Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Turkish PM Hoisted on Own Gaza Flotilla Petard

Leo Rennert

Since at least the beginning of 2009, the Islamic government of Turkey under Prime Minister Erdogan has ratcheted up its fierce anti-Israel propaganda, a hostile pattern climaxed by the Turkish flotilla's attempt to breach Israel's blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza in May -- an operation that resulted in the death of nine members of a terrorist-linked Turkish group who beat, stabbed and shot Israeli commandos as they boarded one of the vessels. Erdogan, who has veered toward an anti-Western alignment with Syria and Iran, unleashed a torrent of invective against Israel and threatened to break off diplomatic relations unless he gets a formal apology -- which Israel refused, citing the violent provocations of Turkish militants aboard the flotilla.

At the same time, however, Erdogan's regime has come under increasing fire -- at home and abroad. There has been growing criticism of Erdogan in American and European capitals for pursuing a radical foreign policy, while supporters of Turkey's persecuted Kurdish minority have become highly vocal in spotlighting Ankara's shameful human-rights record. There also has been a rising chorus of concerns that Turkey, as NATO's eastern anchor, may become more of a liability to the alliance than a reliable security partner .

Enters now a coalition of pro-Greek organizations, joining in the anti-Erdogan backlash via a full-page ad in the Sunday, July 25, edition of the New York Times , headlined: "TIME FOR TURKEY TO 'FLOTILLA' ITS TROOPS OFF CYPRUS AND END 36 YEARS OF OCCUPATION."

The ad spotlights Turkey's brutal occupation of part of the island since its invasion 36 years ago, dividing it between a Greek Cypriot republic recognized internationally and a rump Turkish-Cypriot republic recognized only by Turkey.

In these 36 years, the ad asserts, Turkey ethnically cleansed from their homes 200,000 Greek Cypriots, killed 6,500 of them, deployed 43,000 occupation troops, brought in 160,000 Turks to cement its occupation, destroyed churches, synagogues and cemeteries, while it continued to oppress Kurds in Turkey.

The ad contrasts these horrors with a pro-Western, anti-terrorism record of the other half of the island where a Greek-Cypriot government recently confiscated Syrian arms destined for Hamas, refused use of Cyprus ports to the Turkish flotilla, while partnering with Greece to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, and worked closely with the U.S. on terrorism issues.

Finally, it calls on Turkey to remove its troops from Cyprus, support reunification of the island, conduct meaningful negotiations with its Kurdish minority and become a reliable peace partner in the Middle East -- ''not an aggressor."

The ad was signed by the Cyprus Federation of America, PSEKA (the International Justice Committee for Cyprus) and CEH (Coordianted Efforts of Hellenes."

The recent history of Cypus, which also includes some problematic behavior by the Greek side, has been largely overlooked by mainstream media in recent years -- although it deserves more attention as Erdogan preens and postures as a paragon of justice and defender of the oppressed.

So next time Erdogan lashes out against Israel, remember Cyprus ! If he send another flotilla toward,Gaza, he ought to be urged to change its destination toward Cyprus and use it instead to end Ankara's brutal occupation of part of the island -- as the ad in the Times so eloquently puts it.

Page Printed from: at July 27, 2010 - 09:00:01 PM CDT

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