Here’s the perspective from the Turkish side. Top headlines today in Today’s Zaman, which is basically–no, pretty much entirely–pro-AKP:
Clashes erupt in Belgrade to protest Mladic arrest
Report: Documents reveal cooperation between Sledgehammer junta and PKK
Sociologist Göle says Turkey is more pluralistic than ever
Prosecutor finds PKK hand in 1993 Madımak massacre
Sledgehammer suspect Gen. Balanlı testifies at İstanbul court
British woman dies in Fethiye, saves lives of three Turks by donating organs
PKK attack on student dormitory outrages nation
Down at the bottom of the page, and of equal interest to readers, to judge from the location:
İHH sees link between second Gaza flotilla, Rafah crossing
Stray dogs, cats poisoned in Adana, municipality blamed
I’d say the Turkish perspective on the Mavi Marmara these days is basically, “The what? Oh, yeah, that thing I heard about a long time ago.” (For new members who don’t know this: You can go here to see the extensive reporting my friend Okan and I did on this from Turkey last year–there’s hours and hours of footage, articles, pleas for the world to take notice. If I don’t seem to report much on this anymore, it’s because I just gave up.)
Anyway, this year people here don’t seem all that interested. The İHH just sent me another polite press release inviting me to a rally tonight in Taksim Square. Good luck to them getting anyone to care; it’s rally-a-minute season in Istanbul right now.
My unofficial take: If at this point the AKP could just make the İHH shut up and go home, it probably would. Those guys proved a little frisky for their taste and put everyone in a mighty awkward position. The Israelis were supposed to, you know, do some super-clever Israeli thing to stop that ship, not jump down there with paintball guns and get into hand-to-hand combat with those excitable lunatics. That left them holding the bag when said lunatics wound up dead, which wasn’t the plan; and the rest of them came back even more excitable, not all cooled off and satisfied, which definitely wasn’t the plan.
But there’s an election coming up, and it’s one in which every vote counts (and some may count several times, but I’ll get to that in a moment). If they announce, now, that they’re putting an end to this nonsense, their hardcore Islamist wing will defect–probably to the SP. It’s hard to say how much that would cost them, but it would cost them something.
They would not, however, pick up votes from people who want to like them but think this whole flotilla business is insanity. That’s because there are no such voters. Basically, if you don’t like the AKP, it’s not because you think they pose a risk to Israel–it’s because you think they pose a risk to Turkey. A moment of sanity where Israel’s concerned is not going to obviate that. So given that Flotilla: Act Two is scheduled to take place after the election, we’re seeing exactly the behavior we’d expect to see from the AKP. Say tough things so you look tough as tough on the problem of toughness, then distract, distract, distract. We’re gonna build you a second Bosphorus! We’re gonna make sure your kids don’t see porn, unless the opposition leadership’s starring in it! It’s not hard to distract, what with the PKK blowing things up and porn videos all over the news and all these revelations that Ergenekon has been behind everything all along up to and including the Treaty of Sèvres. Like anyone has emotional room left for the finer points of foreign policy?
But what will happen after the election? Well! That depends how the election goes, doesn’t it? That’s one reason the world might want to pay attention to this completely unreported news–unreported news in English, anyway–that there are, apparently, now ten million, yes ten million more voters in Turkey than there were in 2007. And no, there was not some amazing reproductive boom for some inexplicable reason in the year 1993.
Look, world, if this report is right, it can mean only one thing: Either someone made about 20 percent of the electorate disappear in 2007, meaning this government is not legitimate, or it’s making it magically appear now, meaning the next government won’t be. Is anyone paying attention? Might all those people who claim to care so much about democracy in this region care to read a newspaper from this region and maybe notice things like this? Might we hear a word of concern from Europe, which is such a big enthusiast of Turkey’s advanced democracy? How about our State Department? Didn’t we recently hear something about democracy and how terrific it would be for everyone in this part of the world? Something about the Turkish example leading the way? Hey, I can’t hear you! And neither can anyone else here! It must be this lousy international phone connection.
Meanwhile, Turkey rose to Israel’s third-largest export market in the first quarter from ninth place last year–rising faster than any other country.
I include that last fact just in case anyone thinks they’re beginning now to understand what’s going on in the Middle East. You know, I’m not sure that anyone does.