Steven A. Cook

From the Potomac to the Euphrates

Cook examines developments in the Middle East and their resonance in Washington.

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Turkey: Hello, I Must Be Going

by Steven A. Cook
November 4, 2013

A Turkish Airlines plane takes off at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul (Osman Orsal/Courtesy Reuters). A Turkish Airlines plane takes off at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul (Osman Orsal/Courtesy Reuters).

I first arrived in Turkey on a chilly, gray afternoon in early October 1992.  I had been living in Jerusalem studying Arabic and Hebrew—this was during my Arab-Israeli conflict stage—when the guy with whom I was sharing a flat suggested that we backpack through Turkey during the month that Israel was essentially closed for Jewish holidays.  When we landed in Istanbul, we pulled out a used Lonely Planet, and somehow managed to communicate—Mark, who is now a professor of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech, spoke pretty good German, which helped a bit—to a taxi driver that we wanted to go to the Orient Hostel in Sultanahmet.  We knew nothing about the place, just that it was cheap and sounded decent.  Wistful for my early twenties, whenever I find myself in Sultanahmet, which is pretty rare these days, I take a stroll past the place.

That trip has stayed with me like none other.  From the Sumela monastery near Trabzon, the Alps-like hills near Uzungol, the grit of Erzurum, the haunting ruins of Ani, and the Kurdish wedding we unexpectedly attended in Dogubeyazit, to the weirdly severe and austere architecture of Ankara, the amazing caves of Cappadocia, the long walk through the Ilhara Valley, and finally the warm, soft waves of the Mediterranean in the seaside village of Side, I fell for Turkey.  What had started out as a goof turned into a new area of inquiry and interest.  Until then for me Turkey was a country run by a guy named Turgut Ozal of whom President George H. W. Bush seemed to be particularly fond.  It was a big Muslim country that had been the colonial power in the Middle East for 500 years or so, but my interest lay with the Arab world, specifically Palestinians, and their conflict with the Israelis.

After I returned to Jerusalem from Turkey toting a Fenerbahce jersey and a large Turkish flag as souvenirs, I began to read about Turkish history and politics.  Books by Bernard Lewis, Kemal Karpat, and Feroz Ahmad were my formal introductions to the country.  It was almost exactly seven years after my backpacking adventure, when the Turkish General Staff succeeded in ending the country’s first experiment with Islamist-led government, that gave me an insight that led to my dissertation and later my first book. I suppose that for as long as I have been working on the Middle East professionally, people might have assumed that I am, and always have been, an Egypt obsessive, but it was Turkey that had an earlier impact on my intellectual development.

Besides piquing my curiosity, one of the things that stuck with me all these years was the uncommon kindness of everyone I/we met during those four weeks on the road.  Turks looked after us, made sure we got on the correct bus, took the right dolmus, and helped us find hotels/hostels in out-of-the-way places.  One memorable moment came when Mark and I sat down at a local restaurant the afternoon we arrived in Dogubeyazit.  As we stuffed ourselves silly, a bunch of large men, dressed in black and toting military rifles, sat down next to us.  They looked at us and we looked at them.  We discovered through their broken English that they were Turkish soldiers of some sort (we assumed they were special forces operators) who were fighting the PKK in the nearby mountains.  They made it clear to us—in the nicest way possible for guys with large guns—that we should not leave our hotel after dark.  We appreciated the heads-up and were a bit freaked out that we stupidly stumbled into a war zone, and grabbed the first bus out of town the next morning, to where I do not remember.  Another time when a bus never showed up in a small town where we spent the night, a guy took pity on the two yabanci and drove us to a town where he knew we could find transportation to our next destination.  He refused our efforts to pay him for his trouble.

The warm feelings toward Turkey and Turks that I developed in the early 1990s  were only reinforced some years later when my wife and I lived in Ankara for an extended period of time.  I am sorry to say, however, that they have begun to wane. Turkey is endlessly fascinating, but it is no longer fun.  I cherish my friendships with Turks and value my professional relationship with a long list of Turkish academics, journalists, and business leaders, but there is no denying any longer the fact that the environment for someone like me has become downright hostile.

