Turkey aims for the bomb, slips from America’s grasp
By Richard Cottrell
Contributing writer for End the Lie
Turkey and the United States increasingly resemble a pair of crocodiles discussing lunch. One promising substantial course is the future of Assad’s Syria.
When the US Vice President Joe Biden turned up in Ankara recently, he eyed the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with a strange hungry look, as though he was the next item on the menu.
Then early in December, Time magazine published the results of an ‘opinion poll’ performed on the basic of mathematics that would do justice to the efforts of a third grader wrestling with simple multiplication. This noble pulpit of the US intelligence community solemnly declared that Premier Erdoğan is both the most popular and perfectly horrid man of the year at the same time.
There was an unmistakable subliminal message behind the plain black-and-white photo of Erdoğan with his arms crossed, staring cold-eyed from the front cover.
We read, “Is this the new Turkish strongman gradually morphing into a dictator of a one party state?”
It all depends what exactly is meant by a ‘dictator’ and a ‘one party state’. We will come to that in a moment.
First, let’s get things straight here.
Six months ago, hardly anyone in the US or on the European continent had the faintest clue as to who the Prime Minister of Turkey actually was.
Then, suddenly there he is, glaring from the newsstands around the world. Only the Photoshopped horns sticking out from his forehead were missing.
How did he rise so fast in both the popularity and boogeyman stakes?
The answer lies within a single event, the so called Marmara incident in international waters off the coast of the Gaza Strip. Circle the following date in your memory vaults, because it is likely to carry portentous significance in forthcoming events in the Middle East.
May 31st, 2010.
On that day Israeli commandos seized a six-vessel aid flotilla heading for the embattled Gaza enclave, a gulag hunk of Palestine virtually sealed off by the Israelis with the tacit support of Washington. The armada had set off from Turkey.
In the ensuing struggle eight Turkish citizens and one Turkish-American aboard the MV Mavi Marmara were shot and killed by the boarding party.
Turkey’s demands for an apology from Israel received the response to be expected in the circumstances: zero.
Erdoğan, who is unquestionably the dominant power figure of the Ankara regime, then took a step that was received with rapture throughout the Arab-Islamic world.
He effectively severed relations with Israel, ending a long standing — if frequently uneasy — pact between the Jewish state and the largest Islamic power in the region, dating from Turkish membership of NATO in 1952.
From the perspective of Ankara, the Mamara incident was a fortuitous excuse to hasten the New Ottoman campaign of recovering the Middle East. Erdoğan was transformed to a political rock star, playing to packed houses in Islamic communities around the world.
At once Turkey passed from a side player on the tight leash of the US to an independent – and moreover, powerfully armed – force with its own set of strategic priorities.
What is not widely understood outside this turbulent region is the fact that American influence over the course of events is rapidly waning, while that of Turkey is rising fast.
The former arrangement, a bipolar control system managed by the US and Israel, has collapsed.
The New Ottomans’ sudden emergence has changed the cozy two-power happy families game to five; Israel, the US, Iran, Saudi Arabia – and Turkey. In a cauldron bubbling fiercely as the Middle East, this can only spell trouble.
Place nuclear weapons in the calculation and you come up with this picture of a strategically complicated jigsaw; the US and Israel both have the full kit including missiles and tactical strike weapons. Saudi Arabia deployed a member of the innermost royal circle, the former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal, to warn that if Iran succeeds in manufacturing a warhead delivered bomb, then so will she.
In fact it is far more likely that the Saudis already possess a tactical strike capability, thanks to US nuclear artillery stored in the kingdom.
The same might have been said in the past of the Turks, but not any more. The massive US-Turkish base at Incirlik, located near the city of Adana close to the Eastern Mediterranean, hosts a large US strike force presence.
It is likely, though unconfirmed, that this senior forward base close to the seething Middle East and Russia, bristles with nuclear strike weapons. Whether a Saudi-type short cut power-sharing solution now exists, viewed in the light of rapidly cooling US-Turkish relations, is now questionable.
There is another and rather fascinating alternative scenario. During the regime of the rather glamorous lady premier Tansu Çiller back in the early 90’s, the infamous Abdul Qadeer Kahn (A.Q. Kahn), mastermind of nuclear proliferation and Father of the Pakistani Islamic Bomb, was running a massive operation in Turkey.
