Thursday, October 11, 2007

Troubles in Turkey

Two issues are currently occupying a great deal of public attention in Turkey: the Armenian genocide resolution in the US Congress, and PKK activity in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq. While the former has also received significant press coverage in the US, there seems to be very little awareness in the American and European media about the latter. For the Turks, the lack of concern shown by the Europeans and the Americans for the dangers posed to the country by PKK attacks is a source of deep frustration and a sense of abandonment. People in the government and the press are openly questioning the value of Turkey's partnership with America and the West. Indeed, many are implicating the US in the terrorist attacks by the PKK, referring repeatedly to the alleged discovery of American weapons in PKK hands. The Armenian genocide resolution seems to these critics of the US yet another indication of America's evil intentions (or, at best, indifference) with respect to Turkey. Rather than interpreting the genocide resolution as a product of America's democratic culture, the Turks seem to be reading it as another example of Western hypocrisy and imperialist interference in Turkish affairs. Furthermore, it is hard to ignore the thinly-veiled expressions of anger at "the Jewish lobby," which some Turkish commentators are now depicting as part of an anti-Turkish alliance with "the Armenians."

There is very little that the Turks can do to directly influence Congress at this stage. The White House's furious diplomatic activity against passage of the House resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide seems doomed to failure. Likewise, Turkey's power to take direct action against either the Iraqi Kurdish government or the PKK is also somewhat limited. This does not mean that the Turks will be able to hold off indefinitely public opinion calling for some kind of response. But it seems that the Turkish military and government realize the risks and difficulties of a more extended cross-border operation. Economic sanctions against the Iraqi Kurds are also a possibility - but they may also hurt Turkish interests in the area.

This leaves Turkey with a more indirect option. While the Turks have been thwarted in their attempts to project direct military force in the region (mainly because of the presence of the Americans), they do have the ability to disrupt significantly American strategic aims with respect to Iran and Russia. Turkey is the key to two planks of American energy policy: 1) to isolate Iran, and 2) to provide an alternative to Europe-bound Russian oil and gas pipelines.

The Americans have been watching Turco-Iranian energy cooperation with a great deal of concern. But the lack of American concern for Turkish interests in Iraq, has pushed the country to drop its inhibitions about upsetting the Americans on this front. Indeed, some Turkish politicians seem to be advocating cooperation with the Iranians on the Kurdish issue as well. As for Russia, despite Turkey's investment in American-backed infrastructure projects in the South Caucasus, the Turks have no qualms about serving as another gate for Gazprom energy to Europe and the Levant. The more the merrier.

6 comments:

Nobody said...

Troubles in Turkey

Two issues are currently occupying a great deal of public attention in Turkey: the Armenian genocide resolution in the US Congress, and PKK activity in southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq.


you could also title your post as Turkey: between the genocides, the last one and the next one

:D :D

ariel said...

CNN had a report today on the PKK activity on the Turkish-Iraqi border, so it's not totally beneath the media radar. On the other hand it was only a momentary interruption to round-the-clock coverage of a school shooting yesterday in Cleveland and an apparently narrowly averted school shooting in Pennsylvania.

Aardvark EF-111B said...

I will not comment the media coverage or EU reaction, they always have awful illusion regarding [Priorities & Scope].

Turkey seems to be the newest victim in the cross-fire of Monkey Struggle between Presidency & Opposing Congress in Washington.

The Congress grew so shameless & irresponsible in its attempt to embarrass the administration that it tries to alienate one of USA MOST VALUABLE ALLIES in the region.

though some approaches to release the pressure of public opinion in Turkey is highly recommended, but PKK is a REAL serious issue that USA is neglecting in Iraq for last 4 years

may be this crisis will eventually subside, but unless some action is taken, a Turkish action [[very likely co-ordinated with Iran]] seems more logic than ever!

another point is, regardless what Barzani is saying in Irbil, Kurdish economy is very dependent on Turkish Side

Shaul Ha Cohen said...

