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Tuesday, November 6th 2007

8:45 AM (4819 days, 7h, 39min ago)

The Horseman - The Republic of Turkey - the PKK - President Bush and Turkish PM R. Tayyib Erdogan


Dear Friends.

Yesterday, I watched with dread-filled fascination, the TV-broadcast of a press conference with President Bush and the Turkish PM, Rejep Tayyip Erdogan. First thing that struck me, was President Bush's body language, or to be fair, what I read in his body-language: awkward, uncomfortable, seeming as if he were wishing he was anywhere but here ....
Today, however, rather than writing about my own feelings, I've decided to post a Washington Times editorial by Turkish journalist Tulin Daloglu.
Ms. Daloglu is a seasoned professional who writes succinctly and with a cool, calm voice.

Turkey's unified front

November 6, 2007

By Tulin Daloglu - "I looked the man in the eye... I was able to get a sense of his soul," said President Bush after his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. As awkward as it sounded then, Mr. Bush's soul is precisely what Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan must have been trying to understand at the White House yesterday.

Politicians rarely ever characterize meetings as unsuccessful. But this one could be different. Soon we will learn how Turkey responds to increasing Kurdish terrorist attacks initiated mainly from Northern Iraq. The United States's cooperation or lack thereof with Turkey on this matter will have a lasting impact for decades.

Turks genuinely suspect that American policies are targeting their country's territorial integrity. The essence of yesterday's meeting for Turkey was to test that suspicion. It was no accident that Erdogan was accompanied by Deputy Joint Chiefs of Staff Ergin Saygun, at the White House. Between the military, which serves as the guardian of Turkey's secular government, and the political rule of the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), Turkey is conveying a unified front in dealing with the Kurdish separatist threat.

Now the Turkish establishment will make a crucial assessment: deciding whether to continue to trust the United States, their NATO ally, or to test a regional effort to deal with the matter that would include Russia and Iran.

At the moment, Kurdish nationalists have played their hand, demanding that their gains be maximized in the face of changing dynamics in Iraq and in the region. They used the PKK as a proxy to force Turkey to negotiate the political status of Kurds in the region. As much as the Bush administration plays down the Iraqi Kurds' desire for an independent Kurdistan, "Kurdish television and newspapers are rife with incitements to unrest, often referring to Iraqi Kurdistan as 'South Kurdistan,' thereby implying that large chunks of Turkey must be 'North Kurdistan,' " wrote Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in March.

When Sen. Joe Biden's proposal to soft-partition Iraq along ethnic and sectarian lines was accepted in the Senate, only the Iraqi Kurds seemed to welcome the idea. While such affirmations in Congress increase Turkey's suspicion about U.S. policies, there also remains the question of whether the United States can control Iraq's final destiny.

That is the challenge causing a rift in U.S.-Turkey relations. The trouble goes back to the first Gulf War, which created an autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region. Turkey has supported U.S. and British policies, allowing its Incirlik air base to be used for more than a decade to protect these areas from intervention by Saddam Hussein. Now Turkey's leaders feel threatened by Iraqi Kurds' experience with an autonomous region, and they worry that Turkey's Kurds under their political leadership will demand a similar area for themselves.

Yet Turks invest in Iraqi Kurdistan's economy, helping to build a functioning nation state. Although the gap is wide between Turkey's trust in its Kurdish originated citizens and its fear over the Kurdish secessionist threat, Turks generally believe that U.S. policies have pushed them into a corner. The Iraqi Kurdish leadership suspects that Turkish policies target their independence rather than the PKK — and there's some truth to that. Alas, Turkey's Kurdish political leadership have begun signaling that they want more than a functioning democracy — they want a federal, autonomous region and status as become co-partners in the constitution.

Turkey's EU accession talks mean little to the Kurds in the region. They deny admitting any constructive change in Turkey and continue parroting about the old mistakes. Kurds are convinced that Turkey under its former president, Turgut Ozal, made a strategic mistake by allowing an autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan after the first Gulf War. Since then, they believe they reached a point of no return for their ultimate dream of an independent Kurdistan.

Interestingly, they seem worried that the United States may put them down again. It is possible that Kurds have misread U.S. policy. It is also possible that Turks in general have misunderstood it as well, in thinking that the United States is targeting Turkey's territorial integrity. On the other hand, what they think could be the reality.

Whatever Mr. Bush and Mr. Erdogan say after their meeting is not important. What is important is for Turkey to figure out its next steps — and then, how the United States will react. The dance will start soon, and it will ultimately determine whether Turkey remains allied with the United States, or whether it embarks on new adventures. Kurds have played their card; now we must wait to see Turkey's next move.

Tulin Daloglu is a freelance writer.


THE HORSEMAN is explosive, controversial, ethnically diverse, unforgettable epic novel that is timely and very much alive. Written with a you-are-there immediacy. Revolving around a dynamic American heroine, The Horseman is a gripping, epic tale of intense passion, politics, spirituality, esoterica, as well as the roots of the current clashes between the Turks and the Kurds. Complete with magnificent and diverse settings from Turkey and Mecca to Ireland and the United States of America, THE HORSEMAN presents an intense, multi-cultural love triangle with indomitable characters united in their quest for social justice.
As Ariadne, the American, Burhan, the Turk, and Mehmet Ali, the Kurd,
emerge from the mists of 8,000 BC and reunite in 20th Century Turkey, they play out their star-crossed destinies upon an explosive stage of upheavals and changes. The Fourth Edition, published in 12/2006, contains the bonus abridged version of "Bianca - Constantinople, My Love," an historical novel based on the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. THE HORSEMAN will be published in Turkey, in 2008.

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