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Turkey can’t handle the truth

Turkey can’t handle the truth

I posted yesterday about a U.N. report finding that Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza is legal under international law, that Israel had a right to board and search the vessels in the May 2010 Gaza flottila (organized by a Turkish Islamist group), and that the Israelis faced organized violence when they boarded the ships.  The report also criticized Israel finding that the response to the organized violence was excessive.

As predicted, Turkey has thrown a fit over the report (which it tried to prevent being released), downgrading diplomatic ties and cutting military ties:

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Friday Israel’s diplomatic presence in Turkey was being cut to second secretary level, effectively expelling Israeli diplomats after  details emerged of the Palmer Report which dealt with the IDF raid on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship.

“Turkey-Israel diplomatic relations have been reduced to a second secretary level. All personnel above the second secretary level will return to their countries by Wednesday at the latest,” Davutoglu told a news conference.

Davutoglu said that Turkey was also suspending military agreements after he said that some of the report’s findings were unacceptable.

Turkey under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip  Erdogan is on the wrong course.  See my prior posts:


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First, the downgrading of the diplomatic status simply returns relations to pre-1991 levels. Second, the military purchases he says are suspended are the ones expected to take place in the future. Israel already decided to halt those because it fears its weapons might fall into the wrong hands. Third, he promises to help flotilla victims sue Israel and says that Turkey, itself, might initiate suits. You probably know more about how effective a threat this is, given the UN Palmer Report than I do, but I am not certain this increases Israel’s legal exposure. The most ominous statement he made was a reference to the possible deployment of the Turkish navy to break the Gaza blockade. That would seem tantamount to an act of war against Israel and one now likely to be construed, given the UN Report, as an unlawful act of aggression. What this will mean about the intelligence Turkey receives from Israel that helps in its battles against the PKK is an important factor to assess when trying to figure out if these moves are more harmful to Turkey than to Israel at least in the short term.

… and a Sunni theocracy looks like… ?

I spend an appreciable amount of time each year in Turkey with my wife’s family, and have done for the past eight years. They are staunch republicans (as in Ataturkian secularists), loathe the AK Party regime, and fear the commingling of Islam and the state. I sympathize with them.

However, your essays would be more effective if instead of harping on the danger of theocracy, you’d search more deeply and touch on the history of authoritarian rule among the Turkic peoples, the material differences in outlook between Shia and Sunni practitioners, and the fact that well over 30 percent of the population of Turkey comprises Kurds and the Alevis, neither of which adhere to mainstream Sunni doctrine. Finally, you should note the fact that the AK Party rose to power precisely because of the utter corruption and economic mismanagement of the traditional secular Turkish political parties.

Many casual observers of Turkey miss the fact that although the Turkish War of Independence involved substantial ethnic cleansing at the close of the Ottoman Empire, of which the Balkan wars of the 90s were the conclusion, a great deal of religious diversity among Islamic sects exists in Turkey. Accordingly, any hypothesis about how Turkey might become a theocracy must include a clear discussion of that demographic fact. The religious opposition to the Iranian mullahs was concentrated, I believe, in Tabriz and relatively easy to contain.

I have no doubt that Erdogan, like Obama, would love to be a dictator if he could get away with it. However, the naivete of the present Turkish government is finally melting away this year under the realization that (who would have guessed?) the Iranian mullahs and Bashar al-Assad are not their friends.

I suggest worrying less about Turkey becoming the next Iran and a great deal more about the fact that a tenable political opposition simply doesn’t exist in Turkey currently. That’s purely the result of longstanding torpor and corruption within the CHP (Republican) party and it’s bedfellows. It prevents a sorely-needed check on executive power that would begin to foster any sort of freedom of speech and action among Turkish citizens. It also gets in the way of expanding economic liberalism that will enrich the average Turk and help stabilize the country politically.

“That would seem tantamount to an act of war against Israel and one now likely to be construed, given the UN Report, as an unlawful act of aggression. ”

Didn’t you know that there is no unlawful act of aggression against Israel? If you listen for a second or two to the revisionists the Israelis or Jews were to blame for every war including the founding of Israel.

The definition of “You’re wrong!” is: when you’re taking sides against Israel … when even the U.N. is taking Israel’s side!

Useless idiots do real damage.