For the better part of the last three years, it seems that every time I write about Turkey, I am subjected to a stream of disturbing and conspiracy-laden criticism that almost always concludes that my arguments about Turkey’s eroding strategic position in the Middle East or the illiberal turn in its domestic politics are not a function of research and careful analysis. Rather, to Turkish officials, journalists, a few academics, and a slew of Twitter trolls, my work reflects my Jewish faith and thus some kind of special attachment to Israel and the Israel lobby that compels me to compromise my professional integrity to smear Turkey for the benefit of the Netanyahu government. Anyone who has spent any time reading my work would know that this is fantasy.  They would also know that I welcome substantive critiques on the merits of my arguments.  In the interest of full disclosure, I am indeed Jewish, though my religion has never been a factor in my work.  I have Israeli friends and I also have three Mexico-born second cousins who, by dint of their American mother’s second marriage to an Israeli national, spent part of their lives growing up in greater Tel Aviv.  One is now a successful artist in Mexico City, another teaches English literature at the University of Georgia, and the other lives near Haifa with his wife and children.  I have also spoken to AIPAC groups.

It is easy to dismiss the fairly regular attacks on me and my identity as nonsense and the unfortunate price I pay for working on controversial topics, but it has gone well beyond the bounds of civil discourse and belies Turkish claims to being an inclusive and tolerant society.  I do not know how many times I have heard how the Ottoman Empire accepted the Jews of Spain during the Inquisition and how the remnant of that community remains and thrives in Istanbul and Izmir.  Yet that was a long time ago and from what I understand, Turkish Jews are leaving for the United States, Canada, Europe, and Israel because they no longer feel welcome in their own home.

There is no direct evidence that the Justice and Development Party or government officials are engaged in an effort to smear crudely and delegitimize critics of Turkish policy, but they have certainly created an environment in which it has become the norm.  In my own case, it began when I wrote a piece in May 2011 for Foreign Policy.com titled, “Arab Spring, Turkish Fall,” in which I observed that for a variety of structural, historical, and political factors, Turkey was unlikely to lead the Middle East in ways that Ankara and its cheerleaders in the West assumed.  Almost immediately I began hearing from friends who relayed to me inquiries from journalists and people in official circles in Ankara asking if I had written such a critical piece because I am Jewish.  Of course, my religious background did not matter when I wrote “Cheering an Islamist Victory” for the Boston Globe in July 2007 after AKP garnered 47 percent of the popular vote in that year’s national elections.  More recently, a Turkish journalist named Kahraman Haliscelik who works for Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) in New York City wondered on Twitter why I was no longer a “friend of Turkey,” suggesting that I was working on behalf of Israel.

Until now, I have chosen to ignore these creepy slurs.  Why bother giving this kind of stuff credence? Yet in the last six months, something has changed.  Turkish political discourse is darker and the attacks on foreign observers of Turkish politics have become relentless.  During the Gezi Park protests, the thuggish mayor of Ankara, Melih Gokcek, accused a BBC reporter of Turkish origin of being a traitor because she was reporting on the brutal crackdown on demonstrators in his city.  Recently, a Dutch journalist named Bram Vermeulen, was informed that his press card was not renewed and that he would not be permitted back into Turkey after his current visa expires, apparently in revenge for his reporting on Turkey’s recent tumult.  The Gezi Park protests represent an important point of departure for the AKP establishments and its supporters. Rather than a cause for introspection about why so many Turks—though not a majority by any means—are angry at their government, the ruling party and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan cynically framed the narrative in a way that places blame for Turkey’s political turbulence on outsiders seeking to bring the country to its knees.  The fact that they have been successful speaks to the continuing trauma of the post-WWI period when foreigners—the British, Greeks, French, and Italians—did actually seek to carve up Anatolia.  As a result, a depressingly large number of Turks blamed CNN, the BBC, the “interest rate lobby,” “Zionists,” the American Enterprise Institute, and Michael Rubin for the events surrounding Gezi.

