying this concept to the instant case, then the Democrats pushing Armenian genocide are attempting to stick Bush and friends (including the traitorous regime in Jerusalem and the yapping Yids who invest their ego in it, like the ADL) in the embarrassing corner of having to defend genocide – which is exactly what he is busy doing. Thus they gain.

    If the Turks attack in “free” Kurdistan as a result of this, or more precisely because they feel more free to defy America in the light of their genocide being hung out to stink in public, the Turks look like shit, and the Democrats will do their best to take advantage of this.

    I’d say you should look for Greek money going in contributions to important Democrats in the American congress, Franco.

  • bliffle

    Anyway, seems to me Bush ought to respond to the current posturing by various Turks in the method he knows best: reflect the criticism back. Complain about the Turks recent transgressions against the US. Like fighting the Kurds, disallowing Turkey staging for the Iraq Invasion, backsliding on secularism, etc.

  • bliffle

    Don’t be stupid Franco. It doesn’t start with Pelosi. Perhaps it’s time to cease allowing political predispositions to cloud your vision
    and stop being a trumpet for ideologues.

  • Joe

    bliffleDon’t be stupid Franco. It doesn’t start with Pelosi. Perhaps it’s time to cease allowing political predispositions to cloud your vision
    and stop being a trumpet for ideologues.

    Damn boy, you’ve posted that three times. How drunk are you? Drunk enough, obviously, to think the Pelosi and the dems don’t have a political agenda driving this incredibly stupid decision.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Read this:

    WASHINGTON — The Bush administration is concerned that Turkey could block vital U.S. supply routes to Iraq.

    Seventy percent of the fuel and air shipments to the U.S. military in Iraq are currently routed through Turkey.

    Officials said the Defense Department and U.S. military believe Ankara could retaliate to a U.S. House resolution that blamed Turkey for the killing of 1.5 million Armenians in World War I. They said Ankara could block weapons and supplies to the U.S. military in Iraq.

    “I think we all recognize there were mass murders 95 years ago, 1915,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said. “The problem that we have is that this is clearly a very sensitive subject for one of our closest allies, and an ally that is incredibly important to the United States in terms of our operations in Iraq.”

    Gates said 70 percent of the U.S. air cargo to Iraq flies through Turkey. He said 70 percent of the fuel requirements of the U.S. military in Iraq also moves through neighboring Turkey.

    Officials said Turkey also serves as the route for new U.S. armored vehicles to Iraq. They cited the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP, vehicles, designed to withstand improvised explosive devices.

    “For those who are concerned that we get as many of these Mine Resistant Ambush Protected heavy vehicles into Iraq as possible, 95 percent of those vehicles today are being flown into Iraq through Turkey,” Gates said on Oct. 12.

    Another concern was that Turkey would limit the U.S. use of the Incirlik air force base near Iraq. The United States has sought to expand its use of Incirlik, now reserved for training and logistics missions.

    But none dare call it treason…

  • http://www.reformislam.org Muslims Against Sharia

    Muslims Against Sharia commend House Democrats and Speaker Pelosi for pressing ahead with an Armenian genocide bill. Republican opposition to the bill is pure manifestation of moral relativism.
    Muslims Against Sharia condemn Turkish government for refusing to acknowledge Armenian genocide and recalling its US ambassador in response to the bill.

    Source: AFP
    Post

  • Franco

    #19 — Ruvy in Jerusalem

    There is a basic point you seem to miss. Politics is, among other things, the art of prostituting issues for economic political or military gain. That principle applies generally.

    Cut the crap, you know I know this. You should be asking yourself, why I asked the question.

    Democrats pushing Armenian genocide are attempting to stick Bush and in the embarrassing corner of having to defend genocide – which is exactly what he is busy doing. Thus they gain.

    You’re not going deep enough Ruvy. Bush is not now, nor has he ever defended the Armenia genocide. Bush wants desperately to properly recognize the tragic suffering of the Armenian people. Bush’s record concerning his position on this issue goes back many years in support of it. And there is no one here on this site, or anywhere else who can dispute it. So what else could it be? Lets MoveOn.

