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Turkey's True Colors?

Turkey Expels Israeli Ambassador, Severs Military Ties & Warns Of Further Sanctions Although Palmer Report Rules That Israel's Naval Blockade Of Gaza Is Legal Under International Law

Israeli Cabinet Split Over Whether Israel Should Have Apologized To Turkey Over Deaths of Nine Turks Killed While attacking Israeli Commandos

IsraCast Assessment: Turkey's Islamist Regime Appears Bent On Restoring Influence Of Despotic Ottoman Empire After Being Rejected By European Union

 Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan and his Islamist regime is not taking No for an answer - the Turks have rejected the Palmer Report's finding that Israel's naval blockade of Gaza is legal. Ankara is now planning to go to the International Court of Justice in the Hague to contest the inquiry into the operation by Israeli naval commandos to prevent the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara and other ships from breaking Israel's legal blockade.Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has also declared that Israel will pay by losing Turkey's friendship as well as suffering Turkish sanctions. Analyst David Essing is of the view the Mavi Marmara, like pirate ships of the past, sailed under false colors to Gaza and the affair has now revealed where Turkey is now headed.

 Israel is now bearing the brunt of Turkey's fury over being rejected by the European Union after European leaders finally awakened to the Islamist threat inside their borders. In response, Turkey's Islamist regime is now bent on augmenting its power and prestige within the region. Israel is its scapegoat. It began with Erdogan's unbridled verbal attack on Israel's President Shimon Peres after the IDF was sent into Gaza to suppress the relentless Palestinian rocketing of Israeli civilians in 2008. At their face-to-face showdown in Davos, Peres retorted: 'What would you do if your civilians were being rocketed day and night?' Well just ask the Kurds whose villages are being bombed indiscriminately by Turkish fighter jets. Or just ask the Greek Cypriots who were brutally expelled from their homes in northern Cyprus by an invasion of the Turkish army in 1974.

Peace activist on the 'Marmara'

As for the Palmer report, it should not have come as a surprise that it ruled Israel's blockade of Gaza is legal under international law: 'Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza- the naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law'. Under these circumstances, the Turkish flotilla attempt to run the blockade was found to be 'reckless'. And in this vein: 'There exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers particularly IHH (The Turkish aid organization that is known to support terror groups). In Jerusalem, this part of the report came as no surprise. Not only Israeli experts but also prominent international jurists had stated categorically there was no question about the legality of the blockade in light of the Palestinian rocketing from Gaza. It is being viewed as a diplomatic vindication of Israel despite some headlines in the international media such as the BBC for example: 'Palmer Report Condemns Israel's Excessive Use of Force!' The Palmer Report did refer to 'Forensic evidence showing that most of the deceased were shot multiple times, including in the back, or at close range has not been adequately accounted for in the material presented by Israel'. The inquiry recommended that Israel make 'an appropriate statement of regret and pay compensation', there was no mention of an official apology as demanded by Ankara.

But it would appear that after exonerating Israel on the legality of Israel's naval blockade, the Palmer Report had to even the score. The inquiry found that the Israeli commandos who descended by ropes from a helicopter on to the deck of the Mavi Marmara faced significant, organized and violent resistance that included knives, iron bars, staves and chains and possibly firearms. Two IDF soldiers suffered gunshot wounds, seven others were wounded by passengers, some seriously. Three of the soldiers were overpowered as they descended from the first helicopter and forced down below the deck of the Marmara. This was documented by the Palmer report that went on to draw a questionable conclusion from the mayhem that took place on the Marmara, after some of the peace activists resisted what amounted to a legal Israeli operation to board the vessel. The inquiry concluded: 'Forensic evidence showing that most of the deceased were shot multiple times, including in the back, or at close range range, has not been adequately accounted for in the material presented by Israel'. Therefore, the report found that Israel had used 'excessive and unreasonable force'.

Consider this: the IDF soldiers who first slid down the 'fast ropes' were armed with paint guns that were considered sufficient to deter 'peace activists', but when they landed on deck they had to fight for their lives using live ammunition. Take for example the fact that the Palmer report said two of the soldiers suffered from gunshot wounds while several others had been stabbed. If they had actually been killed would this have persuaded the Palmer investigators that the Israeli troops had been in a life threatening situation? Or the fact, that three had been dragged prisoner below deck and had to be rescued by their comrades, who serious would that be in the eyes of the security experts. Moreover, video tape reveals there was a bloody, hand-to-hand battle being waged on deck with some of the activists indeed being shot at close range. If the Israelis were trigger happy would they have waited to get within dangerous close range. This also also explains how in such a donnybrook some of the activists were shot in the back or suffered multiple wounds. And if the commandos had come with automatic guns blazing away from the outset is it reasonable to assume that three of their number would have been kidnapped and only nine activists killed? And it should be noted that on the other ships in the flotilla where the activists did not resist there were no casualties at all.

