Thursday, January 04, 2007


"Arming repressive regimes in all corners of the globe while simultaneously proclaiming a campaign for democracy and against tyranny undermines the credibility of the United States in international forums and makes it harder to hold other nations to high standards of conduct on human rights and other key issues."
~ World Policy Institute.

The Ralston Conflict-of-Interest damage control continues, from Middle East Newsline:

The government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has been defending against allegations that Turkey's F-16 upgrade marked a conflict of interest.

Critics have asserted that the Defense Ministry selected the F-16 to bolster U.S. cooperation with Ankara against the Kurdish Workers Party. They said the U.S. envoy responsible for the campaign against the PKK is a member of the board that manufactures the F-16.

The Defense Ministry dismissed any connection between Ankara's upgrade of 216 F-16s to the Turkish-U.S. effort against the PKK, which killed more than 100 Turkish soldiers and security officers in 2006. [Ret.] Gen. Joseph Ralston, the U.S. envoy to Turkey on the PKK, has been a director of the board at F-16 manufacturer Lockheed Martin. Ralston was also appointed vice chairman of the Cohen Group, which lobbies Middle East governments for Lockheed Martin.

The Cohen Group is headed by former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen, who served under the Clinton administration. Cohen, a former Republican senator, has lobbied for U.S. defense exports to such countries as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

And, obviously, Turkey. OOPS!!

One of the biggest liars seems to be Sabah:

Lockheed Martin Corp., with retired general and US PKK coordinator, Ralston, as a member of the board of directors, won the $800 million tender to improve Turkish F-16 war planes.

Lockheed Martin Corp. , which has as a member on the board of directors, the retired general, Joseph Ralston, who is also assigned as a Special Coordinator in the fight against the PKK, has won an $800 million tender to modernize the Turkish Armed Forces' F-16 war planes. The outcome is remarkable as Ralston has received criticism for being the US Special PKK Coordinator, while also being a member on the board of directors of both Lockheed Martin and the American lobby company Cohen Group. Distress was caused by the significance of Ralston being assigned to the board of directors of the company, during the delicate tender process. Lockheed Martin, one of the world's major plane producers, has officially announced that they have won the $800 million tender for the modernization of the Turkish Armed Forces' 216 Turkish F-16 war planes. With the modernization program, the F-16 planes will be converted into Block 50 , the advanced version of Block 40 and 50 war aircraft.

Did you catch the lie? Let me point it out: There was no "distress [ ] caused by the significance of Ralston being assigned to the board of directors" of Lockheed Martin, "during the delicate tender process," because the truth is that Joseph Ralston was elected to the board of directors by Lockheed Martin stockholders on 24 April, 2003. Don't believe me? Check Lockheed Martin's own press release.

The outcome of the "delicate tender process" is not quite so remarkable as the liars at Sabah would have us believe. Au contraire, the outcome is business-as-usual. Twelve years ago, the same thing was going on, from Human Rights Watch:

. . . Turkey's NATO partners have extended generous political and military support, helping Turkey to develop a formidable arms industry and supplying it with a steady stream of weapons, often for free or at greatly reduced cost. The United States government in particular has been deeply involved in arming Turkey and supporting its arms production capacities. Although several NATO governments have occasionally protested Turkish policies, most have continued to supply Turkey with arms.

This report documents the Turkish security forces' violations of the laws of war and of human rights, and their reliance on U.S. and NATO-supplied weapons in doing so. Drawing on investigations of twenty-nine incidents that occurred between 1992 and 1995, the report links specific weapons systems to individual incidents of Turkish violations. Supplemented by interviews with former Turkish soldiers, U.S. officials and defense experts, the report concludes that U.S. weapons, as well as those supplied by other NATO members, are regularly used by Turkey to commit severe human rights abuses and violations of the laws of war in the southeast.

The most egregious examples of Turkey's reliance on U.S. weaponry in committing abuses are its use of U.S.-supplied fighter-bombers to attack civilian villages and its use of U.S.-supplied helicopters in support of a wide range of abusive practices, including the punitive destruction of villages, extrajudicial executions, torture, and indiscriminate fire.

