Archive for October, 2006

A HALLOWEEN TREAT

Posted in Uncategorized on October 31, 2006 by Mizgîn
‘Tis now the very witching time of night,
When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out
Contagion to this world.
~William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2.

In America, Halloween is a holiday dedicated to a host of fiendish creatures and all things that go bump in the night, to children who threaten tricks in exchange for treats, to dark wooded paths under a moonless sky, and to the glow radiating from the unsettling smile of the Jack-O-Lantern. It’s a time when the natural order of things is seemingly turned upside down.

In some places on this earth, Halloween isn’t needed. In those places, the natural order of things is in a permanent state of chaos and human monsters commit atrocities freely, even in broad daylight. One such place is Kurdistan.

In the spirit of Halloween, and as a reminder of the real-world monsters among us, Christopher Deliso of Balkanalysis.com offers all of us a Halloween treat, a delicious and brilliant dose of truth to counteract the tricks that are continually played on us by the ghouls who stalk the corridors of world power. From Balkanalysis.com, with many thanks to Christopher Deliso:

Damage Control Firm Takes Quiet Interest as Former US General Is Charged with Turkish Profiteering

10/31/2006 (Balkanalysis.com)

“We are indeed all friends here, friends of a great relationship.”

-Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz to the American-Turkish Council, March 18, 2002.

A major Kurdish diaspora group is calling for the head of a former American general recently dispatched to Turkey. The general, Joseph Ralston, has been accused of using his new role as ‘special envoy’ to the Turkish government to ensure that American defense giant Lockheed Martin – of which Ralston is a board member – will get to continue supplying the Turkish military with fighter planes.

On 26 October, the Kurdish National Congress of North America issued a press release demanding “the immediate resignation” of the former USAF General Ralston as the Bush administration’s point man on the Turkish campaign against Kurdish guerrillas in the country’s southeast.

Two months earlier, with little fanfare, the State Department had announced Ralston’s appointment to a position that does indeed seem curiously unique- “Special Envoy for Countering the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).” Although there are scores of simmering conflicts in countries around the globe, there are not so many to which Washington sends an official military advisor to oversee the fighting.

Indeed, as the Kurdish group discloses, “Ralston’s appointment came at a time when Turkey was finalizing the sale of 30 new Lockheed Martin F-16 aircraft (approx. $3 billion) and as Turkey was due to make a decision on the $10 billion purchase of the new Lockheed Martin F-35 JSF aircraft. The sale for the F-16’s was approved by Congress in mid-October and Turkey’s decision in favor of the F-35 JSF was announced on October 25, shortly after Ralston’s recent stay in Ankara, ostensibly to counter the PKK.”

Ralston’s affiliations with American companies and Turkish-American lobby groups that stand to gain financially from his current activities were exposed in the press release:

“General Ralston is a vice-chairman of The Cohen Group, a private lobby firm with close ties to the American Turkish Council (ATC) and Lockheed Martin. According to an article in the Washington Post in May of this year, Lockheed Martin acknowledged it was a client of The Cohen Group, and paid some $500,000 to The Cohen Group for services rendered in 2005. General Ralston is also a member of the 2006 Advisory Board of the ATC, as well as a current member of the Board of Directors of Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin is also a member of the ATC.”

The American-Turkish Council, it should be remembered, is the high-powered lobbying interest in Washington which has been fingered as an intermediary and incubator for espionage within the FBI from Turkish employees. It “wasn’t the sort of group just anyone could belong to,” pointed out former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, who was fired in spring 2002 after complaining about infiltration of the FBI and blocking of criminal investigations into related individuals.

A corrupted Air Force man and former military procurement officer to Turkey and the Central Asian states, Douglas Dickerson, and his Turkish-born wife Can Dickerson, tried unsuccessfully to recruit Edmonds into their espionage ring and promised membership in the hallowed ATC as one of the rewards for cooperation. According to Edmonds, Dickerson implied this to her husband, averring that “…all you have to do is tell the [ATC] where your wife works and what she does, and they will let you in like that.” All the translator had to do was keep the FBI off the trail of suspects under investigation for espionage regarding defense-related issues. When she refused, the Dickerson’s became hostile and threatening.

Kurdish supporters are not angry just because Ralston and his corporate cronies might make money from yet another international arms deal. They further charge that even though the Kurdish rebel group has extended an olive branch to the Turkish government, the US and Turkey have no interest in making peace, as peace would in the long-term lessen the justifications for Turkey to maintain such a large military arsenal- and thus be bad for ‘business.’ The Kurds suspect that, in order for American defense companies to keep bringing home the bacon, the conflict should sizzle for as long as possible- regardless of how many Kurdish civilians and Turkish servicemen die.

Indeed, while a unilateral PKK ceasefire went into effect on October 1, Ralston assured the Turks that there would be no compromises, no negotiations, and even no communications with the Kurdish rebels- in other words, business as usual. Speaking before the Eurasian Strategic Research Center (ASAM) in Istanbul, Ralston said:

“I want to be clear on this point: The U.S. will not negotiate with the PKK. We will not ask Turkey to negotiate with the PKK. And I pledge to you that I will never meet with the PKK.”

When asked whether the US had a vision of any “IRA solution” for the Kurds, Ralston stated that any comparison of the Irish unity struggle and the Kurdish independence one was akin to “mixing apples with oranges.” Spinning the Kurdish campaign as part of the broader ‘war on terror,’ the US envoy said, “…we will use all of the tools at our disposal: law enforcement, intelligence, diplomacy, financial pressure. And we have not taken any other option off the table.”

The Kurds know from experience what “other options” means. The civil conflict that began in 1983 – according to author Daniele Ganser, allowing corrupt state security forces and Kurdish smugglers to profit from the heroin trade – has claimed over 30,000 lives and resulted in the destruction of over 3,000 Kurdish villages. Indeed, as the former Air Force general noted with satisfaction, “the U.S. has done more to assist Turkey in its fight against the PKK than any other country.” And, if Ralston and his military-corporate friends have anything to say about it, this “assistance” will continue for years to come as Turkey builds up its military arsenal.

Of course, the special military liaison’s role in Turkey has been complicated by extenuating foreign policy concerns. Turkish public opinion regarding the US since the Iraq invasion has gone from wary to hostile over the Kurdish issue. Turks believe that the renewed turbulence in the southeast since 2003 is a direct result of the US’ “liberation” of Iraqi Kurds in the bordering region, whose taste for freedom, Turks fear, has rubbed off on their own restive Kurdish minority.

Ralston’s visit is only the latest in a diplomatic drive to mend fences and assuage hurt feelings in Turkey. The former general emphasized that “the PKK is a terrorist organization, not a tool of U.S. foreign policy. We are not using and will not use the PKK in any way in Iraq.” As a means of reaffirming this goodwill, Ralston and his fellow Lockheed Martin shareholders pledge to help the Turkish government put down the Kurdish revolt- even if it means they have to profit at the same time. Such altruism is truly noble.

Enter the Damage Control Experts: Public Strategies Inc. Ponders a Response

The Kurdish lobby group’s press release has captured the attention of the relevant damage-control companies. Mizgin Yilmaz, a Kurdish activist who carried the press release on her blog, Rastî, provided Balkanalysis.com with the following tidbit: “we had a forty-minute visit from a company called Public Strategies, Inc, first for five minutes and another twenty minutes later, for a little over thirty minutes.” PSI did not immediately respond to our request for information regarding its current relationship with Ralston or Lockheed Martin.

According to Source Watch, “Public Strategies has helped many corporations involved in high-profile crises successfully weather the storm and better prepare for the possibility of future turbulence.” The company proudly maintains that is that many corporations’ first phone call for crisis response.” The PSI website states:

“with significant shareholder value at stake, forward-thinking companies know that the best defense against crisis is a good offense: be prepared… companies also call on us when they get blindsided. In any crisis, the first 48 hours are critical. Our experts help clients mobilize a rapid, centralized response aimed first at stabilizing the situation and then at managing through it.”

The question is, who made the call to PSI after the press release on General Ralston and his escapades in Turkey?

Although it is not stated, strong suspicions point to Lockheed Martin as the entity whose “significant shareholder value” was at stake. In one of its case studies, PSI proudly points out a prior success:

“as the federal government began to consider proposals for the next generation of state-of-the-art fighter jets, Public Strategies was called to develop subtle-but-effective tactics to direct the government’s selection in the favor of a major aeronautics manufacturer… Public Strategies crafted a tactical communications campaign designed to create a favorable environment for the company and its proposal.”

In the end, the company discloses, “the U.S. Department of Defense awarded our client the largest military contract in history, worth $200 billion.” Although it is not stated explicitly, it’s no secret that the winning bidder was none other than Lockheed-Martin.

In October 2002, the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts released a report noting that the Fort Worth-based company would receive a combined, multi-year federal contract worth some $200 billion. The contract was for the next – and perhaps final – generation of US fighter planes, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), “one of the most sophisticated and deadly objects ever devised by man.”

In the future, the veracity of this claim could be decided by a focus group conducted somewhere in say, southeast Turkey.

Just think! PSI or the Cohen Group could organize the focus group, supported of course by federal funds, as part of a new “military assistance” package to Ankara. And then we could all learn just how sophisticated and deadly the F-35 really is. A win-win situation for everyone!

BOO!

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OUTRAGEOUS

Posted in Uncategorized on October 30, 2006 by Mizgîn
” . . . in their [Kurdish] case, their cultural level is so low, their mentality so backward, that they cannot be simply in the general Turkish body politic . . . they will die out, economically unfitted for the struggle for life in competition with the more advanced and cultured Turks . . . as many as can will emigrate into Persia and Iraq, while the rest will simply undergo the elimination of the unfit.”
~ Tevfik Rustu Aras, Turkish Foreign Minister, 1927.

That’s right, folks, it’s outrageous, but it’s not a revelation. From the Sunday Telegraph:

Blair entrusts policy to peace, love and harmony


By Patrick Hennessy, Political Editor, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 1:39am GMT 30/10/2006

A top-secret memo seen by The Sunday Telegraph, reveals Tony Blair and his senior officials have drawn up an extraordinary “wish list” of how they would like to see the world looking just 10 years from now.

It is a wildly optimistic vision that might leave even the most naive of political students gaping in disbelief.

Yet, according to a top-secret memo seen by The Sunday Telegraph, Tony Blair and his senior officials have drawn up an extraordinary “wish list” of how they would like to see the world looking just 10 years from now.

Central to their vision is a “significant reduction in the number and intensity of regional conflicts that fuel terror activity, especially that in or directed against the UK”.

The officials list the world’s trouble spots and spell out, in what many would regard as an infeasibly optimistic fashion, the ideal results that British foreign policy must work towards in the next decade.

[ . . . ]

The memo, circulated to senior ministers and security officials, envisages a significant – and controversial – expansion of the European Union to include Turkey and some Balkan states. These must be “stable” and “on their way into the EU”, according to the classified document.

A contentious section deals with the Kurdish populations of Turkey, Iran and Iraq, all of whom face repression. To avoid being seed beds for terrorism, these populations must be “acquiescing in their treatment”. In the Middle East and south Asia generally, there must be “no new failed states, dictatorships or wars” – an extraordinary state of affairs to hope for, let alone to expect.

We have known, since Ocalan’s capture, that the entire international community was working against the Kurdish people and their struggle.

The silence following Helebçe and the greater Anfal campaign was proof of the international community’s complicity in the attempted genocide of Kurds. The silence following the uprisings in Syrian- and Iranian-occupied Kurdistan in the last few years was more proof, as if we needed it, that the international community does not give a damn about Kurds.

In particular, for the sake of Western interests, and the interests of those lapdog states of the West created at the end of World War I, Kurds are required to comply with the gross human rights abuses perpetrated against them by the same dirty gangs who insist that they are legitimate holders of power. Moreover, Turkey’s EU accession process must guarantee a “stable” Turkey for the sake of economic interests, in the same way that the US requires mere economic stability for its Greater Middle East Initiative. Neither of these have anything to do with freedom, democracy, secularism or any of the other buzz words embedded in all the false advertising hype about entrance into, or creation of, these economic clubs.

Remember also that Kurdistan is far too resource rich to leave in the hands of backward mountain savages.

If democracy is the essence of the EU accession process, then make a list of all the Kurds who have been included in the process . . . And I mean real Kurds, not the assimilated Uncle Toms who perpetually inhabit the TBMM, manage their huge, estates from places like Istanbul, and form an integral part of the apparatus of state brutality.

