Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back soon

Antipodes will be back towards the end of September after an extended holiday break.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The architecture of Neo-Ottomanism part 3

Continuing from the last post titled, “The architecture of Neo-Ottomanism part 2” which can be accessed here (which is based on an article by Basil Markezinis which can be found here), Markezinis continues to Davutoglu's theory in four steps (read on conjuction with last two posts):

3) The above are used to justify and promote the role of Turkey as a peace-loving mediator in the region, but also to present it as a country with a “multidimensional, complementary foreign policy”. In this way it can be active in Russia, in the Caucusus, the Middle East and Africa, all without “negating the traditional Western friendly [sic] feature of Turkey (United States - NATO - EE), but to supplement it”.

4) Thus, Turkey should take an active part in all international forums and international organizations choosing as representatives its most charismatic citizens. The overiding aim of these measures is to promote Turkey's image abroad and to promote its economic interests.

To be continued........

Source: To Ethnos on Sunday (Basil Markezinis), Antipodes

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The architecture of Neo-Ottomanism part 2

Continuing from the last post titled, “The architecture of Neo-Ottomanism part 1” which can be accessed here (which is based on an article by Basil Markezinis which can be found here), Markezinis outlines the theoretical framework of Davutoglu's thought:

The theory of Davutoglou is centred on the idea that the strength and future of a country depends, first from its “geopolitical depth” - geographic position secured within the Muslim world in general via the control of the major straits (Bosphoros, Suez, Hormouz, Malacca, and also partially Gibraltar) which separate the warm seas of the world, and on the other hand, it also risks an “internal systemic competition” – from its historical depth. The combination of these two he named “strategic depth”.

Then Markezinis then outlines the theory in four steps (only two translated today):
1. Davutoglu's argument starts from the area of religious doctrine - Christian and Islamic - in which he makes his first claim, that there is no incompatibility between Islam and Western democracy. This claim is developed along two axes. Firstly, Davutoglu highlights the resurgence of all the major religions in modern political dialogue - especially in America - thus preventing, very intelligently, any objection to religion as a factor that "infects" political thought. Secondly, he correctly points out that the Koran simply proposes a set of fundamental values without imposing a specific political mechanism for their implementation. In order to show that these values are not foreign to our own - because, despite his emphasis on Islam, he believes that Turkey has a critical role to play in Europe, and in which he considers a European country - he lists examples such as “the justice, humanity, equality and freedom”.
2. Then when he focuses on the full integration of Turkey in the EU, his argument is conducted in a different way, beyond the religious or philosophical. Davoutoglou relies on these two ways: he uses Turkish history; and furthermore, he also argues that this integration will be beneficial for Europe, because only this way can it hope to become a “global player”. Once again, after having made a theoretical proposal, he does not support it by concrete evidence. The basis of the argument is conducted in a very skillful way, using arbitrary spatial shifts, which make the conclusions of the author at least debatable. The history used for his argument is based on a broad understanding of the geographical size of the country in the past. It suffices to present a few excerpts from his text in order to clarify our analysis.

"Turkey is an Asian country, a European country, a neighbor of the African continent directly connected to the Eastern Mediterranean, a Balkan country, a Middle Eastern country, Caucasian country, a Central Asian country, a country of the Caspian Sea and, indirectly, a Gulf country (because of its association with the Gulf via Iraq)"

To be continued.....

Source: To Ethnos on Sunday (Basil Markezinis), Antipodes

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The architecture of Neo-Ottomanism part 1

Basil Markezinis regularly writes articles in Greek newspapers on foreign policy. Often his ideas are controversial but they are hardly ever irrelevant. He has also been a legal adviser to the Queen Elizabeth II of England is a member of seven foreign Academies. By the way he has also been knighted by the Queen Elizabeth II; however, since Greeks do not recognize titles this is irrelevant.

Markezinis has just written another insightful article published in the Greek newspaper, The Ethnos on Sunday (which can be accessed here) on Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, his ideas and Turkish foreign policy. Some believe Davutoglu is the theoretical architect of Turkey’s re-discovered Ottoman outlook often called "Neo-Ottomanism". Antipodes has written about Neo-Ottomanism and Davutoglu several times before which can be accessed here and here and even Greek Neo-Ottomanism which can be found here.

Recently, there is no doubt that Turkey has been demonstrating an ability to adapt to the new geo-strategic environment (following the collapse of the Soviet Union); specifically, developing multi-dimensional foreign policy initiatives and interventions from the Middle East to Caucasus and even as far as China. However, what are the ideas which underpin these manoeuvres?