Turkey’s Ata Turk was another generalissimo like Franco, Mussolini, Chang Kai Check and Hitler and the communist Stalin. He dreamed to be part of the “modern” west. He was a type of Levantine; a guy that did not know where he belongs.
The Turks killed not only Armenians, but Greeks and the Kurds, all with the blind eye of the British, the trouble inventors, and later the American. These people (beside the Armenians) did not have a claim on the death that happened to them. Now the Armenians after all this time are trying to get recognition. But the fact is that before the Jewish holocaust this notion was not an issue. Holocausts were part of the normal business of history. Disposable people were simply disposed off. Hitler picked on the wrong people, pushed his luck with the scale and efficiency and then did what is unforgivable. He lost the war.
The fact of the matter is that the Kurds believe that they deserve a country and they do; why not when Palestinians deserves a country. The Muslim hero Salah el Din (Saladin) was Kurd. Who was Palestinian before Arafat?
If the Kurds would not be exterminated (and I doubt that this is doable these days), they will insist on their rights. This will bring about a war that would engulf the whole region spreading to Iran and Turkey. If the Turks had a bit of brain they would encourage the Kurd to join them in a federation and benefit of their petroleum. But they are Turks and Kurds and any body born in the Middle East knows what stubborn races they are.
The timing for the Armenian saga is stupid. But what did America and the American system did in recent year that was clever. Off course everything goes in the name of Democracy the holy cow.
As for Israel, it is in a pickle. What ever it does it will be blamed. If the American takes a pro Armenian’s decision it is Israel to be blamed. The reason is the perception that Israel is weak and weak people are always blamed for everything. The day Israel would do something courageous, the day Israel will go on a spectacular offensive; the Middle East will look at it in a different way… This can never be done with a Barack even if he reform. He was twice a failure. He is a great soldier but a bad politician.
The issue of the Armenians and the Kurds unites the divide between the secular Kemalists and the religious democrats in Turkey. They both hate the Christian Armenian and despise the “inferior Kurds”. The Muslim will be glad to fight them too. It is interesting to see how the relation between the Shiites Iranians and the Sunni Turks evolves; how this ill impact on Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. Something for sure this would be a big party.
If I had to advise the Americans, I would say to stop antagonizing the Russians and backing off. They should not pick up a fight against every body at the same time.
Americans (and modern Americanized Israelis) try to explain very thing with money and material interest. This is not the only thing that counts when “tribal” pride and, emotion are in action. This is the macho old word were pride and honor still works. The Kurds in Iraq are used to hardship and it is not by putting embargo on them that you would tame them. On the contrary, this will give them the ambition to make more trouble to their enemies.
The American’s have discussions with leaders educated in the west from countries such as Pakistan, Turkey, Palestinian etc. They then impose on them “democracy” but forget that the small guys in these countries, the guys that are supposed to vote did not have this education. In fact the only formation these people had is the basic, the clan, tribe, the religion. All regards any western issue as intrusive foreign to say the least. If these have to rule democratically they will be anti west. Turkey looks superficially western because of the militarists Kemalists dreams and control. They are not bad or good. The are simply not western.
Finally Turkey must look east toward the Turkish nations of central Asia. They should respect and make a long term deal with the Kurds nation be it in the Modern Turkey, Iraq or Iran and Syria. They should follow the type of Islam that they had followed for centuries, a more enlightened and soft Islam than the modern Islamists.
But this is all my wishful thinking.

Anonymous said...

Hazbani said.
I am geen with envy. Shaul ha Choen did it and with better Englisg too.
And I was thinking I was the only person in the world that thought that if the Turkish elite had brain they should form a federation with great Kurdistan, all the oil included, a gigantic bi linguistc model of switzerland. In such a situation Turkey will become the major power in the ME. And if as Shaul suggested the other Turkish people of central Asia will join this federation will realy be some thing. Did any thing like that, federation with great Kurdistan, was ever talked about in Turkey?

Anonymous said...

Shaul ha Cohen says "Now the Armenians after all this time are trying to get recognition." In fact, the Armenians have struggled for recognition for decades. But perhaps ha Cohen is so busy looking forward to "the day Israel will go on a spectacular offensive" that he hasn't noticed.
Peggy