Friday, February 23, 2007

Turkey Urges Delay On Referendum

A little delayed in this story, but I have been busy and haven't had a lot of blogging time the last couple of days. So here goes:

From the AP comes this report.

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkey's prime minister on Tuesday urged one of Iraq's two vice presidents to delay a referendum on the future of Kirkuk, fearing Iraqi Kurdish groups could seize control of the northern, oil-rich city.

Turkey, which has been trying to quell a Kurdish insurgency for more than two decades, is concerned about the growing power of Iraqi Kurds and has repeatedly warned Iraqi Kurdish groups against trying to seize control of Kirkuk.

Iraq's constitution calls for a referendum on Kirkuk's future by the end of the year. The Kurds want to incorporate the city and its rich oilfields into their self-ruled region _ a move the Turks have strongly opposed.

I find this an interesting piece, partly because the Kurds are an ethnic currently without a true homeland. Rarely does the MSM focus on this fact, rarely does the Muslim world give it a second thought. The focus has been for years and probably always will be, the plight of the Palestinians. Yet, we see the Kurds in northern Iraq building a vibrant economy, in a stable political environment, while being treated like the red-headed step-children of the Muslim world.

I understand why Turkey is apprehensive. Separatist Kurdish guerrillas have wreaked havoc in Turkey for years now and there is fear that a more wealthy Kurdish region, could be used to raise revenue for the continuation of said attacks.

Recently, the Turks made what I thought was a nice gesture towards Armenians, another long-time enemy of the Turks. History has much to teach about this schism, as well as that with the Kurds. So, that leads me to pose a couple of quick questions. (Time to flush Anonim out of lurking status.)

If the Kurds were to take control of Kirkuk and were to establish a state of their own that would be their own, why then would they need to launch attacks into Turkey?

Wouldn't this be an opportunity for Kurds that are dissatisfied with living in Turkey to leave and emigrate into the new thriving Kurdistan?

Also: There's an interesting discussion going on in the Russian Rhetoric Not Well Received By Europeans thread, feel free to join in.


Greg said...

LAS: the reason the MSM doesn't talk about the kurds is because it would mean reporting good news from Iraq. They adore America and are thankful for what our sacrifice has given them.

Turkey can pound sand. I seem to remember them refusing to allow passage into northern Iraq in 2003, thereby increasing the risks to our soldiers. If a self-ruling kurdish region, rich in oil, is a finger in the eye of the turks, I say GOOD!

LASunsett said...


I agree with you on why the MSM doesn't report about the successes in the Kurd region of Iraq. But on the decision by Turkey to not allow the US passage into Iraq, I have to say that Turkey was (and still is) in a tough position.

As we were able to see during the Pope situation, there is a radical element. While it may be small, they are still capable of making significant noise. I am fairly certain that there was a great deal of concern that allowing troops to stage part of the invasion would create more problems, than they were willing to risk. As it turns out, we didn't need to use Turkey as a starting point.

Anonim said...

Hi LA. Time to be flushed out of... boredom maybe.

//If the Kurds were to take control of Kirkuk and were to establish a state of their own that would be their own, why then would they need to launch attacks into Turkey?//

There is no simple answer to this, and I too should ask: why would they need that? But, Kurds have their ambitious fanatics, too. Such a group of Turkish origins is already staging cross-border attacks into Turkey from their bases in Northern Iraq. And, talk of Northern/Southern Kurdistan is not unheard of. You know...

//Wouldn't this be an opportunity for Kurds that are dissatisfied with living in Turkey to leave and emigrate into the new thriving Kurdistan?//

Firstly, why would I want such emigration? Secondly, why would these émigrés want to give up their partnership in a Turkey that has done reasonably well without oil? (You know, oil is also characterized by some analysts, not without reason, as the 'black curse.') You qualified the prospective émigrés as the 'dissatisfied' ones. There are a lot of dissatisfied Turks (more correctly in this context, non-Kurds), too, in Turkey. Where would they go? A lot of conscientious people hope and work for achieving satisfaction where they are. Turkey is home to Kurds. Period.

I guess, I don't quite agree with the premise of your questions. And, I don't feel like defending the discriminatory rhetoric coming out of Turkey towards Kurds. It is hard to defend that based on principle, but it can perhaps be justified based on fears or counter rhetoric coming out of anti-Turkish Kurdish nationalists. This latter option is a vicious cycle, and there is a raging struggle in Turkey to break free of it.

