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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Turkey and the Next Blockade Run

Turkey is a presence that we all, and not just Israel, must confront. On the 9th of January 2011 I published on this blog ten separate articles about Turkey, modern and ancient. 

Byzantium was founded in the 7th Century BCE by Greek colonists and re-founded by Constantine 1st early in the (4th CE. Beginning with the fall of Rome, Constantinople became the world’s largest city and the center of the Byzantine Empire.  With the expansion of Christianity it also became the center from which it consolidated its power and expanded into Europe and elsewhere. It remained the wealthiest city in Europe for a thousand years. In 1453 it was over-run by the Ottoman Turks led by Sultan Mehmed II; sacked and pillaged over three days its destruction was reminiscent of an earlier orgy of violation, devastation and death that occurred when it was captured in the First Crusade.  Under the Turks it was at the heart of the Slave trade and again grew in wealth and power.

What had been the Eastern Roman (Christian) Empire became the Ottoman (Muslim) Empire.  It can be argued that the shock that accompanied the fall of Christian Byzantium ushered in the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation; the rush to Empire of the Western European States and thus, the Western Colonial era. 

Modern Turkey was founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1922.

It is ironic, given liberal bleating around Western colonial crimes, that the decline of an Islamic Imperial power heralded the ending of the Wests era of colonialism but that it receives no attention other than the sanitized, romanticized Hollywood approach.  Greece was the first nation to gain independence from a major Imperial power. It declared war on the Ottomans in 1821.  The last to gain independence, another Islamic colony subject to ethnic discrimination and persecution, was Israel in 1948. Note: This colonization movement excludes all of the African nations (excepting Egypt, Ethiopia, Liberia and South Africa) that gained their independence from colonial masters in the last half century.  Spain and Portugal lost their main colonies in South America early in the nineteenth century but by then they were declining powers.

Turkey today is a nation with a large ethnically diverse population (over 70,000,000 people).

Turkey is a deeply intolerant society and any book shop will have a virtual cornucopia of racist and Antisemitic literature on open display. Theological hatred must inevitably metastasize. It may take generations but its essential message feeds muscular superiority and religious bigotry.  Turkey has persecuted the Kurds (between fifteen and twenty five million live in Turkey), destroying thousands of villages in its war against them and has refused to recognize that it committed genocide against its Christian Armenian subjects in 1895-96 and 1915-1917.  Turkey has a large Diaspora in Europe (six million plus) and is on record as demanding that its people not integrate into the Christian societies in which they live. Turkish Foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu in late November 2010 held meetings with journalists and academics in which he repeatedly laid out his vision for Turkey to become a dominant force in the Middle East.  Davutoglu, a professor of international relations and the ruling parties’ principal ideologue stated that “Israel will disappear as an Independent Country.”

With this background we can look at the current troubles that Israel is experiencing with its former colonial master.

Recent articles point to Turkey being Israel’s third largest export market with some $500mil of exports out of total Israeli exports in 2010 of $80 billion but more about that at the end.

In 2010 Turkey funded a flotilla of ships to break the blockade of Gaza in order to precipitate an international confrontation with Israel. Let us be clear on one thing – when all the heart rending words of sympathy are dispensed with, Gaza (West Palestine) is a neo-Nazi state that has a constitution for all to see.  It is not ‘Anti Zionist,’ it is anti Jewish.  Its words alone would be a Casus Beli for war between Gaza and any other nation on earth if they were replicated between Gaza (West Palestine) and any other nation.

Maritime law is clear about national sovereignty and its limitations. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea stipulates the following:

Article 3
“Every State has the right to establish the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles, measured from baselines determined in accordance with this Convention”.

Article 11 (Ports) states that “For the purpose of delimiting the territorial sea, the outermost permanent harbour works which form an integral part of the harbour system are regarded as forming part of the coast”.

Article 17 Right of innocent passage:
Subject to this Convention, ships of all States, whether coastal or land-locked, enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea.

Article 19 Meaning of innocent passage
1. Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State. Such passage shall take place in conformity with this Convention and with other rules of international law.
2. Passage of a foreign ship shall be considered to be prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State if in the territorial sea it engages in any of the following activities:
(a) any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the coastal State, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;
(d) any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defense or security of the coastal State;

Article 25 Rights of protection of the coastal State
1. The coastal State may take the necessary steps in its territorial sea to prevent passage which is not innocent.

There have been vast amounts of professional opinion given as to whether Israel’s blockade of Gaza is legal and whether the taking of the Mava Marmara was a war crime (centered on whether or not Israel used disproportionate force to capture the ship).

On the ship of hate (the Mavi Marmara) the activists cried out: “heiber heiber al-Yahud Jish Mohammad sa-yaud”—the Muslim call for the destruction of Jews.  Nordin Sirin, one of the leaders of the Flotilla published these words in a Turkish article titled: “God is Great, This is the Time to Destroy Israel.” 

West Palestine – Gaza has stated unambiguously that it supports the extermination of the Jewish People. The bottom line will always be that Israel is at war with Gaza and those ships were running the blockade in support of Gaza.

Maritime law is clear that an independent state has the right to decide who enters and who leaves its ports.  When those ships represent a clear threat to the relationship between states then it may prevent them from using its facilities for sailing from its territory.

Turkey, by aligning itself with West Palestine is in essence supporting a nation that is at war with Israel.  It questions Israel’s right to sovereignty.  

Turkish Cyprus came into being as a result of Turkish military aggression and is sustained by military conquest and colonial transfers of ethnic Turkish Muslims from Turkey itself.  Muslim Turkey has refused to recognize Christian Cyprus and its independence.  Given this Imperial attitude by the Turkish political elite it is hardly surprising that indignation with Israel was precipitated by the signing of an international maritime agreement between Israel and Cyprus.

The demarcation of maritime territorial exploration rights between the two sovereign nations is a right between independent nation states. Any challenge to that right is a challenge to the sovereignty of both states, not just Israel.  Turkey demanded that Israel cancel the territorial treaty between the nations because it was a challenge to Turkey’s renascent regional interests. This, like the Mari Marmara incident tells us much about the way Turkey views itself.

Be clear that Turkey has the right to refuse any ship engaged in hostile activity passage from its shores.

Israel’s trade with Turkey is a side issue.  Anyone sailing on a ship whose aim it is to break the blockade of Gaza is actively supporting a war against Jews and not just Israel.  If this makes those sailing, next time round, prisoners of war (including those Jewish Uncle Toms that sail with her) then any who sail under the guise of diplomatic immunity lose that diplomatic immunity because during war time, free passage is conditioned on not taking sides.  Israel should state clearly at the UN and wherever else possible that the next flotilla to sail from the shores of Turkey will be regarded as being engaged in an act of war.  Diplomatic relations between Israel and Turkey will be severed.  And Israel will formally request that NATO investigate.

An ethical foreign policy requires Israel to look further afield than its own recent troubled history to the history of its interlocutors.  Peaceful relations between nations are dependent on the good faith that exists between them.  No such faith has ever existed between Turkey and Israel in spite of their former commercial relationship.  

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