No Kurds have been involved in any of the accession process, a fact which exposes the lie of “democratic reform.” How are we to take an accession process that claims to be democratic if 20 million people have been completely left out of it? By the same token, how is Turkey a democracy when the same 20 million Kurds are not allowed a voice in the national political process?

Democracy, boys and girls, is only good enough for Westerners, and a “stable” Turkey as a member of the EU is only good for Westerners. Make no mistake: if democracy, secularism, social and economic progress, as well as full political rights do not come to Kurds under Turkish repression, neither will they come to Turks.

There are no “seed beds of terrorism” in Kurdistan; there are only seed beds of resistance to occupation and brutality. Whoever wants to find seed beds of terrorism will have to look in the capitals and assemblies of the occupying states, and in the capitals and assemblies of the Western backers of those occupying states. Instead of manufacturing lies about the location of seed beds of terrorism, Mr. Blair would do better to make a sincere mea culpa and declare loudly (not in secret memo): “I have seen the enemy, and he is us!”

If Mr. Blair insists that Kurds acquiesce in their treatment, then you can bet your bottom dollar that every other Western leader insists upon the same thing.

The mask has fallen away and that which we have suspected for so long is finally proven.

YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK

Posted in Uncategorized on October 29, 2006 by Mizgîn
The Congress finds that responsible representative Government requires public awareness of the efforts of paid lobbyists to influence the public decisionmaking process in both the legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government; [ . . .] and the effective public disclosure of the identity and extent of the efforts of paid lobbyists to influence Federal officials in the conduct of Government actions will increase public confidence in the integrity of Government.
~ Section 2, Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995.

According to a mid-year report filed with the US Senate by The Cohen Group, Joseph Ralston was listed as a new lobbyist for Lockheed Martin for the first half of 2006:

The specific lobbying issue under item #16 of the Lobbying Report was listed as “Issues related to export of tactical fighter aircraft and defense technology.” The federal agency to be contacted, as listed in item #17, was the Department of Defense–Ralston’s old employer. The report was signed by Robert S. Tyrer, President and Chief Operating Officer of The Cohen Group, 11 August, 2006.

The report was stamped filed by the Secretary of the Senate on 22 August, 2006, just six short days prior to the State Department’s announcement of Joseph Ralston’s appointment as “special envoy” to coordinate the PKK for Turkey, and just over a month after the Pentagon sent the F-16 deal to Congress for approval.

By mid-October, Ralston’s work as a lobbyist in the first half of the year paid off, as he managed to swing the F-35 deal, in which Turkey’s ruling military caste ordered the civilian government to obey, from TDN:

In recent months the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was in favor of an idea to go for a combined solution: Proceed with an ongoing partnership in the F-35 JSF program and join the European Eurofighter consortium for other strategic purposes related to Turkey’s European Union membership aspirations. But the military command recently told the government’s defense agency that it favored only the F-35 JSF solution for the Air Force’s future requirements, the officials said.

Man . . . stuff never changes does it. Seems to me the US has it’s own version of Turkey’s ruling military caste.

TCG President Tyrer’s claim is that only 10% of TCG’s business involves lobbying, from the Washington Post:

Robert S. Tyrer, Cohen Group president and longtime Cohen aide, said that less than 10 percent of the firm’s work involves lobbying, and that most of the company’s work is unrelated to defense. Tyrer said the firm’s expertise is providing “strategic planning services” for companies around the world.

Hey, I know I believe him.

When you manage to snag $12.9 billion for one of the clients in that 10%, you don’t need to do any other business, do you? And all thanks to those tight connections between the defense industry and the government, and an appointment as a “special envoy” to the client state.

Way to go, Joe!

There’s more available from the US Senate on Lockheed Martin’s lobbyists, including TCG, here.

Special thanks to Lukery from Down Under for the tip to the Senate’s Lobby Filing Disclosure Program. That program is probably one of the few examples of taxpayer dollars actually being put to good use.

If anyone wants larger, and easier to read, gif files of the report for The Cohen Group’s disclosure as Lockheed Martin’s lobbyist, send me an email.

TURKEY’S US-BACKED “WAR ON TERROR,” PART 7

Posted in Uncategorized on October 29, 2006 by Mizgîn
“Expressions based on a military security strategy and remarks that the problem can only be solved through violence are concerning. Violence creates conditions where human rights are violated. Whatever it is called, to ignore the ‘ceasefire’ or ‘the [PKK] period of silencing guns’ period and place no value to it is not possible. People are dying. Silencing the guns will allow for a dialogue to begin in an environment of tolerance. It is required to give this its real importance, to see that insisting on violence does not solve the problem”
~ Yavuz Onen, TIHV Chairman.

The article has been reproduced, with permission, from the October 2006 electronic edition of Variant: Cross Currents in Culture, No. 27, Winter 2006 and from Chapter 5 of the book by Desmond Fernandes and Iskender Ozden (2006) US, UK, German and NATO ‘Inspired’ Psychological Warfare Operations Against The Kurdish ‘Communist’ Threat in Turkey and Northern Iraq (Apec Press, Stockholm).

The New Anatolian also reported on 22nd September 2006 that “Land Forces Commander Gen. Ilker Basbug, continuing his visit to the [Kurdish] east and southeast, said that the eradication of terrorism is of vital importance, adding the security forces are determined to continue the fight. Gen. Basbug also said the fight will continue until the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has been completely eradicated. Gendarmerie Commander Gen. Isik Kosaner accompanied Gen. Basbug in his visit to Siirt where the two commanders met with Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu. Also with Gen. Basbug were Second Army Commander Gen. Hasan Igsiz, Special Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Servet Yoruk, Gendarmerie Corps Commander Lt. Gen. Abdullah Atay and Third Commando Brigade Commander Brig. Gen. Abdullah Barutcu … Explaining that the visit was part of an inspection of the Second Army, Gen. Basbug said that the military delegation had also visited [the Kurdish regions of] Malatya, Van, Hakkari, Sirnak and Siirt and inspected the military units there. Sources close to the military have said the visit is part of a new strategy against the PKK … ‘The temporary village guards system’” – which has been responsible for severe human rights abuses against Kurdish civilians over the years and which human rights organisations and even the European Parliament General Assembly’s approved ‘Eurlings’ report had recommended to Turkey to “abolish” as recently as September 2006 (176) – “‘is very important in our fight against terrorism, and finding a solution to their problems [sic] should be our prime duty’, added Gen. Basbug … [He] added: ‘The police and all the security forces are determined to fight terrorism until the PKK is no more’”. (177) The Turkish government, reported Cihan News Agency, also officially appointed retired general Edip Baser in September 2006 “as Turkey’s special envoy for fighting against terror, including the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) … General Baser was the former Deputy Chief of Turkish General Staff and 2nd Army Commander. He also served as NATO’s Head of Intelligence Unit in the Allied Joint Forces in Naples and the Commander of Joint Headquarters Southeast. The appointment decision came in the wake of the US appointment of former Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston to coordinate US engagement with Turkish and Iraqi governments in the fight to eliminate the terrorist threat of the PKK and other terrorist groups operating in northern Iraq and across the Turkey-Iraq border”. (178)

On 24th September 2006, The New Anatolian further informs us that, “briefing reporters about [a] meeting … at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, … Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Namik Tan stated that Gul”, Turkey’s Foreign Minister and Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State “expressed their countries’ continued will to fight the PKK, stressing that the appointment of Turkish and US special envoys to combat terrorism have accelerated such efforts. Tan also stated that during the meeting, Gul and Rice underlined that concrete steps have begun to be taken in line with the Turkish-US joint vision document, describing the crucial meeting as ‘warm’” (179). Just three days after this, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul clarified “that Turkey would keep fighting against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to the bitter end … ‘We will continue to fight to the end, and it will be finished sooner or later’”.(180) PNA noted, on 10th October 2006, that: “Despite the fact that the PKK has declared a unilateral ceasefire and the Turkish Prime Minister indicated that military actions on the borders with the Kurdistan Region would be halted, the Turkish Army fired mortar shells the day after the ceasefire, bombarding the Kurdish villages on the border with Iraqi Kurdistan … Gul announced that Erdogan would ask President Bush for help in order to ‘eradicate all PKK guerrillas’ … General Yasar Buyukanit indicated that the unilateral ceasefire would not bring an end to the violence. ‘As long as a single terrorist exists’, Buyukanit said, referring to the outlawed PKK, ‘we will continue assaults’”. (181)

As Mizgin has distressingly noted: “The PKK’s most recent unilateral ceasefire went into effect on Sunday [1st October 2006], and it still remains unilateral. The entire Turkish establishment, from Buyukanit to Erdogan have rejected it”, as has the US, “while clearly stating their determination to continue the war. This is in spite of the fact that the PKK prefers to negotiate a political settlement and indicated their willingness to do so in August, with demands that are fully consistent with EU accession criteria”. (182) Ross Wilson, the US Ambassador to Turkey, indeed, informed Turkish journalists in early October 2006 that “the US special coordinator for fighting the PKK, General Joseph Ralston, would arrive in Turkey in the upcoming weeks and hold meetings with the coordinators appointed by Turkey and Iraq. [He] also reminded [them] that all measures, including cross-border operations [into northern Iraq], are on the table”.(183) US President George W. Bush, Agence France Presse confirmed on 3rd October 2006, “backed Turkey’s push for European Union membership and hailed joint efforts to fight terrorism as he met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan” in Washington “on Monday … The talks” between the two – which took place barely a week after he had also warmly welcomed the leader of Kazakhstan and described him as a “steadfast partner in the international war on terrorism” and leader of a country that “now is a free nation” (184) – “came as Turkey vowed to fight on against Kurdish separatists [sic] (185) despite a rebel cease-fire ordered at the weekend … ‘The joint steps that we have taken … to pursue with determination our fight against terrorism continues to be very important in our relations. In fact, we do share the same opinion about forming a joint platform in order to combat terrorism on a global scale’, Erdogan said … ‘…Our desire is to help people who care about a peaceful future to reject radicalism and extremism [sic]’”. (186)

As a consequence of the role of the US and Turkey’s ‘anti-PKK co-ordinators’ and the influence they undoubtedly wield, Reuters has reported upon the following type of pressure that has been successfully exerted in Iraq: “Ankara and Washington have appointed co-ordinators to work together in the fight against the PKK and authorities in northern Iraq have shut down its offices. Turkey is now seeking more direct action to halt rebel activities. Turkey has also criticised Iraq for failing to [previously] act [enough] against the PKK, but Iraqi President Jalal Talabani” now “said the rebel group had no future. ‘I believe we have just entered a period of normalisation in our relations with Turkey. The thorn that prevented trust between us was the PKK. But now the PKK is finished. It has no future’, he told Greek newspaper Eleftherotypia”. (187) The possible role that US approved Israeli ‘special forces’ may play in intensifying ‘anti-PKK’ liquidation ‘actions’ should also not be forgotten (see main body of article for discussion). A recent BBC investigation further suggests that “former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commandos secretly” did “train Kurdish soldiers in Northern Iraq” – who are increasingly being committed by their leaders and by the US and Turkish ‘co-ordinators’ to ‘act’ against the ‘terrorist’ PKK who are stationed there – “to protect a new international airport and in counter-terrorism operations … Former Israeli special forces soldiers crossed into Iraq from Turkey in 2004 to train two sets of Kurdish troops, one of the former Israeli trainers told the BBC’s Newsnight programme. The former trainer, whose name was not disclosed, said IDF soldiers trained [KDP-PUK aligned] Kurds to act as a security force for the new airport in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil”. (188)

More importantly, in terms of the themes being explored in this article, we discover that “they also”, apparently, “trained more than 100 Peshmerga or Kurdish [PUK-KDP] fighters for ‘special assignments’ that included how to use rifles and how to shoot militants in a crowd, he said. The former soldier said … ‘My part of the contract was to train the Kurdish security people for a big airport project and for training, as well as the Peshmerga, and the actual soldiers, the army’, the former IDF soldier told Newsnight … Iraqi newspapers have reported that Israeli soldiers have trained Kurdish troops but the Kurdish authorities” – clearly obliged to try to maintain deniability given sensitivities involved in using Israeli special forces in southern Kurdistan/northern Iraq to train soldiers/Peshmerga to target potential Iranian and/or Syrian and/or PKK and/or Iraqi ‘insurgents’ – “deny allowing any Israelis into Iraq … The former IDF soldier said he trained Kurds in ‘anti-terror lessons … how to shoot first, how to identify a terrorist in a crowd’. That’s clearly special assignments”. (189)

We also need to reflect upon the substance of Julian Borger’s report in 2003. Is the type of Israeli ‘training’ and ‘advice’ that was being provided to US special forces being passed on by the latter to KDP-PUK Kurdish forces in northern Iraq/southern Kurdistan – to enable them to ‘more effectively’ act against the PKK ‘terrorist threat?’ Have any of the US ‘special forces’ who have been involved in assassination and other psyops programmes against ‘Iraqi insurgents’ in other parts of Iraq been diverted to covertly ‘assist’ with the ‘anti-PKK’ programme that Ralston is co-ordinating? It would certainly be surprising if such ‘expertise’ was not being ‘exploited’ in the US backed ‘war’ against the ‘terrorist’ PKK. After all, as has already been documented, US officials have clearly stated that they see ‘no difference between al Qaeda and the PKK, or between Abdullah Ocalan and Osama Bin Laden’:

Israeli advisers are helping train US special forces in aggressive counter-insurgency operations in Iraq, including the use of assassination squads against guerrilla leaders, US intelligence and military sources said yesterday. The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) has sent urban warfare specialists to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the home of US special forces, and according to two sources, Israeli military ‘consultants’ have also visited Iraq.