(As for Turkey's reservations about the Kirkuk referendum, there is some historical basis for that. It once was a majority Turkmen city, once upon a time, that is; and more importantly, there recently appears to be a dogged Kurdish effort to alter the demographics there. But again, Kurds cannot be expected to remain a tribal people forever, and Turkey could have supported and embraced Iraqi Kurds, too, instead of trying to use the Turkmen card as wedge to keep the Kurds from being. Ah, those fears and narrow-minded nationalisms! The sad thing is, we supported them in nearly all practical manners. They ran to and found shelter in Turkey when Saddam gassed them. No-fly zone was enforced from Incirlik, Turkey. Their economy is thriving thanks largely to trade and business with Turkey. Turkish investments there are significant. Turkish doctors go there and open high-tech clinics and hospitals. On and on. If and when peace comes, oil from Kirkuk will most likely want to flow to Iskenderun, a Turkish port on the Mediterranean, via the old pipeline... And yet, we deny ourselves the moral return for all this, thanks to those fears and narrow-minded nationalisms.)

LASunsett said...

Hi Anonim,

//Time to be flushed out of... boredom maybe.//

If think your life is boring, try maintaining a blog with all of the ad nauseum news coverage she is getting two weeks after her death. ;)

//I guess, I don't quite agree with the premise of your questions.//

Well, the problem with maintaining a blog (other than the aforementioned subject grabbing half of the air time on the news shows) is, it's often difficult to post on complex topics, with a time schedule that must give real life due precedence. Therefore, the posts and questions posed are often over-simplified.

The real reasons for my asking these questions?

1. I wanted to know more about the thinking of Turks on this, besides what the article explained. As far as I know, you are the only Turk that comments here. I figured you could shed some extra light on this (which you did and I thank you) subject.

2. We have missed your eloquent discourse lately and it's my way of seeing if you are okay. ;)

Anyway, I suppose you are right when you imply that Kurds (like many others) often become dissatisfied, for various reasons. Case in point here in America: The right-wing militias. But my concern is best summed up by another question (probably over-simplified, as per usual).

But that's a subject for another post, another day, when I have time to develop it more thoroughly. Stay tuned. ;)

Off topic: There is a Turkish restaurant that has opened up down the street from where I work. Any recommendations of good dishes, would be appreciated. Keep in mind: I do not like things laced with onions, but a bit for seasoning is okay. (I like onions as seasoning, not vegetables.) And, I do not like bell peppers in any form or fashion. So, with that in mind, any help would be appreciated, as I do love Middle eastern dishes such as kibby.

Thanks for you comments and thanks in advance for your recommendations.

LASunsett said...

If think your life is boring, try maintaining a blog with all of the ad nauseum news coverage she is getting two weeks after her death.

She = Anna Nicole

Anonim said...

I'd gotten the Anna Nicole reference. How could I miss it?

As for advice on dishes, that's a sensitive subject :) We like meat and yogurt together for example. How does that sound to you? Can try the following (if available).

-- Iskender Kabob (or Doner Kabob)
Iskender is a more specifically defined dish of a somewhat higher rank with the tomato sauce and butter drizzle on top, yogurt and bulgur (or rice) pilaf on the side, and chopped pita as the bed (no onions). Doner can come in many forms (even as a wrap or sandwich) with onions most probably; gotta ask to omit onions. In both cases, the meat is sliced off of a vertical rotisserie (gyro idea). The meat is traditionally beef & lamb. There are modern variants like chicken (and fish even, I heard).

-- Any other kabob (Adana Kabob, Antep Kabob, Shish Kabob, Beyti Kabob, Lamb chops, ...)
-- Inegol Kofte (small meatballs in the shape of two digits of your index finger)
-- Kiremitte Kofte (meatballs in an earthen plate; oven-baked /w tomato sauce)
Just ask about onions. A bunch of thinly sliced onions rubbed with sumac is a common side to most kabobs. So... I don't think you need to fear from bell peppers here. You may get grilled or pan-roasted peppers of other kinds though. Can always ask. (In Turkey actually, in most old-style restaurants, you can take a look at the food, and order after seeing it.) Don't pass grilled or pan-roasted slices of tomatoes, based in juices from the meat. Something to die for (IMO) if done right.

If you like eggplants, try 'Ali Nazik' (main course with meat) or eggplant salad.

-- Manti (something like ravioli but smaller pieces to be spooned; with meat filling always; garlic-yogurt and butter-red pepper sauce on top).

-- Pide (Turkish pizza if you like; toppings vary; no tomato sauce; so dryer; Papa John's comes closest to it, in terms of the bread texture)

-- Lahmacun (smaller thin-crust pizzas if you like; one eats two or three of them; the topping is generally high-fat ground meat mixed with spices; ask about onions)

-- Yaprak Dolma (/w meat)
Grape leave wraps of rice and ground meat, these are. Comes with a garlic-yogurt sauce on top.

