1. "Turkey declares end to state of emergency in Kurdish regions", the Turkish parliament on Wednesday agreed to end a 14-year-old state of emergency in two Kurdish-majority regions in eastern Turkey, a move seen as a necessary step before Ankara can start negotiations with Brussels on European Union membership.
2. "Women's rights in Turkey", as a result of a change in the law this spring, school officials in Turkey are no longer authorized to test girls for virginity. In recent years Turkey has overturned the legal supremacy of men in marriage and allowed women threatened with violence to get orders of protection. These vital moves represent welcome progress, but the very need for them illustrates how far Turkey still has to go to protect women's rights.
3. "Former foes Turkey and Syria sign landmark military deals", Turkey and Syria signed two military cooperation agreements in Ankara Wednesday in a fresh move to erase animosities that brought them to the brink of war four years ago.
4. "Iraq Attack: Why an October surprise is likely", the much-publicized administration split over the fate of a possible Iraq invasion has given way to adoption of the hawks' timetable and message by President George W. Bush, meaning an October surprise could be in the offing.
5. "Buying time...", the prime minister, his Cabinet and the Parliament dominated by the coalition partners are all inactive. No wonder we are threatened by a crisis...
there will be no flash bulletin Friday, 21-06-2002 due to training measures. The next bulletin will be published, Monday, 24-06-2002.
1. - AFP - "Turkey declares end to state of emergency in Kurdish regions":
ISTANBUL / 19 June 2002
Turkey's powerful National Security Council (MGK) in May announced it would ask parliament to end the ban, which would come into effect from July 30. As requested by the MGK, the parliament also voted for one last four-month extension to a state of emergency in two other Kurdish regions, Sirnak and Diyarbakir. The MGK, which is dominated by top army leaders but also includes civilian officials, convenes monthly to draw up policy guidelines that are usually rubber-stamped by parliament. The EU welcomed Turkish decisions, declaring them to be postive moves in the right direction.
Turkey, one of 13 countries waiting to join the EU, is far behind the other 12, not yet having been granted official candidate status because its government has not met basic EU criteria on democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
The three-party government of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit is deeply divided over which reforms to adopt in order to meet EU criteria. Among them are a television programme for the country's ethnic Kurds, Kurdish-language education and the abolition of capital punishment.
The lifting of the state of emergency in the eastern and southeastern provinces, where the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) waged a lengthy and bitter war against Turkish domination, is among the principle steps the EU has asked Ankara to take before any membership talks can be opened. The PKK formally ended its armed rebellion to push for a separate state in September 1999 after 15 years, at the request of its imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan, who was sentenced to death in June 1999 for treason and separatism. The sentence has not so far been carried out. The fighting, which according to official figures claimed some 36,500 lives, has since practically stopped.
2. - The International Herald Tribune - "Women's rights in Turkey ":
20 June 2002
Geographically divided between Europe and Asia, Turkey is a nation of contradictions. Equality for women in the public sphere was decreed by the founder of the modern nation, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in the 1920s and '30s. Abortion is legal, and the law mandates equal pay for equal work. By the standards of Muslim nations, Turkey is a model of progressivism. Yet Islam and rural traditions still heavily influence the treatment of women. The law on student chastity, for example, burst back into public attention last year after Turkey's health minister announced that students in nursing and other health schools should be expelled if they were sexually active.
In the remote southeast and east, about 10 percent of women are in polygamous marriages, even though the practice is illegal. And women are still taken by their families for virginity tests or compelled to renounce their legal inheritance in favor of brothers. Women are forced to marry their rapists to salvage the reputation of their families, and some are killed by their families for flouting tradition, even for doing nothing more than going out at night with female friends.
The new laws are partly aimed at facilitating Turkey's effort to join the European Union. They are also the product of a unified campaign by dozens of women's groups, which warn that unless the state goes beyond the mere passage of laws, change will be very slow. There are few shelters for battered women or those threatened with honor killings. The national government does not push local governments to enforce women's rights.
One change that could help Turkey would come from extending girls' education. Far fewer girls are in school than boys. Especially in the rural east, women's scandalous dropout rates rob them of opportunities for jobs, leaving them dependent on their families and thus more susceptible to traditional pressures. A stay-in-school program could do more than any law to make women truly equal citizens of Turkey.
