31 Aralık 2009 Perşembe
30 Aralık 2009 Çarşamba
29 Aralık 2009 Salı
|December 29, 2009 Unwelcomed Missiles By Feryaz Ocakli and Yelena Biberman Special to Russia Profile|
Washington May Have Compromised with Moscow over the MDS in Czech Republic and Poland, but Russia Is Not Fully Backing an Alternative MDS in Turkey
In the latest chapter of the U.S. missile defense system (MDS) saga, Turkey has rejected U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposal to deploy missile shield elements on its soil for fear of Russian retaliation. The twist is that it was Russian President Vladimir Putin who, back in June 2007, suggested Turkey as an alternative site for MDS interceptors. It is unclear whether Russia serves as an excuse or the real reason for Turkey’s reluctance to get into the MDS business. In other words, it is unclear who is wagging Washington: Moscow or Ankara? The answer is – both.
This is not the first time Ankara is involved in a missile dispute between Washington and Moscow. The escalation of events that ultimately led to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis began in Turkey. Missiles stationed there boosted American nuclear capabilities at the expense of the Soviet Union. Only when Moscow responded in kind by attempting to install its own nuclear missiles in Cuba did Washington agree to dismantle its arsenal in Turkey.
The George W. Bush administration proposed to install the MDS in Poland and the Czech Republic in 2007. The White House declared that the missile defense system would help to counter a possible Iranian missile threat. The Kremlin responded by signaling that it would station short-range Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave bordering Poland, and accused the White House of using Cold War tactics against a rejuvenating Russia. Putin hinted at Turkey, Iraq, and Israel as potential, non-threatening locations for the defense system instead of Russia’s western border with the European Union. When the Obama administration decided to drop Warsaw and Prague off the agenda, Washington returned to Ankara.
Obama first voiced the possibility of installing the MDS in Turkey during Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Washington on December 7. Turkish daily Milliyet soon quoted a Turkish military source claiming: “both Russia and Iran [would] perceive that as a threat.” Several days before Erdogan’s Washington trip, Russia’s ambassador to Ankara Vladimir Ivanovskiy told Turkish daily Aksam that Russia would approve of an MDS in Turkey if Turkey, the United States and Russia act as “partners” to the project. Why, then, is Ankara turning down Washington’s request?
The first plausible explanation for Turkey’s puzzling behavior is that it is an attempt to please Russia by helping it get a larger role in the missile defense project. After all, Russia is Turkey’s largest trading partner, and Turkey depends on Russia for 65 percent of its natural gas and 40 percent of its oil imports. There are some signs that the United States is at least considering bringing Russia into the project, at least as long as Iran remains the bigger threat. NATO’s new Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called for “linking the United States, NATO and Russia missile defense systems at an appropriate time.” Associated Press reported Russian envoy Dmitry Rogozin responding by calling cooperation with Russia “not a matter of choice but of necessity.”
The second explanation lies in Turkey’s recent shift in foreign policy. Since the Turkish Parliament rejected the Bush administration’s plan to open a northern front in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Turkey has increasingly asserted itself as a diplomatic force in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the Southern Caucasus. Ankara has turned to a policy of “zero problems” with its neighbors. Surrounded by countries historically seen as rivals at best, Turkey has traditionally oriented itself towards the United States and Western Europe at the expense of closer relations with its neighbors.
Still, Turkey’s recent shift in foreign policy should not be confused with a turn away from “the West.” Ankara misses no opportunity to reassert its intentions to join the European Union, and to remain a “strategic partner” to the United States, even when the latter seems less than enthusiastic to establish the relationship as such. Turkey’s new foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, symbolizes the shift in policy orientation. As a chief advisor to the prime minister before his new appointment, he is credited with masterminding Turkey’s shift toward the “zero problems with neighbors” approach.
Ankara’s unwillingness to accept Washington’s missiles on Turkish soil reflects Turkey’s new foreign policy line. While striving to maintain its close strategic ties with the United States, Turkey is also juggling newly improved relations with Moscow and Tehran. Iran is Turkey’s second biggest supplier of gas and oil, after Russia, and trade between the two countries is steadily increasing. Ankara is also taking a cautious approach toward Iran’s nuclear program, frequently voicing its disapproval of sanctions against Tehran.
Moreover, Ankara is concerned about becoming a front against Iran. Installation of an American MDS in Turkey would inherently be perceived as an offensive move by Tehran, and Turkey wants to avoid becoming a target for Iranian missiles – a possible byproduct of a defense system intended to improve security against this threat. On the other hand, Turkey is considering acquiring its own MDS from either the United States, Russia, or China. The details of this purchase have yet to be worked out.
As the issue stands today, Turkey will not want to take part in a future standoff between neither Washington and Tehran nor Washington and Moscow. The United States would therefore find it difficult to compel Turkey to redefine its foreign policy in a way that would directly compromise Ankara’s relations with its neighbors and, especially, Russia.