US forces in Iraq’s Sunni triangle have already begun to use tactics that echo Israeli operations in the occupied territories, sealing off centres of resistance with razor wire and razing buildings from where attacks have been launched against US troops.

But the secret war in Iraq is about to get much tougher, in the hope of suppressing the Ba’athist-led insurgency ahead of next November’s presidential elections. US special forces teams are already behind the lines inside Syria attempting to kill foreign jihadists before they cross the border, and a group focused on the “neutralisation” of guerrilla leaders is being set up, according to sources familiar with the operations.

“This is basically an assassination programme. That is what is being conceptualised here. This is a hunter-killer team”, said a former senior US intelligence official, who added that he feared the new tactics and enhanced cooperation with Israel would only inflame a volatile situation in the Middle East. “It is bonkers, insane.Here we are – we’re already being compared to Sharon in the Arab world, and we’ve just confirmed it by bringing in the Israelis and setting up assassination teams”.

“They are being trained by Israelis in Fort Bragg”, a well-informed intelligence source in Washington said. “Some Israelis went to Iraq as well, not to do training, but for providing consultations”. The consultants’ visit to Iraq was confirmed by another US source who was in contact with American officials there. The Pentagon did not return calls seeking comment, but a military planner, Brigadier General Michael Vane, mentioned the cooperation with Israel in a letter to Army magazine in July about the Iraq counter-insurgency campaign. “We recently travelled to Israel to glean lessons learned from their counterterrorist operations in urban areas”, wrote General Vane, deputy chief of staff at the army’s training and doctrine command. An Israeli official said the IDF regularly shared its experience in the West Bank and Gaza with the US armed forces, but said he could not comment about cooperation in Iraq. “When we do activities, the US military attaches in Tel Aviv are interested. I assume it’s the same as the British. That’s the way allies work. The special forces come to our people and say, do debrief on an operation we have done”, the official said. “Does it affect Iraq? It’s not in our interest or the American interest to go into that …” (190)

In conclusion, it is, perhaps, useful to reflect upon the concerns that have been raised by representatives of human rights organisations and commentators and analysts such as Ertugrul Kurkcu, Lord Russell-Johnston and Ragip Zarakolu:

• “Turkey’s Human Rights Foundation (TIHV) chairman Yavuz Onen has said that a number recent statements made by army commanders, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and most lately by Chief of General Staff Commander Yasar Buyukanit captivated issues in a conflict that made people forget about freedoms, human rights, democracy and peace. ‘It is as if democracy and human rights have been postponed’, he said”. (191) Over the manner in which the PKK ceasefire call had been ignored by key establishment figures, he commented: “‘Expressions based on a military security strategy and remarks that the problem can only be solved through violence are concerning. Violence creates conditions where human rights are violated. Whatever it is called, to ignore the ‘ceasefire’ or ‘the [PKK] period of silencing guns’ period and place no value to it is not possible. People are dying. Silencing the guns will allow for a dialogue to begin in an environment of tolerance. It is required to give this its real importance, to see that insisting on violence does not solve the problem’”. Onen called for “the forces of democracy … to raise their voices against these violations and against interventions but also warn[ed] that: ‘In Turkey’”, given current circumstances, “‘defending democracy and human rights has started to become synonymous to treason. While we are concerned about escalating [Turkish] nationalism’”, he noted that it was necessary to recognise that “‘they are gradually growing towards a more open fascist expression. Without naming it, they are saying we deserve fascist regimes’. According to Onen, those truly defending the values of democracy need to stand up [now] against such expressions and approaches”. (192)

• “The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a report that criticizes the methods Turkey has used to fight the PKK. The report entitled ‘The Cultural Situation of the Kurds in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria’, [was] prepared by PACE Co-chairman Lord Russell-Johnston … The report urges that the Kurdish question be considered from a wider perspective, instead of as a mere security issue. The report, which asserts that Turkey has made mistakes in its fight against the PKK, also reports that Ankara’s non-comprehensive approach strengthened the separatist movement. It also urges Turkey to see the Kurds as a part of its cultural richness, not as a threat … The report makes striking recommendations on the issue of education in the mother tongue. To this end, it urges Turkey to provide an opportunity for education in Kurdish, ensure that university curricula include optional courses on Kurdish language and literature, as well as informing Kurdish families of the existing language training opportunities”, things that are currently perceived to represent ‘terrorist’ aspirations or ‘threats’ if they happen to be endorsed by Turkish or Kurdish citizens, as we have seen. “The report additionally reiterates its call on Turkey to sign, ratify and implement the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages”. (193) A. Noyan Ozkaya observes that the report does “recommend the following steps to be taken:

– The signing and implementation of the European Charter for Regional and Minority languages to protect Kurdish languages [something which is not being done in the context of the current US backed ‘War on Terror’],

– Taking steps to assure education in the mother language [inclusive of the Kurdish ‘mother tongue’],

– Informing Kurdish parents on the different linguistic possibilities,

– Encouraging university classes on Kurdish culture,

– Supporting Kurdish cultural associations in Turkey,

– Promoting the development of mass media in Kurdish”. (194)

•To Kurkcu: “Consecutive declarations of political positions by the Armed Forces Chief of Staff and top commanders” in recent months “could be read as a series of indicators for the public and international community. These indicators, for the time being, are not ‘Green’ or ‘positive’ signs showing what is endorsed [i.e. being encouraged by the army], but are ‘Red’, indicating what must not be done: “The military … does not want to hand-over … power to the government … The military does not want a solution to the ‘Kurdish Problem’ through granting the Kurds ‘community rights’. The military does not want the roadblocks for freedoms of expression, criticism and organization lifted. The military does not want to adjust itself to the [granting of political and cultural rights advocated in the] ‘Copenhagen Criteria’, a precondition for European Union accession … General Yasar Buyukanit, while still the Land Forces Commander, had not hidden his dissatisfaction with with the [‘reform’] policies [ostensibly] pursued by the government on the Cyprus and Kurdish problem, and had made harsh innuendos against the [critical] approach of European Union rapporteurs towards the Armed Forces. Without doubt, Buyukanit’s approaches that voice the search for an ‘authoritarian democracy’ and encourage ultra-[Turkish] nationalism is a direct reflection of his own line of thought. Neverthless, the fact that like-minded officers who are in full agreement with Buyukanit on almost all major issues are appointed to the posts of high command, should be read as reflecting a ruling class/force preference [rather] than [just] his own personal preference … There is no reason to doubt that the army will do everything within its hands in order to impose its preferences …” (195)

• “The Chairman of the Freedom to Publish Committee, Ragip Zarakolu, has issued the following alarming statement on the recent arrests made under the new Anti-Terror Law:

‘Last week a mass arrest campaign began against left reviews [i.e. publications] in Istanbul. The editors of the reviews Atilim and Sanat ve Hayat … as well of The Free Radiowere arrested, their offices were searched by special police teams. The Art and Culture Institution Beksav, too, was subjected to similar searches. The new Anti-Terror Law is used not against the terrorists but against freedom of expression. Last week, two Kurdish reviews, Ozgur Halk and Genç Bakis had the same fate.

‘Beksav made a press conference [to mark the] 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide last year. Sanat ve Hayat review published three booklets as free supplements about Armenian literature and the genocide.

‘We are calling the attention of human rights [campaigners] and writers and publisher organisations to this misuse of the Anti-Terror Law against freedom of expression. The President of Turkey sent this law to the Constitutional Court, saying that this new law is against freedom of expression. These police operations, carried out in spite of the opposition of the President of The Republic, mean giving an opportunity to the government and the military to finish the opposition press in Turkey before the high court cancels this law. We are in need of urgent reaction of democratic world public opinion’”. (196)

– Desmond Fernandes, 10th October 2006.

Note: Desmond Fernandes and Iskender Ozden’s book, US, UK, German and NATO ‘Inspired’ Psychological Warfare Operations Against The Kurdish ‘Communist’ Threat in Turkey and Northern Iraq,will be released in December 2006. It is published by Apec Press (Stockholm, Sweden) and can be obtained in the UK from Housmans Bookshop (5 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London N1 9DX. Tel: 020 7837 4473).