Markezinis begins by providing valuable and often unknown information on Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister:

The first indication that Davutoglu’s way of thinking would prove decisive in the transformation of Turkish political culture came with the publication of his doctoral thesis, “Alternative Models: The impact of Islamic and Western world perspectives on political theory” (available in English from 1994). His work is characterised by containing aspects of most good theses: he appears widely read, he has abstract tendencies, uses excerpts from several languages and includes a dose of personal ideology. The author's focus is the importance of Islam; which, according to Davutoglu had been “exploited” by the West. One further indication of his robust academic background and the stability of his views is that Davutoglou repeatedly questions the American and Kemalist doctrines.

Markezinis alludes to something very important here which has, and is likely to continue, to re-orientate Turkish foreign policy going forward. Rather than eschewing the Islamic world view in favour of European Enlightenment-inspired but the essentially Asiatic despotism of Kemalism (which has driven Turkish foreign policy over the last 90 years or so), Davutoglu believes the Islamic world view should underpin Turkish foreign policy. Markezinis continues:

Over the next few years he further developed his ideas, starting with an article written in 1988, entitled “A Conflict of Interest: An explanation of World Ataxias”. The article questioned the ideas of the major thinkers of the period e.g. the "globalization of political values and institutions of Western civilization” of Fukuyama, the (inevitability) of the “clash of civilizations” of Huntington (who overlooked the fact that the most destructive wars were not between different cultures but “wars within civilizations between systemic forces of Euro-western culture”), and the individual theory of Huntington of a permanent “Islamic threat” - which helped to shape Davutoglu's next theoretical step.

Davutoglu then went on to argue that Turkey (and by implication Islam) could help to promote co-existence, and not, as pursued by the Americans, the homogenization of cultures. These views found fullest expression, three years later, in his book “Strategic Depth: The international position of Turkey”, published in 2001 in Turkish.

In March 2003, with the advent to power of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Erdogan, the ideas of Davutoglou were progressively incorporated into Turkish foreign policy.

We should recall that the Ottoman Empire was governed by a "millet system" where the subjects of the Sultan were grouped amongst their various religions and governed by a religious leader with the Sultan as the supreme leader. Is this the sort of system that Davutoglu is referring to when he writes that Islam can help to promote co-existence?

To be continued......

Source: The Ethnos on Sunday (Basil Markezinis), Antipodes

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cyprus mediator, Alexander Downer is a spy

In light of the recent discussions, speculations and threats (by Turkey) about the potentially large hydrocarbon deposits south of Cyprus it is probably worth referring to an article titled, “The Mediator who is a Spy” written by Angelos Athanasopoulos that was published in the Greek newspaper, To Vima late last year. The article can be accessed here.

As most people will know, the former Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer was appointed as the Special Envoy of
the UN Secretary General for Cyprus in 2007. Essentially, he has been working as a mediator between the two negotiating parties that are trying to figure out a solution following the Turkish invasion of the island a little more than 35 years ago.

Interestingly, Alexander Downer has since May 2008 been working for the British company, Hakluyt & Co. This company was founded in the 1990s by former MI6 agents to provide strategic intelligence/information to multinational corporations that want to invest in areas where the political and economic environment is unstable; of course, with a view to profit.

Despite being founded by former British former secret service agents Hakluyt is increasingly comprised of former politicians, diplomats and people in general with access to political, economic and business centers of power. As the former foreign minister of Australia, Alexander Downer would have supervised the intelligence services of Australia and had direct access to “hot” information. Obviously, he still has friends both inside and outside Australia.

To Vima contacted Hakluyt last year and a company executive, who wished to remain anonymous, confirmed that Alexander Downer was working on behalf of them; and in particular, as a member of the Advisory Council. He also stated that members of the Advisory Council, "are either not paid or receive a token amount". He also stated that members do "not make their living from this job". In Cyprus, Alexander Downer was asked directly about his role and the membership of Hakluyt, and he answered:
I do not know where all the members working for the company come from, nor am I responsible for these members. I am a member of the Advisory Council, I meet with members of the Council once a year and provide perspectives on the situation of different regions such as Asia.
Athanasopoulos then raises some important questions, which have recently become even more relevant, as speculation over the hydrocarbon deposits has increased:

However, questions arise from the activities of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on Cyprus. Because of his role, Mr Downer has access to confidential information which would be useful to many. Does he only inform the United Nations and the parties in Cyprus or does he inform others? And who are they? Moreover, how will the actual negotiations on the Cyprus issue be influenced by the dual activities of Downer?

If Hakluyt provides information to businesses so they can reduce investment risk, the presence of Downer could affect, for example, the activity of oil companies interested in undertaking investigations into suspected continental shelf deposits off the coast of Cyprus? Moreover, the relationship of Hakluyt with giants such as BP and Shell could easily lead to such suspicions.

