Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Day After 24th April 2009



Dear Colleagues,

On 24th April 2009 Friday morning, it is most likely that the new US President will make an unavoidable and regrettable speech on so-called genocide, to put fuel on an 100-years old sad historical story in order to please his Armenian voters and to repay his election debt.

The day after, we may read that Incirlik Air Base is closed to all foreign access.

After every US presidential elections, Turkish Ministry of foreign affairs, Turkish armed forces, Turkish media, and Turkish intellectuals have an important task. When the winner is a democrat candidate, we should start to educate the newcomer, and his/her staff/ advisers, what they can expect, what to say, what not to say.

If they wish to be comfortable in the region, they should agree that Turkey is the key member of the alliance; hence Turkey is an indispensable ally. One should not declare any direct statement nor have any direct commitment on Armenia, Northern Cyprus, and Northern Iraq without prior consent of Turkish side. The outcome of the contrary is not so easy to foresee or to comprehend. Both sides pay consequences dramatically.

It is your writer’s humble observation that Mr. President has given free misfortunate speeches with no obligation, on above sensitive issues during his campaign.

It is our sincere feeling that his staff, his advisers has to give clear briefing what he can say, what he cannot say on these critical issues.

We all agree that there is now a clear consensus on the world superpower in this financial turmoil. One should accept that there is no superpower in the world but there are regional powers in every region.

In the east corner of Mediterranean sea, Turkey has certain substantial gravity. Similarly, Turkey also has certain governing gravity on the north Iraq. Armenian and Cyprus questions are too important, too sensitive issues not to be left to selfish Diaspora in USA.

Campaign speeches which are already spent the US Internal politics can not be continued in the International Affairs.

One should recall that Ronald Reagan had the same speech only once at the beginning of his 8-year Presidency period,

On April 22, 1981, he said "Like the genocide of the Armenians before it, and the genocide of the Cambodians which followed it . . . the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten."

However he had never consumed any similar speech again thereafter, since he and his staff understood that it is too expensive for the US taxpayers.

We all know that the new President is a very clever intellectual, who deserves to rule 2- consecutive terms, and we hope that he will. We also hope that he will get that early briefing in the shortest period of time.

On the other hand, We Turks should have our own story to tell instead, and we Turks should start by quitting blaming others for our own lack of ingenuity...

Haluk Direskeneli, Ankara based Energy Analyst

4 comments:

TT said...

How can you speak for the Americans who have only seen Obama in action for less than a month, to declare he "deserves to rule 2- consecutive terms, and we are sure that he will"?

And why would you expect any politician to keep his campaign promises.

Contrary to the general consensus, Armenians do not represent a large voting bloc for Obama. The states where the Armenian Diaspora is represented in large numbers. most notably California, the Democrats have it in the bag anyway.

So this issue is not an election or a reelection matter of substance. If Obama or others believe the Armenian plight, it is due to their genuine desire for the deserving to receive just justice, or the lack of communicating an effective response to the misinformation campaign.

And lobbying, whether Jewish channels are used or not, is obsolete. The new digital mediums of social movements must be deployed to get the message.

Turks should not always be on defense and challenge the Armenian rhetoric.

Turks should have their own story to tell instead.

And Turks should start by quitting blaming others for their own lack of ingenuity...

Anonymous said...

DAVID L. PHILLIPS

Turkey's strained ties to the West
By David L. Phillips

February 20, 2009

DETRACTORS of Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, insist that his Justice and Development Party is really a Trojan horse for an Islamist agenda. As validation, they point to Erdogan's recent spat with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Davos World Economic Forum and his support for Hamas.

Not only is it in Turkey's interest to restore ties to Israel, but Erdogan must also show the United States and Europe that he is a reliable partner by addressing their other issues of concern - such as normalizing Turkey's relations with Armenia and Cyprus.

I recently met representatives of the Turkish Caucus in the US Congress. They were stunned by Erdogan's description of Israeli policy in Gaza as a "crime against humanity." They were even more troubled by the hero's welcome he received upon returning from Davos to Istanbul. Thousands of his party faithful thronged the airport waving the green flags of Hamas.

Erdogan did not plan his confrontation with Peres in Davos. But he was quick to seek political gain from it. With local elections coming up on March 29, his support for Hamas has given his party a boost in polls. Heralding Hamas's democratic credentials plays well on the "Turkish street." It has also made Erdogan the darling of Damascus and Tehran.

This pro-Hamas rhetoric is a poison pill for Turkey's relations with the United States, and it could not come at a worse time. The Armenian Genocide Act will soon be introduced in the US Congress. With leaders in both chambers on-record supporting recognition of the Armenian Genocide, this year the bill is likely to pass.

Turkey's supporters on Capitol Hill - along with Jewish groups that support Ankara's rapprochement with Israel - have worked feverishly to defeat previous resolutions. Turkish parliamentarians met last week with their typically steadfast allies. But after Davos, they turned a cold shoulder.

If the resolution is adopted, Turkish officials will protest vehemently. Ankara may even go so far as to block US access to Incirlik Air Force Base in southeast Turkey. Incirlik has been a base for US war planes since the first Gulf War. Today it is critical to supplying troops in Afghanistan and redeploying forces from Iraq.

Closing Incirlik would cause a major crisis in US-Turkish relations. To be sure, nobody wants this to happen. The Obama administration is keenly aware of Turkey's strategic importance. It knows that Turkey is a valued NATO ally and partner in the fight against violent extremist groups. Turkish troops are deployed alongside US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Turkey plays a moderating role in Central Asia and is the terminus for energy supplies from the Caspian Sea to western markets.