In reality the outrage on the streets of Istanbul and Ankara this past summer had nothing to do with foreigners, but that did not stop a veritable army of AKP’s followers, government ministers, and a variety of bootlickers from questioning the integrity of those of us who were telling the world what was happening around them.  Among the worst was Nasuhi Gungor, the head of TRT’s Turkish-language service.  Gungor poses as a journalist, but is little more than a propagandist for the Justice and Development Party.  When I was dodging teargas on Istiklal Cadessi on the night of June 15, 2013, he tweeted:

“@stevenacook is a [sic] islamophobic zionist hanging around Istiklal. If anybody identify him be careful about provocations!”

This was clearly an effort to intimidate me.  It did not have the desired effect, but it unleashed what seemed like thousands of Twitter trolls hurling the worst kind of invective.  Another pathetic and disturbing display came from Edibe Sozen, a former AKP deputy and professor of sociology at Marmara University.  Over Twitter she conveyed an unrelenting paranoia wanting to know why I was in Turkey, who sent me, and what my mission was.

Perhaps the most grotesque distortion of what it means to be a journalist in contemporary Turkey came more recently in the pro-AKP newspaper Yeni Safak thanks to someone named Yakup Kocaman.  On October 21 he published a front page story alleging that David Ignatius, the Council on Foreign Relations, Raytheon and I fabricated a story about Turkey blowing an Israeli spy ring in Iran because Raytheon was unhappy that it lost a contract with the Turkish military for air supply defense missiles to a Chinese firm. And, also I am a “neocon,” which in current Turkish discourse is a synonym for “Jew.”

The only one doing any fabricating was Kocaman.  There is no record that Kocaman ever called my office, called the communications department at CFR, spoke to anyone in the executive office at CFR, or even bothered to read what my co-author, Michael Koplow, and I actually wrote about David Ignatius’s explosive allegations in the Washington Post on October 16. In the interest of full disclosure, in my ten years at CFR, I have met David Ignatius a handful of times during which it became clear that we don’t agree on very much about the Middle East, I do not know anyone from Raytheon, and CFR is a non-partisan, non-profit, independent membership organization and think tank.  It is important to point out that Kocaman is making serious allegations against an organization that has hosted President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Erdogan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy Ali Babacan, Minister for EU Affairs Egemen Bagis, and various AKP parliamentarians.

Kocaman is clearly a fraud, but of course, this did not stop other parts of the Turkish press.  Ferhat Unlu of Sabah followed Kocaman with his own rambling article blowing the cover on Turkey’s “opponents” in Washington.  This would not be worth much in the way of comment, but for the fact that while actual professional journalists in Turkey—of which there are many—cower in the corner for fear of being fired for criticizing the government, people like Gungor, Kocaman, Unlu, and Haliscelik  frame the terms of debate.  Needless to say, this is unhealthy for Turkey’s democratic development.

Turks are fond of saying that “good friends speak bitterly to good friends.”  It’s a very nice aphorism, but it is not true.  Turks only like it one way.  If you dare offer a critique of Turkish politics, supporters of the government will attack you, your professional ethics, your employer, and your very identity.  A sad state of affairs.    

 

Post a Comment 24 Comments

  • Posted by Anon

    I am ashamed to be a part of this two-faced nation

  • Posted by Nebula Retina

    I am sorry you had to go through with an experience like this, I guess famous all inclusive approach of Turkey also applies here. Look at the bright side, you made a career out of it, and had a great time doing it. Just like our friendship with Israel this friendship had to end too, since in your heart you know where your loyalties are, farewell Mr. Cook…

  • Posted by Omerk1955

    Mr. Cook, a sad state of affairs in deed and how sad that you had to write this piece. I well understand the indignation that led you to go ahead and write such a personal account. Clearly this was not easy, but unless you and all of us, Turks like me and our friends do speak out, the feeling of impunity by PM. Erdogan and his supporters will continue and the situation will only get worse. I dare say that we will overcome this and move on to better days with a more inclusive discourse displacing the unacceptable and ever more divisive rhetoric of today. That rhetoric demeans Turkey and it’s multi-hued citizens and their friends. Indeed, I did not extend my condemnation to the AKP but to the PM and his supporters for a reason. Even within the AKP there are many – and a growing number – who cringe when he speaks. Now as someone who spends his days editing and holding others to certain standards, let me note that you should talk to your editors and tell them that “Turks like it one way” does not reflect what you actually mean, i.e. the government…Many, many of us may disagree with you on certain issues but will defend your right to state your views and understand that this is not a “conspiracy” but a welcome invitation to a have a civilized intellectual discourse. We will get there so long as the common goal is to enrich our discourse and dispel ill-meaning messages rather than dismissing each other as the “other”. I dare say a younger Steven could still have a wonderful visit all over Turkey (as 30 million plus foreign visitors annually demonstrate )but only for a while and only if we hold the narrow-minded opportunistic and self-serving voices to account. Keep at it (and an eye on your editors).