Athanasopoulos then goes on to provide information on the the identity of Hakluyt. General information can be found
here (the company's website does not really contain any information). He also states that the people who have worked for Hakluyt are long and illustrious. Alarmingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, in 1997, just two years after the company's establishment, the current foreign minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt also became a member. Hellenic Antidote recently provided some interesting information on the odious Bildt and his rabidly pro-Turkish positions which can be accessed here. Also, Athanasopoulos points out, and certainly not surprisingly, the former U.S. Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger and his firm Kissinger Associates have also worked with Hakluyt. Every Greek should know about Kissinger's evil and his role in the dismemberment of the island.

Source: To Vima (Angelos Athanasopoulos), Antipodes

Monday, July 27, 2009

Israel’s role in the invasion and occupation of Cyprus part 2

The previous post titled, “Israel’s role in the invasion and occupation of Cyprus part 1” (which can be accessed here) provided some background on the diplomatic maneuverings between Cyprus, Greece, Israel and Turkey before the Turkish invasion in 1974.

An article recently posted on Infognomon (which can be accessed
here) written by M.Michail provides some information on the role of Israel around the days immediately preceding and following the invasion of Cyprus.
The German magazine, Der Spiegel in 19 August 1974, revealed that “... hiding behind this issue (i.e. the Turkish invasion of Cyprus) was Israel” and that “... the telephone line between Nicosia - Tel Aviv had been connected two days before the coup and only the embassy of Israel or Israeli journalists could use it” (from the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, 20/4/1975). This probably means that Israel and its embassy in Nicosia were aware of the coup to oust Makarios [this is interesting but probably many secret services knew about the invasion of Cyprus]

The Jews were, with a series of “errors” and “coincidences” during the Turkish invasion, continuously on the side of ATTILA [the code name used for the Turkish military operation]. The Athenian newspaper Ta Nea (27/2/1975) published that Israeli planes, at the beginning of July 1975, “accidentally” violated the Greek airspace of Cyprus and twice during the Turkish invasion of July 1974. However, amazingly the following event was also made to appear as “coincidental”: an Israeli navy boat coincided (!) to be within the Turkish invasion armada. And, indeed, collected the castaways of the Turkish destroyer, which was accidentally bombed by Turkish airplanes (from the newspaper Greek Tharros, 15/12/1979). The 42 survivors of the sinking of the Turkish destroyer "Kotzatepe",which previously belonged to the U.S. Navy, was transferred to the Israeli vessel in Haifa! [this is particularly strange as one would expect that Turkish ports would have been closer and more convenient]

At the end of 1972, the secret services of Israel sold to EOKA B "Kalasnikovs" "under the direction of the CIA". The Cypriot journalist Spyros Papageorgiou wrote in his book “The Attila impacts Cyprus”, p. 27: “In connection with the acquisition
of Kalashnikovs, despite being sold by the Israeli secret service, they were acting under the direction of the CIA. However, it can be said with certainty, regarding the negotiated purchase of weapons in Beirut, the leader of the operation of EOKA B, Kikis Constantinou was under the impression that he was dealing with illegal arms traffickers". Of course, the readers can draw their own conclusions. The attitude of Israel during the Turkish invasion of 1974 cannot be described as positive. The same “coincidental” attitude was there during in the invasion of Turkey in 1963-64. [unfortunately the article does not provide details of this assertion]

Without further evidence some of the inferences made above appear tenuous. However, we can state with reasonable certainty that Israel's role during the invasion of Cyprus was not constructive.

Of course, any country is free to pursue a foreign policy which best serves its own interests but Israel could have played a more neutral role if it genuinely believed in developing better relations with Greece. Perhaps, as some people have suggested, there was a longer term motive of gaining control of parts of Cyprus which was one of the options in the early Zionist project before the creation of Israel.

Israel's enmity towards Greece and the Cypriots throughout the 1950’s to the 1980’s, should not preclude Greece and Israel forging closer diplomatic and even military ties going forward - international relations should be based on interests rather than historical grudges, loyalty or sentiment. However, history should not be forgotten and Greece must choose its "friends" wisely.

Source: Infognomon (M.Michail), Antipodes

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Israel's role in the invasion and occupation of Cyprus part 1

There are some Greeks; particularly Greek Americans, continuously bombarded with Israeli apologetics, who find it difficult to understand why other Greeks are ambivalent about the state of Israel. Certainly, there are some traditional northern European inspired Right-wing Greek anti-Semites but they are few and far between. There are also traditional Left-wing anti-Israeli Greeks, which are larger in number, who automatically sympathise with the just Palestinian cause because of their underdog status. However, a significant number of sensible largely non-aligned Greeks are ambivalent about Israel due to its role before, and during, the invasion and occupation of Cyprus.