    If the Turks attack in “free” Kurdistan as a result of this, or more precisely because they feel more free to defy America in the light of their genocide being hung out to stink in public, the Turks look like shit, and the Democrats will do their best to take advantage of this.

    You have it backwards. The PKK Rebel Kurds are far from being in the class of Armenian victims Ruvy. I am sure the Democrats have already prepared for this event and would be supportive of the Turks and blame Bush for not supporting them all along.

    It’s not embarrassment of Bush or Greek money that constitutes that main objectives of the new Democratic Congress. Embarrassment of Bush is always a cherry on the cake, but it’s not the cake in this issue. And money, the Greeks can not match the American taxpayer Ruvy.

    The playing of the Armenian genocide card at this moment in time is strictly a back-door effort at curtailing US involvement in Iraq by cutting off supply military access routes for the war through Turkey. If Congress’s plan fails to get Turkey to stop US access, and Turkey continues its cooperation with US war efforts, Congress will say, you see, all the fuss was for not. It’s a win / win stacked deck. But then they have to go back to the drawing board.

    What’s really disproportionate about all of this is that the Democrats, while all they do is claim the Republicans war plan is a failure, they themselves do not have a viable plan for Iraq at all. They simple do not have one because they do not want one. All they have ever advocated is getting out now and letting the Iraqis deal with it, which is the same thing as saying let it implode.

    The Democrats can not only not admit the war effort (the surge) has signs of working, they can’t allow it to work at all or their plan goes to shit.

    (1) That is why they had to sabotage General Petraeus, before-during-and after his testimony before them.
    (2) That is way they must get Turkey to cut off supply roots to the Bush war effort.
    (3) That is way they are clamping down on PMC’s actions to make it too difficult and dangers to maintain the level of assertiveness that keeps them and they protected occupants alive. The Democrats have known all along about the PMC’s actions and mode of operation, and they have known all along that the PMC’s total personnel on the ground in Iraq out number military troop levels in Iraq. So hamstring the PMC’s puts more pressure and strain on the military, who they hope will not be getting resuppled via Turkey, which they hope will kill any benefits the surge has produced. etc, etc.

    The Demarcates in the US Congress are focused on seeing this all through. If they succeed Ruvy, they let Iraq implode, Iran swallows it up with their ideologies, Syria is jubilant and helps Iran with Iraq and Hamas, Lebanon slides from the pressure, Turkey could give a shit, terrorists around the world and inside the US now and in the further carry with them and their evil deeds the shared blessing of the Democratic Congress……It’s all Bush’s fault.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    #24

    Great post, Franco. The MSM has been doing their best to ignore this issue, but the facts are still getting out there via talk radio and the interwebs.

    This really is one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen, politically, in my lifetime. An overt attempt by a major American political party to drive a wedge between the United States and a longtime NATO ally, in the middle of a war, purely for political gain.

    Nancy Pelosi, for all the many botox treatments, and all of the expensive facelifts, appears ever more a hideous monster as the weeks go by…

  • REMF

    “Nancy Pelosi, for all the many botox treatments, and all of the expensive facelifts, appears ever more a hideous monster as the weeks go by…”
    – RJ Elliott

    Is she worse than “5 deferments” Dick Cheney…?

  • Franco

    #23 — RJ

    I’ve been reading this all day today and it is making me sick.

    I know you know too exacly what the new Congress is doing.

    It’s telling that so many don’t. Or worse, won’t admit it.

    But none dare call it treason…

  • Franco

    #26 — REMF

    Yes.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    The comments here from RJ and Dave show that when anybody in the American government tries to do something decent or good, some call it treason, and others call it stupid. Realpolitik is the art of sweeping unspeakable evil under the rug, eh, Dave?

    Ruvy, I made a one line comment about the political opportunism of the democrats and didn’t say anything about the genocide issue, so count me out.

    As has been extensively explicated here, several things are true.

