Turkey Shelves Israeli Cooperation,
Considers breaking off Ties;
Israel Lobbies in Congress denounce Ankara

Members of the US Congress attacked Turkey on Wednesday for voting against the UN Security Council resolution imposing further sanctions on Iran, and for its heavy criticism of the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) said, “There will be a cost if Turkey stays on its present heading of growing closer to Iran and more antagonistic to the state of Israel.” Pence said he was reconsidering whether to vote for a resolution condemning Turkey for the WW I era Armenian genocide.

The Israel lobbies, after defending Turkey from Armenian complaints for decades, have all of a sudden discovered the Armenian holocaust now that Turkey is criticizing Israel. This change is important because passage of a congressional recognition of the genocide would open Turkey to lawsuits, whereby Armenian political groups could capture Turkish assets in the United States.

On Turkish steps against Israel, NowLebanon reports:

‘ Ankara has not taken any practical steps on the matter yet, however, potential punitive measures include freezing military agreements that exceed $7 billion in worth, said the source.

He also said that bilateral pilot training programs and intelligence exchanges would also be suspended, adding that Turkey will not send a new ambassador to Tel Aviv after it recalled the current one following last month’s raid.’

Turkey is angry that Israel refuses to apologize for its raid on the Turkish ships in Gaza aid convoy, which left 8 Turks and one American of Turkish origin dead. Turkey also wants an international inquiry, not an internal Israeli one. And, of course, Turkey insists on a lifting of the blockade of Gaza.

In pressuring Israel on these matters, the Turkish government is playing chicken and risking a thoroughgoing rift with its ally.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has shelved 16 bilateral agreements and, as noted above, billions of dollars worth of joint weapons programs. If the government of PM Binyamin Netanyahu continues to refuse to cooperate with an interntional commission of inquiry, Turkey will not send a new ambassador to Tel Aviv.

Turkey also intends to embarrass Israel with the European Union and in other international forums until it gets an apology.

At the same time, Turkey insisted that a distinction should be made between inter-government relations and private commercial relations. It is leading no consumer boycott of Israeli goods in Turkey, and Turkish Foreign Trade Minister Zafer Çağlayan warned Israel against boycotting Turkish companies.

Some Israeli supermarket chains are boycotting Turkish produce. And, the Israeli public has already largely boycotted tourism in Turkey this year and the Netanyahu government is actively urging them to vacation within Israel, in keeping with its bunker mentality.

Most of Turkey’s foreign trade is with the European Union, the United States, and Russia, and Turkey does more business with Iran than with Israel, which is not among its top ten trading partners. Some have called Turkey’s newfound interest in the Muslim Middle East “neo-ottomanism.”

Congress should be careful not to over-reach in this intervention against Turkey on behalf of the Israel lobbies. Some 70 percent of resupply of US troops in Iraq is carried out through Incirlik Base in Turkey, and Turkey is part of the NATO force in Afghanistan. In the absence of good relations with Turkey, the United States would face significant logistical problems in the region.

Erdogan’s shelving of the bilateral agreements, and the potential cancellation of billiions in joint military equipment ventures, raise the question of whether Turkey is still a military ally of Israel. Until the blockade of Gaza is lifted and Israel apologizes to Turkey for the flotilla raid and the loss of Turkish life, Israel will become more isolated than ever before. While that isolation may suit the cult-like Likud Party, since it thrives on xenophobism and insularity, as well as on naked aggression, it cannot be good for Israel as a whole.

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40 Responses

  1. Good on Turkey. It’s the right, indeed the responsibility of every government to stand up for their citizens when they’re mistreated by other nations. If they don’t stand their ground then it’s a tacit acceptance that powerful governments can abuse and kill their people with no consequence.

    The frequency which Israel kills and maims foreign activists, and their seeming inability to avoid hitting U.N. facilities every time they carry out a serious military action demonstrates as clearly as anything that watered down criticisms and keeping disagreements behind closed doors just encourages more abuses.

