Zekeriya Kurşun - Turkey
US’s crimes in relations with Turkey
With Metin Topuz detained, this estimation has become more concrete. Of course, the oddity is not limited to this. Ignoring diplomatic rules, the U.S. quickly reacted by suspending visas. Presenting the detention of the consulate staffer as an excuse, it was like an iron hand in a velvet glove. The U.S., desperately consenting to the court process which its staffer was subjected to, brought a new concept to diplomacy by claiming that the suspect’s phone which Turkey considered evidence was his own property: "Phone immunity." Having invaded Iraq with a few fake pictures and images, the U.S. now pins hopes on international agreements and says that not returning, more precisely examining the phone and SIM card goes against the Vienna Convention.
In fact, everyone knows what has been said so far. And the issue will continue to be discussed until it is evident, or the U.S. gives up those under its wing. But it should not be forgotten that such events are not a first in U.S.-Turkey relations. As U.S.-Turkey relations are often interpreted in the shadow of the Cold War, many things with historical significance are ignored. Failing to listen to history and paying attention to its warnings causes mistakes to be repeated. In fact, taking a look at Turkish history, we can easily see that the U.S. has dozens of crimes.
To cut a long story short, while everyone exaggerates the role of the Entente States and Sykes-Picot in the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, they show Wilson’s U.S. as innocent. However, it should not be forgotten that the first separatist seeds were planted in the Ottoman society by the U.S. History is a witness of how missionary schools operating in Anatolia and Istanbul educated almost all separatist leaders. It was again the U.S.’s offshoots that made Muslims and Armenians, who lived together in Anatolia for centuries, enemies of each other.
Here I will tell you an interesting historical event and let it be remembered that the Metin Topuz case is not the only example.
US’s letter to Abdul Hamid II
In the 1890s, Armenians, instigated by U.S. missionaries in Eastern Anatolia, were restrained by the measures taken and by international efforts when they revolted. Supposedly, the measures taken by the Ottoman Empire were welcomed and even praised by the U.S. However, its missionaries were at work. They continued to provoke the Armenians and led provocative actions.
The Chicago Tribune's Dec. 21, 1894 edition contains an interesting story that we are looking for.
This is the story of a letter on behalf of 300,000 American women, which was given to the White House to be sent to the Ottoman Sultan. Here is the title of the article: “American Woman Petition the Sultan of Turkey to Free Sahag Mahdissian.”
It was beyond petition, but a letter of appeal and beg for mercy. An event similar to what is happening today has made me to refer to this letter.
Sahag Mahdissian, an Armenian, was a U.S. consulate officer during Harrison’s delegacy. Then he quit this task (actually was assigned a new task) and started teaching in a U.S. school in Sivas. Reportedly, one day a young man brought a letter in Armenian to him and wanted him to translate it into Turkish. He translated and returned it without knowing what purpose it would be used for. If you believe in this, let's continue.
The person who took the translation hang it on his back and circulated it in the market place. It was written that "Jesus Christ will come and establish his empire." In that environment, this situation was regarded as an attitude against the Ottoman administration, even as an incitement to rebellion. Of course, the government came into play and both the person and the translator Mahdissian were judged and exiled to Fezzan.
Then the U.S. came into the play through diplomatic channels, saying that its former consulate staff was innocent and had nothing to do with the translation, and requested the remission of him in a threatening manner. But the judiciary had made a decision and the prisoners had already been exiled. As a last resort, American women were involved. The letter mentioned in the newspaper article was written. The letter was not sent so quietly, but in a manner that would instigate the public. The whole story was declared in newspapers and the letter was sent in way to put pressure on the Ottoman State.
Wondering if the letter was true, I went to investigate whether I could find a trace in the Prime Ministry's Ottoman Archives. I found the letter which had been sent to Abdul Hamid II.
The letter was written in an appealing tone to please the feelings and conscience of the sultan. Presenting themselves as nuns who represented the 44 states of the U.S., they asked the sultan to forgive Mahdissian, who they said was their "brother." They wanted his “minor mistake” to be forgiven, saying, "He never opposed your empire and state, did not know what he did, and did it only to help the people there."
In US sensitivity to and understanding of Turkish society, nothing has changed over the past 5 years
Rachael M. Rudolph joins Bryant Zhuhai as an Assistant Professor of Social Science in the fall term. Her research focuses on Sino-American relations, US-North Korean relations, strategic security in the Asia Pacific region, and transnational crime. She can be reached at: [email protected] M. Rudolph
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