Friday, September 09, 2011

Retaliatory Measures

The Israeli foreign ministry is contemplating various retaliatory measures against Turkey after the latter expelled the Israeli ambassador, cut military ties, and is threatening to provide military escort to any new flotilla seeking to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. It's typical Lieberman fare: pugnacious, probably counterproductive, and forcing the Prime Minister's office to distance itself. The main highlights are beginning cooperation with the PKK (a Kurdish terrorist organization working to establish an independent Kurdish state in Southeast Turkey), including potential weapons sales, and flooding the UN with complaints about Turkey's treatment of minorities (such as the Kurds).

I'm obviously not wild about supplying weapons to a recognized terrorist organization. But I will admit to finding ironically appealing sending a convey to southeast Turkey filled with Kurdish-language instruction books and other educational materials geared towards the Kurdish people. Totally non-violent "solidarity" measures, but I guarantee Turkey would flip out (Kurdish language and culture is heavily suppressed by the Turkish government). And hey, if we're talking about supporting national self-determination for local populations under the heel of another power, well, what's good for the goose....

As for the human rights complaints, both Israel and Turkey long have a habit of using such proclamations as proxies for diplomatic conflicts (see, e.g., declarations regarding the Armenia genocide). Still, it's not as if there aren't serious points of concern that deserve public airing: For example, the Turkish prime minister threatened to expel 100,000 undocumented ethnic Armenians if resolutions regarding said genocide were passed (ironic, no?).

On the other hand, there is no reason to think that UN human rights bodies will give Turkey anything but a clean bill of health no matter how serious its violations are. After all, countries in the UNHRC's good graces can get away with quite a bit: Sri Lanka earned laudations for its actions against the Tamils in the midst of killing up to 1,000 civilians a day. There is no reason to think that the UN holds any particular interest in holding Turkey accountable for wrongdoing, and it will be particularly resistant to doing so when it seen as acting on Israel's instigation, so it is not clear what any Israeli complaints would accomplish.

No comments: