* Following a previous earthquake in Turkey, an Israeli rescue team pulled a 10-year-old girl from the rubble after she had been trapped for nearly 100 hours. The Israelis rescued 11 other people alive and recovered 140 bodies. But now Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan refused an Israeli offer of help following yesterday’s devastating earthquake in Turkey.
* “The Turkish Islamist regime has deliberately helped the Obama administration approve a Syrian opposition leadership that is more Islamist and more Muslim Brotherhood-controlled than was necessary.”
* “Erdogan claims Gaza is a big open air prison. But what the Turks did to Famagusta in Cyprus is worse: The Turks expelled an entire people.”
Update, October 26, 2011
Today, Turkey finally asked for Israeli aid and Israel responded immediately. Israel is the nearest country to Turkey with advanced capabilities for dealing with the aftermath of an earthquake. (Some papers in Turkey, such as Hurriyet, promptly reported the news.)
However, critics said that had Turkey accepted Israel’s offer three days earlier many lives may have been saved. They also pointed to the fact that many or most of the earthquake’s victims appear to be ethnic Kurds and questioned whether the Turkish government had been deliberately slow to take up offers of international aid, given its warlike stance towards the Kurds in the part of Turkey where the earthquake hit.
There is also another dispatch today, which can be read here:
Condi Rice admits to Gaddafi video: “It was weird, but at least it wasn’t raunchy”
THE DICTATORSHIP CAN RETURN
This rest of this dispatch contains items relating to Turkey.
But first I would recommend watching this ingenious get-out-and-vote ad that ran in Tunisia prior to yesterday’s elections, the first free elections in the Arab world for some time.
(You can comment on this dispatch at www.facebook.com/TomGrossMedia. You first have to press “Like” on that page.)
1. Turkey welcomes some of the worst Palestinian terrorists
2. “Erdogan would rather see Turks die than to have them rescued by Israelis” (By Jonathan Tobin, Commentary, Oct. 23, 2011)
3. “Turkey’s human rights hypocrisy” (By Steven Plaut, FrontPage Magazine)
4. “Obama administration (on Turkish advice) empowers largely Islamist leadership for Syrian revolution” (By Barry Rubin, Pajamas Media, Oct. 21, 2011)
TURKEY WELCOMES SOME OF THE WORST PALESTINIAN TERRORISTS
[Note by Tom Gross]
I attach three articles below. In regard to the first article: partly as a result of its long history of being bombed and rocketed, Israel is a world leader in the human and technological knowhow necessary for extracting people from destroyed buildings and in quickly setting up field hospitals.
There have also been other comment articles, not included here, in recent days in the Israeli media expressing dismay at the way that the Turkish government has been so eager to welcome to their territory some of the worst Palestinian murderers of Israeli civilians who were released last week as part of the deal to free Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit.
There has also been remarkably little coverage in the international media of the killing of at least 60 Kurds by Turkey in recent days, as well as the Turkish military incursion into Iraq.
(I would again like to remind readers that I don’t necessarily agree with all aspects of the articles I attach in these dispatches.)
“A GOVERNMENT THAT WOULD RATHER SEE ITS PEOPLE PERISH THAN ACKNOWLEDGE ASSISTANCE FROM ISRAEL HAS LOST ANY MORAL LEGITIMACY”
Erdogan would rather see Turks die than to have them rescued by Israelis
By Jonathan Tobin
October 23, 2011
How determined is Turkey to repudiate its decades-long alliance with Israel? Today’s decision by the Turks to reportedly refuse assistance from Israel is a stunning indication of how far the Islamist government in Ankara is willing to go to make a point.
Over 1,000 persons are feared dead in the aftermath of a quake that measured 7.2 on the Richter scale. With workers battling to save those trapped in collapsed buildings in towns and cities near the Iranian border, it’s more than likely that Israel’s experienced rescue teams – which participated in previous earthquake relief efforts in Turkey – would be of value to the effort. But according to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told the Israelis they are not wanted. Erdogan would apparently prefer to see his compatriots die rather than to allow Jews to help them.
