By Gene Rossides
Turkey is still strongly anti-American and continues to be a problem in the region for U.S. interests. Last month a new Turkish film “Valley of the Wolves: Iraq,” a violently anti-American film was released to record breaking audiences in Turkey.
The film fictionalizes the arrest by U.S. military authorities on July 4, 2003 of eleven members of a Turkish military special squad illegally in the Kurdish area of northern Iraq in 2003. At the time newspaper accounts stated that they were smuggling arms to groups opposing the Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan and were suspected of being in Iraqi Kurdistan to assassinate a Kurdish leader. The Kurds are key allies of the U.S. in Iraq.
Turkey at that time was also threatening to invade northern Iraq to seek Turkish Kurds who were allegedly members of the PKK, a Kurdish rebel group seeking political and human rights and autonomy for the 20% Kurdish minority in Turkey.
The arrests of the 11 Turkish military illegally in Iraq occurred 3 months after the Turkish government miscalculated in negotiations with the U.S. for transit rights for the U.S. 4th Infantry Division to invade Iraq from the north. The U.S., through then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, had shockingly offered Turkey $26 billion for such transit rights. Prime Minister Erdogan said the offer of $26 billion “was not good enough” and sought $6 billion more. Turkey’s Parliament voted no on March 1, 2003. Turkey then continued to seek $6 billion more. The U.S. military overruled Wolfowitz and said they did not need Turkey to defeat Saddam Hussein and proved it.
Turkey’s negotiating tactics at that time to get $6 billion more for its cooperation were described by an American negotiator in the lead New York Times article (2-20-03, at A1; col.6) as “extortion in the name of alliance.”
“Valley of the Wolves: Iraq” cost $10 million which is the largest budget in Turkish film history. It has an international cast which includes Hollywood’s Billy Zane, who plays an American commander who the New York Times (2-14-06; A4; col.3) writes is depicted as “a sociopath, killing people without a second’s thought and claiming he is doing God’s will…. Other scenes show ruthless marines killing Iraqis and soldiers mistreating inmates at Abu Ghail prison, as well as an American Jewish surgeon, played by Gary Busey, who takes what look like kidneys from inmates during surgery to New York, London and Israel.”
The film also opened last month in Europe where the Washington Post (2-14-06; A12;col.2) reported “the U.S. Army issued a notice warning U.S. service members to stay away from affected multiplexes and ‘to avoid getting into discussions about the movie with people you don’t know.’”
Audiences throughout Turkey cheer the film’s anti-U.S. message. The Washington Times (2-15-06; A12; col.1) wrote:
“ ‘What this film shows is that the Americans won’t always have it their own way,’ said Serdar Yagei, a student outside a theatre in central Istanbul.
Minutes earlier, he had been one of many in the audience who stood up and cheered when the film’s dour hero, Turkish agent Polat Alemdar, tracked down and killed a villainous U.S. Army officer who said he was guided by God.”
The Prime Minister’s wife, Emine Erdogan, praised the film, stating at a gala performance: “I feel so proud of them all.” And the leader of the Turkish parliament, Bulent Arine, praised its “realism.”
The Washington Times reported that:
“a senior Washington official interviewed by the Turkish daily Milliyet expressed concern about its success in a secular Muslim country…. ‘Can you imagine the first lady or the head of the House of Representatives going to the gala performance of a film that could incite anti-Turkish feeling among Americans?’ the official asked.”
In effect we have Turkish filmmakers turning an illegal Turkish military special forces mission against U.S. allies, the Kurds in northern Iraq, into a vicious anti-American film which is praised by the Turkish government.
The U.S. failed to conduct a thorough review of U.S. policy toward Turkey following Turkey’s refusal on March 1, 2003 to allow the U.S. to use bases in Turkey to open a northern front against Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship. At that time, Turkey proponents, such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith and its current paid foreign agents former Congressmen Bob Livingston and Steve Solarz, worked hard to downplay Turkey’s failure to help the U.S. and to restore the relationship to its pre- March 1, 2003 status.
The U.S. should now, in its own best interests conduct a full and critical review of U.S. policy towards Turkey.
Turkey’s actions in 2003 proved she is not a reliable ally when it counted most. On this point the issue is not whether one approved or disapproved of the war against Saddam Hussein.
Further the fact that we easily and quickly defeated Saddam Hussein’s forces and toppled his government without Turkey’s help also proved that Turkey is of minimal strategic value to the U.S.
It is also important to remember that during the Cold War, Turkey actively aided the Soviet military on several occasions to the serious detriment of the U.S.
Turkey’s traitorous actions and its virulent anti-American and anti-Semitic attitudes warrant a wholesale review of U.S. policy towards Turkey NOW. (See Wall Street Journal 2-16-05; A14; col.3, editorial page article, “The Sick Man of Europe- Again” by Robert L. Pollock, senior editorial writer, and noted journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave’s article “Cold Turkey” in the Washington Times; 3-8-05; A17; col.1.) The time is long overdue for such a review in the interests of the U.S.
The “Valley of the Wolves: Iraq” should serve as a forceful wake-up call for the White House, Congress, the media and the academic community and think tanks, that Turkey can never be considered a reliable ally.
And Turkey is simply not as important to U.S. interests strategically, politically or economically as its handful of proponents and paid lobbyists contend.
What course of action should the U.S. take now regarding Turkey?
First, the U.S. should stop the double standard on the application of the rule of law to Turkey and the appeasement of Turkey. That means the U.S. should publicly and forcefully:
(1) call for the immediate removal of Turkey’s 40,000 illegal occupation troops from Cyprus. The current U.S. position that removal of the troops is part of the negotiations puts the U.S. in the position of condoning Turkey’s invasion of and aggression against Cyprus. We should state to Turkey what we stated to Iraq following her aggression against Kuwait—get out of Kuwait;
(2) call for the immediate removal of Turkey’s 120,000 Turkish colonists who are illegally in Cyprus in violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949;
(3) state that the maritime boundary between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean has been long-settled by international treaties; and
(4) call for full protection of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the reopening of the Halki Patriarchal Theological School illegal closed in 1971, and the return of church properties illegally taken by the Turkish government.
Freedom House calls Turkey a partial democracy. The U.S. should also be pressuring Turkey to achieve full democracy by:
(1) placing its military and the military budget under civilian control;
(2) granting full political and human rights to all its citizens, including its 20% Kurdish minority; and
(3) providing full religious freedom for the Eastern Orthodox Christian religion, the Jewish religion and others.
The U.S. should publicly support recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Time to Act
Call and write to President Bush, your Representative and your 2 Senators and ask them to support a critical review of U.S. policy towards Turkey and tell them about the Turkish film “Valley of the Wolves: Iraq” and its violently anti-American theme praised by the Turkish Prime Minister’s wife and the head of the Turkish Parliament.
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Tel.: 202-456-1111 (Comments)
202-456-1414 (Main Switchboard)
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
(202)-224-3121 (general number)
Link to find your Representative:
Washington, DC 20510
Link to find your Senators:
You can make a difference.
*** Gene Rossides is President of the American Hellenic Institute and former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury