Sunday, April 13, 2008

US-TURKEY RELATIONS

"Disinformation is most effective in a very narrow context."
~ Frank Snepp.


Ever hear of the RAND Corporation? Well, you should know something about it. Here's a little something from Sourcewatch:


The RAND Corporation, according to the corporate web site, is a "nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis."

"Covert foreign policy became the standard mode of operation after World War II, which was also when Ford Foundation became a major player for the first time. The institute most involved in classified research was Rand Corporation, set up by the Air Force in 1948. The interlocks between the trustees at Rand, and the Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie foundations were so numerous that the Reece Committee listed them in its report (two each for Carnegie and Rockefeller, and three for Ford). Ford gave one million dollars to Rand in 1952 alone, at a time when the chairman of Rand was simultaneously the president of Ford Foundation."[1]

"Two-thirds of Rand's research involves national security issues. This is divided into Project Air Force, the Arroyo Center (serving the needs of the Army), and the National Defense Research Institute (providing research and analysis for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, and the defense agencies). The other third of Rand's research is devoted to issues involving health, education, civil and criminal justice, labor and population studies, and international economics."[2]


Basically, it's a think-tank for global elites, and there is some suspicion that the RAND Corporation had a hand in developing--(if not actually writing) HR 1955, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007--an act that is as vague as the old Turkish Article 301 and AKP's new, proposed revision of Article 301.

Among the rats that list the RAND Corporation on their resumes are Dov Zackheim, Zalmay Khalilzad, Laurent Murawiec, and Donald Rumsfeld.

Note, also, that RAND regularly publishes unclassified as well as classified reports for those with the proper security clearances.

With that in mind, here are some excerpts from a recent report written by RAND on potential future US-Turkey relations. Many thanks to the friend who passed this information along.


Summary

In the future, Turkey is likely to be an increasingly less-predictable and more-difficult ally. While Turkey will continue to want good ties with the United States, Turkey is likely to be drawn more heavily into the Middle East by the Kurdish issue, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and the fallout from the crisis in Lebanon. As a result, the tension between Turkey’s Western identity and its Middle Eastern orientation is likely to grow. At the same time, the divergences between U.S. and Turkish interests that have manifested themselves over the last decade are likely to increase (see pp. 7–14, 17–19).

Given its growing equities in the Middle East, as well as the current strains in U.S.–Turkish relations, Turkey will be even more reluctant to allow the United States to use its bases in the future, particularly the air base at Incirlik, to undertake combat operations in the Middle East (see p. 29). President Turgut Özal’s willingness to allow the United States to fly sorties out of Incirlik during the 1991 Gulf War was the exception, not the rule. Since then, Turkey has increasingly restricted U.S. use of Incirlik for combat missions in the Middle East. Thus, the United States should not count on being able to use Turkish bases, particularly Incirlik, as a staging area for combat operations in the Gulf region and the Middle East (see p. 25).


[Mizgîn note: Incirlik may be a red herring anyway, since there have been reports that the US has established a military base on Korek Mountain in the Diyana district of South Kurdistan and is in the process of establishing a similar base, with Turkish assistance, in Yüksekova district.]


Moreover, given the importance of the Kurdish issue for Turkish security, Turkey has strong reasons to pursue good ties with Iran and Syria (see pp. 11–14), both of which share Turkey’s desire to prevent the emergence of an independent Kurdish state. Turkey’s growing energy ties with Iran have reinforced interest in that particular relationship.

[ . . . ]

In the near term, however, the most important source of potential discord between the United States and Turkey is likely to be over how to deal with the terrorist attacks the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) conducts from sanctuaries in northern Iraq (see pp. 7–11). The number of Turkish security forces the PKK has killed has risen dramatically over the last year. Domestic pressure, especially from the Turkish military, has been growing for Turkey to take unilateral military action against the PKK. The landslide victory by the Justice and Development Party in the July 22, 2007, parliamentary elections has strengthened Erdogan’s hand politically and bought him some breathing room diplomatically. But if the attacks intensify in the aftermath of the elections, Erdogan could again face growing domestic pressure to take unilateral military action against the PKK (see pp. 10–11).

