Monthly Archives: March 2011

Libya Harekatıyla Birlikte Türkiye Batı’ya “Geri Döndü”

BARIN KAYAOĞLU

31 Mart 2011

[Click here for the English version of this article.]

Başbakan Erdoğan’ın, NATO’nun Libya’ya harekat düzenlemesine karşı çıkmasının üzerinden 10 gün geçti ya da geçmedi. Başbakan’ın Batı ülkelerine eleştirilerinin odağında özellikle Fransa’nın Libya’nın petrol ve doğal gaz kaynaklarına el atmak için uluslararası toplumu harekete geçirmeye çalıştığı yönündeki inancı vardı. Hatta Başbakan Fransa’ya karşı o kadar kızgındı ki – aslında hiç de diplomatik olmayan bir şekilde – İstiklal Marşı’nın “medeniyet dediğin tek dişi kalmış canavar” dizelerini okudu.

Cumhurbaşkanı Sarkozy ve Başbakan Erdoğan (Resim: ntvmsnbc.com)

Ancak daha sonra Ankara beş savaş gemisi ve bir denizaltıdan oluşan bir filoyu Muammer Kaddafi’ye karşı uygulanan silah ambargosuna katkı sağlamak üzere görevlendirdiğini 23 Mart’ta açıkladı. Bundan iki gün sonra da Amerikan güçleri Libya’daki operasyonlarını bitirdikten sonra NATO ittifakının harekata komuta etmesine izin verdi.

Türkiye’nin ani dönüşü ne şekilde izah edilebilir? Daha da önemlisi, son yıllarda Batılıların sıkça dile getirdikleri Türkiye’nin “Doğu’ya kayması” endişelerinin aksine, Ankara Batı’ya “geri dönüyor mu”?

Hem evet ve hem de hayır.

Şurası kesin: Türk deniz gücünün Kaddafi’ye karşı uygulanan ambargoda görev almasıyla Türk Hava Kuvvetleri’nin Kaddafi’nin güçlerine saldırmasıyla ve/veya isyancı güçleri diğer NATO müteffikleriyle birlikte koruması arasında çok büyük fark var.

Ancak son günlerde Ankara’nın Libya politikasındaki meydana geldiği zannedilen ani değişiklik, gerçekte Türk dış politikasında son zamanlarda görülen eğilimlerle tutarlılık arz etmektedir. Hatta Ankara’nın son kararı aslında Türkiye’nin ne kadar da Batılı olmaya başladığına işaret etmektedir.

Bundan bir buçuk yıl kadar önce dış ticaretten sorumlu Devlet Bakanı Zafer Çağlayan, Libya hükümetinin yabancı ülkelerde 100 milyar dolarlık yatırım yapmak istediğini belirtmiş ve Türkiye’nin bu paradan azami ölçüde istifade etmesi gerektiğini dile getirmişti. Başka bir kaynağa göre Türk şirketleri, sadece son iki yılda Libya’da toplam sekiz milyar dolara yakın inşaat ihalesi aldı. Yine başka bir rapora göre Türkiye önümüzdeki 10 yıl içinde Libya’nın altyapı projelerine 35 milyar avru (euro) yatıracak.

İşte bu yatırımlar ve Libya harekatına katılma kararı tam olarak da Türkiye’nin – ekonomik hedefleri siyasi araçlarlarla gerçekleştirme anlamında – “Batılı” karakterine  işaret etmektedir.

Tabi bu da mizahi olabilecek kadar ilginç bir durum: Bugüne kadar birçok Türk vatandaşı, diğer ülkelerdeki insanlar gibi (ve kısmen de haklı olarak) gelişmiş ülkelerin gelişmekte olan ülkelerdeki siyasi sıkıntıları o ülkeleri “sömürmek” için kullandığına inanagelmişlerdir.

Tabi bu düşünce kalıbı son günlerde Ortadoğu’da ve Kuzey Afrika’da cereyan eden olayları açıklamakta yetersiz kalır. Ancak şu da bir gerçek ki siyasi idealleriyle ekonomik zorunluluklar arasında seçim yapmaları gerektiğinde birçok Batı ülkesi hala demokrasi ve insan haklarını kolayca arka plana itebilmektedir. Genellikle de siyasi ideallerle ticari çıkarları birbirine karıştırırlar.

