Thursday, August 05, 2010

Anti-Turkey climate in the US congress

The U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing on Wednesday morning titled “Turkey’s New Foreign Policy Direction: Implication for U.S.-Turkish Relations.”
The chairman of the Committee, Mr. Howard Berman, in his opening statement described the meeting as “the first full-committee hearing devoted exclusively to Turkey” because of questions “about Turkey’s orientation and its ongoing commitment to strategic partnership with the United States.” Therefore, the hearing was in essence to discuss whether Turkey is changing its direction from west to east, a claim that the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has vehemently opposed.
The hearing was only the latest testimony about how bad the anti-Turkey or anti-AKP climate in the U.S. Congress is following a host of issues in recent months. The committee’s leader, Howard Berman, does not have a good reputation among Turks, especially since the management style he displayed during the Armenian genocide resolution vote in early April, at the same committee.
The New York Times’ columnist Thomas Friedman told a group of Turkish journalists and experts in Washington last week that he also has some real issues with some of the Turkey’s foreign policies, such as “zero problems” following an interview for the Studyo Washington. Friedman argued that North Korea’s dictator or China’s foreign policy makers, too, can deliver the zero problem policy. Friedman stated while elaborating his analysis that, Turkey should promote a set of values in its neighborhood as a Capitalist Democracy and invite its neighbors to join Turkey on the same road instead of letting anyone do whatever it wants and giving away roses.
Along the difference over the Iran nuclear policy, Turkey’s strained relations with Israel has been the second biggest crack in the relations between the U.S. and Turkish administrations. Following the flotilla raid, various protests and condemnations proved that the Israeli government has been isolated further in Europe and many other corners in the world, and it felt compelled to ease the blockade on the Gazan people. And the AKP government has been isolated further in the halls of the American Congress and snubbed by the leaders of both parties.
When one looks at the power balance of the current U.S. Congress, it can be safely noted that the AKP government has lost its PR war against Israel badly.
President Obama learned his limits when it comes to the tough love policy against Israel in recent weeks. It remains to be seen whether the AKP administration will change its Israel policy, following a long pandering period of the U.S. Congress through signed letters which have urged Turkey to repair the relations with Israel repeatedly and given stark statements that Turkey has had to endure.
Since the flotilla crisis, it is the Republican opposition party leaders and members who have reacted the most fervently against the Turkish foreign policies, a party that has been traditionally enjoying more comfortable relations with Turkey. Therefore, it seems that the problem will not be disappearing anytime soon with the November elections when one considers it is not only the Democrat Party ranks that the Turkish administration is going through a sour relationship episode.
For example, the Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Florida lawmaker who could become the next chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee if Republicans win in November, quickly issued a press release declaring, “Instead of giving more undeserved gifts to the PLO, it’s time for us to kick the PLO out of the U.S. once and for all, and move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, where it belongs,” as a reaction when the State Department announced it was upgrading the Palestinian Authority’s Washington office to a “general delegation” as a symbolic gesture, a similar status as in Europe. “The unrepentant, unchanged PLO deserves no U.S. concessions,” such as flying “the so-called ‘Palestinian flag,’” Ros-Lehtinen added. One wonders how would such strong right-wing rhetoric of her chairwomanship at the committee fare when it comes to the relations with Turkey in the future.
According to current committee leader Berman’s testimony in the same hearing, “evidence of a negative foreign-policy shift by the AK Party government has been clear at least since February 2006, when Turkey invited Hamas leader Khaled Meshal for a visit. Concerns about Turkey hit a new peak with the flotilla incident, the apparent ties between the AK Party and the Hamas-associated nongovernmental organization İHH, and then the Turkish vote against U.N. Security Council resolution 1929, the historic sanctions resolution aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program.”
Soner Çağaptay, Director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, was one of the four witnesses for the committee hearing and stated in his testimony to the committee that, “now with Al Qaeda pursuing a war between the "Muslim world" and the West, a gray area in which Turkey can position itself no longer exists; it must become an EU member and part of the West, or else fold into the Muslim world, as per Al Qaeda's vision.”
Çağaptay argued that “it is time to signal to the AKP that its anti-Western policies have a cost. To this end Washington should deny the AKP political access ― this will cost the party prestige that matters greatly in Turkish politics.”
