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American Jewish community ends support of Turkish interests on Hill
By Eli Lake
8:54 p.m., Tuesday, June 8, 2010
In October 2000, the government of Turkey had a problem.
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert had promised to bring a resolution commemorating the Armenian genocide to the floor for a vote, a move that Ankara said would be a slap in the face to a NATO ally.
The Turks called up Keith Weissman, a senior researcher from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and asked him to intervene.
Mr. Weissman said in an interview this week that AIPAC lit up the phones and managed at the last minute — with the help of the State Department — to persuade President Clinton himself to write a letter to Mr. Hastert saying a vote on the resolution would cause strategic damage to U.S. interests.
The last-minute push worked. Mr. Hastert removed the resolution from the floor, and the full Congress has yet to take up the matter to this day.
But the American Jewish community is no longer helping Turkey, after a tumultuous deterioration of ties between Israel and Turkey in the past four years. The government in Ankara last week decried a botched Israeli raid on a Turkish aid flotilla, which claimed at least nine lives, as an act of "state terror."
In some ways, the Memorial Day flotilla affair marks an end of Israel's more than 20-year strategic alliance with Turkey, and the resulting support from the pro-Israel lobby in Washington.
US lawmakers blast 'disgraceful' Turkey over Iran, Israel
(AFP) – 8 hours ago
WASHINGTON — US lawmakers slammed "disgraceful" Turkey on Wednesday over its ties to Iran and charged Ankara had the "blood" of nine Turks killed in an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship on its hands.
"There will be a cost if Turkey stays on its present heading of growing closer to Iran and more antagonistic to the state of Israel," warned Representative Mike Pence, the number three House Republican.
The group, firing an unusually harsh rhetorical broadside at a NATO ally, rebuked Turkey for backing the aid flotilla, criticizing Israel, and opposing US efforts to impose new sanctions on Tehran over its suspect nuclear program.
"Because Turkey is a NATO ally, it's even more disgraceful, their actions," said Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, who joined his colleagues in accusing Ankara of drifting away from the West and into the arms of Iran.
"If we look at what the Turkish government has done in the past couple of years: they certainly have a very strong Islamic bent, but a bent in terms of looking towards Iran, and looking towards the Middle East, and not looking at the West and NATO anymore," said Engel.
The lawmakers slammed Turkey for backing an aid flotilla for Gaza and said Ankara was to blame for the deaths of eight Turks and a dual Turkish-US national in a May 31 raid on one of the ships, the Turkish ferry Mavi Marmara.
"I believe that blood is on the hands of Turkey," Republican Representative Peter King.
"As far as I'm concerned, Turkey is responsible for the nine deaths aboard that ship, it is not Israel's troops that are responsible," said Democratic Representative Shelley Berkley.
Pence said he would consider dropping his opposition to a US Congress resolution branding the World War I era mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman forces as "genocide" and hinted at other consequences.
Berkley said she had turned Turkish officials away from her office this week and would continue to do so "until I see and change in policy" and vowed to fight against Turkey's accession to the European Union.
"They don't deserve to be a part of the EU until they start behaving more like the European nations and a whole lot less like Iran," she said.
Neo-cons lead charge against Turkey
By Jim Lobe
As the right-wing leadership of the organised US Jewish community defends Israel against international condemnation for its deadly seizure of a flotilla bearing humanitarian supplies for Gaza, a familiar clutch of neo-conservative hawks is going on the offensive against what they see as the flotilla's chief defender, Turkey.
Outraged by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's repeated denunciations of the May 31 Israeli raid, as well as his co-sponsorship with Brazil of an agreement with Iran designed to promote renewed negotiations with the West on Tehran's nuclear programme, some neo-conservatives are even demanding that the US try to expel Ankara from NATO as one among several suggested actions aimed at punishing Erdogan's AKP (Justice and Development Party) government.
"Turkey, as a member of NATO, is privy to intelligence information having to do with terrorism and with Iran," noted the latest report by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), a hard-line neo-conservative group that promotes US-Israeli military ties and has historically cultivated close ties to Turkey's military, as well.
"If Turkey finds its best friends to be Iran, Hamas, Syria and Brazil (look for Venezuela in the future) the security of that information (and Western technology in weapons in Turkey's arsenal) is suspect. The United States should seriously consider suspending military cooperation with Turkey as a prelude to removing it from the organisation," suggested the group.