Türkiye “Doğu’ya gidiyor” olabilir de olmayabilir de. Benzer şekilde, ekseni “kayıyor” olabilir de olmayabilir de. Ancak son tahlilde, Türkiye’nin çok daha “Batılı” davrandığı şu günlerde Batı’yla olan bağlarının çok büyük önem arz ettiği de inkar edilemez bir gerçek.

Barın Kayaoğlu, Amerika’da Virginia Üniversitesi’nde Tarih Bölümü’nde doktora adayıdır ve her türlü yoruma, soruya ve fikir alışverişine açıktır. Kendisiyle bağlantıya geçmek için buraya tıklayın.

Ayrıca kendisini Twitter’dan (@barinkayaoglu) ve Facebook’tan (BarınKayaoğlu.com) da takip edebilirsiniz.

With Libya, Turkey “Returns” West

By BARIN KAYAOĞLU

March 27, 2011

[Yazının Türkçesi için buraya tıklayın.]

Barely ten days ago, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had objected to a NATO intervention in Libya. Part of Mr. Erdoğan’s criticism sprung from his belief that, in moving the international community to intervene in Libya, France wanted to get its hands on the North African nation’s oil and natural gas. The Turkish Prime Minister was so angry that he recited a very anti-Western part of the Turkish national anthem (“Civilization is but a one-tooth monster”). 

President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Erdoğan (Photo courtesy of ntvmsnbc.com)

And then, on March 23, Ankara decided to send five warships and a submarine to the Libyan coast to enforce the arms embargo against Muammar Qaddafi. Two days later, Turkey agreed to let the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) take over command once U.S. forces conclude their operations in Libya.

What explains this sudden change in the Turkish stance? More important, after Westerners have worried about Turkey’s “Eastern shift” in the past few years, is Ankara finally “heading back” West?

Yes and no.

To be sure, Turkish naval forces enforcing the international embargo against Qaddafi is very different than the Turkish Air Force attacking Qaddafi’s armies and/or defending the rebels with other NATO allies.

But not only is the seeming shift in Ankara’s Libyan policy consistent with recent trends in Turkish foreign policy, it is also a testament to the country’s Western character.

A year and a half ago, the Turkish minister of foreign trade had mentioned the Libyan government’s interest in investing $100 billion abroad and had hoped that Turkey would get a substantial portion of that money. One source indicates that Turkish construction projects initiated in Libya within the past two years alone are close to $8 billion. Another report estimates that Turkey will invest €35 billion in Libya’s infrastructure over the next ten years.

That is precisely the indication for Turkey’s “Westernness” – pursuing economic ends with political means.

And it’s an ironic twist: Turks, just like other nations in the developing world, regularly blame developed countries (with some justification) for manipulating political troubles in developing countries in order to “exploit” them. Although I don’t think that statement explains recent events in the Middle East and North Africa, it is certainly true that, in the contest between political ideals and economic needs, many Western countries frequently choose the latter over the former. Most of the time, they mix both.

Turkey may or may not be “moving East.” Its foreign policy axis may or may not be “shifting.” But in the final analysis, Turkey’s Western commitments still matter – especially as Turkey acts very “Western” these days.

Barın Kayaoğlu is a Ph.D. candidate in history at The University of Virginia. He welcomes all comments, questions, and exchanges. To contact him, click here.

You can also follow him on Twitter (@barinkayaoglu) and Facebook (BarınKayaoğlu.com).

Lessons to Learn from the “Raymond Allen Davis Affair” in Pakistan

By BARIN KAYAOĞLU

March 19, 2011

I am no fan of Pakistan’s ruling elite or their rampant corruption or their inability to meet the basic needs of their people. And I certainly do not like their influence over events in Afghanistan.

But the recent strain in U.S.-Pakistani relations has demonstrated the Pakistani elite’s impossible bind: They have to balance American and Western efforts to marginalize the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the region with a Pakistani public opinion completely fed-up with the nearly-ten-year-old “war on terror.”

