SEMİH İDİZ > The Uludere raid and pickled cabbage

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The American Ambassador to Ankara, Francis J. Ricciardone, made the headlines in Turkey, shortly after taking up his post in Ankara, when he used a local saying which is not easy for foreigners to understand, let alone pronounce in Turkish, as he bravely did. 

“Bu ne pehriz, bu ne lahana turşusu” he said - much to everyone, except Prime Minister Erdogan’s, amusement. He was referring to the banning of a politically controversial book by journalist Ahmet Şık before it was even published. 

The Turkish saying roughly translates into “How do you tally eating this pickled cabbage with your diet.” In other words it is meant to highlight a contradiction or an odd situation that simply does not add up. 

Inevitably the same saying came to mind the other day with remarks uttered by Prime Minister Erdoğan in Pakistan, which were no doubt meant more to curry favor with his Pakistani hosts than anything else. 

Addressing a joint press conference with his Pakistani counterpart, Yousaf Raza Gilani, in Islamabad Erdoğan referred to last November’s deadly air raid by US jets on the Salala border post that killed over two dozen Pakistani soldiers. The US has expressed regrets over the “mistaken raid,” but has refused the full apology that Pakistan demands.

“I am in a position to remind you of the situation concerning a US apology here for our martyrs in Pakistan” Erdogan said, using roundabout words indicating Washington has to apologize for this raid in line with Pakistani demands. 

Not surprisingly his words were immediately jumped on by a number of columnists in Turkey, given the raging debate concerning the “mistaken raid” by Turkish jets in Uludere last December, just weeks after the Salala raid. 34 Kurds were killed in that raid on suspicion of being members of the PKK terrorist group. 

As it turned out it was merely a group of local Kurdish smugglers carrying fuel from Northern Iraq into Turkey on horseback that was hit. The issue hit the headlines once again after a recent Wall Street Journal article on the use of a US “Predator” unmanned aerial vehicle in that raid. 

The press has been demanding to know who was responsible for authorizing “the kill,” which also came at a time of high sensitivity in Turkey concerning the Kurdish issue. The government dragged its foot concerning the investigation into the incident, which many in the media are referring to as the “Uludere Massacre,” and is only now providing snippets of information after the WSJ article. 

It has also refrained from offering an apology, even though a blatant mistake was made leaving 34 citizens of Kurdish origin dead. In the meantime the Minister for Interior Idris Naim Şahin - who has made a name for himself over his insensitive and odd statements and behavior - went on record on Wednesday saying the incident was not one that merited an apology. 

Referring to the Kurds killed in the raid as “our people,” Şahin said “they had lost their lives while involved in smuggling,” adding that if they were alive today they would be in court facing a trial. 

“Because they faced a harsher situation in which they can not be tried, the smuggling side of the matter has been overshadowed” he added in remarks which have merely enhanced his negative image for many in this country. He seems to be suggesting, in a Kafkaesque manner, that those people were lucky to have been killed otherwise they would be going to prison.

The refusal by the government to offer anything that resembles an apology for the Uludere raid involving Turkish citizens is inevitably in stark contrast with Erdoğan’s demand for an apology by Washington for the Salala raid involving “our martyrs” in Pakistan. 

This is why one has to ask how Erdoğan tallies eating this pickled cabbage with his diet. Pakistanis may be happy over his remarks concerning the Salala raid, but it is clear that not everyone in Turkey is swallowing this cabbage. 


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mara mcglothin

5/25/2012 7:48:14 PM

RYAN If you asked those Kurds if they were Turkish citizens they would probably say no. There won't be any peace until Turkey give the Kurds their own nation, which is not ever going to happen and so the violence will continue. Would you let your child smuggle goods in a war zone? That is insanity! They didn't deserve to die, but they did place themselves in harms way.

mara mcglothin

5/25/2012 7:43:31 PM

DARIO So Ozel was 2nd class? and the military attaches I know of Kurdish decent are all second class? Some people better their lot and become valuable members of society, while others are brainwashed by their families to believe they are not Turkish. Be serious for a moment. The PKK is only interested in an independent nation called Kurdistan on Turkish soil and that is NOT ever going to happen. Get an education and become part of Turkey or continue to live as fugitives. Simple.

mara mcglothin

5/25/2012 7:39:12 PM

RYAN The problem is on both sides. Many Turkish citizens of Kurdish decent(BECAUSE LIKE DOGAN SAYS THAT IT WHAT THEY ARE) do NOT acknowledge that they are Turks. They have been taught not to salute the flag and take part in society by their parents? DOGAN The PKK will not be happy until they have part of Turkey which will never happen. They can say what they like about education in their language, etc, but it all boils down to Kurdistan, so the fighting will continue.

dogan kemal ileri

5/25/2012 3:30:14 PM

Foreigners please take note Kurds and Turks have been integrating for over a thousand years annyone living in Turkiye with a Turkish passport is a Turk first and foremost and is irrespective of their fundemental ethnicity.All peoples of Turkiye are equal in every sense and the new constitution will verify this and all peoples are our greatest asset.The AKP government will make all this possible despite the killing and disruptive actions of the PKK.Why don't the pkk see this constitution through

dario Kurd

5/25/2012 1:37:50 PM

unfortunitly Turks see Kurds as a second class citizen that the Turk state can kill and abuse their human right..untill Turks come to a belive that kurds should be treated as partner not a second class citizens the war will continue. now the liberation of syrian Kurdistan is seen on horizon..lets see how long turkey can continue can continue its oppressive policies on Kurds while others Kurds get liberated.

Ryan James

5/25/2012 9:41:19 AM

The "kurds" killed at Uladere were Turkish citizens. Or doesn't that matter. Until it does, there will be no peace.
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