A Reuters report on Turkey’s refusal recalled Israel’s record of assistance to its former ally:
“In 1999, an Israeli military rescue team pulled a 10-year-old Israeli girl from the rubble of a collapsed building in Cirarcik in northwest Turkey, where her family was on holiday. She had been trapped for nearly 100 hours. The team spent a week in Turkey, rescuing 12 people and recovering 140 bodies. Israel also set up a field hospital in the region, where two large quakes that year killed more than 20,000 people, treating more than 1,000 victims.”
Erdoğan’s decision to embrace Hamas terrorists and discard the Israeli alliance appears to be part of a push for Turkey to reclaim the position it claimed during the Ottoman era as the leader of the Islamist world. It’s far from clear that most Arabs have any interest in being led by the Turks but hostility toward Israel is an integral element in this campaign. Whether Turkey’s people prefer to see their compatriots die rather than be rescued by Jews is also questionable.
Israel’s government did the right thing by offering aid despite Turkey’s atrocious behavior toward the Jewish state in recent years. By repudiating even humanitarian assistance from Israel, Ankara has demonstrated the depth of its malevolence. While the United States should also do what it can to help the Turks, Erdogan has given the Obama administration one more reason to reassess its heretofore-supine stance toward his country. A government that would rather see its people perish than acknowledge assistance from Israel has lost any moral legitimacy.
THE GHOST TOWN OF FAMAGUSTA
Turkey’s human rights hypocrisy
By Steven Plaut
July 15, 2010
The ghost town lies near the very center of the city, just outside the Venetian walls. But it is home only to snakes, scorpions, and rats of a hundred varieties. Signs on the fences around the ghost town show armed Turkish soldiers threatening those who dare to take photographs with arrest or worse. The crumbling buildings inside the perimeter are frozen in 1974, as if they were in an episode of the Twilight Zone. Nothing has changed since central Famagusta was converted into the ghost town by the military invaders.
It is said that the car distributorships in the ghost town even today are stocked with vintage 1974 models. For years after the rape of Famagusta, people told of seeing light bulbs still burning in the windows of the abandoned buildings. The few who have been allowed to enter the ghost town (called Varosha) tell of homes with uneaten breakfasts still on the tables and unmade beds. Books are opened to the exact pages where they were being read when the barbarous invasion commenced. Hollywood studios could clothe whole movie sets with the 1974 fashions still in the closets of the homes.
Three years after the invasion, the scene was described by Swedish journalist Jan-Olof Bengtsson. In the newspaper Kvallsposten, about his visit to the Swedish UN battalion in the port of Famagusta in 1977, he wrote: “The asphalt on the roads has cracked in the warm sun and along the sidewalks bushes are growing. Today – September 1977 – the breakfast tables are still set, the laundry still hanging and the lamps still burning. Varosha is a ghost town.”
The Turks, although they currently place themselves at the forefront of the assault against Israel for its “illegal occupation” of its own Jewish homelands, and for supposedly mistreating Palestinians, are the very same people who continue the massive crime against humanity in the form of the Famagusta ghost town. Born in ethnic cleansing, it is the enduring testimony to the illegal land grab on Cyprus by Turkey, the mass expulsion of the ethnic Greek Cypriots from the northern 40% of the island, the theft of their property, and an unknown number of murders.
The illegal “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” is recognized by absolutely no one, not a single country besides Turkey itself. Since its brutal invasion, Turkey has moved countless thousands of its own citizens and regular troops onto northern Cyprus. This is the very same Turkey that venomously denounces Israel when it builds “settlements” in the suburbs of Jerusalem for Jewish civilians on lands they have purchased legally.
Famagusta was first erected in the 13th century BC. During the Iron Age, it was known as Salamis, and its kings traced their ancestry to the Teucer, brother of Ajax, a hero of the Trojan War. Phoenicians came and went, as did the Assyrians and Persians. Greek settlers came to dominate its population. The Romans turned Famagusta-Salamis into a port of significance and major administration center. Some Jews migrated in from their homeland, producing the wine used in the Jerusalem Temple described in the Talmud, and later, manufacturing silk.