    As for Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana):
    “There will be a cost if Turkey stays on its present heading of growing closer to Iran and more antagonistic to the state of Israel.”

    If your opinion on whether or not a genocide was committed is dependant on whether or not a different government does what you want, almost a century after the horrors in question, then you have no moral standing to make that distinction.

    For what it’s worth I believe that a genocide was carried out against the Armenians, but that doesn’t detract from the responsibility of the current Turkish government from demonstrating clearly that it will not tolerate the boarding of its vessels in international waters nor the killing of their citizens for resisting an illegal boarding operation. The two matters are completely unrelated.

  2. Turkey’s in better shape than the USA is. Besides being fiscally sounder, Turkey has a more sophisticated foreign policy, having lined up Russia before challenging Israel. Turkey sees that Russian-born Israelis are gaining power in Israel and are closer to Moscow than to Washington. Our elected representatives know little about foreign policy and care less: they fail to grasp that the USA, being the greatest debtor ever, can ill afford to let Likud hold American foreign policy hostage. Also, in saying ‘British Petroleum’ instead of BP, Obama is fostering the same self-destructive outlook here that Likud fosters in Israel — he ignores that Americans own 39% of BP stock, including pension funds covering millions of Americans.

  3. The Armenian genocide happened 70-75 years ago, under the Young Turk government in power in the Ottoman Empire. Even if Ataturk’s forces continued to commit violence and murder against Armenians, on a smaller scale, during the Turkish War of Liberation slightly more recently, almost all of that still happened, I believe, before Ataturk’s Turkish Republic was established.

    So how could anybody bring suit in the U.S. now? Who would be the plaintiffs? Who would be the defendants? What law would they sue under?

    • Sorry for the bad arithmetic (I guess I needed another cup of coffee.) The Armenian genocide happened 90-95 years ago, not 70-75 years ago.

  4. And what exactly has been the position of Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) in regard to Israeli armed forces killing an unarmed American citizen in international waters? Why is he more interested in attacking a NATO ally that also lost citizens in that assault than in demanding punishment of the guilty? If his inflamatory rhetoric contributes to pushing Turkey closer to Iran is Mike Pence prepared to defend his pro-Iranian position on the floor of the House of Representatives and to Indiana voters? And we hope those voters will be asking WHY Representative Pence is willing to weaken American security to curry favor with a country that displays so little interest in American lives and well-being.

    • Right-wingers don’t believe that people TURN to evil, they believe that people ARE evil. God rewards good people with success in capitalism, so the evil poor, at home and abroad, can only be kept on the right path through the terror of our righteous weaponry and the karate-chopping hand of the market.

      By this formula, Rep. Pence is not causing Turkey to turn towards evil Iran, he is exposing its evil nature in that it is willing to defy rich, Godly Israel. And that’s how it is across the spectrum of foreign policy issues for the faith-blinded. They already know all foreigners will serve the Anti-Christ and attack Israel in the End Times, so they are very satisfied to have an ever-growing enemies list to fill out their Armageddon scorecard.

  5. It can’t hurt that a respected country is reacting seriously to Israel’s deeds rather than to myths about its singularity. The US is too deep in that singularity, and strangled by embracing Israel’s animosities as its own.

    Although the AIPAC trained symmetrysts will go on characterizing Gaza’s hunger and poverty with “let the punishment fit the crime”, Turkey has opened the door to assessing Israel’s crimes – and contemplating punishment. Also Turkey diplomacy has shown that you don’t have to “dispatch a carrier task force to the troubled area” every time you get mad.

  6. So interesting how analytically unanticipated specifics unfold in these matters: that it might have been Turkey where the inevitable crack in Israel’s obstinance might (emphasis might) begin. Who wudda thunk it?