176. See AFP (2006) ‘Turkish PM rejects Kurdish leader’s cease fire offer’, AFP, 29 September 2006.
177. The New Anatolian, 22 September 2006, as reproduced by Info Turk, ‘General Basbug Seeks Public Support in Fighting Terror’, Info Turk, September 2006, No. 337 (http://www.info-turk.be/337.htm#Buyukanit).
178. Cihan News Agency, September 2006, as reproduced in Info Turk, ‘Gov’t Appoints Retired Gen. Baser As Special Envoy to Fight PKK’, Info Turk, September 2006, No. 337 (http://www.info-turk.be/337.htm#Buyukanit).
179. The New Anatolian (2006) ‘Gul warns: No solution to Kirkuk issue will aggravate Iraq’s problems’, The New Anatolian, 24 September, 2006.
180. Cihan News Agency (2006) ‘Turkey to keep fighting PKK to the end – FM Gul’, Cihan News Agency, 28 September 2006.
181. PNA (2006) ‘Turkey to consider PKK ceasefire’, PNA, October 2006.
182. As cited in: http://dozame.org/blog/2006/08/24/declaration-for-the-democratic-resolution-of-the-kurdish-question/
183. Aslan, A. (2006) ‘Wilson: “Reactionary” Debates Cacophonous’, Zaman.com, 4 October 2006 (http://www.zaman.com/?bl=international&alt=&trh=20061004&hn=37059).
184. On this point, Ted Rall, author of Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?, comments: “It depends on what your definition of ‘free’ is … Scratch the gloss of the gleaming energy-boom-funded skyscrapers rising over the Kazakh metropolises of Almaty and Astana, and it becomes clear that the United States is giving the red-carpet, 21-gun salute treatment to [yet] another right-wing dictator of the variety we propped up during the Cold War … Nazarbayev, the Communist Party boss of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) at the time of the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, has been Kazakhstan’s strongman since independence … Early in 2005, Nazarbayev had the DVK [the main opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan party] banned entirely for ‘inciting social tension’ and ‘extremism’. A few weeks after promising to release evidence that Nazarbayev and his family were involved in oil-related corruption, Zamanbek Nurkadilov, a former Nazarbayev cabinet minister who joined the nation’s sole remaining viable opposition party, For a Fair Kazakhstan (NAZ), was found dead at his home in Almaty, a pistol lying at his side. Nurkadilov had been shot three times – twice in the chest and once in the head. Kazakh authorities ruled his death a suicide … Misfortune [has] continued to befall Kazakhs who sp[ea]k out against Nazarbayev. On February 13, 2006, reported Radio Free Europe, the bodies of Nurkadilov’s replacement as NAZ leader and four aides ‘were discovered on a desolate stretch of road outside Almaty … their bodies riddled with bullets and their hands bound behind their backs’. Altynbek Sarsenbayev had recently announced his own intention to release proof of Nazarbayev and his cronies’ misuse of oil revenues. The government blamed five rogue officers of its KNB (ex-KGB) security service for the contract killing. No one believes the official story. The Kazakh regime … has ruthlessly crushed attempts to curtail freedom of expression, a crucial building block of an open society. Journalists have been threatened, beaten and jailed. After the leading independent newspaper Respublika published an interview with a Russian politician that criticized Nazarbayev in May 2005, it was ordered closed. A printing house that agreed to publish a successor newspaper, Setkz, was shuttered as well. The state Internet monopoly, controlled by one of Nazarbayev’s daughters, censors block access to opposition and independent websites. Since a presidential proclamation signed by President Bush in 2004 bans visits by corrupt foreign officials to the United States, Nazarbayev – embroiled in a ‘Kazakhgate’ influence peddling scandal scheduled for federal court later this fall – was legally [supposed to be] ineligible to come to Washington last week. Consultant and lobbyist James Giffen will soon face charges ’‘’that he funneled more than $78 million in bribes from his energy company clients, most of it to Nazarbayev and his former prime minister. According to the Justice Department, Giffen also gave Nazarbayev’s wife fur coats and a snowmobile, and even paid Nazarbayev’s daughter’s tuition at George Washington University. US officials call ‘Kazakhgate’ one of the largest violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in history. According to a reliable source, high-ranking White House officials are pressuring the Justice Department to drop the case. [The reason?]: Kazakhstan’s geopolitical importance [to the Bush administration] is obvious. It is the largest producer of Caspian Sea oil, borders Russia, China and the other Central Asian states, and has granted the US Air Force landing rights at Almaty’s airport for operations in Afghanistan … Kazakhstan is [also] the only Central Asian republic to have sent troops to Iraq. In all the ways that matter, however, Nazarbayev presides over a police state that is indistinguishable from his more notorious neighbors, such as Islam Karimov, president of Uzbekistan. Karimov ordered and personally supervised the massacre of at least 700 demonstrators in the Uzbek city of Andijon. The May 13, 2005 incident [is] known in the region as ‘Uzbekistan’s Tiananmen Square’ … [Yet], Nazarbayev appeared at a joint press conference with Karimov in March 2006, nearly a year after the Andijon massacre. ‘Of course, we regret everything that happened [at Andijon]’, said Nazarbayev. ‘However, it should be said that another end [i.e., not killing the demonstrators] would have destabilized now the whole region’. Destablization”, Rall observes, “might have given Kazakstan’s 15 million citizens, 99 percent of whom live in poverty while Nazarbayev steals the oil and gas beneath their feet, a chance to liberate themselves. [Yet], sadly and once again, the US government is siding with a dictator over the people”, and, as in Turkey, supporting and ‘jointly’ working as a ‘partner’ in the international ‘war on terror’, with terrorist forces and regimes (All Ted Rall quotes here come from his article, ‘Bush Gives 15 Million Muslims More Reasons to Hate Us’ – Accessed at: http://www.uexpress.com/tedrall/).President Bush’s welcoming address to Nazarbayev is worth reading: “Mr. President, thank you for coming. It’s been my honor to welcome the President of Kazakhstan … We’ve just had a very important and interesting discussion. We discussed our desire to defeat extremism and our mutual desire to support the forces of moderation [sic] throughout the world. I thanked the President for his contribution to helping a new democracy in Iraq survive and thrive and grow. I thank very much the President for his concerns about Afghanistan’s democracy, and his willingness to help in Afghanistan … We talked about our commitment to institutions that will enable liberty to flourish. I have watched very carefully the development of this important country from one that was in the Soviet sphere to one that now is a free nation. And I appreciate your leadership, Mr. President. And I welcome you here to the White House …” – Source: Office of the Press Secretary, The Oval Office (2006) ‘President Bush Welcomes President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan to the White House’, White House Press Release, Office of the Press Secretary, The Oval Office, Washington, DC, September 29, 2006 (http://www.state.gov/p/sca/rls/pr/2006/73384.htm).
185. ’‘’ The PKK and other organisations, with Ocalan as their leader, have rejected ‘separatism’ for years now. The ‘separatism’ tag, therefore, is a deliberately misleading one as far as the ‘terrorist’ PKK, Kongra-Gel and KKK are concerned. The KKK (Kurdistan Democratic Confederalism) Executive Council’s most recent statement on 20th August 2006, for instance, clarified that: “We would like as a movement” – with Ocalan at its head – “to emphasize, once again, that the right solution is a democratic autonomy within the borders of Turkey” – Declaration for the democratic resolution of the Kurdish question, KKK [Kurdistan Democratic Confederalism] Executive Council, 20 August 2006. Translation from Turkish original (Accessed at: http://www.kurdmedia.com/articles.asp?id=13093 and http://dozame.org/blog/2006/08/24/declaration-for-the-democratic-resolution-of-the-kurdish-question/). A BBC report, dated 19th August 2005, also clarifies that “The Kurdish rebel group fighting for autonomy in south-eastern Turkey … has announced a one-month ceasefire” – BBC News (2005) ‘Kurdish rebels declare ceasefire’, BBC News, Friday, 19 August 2005 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4166166.stm).The Presidential Board of Koma Komalen Kurdistan (KKK – Democratic Confederation of Kurdistan) issued the following statement on 30th September 2006: “On the 28th September 2006, following the decisions of the assembly, the Leader of Koma Komalen Kurdistan, Apo (Abdullah Öcalan), declared once again to the public and the movement the decision of a ceasefire … We will carry out our work for this aim of a positive outcome in order to create the conditions for a life within a democratic and free union and to solve the problem within the borders of Turkey” (KKK Presidential Board Statement, ‘To the press and the public opinion’, 30th September 2006).
186. Knox, O. (2006)‘Bush and Erdogan emphasize common ground after talks’, Agence France Presse, 3 October 2006.
187. Reuters (2006) ‘Turkey seeks US help on Kurd rebels as ceasefire starts’, Reuters, 2 October 2006.
188. Reuters (2006) ‘Report: Former IDF commandos secretly trained Kurdish soldiers’, Reuters, as reproduced in Haaretz, 20 September 2006 (as reproduced in: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/765068.html).
189. Reuters (2006) ‘Report: Former IDF commandos secretly trained Kurdish soldiers’, Reuters, as reproduced in Haaretz, 20 September 2006 (as reproduced in: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/765068.html).
190. Borger, J. (2003) ‘Israel trains US Assassination Squads in Iraq’, The Guardian , 9 December 2003 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1102940,00.html).
191. Korkut, T. (2006) ‘Turkey: Postponing Democracy and Peace’, BIA News Center, 4 October 2006.
192. Korkut, T. (2006) ‘Turkey: Postponing Democracy and Peace’, BIA News Center, 4 October 2006.
193. Demir, E. (2006) ‘PACE Criticizes Turkey’s Methods of Combating Terrorism’, zaman.com, 5 October 2006.
194. Ozkaya, A. N. (2006) ‘PACE Approves Report on Kurds: “The cultural situation of the Kurds”’, 5 October 2006. Source: Council of Europe and Minorities, A. Noyan Ozkaya. Cihan News Agency clarifies that: “It must be noted that the report’s recommendations, however, are non-binding in nature” – The Turkish state, consequently, is not obliged to impliment any of the recommendations – Cihan News Agency (2006) ‘PACE Adopts Report on Kurdish Rights’, Cihan News Agency, 5 October, 2006 (zaman.com).
195. Kurkcu, E. (2006) ‘Washington’s Preferences’, Siyasi Gazete, October 2006.
196. As quoted in Info Turk (2006) ‘New Anti-Terror Law is Used Against the Freedom of Expression’, Info Turk, September 2006, No. 337 (http://www.info-turk.be/337.htm#Droits).

TURKEY’S US-BACKED “WAR ON TERROR,” PART 6

Posted in Uncategorized on October 28, 2006 by Mizgîn
“But do those at the helm of the US backed ‘War on Terror’ in Turkey really want such an end to hostilities? Do they even want to explore the possibilities for peace? As Ralston, Bush and the neo-cons well know, even the current $2.9 billion deal they are brokering for Lockheed is chicken-feed compared to the other mega-deals that are seemingly already in place – as long as there is no resolution to the ‘Kurdish question’ or ‘negotiated end’ to the ‘terrorist’ conflict.”
~ Desmond Fernandes.

The article has been reproduced, with permission, from the October 2006 electronic edition of Variant: Cross Currents in Culture, No. 27, Winter 2006 and from Chapter 5 of the book by Desmond Fernandes and Iskender Ozden (2006) US, UK, German and NATO ‘Inspired’ Psychological Warfare Operations Against The Kurdish ‘Communist’ Threat in Turkey and Northern Iraq (Apec Press, Stockholm)”.

Further concerns over the manner in which the US backed ‘War on Terror’ is being prosecuted in Turkey have been voiced by Turkey’s Human Rights Association (Incidentally, the following ‘concerns’ have hardly been reported in the mainstream press in the UK or the US):

Turkish police have detained 114 suspects including journalists and radio workers in what has turned out to be a counter-terrorism operation that involves not only the organization it targets, but a number of legitimate unions that were recently involved in industrial disputes, a women’s rights association, a leftwing newspaper and a popular liberal radio station based in Istanbul.

Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD) reflected on the “concerning developments” taking place throughout the country and in a joint statement made with representatives of other rights groups has said “the practices enforced are worrying. Raids and detentions are seen by us as obstacles placed in front of the forces of democracy”.

According to a report issued by Ozgur Radyo [Free Radio] that was searched by 30 policemen extensively last week after entries and exits to its street were placed under control, a total of 14 people have so far been arrested as part of the operation in the cities of Izmir, Ankara, Adana, Sivas, Mugla and Manisa, where they have been sent to prison. While 82 suspects are still believed to be held in detention across the country, 31 of the suspects including Ozgur Radyo’s news editor Halil Dinc and radio executive Sinan Gercek were detained in metropolitan Istanbul. The radio’s Broadcast Coordinator Fusun Erdogan had been previously detained and placed under arrest. She is being kept at Gebze prison where she has refused to give any statement on [the] grounds that she has not been informed of any charges levelled against her.

Ozgur Radyo and a leftwing newspaper are the worst to suffer from the recent roundup. At core of the operation is the underground Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP) which was formed in 1994 as a unification of two leftist groups known as the Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist Leninist Movement (TKP/ML Hareketi) and the Communist Workers Movement of Turkey (TKIH). The operation follows a recent hack and takeover of the organization’s web site by a group of extreme nationalist hackers. Targeted in the operation in addition to the radio, though, is what some experts regard as a substitute to an organizational voice, the Atilim (Leap) newspaper, also known as the voice of the Socialist Platform of the Oppressed (ESP). Banned for 15 days from print with a previous court order, Atilim said in its English language report online that its Chief Editor, Chief Coordinator and writers “were among … [those] imprisoned recently” in reference to the initial roundup. It claimed the banning order was taken due to its “reporting on the recent detentions and imprisonments” …

During last week’s raids in Istanbul, other places subject to search were the central and Kartal offices of Atilim newspaper as well as Gunes Agency where its technical work is carried out, the Socialist Platform of the Oppressed (ESP) building itself and the Gulsuyu Art and Life Magazine premises. What has come as most worrying for Turkish human rights groups were the new search warrants enforced late last week on a number of establishments, including the offices of leading Turkish unions. Police teams not only conducted searches in the offices of Ozgur Radyo and Atilim, but also entered and searched the Labour Women’s Association, the Science Education Aesthetic Culture Research Foundation (BEKSAV), Dockyard Ship Building-Repairs Workers Union (Limter-Is) and Tekstil-Sen’s offices … A number of documents and communications were seized alongside computers used in the radio station. The searches, it was reported, were conducted alongside a representative of the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce as well as officials from the Security Branch and Financial Branch of the police.

