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Published:November 7th, 2007 05:25 EST
Turkey Questions US Sincerity in the War on Terrorism

Turkey Questions US Sincerity in the War on Terrorism

By SOP newswire

The United States and Turkey are on the brink. While Turkey itches to launch a counter- terrorism strike into Northern Iraq and avenge its recent casualties, the US continues to hold its ally back, afraid the incursion would destabilize the only peaceful region left in Iraq. Rather than crediting the U.S. for attempting to diffuse the situation through multilateral diplomacy, the Turkish public blames America for its large casualty count this month. Few on Turkey`s streets believe in the sincerity of the U.S. and its war on terrorism Given the pervasive disillusionment and fading goodwill, the next few days "and the US`s next move "could significantly affect the course of the bilateral alliance. If the US does not aid Turkey`s anti-terrorism efforts in some substantive way, it could risk pushing Turkey away, and in the process force Ankara to act unilaterally in Iraq.

Turkish resentment has pervaded public opinion to the core. Possible military confrontation with the U.S. is today a matter of serious discussion within the Turkish media.  The chief columnist of Hurriyet, Turkey`s largest newspaper, urges Turkey to create military alliances with Iran, China, Russia, and Latin America, as a challenge to the U.S.  How have we come to this point? 

One explanation is Western insensitivity. For example, the Western media refrains from labeling the PKK as terrorists ". Instead, sources refer to the Kurdistan Workers Party in benign terms such as rebels, " militants, " or even group ". Such hypocrisy strengthens the hands of conspiracy theorists and Turkish extremists, who aim for a marginal and revisionist foreign policy.

A second explanation is the harm done by Kurdish spokespeople. Turkish eyebrows raise when Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Kurdish Regional President Massaoud Barzani act as spokesmen for the PKK. For example, Talabani, speaking on behalf of the terrorist group PKK, has offered a truce to Turkey. This is analogous to Felipe Caldron, the President of Mexico, offering a truce to the U.S. on behalf of Al-Qaeda. 

Thirdly, there is historical precedent for Turkish mistrust of the West.  The Sevres Treaty, which divided Turkey post-World War I, resulted in a deep-seated suspicion, particularly among the extremists and nationalists of the Turkish nation. The U.S. and the West are thus held responsible for every repetitive incident that could lead to the destabilization of Turkey. Turkish people compare U.S. support for Israel in 2006 with America`s hesitancy regarding Turkish cross-border operation against the PKK. Their conclusion is logically that it must either be hypocrisy, or an intentional effort to destabilize Ankara.
This deep seeded mistrust has been stoked by a confluence of recent events, pushing the relationship to the breaking point. The partnership first came under severe strain in March of 2003, following the Turkish Parliament`s decision to deny U.S. forces passage through Turkey on their way to Iraq. Nonetheless, Turkey continued to support the U.S.`s fundamental objectives in Iraq. Furthermore, Turkey`s contributions to the stabilization of Northern Iraq have been, and continue to be, significant and well received. Turkey remains the largest supplier of goods, services, water and electricity to the North. The majority of non-combat equipment and supplies for U.S. troops flow through Turkish ports, airfields, and over the Turkish-Iraqi border. Indeed, Northern Iraq`s economic miracle is in large part the result of Turkish investments, services, construction, and sales.

These contributions are strong evidence that Turkey does not have revisionist or expansionist aims in the region, but rather supports Iraq`s territorial integrity.  However, over the past twenty years, Turkey has lost over 30,000 citizens to PKK terrorism. In October, PKK terrorists killed at least 42 people on Turkish soil. While rhetorical support of the U.S. has been excellent, Turkey`s patience fades as it watches the US hesitate to support its counter-terrorism efforts.

Whether calculated or accidental, the U. S-Turkish relationship came under further strain this October, when the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee passed the Armenian Resolution. This month, only nine percent of Turkish citizens hold favorable opinions about the U.S. The vote of the Foreign Affairs Committee has brought thousands of Turks into the streets with anti-U.S. slogans. In spite of this, it is doubtful that a fundamental anti-Americanism exists in Turkey. It can be better characterized as an immense popular disenchantment with U.S. policies.  Should the U.S. take clear and decisive action against the PKK and take part in a detailed, fact-based analysis of the Turkish-Armenian dialogue, opinion polls in Turkey would improve dramatically.

These are hard times for U.S.-Turkish relations.  The critical partnership between the two needs to be revitalized and skillfully managed by imaginative leadership and clear heads. The whole relationship is in danger of short-circuiting if the United States does not act purposefully to curtail the PKK`s activities out of Northern Iraq. The U.S. must either join the Turkish military in making pinpoint strikes on terrorist camps along the border of Turkey and Iraq, pressure the Iraqi Kurds to distance themselves from and choke off support for the PKK, or step aside and allow the Turkish military to do what it must. Right now is the time for the U.S. to show its sincerity in the war on terror.

Source:by Cenk Sidar

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