    The story here will be whether Turkey is able to resist the omnipotence of the Lobby any better than the US, which to all intents and purposes is owned by them. Turkey will be subject to all sorts of obviously direct pressure as noted, but may well be brought under the full pressure of the United States. Put another way, what if all US relations with Turkey are endangered? After all, doesn’t Turkey’s attitude reflect an unacceptable anti-semitism? Doesn’t it reflect an existential threat to Israel that must be resisted? And if that were were not bad enough, that there may well be an alliance building between them and Iran???

    If we do indeed make our own realities, this all may have been ostensibly unforeseen, but only in the details. I really think, regarding it from a broad enough perspective, that it is all the inevitable unfolding of a self-fulling prophecy on the part of Israel’s Zionist right wing. Stress “Inevitable”.

  7. If we can’t condemn the Armenian holocaust because we need Turkish bases to supply our troops in Iraq, then that is just one more reason why we should get out of Iraq.

  8. Good lord, this irritates me. Israel can’t even bring itself to apologize for killing 8 Turkish nationals? Never mind allowing another international inquiry (they’re probably afraid of Goldstone Mk.II).

    And for the above, they’re antagonizing a major ally. Unbelievable.

    Congress should be careful not to over-reach in this intervention against Turkey on behalf of the Israel lobbies.

    You can bet they probably will over-reach. Turkey is “just a country” to most of them, albeit a US ally. Whereas Israel (and its US lobbies) are ever-present voting, lobbying, and fund-raising threats.

    I’m half-shocked that Congress hasn’t passed a 420+ vote resolution condemning Turkey for “persecuting” Israel or what not.

  9. I’m sure I’m missing something here, but it’s hard for me to understand why Israel doesn’t make a pro forma apology to Turkey and move on. How is it in Israel’s interest to get into a confrontation with a member of NATO, even one that has a new found interest in the Muslim ME? What does it cost Israel to tell Turkey: We’re sorry we killed some Turks who were running our blockade? Nobody is going to believe them anyway.

    • For the same reason that the United States has never officially taken responsibility, let alone admitted guilt, for shooting down Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988.

      Because nationalism breeds inflexibility, an unwillingness to acknowledge that the actions of the military might not always be justifiable and a contempt for people outside of your self-designated national group, particularly if they share characteristics that you associate with your enemies.

        • Then you might consider re-reading it. The closest it gets to an apology is a “we regret the loss of life” and explicitly blames the victims.

          President Reagan in a statement said he was “saddened to report” that the Vincennes “in a proper defensive action” had shot down the jetliner. “This is a terrible human tragedy. Our sympathy and condolences go out to the passengers, crew, and their families . . . . We deeply regret any loss of life.”

          Reagan, who was spending the Fourth of July holiday at Camp David, said the Iranian aircraft “was headed directly for the Vincennes” and had “failed to heed repeated warnings.” The cruiser, he said, fired “to protect itself against possible attack.”

          ‘Navy leaders said Iranian commercial aircraft had flown over U.S. warships in a threatening manner at least eight times before the Stark was hit by two French Exocet missiles fired by an Iraqi jet. Ever since the Stark attack, skippers in the gulf have been less tolerant of such apparent threats. ‘

          Clearly the Iranians brought it on themselves, they were obviously “threatening” US military vessels for months and it was just a matter of time until one got shot down.

          Further, the article shows the government/military firmly behind the crew and captain of the Vincennes.

          Asked if the Vincennes’ skipper had been prudent or impetuous by firing at a plane he could not see, Crowe replied: “The commanding officer conducted himself with circumspection and, considering the information that was available to him, followed his authorities and acted with good judgment at a very trying period and under very trying circumstances . . . . Not only was he following this aircraft and concerned about it,” but he also “was engaged on the surface with Iranian units.”

          To give you an idea of the mentality I was alluding to, Vice-President Bush was quoted after the incident as saying:

          “I’ll never apologize for the United States of America. Ever, I don’t care what the facts are.”

          Sounds a little familiar doesn’t it?

