[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com]
Lightning paced thriller writer
of International Intrigue
National Bestselling Author

Why Turkey?
by Allan Topol, [IMAGE]2003


Photo Courtesy: Julie Zitin
[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com] A group of Islamic extremists whose objective is another round of the Crusades eight hundred years later struck hard at Turkey. The first wave of fury was unleashed at Jewish targets; the second at British. Far more Muslims died in both than Christians or Jews.

Some politicians have been scratching their heads, trying to figure out why Turkey was the target. Here, after all, was a Muslim country. And on top of that, new Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan began his career in a pro Islamic group. He was elected on a platform that promised movement in the theocratic Islamic direction to the consternation of Turkish secularists and the army.

Even more important, Erdogan has in fact pursued the approach he promised. He has catered to Islamic extremists by releasing a hundred and thirty Hezbollah militants form jail. Despite a long, deep and abiding friendship between the United States and Turkey, he refused to let the American troops use Turkey to launch a second front in the Iraqi war. The cost to the United States in terms of time and casualties was significant.

For years, Israel and Turkey have enjoyed close military and intelligence ties, cooperating against common enemies. Yet, Erdogan refused to permit Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to visit Ankara early this month.

With all of this, Erdogan may be throwing up his hands and wailing to the Islamic extremists, “Why did you attack my country?”

The answer in part, Mr. Prime Minster, is that precisely because you have done these things, you have made your country more vulnerable. By refusing to join in the battle against terror, you signaled a weakness that the terrorists were eager to exploit. You showed that your country was on the fence between the pro Islamic terrorists and those battling them. The attacks were meant to move Turkey toward the extremists’ side.

To be sure, the logic is counterintuitive, but it’s high time we realize that we are dealing with people who do not see the world the way we do.

For centuries Turkey has been a unique and in many ways wonderful place—intellectually as well as geographically. It has been at the cross roads between Europe and the Middle East.

It has been a member of NATO and staunch ally of the United States. Economically, it trades with Europe and is seeking EU membership. Most important, it has a democratic secular republic. Religious tolerance as well as democracy have been the prevailing norm. Other than Israel, that cannot be said for another country in that part of the world. In that spirit of tolerance, Erdogan reached out to the Jewish community after the attack. But the second attack against British targets demonstrated, as did the events of nine eleven, that this is not a war of Muslims versus Jews. It is a battle being waged by a well armed, heavily financed group of Islamic extremists against the infidel, Christians as well as Jews.

So where does Turkey go from here?

One would hope Erdogan sees this as a wake up call, albeit a costly one. Under that scenario, he will now join the United States in the war against terror in order to pursue the Turkish way of life. Turkey will now do more to assist the United States in its war in Iraq.

Everyone recognizes that the Kurdish issue imposes constraints on Turkey’s activities. Even if the Turks wanted to send troops to Iraq, which is an on again off again proposition, the United States may not want them for fear of our complicating our relationship with the Kurds in Northern Iraq. On the other hand, military cooperation means far more than sending troops, and Erdogan should be open to those ideas.

At the same time, Turkey is entitled to greater support from the Western European countries than it has received in the past. Too often Turkish pleas for extradition of terror suspects have fallen on deaf ears. Among some in European capitals, Turkey’s close relationship with the United States made it suspect. Well the time has now come to reach out a hand to the embattled Erdogan if he wishes to become a full partner in the struggle against extreme Islamics responsible for the wave of terror.

But perhaps he won’t take his country in that direction at all. Instead, hunker down and continue what he was doing.

Should that occur, the Turkish army will not stand by and watch the disintegration of their country. On other occasions they have temporarily deposed Islamic governments in Turkey. After the recent attacks, the army was working closely with the police to find the perpetrators. If Erdogan does not act firmly, his term is likely to end prematurely.

There may be some extremists who view Turkey as a battleground in their New Crusade. You can bet the Turkish army won’t let it happen.