The Byzantines strengthened the town’s defenses after it became a target for raids from Arab Moslems. In one of these, the mother of the Prophet Mohammed accompanied the troops and died during the raid. She is buried near the Cyprus airport, and the site has become a shrine of pilgrimage for Moslem believers. Crusaders from northern Europe took the island in the Middle Ages, but positioned their capital to the west of Famagusta. The town remained the main port for the entire island.
Crusader knights took refuge in Famagusta after being expelled from the Holy Land by the Saracens. In time, the island was taken over by Venice, in part to prevent her Italian rivals in Genoa from grabbing control of the strategic island. The Venetians gave the center of Famagusta its defining character, with its massive defensive bulwarks, gates, and towers. The winged lion of St. Mark, the patron of Venice, still looks down from the walls. Shakespeare’s mythical Othello served as ruler of Famagusta, and the largest Venetian fortress in the wall is obligingly called Othello’s Tower even today.
In 1571, the Ottoman Turks lost patience with their Venetian allies and seized the island, taking Famagusta only after a nine month siege. It was the last Christian stronghold to fall. The majority ethnic Greeks of the island maintained their cultural identity, speaking their own language, and stubbornly preserving their Christian Orthodox faith in spite of attempts by the Latins and Ottomans to expunge it from their midst. The impressive main cathedral of Famagusta was converted into a mosque, and remains so to this day.
The Turkish colonialists turned the island over to the British colonialists in 1878 as part of a deal to get Great Britain to back the Ottomans in their fight against subjugation by the Russian Czar. Britain wanted Cyprus to serve as a naval base to guard access to the Suez Canal, and they governed the island with a policy of benign neglect. In the 1940s, the British grabbed ships filled with Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler and seeking refuge in the Land of Israel. They imprisoned the Jewish refugees on the island in camps around Famagusta.
After an armed campaign by Cypriots to drive the Britain from the island, the Brits left in 1958 and Cyprus became a republic. Things were not well, however, in the inter-communal relations between Cypriot Greeks and Cypriot Turks, with growing incidents of atrocities and violence taking place. Crimes were committed by both sides. After a particularly horrific set of attacks, and partly in response to attempts by some radical Greek nationalists on the island to seek amalgamation with Greece, the Turks invaded the island militarily in the summer of 1974.
Turkish tanks landed on the northern shore west of Kyrenia and quickly drove out the weak Cypriot armed forces from the northern part of the island. Within two days they had taken Famagusta. The Turkish air force bombed the helpless town. The entire Greek population, fearing massacres at the hands of the invaders, fled south to the areas beyond the reach of the Turkish army. Evidently to show the Greek Cypriots who was the new boss in town, the Turks sealed off the wealthy tourist area of Famagusta altogether, denying civilians access. The new ghost town was filled with valuable Greek property, including homes and luxury hotels. It had been the capital of the Cyprus tourist industry, thereafter forced to relocate to the south. The artifacts and museum of the ghost town were looted.
Meanwhile, Turkish tanks rolled onward until Turkey had conquered exactly half of the Cyprus capital of Nicosia. There it erected a wall running through the center of the city, a wall still standing – many years after the similar wall in Berlin fell. To cow the Greek Cypriots of southern Nicosia, the Turks created the world’s largest flag on a mountainside facing the city. Other Turkish flags fly over the northern half of the city, and Nicosia mosque minarets are said to have their volume dials turned to the maximum just to antagonize the ethnic Greeks beyond the wall.
The wall of occupation running through central Nicosia does not attract “solidarity” protesters or leftist professors from the West. They are too busy denouncing and attacking Israel for building a security fence around Jerusalem to keep Palestinian suicide bombers from mass murdering Jewish children. No Rachel Corries come to Nicosia to defy the Turkish occupation army. They know they would be jailed without hesitation in a nice Turkish Midnight Express, or worse.