    • Not to cast aspersions, but Mr. Friedman seems to be taking a lead role in pressuring Turkey. His closing comment in his column warning the US/Turkey relationship is “heading off a cliff”, reminded me a more public statement John Perkins might make in “Confessions of an Economic Hitman”.

      Considering Mr. Friedman’s role in championing the invasion of Iraq, I’m not quite certain what his role might be in “loosening the jackals”, as Mr. Perkins would put it.

      My concern is that there is another possibility of a coup d’etat by the Turkish military. This would not be new, looking at American meddling in the past and the Iranian situation would rate right up there with Soviet containment.

      This is something worth watching.

    • Oh boy, it’s the Edrogan is the new Chavez meme. Friedman, who worshipped at the altar of the invasion of Iraq, refuses to explain that the Turkish people themselves went from being overwhelmingly pro-American to overwhelmingly anti-American due to our actions in Iraq. Edrogan was dragged along behind them.

      So if you’re looking for someone to blame, Tommy, look in the mirror.

      • Of course the Turkish people are to blame – for exercising democracy and electing a government that does what the citizen wants. If you are from the south or brown people or Muslims then it is always bad – if not evil.

  10. Wow the US really knows how to pick all the wrong fights doesn’t it. The EU (except for maybe France, which has been strongly silent) will likely support the Turkish move since Turkey is demanding all the same things as the EU. Also I’m thinking the monster weapons industries in Italy and Austria in particular are jumping up and down over Turkey freezing the 7 Billion in Military agreements with Israel.

    Russia I also can’t see being to concerned over Turkey’s snub of Israel especially after the Israeli weapons deals with Georgia before the war there. As for the Middle East it is obvious that Turkey’s stance is making it the most admired country among the Middle Eastern populations and also gets a grateful Iran. Brazil and India I suspect will also support it.

    I think the likely outcome for Israel and the US in trying to isolate Turkey now will be more isolation for themselves.

    • “Wow the US really knows how to pick all the wrong fights doesn’t it.”

      I need some help here to remind me how often the US was on the right side of history ….

      We talk about freedom and democracy. And yet our best MId-East allies are Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt – none of whom have democracy. Hamas won the only free and and fair election in the Muslim Mid-East and the US responds by declaring them a terrorist. Similarly, our relations with Turkey was best when Turkey had military dictatorship. Now that Turkey has a true democracy, of course we start having problems with them.

  11. Even if one player (Turkey) is out, israel can still play with ten and win this dirty, pathetic match, as long as our U.S. government/Israel lobby is the referee.

  12. Representative Mike Pence (R-IN), like many in the best Congress money can buy, would sell his own mother if AIPAC tells him to do it.

  13. If the Israel-Turkey split goes ahead, who will launder the Iranian pistacchios for the Israelis? Or maybe there be be special exceptions for items ‘vital to national security’.

  14. The thing is, by any rational, cost-benefit analysis, the US (and EU) has far more to gain from a strong alliance with Turkey than with Israel. In terms of population size, military (Turkey is a NATO member) and strategic interests, among other things, if forced to choose between Israel and Turkey, there should be no contest for the US – Turkey would win hands down.

    That, however, asssumes a rationality about these issues which is completely absent when it comes to the US and the Middle East. The fact that the US is risking its relationship with a rising – and past – power like Turkey in order to indulge an increasingly maniacal minor Levantine nation, is something which will give future historians food for thought – and puzzlement.

    • Hey, Richard the Lion-Hearted was willing to piss away the powerful empire that he inherited to go engage in holy butchery for an illegitimate Crusader colony headquartered in Jerusalem. If he had kept his talents where they belonged and not left his throne to John Lack-land, the Plantagenet Empire might have radically reshaped European history. Try running a cost-benefit analysis on that without laughing.