[ . . . ]

In short, the United States will need to get used to dealing with a more independent-minded and assertive Turkey—one whose interests do not always coincide with U.S. interests, especially in the Middle East. The Kurdish issue in particular could cause new divergences. How the United States handles this issue is likely to be a litmus test of the value of the U.S.–Turkish alliance in Turkish eyes. If the United States fails to take action to deal more resolutely with the PKK issue, U.S.–Turkish relations are likely to deteriorate further, and anti-Americanism in Turkey, already strong, is likely to grow.

The United States should also be careful not to present Turkey as a “model” for the Middle East, as some U.S. officials have been wont to do. This irritates many Turks, especially the Westernized elite and military, who fear that it will weaken Turkey’s ties to the West and strengthen the role of Islam in Turkish politics (see p. 31). At the same time, the idea of Turkey as a model does not resonate well with the Arab states in the Middle East, which continue to resent Turkey’s role as a former colonial power in the region.

[ . . ]

Turkey's Changing Security Environment

The end of the Cold War had a major influence on Turkish foreign policy. During the Cold War, Turkey concentrated primarily on containing Soviet power and strengthening its ties with the West. The end of the Cold War removed the Soviet threat and opened up new opportunities and vistas to Turkish foreign policy in areas that had long been neglected or off limits to Turkish policy: the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and the Middle East. No longer a flank state, Turkey found itself at the crossroads of a new, emerging strategic landscape that included areas where it had long-standing interests and/or historical ties. Turkey sought to exploit this new diplomatic flexibility by establishing new relationships in areas it had previously neglected, above all the Middle East and Central Asia.

In addition, the locus of threats and challenges to Turkish security has shifted. During the Cold War, the main threat came from the north—from the Soviet Union. Today, Turkey faces a much more diverse set of security threats and challenges: growing Kurdish nationalism and separatism; increasing sectarian violence in Iraq that threatens to spill over and draw in outside powers; an increasingly assertive Iran that may acquire nuclear weapons; and a weak, fragmented Lebanon dominated by radical groups with close ties with Syria and Iran. Most of these threats are on Turkey’s southern periphery. As a result, Turkish attention today is focused much more intensely on the Middle East than in the past. This is where the key challenges to Turkish security are located.

[ . . . ]

Security Challenges

The most important external challenge Turkey faces today is Kurdish nationalism. The Gulf War (1991) greatly escalated the Kurdish problem.1 Many American policymakers view the Gulf War as the heyday of U.S.–Turkish cooperation. For many Turks, however, the war is, as Ian Lesser has noted, “the place where the trouble started.”2 The establishment of a de facto Kurdish state in Northern Iraq under Western protection gave new impetus to Kurdish nationalism and provided a logistical base for attacks on Turkish territory by Kurdish separatists in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The U.S.–led invasion of Iraq (2003) exacerbated Turkey’s Kurdish problem. From the outset, Turkish leaders had strong reservations about the U.S. invasion of Iraq. They had no love for Saddam Hussein, but Saddam provided an important element of stability on Turkey’s southern border. Turkish leaders feared that his removal would lead to the fragmentation of Iraq, the growth of Kurdish nationalism, and an overall decline in Turkish security.

The aftermath of the invasion has seen Turkey’s worst fears come true. Iraq has degenerated into sectarian violence; Iran’s influence in Iraq and regionally has increased; and the Kurdish drive for autonomy—and eventual independence—has been strengthened. As a result, Turkey today confronts the prospect that an independent Kurdish state will emerge on its southern border. Turkish officials fear this could strengthen separatist pressures among Turkey’s own Kurdish population.

