Last week, Sabri Yirmibeşoğlu, a retired Turkish general, said something that shocked the nation. During an interview by Habertürk, a popular news channel, he said that the Turkish military had bombed mosques in Cyprus in the past and put the blame on the Greeks. “Such attacks and sabotages on sacred values are done and portrayed as if the enemy did them,” he explained. “The purpose is to raise the resistance of the people.”
The 82-year-old Yirmibeşoğlu was probably not aware of the possible impact of this revelation, which he made just in passing, as if it were a trivial detail. But since then, the media has hotly debated what the bombed mosque story really is, and what it tells us about the amazing adventures of our military.
As Yıldıray Oğur, a columnist in daily Taraf, wrote, the operation the ex-general refers to is probably the bombings of the Bayraktar and Ömeriye mosques in Nicosia on the night of March 24, 1962. The incident, naturally, inflamed Cypriot Turks, who organized demonstrations against the Greeks of the island, who they thought were responsible. (Their “resistance,” in other words, was “raised.”)
A few weeks later, though, a local newspaper run by two Cypriot Turks, Ahmet Muzaffer Gürkan, 38, and Ayhan Hikmet, 35, wrote that the bombings had not been done by Greeks at all. And, lo and behold, these two men were both assassinated on that very same night, on April 23, 1962. (Perhaps we need another talkative ex-general to fully shed light on that part of the story.)
Now, all this, of course, is deeply troubling. It shows that the Turkish military intentionally increased tension between the Turks and Greeks of Cyprus, paving the way for more tragic events in the years to come and the partial occupation of the island by Turkey in 1974. Since then, as you would know, Cyprus has been one of the world’s unsolved problems.
To be sure, this should not mean that only the Turkish side was responsible for the intra-communal violence in Cyprus. The nationalists on the Greek side, organized under the infamous EOKA, or National Organization of Cypriot Fighters, were fanatic and violent, and they killed many innocent Turks. (Who knows, perhaps they had their little tricks to “raise resistance” on their side as well.)
Today, what matters more to me as a Turk is the bitter fact that our military has seen it legitimate to commit false flag terror operations to manipulate the psychology our people. This raises troubling questions:
- If they have done this in Cyprus, have they also done similar things at home?
- If they have bombed places to “raise resistance” against “enemies without,” have they also used similar techniques against “enemies within”?
I don’t want be paranoid. That’s why I often don’t agree with some of my liberal friends who see the fingerprints of the “deep state” in almost every political assassination and social turmoil in recent history. I rather believe that evil is “banal,” and horrible things can happen spontaneously without the need for a “master evildoer.”
But some episodes in our recent history are indeed too suspicious, and Gen. Yirmibeşoğlu’s revelation only makes them more so. Take the Ergenekon case. This controversial trial has many details, but two of its allegations are crucial: that the two terrorist acts in 2006, the bombing of ultra-secularist daily Cumhuriyet (which killed nobody) and the shooting of a secularist judge, were false flag operations to put the blame on “the Islamists.”
These two attacks certainly “raised resistance” among the country’s secular-minded masses against the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government, which the Ergenekon folks clearly wanted to overthrow. So, if these two acts were “operations” of the type that Gen. Yirmibeşoğlu spoke about, than we should grant that they were successful ones. Otherwise, they were just extremely lucky coincidences. I now find the first option even more credible.
Now, let me briefly touch upon something else: My column neighbor Burak Bekdil, with whom I often disagree, has written about me again. This time, he proposed a “sociological experiment” which he and I would join together to measure whether secular or religious Turks are more liberal-minded people — by going to their neighborhoods and saying things that will offend them.
But that proposal, as fun as it may be, misses my point. I did not say, “Religious Turks are more tolerant to insult than secular ones.” (And even if I did, Mr. Bekdil should have added an “insulting Atatürk” line to his experiment, to make it fair.)
I just argued that the link between secularism and political liberalism, which many Westerners take for granted, doesn’t exist in Turkey. Here, secularism rather goes hand in hand with nationalism, whereas liberal ideas are increasingly popular among religious conservatives. If Mr. Bekdil wants to test that hypothesis with an experiment, he just can try some of his ultra-secularist friends and simply ask, “Why do you loathe both the conservatives and the liberals so much?”
Some comments follow:
Guest - Kenel | 2010-10-30 14:58:28
As a Turkish American, I say that comment, by "Mark" claiming to be representative of Turkish Americans is bunk. I am certain that Mark not a Turkish American, but an American who supports elements in Turkey for reasons having not to do with Turkey's own interests. The TCA has an agenda that is in fact not generally supportive of Turkey, but only supportive of specific policies and positions and one specific regional alliance. Reprehensibly, it main function is not lobbying in the US, where it is not effective group, and not influential, but its main aim is lobbying in Turkey in support of a faction. For these type of groups to get so involved in domestic politics in Turkey is wrong. Mr. Oykol, the revelations on Cyprus when combined with the recent revelations on the same type of operation for the 1950's Istanbul Riots, tells us that our history books need to be rewritten, that the Greeks and Armenians are not our enemies, but instead scapegoats used by those with their own interests.
Guest - Mark | 2010-09-29 08:01:48
Mr.Akyol I do read you time to time and most of your writing is bias and with agenda to undermine Turks and Turkey, we in USA Turkish group 500.000 strong %99 of us thinks that you are not a friend of Turkey actually borderline enemy with in. Hurriyet is just as guilty for giving you a voice. you have no idea of history and the facts behind the seens, what we like to know is that who are you working for? and I am sure this comments will not make it since Hurriyet blocks any critizim, Turkish coalition of America is watching you.