Turkish Foreign Minister: No Dialogue With Israel Until it Ends the Occupation and Stops Killings


By Mehmet Nedim Aslan | Middle East Monitor

Turkish Ambassador made to sit in a lower seat and Turkish flag removed in front of Israeli media.

Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, has made his strongest criticism yet of Israel and its policies. After talks with his British counterpart David Miliband at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, the two ministers held a joint press conference during which Mr Davutoğlu answered questions about his country’s lukewarm relations with Israel. Asked whether Turkey’s criticism of Israel was attributed to a policy of “Islamisation”, Mr. Davutoğlu denied the existence of any such policy and said that Turkey had worked actively for regional peace; indeed, until 2008 Turkey had had very good relations with Israel, even to the point of bringing it to the same table with Syria. The war in Gaza a year ago changed this, said Mr. Davutoğlu. “By attacking Palestinians in Gaza, Israel ruined our peace efforts and we cannot tolerate this. Attacking children and women is unacceptable,” he added.

Davutoğlu emphasised that his country’s relations would not be normalised as long as Israel is occupying and attacking Palestine. “If Israel ends its occupation and unacceptable treatment of Palestinians, then we will be ready the next day for normalised and good relations,” he said. “Turkey’s foreign policy is based on equality both with its neighbouring countries and others. A Jewish kid is not superior to a Palestinian kid. Both should be treated as equal. This is our vision for the region.”

Later, Mr. Davutoğlu gave a speech at London University’s King’s College on the topic “Converging Interests of Turkey and the UK in an enlarged EU and beyond”. Answering questions from the audience afterwards the Foreign Minister was asked why Turkey has close relations with “extremists such as Iran and HAMAS”. Emphasising again his country’s commitment to regional and global peace, Mr. Davutoğlu pointed out that HAMAS had been elected by the popular vote and those in the West who lecture the rest of the world on democracy should respect the Palestinians’ choice. He added, “The Palestinian election was the most democratic and transparent election held in the region and the Palestinians elected HAMAS. There is no such thing as ‘moderates and extremists’. When you occupy a land and kill its people you leave them no choice but hopelessness. One cannot call a country moderate which kills Palestinian children and women every day.”

Mr. Davutoğlu also criticised the US former President George Bush’s Middle East policy that labelled Iran and Syria members of the ‘axis of evil’. “We don’t want a Cold War in our region. We don’t believe that the use of military force and a policy of isolating countries will bring peace. The only way to bring peace to the region and the world is to be inclusive, not exclusive, and this is what Turkey has been working on. That’s why Turkey has good relations both with HAMAS and Iran. Anything that happens on our doorstep affects us, so our vision is to minimise tension and bring countries together politically, socially and economically.”

There is a common belief in the Muslim world that US foreign policy is biased towards Israel thanks to the Israel-Jewish lobby. Ever since the foundation of the state of Israel on Palestinian land in 1948, all US administrations have been ardent in their support of Israel, both politically and economically. In a practical sense, therefore, there appears to be very solid evidence for such a belief; indeed, some would say that the influence exerted by the Israel-Jewish lobby and the resultant Israel-bias by successive US administrations is, quite simply, a fact.

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by American professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt makes it very clear, in an objective way, how the Israel-Jewish Lobby goes about its work in this respect. In Britain, a Channel 4 documentary film, Inside Britain’s Israel Lobby, showed how Britain has been kept on a short rein in terms of its relationship with Israel. The situation in the UK is not as serious as in the USA, but it was still shocking to see how some British politicians are bankrolled by the Israel lobby to support Israeli interests at the expense of the Palestinians. One of many important points raised in the programme was the very subtle ‘threat’ to the Guardian newspaper for its report on ‘Israeli crimes against Palestinians’.

Israel maintains a formidable “hasbara” (propaganda) campaign worldwide to develop good relations within the media so that empathic coverage of the conflict caused by the Israeli occupation of Palestine favours Israel and ignores, covers-up or seeks to justify Israeli crimes against Palestinians. The hasbara campaign to lobby politicians and the media does not exist only in the west. Surprisingly, the Israel lobby also operates in Muslim countries to such an extent that in some places it influences the policy-making process. One of those countries, without doubt, is Turkey. It is true that the AK Party in government has, unlike previous governments in Turkey, demonstrated its opposition to Israeli policies, cancelling a military exercise with Israel, for example, and PM Erdogan’s public condemnation of the assault on Gaza 12 months ago. This is countered, of course, by the fact that Turkey was the first country with a majority Muslim population to recognise Israel.