Since 2003, Turkey has faced an escalation of PKK-led separatist violence. The PKK has waged a guerrilla war in southeastern Turkey since 1984, often launching cross-border attacks from sanctuaries in northern Iraq. The violence subsided after the capture of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in 1999. But in June 2004, the PKK took up arms again. Since then, the violence has escalated dramatically. In 2006, over 600 people, many of them members of the Turkish security forces, were killed in PKK-related violence.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has repeatedly called on the United States to provide military assistance to help eliminate the PKK threat. However, Washington has been reluctant to take military action for several reasons. First, the United States needs all available forces to fight the insurgents in Iraq and train the Iraqi security forces. Second, the United States regards the Iraqi Kurds as essential to keeping Iraq together as a unified state. If the Iraqi Kurds were to pull out of the present Iraqi coalition, the situation in Iraq might degenerate into all-out civil war. The United States has thus been reluctant to push the Iraqi Kurds too hard.3

The U.S. reluctance to take resolute action to eliminate the PKK threat—or to allow the Turks to take unilateral military measures against the PKK—has accentuated strains in bilateral relations and is one of the principal causes of the growth of anti-Americanism in Turkey. According to a German Marshall Fund poll, among Europeans, Turks have the lowest approval rating for President George W. Bush’s handling of international policies, with only 7 percent approving and 81 percent disapproving. The strongest negative feelings toward U.S. leadership were also found in Turkey, where 56 percent of respondents viewed U.S. leadership as “undesirable.”4

Turkey is also concerned about the reports of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Northern Iraq to incorporate the city of Kirkuk and adjacent areas into areas under its control. Kirkuk sits on one of the world’s largest oil deposits.5 Several hundred thousand Kurds that Saddam Hussein had forcibly evicted as part of an effort to “Arabize” Kirkuk after the 1974 Kurdish uprising have returned to Kirkuk over the past several years to reclaim their land and homes. Turkey fears that Kurdish control of Kirkuk’s oil wealth would enable the Kurds to finance an independent state. Ankara has thus opposed the Kurds’ effort to “Kurdisize” the city and incorporate it into the Kurdistan autonomous region.6 Instead, the Turks want the city to have a special status and want all ethnic groups, not just Kurds, to share power there.

Ultimately, Turkey’s Kurdish problem cannot be solved through military means. It can only be resolved through a political dialogue between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdish leadership because only the Iraqi Kurdish leadership is in a position to deny the PKK assistance and sanctuary. In the 1990s, Turkey made several military incursions into northern Iraq against the PKK. None of the strikes succeeded in eliminating the PKK.


[Mizgîn note--While it's true that Turkey's Kurdish "problem" cannot be solved through military means, it is not true that it can "only be resolved through a political dialogue between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdish leadership . . ." because this vehement desire on the part of the US cuts out the 20 million Kurds that reside in Turkey from any meaningful dialogue. Those 20 million Kurds not only have representatives in the PKK, but they also have representatives in the Turkish parliament and it is those Kurdish representatives that the great democratic US is attempting to bypass. In addition, the Iraqi Kurdish leadership is in no position to bargain for those 20 million because it has little to no concern for those 20 million. Example: There was no statement from Mesûd Barzanî on the recent Turkish brutality against Turkish Kurds at Newroz, but Barzanî did condemn Syria's murder of 3 Kurds in Qamishlo during the same period. To continue to ignore the just demands of 20 million Kurds in Turkey will be to continue the instability and violence in The Region, no matter how deep US fantasies on the matter go.]


While resolving the PKK issue will not be easy, the Iraqi Kurds have a number of reasons to be interested in easing tensions with Ankara. One is economic. Northern Iraq depends heavily on Turkish trade and investment, which is estimated to be about $3 billion.7 A decision by Turkey to curtail or stop this trade would badly damage the economy of northern Iraq.

Moreover, relations between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds have not always been bad. During the 1990s, both Massoud Barzani, the head of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Northern Iraq, and Iraqi President Jallal Talabani closely cooperated with Turkey against the PKK.8 Thus, enmity between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds is by no means foreordained. Indeed, there are sound geostrategic and economic reasons for close collaboration between the two. Both sides would benefit from a reduction in current tensions.