    • The Armenian genocide was a terrible thing and the Turks should have been held accountable for it 60+ years ago. At this point an apology ought to be sufficient.

    • The democrats are making use of it now purely for political advantage. They haven’t cared about it before this, so only the current political climate explains their sudden interest.

    • Whatever the reasons, pissing off the Turks right now would be bad for Bush and the war in Iraq, but who it would REALLY be bad for is the Kurds and the Iraqis for that matter. Do the Kurds deserve to be fucked over as they have been by the Turks and the west and everyone else for just about as long as the Armenians have?

    So put aside the political issue and consider this question. Is recognizing the suffering and death of millions of Armenians almost a century ago so important at this point that it justifies the suffering and death of millions of Kurds and Iraqis.

    I don’t have a great deal of respect for those who think of genocidal warfare as a political tool or collateral damage for their ambition.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    I don’t remember people being this upset at Turkey when they wouldn’t allow Bush to invade Iraq from Turkey in 2003.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    What you navel-gazing Americans all seem to forget is that the world no longer revolves around the smelly waters of the Potomac and the congressmaggots who meet nearby adding to its pollution.

    Pelosi’s Armenian resolution is not of particular relevance here. What is, is whether the present system of Turkish governance will last or will it undergo yet another permutation similar to the revolutions in 1878 and 1912?

    That is what this article has dealt with – and that is what you have all singularly ignored….

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Ruvy, as sometimes happens, events overtook this article while people were still commenting on it.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    “The playing of the Armenian genocide card at this moment in time is strictly a back-door effort at curtailing US involvement in Iraq by cutting off supply military access routes for the war through Turkey.”

    Quoted for Truth.

    There’s no question that it’s a cynical, purely partisan attempt on the part of Pelosi and the Dems to frustrate the Administration.

    That it likely will help to destroy 80+ years of progress in the world’s most democratic and progressive Muslim country, as well as lose the US a valuable ally nation, seems not to be of consequence to them.

    Also of apparent little consequence is the fact that it was not the Turkey of today, but rather the Ottoman Empire which committed the atrocities, and that they took place before the vast majority of Turks alive today were even born.

  • Franco

    #32 — Ruvy in Jerusalem

    That is what this article has dealt with – and that is what you have all singularly ignored….

    You included Ruvy, so do tell…

    Whats your perspective from your neck of the woods.

    Will the present system of Turkish governance last or will it undergo yet another permutation similar to the revolutions in 1878 and 1912?

  • Franco

    #26 – RJ

    Thanks RJ

    I have seen MSM reports come out in the last 24 hours claiming that al-Qaeda in Iraq has been badly crippled as a result of the surge. This is not good news for the Demarcates.

    It is a welcome sight to see some MSM counter insurgency taking public news moves against Congress’s scheme.

  • Martin Lav

    Two faced Republican scum.
    I thought your party stood for principles and what’s right from wrong?
    While Bush entertains the Dali Lama on the White House lawn, while giving the finger to the Chinese.
    China must not be strategic militarily.

    The only issue I have with this thing, is that the Democrats are too chicken shit to pull the plug outright on BushCo. and cut off funding for the war.

    “At this point an apology ought to be sufficient.”

    Wow, that ought to do it….

  • Clavos

    “Two faced Republican scum.”

    Thank you, martin, for that cogent and effective assessment.

    Classy, too.

  • bliffle

    “I have seen MSM reports come out in the last 24 hours claiming that al-Qaeda in Iraq has been badly crippled as a result of the surge.”

    Share a citation, please.

  • Martin Lav

    How did Al Qaeda get in Iraq?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    bliffle, #39:

    I tried to help you out. I had a quick look at half a dozen major news websites, including a couple which are more than likely to be sympathetic to the Bush admin., but nothing leapt out.

    Unless it’s tucked away inside some other story. You’d think it would be big news, though…

  • bliffle

    Franco and RJ tend to quote from neocon editorials, not news sources. But they claim that as “MSM”.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Well, two of the sources I checked were the London Times – a Murdoch paper – and Fox News.

