Politics & Policy

Turkey as Target

The war finds a new theater.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article appears in the December 22, 2003, issue of National Review.

Four bombs in Istanbul have recently killed over 60 people, wounding more than 700. The targets were a well-known bank, the British consulate, and two synagogues, and somebody chose them carefully as coded attacks on Western capitalism and imperialism, on Christians and Jews, and never mind that the huge majority of the victims would be Muslims. The Turkish police have arrested suspects who seem to bear the al-Qaeda hallmark, and Syria (of all countries) has handed over 22 Islamists who fled across the border immediately after the bombings.

Turkey is crucial in the war against terror. Its importance as a Muslim country can hardly be exaggerated, whether seen in the perspective of history or current politics. As a member of NATO, Turkey proved a stalwart ally in the Cold War. For years, it has been imploring the European Union for admission, in the face of steady rebuff from the likes of former French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, author of the draft constitution of Europe. The club, he and other Euro-grandees declare with a curl of the lip, is not open to Muslims. The more the Turks are excluded, the harder they try to join. Turkey also has accords with the United States and Israel covering a range of issues, from trade to military training. The use of Turkish bases and facilities has contributed to the American stabilization of the whole Middle East. Crouching in Afghan caves, the al-Qaeda crowd must be driven frantic by this example of Muslims so determined to be like other people. Blow things up, then, and bring them to their Islamist duty before it’s too late.

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