The German-trained metallurgist created a network of underground laboratories manufacturing components for enrichment of nuclear materials with the aid of Turkish secret state intelligence (MIT), well placed sympathizers in the military and the Turkish Mafia’s incomparable expertise in managing one of the most sophisticated narcotics and weapons smuggling operations on earth.
Turkey fit the bill as the perfect junction for such illicit transactions – a cosmopolitan and lightly policed intersection between East and West, replete with sympathetic politicians and military brass, and refined methods of trans-shipment through Turkish ports of entry and exit.
In this period Kahn’s humming labs put together all the components for the Pakistani bomb, with strong evidence that nuclear materials were finding their way to covert nuclear programs in North Korea, Argentina, India, Saudi Arabia and finally the destination that almost everyone overlooked – yet key to the entire adventure – no less than Turkey herself.
According to the Monterey-based Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation Studies, between 1993 and 1999 there were scores of trafficking incidents through Turkish ports (particularly Ambarli, close to Istanbul) involving shipments of raw and low enriched uranium, weapons grade U-238, black mercury and plutonium, quite aside from key components to assemble centrifuges.
Much of the seepage originated at leaky and frequently pillaged suites in a scatter of former Soviet zone states including Moldova, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, as well as Russia.
Finished products (such as centrifuges and other equipment for enrichment) were shipped to Bahrain complete with false end-user certificates for onward distribution.
This was all happening in a front line NATO state. It is well within the bounds of certainty that Iran’s nuclear program got started in this way.
Given America’s seamless involvement with Turkish secret services, it is inconceivable that no-one in Washington knew what was going on.
Dr. Nuri Ersoy, a professor at Boğaziçi University, who follows regional nuclear issues closely, stated that Turkey came close to completing a line of tenders for home grown nuclear energy in 2008.
“Turkey is not only constructing a nuclear power plant. Turkey wants to have localization of the entire fuel cycle from local uranium and thorium reserves to the enrichment of uranium and the treatment of the waste. This cannot be explained by the domestic demand for energy.”
Quite. But there is more. Turkey has substantial, if expensive to mine, uranium deposits. But she also has large concentrations of thorium, a rare alternative in the nuclear fuel cycle in which she is probably self sufficient.
American attempts to freeze out western suppliers of nuclear reactor technology for Turkey’s infant civil reactor program can be traced directly to this factor. Think of this and the parallel with Iran will spring to mind.
Turkey has most of the main components to join the nuclear club, except the cover story of nuclear power for energy production. She is now forging ahead with nuclear plans by recommitting herself to building an initial three nuclear reactors, with ambitious schemes for a national chain of twenty in place by 2030.
The first is now getting started at Akkuyu on the Mediterranean coast. It will be constructed by the Russian nuclear monopoly Atomstroyexport on a build-and-payback contract from power shunted to the national grid.
Here’s the message. Washington’s attempts to wall off Turkey’s nuclear ambitions have failed, utterly. In former times she could control secular governments or destroy them violently (1961, 1980) if they strayed too far from the imperial agenda.
But since 2001 Turkey has been effectively under one party, popular rule by the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AK) party, in which the leading figures are Erdoğan and his lifetime collaborator, Abdullah Gül, the president.
Now you can understand the message of the prototype Islamist dictator glaring from the front cover of Time.
Turkey has broken free of the Western, US-orientated support system because the elected Islamists have turned the country into a humming economic power house. She is regularly notching 8% growth rates.
For the first time since the death in the 1930’s of the secularist man-god founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Atatürk, she is a member of the globalist financial and economic club. But she is no longer a colony or anyone’s push-around, for all that.
The Islamists have won their power struggle with the alligator generals of the Turkish High Command, who in the past lynched an elected premier.
In 1961 an army coup backed by the Central Intelligence Agency, the NATO secret army unit called Counter-Guerrilla, extremist activists of the Far Right, and for good measure, the Turkish Mafia, toppled the elected administration of premier Adnan Menderes.
After a brief show trial, he and two ministerial colleagues were taken to an army prison in the Sea Of Marmara and summarily lynched.
Times have changed. The military recognizes that the regime’s popularity in the great Anatolian land mass, where much of the economic revival is under way, is not going to be easily undermined by some false ‘color’ revolution propagated by the CIA and other Western intelligence services.
However, the Time article serves clear notice that Washington does indeed intend to terminate the Erdoğan-Gül regime by any means that it may construct for the task. This pair know a reverse compliment when they see one.