The unofficial but very strong Israel lobby in Turkey has always been a hot topic of discussion among Turkish politicians, intellectuals, media and ordinary people who follow political affairs. As in many other countries, when the subject of Israel is debated, the ultra-secular mainstream media in Turkey has condemned critics of the Zionist state as being biased against Jews or Israel, and try to downplay the severity of the Israeli occupation and killing of Palestinians. Conversely, when rockets are fired into southern Israel from Gaza, the news in the mainstream media focuses on the suffering of Israelis at the hands of Palestinians without mentioning the historical and political context that Palestinians are resisting Israel’s illegal occupation, as they are legally entitled to do.

On the first day of the Gaza attack last year, when Israel bombarded the police academy compound in Gaza, Hurriyet (which is similar to Egypt’s semi-official Al-Ahram newspaper in terms of its connection with the state’s ideology and is the most influential Turkish newspaper) commented: “After 200 rockets fired by Hamas into Israel, Israeli forces have fought back.” This gave a clear message to its readers that Israel was “forced” to resort to violence, but ignored the fact that a Hamas-Israel truce had been broken by Israel in November 2008, prompting a Hamas response, to which Israel’s murderous assault was the response.

When huge rallies were held in Turkey to protest against the deliberate targeting and killing of Palestinian civilians by Israel’s war machine, in Hurriyet and its sister newspaper Milliyet, Posta and Radikal there was little coverage. Hurriyet’s editor-in chief, Ertuğrul Özkök, once called ‘the most influential journalist’ in Turkey, wrote in his daily column that he feared these protests might result in arousing anti-Jewish sentiments.

Anyone who does not know Turkey well may find this surprising, even shocking, but it is a reality that the most influential media organs in Turkey are indifferent to the plight of the Palestinians but very enthusiastic about Israel. This enthusiasm for Israel among Turkey’s ultra-secular establishment is rooted in their campaign against Islam, which they see as an obstacle to the hegemony of the country’s founding Kemalist ideology. Israel is, in their eyes, a natural ally in the fight against their common enemy.

Because the foundation of modern Turkey was based on the removal of religion from public life – by coercion or ‘coerced consent’ if necessary – while anything connected with Islam was rejected as backward and an obstacle to the development of the state and society, this ultra-secular ideology used very subtle methods so that its indoctrination was not counter-productive. Hence, the word ‘Islam’ was not used in their campaign of secularisation. Instead, they used the terms Arabs, Sheikhs, Sherif Hussain, and Mullahs to indicate where the blame for what happened to the Ottoman Empire should be lodged; they overlooked the fact that the secular establishment was hostile to the Ottoman Empire too. Following the Gramscian concept of hegemony, in which the state, through building state-funded civil and bureaucratic institutions to control society, the Turkish establishment attacked, and continues to attack, religion using all of the apparatus at its disposal.

As Islam was suppressed by the establishment of modern Turkey, so was the ideology of “Turkishness” promoted by the state. The idea was that if people have the political nous to take pride in being a ‘Turk’ as a member of a superior race, then religion would disappear altogether. Looked at in the current context, it is interesting to note that some Jewish politicians have been among those who were promoting the new anti-Islam ideology. For example, Moez Cohen, a member of the Jewish community in the early years of modern Turkey, changed his name to a pre-Islamic Turkish name, Tekin Alp , was a leading member of the Turkish nationalist movement and once said “Down with Islam”.

In the 1990s the Turkish army generals backed a media campaign supporting Israel and Israeli interests. In 1996-97 Necmettin Erbakan’s government brought together eight Muslim countries to form the ‘D-8’ (Developing Countries) organisation aimed at tackling political, social and economic problems faced by Muslim nations. This alliance of Muslim countries was seen as a threat to Israel so the Turkish media started a campaign intended to provoke the generals by claiming that this move could take Turkey back to the ‘dark ages’ and Erbakan’s agenda was to impose shari’ah law. As a result of this campaign, Israel’s friends in the media succeeded in bringing the government to its knees.