The “Raymond Allen Davis affair,” which sheds much light on the Pakistani public’s hatred for the West, went roughly like this: On January 27, 2011, “Raymond Allen Davis” (that may or may not be his real name), an American working for the U.S. consulate in Lahore, shot two armed motorcyclists who were allegedly trying to rob him (an alternative explanation is that the two men were working for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence). “Mr. Davis” left Pakistani custody on March 16 after the U.S. government agreed to pay diyya (blood money) to the relatives of the deceased. Along the way, several details came to light:

1- If “Mr. Davis” is not our protagonist’s real name, then he must have obtained a Pakistani visa using a fake passport. And that means he couldn’t have had diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention.

2- Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who stepped down as the Foreign Minister of Pakistan in early February, may have lost his job for refusing to retroactively confer full diplomatic immunity to “Mr. Davis” under the Vienna Convention.

3- “Mr. Davis” had served in the U.S. Special Forces for 10 years from 1993 until 2003. After his military service, he started a private security company and was contracted by the CIA to work in Pakistan. Upon the Obama administration’s request, the U.S. media kept the CIA connection a secret for almost a month.

4- Before being apprehended by Pakistani police on January 27, “Mr. Davis” had alerted two consular employees to come to his help. On the way, the two employees steered their 4×4 over the median curb of the road and drove against oncoming traffic. They eventually ran over and killed another motorcyclist.

Although the incident and reports of protests in Pakistan may seem “business as usual,” the episode actually offers two very important lessons:

The most offensive part of the “Raymond Allen Davis Affair” wasn’t really the killing of the two motorcyclists (there isn’t much in the press about the two men’s exact intent). It was the other two Americans driving on the wrong side of the road and then killing an innocent motorcyclist. Frankly, if foreigners are in Pakistan (and Afghanistan, for that matter) to really help with establishing law and order, they should set an example by respecting that country’s laws and regulations – including traffic laws.

This is not a simplistic point. In 2010, many Afghans that I had talked to had complained about foreigners’ driving habits; especially their driving on the wrong side of the road in order to bypass heavy traffic. Worse, Afghans drew connections between foreigners’ lack of respect to traffic laws and their potential disrespect toward Afghan people. (Never mind the fact that not many Afghans respect those laws.)

It wouldn’t be too surprising if similar feelings are taking over Pakistanis these days.

A more important lesson to learn is that using private contractors instead of professional spies knowledgeable in regional customs and languages is ultimately going to undermine the CIA’s contribution to the war on terror. It is a truism that you go to war with whatever assets you have. But 10 years have passed since the United States became involved in the affairs of Afghanistan and Pakistan. That’s more than enough time to recruit and train the types of agents who don’t expose their identities and the agency’s work in such mishaps. 

 

 

“Raymond Allen Davis” surrounded by Pakistani police – Images of this sort will hurt U.S. efforts much more than the Taliban or Al-Qaeda (Courtesy of AP Photo/Hamza Ahmed, File)

In the final analysis, American policy-makers should remember that tragedies and “accidents” like the “Raymond Allen Davis affair” in Lahore may cause popular tensions in Afghanistan and Pakistan to boil over and completely derail U.S. and NATO efforts in the two countries. Some Pakistanis are already questioning their ruling elite’s inability to stand up for their country. Down the road, they might take matters into their own hands – which will likely benefit the Taliban and Al-Qaeda rather than the United States and the international community.

Barın Kayaoğlu is a Ph.D. candidate in history at The University of Virginia. He welcomes all comments, questions, and exchanges. To contact him, click here.

You can also follow him on Twitter (@barinkayaoglu) and Facebook (BarınKayaoğlu.com).

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: The Third Way in Iranian Politics?

By BARIN KAYAOĞLU

March 15, 2011

He is seen as “unstable,” “ultra-conservative,” and “fanatical” by many Westerners. Five years ago, the Sunday Times Magazine had called him the “Apostle of the Apocalypse.” And he has done much to contribute to that image with his offensive remarks about Israel and the Holocaust.

His domestic woes are numerous as well: He faces a bloodied but nevertheless powerful reformist camp that demands economic, social, and political liberalization. The hardliners, on the other hand, struggle to keep things exactly as they are in the Islamic Republic. Meanwhile, according to a leading expert, the prospects of Iranian economy look “bleak.”