Amb. Ross Wilson, on the other hand, as another witness, said Turkey, “stronger than at any time in a couple hundred years, is now inclined to try to influence events on its periphery in ways that it [has] not in the past.” Following a summary of Turkey’s relations with Iran, Iraq, Middle East and Caucuses that he prepared for his remarks, Wilson asked “is there another ally that has such a large stake in how so many problems that are so important to us get addressed?” Wilson’s recipe to repair the damaged relations with Turkey to the committee members is, “no choice but to work with it [Turkey] and work with it and work with it.”
When asked about the current anti-Turkey climate in the Congress, a high level Turkish diplomat stated that “Berman’s particular anti-Turkish stance has been clear since the passage of the Armenian genocide resolution."
However, the official stated that there will be a difficult time ahead for Turkey in the Congress before the November elections, when the domestic politics and its calculations on the part of the members for re-elections are flying high.
Though the official accepted that the bad climate for Turkey in the Congress is negatively affecting the U.S.-Turkish relations, he argued that there is hope that this hostile climate should disappear once the November midterm elections are over.
"If not," the official concluded, the anti climate in the U.S. Congress would become a serious crisis between the U.S.-Turkey relations.
We will see if the AKP leadership offers any policy changes to recalibrate its expectations from U.S. and Israel or if it continues to unnerve the West and urge the U.S. administration to change some of its policies regarding Iran, Israel and the wider Middle East.
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Guest - Taylor
2010-08-04 05:59:31
To Lion: You pretend to be so naive. But, of course you know very well that the American and British people are kept in a "doped state" by the Massive Media-Entertainment Monster of the well-entrenched Jewish Lobby. The slow-witted American is duped by your Media in every election....and even now...the Supreme Court is being "stacked" with Three Jews....who will dominate all votes, for many years to come. Don't take us all for fools Faux-Lion.
Guest - Mohammed Sameer
2010-08-03 01:36:15
It is good to see that Turkey is acting on its own thoughts. I dont have problem if Turkey supports Israel or Palestine... But it should support the right thing based upon its conscious. After a long time i feel like saluting a leader like Mr. Erdogan. All these developments show that the sinful Anglo-Saxon grip is slowly loosening. Russia, Germany & China should act to preserve humanity and the its essence...
Guest - Kangaroo
2010-08-02 11:02:37
@ManIntheMiddle - One of the best opinions I have come across with style and imagination that paints the true relationship Turkey had with the West. Keep up the good work buddy.
Guest - Lion
2010-08-02 10:48:34
Sam - I have different facts, the number one threat to the world was Iran, followed by Israel (you were right about Israel being second but wrong about the first place). I suggest you check your sources or bring some evidence (I don't bother to bring it since it was your claim) regarding the US being controlled by Zionist, can you tell me how 6 million Jews in the US (merely 2%), assuming they are all pro Israeli (and they are not if you heard about J-street and other Jewish organizations who are against Israel policy) can control the super power with ~300 million people? As opposed to you, I think that the world is starting to see clearly into the Israeli Palestinian conflict which is an introduced conflict by Iran and other islamo fascistic entities. The only reason Europe is not saying that clearly is their foreign policy of "zero problems with large immigrations", meaning "we don't want them to burn cars in our streets"
Guest - ManInTheMiddle
2010-08-02 05:16:47
Ulke, I am indeed extremely pleased that Turkey is acting based on its own national interests, aren't you?! Regarding the attitude of the West towards Turkey, just as any EU-type what she or he thinks of Turkey. I bet the majority view does not list "respect" at the top of the list. It might not even show up on the list. Turkey has been a good soldier for the West to slow down the Soviet army. Now with the USSR gone, Turkey is free to choose its place in the world. This tectonic re-orientation of the Turkish foreign policy will decrease tension in the ME rather than exacerbate it. The EU will realize soon, that it needs Turkey as a bridge to energy resources other than Russia in order to diversify EU's sources of energy. This not a zero-sum game. Turkey will connect the West to the East and everyone will benefit. You just need to trust the Turks or ...
Guest - Sam
2010-08-01 20:51:47
It is hard to believe how so many of comments here and in media seem to look at Turkey’s leaning toward the Palestinian cause as some sort of treachery or disloyalty. Pull your heads out of the sand: the world opinion on Israeli/Palestinian conflict is changing and Turkey is only one example. Even Israel’s own internal analysis has shown they believe the Us-Israeli ties are becoming a liability for the US. What is more, the economic and military rise of non-aligned countries like India, China, Turkey, & Brazil can only make it easier for these countries to see facts on the ground more independently of the Zionist controlled US administration and media. As someone else said in their comment, just look at the three names in this article and that fact alone speaks volumes about who controls the US foreign policy. As Ariel Sharon once told Peres on an Israeli talk show, “don’t worry about the US pressure on Israel; we the Jewish people control America and Americans know it.” In 2008 an international poll showed that two third of Europeans consider the US to be the largest threat to world peace, well above Iran or North Korea, with Israel being second. The rest of the world does not get its news from Fox news, folks; it would be best for the US to see the change in Turkey’s recent leanings as a s sign of coming tides and ask itself if it should continue serving Israeli interests at the expense of its own.