Countless UN resolutions since 1974 have demanded that Turkey leave the island and restore property stolen by Turkey to Greek Cypriots. The same Turkish government that regularly denounces Israel for daring to defend its own civilians from Arab terrorists and for otherwise disregarding anti-Israel world opinion, has never paid those UN resolutions any mind.
The Turkish pilliagers of Famagusta, the Turkish occupiers of northern Cyprus, are angry at occupation. But only by Israel. They send “peace flotillas” filled with armed terrorists to challenge the closure of Gaza by Israel, but never question the closure of Famagusta’s ghost town. Turkey demands a right of return to Israel for “refugees” claiming to be “1948 Palestinians” (never mind the twenty-two Arab states in which the same “Palestinians” can live comfortably), but refuse to even take under consideration a right of return for Greek Cypriots to their own property lost in 1974.
Turkey insists that “Palestinians” be granted statehood and “self-determination,” while refusing to allow Turkish Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Azeris and others to exercise any of it, even in the form of limited language autonomy. While Arabs living in Israel enjoy levels of freedom a hundred times better than Turks living in Turkey, the Turkish government continues to denounce Israel for its oppression of Arab “human rights.” Recently, on the very day when Turkey murdered 120 Kurds, it denounced Israel for “war crimes,” supposedly committed when the Israeli army invaded Gaza in response to the thousands of rockets fired at Israeli civilians.
The respect for human rights in Turkey is only notable for its absence. Kurdish, Armenian, and other ethnic minorities have been forcibly Turkified. Religious minorities, such as the Alevi, are persecuted. Censorship is commonplace. Kurdish areas have been subjected to martial rule.
The operations of the Turkish military against the Kurds make Israel’s recent incursion into the Gaza Strip (in operation “Cast Lead”) look like a May Day picnic. Until 2003, it was forbidden to speak Kurdish on the radio or television; the Kurdish alphabet still cannot be used. The state of human rights in Turkey, according to numerous human rights NGOs, continues to be atrocious. Women in Turkey are mistreated; until very recently women students applying to universities had to pass a virginity test. The Turkish military police routinely kill civilians. Journalists have been assassinated. Islamofascism is growing stronger and local Islamic fundamentalist terrorists filled the Gaza “peace flotilla” sponsored by Turkey. Those are the terrorists whose suppression by Israel has now become the focus of Turkey’s demand for an Israeli apology.
When Israel invaded Gaza to put a stop to massive rocket attacks against its civilians by Hamas terrorists, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced Israel for supposedly “massacring innocent women and children.” He repeatedly accused Israel of “mass murder” in Gaza. Erdogan ranted at length about how Israel had turned the Gaza Strip into an “open-air prison.”
But, in fact, the largest ongoing “open air” human rights violation and crime against humanity is on display for all today, behind the barbed wire and fences of the ghost town of Famagusta.
“TURKISH ISLAMIST REGIME DELIBERATELY HELPED PRODUCE A SYRIAN LEADERSHIP THAT IS MORE ISLAMIST THAN WAS NECESSARY”
Obama administration does it again: Empowers largely Islamist leadership for Syrian Revolution
By Barry Rubin
October 21, 2011
The leadership of the Syrian revolution, or at least those who are recognized as such abroad, has released the names of 19 of the 29 members of the General Secretariat and five members of the Presidential Council. A lot of research should be one done on the individuals but let’s do a quick ethnic and political analysis based on this information.
But first let me give you my analysis: I believe that the Turkish Islamist regime deliberately helped produce a Syrian leadership that is more Islamist and more Muslim Brotherhood controlled than was necessary. Since Turkey’s government was empowered to do this by the Obama Administration, the White House is responsible for this extremely dangerous situation. It is a blunder or a betrayal – in effect, the motive and cause don’t matter – of the greatest dimensions. The Obama Administration may “only” have paved the way for the triumph of Islamist regimes in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia – we don’t yet know the final result–but it has been actively involved in helping promote an (avoidable) Islamist revolution in Syria.
