Congress has 15 days to object to the sale. If it does not, the deal can be consummated without further consultation.Congress now has a week or so to object to the sale. What are the chances we'll hear from them?
I have no idea whether the American people are financing this particular deal the same way that the Israeli military is financed by future Americans - but given the unholy alliance that we have been documenting between Israel, Turkey and the US, I wouldn't be surprised. Historically, approximately 80% of military sales to Turkey have been paid for by the American taxpayer.
The Kurds are furious, of course, given that the F-16s have historically been used to bomb them back to the stone age, to quote Armitage (or whoever).
A PKK ceasefire was supposed to go into effect on the first of this month, but didn't last very long. My Kurdish friends tell me that it will never happen because the Turkish DeepState and the American Military Industrial Complex are scared of peace. That wouldn't surprise me. Peace isn't very profitable.
Erdogan is meeting Bush this week in DC, last week, The Economist reported:
In Washington, Turkey's threats to carry its battle against Kurdish PKK fighters into northern Iraq are also concentrating official minds. Turkey has long demanded that America fulfil its pledges to act against some 5,000 PKK fighters based in the Kurdish-controlled enclave. The Americans cannot open a second front when their forces are stretched in the rest of Iraq. But they won't let Turkey do the job, because such an intervention would destabilise the only peaceful part of the country.Eric Edelman is wrapped up in Sibel's story, not surprisingly, having been an ambassador to Turkey (see here, here and here) - after his stint in Turkey, he was recess appointed into Feith's position as the number 3 in the Pentagon. He was originally in Cheney's office.
The Americans' stance is the biggest source of their new unpopularity in Turkey. With every new casualty at the PKK's hands, pressure increases on the government to pursue the rebels into Iraq. Should they do it, they may find themselves fighting not only the Kurds, but the Americans as well. Turkey's EU ambitions, once the best guarantee against any such intervention, can no longer be counted on.
On the American side the big reforms in Turkey, spurred mainly by Brussels, are starting to sink in. “For many years, this relationship [was conducted] between security elites”, observed Eric Edelman, now the number three in the Pentagon, and formerly America's ambassador in Ankara, adding, in an interview with a Turkish newspaper, Radikal, that “now, with a more democratic Turkey, you have to deal not just with elites but also with a broader public opinion.”
To demonstrate goodwill, the Bush administration has appointed a retired general, Joseph Ralston, as its “PKK co-ordinator”. But the general's role remains vague, and his assertion that military action against the rebels was “the last option” has not helped. “Most Turks see Ralston as window-dressing, as an attempt to buy time,” says Omer Taspinar, of the Brookings Institution. After three decades of fighting the rebels, many Turkish officials privately concede that they cannot win by military means alone. An amnesty that would allow PKK fighters to return home without risking prosecution would do much to help. So would lowering the 10% threshold for parliamentary seats that has kept out nationalist Kurds so far. The lack of representation has created a vacuum that is being filled by Islamic radicals in the mainly Kurdish provinces."
Joseph Ralston is also a 'curious' choice to be “PKK co-ordinator” - and he has a 'vague' role according to The Economist. From Wikipedia:
"Joseph W. Ralston was a general of the United States Air Force. According to several sources it was Ralston who, acting on instructions from the Clinton Administration, warned the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence(ISI) who, in turn, warned al Qaeda of an impending cruise missile strike on August 20, 1998 allowing Usama bin Laden to escape."Ralston is a vice-chairman at The Cohen Group with Marc Grossman. The Cohen Group is heavily implicated in the Sibel affair, and is one of the primary players in all things ATC. Ralston also happens to be on the board at Lockheed Martin.
Mizgîn at Rastibini (who has been doing great work on this story) writes:
With this in mind, you should ask yourself what, exactly, General Ralston is coordinating. We all know the real deal, don't we? We all know who have been the targets of those F-16's in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan.Mizgîn also writes via email:
So what is it that Ralston is actually "coordinating" in Ankara? Is this why there is a rejection of the PKK ceasefire, for the sake of corporate profits? Do we believe that the American administration was totally unaware of Ralston's current status as a board member of Lockheed Martin when it appointed him as "PKK coordinator" to Turkey?Mizgîn has a point. Or two. or three.
How could the administration be unaware of Ralston's position? And the media always refers to Ralston as a former general, never as an executive member of a major American defense contractor. It all spells "Conflict of Interest" in big, neon letters.
There's one interesting thing that Mizgîn notes - among all of Grossman's other interests, he has taken a job for a dodgy Turkish company called Ihlas Holding earning $1.2m per annum:
"The odd thing is that when I checked around for this news in English, I couldn't find a thing about it. Not a single, English word on it. Why is that? What are they trying to hide?Great work, Mizgîn. Check out
I wonder about it because you would think that becoming a consultant for one of Turkey's largest business concerns would be something for Grossman to crow about, especially given that he's a vice-chairman of The Cohen Group, which is nothing but a bunch of former generals, diplomats, and assorted bureaucrats who advise businesses in the global market and fix problems for them. . . kind of like an American version of ASAM (see yesterday's post for more on ASAM).
After all, The Cohen Group's chairman and CEO, former Defense Secretary William Cohen, took the time to publicly acknowledge his other vice-chairman's appointment as the US "special envoy" to advise Turkey on the PKK. Yeah, I'm talking about Joe Ralston.
But Grossman never got the same public pat-on-the-back from the boss over his job with Ihlas. Isn't this another feather in his cap? Isn't this another illustrious notation on his resume? He's not even blowing his own horn about it.
Isn't it fascinating about all the good dirt that never makes it into the American media? Again, why is that?
I wonder what Sibel Edmonds would say?"
(updated to reflect Mizgîn's actual gender! apologies)
update, from a new article by Mizgîn:
" The rejection of a political settlement was echoed by the US PKK coordinator, Joseph Ralston, in Ankara:“Days before the declaration of the truce, the United States publicly said that a PKK cease-fire would have little value and that the terrorist group instead should lay down its arms and renounce violence. 'Cease-fire sort of implies an act that is taken between two states, two actors, to do that. And I don't want to confer that kind of status on the PKK by saying a cease-fire,' Joseph Ralston, the newly appointed U.S. special envoy for countering the PKK, said here last Wednesday.”"