However, while the Erdogan government favors opening a dialogue with the Iraqi Kurdish leadership, the Turkish military is opposed to opening a dialogue with the Iraqi Kurdish leaders on the grounds that the two leading Iraqi Kurdish groups, the Democratic Party of Kurdistan, headed by Massoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, led by Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani, are supporting the PKK materially and politically.9 Given the key role the Turkish military plays in Turkish politics, especially on sensitive issues of national security, the government will need the military’s support—or at least its acquiescence—for any initiative to succeed.

However, the AKP’s overwhelming victory in the July 22, 2007, elections may strengthen Erdogan’s hand politically and buy him some time to pursue diplomatic initiatives aimed at reducing the PKK threat.10 At the same time, the Turkish military knows from its experience in the 1990s that military means alone will not resolve the PKK problem. Indeed, a military strike or incursion into northern Iraq risks seriously exacerbating Turkey’s difficulties. It would further strain relations with the United States and the EU and increase the number of recruits for the PKK. It could also intensify unrest among the Kurds in Turkey. The military may thus be willing to cut Erdogan some slack— at least temporarily.


[Mizgîn note: So either this was written this before the February land invasion by TSK or the February land invasion fiasco was purposely left out of the report. If it had been mentioned, RAND could have added that the TSK's experience with failure vis-a-vis land invasions has once again been reinforced for it by the PKK]


However, if the PKK steps up its attacks in the aftermath of the July elections, domestic pressure could again grow for Erdogan to take military action against the PKK.

Iran

Iran presents a longer-term security challenge. Iran’s growing regional influence since the U.S. invasion of Iraq is a concern in Ankara. So is the prospect that Iran might acquire nuclear weapons. At the same time, Turkey has a strong incentive to maintain good ties with Iran. The two countries share a common concern about the growth of Kurdish nationalism. This has led to an intensification of cooperation in the security field. During Erdogan’s visit to Tehran in July 2004, Turkey and Iran signed a security agreement that branded the PKK a terrorist organization. Since then, the two countries have stepped up cooperation to protect their borders against guerrilla attacks by the PKK and its affiliates.

[ . . . ]

Syria

During much of the 1980s and 1990s, Ankara regarded Syria as a major security threat because it provided support and a safe haven for PKK terrorists. In October 1998, relations reached a crisis point when Turkey threatened to invade Syria if Damascus did not cease its support for the PKK. In the face of Turkey’s overwhelming military superiority, Syria backed down and expelled PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and closed the PKK training camps on its soil.14

The expulsion of Ocalan and the closing of the PKK training camps contributed to a gradual improvement in relations. This rapprochement has been driven by a mutual concern about preventing the emergence of an independent Kurdish state. (Syria also has a substantial Kurdish minority on its territory.) The intensification of ties has gained considerable momentum in the last several years, particularly since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and Turkey has been reluctant to see these ties jeopardized.

As with Iran, Turkey’s preference for engagement has conflicted with the U.S. desire to isolate Damascus and caused tensions in relations with the United States.15 However, recent U.S. efforts to establish a dialogue with Syria may reduce frictions with Ankara and bring U.S.–Turkish approaches to Syria in closer alignment.

[ . . . ]

Turkish Perspectives

Finally, the United States has strongly supported key Turkish strategic priorities outside the defense realm. For example, construction of the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline is a key Turkish strategic priority designed to bring Caspian oil to world markets via a terminal on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. Washington has also strongly backed Turkey’s bid for EU membership and supported Turkey’s struggle against he PKK separatists much more vigorously than have Ankara’s European allies.

[ . . . ]

. . . For many Turks, the PKK is the litmus test of the value of the U.S.–Turkish security partnership. If the United States fails to address Turkish concerns about the PKK more resolutely, strains in U.S.–Turkish relations are likely to increase, and security in the Middle East will become even more precarious.

[ . . . ]

Implications for the United States

In the future, Turkey is likely to be a less predictable and more difficult ally. While it will continue to want good ties with the United States, Turkey is likely to be drawn more heavily into the Middle East by the Kurdish issue, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and the fallout from the crisis in Lebanon. As a result, the tension between Turkey’s Western identity and its Middle Eastern orientation is likely to grow. At the same time, the divergences between U.S. and Turkish interests that have manifested themselves over the last decade are likely to increase.

