Archive for September, 2009

THE STATE OF INJUSTICE

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 30, 2009 by Mizgîn
“A kingdom founded on injustice never lasts.”
~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca.

Picture this: A seventeen-year-old guy picks up his seventeen-year-old girlfriend after school and takes her to his family’s large home. The guy kills the girl, decapitates her with a saw and chops up her body, stuffs the body parts into a suitcase and guitar case, gets a driver to take him to a dumpster on the other side of town and disposes of the body.

The guy’s father is picked up by the police on charges of abetting the crime and the mother flees the country.

Six months after the murder, the guy turns himself in to the police.

What do you think should happen to a guy like this? Would it make any difference if you knew that the murderer was a member of one of the richest families in the country?

If this story plays out in Turkey, which it did, the murderer will be charged in juvenile court instead of being tried as an adult–because he’s only seventeen.

More on the murder at Zaman and another at Bianet. Note that the first of those articles claims the father of the murdered girl is quoted as thanking the police and government for helping to capture the murderer. However, that’s not at all the same guy who was on NTV on the day of the surrender, yelling to know what kind of deal had been made between the government and the very rich kid’s family.

On the other hand, if you’re a ten-year-old kid growing up in another part of the country, in a family that was probably forcibly displaced from their home back in the 1990s, and you’re a Kurd, you’re going to get very different treatment from the state:

In Adana alone, some 155 children are facing trial, 67 have been convicted and five have begun to serve their sentences, says Ethem Acikalin, head of the local branch of Turkey’s Human Rights Association. All were charged under article 220/6 of the penal code, which criminalises “acting on behalf of a terrorist organisation”. The cases are tried in adult courts.

Or then there was Cizre:

If Turkish prosecutors have their way, Yilmaz, a soft-spoken 16-year-old with a teenager’s pimply face, could spend up to seven years in jail for having joined a demonstration early last year in the town of Cizre, in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast.

Yilmaz (the name has been changed to protect his identity) has already spent 13 months in jail awaiting trial, although he was recently let out on bail. Although he joined a demonstration that took place after the funeral of a young boy who had been run over by a police armored vehicle during an earlier protest, prosecutors say the event was organized by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and are charging the boy with supporting a terrorist organization.

“In each appearance in court, we were telling the prosecutors that we are children, that they should let us go back to our lives,” says Yilmaz.

Yilmaz is one of hundreds of minors, some as young as 13, who have been arrested and jailed in Turkey over the last few years under strict new anti-terrorism laws that allow for juveniles to be tried as adults. Some have even been accused of “committing crimes in the name of a terrorist organization” for participating in demonstrations that prosecutors charge have been organized the PKK.

If you’re the police and you torture a Kurdish kid in broad daylight, in front of media cameras, then have no fear! Your case will be dropped.

Then there are the activities of the ironically-named “Children’s Day” in Hakkari.

Or, as happened several days ago, if you’re a fourteen-year-old Kurdish girl gathering feed for her sheep, you can just be blown to bits by TSK mortar fire. At least Ceylan’s mother was able to pick up the pieces of her daughter that were left so that they could be buried. The cover-up is already ongoing because no prosecutor arrived at the scene of the crime and he cites “security zone” (i.e. OHAL) as the reason for helping TSK to cover up its murder of this Kurdish child.

So much for the “Kurdish initiative”. Hevals, you are needed!

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FORMER FBI AGENT CONFIRMS INVESTIGATION ON MARC GROSSMAN

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 28, 2009 by Mizgîn
“I do not have anything to say about such stupid ridiculous things as this.”
~ Marc Grossman, former US Ambassador to Turkey.

Those Rastî readers familiar with everything written here on The Cohen Group back in late 2006 when the Ralston conflict of interest was going on, will remember Marc Grossman.

Grossman was the US ambassador to Turkey from 1994 to 1997 and was pulled from that position before the end of his tour because he was involved with the Susurluk scandal as mentioned in yesterday’s post.

Today another round of artillery was fired in Grossman’s direction, from Sibel Edmonds and a friend:

“I read the recent cover story by The American Conservative magazine. I applaud their courage in publishing this significant interview. I am fully aware of the FBI’s decade-long investigation of the High-level State Department Official named in this article [Marc Grossman], which ultimately was buried and covered up. It is long past time to investigate this case and bring about accountability…”

There’s more on that at The Brad Blog.