  15. Why is the Kurdish issues not looming, the Turks if anything have been every bit as brutal to the Kurds as the Israelis to the Palestinian. 40,000 have died in the conflict since 1984 which is a much higher number Palastanians and Israelis killed the past 26 years. Turkey as much blood its hands besides the Arnmenians

    • You’re not wrong that the turkish government has a lot to explain for concerning the Kurds and the Armenians. But at the least this government is trying to reach out to them. The illegality of speaking Kurdish seems to be cut back, as there’s a new TV channel in Kurdish. The Turkish President reached out to the Armenian President and involved even a friendly soccer math between the two countries. This current government is making the steps in the right direction, i just hope that they’ll keep on going at it.

      That’s the fundamental difference between Turkey and Israel.

      • sorry, i meant the give a counter example of Israel. But i think now that it’s somewhat not needed, since we know that the Israelis haven’t tried to reach out to the Palestinians, they try to haggle out of a fair agreement with them.

  16. Congress should be careful not to over-reach in this intervention against Turkey on behalf of the Israel lobbies.

    Oh please Juan we all know that congress just isn’t smart enough to do the above and is lead by the the strongest lobby in the US. Almost none of them are smart enough or brave enough to just say no. This might even go for the wh.

  17. I am not sure if Turkey was “every bit as brutal to the Kurds as Israelis to the Palestinians”.

    For starters, Turkey is actually evolving for the better, and Israel, for the worse.

    On a meta level, Turkish nationalism is against Kurdish cultural rights, they view them as Turks who out of some sloth or atavism do not wish to speak in Turkish. Thus on the level of individuals, Kurds have all the rights that Turks have. The rights to practice their own culture and to vote for politicians representing that aspiration is abridged. Although, I understand that there was some recent progress. And of course, PKK are not the worst of the lot, but not exactly nice (I give them points for attacking, as a rule, military targets).

    On an individual level, Palestinians are treated either atrociously (if they are citizens or Jerusalem residents) or full blast apartheid (if they are the helotes of West Bank and Gaza). The range and scope of restrictions grave and petty is unprecedented in my opinion. Usually, when some nation subjugates another, it is not the main national project. Where else in the world you can find such spiteful policies like systematic denial of building permits and demolitions?

    And besides, is it really the case that Israel can suffer no ill consequences whether Turkey makes an actual alliance with Iran or not? Is it REALLY what they do not care about? If that is the case, how they can worry about Hamas having this or that piece of hardware? But perhaps it is actually a good thing. If the Israeli public will get convinced that they are on the verge of national anihilation, they could consider peace offers that now would make them laugh with ridicule. Say, half a million missiles capable of reaching precise targets in all major cities could counterbalance quite a few threats that Israel can issue.

  18. Prof. Cole:

    I certainly agree with you that major American-Jewish organizations have been blatantly hypocritical in their soft peddling of Turkish crimes against the Armenians. I recall that several years ago, one such organization purchased a full-page ad in the New York Times defending their stance that Congress should take no action on a then-pending House bill that would have “front-burnered” recognition of the Armenian genocide.

    However, no matter how obvious are the changes in motives, major Jewish organizations should be welcomed to the fight against the Turkish government’s adamant refusal to recognize the crime that reportedly encouraged Adolph Hitler to commit his own. (“Who remembers the Armenians?”)

    The centrality to a country’s national pathology of a denied history such as genocide is beyond dispute. In a very direct way, Turkey has yet to undergo the national catharsis of recognition that Germany, South Africa, much of the West concerning colonialism and racism, and the still incomplete Japanese confrontation with its crimes in between 1931-1945 all represent.

    Indeed, I would argue that Turkey’s brutal response towards its restive Kurdish minority is only made possible by its refusal to confront what it did to the Armenians in 1915. In some respects, Turkey will not find peace, nor any balance between its secular and Muslim identities until it confronts its crimes, any more than the United States could commence its own journey towards racial healing without first having confronted the crimes of slavery and Jim Crow. Until Turkey confronts its past, there will be few individual Turks–politicians, military leaders and ordinary citizens–who will know enough to prevent a similar fate from befalling the Kurds.