The fact is that the Turkish government did nothing to prevent the Turkish vessel from illegally trying to break the legitimate blockade but then demands that Israel apologize. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has expressed 'regret' and agreed to pay compensation as recommended by the Palmer Report. But the PM and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberaman and Cabinet Minister Moshe Yaalon, who tried to negotiate a solution with the Turks, have all said the government would not apologize for IDF soldiers defending themselves while carrying out a lawful act. However, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Cabinet Minister Dan Meridor contended that Israel should swallow her pride and make the apology, in order to try and salvage her important ties with Turkey. In light of developments, it appears that Islamist Turkey, a key ally of Syria until the recent upheaval, and still a firm friend of Iran has taken a strategic decision to turn a hostile shoulder to the Jewish state. Step by step, the Islamist regime is taking off the gloves and Israel must take this into her strategic planning. The outlook is bleak if Erdogan seeks a return to the 'glory' of the Ottoman Empire.

At this stage, the Turkish PM and his officials, are posing as the new moralists of the Middle East, while adamantly refusing to acknowledge Turkey's genocide of the Armenians in 1917. Israeli governments persistently refused to call upon Ankara to acknowledge their responsibility in order not to impair relations with Turkey. This is particularly galling today in light of Turkey's decision to make Israel her scapegoat in order to enhance her image in the Muslim world.

The Armenian Genocide

The Armenian genocide refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction (genocide) of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was implemented through wholesale massacres and deportations, with the deportations consisting of forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees. The total number of resulting Armenian deaths is generally held to have been between one and one and a half million.

 The atrocities committed against the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire during W.W.I. are called the Armenian Genocide. Genocide is the organized killing of a people for the express purpose of putting an end to their collective existence. Because of its scope, genocide requires central planning and a machinery to implement it. This makes genocide the quintessential state crime, as only a government has the resources to carry out such a scheme of destruction. The Armenian Genocide was centrally planned and administered by the Turkish government against the entire Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. It was carried out during W.W.I. between the years 1915 and 1918.

The Armenian people was subjected to deportation, expropriation, abduction, torture, massacre, and starvation. The great bulk of the Armenian population was forcibly removed from Armenia and Anatolia to Syria, where the vast majority was sent into the desert to die of thirst and hunger. Large numbers of Armenians were methodically massacred throughout the Ottoman Empire. Women and children were abducted and horribly abused. The entire wealth of the Armenian people was expropriated. After only a little more than a year of calm at the end of W.W.I., the atrocities were renewed between 1920 and 1923, and the remaining Armenians were subjected to further massacres and expulsions. In 1915, thirty-three years before THE UN Genocide Convention was adopted, the Armenian Genocide was condemned by the international community as a crime against humanity.

How many people died in the Armenian Genocide?

 It is estimated that one and a half million Armenians perished between 1915 and 1923. There were an estimated two million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire on the eve of W.W.I. Well over a million were deported in 1915. Hundreds of thousands were butchered outright. Many others died of starvation, exhaustion, and epidemics which ravaged the concentration camps. Among the Armenians living along the periphery of the Ottoman Empire many at first escaped the fate of their countrymen in the central provinces of Turkey. Tens of thousands in the east fled to the Russian border to lead a precarious existence as refugees. The majority of the Armenians in Constantinople, the capital city, were spared deportation.

In 1918, however, the Young Turk regime took the war into the Caucasus, where approximately 1,800,000 Armenians lived under Russian dominion. Ottoman forces advancing through East Armenia and Azerbaijan here too engaged in systematic massacres. The expulsions and massacres carried by the Nationalist Turks between 1920 and 1922 added tens of thousands of more victims. By 1923 the entire landmass of Asia Minor and historic West Armenia had been expunged of its Armenian population. The destruction of the Armenian communities in this part of the world was total.

Who was responsible for the Armenian Genocide?

 The decision to carry out a genocide against the Armenian people was made by the political party in power in the Ottoman Empire. This was the Committee of Union and Progress , popularly known as the Young Turks. Three figures from the CUP controlled the government; Mehmet Talaat, Minister of the Interior in 1915 and Grand Vizier (Prime Minister) in 1917; Ismail Enver, Minister of War; Ahmed Jemal, Minister of the Marine and Military Governor of Syria. This Young Turk triumvirate relied on other members of the CUP appointed to high government posts and assigned to military commands to carry out the Armenian Genocide. In addition to the Ministry of War and the Ministry of the Interior, the Young Turks also relied on a newly-created secret outfit which they manned with convicts and irregular troops, called the Special Organization (Teshkilati Mahsusa). Its primary function was the carrying out of the mass slaughter of the deported Armenians. In charge of the Special Organization was Behaeddin Shakir, a medical doctor. Moreover, ideologists such as Zia Gokalp propagandized through the media on behalf of the CUP by promoting Pan-Turanism, the creation of a new empire stretching from Anatolia into Central Asia whose population would be exclusively Turkic. These concepts justified and popularized the secret CUP plans to liquidate the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire.

The Young Turk conspirators, other leading figures of the wartime Ottoman government, members of the CUP Central Committee, and many provincial administrators responsible for atrocities against the Armenians were indicted for their crimes at the end of the war. The main culprits evaded justice by fleeing the country. Even so, they were tried in absentia and found guilty of capital crimes. The massacres, expulsions, and further mistreatment of the Armenians between 1920 and 1923 were carried by the Turkish Nationalists, who represented a new political movement opposed to the Young Turks, but who shared a common ideology of ethnic exclusivity.

Source: Armenian National Institute, Inc.

David Essing

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