I don’t know about you, but all this knowledge about Grossman, especially the Susurluk connection, really fills this description, from The Cohen Group website, with an enormous amount of irony:

Ambassador Grossman was U.S. Ambassador to Turkey 1994-1997. In Turkey, he promoted security cooperation, human rights and democracy and a vibrant U.S.-Turkish economic relationship. Ambassador Grossman had previously served as the embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission from 1989 to 1992.

He promoted human rights and democracy?? In a pig’s eye.

There is a funny side to this if you know where to look. In Grossman’s bio it says, “Ambassador Grossman had previously served as the embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission from 1989 to 1992.” Joseph C. Wilson was one of Grossman’s buddies at the State Department and served as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy, Baghdad, from 1988 to 1992–under US Ambassador April Glaspie. Both Grossman and Wilson served in comparable positions in two countries that border each other, during the same time frame. Their diplomatic paths had to have crossed during that time.

The funny part is that Wilson’s wife is Valerie Plame, whose company, Brewster Jennings & Associates, was outed by Grossman to the Turks long before the news was ever splashed across headlines in the US. In other words, Grossman outed his pal’s wife as CIA. For more on that, don’t miss the interview with Phil Giraldi and Joe Lauria.

As The Brad Blog points out from The Times article–to which Joe Lauria contributed–on the sale of nuclear secrets, when contacted about the information that Sibel provided, this is what Grossman had to say:

“If you are calling me to say somebody said that I took money, that’s outrageous . . . I do not have anything to say about such stupid ridiculous things as this.”

Doesn’t he sound like Dennis Hastert? Like Jan Schakowsky??

And nobody’s really brought up Grossman’s connection to the most powerful “cemaat holding” in Turkey, which is able to compete with Sabancı and Koç . . . namely, Ihlas Holding.

I think it’s time for heads to roll.

BARGAINING OVER THE OCCUPATION OF SOUTH KURDISTAN

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 25, 2009 by Mizgîn
“In this, our age of infamy
Man’s choice is but to be

A tyrant, traitor, prisoner:

No other choice has he.”

~ Aleksandr Pushkin.

There was something very interesting in Phil Giraldi’s interview with Sibel Edmonds regarding South Kurdistan. Here is Sibel speaking, with my emphasis:

The monitoring of the Turks [by the FBI] picked up contacts with Feith, Wolfowitz, and Perle in the summer of 2001, four months before 9/11. They were discussing with the Turkish ambassador in Washington an arrangement whereby the U.S. would invade Iraq and divide the country. The UK would take the south, the rest would go to the U.S. They were negotiating what Turkey required in exchange for allowing an attack from Turkish soil. The Turks were very supportive, but wanted a three-part division of Iraq to include their own occupation of the Kurdish region. The three Defense Department officials said that would be more than they could agree to, but they continued daily communications to the ambassador and his defense attaché in an attempt to convince them to help.

Meanwhile Scowcroft, who was also the chairman of the American Turkish Council, Baker, Richard Armitage, and Grossman began negotiating separately for a possible Turkish protectorate. Nothing was decided, and then 9/11 took place.

Scowcroft was all for invading Iraq in 2001 and even wrote a paper for the Pentagon explaining why the Turkish northern front would be essential. I know Scowcroft came off as a hero to some for saying he was against the war, but he was very much for it until his client’s conditions were not met by the Bush administration.

What is happening here is that the neo-conservatives were discussing a Turkish occupation of South Kurdistan but it looks like they weren’t able to swing the deal in the end. Brent Scowcroft, as the chairman of the American Turkish Council, was definitely working for Turkish interests during the period Sibel is talking about.

But when Turkey didn’t get what it saw as it’s portion of Iraq–the Kurdish region–Scowcroft opposed the war because his client opposed it.

Now, picture this: If there had been an American deployment from Turkey into the north of Iraq, the Americans would have kept moving toward the south while Turkish forces could have just walked in behind the Americans and parked themselves permanently in the autonomous Kurdish region.

Does that sound far-fetched? Read Sibel’s words again. Sibel’s words also tell me that the TBMM voted against a US deployment from Turkey and denied an American northern front not because it opposed the invasion or occupation or even the carving-up of Iraq, but the TBMM opposed an American deployment from Turkish soil because it was not going to be allowed to occupy South Kurdistan.

If Turkey had, in fact, ended up as occupiers of South Kurdistan, would it then consider Kerkuk to be a part of South Kurdistan? Would it then insist that Kerkuk be added to the Kurdish region?