    Fox, especially, has been claiming vociferously that the “surge” is working pretty much since before it even began. Yet even there, nothing.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    The demise of al Qaeda in Iraq has been pretty well known for a month or so. That the MSM is just picking up on it would be typical.

    However, it’s not that the surge is working, even though that may be what the MSM is saying. The explanation is more complex and has more to do with changes in strategy than with number of men on the ground. And those changes could have happened without the surge.

    dave

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    That the MSM is just picking up on it would be typical

    it’s not that the surge is working, even though that may be what the MSM is saying

    The MSM isn’t saying anything – that’s our whole point. Franco and RJ appear to be making this up out of whole cloth so that they can say, “See? Told you so – we were right all along.”

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    “Whats your perspective from your neck of the woods.

    Will the present system of Turkish governance last or will it undergo yet another permutation similar to the revolutions in 1878 and 1912?”

    My own perspective is this. The “secular” system that has worked in Turkey for eighty four years or so is about to change – whether that change will be immediate or not, I cannot say. But in my opinion, the CUP is about to be overturned, and Turkey is definitely headed for a more Islamic state, and this will heighten tensions in the region – just some more powder on the keg leading to a big blowup soon….

  • Martin Lav

    Did anyone notice that MSM totally missed the Turkey drug smuggling connection to Haliburton’s subsidiary Brown and Root?
    This could be part of BushCos. refusal to hold the Turks to account.

    As the Bush Secretary of Defense during Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-91), Cheney also directed special operations involving Kurdish rebels in northern Iran. The Kurds’ primary source of income for more than 50 years has been heroin smuggling from Afghanistan and Pakistan through Iran, Iraq and Turkey.

    Having had some personal experience with Brown & Root, I noted carefully when the Los Angeles Times observed that on March 22, 1991 a group of gunmen burst into the Ankara, Turkey, offices of joint venture Vinnell, Brown & Root and assassinated retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant John Gandy.

    In March 1991, tens of thousands of Kurdish refugees, long-time assets of the CIA, were being massacred by Saddam Hussein in the wake of the Gulf War. Saddam, seeking to destroy any hopes of a successful Kurdish revolt, found it easy to kill thousands of the unwanted Kurds who had fled to the Turkish border seeking sanctuary. There, Turkish security forces – trained in part by the Vinnell, Brown & Root partnership – turned thousands of Kurds back into certain death.

  • alessandro

    While it sounds logical, reversing the Turkish alliance in favour of Kurdistan and Armenia seems unrealistic and implausible – to me anyway. I believe bliffle posited this.

    Part of what makes Turkey crucial is its geographical location (it is a fixed ally in many ways) and that it is secular and democratic (shared political values).

    Not only that, it is a sizable economy and a proven reliable ally looking to join the EU. Both the U.S. and Turkey still could use one another. That said, alliances are made to be dismantled as history often showed – if we go the realpolitik route.

    In this light, the proposal by the Democrats is incredibly irresponsible and should be taken for what it is at face value: frivolous partisanship.

    No one doubts Turkey needs to address the Armenian massacre but I fear the Democrats are shamelessly showing their poor sense of timing. Turkey is an important country on the terrorism front.

    If this is their idea of “progressive” international diplomacy then the attacks on them about being “failures” and “losers” is justified.

    It is too bad Turkey’s progress as a secular Muslim state has gone right over the heads of most of the Muslim/Islamic world. Once again lending credence that they have only themselves to blame for most of their troubles.

  • Martin Lav

    I think its not about Iraq, but Iran. The Dems think if they can piss off Turkey it will hinder any effort to bomb Iran.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    The MSM isn’t saying anything – that’s our whole point. Franco and RJ appear to be making this up out of whole cloth so that they can say, “See? Told you so – we were right all along.”

    I heard it on the local radio morning show on Monday when they had an expert on from Stratfor.com and were treating the al Qaeda decline in Iraq as pretty much established fact.

