“Heck, what’s a little extortion among friends?”
~ Bill Watterson.

The leading headline at The New Anatolian made me laugh out loud today. At the office. From the reaction of office neighbors, I gathered they were sizing me up for a straitjacket. The headline in question reads, “Turkey seeks Iran compensation from US”. Yeah, all right, I get it. They’re calling it “compensation” these days. The accompanying photo is priceless, too, although I think it would have been more apropos if Gul had leaned over and given Ms. Rice a nice, big kiss on the cheek.

For those of you with long-term memory problems, you probably don’t get the joke, so let me explain it to you.

In the days and months leading up to Operation Iraqi Freedom, the US and Turkey, and some other allies, engaged in a little haggling to guarantee who would behave themselves while the US conducted the war, and it got so bad that some commentators were refering to the coalition as “the coalition of the bought and paid for,” among other things In the end, Turkey was finally offered the biggest bribe, totalling “about $6 billion in grants and up to $20 billion in loan guarantees,” to woo the Ankara regime to the US side. Of course, there was never a need to pay up because all deals were off when the Turkish parliament overwhelmingly voted against Turkish involvement. Besides, Saddam was Turkey’s friend and there had been a mutual understanding built between the two over the years, particularly when it came to the subject of those troublesome Kurds.

For those of you with longer-term memory problems, lets go back a little farther into history, and mention the fact that as the good ally of the US, and a member of the coalition of the willing during the Gulf War, Turkey held back on permitting US Air Force sorties from Incirlik during the first 48 hours of the war. That’s right. I bet that one slipped your mind, but the fact is that the war started on 16 January, 1991, Washington time, and no one took off from Incirlik until 18 January. Someone over at the American Hellenic Institute even had the presence of mind to complain about this to some House Representatives in the year 2000. I guess these honorable gentlemen from the House had gone shooting off their mouths about what a great ally Turkey is to the US. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, especially for a congressman, but let me quote from the letter:

Turkey did not “serve with us” in Desert Storm. Turkish public opinion supported Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein. Throughout Desert Shield (August 2, 1990 – January 15, 1991), Turkey sat on the sidelines, refusing to send any forces to the U.S.-led Coalition, refusing to authorize the U.S. request for a second land front from Turkey (see Wash. Post, Jan. 16, 1991, at A6, col. 5), and refusing to allow the use of the NATO air base at Incirlik, Turkey.

Desert Storm began January 16, 1991. It was not until over 48 hours after the air war began and only after the Iraqi air force and air defenses had been neutralized and the U.S. had achieved air superiority, that Turkey changed its position and allowed a limited number of sorties from Incirlik NATO air base; and these sorties were clearly unnecessary by that time.

Turkey never sent any forces to the U.S.-led Coalition.

Even during the Clinton administration, bribes for Ankara gushed forth from Washington in the form of military hardware sales. Calling these bribes “sales” is probably done for the benefit of the American public, when, in reality, it was just a little more wool pulled a little more firmly over the eyes, because the fact is that the “sales” were heavily subsidized by the US taxpayer. I won’t even go into the fact that the same taxpayer funds were also subsidizing “military production and employment in Turkey,” as is true today. Not only were the US taxpayers screwed by their own government and Turkey in connection with all these shady dealings, but the Kurdish people were being murdered under this same system.

Alleged promises to the US by the Turkish government to clean up its atrocious human rights record, particularly with respect to its genocide of Kurds. No one ever bothered to ask why Turkey needed $800 million of weapons per year during the Clinton administration, but if they had the answer would have been clear. Except for a couple of years during the Korean War, and again in 1974 during the Turkish invasion of North Cyprus, all of Turkey’s military activity, from the founding of the Republic until the present day on the “border” with South Kurdistan, was, and is, directed against the Kurdish people.

In addition, these facts blow to hell Turkey’s contention, in The New Anatolian article, that it was sanctions against Saddam in the 1990’s that insured Turkish-occupied Kurdistan remained undeveloped. It has been Turkey’s war, dirty and conventional, the destruction of villages, the decimation of traditional agricultural livelihood, the extra-judicial murders, the impunity of security forces, the torture, and the forced deportations of Kurds that contributed to the “underdevelopment” that characterized the official policy of the Ankara regime toward the Kurdish people since 1923. For an overview of the economics of underdevelopment as practiced by Ankara, you should read–yes, if you don’t know, you should be reading–Paul White’s Primitive Rebels or Revolutionary Modernizers? or David McDowall’s A Modern History of the Kurds.

In short, it was not sanctions against Saddam that kept Turkish-occupied Kurdistan underdeveloped; it was, and continues to be, Ankara’s own policies that keep The Region impoverished.

What is the bribe–or should I call it extortion, or should I be politically correct and call it compensation?–going to get Uncle Sam for his money? Well, Turkey won’t go along with a UN security council resolution if it doesn’t get the bribe, but even with a bribe, it’s still not a sure thing. The Ankara regime is crying about how economic sanctions alone won’t work against Iran. Besides, Turkey is going to be hurting from all the loss of trade it conducts with those fat, rich mullahs, to the tune of $1.144 billion in the first quarter of this year alone. I don’t suppose they included their drug-trafficking industry in those figures, do you? I mean, that would probably look pretty darned bad, even though it would certainly make the $1.144 billion figure soar like one of NASA’s shuttles heading off for the space station.

All of this weasling on the part of the Ankara regime reminds me of a line in the article from the Regnum News Agency last week. The Russians said:

The Turks advised Larijani [Ali Larijani–the mullah’s National Security Secretary] to put off his visit for early May, i.e. after Rice’s visit. They may well act as a go-between at the talks with Larijani by telling him what the US has said. This is quite typical of Ankara: to get most of the tensions between two allies and to act as a negotiator between them.

Oh, yeah, baby! That sounds like the Ankara I know, and that sounds exactly like what I’m hearing from The New Anatolian. The Regnum article appeared on 2 May, last Tuesday, so it’s not a whole week yet and the weasling has started. Turkey really doesn’t sound like it’s too hot to cooperate with its ally, but that’s nothing new. I think they’d much prefer direct US-mullah talks, as they claim in the article, because then the mullahs would report to Ankara everything the US says. Just like Ankara tells the mullahs everything the US says.

So what’s the bottom line at this moment? What’s it going to take to bribe Turkey this time? The US tipped its hand back in 2003, and now Turkey is going to play on desperation. Let’s see. . . if Turkey claims a potential quarterly loss in trade with the evil Teheran regime at $1.144 billion, then Uncle Sugar is going to have to fork over quite a load. The initial price offered in the opening round of goat-trading stands at “tens of billions of dollars.” That was plural for ten, in case you missed it, as in twenty, or thirty, or sixty or ninety billion dollars. Now we can all sit back and watch for Uncle Sugar’s counter-offer, and as the goat-trading develops, we’ll get a pretty good idea of how desperate old Uncle Sugar is getting.

Oops! I forgot to mention one little thing that might shed some light on this claim of the loss of tens of billions of dollars as a result of sanctions against Saddam. I suspect it may have more to do with the fact that the US promised to cover any of Turkey’s “major expenses” incurred as a result of the Gulf War, something which the US conveniently forgot to do. Maybe this was tit-for-tat for Turkey’s refusal to allow the use of Incirlik during the first 48 hours of the same war. Ah, well! That’s international politics for you.

The show’s starting, folks. Hurry up with the popcorn!


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