Sibel also mentions that some of the individuals that the FBI knew to be spying for the Turks and the Israelis were working at the RAND Corporation, too. That brings up something else that was in the news recently:

“Under pressure from the military and nationalists, the government of Prime Minister Erdoğan might launch a large-scale, cross-border incursion into northern Iraq designed not only to weaken the PKK, the Kurdish insurgent group that has attacked Turkish forces, but also to hold and occupy KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) territory to put pressure on the KRG government to crack down on the PKK or to forestall a KRG annexation of Kirkuk.”

It may very well be that the occupation of South Kurdistan is still on the Turkish table but my money says that if such an invasion takes place, Turkey will insist upon the annexation of Kerkuk. After all, there are millions of brother Turkmen there to bring into Ağabey’s ever-loving arms.

THE INTERVIEW IS AVAILABLE

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 22, 2009 by Mizgîn
“The original targets were intelligence officers under diplomatic cover in the Turkish Embassy and the Israeli Embassy. It was those contacts that led to the American Turkish Council and the Assembly of Turkish American Associations and then to AIPAC fronting for the Israelis. It moved forward from there.”
~ Sibel Edmonds.

The Phil Giraldi interview with Sibel Edmonds is online:

Sibel Edmonds has a story to tell. She went to work as a Turkish and Farsi translator for the FBI five days after 9/11. Part of her job was to translate and transcribe recordings of conversations between suspected Turkish intelligence agents and their American contacts. She was fired from the FBI in April 2002 after she raised concerns that one of the translators in her section was a member of a Turkish organization that was under investigation for bribing senior government officials and members of Congress, drug trafficking, illegal weapons sales, money laundering, and nuclear proliferation. She appealed her termination, but was more alarmed that no effort was being made to address the corruption that she had been monitoring.

A Department of Justice inspector general’s report called Edmonds’s allegations “credible,” “serious,” and “warrant[ing] a thorough and careful review by the FBI.” Ranking Senate Judiciary Committee members Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have backed her publicly. “60 Minutes” launched an investigation of her claims and found them believable. No one has ever disproved any of Edmonds’s revelations, which she says can be verified by FBI investigative files.

John Ashcroft’s Justice Department confirmed Edmonds’s veracity in a backhanded way by twice invoking the dubious State Secrets Privilege so she could not tell what she knows. The ACLU has called her “the most gagged person in the history of the United States of America.”

But on Aug. 8, she was finally able to testify under oath in a court case filed in Ohio and agreed to an interview with The American Conservative based on that testimony. What follows is her own account of what some consider the most incredible tale of corruption and influence peddling in recent times. As Sibel herself puts it, “If this were written up as a novel, no one would believe it.”

Read the entire interview at The American Conservative.

UPDATE: Sibel has a link to an interview with Philip Giraldi, who conducted the American Conservative interview, and Joe Lauria. This interview deals with the credibility question that certain factions have brought up with regard to Sibel’s story. I don’t have a problem with Sibel’s credibility because I know how things work in Turkey and Sibel’s story fits the pattern of behavior. In addition, Sibel’s story has been out in the public realm for some time and those who have been named as evildoers by her in the past–like Dennis Hastert and Marc Grossman–have not brought any libel or other charges against her for the issues she’s brought up. And the reason for that is that they don’t dare.

FROM SEATTLE TO KURDISTAN

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 21, 2009 by Mizgîn
“I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.”
~ Stephen Jay Gould.

Most Rastî readers are familiar with Gordon Taylor, who writes the blog The Pasha and the Gypsy.

Now Gordon has been featured in The Seattle Times:

Back when I rode the bus to work every day, what got to me — what began to drive me a little crazy — was the repetition.

I knew every stop. Every light. All the rhythms of the traffic and the passengers, which seemed to bog us in delays at the same junctions every day.

I would wonder: How does the driver stand it?

I never asked. I should have, because now I know the driver might have said something like: “You think about something else. Like Kurdistan.”

Gordon Taylor, 66, has been driving a Metro bus for 29 years.

[ . . . ]

Not many of his riders know it, but Taylor often wanders off to Kurdistan, a remote region in northern Iraq and southern Turkey, even as he is merging his 60-footer articulated bus onto the freeway.

He’s not a professional historian. But from the seat of that bus he just published an article about mid-1800s missionaries in the twice-yearly Journal of Assyrian Academic Studies.