After the 2002 general election in Turkey friends of Israel in the media and politics were cautious about the newly-formed AK Party government, adopting a “wait and see” policy. The AK Party took on a heavy agenda, from the EU reforms to the collapsed economy, so did not get involved immediately in the Palestine issue, with the result that the media seemed to be friendly towards the government. In turn, as its self-confidence grew, the government found its voice against Israeli attacks on Palestinians. The reaction of Dogan Media – owning newspapers, including its flagship Hurriyet, TV channels, weekly and monthly magazines and about 50% of the whole media sector in Turkey – was a campaign claiming that opposition to Israel would damage Turkey’s goal of joining the European Union. Some commentators went further, saying that it was not Turkey’s business to get involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict. Those who were against such Turkish involvement were, at the same time, and for the sake of Israel, upset at the Turkish government’s decision not to allow on its soil US troops involved in the occupation of Iraq.

An ‘official partnership’ between Israel and Turkey’s Dogan Media was uncovered when tax investigators discovered this year that Dogan had evaded taxation on its share sales to German media company Axel Springer AG in 2006. This prompted journalists working for other companies to investigate further the details of Dogan’s sales to its German partner. Yener Donmez, working for Vakit newspaper, found that Axel Springer’s employees must adhere to five main principles, one of which is “support for the vital rights of the State of Israel”; the journalist wrote that since Dogan was Axel Springer’s partner, the same principle would require Dogan’s journalists not to report anything against Israel. The newspaper also claimed that the Israeli state had shares in Axel Springer, making Dogan and Israel partners.

Releasing a statement about its partnership with Axel Springer and the claims that Israel is immune from criticism across its media output, Dogan did not deny its partner’s principle of supporting Israel, but said “Axel is a German company and even if the claims in Vakit were true, this would not affect their publishing policy.”

Today, whether Dogan Media is directly linked to Israel or not, it still owns almost 50% of the Turkish media sector and has not withdrawn its subtle support for Israel. However, its voice is not as powerful as it was a few years ago and may disappear altogether in the light of the tax evasion charges. Be under no illusions, though, for ‘the lobby’ will plan new strategies and find new friends, such is its influence.

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Rift Among Indian Army Top Generals Over Corruption


Chief Gen. Kapoor locks horns with his possible successor Gen. Singh

A Daily Mail investigation Gen. Kapoor is trying to minimize Gen. Singh’s chances of promotion.

Singh responds by exposing his real estate interests. This is why Lt. Gen. P.C. Bhardwaj was promoted by Kapoor as the Indian Army’s vice chief in September. Looks like Gen. Kapoor is wrong about his theory that his army will have to fight on two fronts. Here’s a third front, General.

Commander of Indian Army’s Eastern Command Lt. Gen. V. K. Singh [LEFT] has found Indian Army Chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor [RIGHT] involved in improper real estate deals. Gen. Singh is the senor most Lt. Gen. in the Indian army, but Gen. Kapoor superseded him in Sept. when he promoted a junior officer to the position of vice army chief. The tussle between the two bigwigs has paralyzed the Indian army.”]

NEW DELHI, Pakistan—An outrageous feud has erupted amongst the top brass of India Army as two top Generals, the chief, General Deepak Kapoor, and his putative successor and the Eastern Command boss, Lt. General V.K. Singh, have locked horns over the issue of corruption scams in the army , reveal the findings of The Daily Mail.

According to the findings of The Daily Mail, the difference between the Indian army Chief General Kapoor and the Chief of Army’s Eastern Command, Lt. General V.K Singh, who is the senior-most Lieutenant General, were emerging for the past few months after the inquiries into a military land scam began. These finding indicate that this tension between the two top general officers of the Indian army reached to the extreme when a Court of Inquiry, convened by the Eastern Army Commander who is based in Fort William in Calcutta, started the proceedings and recommended the sacking of Army Chief General Kapoor’s Principal Staff Officer (PSO) and Military Secretary Lt. Gen. Avadhesh Prakash.

According to the sources in the in the Indian army, the Army Chief General Kapoor has made an abortive attempt to defend his top confidant. Our sources in the Ministry of Defence informed that General Kapoor has officially informed the Defence Minister A.K. Antony that Lt. Gen. V.K Singh was taking an over enthusiastic and “undue interest” in the land scam case of North Bengal

The Daily Mail’s investigations further indicate that the Court of Inquiry, presided over by Commander 4 Corps, based at Tezpur-based, Lt. Gen. K.T. Parnaik, had forwarded its findings to Lt. Gen. Singh. Based on the findings and on consultations with the Judge Advocate General (JAG) in his command, the eastern army commander recommended the “termination of services” of Lt. Gen. Prakash because of his alleged involvement in a land scam case. The army sources say that this situation has paralyzed the entire military establishment as the scuffle between the 2 bigwigs of the Indian Army is rising day by day with Army Chief trying to show his muscles to Commander Eastern Command and resisting JAG branch’s recommendations while Commander Eastern Command sticking to the set rules and procedures.