  • Posted by Mike Barrett

    I too love Turkey and I am sad at the loss of a free press. Your article was well thought out and I agree with you. Thank You.

  • Posted by Ken Frank

    The reactions against Cook sadly perpetuate a prominent xenophobic strand in Turkish politics that has been an ever-troubling feature of the Turkish Republic. Fortunately this strand is challenged by more liberal views within Turkish society.

  • Posted by Al Mohd

    Mr Cook,

    Like you i lived in in Turkey for several years in late 90s -early 2000s. I have nothing to negative to say about Turkish people and i might add that they are probably the most hospitable people i have had the privilege to have known.

    You sort of had me until the point where you described the mayor mayor of Ankara as thuggish and that he was attacking the BBC reporter and to quote you ” Melih Gokcek, accused a BBC reporter of Turkish origin of being a traitor because she was reporting on the brutal crackdown on demonstrators in his city” . You know that to be blatantly false and the same lie was being propagated by bbc and thats where i saw it in the news and knew it just didnt pass the smell test and if its true then that mayor must have lost his mind.
    The truth is, she wasn’t reporting on the news, she was an activist protestor advocating on her tweeter feed to boycott any economic activities and bring the economy to a stand still. The mayor pointed that out which should be called out as she wasn’t impartial news reporter as you misinform the public to fit into your narrow political goals. And that is exactly why you resort to the religious card when its pointed out to you that indeed you might not be impartial and serving your own political agenda and that’s the Truth and you don’t like it one bit and that’s the reason you will make sure this doesn’t appear on the comment section.

  • Posted by feride

    Thank you for taking the time to write this article. Feels like you are a good friend speaking bitterly. And there are millions of Turks who can think for themselves and appreciate your words..

  • Posted by Moshon

    BRAVO !!!

  • Posted by Cumhur

    It is impossible not to feel sad about some issues written by Mr. Cook. As a Turkish person, I also feel that tolerance towards Turkish-Jews lessening. HOWEVER, mr. Cook, for every conspiracy theorist, there is a Turk who would value your opinions and experiences.

    We, Turks, went sour on Israel lately, mainly because:

    - While negotiating a possible peace with Turkish Prime Minister, Israel started deadly operations. ( = insult )
    - Israel choose to see Turkish activists as terrorists and treated them as terrorists. ( = putting us in a category)

    AND unfortunately, I can see these sad thoughts in Israeli heads, as I can see the conspiracy theories in Turkish heads. It is so sad going. It is in our power to put the brakes on. We can do everything in our power to be tolerant and understanding as usual, and try to inspire others too.

  • Posted by Sevket Zaimoglu

    Mr. Cook claims “my religion has never been a factor in my work.” This is simply not possible, not just for Mr. Cook but for every one of us. The best Mr. Cook could do, and the best his critics could expect from him, would be “I have tried not to let my religion to be a factor in my work.”

    Mr. Cook also paints a rather negative picture of Turks-*all Turks*, as people intolerant of criticism. But this picture is just based on the “supporters of the government.” By his logic, either all Turks are supporters of the government, or this attitude of the supporters of the government is representative of all Turks. I don’t know which of his generalizations are more worrisome.

  • Posted by An annoyed Turk

    Decent piece, but…

    “Needless to say, this is unhealthy for Turkey’s democratic development.”

    Exactly what “democracy” are you still talking of in this article?? In the name of democracy, the akp (justice and development party) has blatantly instituted an autocratic regime that makes one yearn for the years of communism in eastern europe.