Before the week was wrapped up and as concern over the operation mounted, the IHD Istanbul Branch hosted a press conference on September 22nd [2006] with the participation of other rights groups and representatives of the establishments subject to police search. Arguing that with the passing of the recent amendments to Turkey’s controversial Anti-Terror Law pressure on the democratic society had increased dramatically, the groups expressed concern and anxiety that the recent operation was part of the restrictions imposed on democratic forces. International PEN Turkey Centre representative Ragip Zarakolu, Democratic Society Party (DTP) Provincial Chairman Dogan Erbas, Socialist Democracy Pary (SDP) and Party of Labor (EMEP) provincial organization representatives were among those present of support IHD’s public concerns. (142)

The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) has also voiced its deep concern at what is happening. In its ‘Freedom of Expression and Recent Developments in Turkey’ report, for instance, it “revealed” the fact “that from January till September 18yh 2006, a total of 96 authors, publishers, journalists and intellectuals had been prosecuted and appeared before courts in the country only for what they had written in books or in the media. Foundation Chairman Yavuz Onen said that other than the 14 articles that needed to be changed” in the Turkish Penal Code, to address this problem relating to a lack of democracy, “various laws such as the Anti-Terror Law, the Law to Protect Ataturk, the Press Law and the RTUK Code restricted the freedom of expression. Onen said that in order for freedom of expression to settle in Turkey, the soul and essence of all of these laws needed to be changed … ‘Unless this happens’, he said, ‘there will be no meaning in the amendments [being suggested]. And whether or not the cases opened and heard under these articles lead to an acquittal, they still mean intimidation through justice’ …Noting that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government continued its attitude of ‘let’s see what happens’ – despite tens of people being put on trial for their verbal or written expression of opinions since Turkey’s new Penal Code had been passed – Onen said: ‘The enforcement has been waited for and it has been seen, altogether, that barriers in front of freedom of expression continue’ … The TIHV report also referred to attempts made by [a certain] ‘nationalist’ attorney … and those around him to intervene in freedom of expression [cases] and said the [Turkish] nationalist groups had openly threatened defendants at [these] courts, going to the extent of physically punching people outside of courtrooms”. (143)

It is clear that, as this US backed ‘War on Terror’ continues, journalists who have sought to critically analyse issues of related interest by interviewing members of the PKK or Kongra-Gel have been subjected to forms of criminalisation that are eerily reminiscent of the ‘dark’ times of the 1990’s: “Journalists”, notes the BIA News Centre, are questionably being “charged with ‘propaganda’ for their interviews conducted with PKK leaders” and are due to be “tried at recently formed ‘Specialized High Criminal Courts’ reminiscent of the abolished State Security Courts of the repressive past”.(144) To be a relative of a Turkish soldier – who has died in the conflict – who seeks to question the manner in which the current ‘War on Terror’ is being prosecuted, or to merely adopt an ‘anti-war’ position is to risk being labelled ‘a terrorist’ – i.e. one who ‘advances terror’ or who ‘acts’ as an ‘instrument’ of ‘terror’. As Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) Chairman, Yavuz Onen, has noted, even leading mainstream media organs are now, once again, being used [or, should one say, abused] – intentionally, as part of the state’s psychological warfare strategy – to target people in the ‘War on Terror’:

Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) Chairman Yavuz Onen has said that the September 12th 1980 military coup [mentality and system of repression] was still intact in Turkey but [was now] renewing itself and using sophisticated methods [to pursue its aims]. A most recent example of which could be seen in Monday’s mass circulation Turkish daily … in an article … that accused, on behalf of officials, relatives of Turkish soldiers killed in action in the Southeast for reacting to the deaths, and branded their verbal frustration as an instrument of terror.

Onen said the so-called “democracy with muscle” [that was] created after the 1980 coup era had, in today’s Turkey, “declared seeking [cultural, political and human] rights an offence and made it illegal”. He said “it create[d] a situation where it appears as if the state of Turkey cannot be in harmony with international values on human rights”.

Referring to [the aforementioned] report in [the mass circulation daily] that referred to anti-war protests [of this kind] as being part of a terror plot against Turkey, Onen said: “This news report regards being against war as an act of terror and related to terror organizations. I do not believe it is the product only of [the named journalist’s] pen or a ‘deep conversation’. This is the result of a psychological operation that has been planned since September 12th. This operation is a strategy to make all democratic leaps – the ‘act’ of using ‘democratic rights’ – an offence”. (145)

It should also be noted that, under the guise of this ‘War on Terror’, democratic constraints are such that even “a bilingual children’s book is banned from distribution because it includes Kurdish in it: ‘A children’s games book launched in both Turkish and Kurdish in Diyarbakir”, The New Anatolian reported on 7th October 2006, “has sowed friction between the city’s municipality and the local education authority. Some 5,000 copies were published by the southeastern Diyarbakir province’s Sur district’s municipality and [we]re to be distributed to teachers for use as source books in schools. However, the local education authority ruled out distributing them to schools”. (146)

Revelations by Mizgin, Mark Campbell and others further suggest that those at the helm of Turkey’s US backed ‘War on Terror’ are hardly likely to be committed towards pursuing negotiated peaceful non-military strategies and ‘solutions’ to the Kurdish ‘question’, even when such opportunities present themselves. General Joseph W. Ralston, the US government’s Special ‘Envoy’ who is responsible for countering the ‘terrorist’ Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) and co-ordinating ‘actions’ and ‘eliminationist strategies’ with the Turkish and Iraqi states, for instance, just so happens to be “a member of the Board of Directors of Lockheed Martin, the same corporation whose deal for the sale of 30 F-16’s [to Turkey] sits in the venerable halls of Congress at this very moment” in time. (147) F-16’s, it must be remembered, were needed during Turkey’s genocidal ‘War on Terror’ during the 1990’s because of their ‘usefulness’ in obliterating Kurdish settlements, killing civilians and terrifying Kurdish civilians:

It is widely known that the Turkish military … used Lockheed Martin F-16’s to assist with the obliteration of Kurdish villages in North Kurdistan during the 1990’s Dirty War, with the facts well-documented by human rights groups. In 1995, Human Right Watch documented arms sales to Turkey, along with related violations of the laws of war by that state. Included among the many gross abuses that Turkey … perpetrated against the Kurdish people, the F-16 fighter jet figure[d] prominently … (148)

Kevin McKiernan [also] recorded it for us, back in 1999:

… In a report ordered by Congress, the State Department admitted that the abuses included the use of US Cobra helicopters, armored personnel carriers, and F-16 fighter bombers. In some instances, critics say, entire Kurdish villages were obliterated from the air. (149)

“This proposed [new multi-billion dollar] sale” in 2006, the US Defence Agency has claimed, “will enhance the Turkish Air Force’s ability to defend Turkey” – no doubt against its ‘internal’ Kurdish ‘threat’ in its colony in the ‘south-east’, and its ‘external’ one in southern Kurdistan/northern Iraq, “while patrolling the nation’s extensive coastline and borders against future threats and to contribute to the Global War on Terrorism and NATO operations”.(150) As Mizgin has observed:

With this in mind, you should ask yourself what, exactly, General Ralston is coordinating. We all know the real deal, don’t we? We all know who have been the targets of those F-16’s in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan. (151)

In this context, with Ralston on the Board of Directors of Lockheed Martin and at the helm of the US co-ordinated ‘anti-PKK, War on Terror’ strategy, is it any wonder that the new October 2006 ceasefire initiative of the PKK – which so many peace groups, human rights organisations, analysts, civic organisations and community groups see as a window of opportunity to meaningfully explore possible ‘peace’ rather than ‘war’ options (152) – has been automatically rejected as being ‘out of hand?’ Without a US backed ‘War on Terror’ in this region against Kurds and the PKK, and with a meaningful PKK linked peace initiative making headway, as President Bush, the neo-cons and US arms traders and death dealers well know, billions of dollars worth of weapons deals with Turkey stand to be ‘lost’. And one couldn’t have that, could one?:

It looks like Lockheed Martin is going to guarantee the failure of the PKK ceasefire, from the Dallas-Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

The Pentagon has notified Congress it plans to allow Turkey [within the context of its ‘defence’ needs] to buy 30 [more] F-16 fighter jets and related equipment, a $2.9 billion deal that would provide new work for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co.’s Fort Worth assembly plant. (153)

An official of the Turkish Air Force, which already flies some 200 older model F-16’s, said recently that the country was looking to buy new F-16’s as replacements for even older planes in its arsenal.

Congress has 15 days to object to the sale. If it does not, the deal can be consummated without further consultation. (154)

Joe Stout, Lockheed spokesman said in a prepared statement that the company was pleased with the announcement by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

“Turkey has been a valued customer for the F-16 and other Lockheed Martin products for many years, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to continue that relationship”, Stout said.

The reason I know that Lockheed Martin will guarantee the failure of the [PKK] ceasefire, even before it began, can be explained in three little words: Conflict of Interest. You see, Lockheed Martin has an insider on its board of directors, and that insider is none other than the new US PKK coordinator, Joseph Ralston, also of The Cohen Group (155) … The conflict of interest becomes more obscene by the fact that both Joseph Ralston and Lockheed Martin are closely tied to the Turkish lobby organization, the American Turkish Council (ATC). (156) Joseph Ralston is a member of the 2006 ATC Advisory Board, while a former Lockheed Martin executive, George Perlman, is a member of the 2006 ATC Officers and Board of Directors. Lockheed Martin Corporation is a Golden Horn member of the ATC, as is General Electric Company, Boeing Corporation, Raytheon, and BAE Systems, all of which stand to profit from the current sale. This conflict of interest makes it clear that neither the US nor Turkey has the intention of finding a just and peaceful solution to the great opportunity the PKK ceasefire affords them. On the contrary, both countries seek a return to the Dirty War, in order to reap the profits of repression. (157)

“The attitude of the[se] genociders in Corporate America, as well as those in Ankara”, in the past, as much as in the present, remains a cause for concern for analysts such as Mizgin: “I guess you could say that it isn’t much fun being the skunk at the garden party, but with all of this, and with all the statements we’ve heard from the Ankara regime, things don’t bode well for the future. On the positive side, it’s clear that failure will not be the result of a lack of effort from the Kurdish side. We have the statements and the demands available for worldwide consumption, and PKK’s demands for ceasefire (from August, 2006) are completely in line with Turkey’s EU accession criteria”. (158) “‘The country needs this chance at peace’, Sirri Sakik, spokesman for the main Kurdish party, the Party for a Democratic Society (DTP) [has] said. ‘If this situation is handled well by all concerned – the politicians, the army and the PKK – we could obtain an end to the hostilities’”. (159)

But do those at the helm of the US backed ‘War on Terror’ in Turkey really want such an end to hostilities? Do they even want to explore the possibilities for peace? As Ralston, Bush and the neo-cons well know, even the current $2.9 billion deal they are brokering for Lockheed is chicken-feed compared to the other mega-deals that are seemingly already in place – as long as there is no resolution to the ‘Kurdish question’ or ‘negotiated end’ to the ‘terrorist’ conflict. All those hundreds of ‘now old’ F-16’s that were used in the genocidal conflict against Kurds during the 1990’s need to be ‘upgraded’ or replaced by new warplanes, ‘warbirds of prey’ required for the never ending ‘war’ – or ‘The Long War’ as it is now referred to in some circles – against ‘the terrorists’ in the south-east and in northern Iraq and against those ‘rogue’ states that the US may need ‘assistance’ with in future bombing campaigns. Consequently, “in April 2005, the Turkish government signed a LOA for the upgrade of 217 F-16s … totalling $3.9 billion if all options are exercised”.(160) Over and above this, behind the scenes and brokered by the US government, we discover that a “JSF … joint, multinational acquisition program for the [US] Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and eight cooperative international partners” – of which Turkey is a pivotal one – is “expected to be the largest military aircraft procurement ever. The stealth, supersonic F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF F-35) will replace a wide range of aging fighter and strike aircraft for the US Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied defense forces worldwide”. (161) Once in place, “procurement is planned to continue through [to] 2026 and possibly beyond … On 26 October 2001, the Pentagon announced that Lockheed-Martin”, which US ‘anti-PKK co-ordinator’ General Ralston is board director for, “had won the largest military contract ever, a possible $200 billion”. (162) “Lockheed Martin Corp. is developing the F-35 at its fighter aircraft plant in Fort Worth, where the new stealth warplane is expected to provide about 9,000 jobs over the next three to four decades. Northrop Grumman Corp. is to build the F-35’s center fuselage in California and BAE [British Aerospace] Systems the aft body in England”. (163)

But for the full initiative to be realised, ‘sales’ to Turkey are essential. And to facilitate these ‘sales’, there needs to be a demand for them: There has to be an ongoing ‘PKK threat’ to justify these astronomical costs to the Turkish and US public, (164) an ongoing ‘Long War on Terror’ (A key rationale for warplanes like the F-16 has been that they are often needed and “used in the conflict against the PKK. Mostly, they provide air cover for the ground forces” (165) – that is, when they are not involved in obliterating Kurdish villages and terrifying fleeing civilian Kurdish populations). The unilateral ceasefire ‘peace initiatives’ of the PKK, most recently formally confirmed in October 2006, just won’t do, for they threaten the whole basis of this system of contracts which US and British firms like Lockheed Martin and BAE depend upon. And pursuing these contracts remains in the ‘national interest’ of both countries who ‘lead’ the illustrious ‘War on Terror’.

