JIM GERAGHTY ON EVENTS IN TURKEY: “In my current neck of the woods, the secular vs. Islamist fight is starting to heat up a bit, with a bunch of flashpoints coming up in the near future. Bulent Ecevit died recently, a four-time Turkish prime minister. (There probably arenâ€™t many people who can say they have led their country four separate times.) While he made plenty of controversial decisions, he was and is remembered as a staunch secularist. His funeral turned into a rerun of an event earlier this year, when the funeral of a judge slain by an Islamist turned into a massive, and more than a bit angry rally against the current political leadership and Islamist elements in the country. What was different was that this time, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the current prime minister showed up for the memorial service and got booed soundly.”
He continues: “A lot of EU members are about ready to give Turkey the finger; the Turks are about ready to give it right back, with the percentage of Turks wishing to join the EU dropping into the thirties. How does this effect Americans? Well, if the Turks give up on the EU and grow disgruntled with â€˜the Westâ€™ as represented by Europe, where do they turn to next? Iran, Russia, and China are all eager to build ties to a potential new ally.”
I’m still unhappy with how the Turks treated us in 2003, but I think the Bush Administration should be making nice to Turkey. Maybe we could cut a favorable trade deal with them that would be a consolation prize for not getting in to the EU? We certainly don’t want them drifting off in an Islamist direction.
UPDATE: Emailing from Istanbul, Claire Berlinski writes:
A favorable trade deal is always a nice thing, but if we really want to make nice with Turkey — and I completely agree that we should, for the reasons you mention — then we will have to offer them what they really want, which is PKK heads in a box. The KDP and PUK provide refuge for the PKK in Iraq, which they use to attack Turkey. The Turks want us to go after the PKK directly, and failing that, to let them do it — to supply them with intelligence so that they can invade northern Iraq and clean out the PKK pockets. We’re of course reluctant to go after the PKK (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days) for fear of destabilizing the one part of Iraq that seems to be a success, but from the Turks’ point of view, we’ve just decided to sell them out. I agree, we have; it’s analogous to European states that refuse to support Israel’s counter-terrorism actions in Lebanon and Gaza on the grounds that they’re “destabilizing to the region.” Well yes, they are, but what are you supposed to do if you’re being attacked? If we were the victims of regular PKK terrorist attacks of the kind Turkey has suffered, we’d do to the PKK what we did to the Taliban. If we’re at all serious about waging war on terrorism generally, and not just on terrorists who target Americans, we would take the Turks’ request for help seriously. That would go a long way toward restoring the US-Turkey relationship, and it would also be the right thing to do. (I have a certain sensitivity to the issue: More than once I’ve opened the news to read that the PKK tried to blow up a restaurant or neighborhood I was in only a few days before.)
I love the Kurds, but the PKK are bad people.