Feryaz Ocakli is a doctoral candidate at Brown University specializing in Turkish politics. Yelena Biberman is a doctoral candidate at Brown University specializing in post-Soviet politics.
25 Aralık 2009 Cuma
23 Aralık 2009 Çarşamba
The Kurdish Closing
By Feryaz Ocakli, December 22, 2009
Turkey's constitutional court banned the country's only pro-Kurdish party on December 11. Likely to result in an increased number of ethnic conflicts across the country, the decision is both typical and paradoxical.
The ban is typical because the Turkish government is notorious for outlawing political parties. In fact, it's banned more parties than any other democratic state. The move is paradoxical because it comes at a time when the government proposed to expand Kurdish political rights in a gambit known as the "Kurdish opening."
The Democratic Society Party (DTP) represented the legal wing of the Kurdish political movement. Its close cousin, the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), is a guerrilla organization that Turkey, the European Union, and the United States all consider a terrorist group. The DTP was the latest incarnation of a series of banned pro-Kurdish parties. With its elimination from the political arena, the Kurdish movement temporarily lost its legal representation in the Turkish parliament. In response, pro-Kurdish politicians declared their intention to resign from the parliament collectively. They reversed their decision only after PKK's imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan asked them to remain in the parliament. The Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) will be the new banner of pro-Kurdish politics.
The ban on the Kurdish party is the latest display of official intolerance toward ethnic politics in Turkey. The decision by pro-Kurdish politicians to reunite under a new party and remain in the parliament is critical for ethnic peace in Turkey. Never before has a political ban meant so much for the future of Turkey as a multiethnic country.
The Politics of Banishment
Since the first legal pro-Kurdish political party was formed in 1990, the legal and illegal wings of the Kurdish political movement have complemented each other in their ideology and political support base. "The establishment of PKK is the reason we exist today," DTP co-leader Emine Ayna told the Turkish daily Radikal on December 7. "It is the reason the world accepts us as a reality. PKK and its leader [Abdullah] Ocalan prepared the conditions under which we are able to do politics. I cannot reject this fact. That would be a rejection of myself, my past and my identity. No one should expect DTP to reject this either."
The recently banned DTP and the PKK are two organizations formed by the same political movement. When its legal counterpart is shut down, the PKK is bound to become the focal point of identity representation for Turkey's Kurds. Pro-Kurdish parties always had difficulty achieving legality in Turkey, from the establishment of the first party in 1990 and its banning in 1993. The constitutional court went on to ban three of the four pro-Kurdish parties founded by the same movement in the next 16 years. Every time their party was banned, pro-Kurdish politicians reorganized behind a new party banner.
The constitutional court plays a crucial role in identifying who transgresses the boundaries of acceptable politics in Turkey. A strong, vigilant military has in turn shaped which ideologies and interests can be represented by legal political parties through military coups and unwavering political activism. A military government wrote the notoriously illiberal 1982 constitution, which was ratified by a less-than-free referendum. Despite numerous amendments, the same constitution still provides the legal basis to ban political parties that do not conform to the boundaries of Turkey's official state ideology.
Last year, the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) itself closely escaped the ban. Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya, Turkey's top prosecutor, asked the court to ban the AKP, which received over 46% of the votes in the last general elections, because of its "anti-secular activities." AKP's high-ranking politicians, including Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were not strangers to the constitutional court, which banned two of their predecessor parties. The AKP itself was an outsider to the regime when it was elected to office in 2002. With its predecessor Islamist parties forced out of office by the military and eventually shut down by the constitutional court, AKP strategically sought to recruit centrist politicians and local notables in order to establish itself as a party of the center. Despite its efforts to reinvent itself as a pro-EU, centrist party at peace with the secular structures of the state, it faced skepticism and distrust from the military as well as the judiciary. After the prosecutor general's legal initiative, it escaped the ban by one vote in the 11-member constitutional court.
While in power, AKP sought to demilitarize Turkish politics and strengthen its political position by embracing reforms demanded by the EU for Turkey's eventual accession. These reforms, which included the establishment of a Kurdish language television station and graduate level courses in Kurdish language in select universities, situated Kurdish political rights and civil liberties at the forefront of mainstream Turkish politics. The pro-Kurdish DTP, as the only rival to the post-Islamist AKP in the mainly Kurdish regions of Turkey, stepped up its criticism of Turkey's record with its Kurdish minority, both in the parliament and in increasingly violent street demonstrations in cities across Turkey.
Battle for Hearts and Minds
The battle over the hearts and minds of the Kurdish voters is far from over. The AKP tries to woo the Kurds with promises of further democratic reforms as well as its close links with leaders of influential Kurdish clans and extended family networks. The DTP, on the other hand, relies on the support base of PKK sympathizers for its votes. According to Loyola University political scientist Gunes Murat Tezcur, the outlawed PKK stepped up its guerilla recruitment efforts and armed assaults over the past seven years, at a time when opportunities for a political solution to the Kurdish question were unprecedented in Turkey. The PKK claimed responsibility for two car bombs in Izmir and Mersin in August 2008. Turkish authorities blamed it for two explosions in Istanbul, which killed 17 and wounded 150 in July the same year. A PKK guerilla assault on an army station near the Iraqi border in October 2008 resulted in the death of 15 soldiers. A recent attack this month killed seven soldiers.