The facilitation of these ‘sales’ remain key strategic ‘initiatives’ of the Bush and Blair administrations. If the F-35 bid is successful (it is currently ‘competing’ with a rival Eurofighter bid), “the [Turkish] contract for new fighter jets could be worth up to $10 billion” according to some estimates (166) (more, if other sources are considered). And the F-35 bid is not the only one being considered – US firms hope to sell billions more of war-related equipment to Turkey during the next two decades. But there needs to be a ‘Kurdish/PKK conflict’ if many of these sales are to be realised. To those brokering these deals, who are the ‘Kurds’, human rights groups and ‘the PKK’ to stand in the way of all of this? As Mark Campbell notes: In all of this, “this F-16 deal is [actually] small fry compared to a bigger deal that Lockheed Martin is hoping to get in relation to the F-35. Apparently, there is quite close competition between Lockheed Martin and a European group, so Ralston’s arrival in Ankara looks like an attempt to clinch this F-35 deal and absolutely nothing to do with bringing peace to Turkey”.(167)

Bearing this in mind, should we, therefore, be at all surprised to discover the following?: “‘We already have an excellent, long-term working relationship with both the Turkish government and the aerospace industries of Turkey, thanks to our mutual work on the F-16 program’, said Tom Burbage, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and general manager of the F-35 JSF program. ‘We’re excited to be able to continue that association with the F-35. It’s very inspiring to have Turkey on the team’”. (168) Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has swiftly “rejected Ocalan’s ceasefire call”. (169) “‘A ceasefire is done between states. It is not something for the terrorist organisation [to do]’, Erdogan told the private Samanyolu television channel late Thursday, referring to Ocalan’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) … ‘The first and foremost principle is to entirely eradicate this terrorist group …’, Edip Baser, coordinator of the struggle against the PKK, said yesterday”.(170) “The Police Directorate-General also joined Erdogan … in dismissing Ocalan’s [ceasefire] call [and appeal for a peaceful negotiated settlement]. ‘The police department and other security forces have never given up on their struggle against terrorism, and they will not do so in the future’, said Ismail Calzskan, spokesman for the Police Directorate-General, at a weekly press conference … ‘We will continue the counter-terrorist fight in the most sensitive [sic] manner’. The prime minister said his talks with Bush [which were scheduled for October 2006] would cover every issue that relates to the strategic partnership between Turkey and the United States, including ways to speed up the anti-PKK efforts as the group’s violence [note: at a time when it was known to be preparing to formally declare a ceasefire] can be tolerated no longer”. (171)

It has also become apparent that “days before the declaration of the [PKK] truce”, when it became known that such a ‘peace initiative’ was imminent, “the United States publicly said that a PKK cease-fire would have little value … ‘Cease-fire sort of implies an act that is taken between two states, two actors, to do that. And I don’t want to confer that kind of status on the PKK by saying a cease-fire’, Joseph Ralston, the newly appointed US special envoy for countering the PKK, said here last Wednesday”, (172) carefully echoing the words of the Turkish Prime Minister and Chief of Staff, General Buyukanit.(173) Buyukanit, Tolga Korkut reports, “also expressed distaste in the concept of a cease-fire as used by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in its recent declaration of halting violence and said it implied there were two countries at war. He referred to the period that led to the event and recalled that some members of the European Parliament and some countries even had made similar appeals to the organization [to act in this way]. These developments, he said, showed how widely the event had been concerted. [But] ‘the Turkish armed forces have declared that they will continue the fight against terror until there is not a single armed terrorist remaining’, he vouched. ‘There is no change in this attitude (174) … As soldiers, we have nothing to do with politics [sic]. But if there are those disturbed [by] our fundamental views on security and regime, this is their own problem”. (175)

TO BE CONTINUED . . .

142.Onderoglu, E. (2006) BIA News Center report, 25 September 2006, as reproduced in Info Turk, September 2006, No. 337 (http://www.info-turk.be/337.htm#Droits).
143.BIA News Center (2006) ‘TIHV: “Not only 301, Fourteen Articles Need Change”’, BIA News Center, 22 September 2006 (http://www.info-turk.be/337.htm#Droits).
144.BIA News Centre (2006) ‘Security Courts Relaunched For Journalists!’, BIA News Centre, 25 September 2006.
145.Korkut, O. (2006) ‘ TIHV: “September 12 Coup Intact: Seeking Rights Still a Crime”’, BIA News, 12 September 2006 (http://www.info-turk.be/337.htm#TIHV_).
146.The New Anatolian (2006) ‘Sparks fly over bilingual children’s book in Diyarbakir’, The New Anatolian, 7 October 2006, as reproduced in InfoTurk, October 2006, No. 338 (http://www.info-turk.be/338.htm#Sparks).
147.Yilmaz, M. (2006) ‘Lockheed Martin, Joseph Ralston, and the PKK’.
148.Yilmaz, M. (2006) ‘Lockheed Martin, Joseph Ralston, and the PKK’.
149. As cited by Mizgin (2006) ‘The US PKK Co-Ordinator and Lockheed Martin’, 1 October 2006 (http://rastibini.blogspot.com/).
150.Market Watch (2006) ‘DoD OK’s $2.9 bln sale to Turkey of 30 F-16 fighters’, Market Watch, 29 September 2006
(http://www.marketwatch.com/News/Story/Story.aspx?dist=newsfinder&siteid=google&guid=%7BF58DED41-F587-43F2-8F7B-FC2F889DBF0D%7D&keyword=). My thanks to Mark Campbell for this lead.
151. Mizgin, in Rastbini, as cited in wotisitgood4.blogspot, 4 October 2006 (http://wotisitgood4.blogspot.com/2006/10/i-wonder-what-sibel-edmonds-would-say.html).
152. The BIA News Center reports, for example, that: “Turkey’s Human Rights Association (IHD) has issued a statement welcoming the new unilateral and unconditional cease-fire declared by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), saying this was a historic opportunity to create the conditions of a democratic solution to the country’s Kurdish problem. The Association said all sections of the society in favour of freedoms had to participate in the debate on a solution in this period and that the priority was to prevent the peace process from being obstructed” – BIA News Center (2006) ‘IHD: “Cease-Fire” is Historical Opportunity’, BIA News Center, 4 October 2006 (http://www.bianet.org/index_eng_root.htm). Ertugrul Kurkcu has also concluded that: “In this period of tension, the only positive development that has widened the area of maneuverability for labour is the PKK ending its armed attacks for an indefinite time” – Kurkcu, E. (2006) ‘Washington’s Preferences’, Siyasi gazette, 5 October 2006. The Association for Human Rights and Solidarity with the Oppressed’s (MAZLUMDER’s) Chairman, Ayhan Bilgen, made the following comments about the PKK’s ceasefire: “This is an opportunity for the clashes in the country to come to end, the guns to be silenced, all violence to come to an end” – BIA News Center (2006) ‘Tension Leads to Restricting Freedoms’, BIA News Center, 4 October 2006.
153.Market Watchhas detailed the manner in which “Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) makes the fighters, which will be Block 50 models, and General Electric Co. (GE) makes the engines. Other contractors [also] involved in the deal include Boeing Co. (BA), L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. (LLL), Raytheon Co. (RTN) and BAE Systems PLC (BA.LN)” – Market Watch (2006) ‘DoD OK’s $2.9 bln sale to Turkey of 30 F-16 fighters’, Market Watch, 29 September 2006 (http://www.marketwatch.com/News/Story/Story.aspx?dist=newsfinder&siteid=google&guid=%7BF58DED41-F587-43F2-8F7B-FC2F889DBF0D%7D&keyword=). My thanks to Mark Campbell for this lead.
154.According to Market Watch: “Congress has the power to block the deal but rarely steps in” – Market Watch (2006) ‘DoD OK’s $2.9 bln sale to Turkey of 30 F-16 fighters’, Market Watch, 29 September 2006 (http://www.marketwatch.com/News/Story/Story.aspx?dist=newsfinder&siteid=google&guid=%7BF58DED41-F587-43F2-8F7B-FC2F889DBF0D%7D&keyword=).
155. Mizgin (2006) ‘The US PKK Co-Ordinator and Lockheed Martin’, 1 October 2006 (http://rastibini.blogspot.com/).
156. Which has itself become embroiled in controversy – See: Mejia, M. (2006) ‘The Secrets Behind “State Secrets”: How Turkey’s Mafia-like “Deep State” (and its Neocon Friends) Penetrated US Government’, (http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/13271) and Fernandes, D. (2006) ‘On The Nature of the US State’s Engagement in “Anti-Terrorist Initiatives” in Turkey and Northern Iraq: A Cause for Concern?’ Presented at the Time for Justice: The Case of Ocalan and the PKK. End the Criminalization of the Kurds in Turkey and Europe public meeting, Committee Room 20, The House of Commons, Westminster, 18th July 2006 and hosted by John Austin, MP. Mizgin notes that “The membership list of the ATC reads like a Who’s Who of corporate America, with the defense industry prominently represented: Bechtel, Boeing, General Atomics, General Dynamics, GE, Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, Motorola, Northrup Grumman, Raytheon, Textron, United Defense and United Technologies/Sikorsky. Those are the corporations that have filled their coffers by soaking Kurdistan with Kurdish blood. Other corporate members include: Archer Daniels MIdland, ChevronTexaco, Coca-Cola, ExxonMobil, Frito Lay, Hyatt, Pepsi, Pfizer and Shell” – Mizgin (2005) ‘Blood Money’, Rasti, 31 December 2005 (http://rastibini.blogspot.com/2005/12/blood-money-incestuous-relationship.html).
157.Mizgin (2006) ‘The US PKK Co-Ordinator and Lockheed Martin’, 1 October 2006 (http://rastibini.blogspot.com/).
158. Mizgin (2006) ‘The US PKK Co-Ordinator and Lockheed Martin’, 1 October 2006 (http://rastibini.blogspot.com/).
159.AFP (2006) ‘Turkey rejects Ocalan’s truce offer’, AFP, 30 September 2006.
160.F-16.net (2006) ‘Turkey – Turk Hava Kuvvetleri Turkish Air Force – TuAF: Introduction’, F-16.net: The Ultimate F-16 Reference website (http://www.f-16.net/f-16_users_article21.html).
161. Global Security.Org (2006) ‘F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II’ (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/f-35.htm). My thanks to Mark Campbell for this lead and reference.
162. Global Security.Org (2006) ‘F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II’ (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/f-35.htm). My thanks to Mark Campbell for this lead and reference.
163. Global Security.Org (2006) ‘F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II’ (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/f-35.htm). My thanks to Mark Campbell for this lead and reference.
164. ’‘’The US public, often, indeed, scandalously subsidises these ‘costs’ of ‘procurement’ by the Turkish military, something which many concerned US citizens remain unaware of. Mizgin cites a key report which has concluded that: “The vast majority of US arms transfers to Turkey have been subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. In many cases, these taxpayer funds are supporting military production and employment in Turkey, not in the United States. Of the $10.5 billion in U.S. weaponry delivered to Turkey since the outbreak of the war with the PKK in 1984, 77% of the value of those shipments – $8 billion in all – has been directly or indirectly financed by grants and subsidized loans provided by the US government. Many of the largest deals – as Lockheed Martin’s sale of 240 F-16’s to the Turkish air force and the FMC Corporation’s provision of 1,698 armored vehicles to the Turkish army – involve coproduction and offset provisions which steer investments, jobs, and production to Turkey as a condition of the sale. For example, Turkey’s F-16 assembly plant in Ankara – a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) – employs 2,000 production workers, almost entirely paid for with U.S. tax dollars” – Mizgin (2006) ‘The US PKK Coordinator and Lockheed Martin’, 1 October 2006 (http://rastibini.blogspot.com/2006/10/us-pkk-coordinator-and-lockheed-martin.html).
165. As quoted in the F-16.net: The Ultimate F-16 Reference website article entitled ‘Turkey – Turk Hava Kuvvetleri Turkish Air Force – TuAF Introduction’ (http://www.f-16.net/f-16_users_article21.html).
166. F-16.net(2006) ‘F-35 Lightning II News Turkey to buy 100 F-35 jets?’ (http://www.f-16.net/news_article1719.html).
167. Mark Campbell, personal communication, 30th September 2006.
168. Lieven Dewitte, writing in F-16.net on 11 July 2002, additionally clarified that “Turkey today (July 11th) became the seventh international partner to sign up for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, joining the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark and Norway. Australia also has announced its intention to participate” (http://www.f-16.net/news_article20.html).
169. BBC News (2006) ‘Kurdish rebels “announce truce”’, BBC News, 30 September 2006.
170. AFP (2006) ‘Turkey rejects Ocalan’s truce offer’, AFP, 30 September 2006.
171. Turkish Daily News(2006) ‘Erdogan rejects call from Ocalan, seeks US steps against PKK’, Turkish Daily News, 30 September 2006
172. (http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=55627).
173. As quoted by Yilmaz, M. (2006) in ‘Lockheed Martin, Joseph Ralston, and the PKK’ (citing a Turkish Daily News article: Accessed at: http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=55627).
174. Korkut, T. (2006) ‘Buyukanit: There is the threat of fundamentalism’, BIA News Center, October 2006.
175. Korkut, T. (2006) ‘The army’s role’, BIA News Center, October 2006.

