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Emet m'Tsiyon

Friday, January 17, 2020

Turkey Still Getting away with Murder -- The Next Iran?

Turkey in World War I carried out mass murder of Armenians who were numerous, even in the majority, in several areas of what is now the Turkish Republic. What is less known is that hundreds of thousands of ethnic Greeks and Assyrians --both Christian peoples-- were also slaughtered and driven from their homes during that war. After the war, when the new regime of Kemal Ataturk had taken over from the Ottoman Empire which --under the leadership of the so-called Young Turks, the Committtee for Unity and Progress -- had carried out genocide during the war, the new regime too carried out genocide and ethnic cleansing. For this service to Islam, so it was seen in Turkey at the time, Ataturk was given the title of Ghazi, glorious victor in jihad, in a holy war.* These post-war massacres and expulsions took place mainly in 1922, as from Smyrna. Before WW I, millions of non-Muslims who were not Turks lived in what was then called Asia Minor, or Anatolia or Turkey in Asia. By 1923, this large population was almost all gone. The Armenians were almost totally gone while some tens of thousands of ethnic Greeks still lived in Constantinople, known today under its Turkish name, Istanbul, and thousands of Assyrians kept on living in the southeast.

Turkey never had to pay for its crimes during WW I and the 1920s. It was believed to contain oil, petroleum, and for that reason or others, it was thought best not to bother or harass the Turks with accusations or punishments for their crimes. And when Ataturk imposed or tried to impose some secularizing reforms later in the 1920s, his position became firm in most Western public opinion. He was an admired figure in the West, including the USA. Turkey as such was admired too [a popular American song around 1950 featured the line: It's nobody's business but the Turks']. His successors in the late 1930s and in the 1940s were wise enough to keep out of WW II, although pro-German sentiment was strong. Hence, the new, supposedly secular Turkey was accepted into NATO in 1952 at the same time as Greece. Yet old habits die hard. In 1955, while both Turkey and Greece belonged to NATO, tens of thousands of ethnic Greeks were driven out of Istanbul and taken in by Greece.** Here we had a NATO member state performing ethnic cleansing on people who shared ethnicidentity with the people of another NATO member state. And NATO did nothing about it. Indeed, the Turks got away with murder both figuratively and literally.

With the rise to power of Rejep Tayyip Erdogan in late 2002, Islamist, jihadist inclinations were once again overt in the Turkish Republic. Ambitions of Ottoman imperial revival, called neo-Ottomanism, were revived and Erdogan's Turkey took a special interest in the Islamist, jihadist Hamas movement that took over the Gaza Strip in 2007. In 2010 he joined forces with Western partisans of Hamas and the Arab anti-Israel cause, including the American feminine outfit called Code Pink. They organized a so-called "Free Gaza" convoy of seven boats to supposedly bring needed goods to Gaza kept out by Israel's partial blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza. This was a pretense for a  pro-Hamas undertaking. The supposedly needed goods in Gaza carried by the convoy included medications near to or past their expiration dates and assorted equipment, much of it what some Turkish businesses were willing to get rid of. The largest of the seven boats was a Turkish ferry that customarily crossed the Turkish straits.

As the convoy approached the coast of Gaza, Israel's navy warned it not to go further. Since the warning was not heeded, Israeli commandos landed from a helicopter on the ferry boat, the Mavi Marmara. But they were not prepared for the reception they got from the scores of jihadis on the craft, Turks and others. They were attacked with knives and clubs and a few guns. When more commandos got involved, the jihadis were overcome and ten Turkish jihadis were dead, one of them a dual Turkish-US citizen, Although the jihadis were violating a legitimate blockade, President Obama acted and spoke as it were Israel doing wrong. The story of the convoy and Obama's interference is a long, detailed one that will be skipped for now.

In following years, Turkey has claimed ownership of Greek territorial waters and successfully interfered in oil and gas exploration in those waters by Italian companies working with the Greeks. Likewise, Turkey has interfered in oil and gas exploration in Cypriot territorial waters, whereas it had already occupied northern Cyprus in 1974. About a month or so ago, Turkish warships chased away from Cypriot waters an Israeli scientific research ship working in cooperation with the Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus authorities.

Again, Turkey, falsely seen as a democratic Western country, has been getting away with murder. But  its offenses have gotten much less attention in the American press than they deserved. The commentator Yohanan Visser argues that Turkey is the next Iran. Here is part of his article bringing the story up to date:
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF), for the first time ever, added Turkey to the list of security threats in the annual national security assessment.
At the same time the IDF doesn’t see a confrontation with the Turkish army in 2020.
The addition of Turkey - a country that maintains diplomatic relations with Israel and once was an ally of the Jewish state - to the list of security threats is related to the bellicose actions by Turkish dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Middle East the IDF said in the assessment.
Erdogan routinely denounces Israel for its policies toward the Palestinian Arabs and uses to compare [
= often compares] the country to Nazi-Germany while also threatening Israel over a plan to build a pipeline in the Mediterranean Sea that would bring Israeli gas from the Leviathan gas field to Europe.
The Turkish leader last month signed a memorandum with Libya about the linking of their so-called economic zones in the Mediterranean Sea.
The deal that was clearly meant to prevent Israel, Greece and Cyprus from realizing their plan for the construction of the pipeline and to claim the expected gas reserves in these zones.
"Other international actors cannot conduct exploration activities in the areas marked in the Turkish-Libyan memorandum. Greek Cypriots, Egypt, Greece and Israel cannot establish a natural gas transmission line without Turkey's consent," Erdogan said after Israel signed the gas pipe deal with Greece and Cyprus.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry later summoned the Israeli ambassador in Ankara to tell him that the construction of the gas pipeline required Turkey’s approval and that there was no need for the pipe since there is already a similar pipe line from Azerbaijan to Turkey and from there to Europe. [Israel National News, 15 January 2020]
It may be needless to say, but if anyone is not aware, there is no legal substance to Turkey's claim to ownership of the maritime territory of the eastern Mediterranean or to hegemony over it. But apparently NATO is still letting Turkey, now under the Islamist tyrant Erdogan, get away with murder.

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For more info on the expulsions of 1922-23, see:
Ernest Hemingway, "On the Quai at Smyrna" and the epigraph to Chapter II, both in the collection In Our Time
George Horton, The Blight of Asia
Marjorie Housepian, The Smyrna Affair

** For info on the pogroms and expulsion of the ethnic Greeks from Istanbul [Constantinople] in 1955:
Called Eylul Olaylari in Turkish, these pogroms took place on 6-7 September 1955, and were staged by the government of Adnan Menderes.
Pappas Post [here]
wikipedia in English [here]
wikipedia in Hebrew [here]
Alfred de Zayas, the events according to international law [here]
Kathimerini [newspaper] [here]
youtube, still photos from the events [here]
Aykan Erdemir in Politico.eu [here]
Greek Reporter [here]
European Journal of Turkish Studies [here]
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* On Ataturk's victories as Islamic victories & on the title of Ghazi, see:
Albert Avakian, "Pouvoir et Islam en Turquie  de 1919 a` 1960," Revue d'Histoire de la deuxie`me Guerre Mondiale et des Conflits Contemporains (vol 35, no. 137; 1985), pp90-91
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Previous posts on Emet m'Tsiyon on modern Greek-Turkish events & the indulgent Western policy towards Turkey



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