The Americans know all of this very well, just as well as they knew of Ralston's connections to Lockheed Martin, The Cohen Group, and the American Turkish Council. The Americans also know very well the connections of The Cohen Group to the other two. In full knowledge, the US continues to support a genocidal regime and continues to supply this regime with the materials it needs to carry out genocide. The Turks know all of this very well, too.

But wait, there's more, from Foreign Policy In Focus (1999):

The U.S. government believes large quantities of arms sales buy political influence in addition to providing economic benefits. In reality, Washington has held little sway over Ankara’s behavior in such key foreign policy areas as promoting human rights and democracy, preserving regional stability, keeping Turkey tied to Western Europe, and promoting economic growth. Additionally, Turkey has only reluctantly accepted the embargo against Iraq and is pursuing a natural gas pipeline deal with Iran in defiance of the U.S. embargo. [Note: Pipeline functioning. A portion blown up last summer by PKK. Sweet!]

[ . . . ]

U.S. arms sales and continued conflict in Turkey also damage Turkey’s economy and prospects for economic cooperation with the West. The 1998 CIA Factbook states that Turkey spends about $7 billion a year on the war with the PKK, which contributed to a 99% inflation rate for 1998 and a national debt equal to half the government’s revenue. War-related political and financial instability has discouraged foreign investment.

Neither the HRW report, or the FPIF report, go into detail on US training of Turkish security forces, particularly Ozel Timler. For that, we have documentation from Serdar Çelik and Desmond Fernandes. Desmond Fernandes also has an updated article on the subject at Variant.

The Ralston conflict of interest is simply the latest incarnation of a long-standing policy that benefits no one but the defense industry and the ruling elites of Turkey. These are the real terrorists.

In the meantime, Erdogan is whining again, from the AP, carried on the IHT:

The Turkish prime minister accused the United States on Wednesday of not living up to a pledge to help counter autonomy-seeking Kurdish rebels, despite the appointment of a special envoy to address the threat guerrillas pose to Turkey, a news report said.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said no action had been taken to expel the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, from its bases in northern Iraq or to cut off financial support to the rebel group, CNN-Turk television reported.

"We were expecting serious steps, but these did not materialize," the station's Web site quoted Erdogan as telling reporters during a flight to Lebanon.

[ . . . ]

Turkey's support to the United States in its war against terrorism was not being reciprocated, Erdogan was quoted as saying.

"Give us support in the same way that we support you in your fight against terrorism," CNN-Turk quoted Erdogan as saying.

The PKK declared a unilateral cease-fire, which came into effect on Oct. 1, following a surge of violence that left more than a dozen soldiers and policemen dead and injured tourists over a period of a few weeks. Turkey has ignored the truce, however, and has vowed to fight on until all rebels surrendered or were killed.


We understand that you're nothing but an errand boy, Mr. Erdogan, but the message is clear. Ahmet Turk got the message too, back in December, from TDN:

The leader of Turkey's main Kurdish party slammed Ankara on Saturday for failing to respond to a unilateral cease-fire called by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) earlier this year.

"We were expecting the government to make use of this process aimed at ending the bloodshed, but unfortunately ... the state remains indifferent," Ahmet Türk said in Diyarbakır.

Türk, chairman of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), also denounced Parliament Speaker Bülent Arınç for refusing to meet with a group of Kurdish activists earlier this month. "We see this as a blow dealt to peace," he said. "In the eyes of our people, the government has failed to pass the test."

Türk said his party, which is not represented in Parliament, would continue to work for a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish conflict but added: "We are always ready to ... pay with our lives for freedom and democracy."

"[T]he state remains indifferent . . . " Both Turkey and the US remain indifferent and reject any political solution to the brutality they have inflicted on the Kurdish people for so long. Peace is not good for business, at least not for these bloodsuckers. Nor for Ralston, nor for Lockheed Martin.

I have two words to say to you, Mr. Erdogan. Just two words: Body bags. Are you listening?

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