    I’ve been hearing about it for weeks on some of the more ‘direct access’ sites I frequent, like Iraqi blogs and military sites, so I assumed it was generally filtering into the MSM.

    So, when I heard this suggestion that it was the MSM outside of Fox was not acknowledging al Qaeda’s failure in Iraq, I did some checking. In fact, the MSM is picking this story up accross the board, including left leaning media.

    Here’s the article from The Washington Post. Here’s coverage in Rolling Stone.

    The issue appears to be whether al Quaeda is totally destroyed or merely crippled and whether it’s time to publicly announce that they are neutralized or if it would be wiser to wait and see if they can reestablish themselves.

    Meanwhile, non MSM sources are saying that al Qaeda is redirecting their own efforts, pulling out what’s left of their key elements in Iraq and focusing elsewhere.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    “Meanwhile, non MSM sources are saying that al Qaeda is redirecting their own efforts, pulling out what’s left of their key elements in Iraq and focusing elsewhere.”

    “Elsewhere” being….where?

    Iran?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Well, the Rolling Stone ‘coverage’ just cites the Washington Post piece and then kicks off their own discussion on it.

    I didn’t spot that story when I went to the WP’s website – I see that it was published yesterday, so it may have been taken off the home page by the time I looked for it. I also haven’t heard or seen anything in the broadcast media or on the web. Everyone seems more preoccupied with the Turkey/PKK/Iraq situation at the moment.

    I’ll keep watching. We’ll see if anything more pops up.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Pakistan and Sudan seem to be high on al Qaeda’s relocation destination list right now, Clavos.

    dave

  • STM

    Turkey is heading for Christmas dinner

  • Franco

    #46 — Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Thank you for your perspective. I hope your wrong. For both our sakes.

    For me, there are way too many issuse going on with Turkcy to even take a guess.

  • Franco

    #49 — Martin Lav

    I think its not about Iraq, but Iran. The Dems think if they can piss off Turkey it will hinder any effort to bomb Iran.

    A good argument could be made to support that thought. But the Dem.’s want the troops out now, and Iran and Afghanistan is where are.

  • Franco
  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    “I have seen MSM reports come out in the last 24 hours claiming that al-Qaeda in Iraq has been badly crippled as a result of the surge.”

    Share a citation, please.

    WaPo:

    The U.S. military believes it has dealt devastating and perhaps irreversible blows to al-Qaeda in Iraq in recent months, leading some generals to advocate a declaration of victory over the group, which the Bush administration has long described as the most lethal U.S. adversary in Iraq.

    There is widespread agreement that AQI has suffered major blows over the past three months. Among the indicators cited is a sharp drop in suicide bombings, the group’s signature attack, from more than 60 in January to around 30 a month since July. Captures and interrogations of AQI leaders over the summer had what a senior military intelligence official called a “cascade effect,” leading to other killings and captures. The flow of foreign fighters through Syria into Iraq has also diminished, although officials are unsure of the reason and are concerned that the broader al-Qaeda network may be diverting new recruits to Afghanistan and elsewhere.

    The deployment of more U.S. and Iraqi forces into AQI strongholds in Anbar province and the Baghdad area, as well as the recruitment of Sunni tribal fighters to combat AQI operatives in those locations, has helped to deprive the militants of a secure base of operations, U.S. military officials said. “They are less and less coordinated, more and more fragmented,” Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the second-ranking U.S. commander in Iraq, said recently. Describing frayed support structures and supply lines, Odierno estimated that the group’s capabilities have been “degraded” by 60 to 70 percent since the beginning of the year.

    “AQI is definitely taking some hits,” the official said. “There is definite progress, and that is undeniable good news.”

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Pelosi Wavering on Armenian Resolution:

    ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos Reports: According to Congressional and Bush administration sources, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is now unlikely to bring a resolution which would label the deaths of Armenians in a conflict more than 90 years ago as “genocide”.

    Pelosi, as recently as Sunday on “This Week”, has repeatedly said she would call the controversial but nonbinding resolution for a vote despite the opposition of the Bush administration and warnings that it could damage U.S. relations with Turkey.