The Daily Mail’s investigations further reveal that the Indian Defence Minister, who istrying hard to stay away from this controversy over the corruption scam of the Generals of the Indian army, held a confidential meeting with his Army Chief General Kapoor on the eve of Christmas and asked General Kapoor to go easy on the case of his PSO Lt. Gen. Prakash. The sources say that upon this Gen. Kapoor demurred and defended his confidant but failed to convince the Defence Minister.

These investigations further indicate that while the report of the Court of Inquiry was being “studied and analysed”, another probe from the central command brought out “the involvement without blaming” of the military secretary in awarding an Rs 1.7-crore contract to a north Bengal-based realtor, Dilip Aggarwal.

Brigadier (Rtd) M.K Singh, a former Indian army officer and is one way or the other, associated to the state of affairs, upon contacting by The Daily Mail said that it was all indicative of a serious communication gap between Army Headquarters and the Eastern Command, a fully operational authority whose area of responsibility covers the maximum length of international borders. According to Brigadier Singh, after the report of the Court of Inquiry (CoI) was hand-delivered from Calcutta at 9.30 on the morning of December 23, Wednesday, Army Chief Kapoor was summoned for an unscheduled meeting by the Defence Minister in his office and he discussed the matter with General Kapoor for about two hours but general Kapoor remained stick to defend ‘his’ men and the meeting ended with no positive outcome.

Brigadier Singh says that there was cold war going on between general Kaporr and the Fort William boss Lt.. General V.K Singh for the past few months over some personal issues. He says that since Gen. Singh had convened a Court of Inquiry that indicted Lt. Gen. Prakash in the land case. Gen. Kapoor felt that the Eastern Commander did not have the authority to summon the army chief’s principal staff officer and he did so with ill-intentions. He further said that Lt. Gen. V.K. Singh, whose age was caught in a discrepancy, was bypassed earlier for the post of Vice-Chief of the Army staff and somehow blamed General Kapoor for it and that is perhaps from where the row between the two began.

The Daily Mail’s findings reveal that a meeting between Defence Minister and Army Chief General Kapoor was held in the afternoon of December 24 after the minister had returned from Hyderabad. This meeting lasted for 40 minutes. During the meeting the Defence Minister and the army Chief discussed the Eastern Command’s recommendation to “terminate the services” of Prakash over the alleged Rs 300-crore land scam in north Bengal. Sources in the defence Ministry say that Minister Antony sought a summary of the investigation and the recommendations and directed that the military secretary be prevailed upon to put in his papers to avoid further embarrassment to his ministry and the army.

The Daily Mail findings suggest that Gen. Kapoor protested and defended his PSO’s position and pleaded to the Defence Minister that the Eastern Command under Lt. Gen. Singh, who was the convening authority of the court of inquiry that has indicted the military secretary, has taken an “undue interest” in investigating Lt. Gen. Prakash. The military secretary was called as a witness to the court and the eastern commander does not have authority to investigate him or recommend action against one of the eight principal staff officers.

The Daily Mail’s findings further indicate that the army Chief suggested that the recommendation to “terminate the services” in other words, cashier or sack the military secretary should be toned down to “administrative action” that could involve cutting his benefits but will not drape an officer with such a long career in ignominy but the minister did not agree to it and instead conveyed that Lt. Gen. Prakash should be persuaded to put in his papers if he does not do so voluntarily.

These findings indicate that the next day, December 25, Gen. Kapoor visited the defence minister at his residence, ostensibly to wish him on Christmas. Staff at the defence minister’s residence expected the meeting to last about 30 minutes or so. But it ended after 10 minutes in a very cold manner.

The Daily Mail’s investigations reveal that during the time of the first unscheduled meeting, the Defence Minister was not properly briefed about the second investigation in Lucknow by a Major General. That investigation indicted seven officers, including a Major General, in the Ranikhet Kumaon Regimental Centre land scam while Military Secretary Lt. Gen. Prakash is the Colonel Commandant of the Kumaon Regiment. It was a double whammy for the Army Chief General Kapoor and his Principal aide.