    A simple mention of the detained, harassed opponents of the regime — with scores of the intelligentsia accused of “plotting” against the government would have been more appropriate than a typical western nostalgic tirade of ‘democratic development’ of Turkey…

    As a side note, I also wonder, when, westerners such as yourself will stop defining Turkey as a “middle-eastern” country. Ethnically and linguistically, most of the Turks have more roots from Balkans and Caucasus than the Arab lands. Yes, it’s a muslim majority country, but does that fact alone make Albania a middle-eastern country too?

    Ironically, it has become more and more middle-eastern, but the western rhetoric on this has been raging for decades, even when the country was more european back in the wake of World War II. Naturally, this is now a moot point.

  • Posted by Humble

    1- “Turks only like it one way.” Why generalize.
    2- When I read jewish media I see this type of accusations 100 times more than Turkish media but I do not see jews criticize themselves, including you, but always others.

  • Posted by IIV

    Great article, sadly very true. Hopefully things will get better. The youth in Turkey want change

  • Posted by Emre Alper

    Sad but true. Forthcoming elections do not offer any hope either.

  • Posted by Kahraman Haliscelik

    Dear Steven,
    Below is our sole conversation on twitter. Firstly, I didn’t alley that you worked on behalf of Israel. I did, however, imply that you had become biased. That is not only my view, I was reflecting the views of general public in Turkey.
    Secondly, anyone who reads our conversation below- will see that I wasn’t attacking you at all. I was, again, reflecting how people in Turkey have come to distrust the west in general.
    My twitter conversation with you in no way contained AK Parti propaganda, let alone slurs.
    I hope you keep writing on Turkey- hopefully more objectively. As I wrote on twitter then, criticism is in fact good for Turkey. We need criticism but not bullying.
    I wish you the best of luck.
    Kahraman

    ===================

    kahraman haliscelik ‏@turkishreporter 21 Oct
    ==Many #Turks are fascinated by how @stevenacook has transformed from a friend of #Turkey into a complete opposite of a friend.
    #Israel? #why?

    ==============
    ==Steven A. Cook ‏‪@stevenacook‬ 22 Oct 

‪@turkishreporter I dont understand. If one makes a criticism, one is no longer a friend? How liberal-minded. Israel? Are you serious?

    ==============
    ==kahraman haliscelik ‏‪@turkishreporter‬ 22 Oct 

‪@stevenacook Criticism is good for us, that’s not an issue. But it is the West cheating, not ‪#Turkey and we hope you reflect on this.

    ==============
    ==Steven A. Cook ‏‪@stevenacook‬ 22 Oct 

‪@turkishreporter How is the West cheating?

    ==============
    ==kahraman haliscelik ‏‪@turkishreporter‬ 22 Oct 

‪@stevenacook ‪#Israel killed 9 Turks, the west remained silent. ‪#EU blocked negotiations, yet Turkey was blamed. ‪#Syria is falling apart +


    ‪#Obama legitimized ‪#Assad and prolonged his grip on power and practically abandoned ‪#Turkey to face crisis in ‪#Syria by itself+

    ==============
    ==Steven A. Cook ‏‪@stevenacook‬ 22 Oct 

‪@turkishreporter In only your imagination were people silent about the Mavi Marmara.

    You are allegedly a journalist, yet you cannot imagine any criticism of ‪#Turkey. You have only one measure of “friendship.”

    ==============
    ==kahraman haliscelik ‏‪@turkishreporter‬ 22 Oct 

‪@stevenacook ‪#EU-‪#US free trade agreement negotiations, ‪#Turkey again was pushed on the side. What should Turkey do now? Still beg the West?

    ==============
    ==Steven A. Cook ‏‪@stevenacook‬ 22 Oct 

‪@turkishreporter You apparently are satisfied with writing press releases for AKP

    You know so little. US is helping on EU-US trade.

    ==============
    ==kahraman haliscelik ‏‪@turkishreporter‬ 22 Oct 

‪@stevenacook I think the ‪#US is just trying to channel Turkey’s concerns. The Turks have so little trust left in the EU and the US.