-- Yalanci Dolma (veggie version; served as cold side typically)
This has currants, pinenuts, rice, a lot of onions etc. in it, all cooked with olive oil prior to wrapping and a second round of cooking. You can't tell the onions though unless your taste buds are sharply tuned.

-- All other olive oil based cold sides. If the menu is in Turkish, they start with the adjective "Zeytinyagli" (in or with olive oil).

-- For dessert, try 'kunefe' (shredded dough mixed with a special melting cheese, baked and drizzled with a water-sugar syrup), or of course, baklava. You may think you know these from other Middle Eastern or Greek places. But you may be surprised (if of course this restaurant is any good, or authentic).

Also, if this restaurant is true to its kind, you won't find any meat-sweet sauce combination.

If I saw the menu, I could be more to the point. Good luck and bon appetite.

Always On Watch Two said...

Is there oil in Kirkuk?

LASunsett said...


//Is there oil in Kirkuk?//

Yes. My understanding is there is quite a bit. Much of it has not been tapped yet, because of the political situation.

LASunsett said...


Thanks for the tips. I think I could enjoy some of those dishes. I love Greek and Middle Eastern fare, and that sounds pretty similar to many of their dishes. Is there a Turkish form of kibby? Kibby is some pretty good food, if you ask me.

Anonim said...

Ehm, I don't know what 'kibby' is. If you describe a bit, maybe I can identify it or a similar dish.

Btw, did you watch the opening sketch of SNL yesterday? It was a hilarious take on CNN's Situation Room host stuggling to get over with the Anna Nicole story. And, how about that judge? First time I saw scenes from his court, I couldn't decide whether it was real or a satire.

ms. miami said...

if i may butt in, kibbi is a wonderful 'meatball' infused with lamb and bulgher wheat. at least, i'm familiar with its lebanese incarnation.

in my time in turkey, i noticed that kibbi, hummus, baba ganouj and other levantine dishes were not very common. however, the pilaf with yogurt and eggplant dishes were a nice addition.

i adore all forms of mediterranean food and can cook up some great morrocan, greek, persian and, of course, southern french specialties.

although i am less experienced in cooking turkish food, i do love it and try to make it to the 1-2 turkish restaurants in my area. (of course, when there is little competition, the prices are high- so i can't make it as often as i like)

LASunsett said...


//I don't know what 'kibby' is//


//if i may butt in, kibbi is a wonderful 'meatball' infused with lamb and bulgher wheat. at least, i'm familiar with its lebanese incarnation.//

That's pretty much it.

When I lived in a town called Terre Haute many years ago, they had a Syrian population. They came in the early 1900s (I can't remember which decade off the top of my head). Most of them either owned grocery stores, restaurants, or catering services. Kibby (as they spelled it) was a staple there, for some reason they made it and sold it, on Saturdays, in those establishments that served it.

They used ground beef, cracked wheat, some light cinnamon, a few pieces of onion, and pine nuts. We could get it one of two ways, fried or baked. Fried was shaped like a football (American), part of the meat (mostly ground beef, because lamb is very expensive and Hauteans wouldn't pay it) is mixed with the wheat to form a shell that is stuffed with the meat, onion, and pine nuts. Baked looks like a pan of brownies before being cut. one layer- shell mix, one layer meat mix, and then another shell mix.

It's one of my favorites, with beef or lamb.

Anonim said...

Okay then, that (kibby) would be something like what we call "icli kofte." Fine bulgur and some extra lean ground meat is made into a dough, which is then shaped into a ball 'round a rich stuffing. Stuffing may contain meat, too, but otherwise, it is onions, other spices, and nuts (walnuts mostly in Turkish case). It's cooked in a variety of ways. Some just boil it, and drizzle butter on top before serving. Some boil and bake, and some fry it. In Turkey, there is also meat-free versions (fried mostly) that are served like cold snacks or sides.

Btw, "icli kofte" (pronounced "eachly kofteh") means 'stuffed meatballs.' Again I don't know what 'kibby/kibbi' means.

LA, I hope you'd report here if and when you gave that place a try. I got curious and hungry.

LASunsett said...


//did you watch the opening sketch of SNL yesterday?//

Sorry, I missed it. I haven't watched SNL for a few years now.

//I hope you'd report here if and when you gave that place a try.//

I sure will. I do not know when that'll be though. Until the novelty wears off, it's probably going to be a bit crowded at lunchtime and I do not have time to wait very long, when I am working. May hit it for dinner sometime, though.