American Hellenic Institute


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AHI Letter to President Clinton Calls U.S. Support for Turkey-Israel Defense Relationship as Against U.S. Interest
December 20, 1999 No. 45/99 (202) 785-8430

AHI Letter to President Clinton Calls U.S. Support for Turkey-Israel Defense Relationship as Against U.S. Interest

On December 17, 1999, the American Hellenic Institute sent to a letter to President Clinton (click here) on the issue of U.S. support for the Israel-Turkey defense relationship.

The letter questions U.S. participation in the December 15, 1999 Reliant Mermaid-99 joint naval exercises that took place among the U.S., Israel and Turkey. The U.S., the world's leading democracy and Israel, the Middle East's only democracy, should not cooperate with a military-dominated state such as Turkey. The letter recalls President Clinton's recent apologies for U.S. Cold War support of military regimes in Guatemala and Greece and calls upon him to apply these sentiments to Turkey. The letter highlights the recent European Union decision to begin accession talks with Turkey only after Turkey has taken steps to become a truly democratic state.

The letter examines the internal contradictions of the Israel-Turkey relationship. The natural purpose of defense alliances is to enhance the mutual defense capabilities of the contracting parties. Normally, the parties concerned are mutually compatible and the arrangement is for the long-term. The Turkey-Israel relationship does not pass this test. Israel is a democracy while Turkey's government is controlled by the military. The relationship is manifestly opportunistic and could be abandoned at a moment's notice by either side.

In addition to these concerns, U.S. and Israeli military cooperation with Turkey involves a moral dimension. It has made both countries accomplices to Turkey's human rights abuses. Given that any Israeli-provided weaponry is most likely to be used for Turkey's war and ethnic cleansing against its Kurdish minority (often likened to genocide), this is a stain on Israel's moral principles. If any country should be sensitive to genocide, it is Israel. This support for Turkey is a stain on both U.S. and Israeli honor.

The letter concludes that Turkey-Israel defense relationship is not in the best interests of the U.S. The only beneficiary is the Turkish military, not the Turkish people. The letter urges President Clinton to reconsider U.S. support for this ill-conceived policy.