Given its growing equities in the Middle East, Turkey is likely to be even more reluctant in the future to allow its bases, particularly Incirlik, to be used to undertake combat operations in the Middle East. President Özal’s willingness to allow the United States to fly sorties out of Incirlik during the Gulf War was the exception, not the rule. Since then, Turkey has increasingly restricted U.S. use of Incirlik for combat missions in the Middle East. The United States should therefore not count on being able to use Turkish bases, particularly Incirlik, as a staging area for combat operations in the Gulf and Middle East.

Moreover, given the importance of the Kurdish issue for Turkish security, Turkey has strong reasons to pursue good ties with Iran and Syria, both of which share Turkey’s desire to prevent the emergence of an independent Kurdish state. Turkey’s growing energy ties with Iran have reinforced interest in that particular tie. Thus, Turkey is unlikely to support U.S. policies aimed at isolating Iran and Syria or overthrowing the regimes in either country. . .

[ . . . ]

In the near term, however, the most important potential source of discord between the United States and Turkey is likely to be over how to deal with the terrorist attacks the PKK conducts from sanctuaries in northern Iraq. The number of Turkish security forces that the PKK has killed has risen dramatically in the last several years. Domestic pressure, especially from the Turkish military, has been growing for Turkey to take unilateral military action against the PKK. The AKP’s landslide victory in the July 22, 2007, parliamentary elections has strengthened Erdogan’s hand politically and bought him some breathing room diplomatically. But if the PKK attacks intensify in the aftermath of the elections, Erdogan could again face growing domestic pressure to take unilateral military action against the PKK.

[ . . . ]

In short, the United States will need to get used to dealing with a more independently minded and assertive Turkey—one whose interests do not always coincide with those of the United States, especially in the Middle East. The Kurdish issue in particular could cause new divergences. How the United States handles this issue is likely to be a litmus test of the value of the U.S.–Turkish alliance in Turkish eyes. If the United States does not address Turkish concerns about the PKK more resolutely, U.S.–Turkish relations are likely to further deteriorate, and anti-Americanism, already strong, is likely to grow.


For the whole report, see this .pdf.

Here's something on promoting Kurdish rights:



For more information, check MideastYouth and Alliance for Kurdish Rights.

9 comments:

Hamo said...

It seems to me that this report is writing by the bunch of school children who only follow the news from USA's CNN or Turkey's nationalist media perspective!

Just a few points to clarify;

1- Turkey is the biggest supporter and the supplier of the Iran's nuclear ambition program. Recent deals made by the Iran and Turkish military equipment exchange program do not required border checks for arms.
2- PKK has been active since 1970s. Blaming PKK for anti-Americanism in Turkey is either stupid or ignorance. What would you expect an Islamist society to react if you declare war on Islam (terror).
3- Regarding or assuming Turkey as the representation of mild Islam would anger both kemalist and radical Islamist circles. As the PM's of Turkey stated "Regarding Islam mild or radical is wrong, Islam means Islam as its stated in Qouran and Sharia laws".

Anonymous said...

Rasti, don't forget a recent post from the director of the Hudson institute to use Kurds from Iran/Syria for regime change over there. Google it'.

madtom said...

I don't know Mizgin, this almost sounds like good news. Turkey moving further fro the democracies and closer tot he great dictatorships of the region. No more deep state, or arms deals, cooperation with western cooperation, CIA or any of that crap.

When do we celebrate?

Mizgîn said...

Yes, Turkey is a democracy, Madtom. Democracies are countries where the people are prosecuted for thought crime, where police break the arms of 15-year-olds for TV cameras because they know they will not be prosecuted, where people are fobidden from speaking their native language, where publishers are prosecuted for publishing books that are unfavorable to the regime, where people are routinely extra-judicially murdered by the state, where people are routinely forcibly displaced from their homes and villages and their livelihood is taken from them.