While the DTP advocated for more political freedoms, the PKK reasserted itself as an armed force in the mountains of Turkey and Northern Iraq. Due to PKK's armed response, more political freedom has paradoxically led to more violence between Kurdish militants and the Turkish military.
Despite narrowly escaping the ban itself, a fiercely pragmatic AKP has advocated for Turkey's top court to close down its Kurdish rival. The leader of the Parliamentary Committee on the Constitution, Burhan Kuzu of the AKP, appeared on nationally broadcast television shows to explain how Spain had earlier banned Batasuna, an ethnic Basque party, on similar grounds. The constitutional court used the same precedent to justify its decision. An unconvincing AKP later claimed that it disagrees with the ruling but stopped short of criticizing the court's decision.
The ban on the DTP has already caused widespread street demonstrations and violence across Turkey's cities. In Bulanik, an ethnically mixed town in southeast Turkey, protesters burned down shops and set cars on fire. A shop owner randomly fired his machine gun on protesters, killing two. Local vigilante mobs armed with handguns, cleavers, and knives chased Kurdish protesters in Adana and Istanbul.
Pro-Kurdish politicians are now gathering behind a new party. When their party was banned the last time in 2003, Turkey was relatively more peaceful. This time the transition to the new party may not be so smooth. The PKK continues to pursue armed struggle, which heightens Turkish nationalist sentiments. These sentiments are turning into violent encounters between Kurdish protesters and Turkish nationalists in large cities. If the legal wing of the Kurdish political movement fails to reassert itself quickly in its new incarnation, the alternative to party politics — violence — may come to dominate Kurdish politics for now.
What Washington Can Do
Stability in the Kurdish regions of Turkey and a healthy integration of Kurds into the Turkish political system is in Washington's interest. A politically unstable Turkey is a liability in the Middle East, and the Kurdish question is the biggest source of potential instability in Turkey. Increased ethnic tensions have already turned violent not only in mainly Kurdish cities but also in Western metropoles like Izmir and Istanbul.
The United States must cooperate with Turkish and Northern Iraqi authorities to prevent the PKK from using Northern Iraq as a base. The PKK's military activism limits the scope of action of legal pro-Kurdish parties No other party in Turkey will risk engaging with pro-Kurdish parties on the Kurdish issue for fear of alienating its own voters. In order to become a partner in a political solution to the Kurdish issue, legal pro-Kurdish parties need to acquire and demonstrate more autonomy from the illegal wing of the Kurdish political movement.
The United States should also continue to refrain from direct involvement in Turkey's political machinations. Despite the desirability of wide-ranging reforms aimed at integrating Kurdish political demands more thoroughly into Turkish politics, Washington should not actively demand legal changes from Turkey à la the European Union. Resolution of the Kurdish question requires broad social support, and external demands result in strengthening of more extreme, nationalist positions. This restricts the hand of the government and societal actors that are interested in reforming the system.
Feryaz Ocakli, "The Kurdish Closing" (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, December 22, 2009)
17 Aralık 2009 Perşembe
15 Aralık 2009 Salı
14 Aralık 2009 Pazartesi
13 Aralık 2009 Pazar
- Dünyanın en yüzeysel mahkemesinin karar gerekçesi. İtirazım var!
1. Batasuna'yı emsal alan mahkeme, Sinn Fein'ı neden emsal almaz? O parti neden kapatılmamıştır?
2. Batasuna'nın baz alındığı Bask bölgesi; kendi parlamentosu olan, kendi dilini konuşabilen, her türlü demokratik hakka sahip bir bölgedir. Bu demokratik haklara karşın bir partinin terörle ilişkili olmasıdır sebep. DTP'nin demokratik hakları elde etmesine fırsat verilmiş midir? Bir halkı temsil eden parti, o halk hak elde edemeden, o halkın mücadele zeminini oluşturan yasadışı örgüt ile bağlarını koparabilir mi?
3. Bask bölgesinde ayrılıkçı olup da teröre karşı olan partiler de vardır. Aralar gibi. Türkiye'de bir Kürt partisinin meclise gelir gelmez terörist damgası yediğini göz önüne alırsak, tam bir paralellik kurulabilir mi?
4. Emsal gösterilen İspanya'da, Başbakan çıkıp Katalanlara "Sizin ayrı bir millet olduğunuzu kabul ediyorum" açıklaması yapmıştır. Türkiye bu açıklamayı kaldırabilecek bir siyasi zeminde midir?
5. Sui misal emsal olmaz diye ben mi dedim? İşine gelen emsal, işine gelen emsal değil; nasıl bir hukuktur bu?
Kaynakça: Sağduyu, google ve Oral Çalışlar'ın yazıları: bir, iki.