Guest - Bruce Heilbrunn
2010-08-01 19:21:05
There can be no doubt that Turkey is already sharing NATO secrets with Iran
Guest - Ulke
2010-08-01 18:36:15
I just wonder, "men in the middle", you seem very pleased that Turkey is now acting in its own national interest. Fine. But what is your view on other countries acting in their own national interest? When you use the term "whore", one gets the impression that you perceive the West as bad, evil etc for acting in their own interest, but when Turkey acts in its own interest, you seem very pleased with it. Can you please elaborate this, because it does seem a bit inconisisten.
Guest - igor
2010-08-01 18:32:34
@Maninthemiddle. You are makinga statement " Turkey used to be treated like a whore by the West, i.e, the West wanted to use Turkey but did not want to treat it respectfully nor equally." Could you please specify exactly in what way has the West treated Turkey "like a whore". Please present your fact and if possible also sources.
Guest - Alex
2010-08-01 03:29:32
Turkey has raised questions as to whether it can be trusted. As a NATO member, it has access to a lot of sensitive information that would be very valuable to Iran and other enemies of the West. Turkey's embrace of Iranis therefore worrisome. Also, Turkey's ability to turn on a dime and villify a longstanding friend (Israel) for short term political gain makes people everywhere question who will be the next victim of Turkish treachery.
Guest - ManInTheMiddle
2010-08-01 00:59:37
Allow me to put it this way. Turkey used to be treated like a whore by the West, i.e, the West wanted to use Turkey but did not want to treat it respectfully nor equally. That's why Turkey is always welcomed by the West as a proverbial doormat, but once Turkey begs for EU membership? The answer has always been, and will be, "get lost!". NATO membership was offered to Turkey because it was able to provide cannon fodder in the form of Turkish soldiers to slow down the USSR encroachment onto the Mediterranean through the Black Sea. Now that Turkey has "found its way" and is insisting on charting its own map in the world troubled waters, by putting a stake in the ground and announcing it is going to work for its own NATIONAL INTERESTS, the pimps are gotten worried. Read some of the remarks and the articles, you'll know what I'm talking about.
Guest - Cynic
2010-07-31 22:06:13
When you support a country which has chanted "death to America" for 30+ years - why would anyone be surprised that the USA would question whether Turkey is a true ally? The support of Hamas, Hezbollah and denying use of their air base doesn't help relations either. Turkey has made their bed - hope they enjoy sleeping in it.
Guest - Taylor
2010-07-31 21:29:31
Berman wants you to all become Jewish....or at least become Doormats for Israel. Sadly, some of you have....
Guest - Murat
2010-07-31 20:42:25
This is from a US Congressman, Eliot Engel, in NYT: "I disagree with your assertion that an “international investigation” of the flotilla incident involving Israel is the “best chance of finding out what really happened.” The last time the United Nations conducted a so-called impartial investigation, it produced the severely biased, one-sided Goldstone Commission report..Also, Turkey’s involvement in this incident must not be swept under the rug....Today, the Turkish Islamic leadership has seemingly decided to look eastward to Iran and change Turkey’s historic secular character. Israel begged Turkey not to let the flotilla leave Turkey, and if it did, to have it dock at Ashdod, Israel, where any humanitarian aid could have been delivered. Turkey refused, and bears responsibility for what happened." The fact that IDF murdered a US citizien also did not phase this US congressman from "Tel Aviv"! I do not believe in conspiracy theories, but this is the picture folks...
Guest - Tarik
2010-07-31 19:59:37
answer to Ariel, if it isnt good to move to Iran, why did Israel support Iranian antidemocratic Islamic regime during Iran-Iraq war. you are all funny guys.
Guest - john Norman
2010-07-31 19:08:48
War is hell, German Sherman. And Turkey has decided to go to war with the West and its values. That's why it will never be allowed into the EU - fortunately. Never mind what Obama and Cameron want. In the UK we will have a referendum on Turkey's accession and an overwhelming majority will vote no to Turkey.