Democracies are also where the people gut their own bill of rights and wipe out habeas corpus by "patriot" acts, military commissions acts, and homegrown "terrorism" acts.

Only the greatest democracy in the world would appoint a director of Lockheed Martin to "coordinate" a thirty-year war by rejecting an offer of political solution AND a ceasefire . . . all the while selling Lockheed product to a genocidal democratic regime.

THAT is democracy.

Good points, Hamo.

Anonymous, the Hudson Institute is a spin-off of the RAND Corporation. Both are propaganda wings for the global elites and are staffed with the most evil people on earth. The opinion piece to which you refer is another attempt by the US to USE Kurds for its own purposes. Naturally, the evildoers at Hudson feign ignorance of the situation of Kurds in Turkey and overlook the gross human rights violations against Kurds there.

That may be because the US is an accessory to the crimes.

But, hey, the Bush family funded Nazi Germany--which was also a democracy--so it's no wonder that the Bush regime is funding a continued genocide in democratic Turkey.

Anonymous said...

Mizgin, I think you're a bit harsh on Madtom...he was simply pointing out that Turkey was moving away from the West -- which is true -- it IS orienting itself with the dictatorships of the region -- kind of like it did in WWI and WWII.

It's disturbing, to be sure. Whenever she feels pressured, Turkey's immediate impulse is reactionary and authoritarian.

Also, since when, in history, did the greatest democracies proclaim that their democracy was for everyone? It is first and foremost for their own citizens. No ancient philosopher I've read has even attempted to *defend* justice among states. Bush talks about spreading democracy, but even his supporters know that it is in the furtherance of America's objectives.

No matter how much we (oppressed nations) wish it, justice for us is simply illusory since national interests trump everything else. That's why it's imperative for the Kurds to attain some sort of statehood, or representation within a state.

That proves that "justice abroad" may be a myth, but doesn't negate why democracy can't be protected at home.

~nistiman

Anonymous said...

I also want to mention that many Americans who oppose the war in Iraq do not oppose it because they have sympathy for the quagmire that is Iraq or for the failure of democracy in the Middle East or to defend multilateralism.

Rather, they feel that Americans shouldn't have to pay the price -- with their blood and with taxpayers money -- for a war in which they do not feel their national interests are at stake. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- therefore no imminent risk.

As for the arduous task of nation building in Iraq or Afghanistan...or the prevention of civil war in the country...or for the development of democratic institutions? peh. Not their problem.

THAT also is democracy.

~nistiman

madtom said...

I know he hates us for supporting Turkey, but Turkey was or is a key ally in the cold war. The Kurds, much like the Cubans are casualties of that very hot war.

No good deed ever goes unpunished

Mizgîn said...

Yeah, shit just happens, right Madtom?

Who is "he"?

Nistiman, "democracy" is a propaganda vehicle for globalization which benefits only the ruling elites.

Of course there was never any intention of "spreading democracy" in Afghanistan or Iraq; it was all about control of the oil. This is the reason why "democracy" will be spread to Iran . . . because China is already in Iran's oilfields and has a deal to upgrade them in return for a cut of the finished product. Russia also has an interest in Iran's natural gas reserves and wants to be the supplier to Europe.

Then there are the natural gas and oil reserves of Central Asia . . . and all those countries are members of the SCO, just like China and Russia.

Welcome to Cold War v.2.

madtom said...

The "he" was you Mizgin
And no shit does not just happen, the cold was a decades long struggle, maybe not over yet which clamed many lives and many ugly compromises, all with the goal of preserving liberty in this world. I don't think it just happened.

Could we have a Cold War v.2 could be. Many people think we have reached peak oil. Can you imagine, no more oil, the global markets will fail, millions will starve and yes War. more war than this would has ever seen before and more destructive than anyone can even imagine.

What chance for the Kurds when the great powers will be at each others throats.

There is an alternative, I think, it's called "Heat Mining". Could turn the world upside down, make the poor rich and the rich poor. But if you ask me its the only plausible alternative.