    President Bush called Speaker Pelosi on Monday night and asked her to pull the bill. But Congressional sources say that Pelosi is telling House members that she will not bring the bill to the floor without majority support.

    At least seven House members have withdrawn as co-sponsors of the bill and several more are expected to follow. Key Pelosi ally Rep. John Murtha, D-Penn., is also lobbying against a vote.

    Key House members continue to canvass members but don’t expect a vote this year.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    I don’t give a rat’s ass if Pelosi is wavering, waving or revolving, or if she has finally found her groove. The Democrats (and the Republicans, too) can all burn in hell for all I care. I’d like to know what you guys think about where TURKEY is headed?

    Or don’t any of you have the ability to see beyond your own borders – or your navels, for that matter?

  • alessandro

    The Armenian lobby is pretty strong. I doubt Pelosi did this solely out of the goodness of her heart.

    “Why are Armenians eating lasagna?” Les Nessman.

    Counterinsurgency expert and theorist David Kilcullen explained on Charlie Rose in an engaging interview how the surge was strategically meant to work and according to him it has made headway.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I thought we’d already established that Turkey was going to hell in a handbasket or perhaps to thanksgiving dinner.

    In Turkey, just like Iran, it comes down to nationalism vs. islamism. Right now it looks like the Islamists have the upper hand, but that’s happened before, and the intense nationalism in Turkey has generated powerful resistence. I imagine that’s likely to happen again, but crap like what Pelosi is trying to do with the Armenian genocide is just designed to push the nationalists over to the same side as the Islamists, which is the worst possible outcome.

    dave

  • Martin Lav

    I wonder what’s driving Turkey more toward Islamism? Could it be their perceived “war on Islam” that’s contributing to this?

  • moonraven

    According to the Turkish Parliament, Turkey is heading directly toward an attack on kurds in Iraq.

    Seems pretty obvious.

    The kurds can be the Armenians of the twenty-first century, apparently.

  • SeeBeyondNavel

    A NATO member ideally positioned to serve as a bridge between the West and the Middle East, Turkey’s secular constitution and economic progress should have made it an example for other regional states to emulate. Instead, Turkey has been aping the blighted regimes of the Arab world:

    * Exploiting the population’s disgust with government corruption, Islamists gained power through the ballot box – and immediately started dismantling the secular legacy of Kemal Ataturk.

    * On the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Turkey stabbed the United States – its only dependable ally – in the back, denying passage to our troops in the fateful illusion that Ankara could save Saddam.

    * Turkey strangled its (always faint) chance of membership in the European Union with internal repression, ludicrous prosecutions, farcical legislative efforts to Talibanize society and its stubborn denial of the Armenian genocide.

    * Instead of winning Europe’s approval, the government-sponsored anti-American hate speech poisoning Turkey’s media only strengthens European convictions that Turks “aren’t our kind.”

    * Impatient to send Turkish troops into Iraq to attack the PKK (a radical Kurdish group with a terrorist past), Ankara might face a startling military embarrassment, further alienate Washington – and finish off its last prayer of EU membership. (The Europeans just want excuses to keep Turkey out – and Turkey has a genius for providing them.)

    * Despite the potential for a mutually beneficial relationship with Iraqi Kurdistan – where Turkish businessmen make substantial profits – the Ankara government obsesses about preventing the emergence of a Kurdish state. Betting on Iraq’s Sunni Arabs (who despise the Turks but use them), Turkey has set itself up to lose big if Iraq dissolves.

    * With its mischief-making in Iraq, cloak-and-dagger monkey business with Syria and failure to appreciate Iranian deviousness, Turkish foreign policy is in a self-destructive shambles unrivaled since the foundation of the modern Turkish state.

    All of this leaves me in sorrow, since I spent decades arguing that Turkey’s strategic importance required us to be patient as this land of enormous potential found its way to the future.

    For an enthusiastic visitor to Turkey for three decades, it’s been heartbreaking to watch its society and economy come to life – only to fall prey to Islamist vampires.