In this context, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems to be recasting himself as the “third way” in Iranian politics; a pragmatist. In fact, since his disputed re-election in June 2009, Mr. Ahmadinejad has done much to underscore his pragmatic side.

For example, rumor has it that he tried to reach an accommodation with the opposition amid the post-election protests in June 2009. And, according to some Wikileaks documents, he may have paid a personally high price for it.

Recently, Mr. Ahmadinejad took the unpopular – but quite necessary – decision to lift government subsidies on gasoline, electricity, and foodstuffs to divert the funds to infrastructural projects.

Also a testament to his pragmatism, Mr. Ahmadinejad still negotiates with the international community over his country’s controversial nuclear program.

Of course, the President of Iran also shows his socially conservative side from time to time. For example, four months ago, he called for Iranians girls to marry at the age of 16.

But the evidence for Mr. Ahmadinejad’s pragmatism is becoming too great to ignore – especially if we look at his closest political partner, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei. In July 2009, Mr. Ahmadinejad appointed Mr. Mashaei, a former political advisor and his son’s father-in-law, to the post of first vice president. This was a very important move because Mr. Mashaei, also a pragmatist, is pretty much hated by the hardliners – the folks deemed close to Mr. Ahmadinejad.

Many reasons exist for Mr. Mashaei’s hard time with the hardliners: In 2007, he attended a ceremony in Turkey, where women performed a traditional dance (public female dancing and singing is still forbidden in Iran). Then, in a shocking episode in 2009, Mr. Mashaei pointed out that Iran’s problems were with the Israeli government and not the people of Israel, whom he considered “Iran’s friend.” In the Iranian context, that comment has extremely pro-Israel overtones but Mr. Ahmadinejad never chastised his subordinate.

Thus, no surprise that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei struck down Mr. Mashaei’s appointment as first vice president in July 2009. But a defiant Ahmadinejad stuck to his guns and asked his first vice president to stay on board as chief of staff.

That was hardly the end of it: In August 2010, Mr. Mashaei made extremely nationalistic remarks to a group of Iranian expatriates: Iranian culture, according to Mr. Mashaei, had saved Islam from “Arab parochialism” after the Islamic conquest of Persia in the late 7th century. Mr. Mashaei’s words were so out of line with the hardliners that even Ayatollah Mohammed-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s “spiritual mentor,” condemned them. Another hardline cleric berated Mr. Mashaei for his “pagan nationalism.”

Now, the Ahmadinejad-Mashaei duo is preparing to host Iranian New Year (Now Ruz) ceremonies in Persepolis, which disturbs the hardliners for its subtle emphasis on the country’s pre-Islamic past. Rumors in Iran have it that dozens of heads of state and government will attend the festivities, a party that Mr. Ahmadinejad’s reformist predecessor Mohammed Khatami could have only dreamed of hosting.

Ahmadinejad and Mashaei: Can the Dynamic Duo Prevail Over Both the Hardliners and the Reformists?

To be sure, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is hardly the radical reformer that Iran badly needs or the bold bridge-builder that the West desperately wants. If anything, his boldness on Israel and the nuclear standoff has worked against Iran as well as the West. More important, profound tensions exist between the Iranian people’s desires and their country’s political and economic realities. Down the road, those tensions may become too insurmountable for a pragmatist to resolve.

Nevertheless, it would not be too foolish to expect a few more surprises – pleasant as well as unpleasant – from Iran’s controversial president before the end of his term in 2013.

Barın Kayaoğlu is a Ph.D. candidate in history at The University of Virginia. He welcomes all comments, questions, and exchanges. To contact him, click here.

You can also follow him on Twitter (@barinkayaoglu) and Facebook (BarınKayaoğlu.com).

“Yoktur Ruh İçin Daha Büyük Hastalık”: Türkiye ve İran Arasındaki “Mevlana” Savaşının Saçmalığı

BARIN KAYAOĞLU

9 Mart 2011

[Click here for the English version of this article.]

İki hafta once Kültür ve Turizm Bakanı Ertuğrul Günay, Mevlana Celaleddin-i Rumi’nin “Türk” olduğunu söyledi. “Rumi” (yani “Romalı”), “Türki” Orta Asya’da doğmuş ve o sırada Türkler’in kontrolünde olan eski “Rum” topraklarına (yani Anadolu’ya) göç etmişti. Bakana göre bu sebeplerden ötürü Mevlana’nın Türk olması normaldi.