TURKEY’S US-BACKED “WAR ON TERROR,” PART 5

Posted in Uncategorized on October 27, 2006 by Mizgîn
“The Bush administration appears to be ‘minded’ to accept the absurd and dangerous ‘definitions’ that are being provided and used under the new Turkish ‘Anti-Terrorism Law’ and by Turkish military officials to criminalise people and organisations. These definitions, specifically created to facilitate the ‘War on Terror’, have the capacity to criminalise the non-violent activities of many Kurdish and non-Kurdish people.”
~ Desmond Fernandes.

The article has been reproduced, with permission, from the October 2006 electronic edition of Variant: Cross Currents in Culture, No. 27, Winter 2006 and from Chapter 5 of the book by Desmond Fernandes and Iskender Ozden (2006) US, UK, German and NATO ‘Inspired’ Psychological Warfare Operations Against The Kurdish ‘Communist’ Threat in Turkey and Northern Iraq (Apec Press, Stockholm).

Concerns Over The New ‘Anti-Terrorism Law’.

We also need to ask ourselves whether the Bush administration will keep accepting the ‘definition’ of ‘PKK terrorists’ and ‘terrorism’ that will have been provided to it by its ‘deep political’ Turkish hypernationalist and military/paramilitary/‘special forces’ linked ‘allies’. Certainly, Condoleeza Rice, during her most recent visit to Turkey, did not publicly express any concern over such definitions when she provided assurances that the Bush administration was fully supportive of Turkey’s ‘War on Terror’. The Bush administration appears to be ‘minded’ to accept the absurd and dangerous ‘definitions’ that are being provided and used under the new Turkish ‘Anti-Terrorism Law’ and by Turkish military officials to criminalise people and organisations. These definitions, specifically created to facilitate the ‘War on Terror’, have the capacity to criminalise the non-violent activities of many Kurdish and non-Kurdish people.

Concerns over this matter were even recently expressed by the UN Special Rapporteur: “[A] letter, sent on May 21 [2006] to the Parliament Justice Committee by Martin Scheinin, UN Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism, informed Turkey that the new [proposed anti-terrorism] law fails to meet the requirement of proportionality in the use of force by security forces, introduces ‘improper restrictions on freedom of expression’ and reflects the danger of punishing civilians not involved in violence. ‘This danger is exacerbated by the very broad definition of terrorism’” that is being used “‘and the very long and wide list of terrorist offences’ … Scheinin’s letter assessed the draft” – which is now law -“according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and also with reference to certain provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. He said the very definition of ‘terrorism’ and ‘terrorist offences’ in the draft were contrary to the spirit of his comments and recommendations after his country visit to Turkey on 16-23 February 2006 as UN Special Rapporteur, adding that ‘such indiscriminate use of the terms terrorism and terrorist”, raised concerns about, “ the principle of legality”, (122) as well as other issues.

This new ‘Anti-Terrorism’ law, as the Bush administration well knows, has also been criticised from several other quarters for dangerously enabling ‘deep political’ circles in Turkey to potentially target and criminalise anyone they do not like as a ‘terrorist’. Ayhan Bilgen, the Deputy Chairman of MAZLUMDER, for example, forcefully argues that “we need to see from today that this [law] will target every section of the society. In the past, they said only leftists would be put on trial under Article 312, that the State Security Courts would be involved in the struggle against separatism. But none of these happened. They should not think they can get away with it, saying that it will specifically effect [only] religious groups, the PKK and left-wing organisations … This framework” suggested by the draft bill – which is now law in Turkey – is such that, in “using human rights advocacy, you will be” targeted and defined as a terrorist, for “‘defending terror or something else [like that]’, and because of this, it will incriminate” even those who are “defending human rights, allow[ing] for the[ir] conviction” as terrorists. Human Rights Association Chairman Yusuf Alatas has “argued that the bill [is] ‘incompatible with human rights’ and said it [is] intended to bring back all of the country’s past suppression laws and create a silent society … He said, ‘Not even Parliamentarians are free. Everyone standing up against the law will be accused of supporting terrorism and standing up against the regime’”. (123)

“In a statement dated 14th July [2006], International PEN wrote that the passing of these amendments threatens to broaden ‘the definition of terrorism and brings with it the possibility of many more prosecutions of writers and journalists for writings that cannot be construed as supporting or advocating violence’” (124). A letter from the representatives of 15 organisations including political parties and democratic mass organisations stated that the Anti-Terror Law “surrenders personal rights and freedoms to the conscience of the security forces and eliminates basic human rights”. It stated that fundamental rights and freedoms were under threat:

Disappearances under detention could be revived: “The law severely restricts the right to defence. Personal safety is endangered with the republic prosecutor being authorised to order for a suspect not to be allowed to contact relatives or receive the assistance of an attorney as of the moment of detention. This situation raises concern that ‘disappearance under detention’ incidents could be revived”.

Those thinking differently cannot express their opinion, (or) organise: “It is known that the whole of the society does not think in the same way on issues such as the ‘Armenian Genocide, Cyprus Question, [the] Kurdish Problem’ which are the red points of the state. The law totally abolishes the right of persons, intellectuals and institutions that think differently [on these issues] to share their views with the public. Any individual who expresses their opinion, organises according to their opinion, can be put on trial for a terrorism offence under this law”. (125)

The former head of Turkey’s Prime Ministry Human Rights Advisory Board, Professor Ibrahim Kaboglu, also concluded that the controversial Anti-Terror Law “violated the constitution … ‘I’m worried about thought being punished … My worry is that in the name of preventing terror, opinion will be punished … That the press, intellectuals and journalists who express their views by using mass communications will be placed under pressure’, he said. Kaboglu added that in this situation, the additional authority granted to security forces and prosecutors” in their ‘War on Terror’ “would boost the current trend against freedoms” and fundamental rights in Turkey. (126)

InfoTurk confirms that even “Turkish media criticized the government’s proposal … saying the draft defined too many actions as terror and could easily be misused … The Cumhuriyet newspaper devoted its front page to criticizing the proposed law: ‘The reforms passed in the European Union process will be erased by a definition of terror that encompasses all crimes … There is nothing left out in the definition’”. (127) According to Izmir Bar Association Prevention of Torture Group (IOG) lawyer Nalan Erkem, “‘The arrangements that the draft makes with regard to access to an attorney takes away all of the rights of the defendant … While it opens the way for torture and mistreatment, the draft also aims to prevent lawyers from proving their existence’. Erkem argued that the draft was in the nature of an insult to lawyers in Turkey, stripping away the defence rights that were brought forth under Turkey’s accession plans with the EU”. (128) “Representatives of … 17 non-government organisations (NGOs)” (129) have also “read a press statement in front of Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Justice Hall … where an appeal was made to … reject it. The move came after similar appeals from leading Turkish human rights groups including IHD and MAZLUMDER … The country’s Human Rights Foundation (TIHV) joined in the criticism and said the law would not only shift Turkey from its previous EU projections but also meant a turn to a ‘tolerance policy towards torture’”. (130)

Conclusion.

In reflecting upon the current situation, it is also worth noting that the Bush administration has set in place a series of arrangements that are aimed at securing immunity from prosecution of all US, Turkish and Israeli forces who may be charged with ‘war crimes’ or ‘genocidal crimes’ for any questionable actions that they may have been found to be undertaking. The US government, it seems, has not only been seeking to unethically provide immunity from prosecution to its government, military forces and citizens at the International Criminal Court (ICC), but also those of its ‘client’ and ‘favoured’ states – Israel and Turkey in particular: “Senior (US) officials have stated repeatedly and quite categorically that they will continue to reject any jurisdictional arrangement allowing international prosecution of its own civilian authorities or military personnel for war crimes as ‘an infringement upon US national sovereignty’ (thereby recapitulating the previously noted premise of the Third Reich). Objections have also been raised with regard to any curtailment of self-assigned US prerogatives to shield its clients – usually referred to as ‘friends’ – from prosecution for crimes committed under its sponsorship – e.g. … Turkish officials presiding over the ongoing ‘pacification’ of Kurdistan”. (131)
The information gathered in this article does, unfortunately, disturbingly support Keen’s contention that “an important part of the political function of the ‘War on Terror’ has been the way it legitimises political intimidation by a range of allies beyond the Bush/Blair/Aznar axis. In effect, the ‘War on Terror’ has given a licence to internal repression in countries supporting this war” (132) – such as Turkey. “As in many civil wars, demonising one party” – the ‘terrorist PKK’, in this instance – “has created space for the [hidden] abuses of others. As Michael Mann observes, labelling opponents as ‘al-Qaeda’” – or, indeed, as being no different to ‘al-Qaeda’ – “‘allows repressive governments’”, such as Turkey, “‘to do what they want with limited international criticism’”. (133) Not only has the US governmental stance dangerously allowed the Turkish government to repressively ‘do’ what it wants with regard to the ‘Kurdish question’, it has actively endeavoured to actively ‘assist it’, as it did throughout the genocidal period of the 1990’s, with its highly questionable ‘anti-terrorism initiatives’. We need to seriously reflect upon these issues and act to expose and end the nature of these types of unacceptable ‘actions’ and ‘activities’.

– Desmond Fernandes, 15th September 2006.

POSTSCRIPT.

Since this article was written, other reports and assessments have, similarly, concluded that there is certainly cause for concern over the nature of Turkey’s US backed ‘War on Terror’. Outgoing Ambassador Hansjoerg Kretschmer, head of the European Commission’s Delegation to Turkey, conceded on 23rd September 2006 that the behaviour of the Turkish military and security forces – the very forces that the US-UK governments aggressively support and collaborate with in their ‘joint’ War on Terror – was disturbing: He sharply criticised “security organs for having ‘played their own games outside the control of the civilian authorities, disrespecting the legal and institutional order … In a democracy the ultimate decision rests with … the people, which must have power to define this service. It is they who decide which kind of state they want to have, which role the state should play and how much money they wish to pay for security. In other words, the state is at the service of the people. It is not an end in itself … [But] they [the military] consider themselves the guardian of the fundamental tenets of the Turkish Republic and express their views on all almost every aspect of public life which they consider relevant from the perspective of a very wide concept of national security. Education, religious instructions, cultural rights, university issues, just to mention a few … These expressions of [their] views have’”, he noted, “‘of course more weight than the legitimate expression of the views of individual citizens … Opening his remarks about the Semdinli case, Kretschmer described the incident … as the ‘tip of an iceberg, as indicated by the subsequent confession of a retired general’. He was referring to Lt. Gen. Altay Tokat’s statements in which he indicated that he had ordered the bombing of state property while on active duty in the [Kurdish] Southeast in the 90’s” in order to further heighten tensions and advance the agendas of the ‘deep state’ and military. (134)

“‘In my view, the big challenge for Turkey during the accession process’”, Kretschmer noted with concern, “‘is to create such stable institutions, able to deliver their services – including security – [but] to the citizens of the country in a way respectful of democratic principals. [Only] then, it can be hoped that the security organs, the security sector, will be put in to its appropriate provision as a service provider, fully controlled by the institutions and indirectly by the people of Turkey’”. (135) But we have to ask ourselves: So long as the US and UK governments – under the guise of the ‘War on Terror’ and the fight for ‘democracy’ and ‘Free World values’ – openly, as well as covertly, endorse and reinforce, rather than politically challenge or question, the existing, hardly satisfactory ‘arrangements’ and ‘deep political’, unaccountable, structures and ‘actions’ of the ‘anti-terrorist security and police forces’, how are the structures and democratically accountable ‘stable institutions’ that Kretschmer hopes for, to be created and effectively function? (136)

It has also been disclosed that “in an upcoming report … by the European Parliament, four members of the body’s subcommittee on human rights … said they witness[ed] a noticeable regression in the human rights situation in Turkey … The lawmakers ended five days of travelling in Turkey, much of it spent in the [Kurdish] southeast, during which they said they gathered information about increased incidence of torture, increased militancy and violence and repeated violations of the principle of free speech. ‘The impression is that the situation is going backwards’, said Italian lawmaker Vittorio Agnoletto, who said he was particularly disturbed by an overwhelming military presence in the southeast”. (137) The US Ambassador to Turkey, Ross Wilson, however, expressed the following view: “There is nothing that worries me with regards to Turkey’s continuation as a strong, secure, stable and secular democracy”. (138)

This ‘strong, secure, stable and secular democracy’, however, is one in which any politicians, academics, journalists and concerned citizens who seek to advocate a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish ‘situation’ by encouraging a ceasefire between the PKK and the Turkish state, stand to be placed on trial for this ‘crime’. At the end of September 2006, for example, “twelve executives of the now defunct [pro-Kurdish party] DEHAP were being tried at a High Criminal Court for a … statement encouraging Turkey to negotiate with outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan … The executives … had referred to Ocalan as ‘Mr. Ocalan’ and suggested that a solution to the ongoing Kurdish problem could [possibly] be found in regarding him as a counterpart to it”. (139) Any academics who additionally refuse to parrot the ‘official’ line of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) on the ‘War on Terror’ in this ‘democracy’ are likely to be intimidated and appropriately ‘targeted’. As Tolga Korkut reports:

Turkey’s Police General Directorate has launched an investigation into academics at the Police Academy who contributed to the 2005 ‘Security Sector and Democratic Oversight’ Almanac published by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV). The investigation comes just days after the ‘Turkey Almanac 2005’, jointly published by TESEV and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), was harshly criticized by the Chief of General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit in his October 3rd [2006] landmark speech at the War Academy as being “part of the attrition campaign against the armed forces” … A police statement in the wake of his remarks said the Academy had launched an investigation into its lecturers … Previously describing Buyukanit’s remarks on the Almanac as “unfortunate”, TESEV’s Volkan Aytar told Bianet in an exclusive interview that the investigation now mounted against its contributors was [of] concern: “The opening of an investigation against scientists that have shown the courage and written on an issue such as security which was untouchable breaks one’s hopes. It also raises concerns on academic freedoms. There are a minority of experts who work in the field of security in Turkey” … Aytar argues that rather than react to the Almanac, people should be proud [that] such a work was produced.