    Balzac famously said that behind every great fortune there is a crime. I think the same may be said of nation-states. To some degree, Turkey’s prospects as a nation do not lie in facing east or west, or whether to continue lobbying the EU for membership or asserting new leadership in the Levant. The country is badly in need of a national confession whatever may be its cost.

  19. What does the neocon camp do when it drives Turkey out of NATO? If Turkey were to leave NATO, it would deprive the US of more than a logistics lifeline to Iraq. We’d wind up losing an essential listening post for central Asia, which seems to get shakier by the day. Since the US insists on infuriating the Russians too, Turkey just mind find a ready partner in its long-time antagonist who ain’t got no love from Europe or the US after abandoning Communism twenty years ago.

  20. Seize Turkish assets in America? Turkey is a NATO member, is engaged in Afghanistan, and is a Tier III F-35 Joint Strike Fighter partner (a program that is already having troubles). The US also has assets in Turkey, normally these seizures occur when the US has few assets in the target country. Seizing Turkish assets in the US could also result in Turkey seizing US assets in Europe and other countries. It would be a giant mess of international lawsuits.

  21. Methinks that Palestinians could have grounds for suing U.S.-based supporters of Israel.

    Or vice versa.

    Oh, to be a lawyer…!

  22. All this talk of genocide is hypocritical : worse, you don’t even know why Turkey is vitally interested in maintaining control of an ethnic revolution that threatens its very national identity. Kurds live in the heart of Turkey.

    Iraq is a neighbour and things have gone to pieces because there is no longer a strongman in Iraq to keep down Kurdish nationalism. The results of that are plain to see in any issue of Assyrian International News Agency link to aina.org
    Assyrian Refugees in Damascus and Ethnic Cleansing of Assyrians in Iraq
    That’s today’s headline.

    Cheney : Invading Iraq would create a quagmire
    link to youtube.com
    That must have been embarassing after the PNAC generated group used Diebold computer hacking to fix the election in his favour. Rumsfeld never shared one little wargame with the public, knowing that open destruction of Iraq and surrounding countries would give the game away too soon.
    link to gwu.edu
    State added to that link to gwu.edu
    Planning was never available to the U.S. public either
    link to uruknet.info
    But at the end of the day the true objective starts to become clear
    link to afsc.org

    Which leaves Turkey saddled with the chaos of its neighbouring states going to pieces while Iran is denied the basics to supply its U.S. built generating system or refurbish oilfield infrastructure..The ‘suspicion’ of Iran goes back a ways, you see.
    link to en.wikipedia.org

    Let’s get this straight. Iran is paid in U.S. dollars which the U.S. turns around and defaults payment on : dishonouring an I.O.U. And this state of affairs, seen by all and sundry,will be used to judge the reliability of U.S. promises.
    Ditto North Korea,which gave up nukes to have U.S. promises broken.

    AfPak is merely the usual shooting gallery with updated torturing facilities. Somalia is ‘Mission Accomplished.’

    Turkey knows all about brinkmanship. It was the target for U.S.S.R. MIRVed ICBMs when the bright idea to install nukes on missiles close to the Soviet Union led to the Sovs deciding a submarine base and missile silos in Cuba would be a fine idea.

    How many realize that economic sanctions target a country’s infrastructure so as to deny it clean water, sanitation, education and hospitals ? The reason ‘no-bid’ contracts never fixed Iraq despite the billions spent is because they went to Halliburton and friends. They…knew what kind of ‘fixing’ was required.
    How the U.S. intentionally destroyed Iraq’s water supply – the secret behind the sanctions
    link to commondreams.org
    link to antiwar.com

    There are days I wonder why, when they are laid out,still people cannot ‘connect the dots’.
    link to en.wikipedia.org

    Have a look at Levees.org. It isn’t just Iraqi infrastructure going to pieces.

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