“I’m the only one in there who isn’t a Ph.D.,” he laughs.

He also wrote a 354-page historical biography, called “Fever & Thirst: An American Doctor Among the Tribes of Kurdistan, 1835-1844.”

Now out in paperback, it turns out the book — which “nobody bought,” Taylor sighs — attracted the attention of one of the senior advisers to the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S. transitional government after the invasion of Iraq.

For more on “The First American to Fail in Iraq”, check Gordon’s piece over at the History News Network.

Now, what I like best about The Seattle Times piece on Gordon Taylor is that it proves you don’t have to be a professorial wind-bag to write good history. And you probably don’t have to be a professorial wind-bag to write well on other subjects, either.

Go, Gordon; you go, boyfriend!

THE GREAT MAN OF ARMENIA

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on September 20, 2009 by Mizgîn
“We do not believe in benevolent friends, the inevitable triumph of justice, or covertly and cleverly manipulating the superpowers. If we are to achieve national self-determination, then we ourselves, the Armenian people, will have to fight for it. We believe in the power of organized masses and in the capacity of our people to determine their own future. We believe in revolution.”
~ Monte Melkonian.

There was a man that most Kurds don’t know but probably should. His name was Monte Melkonian. He was born in California in the latter half of the 1950s to Armenian-American parents and was educated at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1978, he left the US for Iran where he taught English and joined with others to overthrow the Shah. In August 1979, Monte heard rumors of a Kurdish rebellion in East Kurdistan:

Since leaving Berkeley, Monte had tried to surmount his distrust towards Kurds. He had read somewhere that the Kurds who had taken part in the genocide were from clans led by men who owed their allegiance not to their own people, but to Turkish leaders in Istanbul. After betraying their Armenian cousins, these leaders betrayed their own brothers and sisters by siding with the Turkish army that massacred and deported Kurds in the 1920s and 1930s. Since then, even Kurds from the offending clans had come to view Armenians as fellow victims of their mutual Turkish enemy.

If the rumors of the Kurdish rebellion turned out to be true, exhilarating questions would follow: had the Kurds in Iran succeeded in establishing their own government? And if so, what were the chances that their insurrection would spill over the border to the 12 million Kurds on the Turkish side? And if those prospects were good, could Armenian recruits form their own group and join the insurrection?

It was time to visit Kurdistan. (My Brother’s Road, p. 59)

Monte left for East (Iranian) Kurdistan with a group of Armenian friends, all of whom sought to fight alongside the Kurds:

After four or five days at Haftvan, it was time to continue the journey south to Mahabad. The entourage announced their arrival to rebel leader Ghani Booloorian, who had recently emerged from twenty-eight years in one of the Shah’s dungeons. They also introduced themselves to Dr. Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, the highest-ranking leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Iran. With some 15,000 men in arms and eleven tanks, the KDP was the most powerful organization in Iranian Kurdistan. Ghassemlou’s tie and suit jacket did not impress Monte, though, nor did his claim that Kurds were “true Europeans” surrounded by Asiatics. It was the long-lost European story again–the same old story he had heard from Armenians and Lebanese Maronites. Vahig told Ghassemlou that he and his friends wanted to go to the front, but when he mentioned that one of his friends was from the United States, the Kurdish leader’s smile disappeared and he snapped, “We don’t need any more fighters at the front.”

Monte and his entourage enjoyed a better reception from Komala, an organization dedicated to autonomy in Iranian Kurdistan. The leader of Komala, a fifty-seven-year-old Sunni religious scholar named Sheikh Ezzedin Hosseini, invited the youths to sit with him on the floor around a tray of tea. The sheikh spoke in sincere generalities about Armenian-Kurdish relations and offered to provide arms and training to his Armenian brothers, if they so wished. Monte took an instant liking to the sheikh, with his white turban, horn-rimmed glasses, green robe, and graying beard. For years after meeting him, Monte would greet comrades with a temmenah, touching fingers of the right hand to the forehead and then placing the open hand on the heart. (My Brother’s Road, pp. 60 – 61)

In 1978, Monte went to Beirut. By 1980, he had joined ASALA and received military training from the Palestinians. But Armenians and Palestinians weren’t the only groups to receive military training in Lebanon in the early 1980s; the PKK was also part of Monte’s Lebanese milieu. Monte trained with the PKK and here’s what he had to say about them:

At night, the Kurds actually dreamt about their suffering motherland, and as soon as they awoke they charged off to the drill ground. They dug foxholes with gusto and shouted Thaura! Thaura! “Revolution!” during assault practice, instead of the usual Allahu Akbar! “God is Great!” When they picked the odd quince, they left coins for the farmer at the foot of the tree, and when a Druze farmer came to harvest olives at a nearby orchard they climbed the trees with buckets to help. Once, when the Kurd Suleiman broke a banana in half and absent-mindedly landed Comrade Hassan the smaller of the two pieces, his PKK comrade Terjuman demanded a round of criticism and self-criticism. Suleiman came clean with a self-criticism and a solemn oath never again to engage in such unseemly behavior.