The defence analysts here at New Delhi believe that this state of affairs where the Chief of Army Staff is patronizing the officers that have been proved guilty of corruption, the Indian Army is bound suffer badly. They suggest that general Kapoor should either be removed or be asked for a volunteer retirement from the service to save the image and reputation of the institution that is already suffering from big blows of corruption.

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Indian army’s biggest enemy – stress


Pankaj Jha, a medium-level officer in the Indian army, shot himself with a service revolver earlier this month. He was 38.

As per a BBC report there are on average 150 suicides per year in Indian Army


Nobody quite knows why Lt Col Jha pulled the trigger on himself – he had been serving in the military for the past 14 years. According to his mother, Lalita Jha, “there was no tension, no problems. I just can’t understand why he did it”.

He is far from the only soldier to take his own life this year – Capt Sunit Kohli, Maj Sobha Rani, Lt Sushmita Chatterjee… the list goes on.

In fact, the Indian army is losing more soldiers in these incidents than in action against the enemy.

The army has lost 72 soldiers to enemy attacks so far this year. But over 100 soldiers have already taken their lives. In addition, another 32 have been killed by their colleagues.

What is happening to the army?

The million-strong force is clearly under tremendous stress.

Though it has not fought a full-blown war in decades, the force is bogged down in fighting domestic insurgencies, guarding restive borders and sometimes quelling civilian rioting.

Most experts attribute the growing stress to low morale, bad service conditions, lack of adequate home leave, unattractive pay and a communication gap with superiors.

Retired Maj Gen Afsar Karim, who has fought three wars, says that the stress may be high among soldiers because of lack of leave.

“The army is involved in a [difficult] long running internal security environment. There is lack of rest and they get very little leave. Lack of leave increases his stress,” he says.

“Soldiers get angry when they are denied leave and their officers themselves take time off. It triggers a reaction, they are well armed and they take their own lives.”

Then there is the question of what many say is low pay – starting salaries in many jobs in middle-class India are double that of a new soldier, and for many of them the army no longer holds out the promise of a good life.

Retired Maj Gen Karim suspects that with the increase in numbers of soldiers, cohesiveness is being eroded.

“In our times, we used to know the names of our soldiers, where they came from. We used to meet their families, but now the army has expanded manifold and this cohesiveness is gone,” he says.

Frayed nerves

The army says it is worried about this disconcerting trend.

Spokesman Col SK Sakhuja says soldiers kill each other when one of them perceives that they are being harassed by superiors or when they have heated arguments among themselves.

”We have strengthened formal and informal interaction between soldiers and officers. Leave policy, especially for soldiers posted in difficult areas, has been liberalised so that a soldier can go home to sort out his domestic problems,” he says.

“Also, counselling by officers, psychiatrics and religious teachers is being undertaken.”

Delhi-based psychiatrist Achal Bhagat says a combination of stress and high alcohol consumption could lead to frayed nerves.
What is needed is confidential counselling, creating a support system for the soldiers working in adverse conditions,” he says.

The army is confident that this is a “testing time” for the force and it will pass.

“Our foundations are strong,” says Col Sakhuja.

The problem is that there is not enough clarity still on what precisely is causing these soldier deaths.

Lalita Jha, mother of Pankaj Jha, hopes that she will find out more about her son’s suicide.

“I am sure the army will look into the matter and find out what happened,” she says.

Before more soldiers take their lives, one hopes.

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CIA asked us to eliminate Dr. A Q Khan: Blackwater chief


LAHORE: In a stunning revelation, US private security service agency, Blackwater’s founder, Erik Prince, has claimed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had asked the agency to kill Pakistani nuclear scientist, A Q Khan.

In an interview with Vanity Fair, Prince said the CIA had asked the Blackwater to eliminate Khan, however, authorities in Washington “chose not to pull the trigger.”

“Dr Khan’s inclusion in the target list would suggest that the assassination effort was broader than has previously been acknowledged,” Prince said.

Prince has also admitted to Blackwater’s participation in some of the CIA’s most sensitive operations, including raids on suspected militants in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Prince said Blackwater’s, which now known as Xe Worldwide Services, role changed remarkably after its officials started providing security cover to CIA operatives in the field.

Raids on suspected insurgents in Iraq, known as “snatch and grab” operations, were mostly carried out during nights between 2004 and 2006.