Of the 19 members of the committee whose names have been published, 4 are identified as Muslim Brotherhood and 6 more as independent Islamists. That means 10 of the 19 – a majority – and hence 10 of the 15 Sunni Muslim Arabs (two-thirds) are Islamists!
Of the non-Islamist Sunni Arabs, two are leftists, two are liberals, and one represents the tribes.
Thanks, Obama Administration, for putting Islamist Turkey in charge of the negotiations!
There are also two Christians (one a representative of the small Assyrian community), one Druze, and one Kurd. So that 40 percent of the non-Sunni Arab population (there are no Alawites listed) has only 20 percent representation. This might partly be due to the walk-out of many Kurds to protest the Turkish bias favoring the Islamists. But the over-representation of Sunni Arabs sends a signal to the minority groups as well as helps empower Islamists.
Of course, it is true that 10 members remain anonymous because they are in side Syria but there’s no particular reason to believe they are of a different composition.
To my knowledge, not a single journalist or expert in the entire world has yet used this publicly available information and done the simple math involved.
Name / Political Affiliation / Sectarian Background
1 Burhane Ghalioun / Independent Left, Sunni Arab / Homs
2 Samir Nashar / Damascus Declaration Counci,l Sunni Arab / Aleppo
3 Muhammad Taifur / Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni Arab / Hama
4 Basma Kodmani / Independent Left, Sunni Arab
5 Abdelbasit Sida / Independent Kurdish Activist, Kurdish
6 Abdel Ahad Steifo / Christian: Assyrian Democratic Movement, Christian / Hassakeh
7 Ahmad Ramdan / Old SNC, Islamist (Syrian Hamas Adviser), Sunni Arab
8 Ahmad Sayyid Youssef / Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni Arab / Homs
9 Abdel Hamid Atassy / Damascus Declaration Council, Sunni Arab / Homs
10 Abdel Ilah Milhem / Tribal Coalition, Sunni Arab / Homs
11 Emadiddine Rasheed / Old SNC, Islamist (Religion Instructor) Sunni Arab / Damascus
12 Jabr Al-Shoufi / Damascus Declaration, Arab / Druze
13 Wa’el Mirza / Old SNC, Islamist Sunni Arab
14 Muhammad Bassam Youssef / Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni Arab / Homs
15 Anas Al-Abdeh / Damascus Declaration Council, Islamist Sunni Arab / Damascus
16 Kathryn Al-Talli / Local Coordination Committees, Christian Christian
17 Motei Bateen / LCCs, Islamist (Imam), Sunni Arab /Deraa (Hauran)
18 Najib Ghadbian / Old SNC, Independent Islamist Sunni Arab / Damascus
19 Nazeer Hakeem / Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni Arab
The Presidential Council:
1 Burhane Ghalioun / Independent Left, Sunni Arab / Homs
2 Samir Nashar / Damascus Declaration Council, Sunni Arab / Aleppo
3 Muhammad Taifur / Muslim Brotherhood, Sunni Arab / Hama
4 Abdelbasit Sida / Independent Kurdish Activist, Kurdish
5 Abdel Ahad Steifo / Christian: Assyrian Democratic Movement, Christian / Hassakeh
Note that the Presidential Council is much more balanced with only one Islamist, and the remaining names include a leftist, a liberal, a Christian and a Kurd. This seems, however, to be more for show to conceal the imbalance in the overall leadership.
Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean the actual leadership is highly Islamist, but it does indicate that the official leadership, chosen with U.S. participation, is far more balanced with only one Islamist.
Now, with your permission, I will have a brief angry outburst:
Those fools in the U.S. government helped produce an official leadership that is highly Islamist, perhaps much more so than the actual participants. Might not U.S. interests require pushing for genuine moderates to lead? After all, these are the people likely to get Western money and assistance. When it had a choice, the Obama Administration preferred to empower the enemies of America and the West. (Shall I add, once again?)
One more time, this list isn’t a clear indication of the composition of those fighting in Syria yet it suggests that U.S. policy prefers to help enemies take power in Syria when it could have very easily done otherwise.