One of the writers of the Almanac, … Umit Kardas, describes the situation as “an attempt to put pressure on the [right of] freedom of expression and academic freedom”. Kardas says the academics involved should defend their freedoms and refuse to be censored. “But other academics should also act and provide them with support …By creating psychological pressure on this issue, preventing academics [from being] involved in such work, they are trying to set an example so there won’t be [any future] such work”, Kardas sa[id]. “… They want lecturers of the Police Academy to see themselves not as academics but as policemen [of a certain kind] and censor themselves … What is essential is the monitoring by people of the whole of the security sector from private security to security media. The armed forces are not used to this [democratic need] and because of that, it raises their hair”. Kardas believes that the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) does not want to be debated [or subject to critical assessment, even as it prosecutes its ‘War on Terror’] and wants to [retain its] ‘I am protecting the order, the regime and state is my responsibility’ image. (140)

Professor Cizre, one of the academics under pressure, has forcefully argued that: “The Almanac seeks to introduce information in a reliable way and to every sector by forcing open the shadows and [the] secret curtain [placed] in front of security institutions. The objection [to me is really over an] objection [they place upon] an information society”, she noted. Professor Cizre is “a political scientist who focuses on problems of the democratization of civil-military relations in Turkey … ‘It is possible to call this’” the attempt at “‘democratizing and ‘transparentizing’ the security sector via [the] spreading of information [over its nature and dynamics] and rendering visible heretofore invisible power relations and dynamics’. As for the government”, The Turkish Daily News confirms that “Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin supported Buyukanıt [in his stance], despite having not read the criticized Almanac: ‘I take with understanding his response against [the] report … [His response] is fair and appropriate’, Sahin said”. (141)

TO BE CONTINUED . . .

122. Bianet News Center (2006) ‘Disregard of UN Warnings on Anti-Terror Act’, Bianet News Center,5 July 2006.
123. BIA News Center (2006) ‘Human Rights Activists: “New Anti-Terror Bill Incites More Violence”’, 20 April 2006, in Info-Turk, May 2006, No. 333 (http://www.info-turk.be/index.html#Activists).
124. WIPC/IFEX (2006) ‘The Writers in Prison Committee’s Appeal to Sezer on ATL’, WIPC/IFEX, 21 July 2006 (http://www.info-turk.be/335.htm#Disregard).
125. Korkut T. (2006) ‘Mr. Sezer, Do Not Ratify The Terror Law’, BIA News Center, 3 July 2006.
126.Korkut, T. (2006) ‘Human Rights Advisor: “TMY Violates Constitution”’, BIA News Center, July 2006.
127. Info-Turk (2006) ‘New Anti-Terror Law: End of the Timid Democratisation’, Info-Turk, May 2006, No. 333 (http://www.info-turk.be/index.html#Activists) – citing The New Anatolian and other media, 19 April 2006.
128. Korkut, O. (2006) ‘Anti-Terror Schemes May Encourage Torture’, BIA News Center, 26 April 2006, in Info Turk, May 2006, No. 333 (http://www.info-turk.be/index.html#Activists)
129. BIA News Center (2006) ‘Reaction by NGOs: “New Terror Bill Takes All Citizens Terrorist”’, 28 April 2006, in Info-Turk, May 2006, No. 333 (http://www.info-turk.be/index.html#Activists).
130. BIA News Center (2006) ‘Reaction by NGOs: “New Terror Bill Takes All Citizens Terrorist”’, 28 April 2006, in Info-Turk, May 2006, No. 333 (http://www.info-turk.be/index.html#Activists).
131. Churchill, W (2003) Perversions of Justice, p. 347. For further details on this, also refer to: Fernandes, D. and Ozden, I., US, UK, German and NATO Inspired Psychological Warfare Operations Against the ‘Kurdish Communist Threat’ in Turkey and Northern Iraq and Fernandes, D. (2006) ‘On The Possibilities of Successfully Taking A Case To The International Criminal Court’, in War and Occupation: Human Rights Abuses, Torture and Disappearances Under Detention, The 5th International Conference Against Disappearances, 16th -20th May 2006, Diyarbakir, Turkey. Organised by The International Committee Against Disappearances (ICAD) and Aiding and Solidarity Association with the Families who lost their Relatives (YAKAY-DER).
132. Keen, D. (2006) Endless War? Hidden Functions of the ‘War on Terror’, p. 77.
133. Keen, D. (2006) Endless War? Hidden Functions of the ‘War on Terror’, p. 77.
134. Turkish Daily News (2006) ‘Kretschmer blasts military for disrespect of legal order’, Turkish Daily News, 23 September 2006.
135. Turkish Daily News (2006) ‘Kretschmer blasts military for disrespect of legal order’, Turkish Daily News, 23 September 2006.
136. It is interesting to note that, due to his remarks, “the European Commission representative to Turkey should be declared persona non grata, said Independent Republic Party (BCP) leader and former Foreign Minister Mumtaz Soysal … He also added that the EU ambassadors can say whatever they want in member countries but don’t have the same right in candidate countries. At a conference on Friday, Kretschmer said that particularly the security sector and the armed forces” – currently driving Turkey’s US-UK backed ‘War on Terror’ – “ were [currently] held exempt from the principle of accountability and that the Turkish military doesn’t confine itself to carrying out the mandate given to it by the political authority … Claiming that security units don’t respect the legal and public order, Kretschmer said that the biggest problem in Turkey in the EU process is to provide stable institutions that provide services within the framework of democratic norms, including the security units” (The New Anatolian [2006] ‘BCP leader: Kretschmer should be made persona non grata’, The New Anatolian, 25 September 2006).
137. Associated Press (2006) ‘Turkey’s human rights situation regressing, European MP’s say’, Associated Press, 23 September 2006.
138. Aslan, A. (2006) ‘Wilson: “Reactionary” Debates Cacophonous’, Zaman.com, 4 October 2006 (http://www.zaman.com/?bl=international&alt=&trh=20061004&hn=37059). Indeed, this view was being promoted by US governing circles in 2002, even as “Britain [ostensibly] handed over command of the international security force in Kabul … to Turkey [temporarily] and announced the withdrawal of Royal Marine commandos who ha[d] been hunting al-Qaida fighters in south-eastern Afghanistan … In a ceremony on a football pitch”, Richard Norton-Taylor observed that “[US] Major General John McColl handed over command to Turkey’s Major General Hilmi Akin Zorlu. The US [wa]s keen [even then] to promote Turkey as a secular, democratic role model for Afghanistan” – See Norton-Taylor, R. (2002) ‘Britain hands over Kabul command to Turkish forces’, The Guardian, 21 June 2002 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/ukresponse/story/0,,741067,00.html).
139. BIA News Centre (2006) ‘Mayor Acquitted as DEHAP Faces New Court’, BIA News Center, 28 September 2006.
140.Korkut, O. (2006) ‘ Investigation Against Researchers on the Turkish Army’,BIA News Center, as reproduced in Turk, October 2006, No 338 (http://www.info-turk.be/338.htm#Sparks).
141. A report from The Turkish Daily News, 3 October 2006 edition, as reproduced by Info Turk, October 2006, No. 338 (http://www.info-turk.be/338.htm#Sparks).

NEWSFLASH FROM THE DIASPORA

Posted in Uncategorized on October 26, 2006 by Mizgîn

The Kurdish National Congress of North America demands the immediate resignation of Joseph Ralston as “special envoy” to counter the PKK, due to the conflict of interest from his positions as vice-chairman of The Cohen Group, as a member of the 2006 Advisory Board of the American Turkish Council, and as a member of the Board of Directors of Lockheed Martin, from KurdishMedia:

Demanding the Immediate resignation of General Ralston as Special Envoy in Turkey

Thursday, October 26, 2006
KNC – North America

On August 28, 2006, the US State Department announced the appointment of former USAF General Joseph Ralston as a “Special Envoy for countering the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK).”

General Ralston is a vice-chairman of The Cohen Group, a private lobby firm with close ties to the American Turkish Council (ATC) and Lockheed Martin. According to an article in the Washington Post in May of this year, Lockheed Martin acknowledged it was a client of The Cohen Group, and paid some $500,000 to The Cohen Group for services rendered in 2005. General Ralston is also a member of the 2006 Advisory Board of the ATC, as well as a current member of the Board of Directors of Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin is also a member of the ATC. Ralston’s appointment came at a time when Turkey was finalizing the sale of 30 new Lockheed Martin F-16 aircraft (approx. $3 billion) and as Turkey was due to make a decision on the $10 billion purchase of the new Lockheed Martin F-35 JSF aircraft. The sale for the F-16’s was approved by Congress in mid-October and Turkey’s decision in favor of the F-35 JSF was announced on October 25, shortly after Ralston’s recent stay in Ankara, ostensibly to counter the PKK.

At the same time, a unilateral PKK ceasefire went into effect on October 1, although it was rejected by both the Washington and Ankara governments’ days before it went into effect. This is in spite of the fact that the PKK prefers to negotiate a political settlement to the Kurdish question in Turkey, and had indicated its willingness to do so repeatedly over the last 13 years and, most recently, in August, with demands that are fully consistent with Turkey’s EU accession criteria. Last week, during a question-and-answer period after his address at a meeting of the Eurasian Strategic Research Center (ASAM) in Istanbul, General Ralston, as America’s Special Envoy, refused the possibility of applying an IRA-type model to solve the issue of the PKK and the wider Kurdish question in Turkey. General Ralston, as an appointed official of the US government, has indicated there is no possible peaceful, political settlement on the horizon, a policy that goes against the will of the Kurdish people.

Additionally, there continues to be a hostile posture from the Turkish armed forces toward Iraqi Kurdistan, the only peaceful portion of Iraq. In early April, the Turkish army dramatically increased its presence in the Kurdistan region of Turkey to some 250,000-300,000 troops. Many of which were concentrated along the border with Iraqi Kurdistan. By the end of April, during Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s visit to Ankara, hostile actions against Iraqi Kurdistan began, ostensibly aimed at alleged PKK camps. Attacks included bombings, violations of Iraqi airspace, and infiltration of Turkish special operations forces. To date, the main targets of the Turkish military in Iraqi Kurdistan have been unarmed civilian Kurds and livestock.

The decision to appoint Joseph Ralston, a former military officer with widely-known links to the defense industry, its lobby, and the Turkish lobby, calls into question the sincerity of the American administration in seeking a political solution to the gross repression carried out against the Kurdish people by the Turkish Republic. It also calls into question the sincerity of the American administration in seeking to establish democracy and democratic values in the Middle East. Both of these are magnified by the American and Turkish refusal to seek a peaceful solution which the current ceasefire affords.

By virtue of General Ralston’s intimate connections with the defense industry, and with the lobby group of a foreign state that has so far shown itself hostile to any democratic changes for the Kurdish people within its borders, we consider the appointment to be an example of an extreme conflict of interest.

As such, we at the Kurdish National Congress of North America demand the resignation of General Ralston as Special Envoy to Turkey.

Kurdish National Congress of North America
knc@kncna.org

Bijî KNCNA û gelek sipas!