Sayın Günay’ın iddiaları birçok İranlı’yı sinirlendirdi. Bir kısmını da Facebook’ta “Molavi (Rumi) is a Persian poet, not Turkish!” (“Mevlana Türk değil Persli bir şairdir!”) adlı bir grup açmaya sevketti. Daha da iyisi, İran’ın yarı-resmi Mehr Haber Ajansı konuyu açıklığa kavuşturması için bir uzmana (!) danıştı: Sadeq Maleki isimli bu uzman, Mevlana’nın şiirlerini Farsça yazdığını, bunun da onun Pers “milliyetine” ait olduğunu gösterdiğini söyledi.

Ve hem Sayın Günay hem de Sayın Maleki – birçok Türk ve İranlı gibi – Mevlana’yla ilgili asıl noktayı kaçırdı. Aslında Mevlana’nın felsefesi ve şiirleri “milliyet” gibi basit bir kavrama sıkıştırılamayacak kadar muazzam.

Batı’da “Rumi,” İran’da ve Afganistan’da “Molana,” Türkiye’de de “Mevlana” olarak bilinen büyük insan 1207 yılında bugün Afganistan sınırları içinde kalan Belh şehrinde dünyaya geldi. (Bugün olduğu gibi o gün de Belh birçok etnik grubun ve dilin karıştığı bir yerdi.) 1210’lu yılların sonuna doğru yaklaşmakta olan Moğol istilasında kaçan aile önce Bağdat’a yerleşti, ardından da Mekke’ye Hacc’a gittiler. Sonra da da Konya’ya yerleştiler.

Mevlana ilk önce babasının Konya’daki medresesinde dersler verdi ve özellikle felsefe üzerine çalışmalar yaptı. Ancak daha sonra Şems-i Tebrizi isimli gezgin bir dervişle tanışması onun hayatının dönüm noktası oldu. Şems’in kitabiliğe olan ilgisizliği fakat bunun yanında ortaya koyduğu müthiş bilgelik Mevlana’yı derinden etkiledi ve onu hayatın gerçek anlamını aramaya itti. Ardından da şiirleri geldi.

Mevlana, Yunus Emre, Hacı Bektaş-ı Veli ve İbn-i Arabi gibi büyük mutasavvufların çağdaşıydı. Ve o birikimin şu güzel mesajı Mevlana’nın Konya’daki kabrini ziyareti görev addeden dindar insanlar kadar dinle alakası olmayanları da kendine çeker:

Gel, gel, kim olursan ol yine gel.

İster kafir, ister mecusi, ister puta tapan ol yine gel!

Yüz kere tövbeni bozmuş olsan da yine gel.

Bizim dergahımız, umitsizlik dergahı değildir,

İşte bundan ötürü Mevlana – Abraham Lincoln, Erasmus, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Pindar, Plutarch, Rabindranath Tagore, Socrates, ve Sofokles – gibi diğer büyük hümanistlerle birlikte tarihte özel bir yere sahiptir.

Tam da insanlığın Mevlana’nın barış, sevgi ve birlik mesajını gerçekten hayata geçirmesi gerektiği bir dönemde onun mirasına “güya” sahip çıkanların bu büyük insanın “milliyetini” tartışıyor olmaları trajikomiktir.

Bunun yerine, Türkler ve İranlılar Mevlana’nın eserlerini okuyup bunlar üzerinde ciddi şekilde düşünmeliler. Zira,

Yoktur ruh için daha büyük hastalık

Ey bu mükemmellik yalanına batan

Siz kibirli insanlar.

Barın Kayaoğlu, Amerika’da Virginia Üniversitesi’nde Tarih Bölümü’nde doktora adayıdır ve her türlü yoruma, soruya ve fikir alışverişine açıktır. Kendisiyle bağlantıya geçmek için buraya tıklayın.

Ayrıca kendisini Twitter’dan (@barinkayaoglu) ve Facebook’tan (BarınKayaoğlu.com) da takip edebilirsiniz.