But while Turkey is an indispensable ally, the onus for avoiding a diplomatic train wreck rests with Erdogan. He can preempt a crisis by initiating normalized diplomatic relations and opening the border between Turkey and Armenia. There is no linkage between normalizing relations and a decision to recognize the Armenian Genocide. However, Turkey's conciliatory gesture would not go unnoticed in Washington. Nor would its efforts to improve increasingly strained relations with the EU.

If Erdogan wants to avert a showdown with Brussels, he must also do more to resolve the situation in Cyprus. Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, and the island remains divided today. The EU will evaluate Turkey's prospects for membership at year's end. While Brussels is not likely to formally suspend negotiations, it will decide not to expand negotiations absent progress in UN-mediated talks to reunify the island.

Opening Turkish ports to Cypriot ships would increase pressure on Greek Cypriots to negotiate in greater earnest. It would also take Turkey off the hook when it comes to parceling out blame in case reunification talks flounder.

If Erdogan wants to restore his reputation as a statesman and a reliable partner of the West, Turkey must repair its ties with Israel, normalize relations with Armenia, and welcome ships from Cyprus. Becoming an advocate for Hamas is a mistake. Turkey's future lies with the West. The Islamist street leads away from Europe to the Middle East.

David L. Phillips is a visiting scholar at Columbia University and director of the Turkey Initiative at the Atlantic Council of the United States.

Anonymous said...

Choosing where to stand

By David L. Phillips

Friday, February 20, 2009
Detractors of Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, insist that his Justice and Development Party is really a Trojan horse for an Islamist agenda.

As validation, they point to Erdogan's recent spat with Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Davos World Economic Forum and his support for Hamas.

Not only is it in Turkey's interest to restore ties to Israel, but Erdogan must also show the United States and Europe that he is a reliable partner by addressing other issues of concern - such as normalizing Turkey's relations with Armenia and Cyprus.

I recently met representatives of the Turkish Caucus in the U.S. Congress. They were stunned by Erdogan's description of Israeli policy in Gaza as a "crime against humanity." They were even more troubled by the hero's welcome he received upon returning from Davos to Istanbul. Thousands of his party faithful thronged the airport waving the green flags of Hamas.

Erdogan did not plan his confrontation with Peres in Davos. But he was quick to seek political gain from it. With local elections coming up on March 29, his support for Hamas has given his party a boost in polls. Heralding Hamas's democratic credentials plays well on the "Turkish street." It has also made Erdogan the darling of Damascus and Tehran.

This pro-Hamas rhetoric is a poison pill for Turkey's relations with the United States, and it could not come at a worse time. The Armenian Genocide Act will soon be introduced in the U.S. Congress. With leaders in both chambers on-record supporting recognition of the Armenian genocide, this year the bill is likely to pass.

Turkey's supporters on Capitol Hill - along with Jewish groups that support Ankara's rapprochement with Israel - have worked feverishly to defeat previous resolutions. Turkish parliamentarians met last week with their typically steadfast allies. But after Davos, they turned a cold shoulder.

If the resolution is adopted, Turkish officials will protest vehemently. Ankara may even go so far as to block U.S. access to Incirlik Air Force Base in southeast Turkey. Incirlik has been a base for U.S. war planes since the first Gulf War. Today it is critical to supplying troops in Afghanistan and redeploying forces from Iraq.

Closing Incirlik would cause a major crisis in U.S.-Turkish relations. Nobody wants this to happen. The Obama administration is keenly aware of Turkey's strategic importance. It knows that Turkey is a valued NATO ally and partner in the fight against violent extremist groups. Turkish troops are deployed alongside U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Turkey plays a moderating role in Central Asia and is the terminus for energy supplies from the Caspian Sea to western markets.

But while Turkey is an indispensable ally, the onus for avoiding a diplomatic train wreck rests with Erdogan. He can preempt a crisis by initiating normalized diplomatic relations and opening the border between Turkey and Armenia.

There is no linkage between normalizing relations and a decision to recognize the Armenian Genocide. And Turkey's conciliatory gesture would not go unnoticed in Washington. Nor would its efforts to improve increasingly strained relations with the EU.

If Erdogan wants to avert a showdown with Brussels, he must also do more to resolve the situation in Cyprus. Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, and the island remains divided today. The EU will evaluate Turkey's prospects for membership at year's end. While Brussels is not likely to formally suspend negotiations, it will decide not to expand negotiations absent progress in UN-mediated talks to reunify the island.

Opening Turkish ports to Cypriot ships would increase pressure on Greek Cypriots to negotiate in greater earnest. It would also take Turkey off the hook when it comes to parceling out blame in case reunification talks flounder.

If Erdogan wants to restore his reputation as a statesman and a reliable partner of the West, Turkey must repair its ties with Israel, normalize relations with Armenia, and welcome ships from Cyprus. Becoming an advocate for Hamas is a mistake. Turkey's future lies with the West. The Islamist street leads away from Europe to the Middle East.

David L. Phillips is a visiting scholar at Columbia University and director of the Turkey Initiative at the Atlantic Council of the United States.

TT said...

I wonder if Obama is coming to Turkey in early April to alert the Turks that he will make an unfortunate speech on April 24.... NOT!

I think Obama the President, like many before him, is finding out the rhetoric of Obama the Candidate will sometimes have to be overruled, in favor of not upsetting the balance in the already upset Middle East.

Probably not for the same reasons the Turks feel Obama should, on the question of 'Genocide,' but whatever works I guess...