    With Salafism – the Saudi brand of radical Islam – biting into the Turkish political jugular, the joke is that the despised Bedouins of Arabia have finally conquered the “Ottoman Empire.” The most primitive and backward form of Islam is increasingly at home in the heartlands that had formed the core of the most powerful Muslim state for five centuries.

    Now the question isn’t whether our old ally can overcome its internal difficulties, but which of its troubles will overwhelm it first. Will the Islamist destruction of Turkish culture continue, or will a rumored military coup plunge the country back into another period of internal violence and political stasis?

    For Washington, it’s all bad news. The march of punitive Islam (punitive, above all, to Muslims) continues to feed on wild-eyed anti-Americanism – but a military coup could lead to a misadventure in northern Iraq similar to Argentina’s Falklands debacle.

    Last week’s murder of the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink (in which Islamo-nationalists cynically employed a 17-year-old assassin who could only be charged as a juvenile) laid bare the divide in Turkish society: 100,000 Turks turned out to protest the barbarous killing, but the government barely shrugged, since the demagogues now command far greater numbers.

    Turkey’s educated elite is in much the same position as Germany’s elite during Hitler’s rise to power. Imagining that the Islamists would sputter out, progressive Turks failed to act. Now Turkish civilization – so great for so many centuries – is unraveling the way Germany’s did in the 1930s. Turkish intellectuals made the classic error of underestimating the common man’s capacity for hatred and lust for blind revenge.

    As for the spectacularly virulent and dishonest anti-Americanism in the Turkish media – we need never have a “Who lost Turkey?” debate: The Turks lost it for themselves. Instead of maturing into the Western culture of responsibility, Turks succumbed to the Arab world’s culture of blame.

    Having looked down on Arabs for centuries, Turks are now becoming functional Arabs, reclining into fantasies of greatness as surreal as a Sufi mystic’s hashish dreams. Ataturk’s revolutionary vision for a modern Turkish state – betrayed by his own corrupt successors – is fading into the reality of yet another retarded Muslim satrapy.

    An even more accurate parallel case than 1930s Germany is today’s Pakistan. Turkey is on the way to becoming another extremist-poisoned garrison state held together solely by its military.

    On my last visit, I got a madman’s lecture from a Turkish customs officer on the resurrection of the Ottoman Empire. But instead of returning to that empire’s undeniable glories, 21st- century Turkey appears determined to replay the miserable Ottoman twilight.

    I wish we could save Turkey. But we can’t. That’s up to the Turks. CRO

    Ralph Peters’

  • moonraven

    More foolishness.

    The threat to the US as a country in the world today is NOT Islamism.

    It is the US government.

    Happy landings.

  • SeeBeyondNavel

    Trying to answer Ruvy in #60 above.

    I guess we could all just let the Middle Easterners Arabs, Turks, Kurds, Persians etc…..just wallow in their centuries, but I believe people that are in ours (like say Israel) might be a little nervous given their geographic proximity…..

  • Lumpy

    There’s something inherently ridiculous about Turks of all people complainimg about government corruption at this late date and given that they pretty much invented it.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    At comment #65 – thank you very much for your detailed analysis of Turkey’s possible future. It is a lot more specific than Dave Nalle’s quip that the country would be little more than Thanksgiving dinner, but it appears to say the same thing.

    In fact, you seem to say much that Almagir Hussein says, but with a western, American slant to it.

    And our leaders, stupid lap dogs that they are, will be kissing Turkish ass along with Arab ass.

    Sigh…..

  • alessandro

    Someone brought up the Kurds and Turks. Yes, Turkey should be dissuaded from attacking and potentially causing a massive problem – and probably a genocide. The Americans should not let this happen. They already let the Kurds out to dry once after the first Gulf war. It’s a tricky one for sure.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    And why should the American government do anything that smacks of decency, Alessandro? If they did, they wouldn’t be true to themselves….

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I say bring back the Byzantine Empire.

  • moonraven

    And the Bossanova.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Pelosi FAILED