Over the last few weeks Greeks and the Greeks of Cyprus have been commemorating the terrible nightmare of July 1974, the brutal invasion of Cyprus by Turkey and its continuing occupation 35 years later. Hellenic Antidote has provided a blistering series of posts describing the causes and the outcomes of these tragic events which can be found here. The culprits are clear enough: the United Kingdom, the United States, the craven Greek political class and small number of Cypriots with poor judgement. However, Israel was also involved in this catastrophe. Antipodes will provide a two part of series of their involvement - first being a historical recap.

The website of Greek television program, Anixneusis recently uploaded an old article from Greek Cypriot newspaper Politis which can be accessed here in turn summarizing an article written by Israeli academic Zach Levef titled, "The entrance of Israel in Cyprus, 1959-1963" originally published in the academic journal, Middle East Review of International Affairs. The study relies on declassified documents and sources of the period. The article from Politis begins:

From 1948 to 1960, Israel was able to conclude strategic relations with Iran and Turkey and consolidated diplomatic relations with all the major countries (embassies in America, Canada, England, Argentina, France, Italy, Soviet Union). Greece and Cyprus remained inaccessible to them. However, since 1954 when Greece brought Cyprus into the UN, Israel; although it avoided openly supporting either Turkey or Greece, behind the scenes it pressured the British and the UN to support the Turkish position on the division of the island, precisely because they did not want to see Greece dictate policy to Cyprus and act as a regional power with claims in the Eastern Mediterranean. Simultaneously, Israel believed the only way for cooperation with Greece went through Nicosia, which is why immediately after the independence of Cyprus in 1960, they sought to gain diplomatic relations with the Makarios government.

Until then, the regional strategy of Israel was to cultivate strong, but not obvious ties, with Turkey and Iran, two Muslim but not Arab countries. It should also be noted that this strategy perfectly suited the United States and NATO, which considered Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan as a single zone of defense/containment against the Soviet threat. For example, on 29 August 1958 the prime ministers of Turkey and Israel, Menderes and Ben Gurion respectively, secretly met in Ankara with the purpose being to find a means to limit the influence of Egyptian President, Nasser.

Cyprus and Greece were left of the regional strategic alliances of Israel; however, Cyprus was an exceptional case because it lay only 220 miles west of the Israeli coast. So, Israel decided to play a double game. On the one hand, it worked underground for excellent relations with the Turkish Cypriots in order to maintain its strategic relationship with Ankara, and the other it tried to establish diplomatic relations with the official Cypriot state of Makarios. But Makarios presented a major obstacle to Israel. In essence, the strong pro-Arab policy of Makarios threw Israel more into the arms of Turkey and its separatist policies in Cyprus.

In order for Israel to address the problem of Makarios, it was forced to approach the Greek lobby in America to put pressure on Athens and Nicosia. Although this practice had borne some fruit, the Israelis were not slow to discover that the benefits and support they received from Ankara and the Turkish Cypriots in no way offset the gains they were slowly getting from the Greeks [as one poster stated this seems to contradict other parts of the article]

The Israeli leaders decided to more firmly support the Turks, from the time Makarios could not make any decisions on external policy (e.g. to allow Israel to open an embassy in Nicosia) without the consent the Turkish Cypriot Vice President, Koutsouk. At some point, in 1960, the leadership of Israel even discussed providing military assistance to the Turkish Cypriots, something that did not happen, because the consequences would have been negative for the development of official relations between Nicosia and Tel Aviv. Makarios, who was well informed about what was happening, intelligently tried to convince the Mufti of Cyprus to show sympathy to the just cause of his Arab Muslim brothers, to unite with the Christians and cease relations with Israel. But Israel worked quietly to stop this manoeuvre - and it succeeded. The visit of Nasser in Athens in June 1960 did not help things. The Greek government supported the Egyptian leader and secured the prosperity of the Greek minority in Cairo and Alexandria - leading Israel to turn more towards Turkey. Therefore, on 13 January 1961 Koutsouk, Denktash and the Turkish Cypriot defense minister, Osman Orek decided to visit Makarios demanding an ultimatum - to accept the Israeli diplomatic service and the official opening of the Israeli embassy without delay. On 2 February of that year, Israel opened its embassy in Nicosia and warmly thanked Ankara.

But Israel was soon convinced that its interests with Cyprus under the leadership of Makarios was not at all compatible. Makarios voted in favor of the Arabs at the UN on the issue of refugees and a number of other issues, and even started to build excellent relations with Nasser. Also, Makarios persistently refused to send diplomatic corps to Israel; and in reality, the Israel only opened fully operational embassy in Nicosia in 1994, shortly after the recognition of Israel as an independent state, by Greece.

To be continued......

Source: Infognomon, Politis, Antipodes