3. - AFP - "Former foes Turkey and Syria sign landmark military deals":
ANKARA / 19 June 2002
Turkey and Syria signed two military cooperation agreements in Ankara Wednesday in a fresh move to erase animosities that brought them to the brink of war four years ago.
"A new era will be opened in the relations between Turkey and Syria with military cooperation," Turkey's chief of general staff, Huseyin Kivrikoglu, said at the signing ceremony, Anatolia news agency reported. Kivrikoglu and his Syrian counterpart Hasan Turkmani inked a deal on cooperation in military training and another envisaging technical and scientific cooperation in the military field.
The Turkish army chief said the agreements would enable the armies of the neighboring countries to set up exchanges for military academy students and organise joint military exercises. "Improving security cooperation between the two countries will contribute to peace and stability in the Middle East and to expanding the cooperation into other fields," Kivrikoglu said. Turkmani also hailed the agreements and expressed hope that bilateral cooperation would be extended in the future.
Turkey and Syria came to the brink of war in 1998 when Turkey threatened military action if Syria continued to shelter Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan and his Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militants. Tension eased in October 1998 when Ocalan left Damascus, his long-time safe haven, and Syria pledged to cooperate on security matters with Turkey, opening the door to a thaw in relations and a series of mutual visits. Several snags, however, remain in their relations.
Ankara wants Damascus to give up claims over the southern Turkish province of Hatay, often shown as a Syrian territory on Syrian maps. Damascus, meanwhile, is unhappy with a number of dams Turkey has built on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, which originate in Turkey and flow down to drought-stricken Syria and Iraq. Both Syria and Iraq accuse Turkey of monopolizing the waters of the rivers.
4. - National Review Online - "Iraq Attack: Why an October surprise is likely":
19 June 2002
The nation's capital has been buzzing with Iraq speculation following the Washington Post article over the weekend stating that Bush had signed an order earlier this year for the Central Intelligence Agency to use lethal force, if necessary, to effect "regime change" in Iraq.
Although the story, which many administration officials believe was leaked by CIA Director George Tenet, may have been intended to show that military action won't be needed until winter (since the CIA is "on the case"), it actually underscores the president's firm commitment to ridding the world of Saddam Hussein's tyranny. The only direction from there is an attack on Iraq sooner, not later.
The Iraq guessing game has been popular for months now, but with inaction dragging on, the general sentiment among career bureaucrats in the State Department was typified by a senior administration official, who explains that attacking Iraq is a matter of "waiting for the environment to ripen."
Former CIA Director Jim Woolsey, who has been an open advocate of freedom for the Iraqi people, believes that the wait-and-see approach is pure folly. "I hope to God they're getting forces in place while they're waiting for the 'environment to ripen'," he comments.
Preparations for an assault on Iraq are already being made. "The military planning is considerably more advanced than most people realize. There's more than 40,000 troops in the arena already," notes Francis Brooke, the Washington adviser to the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the umbrella group for anti-Hussein resistance organizations.
Brooke also cites reports he has heard that Kuwaiti hotels are practically overrun lately by United States military personnel.
Aside from the slow, if relatively modest, military buildup in the region, planning for a covert-style operation is barreling forward, full-speed ahead. A senior administration official says that this is necessary because, "superpowers don't wait for environments, they create them."
Another senior administration official says that the military campaign in Iraq will be one marked by stealth, "[because] the ability to act clandestinely is vitally important"
The "clandestine" model is one patterned intentionally after the successful Afghanistan campaign, but even most proponents of this strategy readily acknowledge that Iraq is not a straight parallel.
Though Hussein's military power far exceeds anything controlled by the Taliban, "the greatest concern is that [Hussein] will follow a Hitler-in-the-bunker mentality," notes a senior administration official.
There seems to be legitimate disagreement about how loyal Hussein's troops will remain after a ground campaign is launched the smart money seems to be on not very but even the most cautious military planners concede that the calculus is different than in the Gulf War, where use of ground forces lasted a fraction of the time spent deploying them.