    ==============
    ==Steven A. Cook ‏‪@stevenacook‬ 22 Oct 

‪@turkishreporter That may be so, but why do you assume there is reason for the US to trust Turkey?


    ==============
    =kahraman haliscelik ‏‪@turkishreporter‬ 22 Oct 

‪@stevenacook We played a guardian dog for US interests in our region for so many years; now we think it’s time to focus on our own interests.

    Our interests may conflict with those of the US & EU but you and many others project this as if we are cheating. We aren’t.


    We are trying to find a suitable place for ourselves in the new age where we are more respected; where our interests are mutual.

  • Posted by Strepsi

    Steven Cook this is a fabulous article. But I fear it is not just Turkey: it is every Islamic state. I was in Egypt for several weeks in 2008-2009, and as you say the people were extremely kind and helpful. Yet every person — every single person — we met made sure to tell us that the West (US/UK) invents all the bad events of Egypt, that all criticism of Islam is a Western conspiracy, and that they hate the U.S. This was “secular” Egypt before its spring, just as Turkey is secular. The press was equally corrupt. I simply think that Islamic-majority theocracies can not handle democracy, nor the free press: they are anathema to the culture of Islam. In case you think I am tarring with too wide a brush, please, name ONE Islamic Republic with a free, functional democracy and press. I’ll wait.

  • Posted by Greg Arzoomanian

    Why shouldn’t Turkish officials continue efforts to intimidate people? It works! We see in the Washington Post story of October 21, “Armenian ‘orphan rug’ is in White House storage, as unseen as genocide is neglected” that they’ve got the White House doing their bidding: http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/museums/armenian-orphan-rug-remains-in-white-house-storage-as-unseen-as-genocide-is-neglected/2013/10/21/90458518-3a6d-11e3-b6a9-da62c264f40e_story.html

  • Posted by charlie

    You are absolutely right Mr Cook. Turkey and its people have been going through a negative change and transformation since the ascendance of AKP as a ruling party. Tolerance and open mindedness have been replaced with partisan intolerance and rejection of any criticism. The recent gezi events have demonstrated these very starkly. You may not have noticed the Islamization and religious dogma as an agenda of this party in the early days but there has been no doubt in the minds of the secular Turks that a relentless policy of changing the fabric of Turkish society and its foreign policy were very dangerous and represented a backward step. People like you who write the truth and expose these issues are now seen as the enemy of the state by the supporters of this government who also happen to gain financially and a status of power. I do hope you go on exposing the dangerous, illegal and damaging behaviour of these people and make a distinction between them and the genuinely tolerant and liberal citizens of Turkish people.

  • Posted by Aysenur Unal

    I am truly sorry that Mr. Cook’s recent experiences in Turkey have been so unpleasant… Antisemitism has never been an issue in Turkey, and although I have no trouble believing that the current Islamist government encourages such prejudices, I do have trouble believing that these views are held by the majority of Turks, whose nature and inclusive views have not changed. Turkey has always been an inclusive country, and the lynchpins of the founding of the Republic in 1923 have included an intentional blurring of ethnic differences. Contrary to internationally held preconceptions, Erdogan and his governing AKP party were not elected in a “landslide victory”. He and his Islamist policies were actually voted against in the 3 elections that have taken place. His views actually are NOT representative of the majority of Turks. However, his strong-arm tactics have cowed (or imprisoned) his opponents. Turkey is not, by any means, a truly democratic country at the present time; the vast majority of Turks are NOT Islamist as he defines it, and the many protests that have taken place this year bear witness to that.
    Having said that, I should also add that I, personally, am against the current policies of the Israeli government, although I am certainly not antisemitic in any way. I have the knowledge, and the wisdom, to be able to differentiate between the two.

  • Posted by Mert

    Turkey is experiencing tremendous changes since 2000s. That’s why It is quite normal that the public discourse is not as civil as you may find in more stable democracies. Believe me, when we look back to Turkey after another decade we will be astonished to see how peaceful this transformation was. Most of the time foreigners have very limited understanding of the situation, they don’t understand how deep some problems are. They think gezi protestors are democracy heroes. However a conservative person sees another 80 years of tyranny in their eyes.