Joe Biden’s off the cuff remarks when he was in Turkey were quite illuminating. In the future he said, beaming warmly at Erdoğan, convalescing from his recent operation, “Turkey and the US will draw closer together.”
He might well have added under his breath (and probably did): “But not with you on the scene, buddy.”
All US efforts to date aimed at destabilizing the Islamic government have come to naught. These have not excluded secretly funding Iraqi-based, so-called Kurdish freedom fighters to stage false flag bomb attacks and murders around the country.
The long-running Ergenekon affair – a secret deep state organization linking elements of Turkish intelligence, army officers and the pro-secularist Mafia – draws on a redux of the NATO Gladio secret army operation called Counter-Guerrilla, which provoked the Turkish dirty war between left and right in the 80’s.
Ergenekon (meaning ‘iron mountain’) was clearly nothing less than an effort to bring down the Islamists.
The response was a brutal, unprecedented crack down by the civil power, no one was spared, not even senior army officers.
Turkey’s miserable progress from the death Ataturk to the arrival of the Islamists, little more than a backwater third world state, left the majority of Turks thinking that there must be something better.
Erdoğan seems to have answered this, for good or worse. He is patently modeling himself on the example of the staunch secularist Atatürk, who regarded himself as ruthlessly wrenching the nation from its decrepit, Ottoman past.
But the Atatürk years delivered little more than unleavened poverty. The people forcibly acquired westernized names, a Latin alphabet and threw away the fez, that hated symbol of the Sultans. Otherwise the country floundered.
Atatürk was a truly inspired soldier and commander but he knew nothing about economics and cared less. Nor was he remotely a democrat.
By contrast Erdoğan has delivered hitherto unknown and unrealized prosperity. He has also given Turks a sense of ‘face’ in the world, by slapping down Israel and playing fast and loose with NATO and the US. And he and his winsome partner Abdullah Gül are prize winners in the election stakes, with three unprecedented majority governments in a row.
The US policy of hobbling Turkey to eternal poverty and the curse of the IMF, in order to keep her tame and obedient to the imperial will, lies in ruins.
By 2015, the AK Party will have been in power for the best part of fifteen years. That’s a one party government, or even state, if you so choose. But there are no remotely respectable or realistic challengers among the rag bag of sulking secularists and right wing extremists.
And besides, Erdoğan exercises something never previously seen in open Turkish politics, apart from consummate dexterity on the political stage. And that is discipline.
This word does not always sit comfortably democracy. A recent editorial in Today’s Zaman somewhat gave the game away:
“The 50 percent of the votes that the AK Party received in the elections represent popular support for Erdoğan’s leadership. For this reason, the strong discipline in Erdoğan’s party is attributable to the people.
“References to the post-Erdoğan era right after [his recent] surgery are actually targeting the future of this popular support. Businessmen, politicians and others are pondering how this void will be filled and where they should stand in such a case.
Erdoğan’s leadership is so powerful that even the slightest rumor concerning his health leads to serious consequences.”
Much the same was said in their times of General Francesco Franco, of Benito Mussolini, of Joseph Stalin… and yes, Adolf Hitler. It is true that ‘power’ is the word that perfectly encapsulates the Erdoğan personality. Unlike the parade of dictators consigned to history, he is one of those rare creatures who instinctively understand how to marry a cause to the popular will.
What Turkey has undoubtedly experienced in the last ten years is nothing short of a revolution.
For the first time since Atatürk, the mosque is again an essential and recognized element of the national life. The famous ‘headscarf spring’ saw the sweeping away of restrictions on veiled students in the universities. The Islamists have been quietly reigning in the consumption of alcohol. The High Command have suffered their first reverse since Atatürk died.
Yet Istanbul remains fantastic Istancool to the eyes of the world.
This is what makes Erdoğan and the AK regime in general so dangerous in the eyes of the United States. The recent Time article represents the lighting of a slow-burning fuse designed to progressively brand and isolate the ruling Turkish authorities as essentially authoritarian and non-democratic.
By hook or by crook the US plans another of its famous exercises in regime change.
But what realistic hope can there be when the vast majority are witnessing previously untold prosperity?
Strongman Erdoğan has brought Islam in from the cold. The Turks are rooting for the Bomb as an exercise in national sovereignty. The deception of elevation to the European Union, ephemeral as that always was, is over.
Witness Egypt, Libya, Iraq, or Afghanistan.
Now Turkey, the resurgent power with a chart, compass and direction.
Edited by End the Lie