The Army, under the leadership of Secretary of the Army Thomas White (who is ensnarled in Enron entanglements) and Gen. Eric Shinseki (whose greatest accomplishment is getting Army soldiers into black berets, and shifting the elite Rangers into tan ones), has been leaking like a sieve to the media, warning that 200,000 to 250,000 troops less than half the number deployed for the Gulf War will be necessary for any invasion into Iraq.
But retired Gen. Wayne Downing, perhaps the foremost expert on military operations in Iraq from his experience as commander of the joint special-operations task force during the Gulf War, has been spearheading the move, from his new perch at the National Security Council, to attack Iraq with a fluid mix of special forces and air strikes as part of the Afghanistan model.
The stealth strategy would bear little resemblance to the Gulf War, with elite United States forces working with Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south under the cover of the respective no-fly zones to topple Hussein. The first step in this game plan would likely be capturing the oil fields in southern Iraq, which a senior administration official describes as "vital." "Take away [Hussein's] oil, and you sap his strength," he says.
The only other major piece of the puzzle relates to basing issues. Few in the administration are optimistic that Saudi Arabia will actively lend a helping hand, but a strong showing of American might will almost certainly result in passive cooperation from the House of Saud, in the form of granting permission to fly thru Saudi air space. The Saudi royal family dreads the prospect of a beachhead of democracy being established at its doorstep, but the despotic princes probably fear the possibility of America as an enemy even more.
The Saudi problem isn't one under the scenario of using Turkey and Kuwait as basing hubs, and both nations are expected to be in the fold when the invasion is launched. Though publicly skeptical toward U.S. plans in the region, conventional wisdom has it that Kuwait won't get in the way of a serious and concerted U.S. effort to topple Hussein.
Many had thought that signing up Turkey posed the more challenging hurdle, but ailing Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit will have enough on his hands with trying to hold together his fragile, three-party ruling coalition. The current balance of power is such that "the power is with Turkey's military, and they will persuade the government to come along if we are clear and decisive," says Woolsey.
Outside of Turkey and Kuwait, the United States already has a strong presence in nearby Oman, and as mentioned in a previous NRO piece, Gen. Tommy Franks has been to Eritrea several times to discuss basing issues.
The coalescing of favorable strategic factors no doubt played a role in the president's recent embrace of the hawkish position on Iraq. The shift in power between the civilian leadership at Defense and careerists at State became clear with the unveiling of the new "first strike" policy nearly three weeks ago, which says that America will abandon the Cold War principles of containment and deterrence in favor of striking first when necessary.
Despite such public signals of Bush's newfound sympathies, a senior administration official happily notes that the doves at Near East Affairs (NEA) in the State Department still "don't realize that they're being left out of the process." The same official, however, expresses dismay that NEA bureaucrats are "doing their best to screw things up with the INC and on sanctions."
Interestingly, administration officials advocating a fall attack on Iraq have fleeting concerns, if any, about inevitable charges from the left of an "October surprise" or of "wagging the dog." Cooler heads are thankfully prevailing with the argument that military policy can't be dictated by politics.
Even though most systems seem to be pointing to go, the INC's Brooke cautions, "We've been through this game before. The old thinking was May, but Afghanistan and the Mideast got in the way, and now there's India-Pakistan. And of course, suicide bombings can always flare up again at a moment's notice"
5. - Turkish Daily News - "Buying time...":
19 June 2002 / by Ilnur Cevik
Ailing Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit says he will soon be back in office and will take up his post "fit as a fiddle." We have heard that before and we have seen how he has been rushed to hospital. Let us hope the prime minister is right and he can perform the miracle of overcoming the Parkinsons Disease and its growing side effects...
So the prime minister is play acting. He has convened a meeting of his economic officials on Monday and of his foreign policy officials on Tuesday. In between he has also appeared on TV in a half-an-hour live interview where he spoke in a frail voice and gave the impression that he is in full command... His appearance only reminded us of late Brezhnev or Pompidou whose face were as plump as that of the prime minister after their treatments with steroids. Let us hope we are wrong and that the prime minister will embarrass all of us by running up the stairs of the prime ministry at the end of the month and return to the helm of the government...
Meanwhile, his Cabinet is pretending to be working in harmony. They held a rather unimpressive Cabinet meeting last Monday, but did not repeat it this week... Why? Is it because they realized that no one is buying all this farce?