Its board of advisers includes many prominent champions of the 2003 Iraq invasion, including former Defence Policy Board chairman Richard Perle, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director James Woolsey, and former UN ambassador John Bolton.
Neo-conservative publications, notably The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard and the National Review, have also been firing away at the AKP government since the raid.
"Turkey now represents a major element in the global panorama of radical Islam," declared the Standard's Stephen Schwartz, while Daniel Pipes, the controversial director of the Likudist Middle East Forum (MEF), echoed JINSA's call for ousting Ankara from NATO and urged Washington to provide direct support for Turkey's opposition parties in an article published by the National Review Online.
The Journal has been running editorials and op-eds attacking Turkey on virtually a daily basis since the raid, accusing its government, among other things, of having "an ingrained hostility toward the Jewish state, remarkable sympathies for nearby radical regimes, and an attitude toward extremist groups like the IHH (the Islamist group that sponsored the flotilla's flagship, the Mavi Marmara) that borders on complicity".
On Monday, it ran an op-ed by long-time hawk Victor Davis Hanson that labelled the IHH "a terrorist organisation with ties to al-Qaeda", while an earlier op-ed, by Robert Pollock, its editorial features editor, called Erdogan and his foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, "demagogues appealing to the worst elements in their own country and the broader Middle East".
Meanwhile, in an op-ed published by The Forward, a Jewish weekly, Michael Rubin, a Perle protégé at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), accused Turkey of having "become a conduit for the smuggling of weapons to Israel's enemies", notably Lebanon's Hezbollah.
The onslaught is ironic both because of the neo-conservatives' long cultivation of Turkey and their avowed support for promoting democratic governance - of which they have singled out Turkey for special praise - in the Muslim world.
Neo-conservatives were among the most important promoters of the military alliance between Israel and Turkey that began to take shape in the late 1980s and was consolidated by the mid-1990s.
In fact, Perle and another of his protégés, former undersecretary of defence for policy, Douglas Feith, worked as paid lobbyists for Turkey during that period, in major part to persuade the powerful "Israel Lobby" to promote Ankara's interests on Capitol Hill.
In 1996, the two men participated in a task force chaired by Perle that proposed to incoming Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he work with Turkey and Jordan to remove Iraqi President Saddam Hussein from power as part of an alliance designed to transform the strategic balance in the Middle East permanently in favour of Israel.
But the Turkey promoted by Perle and his fellow neo-cons in the 1980s and 1990s was one that was dominated by a secular business and political elite carefully monitored by an all-powerful military institution that mounted three coup d'etats between 1960 and 1980 and intervened a fourth time in 1997 to oust an Islamist-led government.
Suppose Turkey Transfers U.S. Technology and Tactics to Iran and Syria
Written by JINSA
Tuesday, 22 June 2010 17:27
As a member of NATO, Turkey has access to a wide array of American technology that, if compromised, could spell real danger for U.S. operations in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, and threaten allies that rely on American equipment and training. Turkey's increasingly close relations with Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran and, recently, Russia, should cause the United States to monitor Turkey closely with an eye toward the damage that could be done to American interests.
Unfortunately, the U.S. has shown no interest in the radical reorientation going on inside of Turkey. The widespread arrest of past and present Turkish military figures along with a large number of others has not sparked even a comment from the State Department or Pentagon, and nor from the White House. The participation of the Turkish government with the IHH in the Gaza flotilla - and the corresponding inflammatory rhetoric that has emanated from the Turkish government - received even less attention. The result is that the Turkish government thinks it has a free hand with Israel, as well as with Iran - although it is peeved the U.S. did not back the Turkish-Brazilian deal for a portion of Iran's nuclear materials.
A particular worry is the Turkish intelligence services, to which Prime Minister Erdogan has appointed two radical Muslim civilians to key positions: Hakan Fidan as head of Milli Istihbarat Teskilati (MIT), Turkey's foreign intelligence service; and Muammer Güler as Undersecretary for Public Order and Security, which heads Turkey's counterterrorism service. The intelligence services are playing a key role in separating the Turkish military from Israel and in the removal of those they see as a threat to the current government.
The big risk is that the intelligence services, conflating their very strong hatred of Israel with their support of Israel's - and America's - enemies, will grab equipment and information from the Turkish military and share it with those enemies.
No one can competently say what Turkey is discussing - or sharing - with Hamas and Hezbollah, or with Iran and Syria. Until the Gaza flotilla, Israel did not collect intelligence on Turkey, and it is unlikely the U.S. has paid much attention.