After their initial amusement wore off, the scruffy, swearing, cigarette-smoking Arabs and Armenians at the camp began to feel self-conscious in the presence of the abstemious Kurds, with their internationalist songs, their allusions to German classical philosophy, and their constant focus on revolution. But Monte loved these goings-on. “These guys are like gold!” he effused.

Their enthusiasm was contagious. One by one, the smokers started tossing aside their cigarette rations after returning from the morning jog. All the comrades grimly huddled around the radio for news about the September 12, 1980 military coup in Turkey. Arab recruits volunteered to shoot Turkish diplomats. Before long, they were all stomping shoulder to shoulder under the sun, shouting in Arabic, Kurdish, and Armenian: “Return to the homeland!” “Struggle until victory!” and “We are fedayees!”

At Yanta [Lebanon], Monte felt that expansive feeling that comes with living and fighting together for a common purpose. It was a feeling for which the word “solidarity” is entirely too tepid. The simplest activities–squatting around a tray of lentils; tearing bread and handing it out; donating blood; passing the overcoat at the change of the guard–each of these gestures formed part of a daily liturgy that had nothing to do with egoism or altruism. Quite apart from the question of whether their goals were realizable, the new comrades had moved, if only for a few days or weeks, beyond the plodding mediocrity of shopkeepers and the crushing cynicism of Beirut. This was the way a revolutionary movement–a struggle, as Monte would say–was supposed to feel. (My Brother’s Road, pp. 85 – 87)

There are those who claim that Monte was a “terrorist”, but “terrorism” is not so simple and it’s a term that’s generally used by those who seek to enforce a self-beneficial status quo, as we have all seen so clearly in the last eight years. Reality is always different, as Monte himself wrote in 1988:

“Exploitation and oppression are in themselves forms of violence, and to defend myself and others I will leave all my options open, including violent options. This is natural, and the way things go. I don’t care whether someone has been born into a position of oppression or if he has “worked” his way there. If he oppresses, he oppresses. If he refuses to correct his behavior the easy way, then we’ll just have to do things the hard way. It’s as simple as that.”

Monte was no “terrorist”; he was a lover and defender of justice. So much so, in fact, that he came to the point of criticizing ASALA and urging a surprising option:

In a series of prison essays, Melkonian cited failings of the Armenian Secret Army and called on Armenian revolutionaries to join Kurdish and Turkish rebels to establish a guerrilla force in eastern Turkey.

“Pens are pens and guns are guns,” he wrote. “Right now we have a greater need for guns than pens.”

My Brother’s Road, written by Monte’s brother, Markar Melkonian, is not the only book available about Monte Melkonian. The Right to Struggle: Selected Writings of Monte Melkonian on the Armenian National Question are Monte’s own words on the issue, and should provide the reader with plenty of meat to enjoy a discussion on the right to struggle with the great man himself. In fact, this would be the only opportunity to discuss anything with Monte; sadly, he died in 1993 while defending the Armenian people of Nagorno-Karabakh.

There is much more information available online about Monte Melkonian than there was when I first learned of him. He has a Wikipedia page and there is information about him at the Monte Melkonian Fund, including a photo gallery and a page of quotes. Go, now, and learn.

May our old friend rest in peace.

NEWSFLASH: SIBEL’S STORY FEATURED IN AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on September 19, 2009 by Mizgîn

Check your news stands and bookstores next week for this:

See Sibel’s place for information about accessing the article online.

According to Brad Friedman at The Brad Blog, the interview will be some 4,000 words, which means it will be a good-sized interview for a magazine.

The print version will be out next week and there is supposed to be an online version available sometime after that. However, if you want to do your part to encourage the media to cover stories like Sibel’s, then I’d advise you to purchase a print copy in order to “reward” the magazine for its work in presenting this story.

For those outside of the US, when an online link is available, I will provide it.