The Parliament, meanwhile, is struggling to stay afloat until the end of the month when the official summer recess starts. Two coalition partners, the Democratic Left Party (DSP) and the Motherland Party (ANAP), are pretending to be doing their best to push a law that will abolish the death penalty with little success. Their coalition partner, the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) is against the lifting of capital punishment and is thus doing its best to stall its partners and get the Parliament to go into recess.
Time is working in favor of the MHP. There are only six working days for the Parliament which convenes between Tuesdays and Thursdays every week. This week the Parliament is not scheduled to debate any vital laws so the house will just waste time. We are only left with next week to do something and at this point we feel the MHP is getting its way of stalling the abolishment of the death penalty.
The idea is to put the Parliament to bed with a summer recess and at least get through this summer...
So the prime minister is frail, his Cabinet struggling and the Parliament inactive. No wonder political uncertainties are threatening the economy...
The three-party coalition government is just struggling along and buying time. The prime minister is struggling along to give the impression that he is still in charge. The Cabinet is displaying disharmony but has to pretend it is as strong as ever... Will Turkey's conditions allow them to buy time remains to be seen...
6. - Voice of America - "Debating the Future of the War on Terrorism":
WASHINGTON / 19 June 2002 / by Ed Warner
There are starkly opposing views on how to wage the war on terrorism. Some would broaden it to include most forms of terrorism. Others think it should be focused on the immediate threat. As the war on terror nears the one year mark, the debate over its goals and its future has become increasingly critical.
In a speech to the International Democrat Union in Washington, President Bush told the conservative group that the United States may have to engage in a preemptive war against terrorists.
"Do not do it," warns Ivan Eland, director of defense studies at Washington's Cato Institute. "Although things have gone well so far, the war is becoming dangerously out of focus," he warns, adding that, "Instead of facing down the enemy at the gates ... al-Qaida, who has attacked U.S. soil ... the administration is now rattling the saber against all other terrorist groups and rogue states: Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, etc."
At a Cato meeting on Capitol Hill, Mr. Eland noted that most of the terrorist groups cited by the State Department do not threaten the United States. Their targets are local and regional. That is true of the Basque separatists in Spain, the Kurdish PKK in Turkey, the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, the so-called "real" IRA, Hamas and Hezbollah in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "Why make unnecessary enemies of them?" asks Mr. Eland.
Charles Pena, a Cato defense analyst, would say the same for Iraq, adding that, "There are very few terrorist groups supported by Iraq to begin with, and none of them have directed an attack against the United States or U.S. targets for more than 20 years. I do not think you can justify expanding the war on terrorism to include Iraq unless new evidence comes to light."
This is obsolete thinking, contends Ralph Peters, a longtime writer on intelligence and international affairs. He says terrorism is increasingly integrated, with IRA members turning up in Colombia, al-Qaida operatives in Indonesia, etc.
"We do see that terrorists move around the world," he said, "Without exaggerating the connections, they certainly are there. Some are direct and virulent. Others are more tenuous, almost happenstance. But you cannot simply wish them away. If you do not preempt the terrorists, they will attack you."
Mr. Peters says the United States must be prepared to act alone, if necessary, even in defiance of international law, which he believes no longer applies in a terrorist era. "If we do not take this war to the terrorists of the world, the terrorists of the world will bring it to us," he said. "They imagine God is whispering in their ear and telling them to kill, and that is no exaggeration when we speak of the extremists. The nonsensical notion that we can somehow appease them by ignoring them is absolute folly."
Not appeasement, but deterrence is the appropriate policy, says Mr. Eland. It has worked against the far more dangerously armed Soviet Union and China, he contends, "Previously, the United States has not attacked oppressive anti-U.S. regimes with weapons of mass destruction; namely, the Soviet Union and China. Stalin and Mao killed many more people than any of these small, poor countries that we call the 'axis of evil.'"
Fearing an attack, these weaker countries may resort to the weapons of mass destruction the United States is intent on suppressing. In fact, Mr. Pena says, the doctrine of preemptive war may appeal to Saddam Hussein.
It fits his philosophy very well, Mr. Eland says. "If he knows he is going down, knows his regime is going to be taken out the way the Taleban was, if he knows he is going to die, what does he have to lose by using chemical, biological or possibly a nuclear weapon either against U.S. forces or against Israel?"