  • Posted by Canadian

    This is all politics and money business.. What happened in Turkey was (is) an uprising against Mr. Erdogan (Turkish PM).60-70% of the population are still against him. Also cheating in the elections is another subject. It would be unfair to the 250+ million people in the world that have Turkish roots, to generalize them calling “all the Turks” are as Mr. Cook stated, AS we can’t blame to ALL JEWSIH people because of the Israeli soldiers killing children in Palestine.

    Approximately 1.5 million Palestinian civilians have died since 1948,including the victims of the ethnic cleansing campaigns in the west in 1948-50 and in the east since 1967. Civilian deaths have escalated dramatically in recent years since the zionists developed their obsession with the Palestinian birth-rate, and children are often the target. There is only a small fine for killing a Palestinian in cold blood. It’s based on a weapons charge, not murder. Approximately 2000 civilian Palestinians are killed each year. If you are Jewish and you shoot an 8-year-old Palestinian girl in cold blood, you will have your weapons license revoked for three months and pay a fine equivalent to 50-100 U.S$.
    Has Mr. Cook ever written in his blog such a critic like that against Israel?

  • Posted by Raja M. Ali Saleem

    I respect Mr. Cook and do not like Erdogan’s current policies and what happened in Gezi Park in other Turkish cities in summer. However, to blame ALL Turks or the WHOLE Turkish society for what AKP or Erdogan is doing now is really uncalled for. It is more an emotional outburst, rather than a scientific analysis which we expect from Mr. Cook.

    Mr. Cook’s piece is especially troubling because as a Jews, he knows others have used crimes of few Jews to implicate and punish the whole community. Would Mr. Cook write such a piece against Natanyahu and the extremist religious groups and then implicate ALL Israelis or the WHOLE Israeli society? I hope he understands the folly of his column.

    As for Mr. Strepsi. Why there is no Muslim democracy? Try to answer this question. Why there are no Native American billionaires or so few African American billionaires? History matters. It takes time for people who are enslaved to throw off their yokes. But be ready as your democracy deteriorates, Muslim democracies are getting better,

  • Posted by Rosalba

    Those trolls are paid soldiers of AKP, to the tune of 6000 lira month and there are 1000s of them.We Turks can identify them by their ignorance, bad grammar etc., don’t think they reflect fre opinion.They write on command.
    Steven should also know by now that anyone who works at such a plum post in New York for TRT is a stooge of the AKP.AKP has dismissed most employees and filled government jobs with Islamists and graduates of Imam Hatip schools.
    It would have been much more courteous to the protesters of Gezi and to the hundreds of journalists, anti AKP judges and lawyers and high school and university students, who have been jailed or lost their jobs because they criticize AKP, not to be intimidated by Islamo-fascist tactics of the government and stand by the democratic secular Turks who are defending democratic rights and rule of law.More importantly, explain to President Obama and the US government, the nightmare Turkish citizens are faced with.
    Maybe they do not care for the plight of women in Turkey, who are losing their acquired rights.They lose their jobs or cannot get any if they do not don the Islamic turban, they have lost their freedom to decide when they will have children or abortion.The prime minister has said, unmarried men and women cannot share lodgings.Does the US Administration want to wait and watch until Turkey becomes another Iran or Saudi Arabia or erupt into opposing camps of Sharia followers and those who want Western democracy?

  • Posted by guney

    Mrs. Cook, as a turk who lives in turkey, I want to say that the view that you descriped is the true face of akp and ‘moderate islamists’. However, they were,anti-semitistic, totalitarian, and anti democratic from the day that i know myselve, if they have recently begin to show it, it is just because they have attained enough power recently. I don’t want to be misunderstood, ı’m not defending the orthodox kemalist totalitarianism, and i don’t want turkey to return kemalist era, however i think it is also important to see the deep ideological contradictions that lie in the concept called ‘moderate islam’. In my opinion, it is also controversial to argue that the akp and erdoğan have democratized turkey in the last ten years. Althogh I admit that it is true in some scale, specially from the aspect of the break of chauvinistic nationalist and introversive kemalism, ı also need to specify that that the period in question has created another type of introversiveness, which you have described in your article.

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