Guest - George
2010-07-31 18:08:32
Long term, American-Turkish relations are doomed. unless Turkey backs off. There is a fundamental clash of interests in the region. America, this great country, remember, is a superpower, don't kid yourself. Turkey is too small next to America to play her new games. "A still nice to Turkey, wait and see America" has not yet moved "a finger" in reaction to Turkish policies. Wait when it does.
Guest - anton
2010-07-31 18:05:38
uri d. you forgot to put "blah blah blah" to the end of your comment :D
Guest - Ben Golivon
2010-07-31 17:18:09
kologlu Nice said! What about the PM and the FM?
Guest - Strght Walking Turkey.
2010-07-31 14:38:19
Stop bullying yourself, Turkey! How can you expect a women,she calls to assassinate Fidel Castro,to be friendly TO YOU. Tell you another good example, there is no one attend BP inquiry HOSTED BY THESE PEOPLE. Here you are this is this women's ugly performance. 'Following the 2008 elections, then President-elect Barack Obama rang Ros-Lehtinen to congratulate her on her re-election. She hung up on him, believing that it was a prank call from a radio station. She did the same to Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel when he rang to confirm the original call was genuine, and only accepted the call after Congressman Howard Berman managed to speak to her.' There are plenty lovely americans, we can find those descent american friends,let's see.
Guest - Ariel Daniel
2010-07-31 13:07:24
Turkish people - I was in Turkey about 5 years ago and I had good time. Recently your leaders are moving to Iran which is not so good. That is why Turkey is being investigated by the US and Europe. I hope Turkey will stop its deterioration. The sooner the better for you. Turkish People, Be Strong!
Guest - scepticalyabanci
2010-07-31 11:36:36
'You can please some of the people all of the time...' as the old saying goes. AKP's 'strategic depth' (what exactly is the meaning of this grandoise sounding, but ultimately meaningless term?!) may have worked in terms of AKP's Islamicist (semi-hidden) agenda, but for Turkey's international standing; i.e. good relations with nations that actually matter on the interational stage, it has been an utter catastrophe for Turkey. Alienating the US and Europe and getting in bed with Iran and Somalia. How could anyone ever have imagined that this was a good idea that would produce positive outcomes for Turkey?!
Guest - Kangaroo
2010-07-31 09:20:05
Lets focus on the names - Howard BERMAN, Thomas FRIEDMAN, Ileana Ros-LEHTINEN. Who are they? US need Turkey more than ever. Turkey seeks recognition, understanding, and respect within the geography it belongs. It values human equality, justice and truth. Sounds like the Western values, however, Turkey actually puts it into practice and we have seen this with Turkey's anti Israel stance. Look at public opinion internationally against the Israeli government. Every year the public opinion against Israel is on the rise. Now, do you blame this on Turkey as well? Israel is its own worst enemy. This is the 21st century – you can not get away with brutality that is displayed arrogantly against the Palestinians. You might control all the news media internationally, but the truth leaks via technology while it’s happening. You can spin and spin but you will only get dizzy and that is the Israel of today.
Guest - Uri D.
2010-07-31 07:21:06
In the long run, Americans cannot be fooled, they see how AKP establish warm relations with Iran, Syria, and Hamas and Hezbollah terror organizations, and act against US and Israel interest, if this will continue, there will be dire consequences. Don’t overlook the obvious, moderate Arabs hate to see the shameful Turkish support for Hamas, and Muslim brotherhood, there will be consequences as well.
Guest - GeneralSherman
2010-07-31 01:34:16
"move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, where it belongs," “the so-called ‘Palestinian flag". Wow, what Zionist fanaticism. I don't even like or care about palestinians and that's how it appears to me. Is this person a congresswoman of the United States or or a member of the israeli knesset? I can't believe my taxes are paying for this garbage. You would think educated people with more moderate attitudes would be elected but the crazies are in charge. Who in florida looks at this and thinks, "yeah, that's the person I want to vote for". It's this kind of garbage that makes this country a target for miliants. How can americans look at this and buy US media catchphrases like "why do they hate us?" or "they hate our freedoms" or be suprised at militants who hate this country.
Guest - kologlu
2010-07-31 00:27:20
The first step to recalibrate its expectation from US and Israel, Turkey must replace her Washigton ambassador Mr Namik Tan. The Turkish ambassador to Washington, Mr. Namik Tan does not have any clear understanding and deep familiarity with the realities of the Washington political theater. He ignored and never had any meetings with very instrumental APIAC lobby. During recent the flotillia incident he called for Hamas to take part in a final solution for Israel!

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