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Op-Ed by AHI President Published in The National Herald
January 14, 2005—No.3 (202) 785-8430

Op-Ed by AHI President Published in The National Herald

WASHINGTON, DC—The following Op-Ed article by AHI President Gene Rossides appeared in The National Herald of January 15, 2005, page 11.

Turkey-Israel Military Arrangement

By Gene Rossides

The Turkey-Israel military arrangement initiated in 1996 is not in the best interests of the United States nor is it in the best interests of Israel.

That arrangement was initiated primarily to obtain profits for Israel’s arms industry, and not for reasons related to Israel’s security as a nation.

The late Professor Amos Perlmutter, a Middle East expert, stated on June 21, 1999 at an American Hellenic Institute noon forum that the goal of the military cooperation understanding from Israel’s viewpoint was to provide jobs and profits for the Israeli arms industry.

In response to a question he stated it was not aimed at Greece. It was simply arms cooperation with Turkey for profits. In 2003, Defense News ranked Israel number 3 in arms exports based on 2002 contracts including significant sales to Turkey.

Israel does not need Turkey to defend itself. As was astutely observed long ago by Israeli General Moshe Dayan, Turkey is not within Israel’s defense perimeter. Turkey is thus of limited value to Israel.

The Turkey-Israel military arrangement can be considered harmful to U.S. and Israel as it has been an impediment to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the road map because of its misguided emphasis on the military instead of diplomacy.

It is also tragic that part of the understanding between Israel and Turkey was that Israel would continue to deny the Armenian Genocide and would not comment on Turkey's human rights violations against Turkey's 20 percent Kurdish minority.

Furthermore, Israel's military cooperation with Turkey makes Israel an accessory to Turkey's ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and genocide against its 15-20 million Kurdish minority. It should also be noted that the U.S. military and economic assistance to Turkey these past decades has made the U.S. the prime accessory to Turkey’s massive human rights violations against the Kurds.

Israel’s failure to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide mirrors those nations and individuals who do not acknowledge the Jewish Holocaust. Unfortunately, Israel does not stand alone in this regard: the U.S. Executive Branch has also failed to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. The U.S. and Israel also need to acknowledge the genocide by Turkey between 1914-1923 of 350,000 Greeks of the Pontos, Black Sea region.

The attempts to deny the Jewish Holocaust have been vigorously denounced and rightly so by Israel and the U.S., in books, articles, speeches and in the media. Yet where is the outcry against Turkey's and Israel’s denial of the Armenian Genocide? And where is the outcry against Turkey's horrendous crimes against its Kurdish minority?

It is imperative that the U.S. change its policy towards Turkey. If nothing else, Turkey's refusal on March 1, 2003 to allow U.S. troops to use bases in Turkey to open a northern front on Iraq should have resulted in a critical review of U.S. policy towards Turkey. The successful prosecution of the war by the U.S. against Iraq without Turkey's help proved Turkey's marginality as a strategic resource in the region.

Unfortunately, a critical review of U.S.-Turkey relations has been blocked by the handful of Turkey's proponents to the detriment of U.S. interests. The handful of Turkey's proponents is comprised of present and former U.S. officials, think tank advocates and Turkey's paid U.S. foreign agents registered with the Department of Justice.

Leading the pack are Defense Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Defense Under Secretary for Policy, Douglas Feith, former Defense Advisory Board member Richard Perle, State Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Marc Grossman and U.S. registered foreign agents for Turkey, former Congressmen Bob Livingston (R-LA) and Stephen Solarz (D-NY) who are paid $1.8 million annually by Turkey. Mr. Feith is a former paid agent of Turkey who headed International Advisors Inc. (IAI) from 1989-1994 and received $60,000 annually. IAI was initiated by Richard Perle and was registered with the U.S. Department of Justice as a foreign agent for Turkey. Mr. Perle is a former paid consultant for Turkey in his capacity as a paid consultant to IAI at $48,000 annually.

U.S. policy regarding Turkey is not being run on the basis of what is best for the U.S., but on the basis of what Israel’s proponents believe is best for Israel, which they then equate with what is best for the U.S. How else can one explain the decades long appeasement and double standards applied to Turkey on aggression, the rule of law and human rights. The Cold War has been over for 15 years.

The overwhelming majority of Jewish Americans recognize the Armenian Genocide and are appalled by Turkey’s horrendous human rights abuses against its Kurdish minority and citizens generally.

A critical review of U.S. policy towards Turkey and a termination of the Turkey-Israel military arrangement is needed in the best interests of the U.S. Included in such a review should be a strong recommendation for support of Turkey’s human rights organizations and its leaders.

Gene Rossides is President
of the American Hellenic Institute and
former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury


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