Arming Repression:

U.S. Arms Sales to Turkey During the Clinton Administration

by Tamar Gabelnick, William D. Hartung, and Jennifer Washburn with research assistance by Michelle Ciarrocca A Joint Report of the World Policy Institute and the Federation of American Scientists October 1999




Executive Summary and Recommendations

I. Introduction: Humanitarianism and Double Standards

II. U.S. Arms Sales to Turkey: Rhetoric and Reality

III. Turkey's Use of U.S.-Origin Weaponry in Its War Against the Kurds

IV. Fueling Tensions: Cyprus and the Greek/Turkish Arms Race

V. Turkey's Weapons Shopping Spree: The $150 Billion Question Mark

VI. Human Rights in Turkey: Recent Developments

VII. A New U.S. Policy Towards Turkey

List of Tables in the Text

Table I: Dollar Value of U.S. Arms Deliveries to Turkey through the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Programs from FY 1950 to 1998

Table II: U.S. Security Assistance to Turkey, FY 1984 to FY 1999

Table III: Grant Excess Defense Articles (EDA) Under Section 516 to Turkey, FY 1990 to FY 1998

Table IV: International Military Education and Training Program (IMET) Assistance Received by Turkey, FY 1950 to FY 1999

Links to Appendix Tables

Table A: U.S. Arms Transfers to Turkey 1992 - Present

Table B: Turkey's Deals in the Works

Table C: Coproduction and Offsets with Turkey


Executive Summary

This report is being released at a critical juncture in the arms supply relationship between Turkey and the United States. As Turkey embarks upon an eight year, $31 billion military modernization plan, recent events - from the devastating August 17th earthquake that resulted in 15,000 deaths to the announcement by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) of its willingness to lay down its arms in exchange for a chance to pursue Kurdish rights within the Turkish political system - have raised serious questions about the wisdom of promoting a major weapons buildup in Turkey at this time.

Given its role as Turkey's principal arms supplier, the United States has enormous potential leverage over Turkish behavior on critical issues such as respect for human rights and the pursuit of negotiated settlements to the 15-year civil war with the PKK and the 25-year old division of Cyprus. The time to use this leverage is now. In a "political aftershock" prompted by the government's handling of the earthquake, the Turkish media and non-governmental organizations have stepped up demands for fundamental reforms such as the revision of Turkey's military-dominated constitution. In addition, Turkish human rights, economic, and security policies are about to face an intense international spotlight when 54 heads of state attend the upcoming summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation and Europe (OSCE) in Istanbul on November 18th-20th.

The Clinton administration has displayed a split personality in its approach to arms transfers and human rights in Turkey. A 1996 deal for Bell-Textron Cobra helicopters was shelved due to concerns about Turkey's use of U.S.-supplied helicopters against Kurdish civilians in its war on the PKK, and U.S. government subsidies for arms exports to Turkey have been cut back dramatically in the past two years. But the Clinton administration has maintained a steady flow of U.S. weaponry to Turkey (averaging $800 million per year in deliveries) and in late 1997, under pressure from arms makers, the administration cleared the way for Boeing and Bell-Textron to compete for a $4 billion sale of 145 advanced attack helicopters to Ankara.

State Department officials have told non-governmental human rights organizations that the department will not approve a license for a final sale of U.S. attack helicopters to Turkey unless the government makes significant progress on the following criteria:

1) decriminalization of free speech; 2) release of journalists and parliamentarians who have been imprisoned for political reasons; 3) an end to torture and police impunity;

4) reopening of non-governmental organizations that have been shut down by Turkish authorities; 5) democratization and expansion of political participation; 6) lifting the state of emergency in southeastern Turkey; and 7) resettlement of internal refugees displaced by the civil war. Yet despite Turkey's lack of progress in meeting these standards (see section VI, below), at a July 1999 press briefing in Ankara Secretary of Defense William Cohen tried to give Turkey a clean bill of health on human rights when he stated that he saw "no impediment" to any pending U.S. arms transfer to Turkey.

At this moment of tremendous political ferment in Turkey, the Clinton administration should side with the forces in Turkish civil society who are pressing for genuine democracy by abandoning Secretary Cohen's "business-as-usual" approach to weapons exports and conditioning future U.S. arms transfers to Turkey on concrete improvements in human rights and the peaceful resolution of Turkey's internal and external conflicts.

Major Findings

Finding 1 - Despite complaints by the Turkish government and media that the U.S. has imposed a "shadow embargo"on arms sales to Turkey, the United States remains Turkey's top arms supplier. The State Department has acknowledged that "the Turkish armed forces are roughly 80 percent dependent on U.S.-origin equipment." Turkey received over $4.9 billion in U.S. weaponry during first six years of the Clinton administration, an average of over $800 million per year.

Finding 2 - Turkey continues to use U.S.-supplied weaponry to prosecute its war against the PKK and maintain military control of northern Cyprus. U.S.-supplied fighter planes, helicopters, armored personnel carriers, and rifles have been a mainstay of Turkey's 15-year long war against the PKK, which has claimed the lives of 37,000 people (mostly Kurds) and resulted in the destruction of 3,000 Kurdish villages in southeastern Turkey. Press reports from Cyprus state that 90% of the Turkish military equipment in Cyprus is of U.S.-origin, and a classified report to Congress in the summer of 1999 revealed that both Turkey and Greece have sent U.S. arms to Cyprus, in contravention of a 1988 amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act which prohibits equipment sold under the Pentagon's Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program from being transferred to the island. The steady flow of U.S. weaponry to Turkey has enabled the Turkish government and armed forces to resist a diplomatic settlement of the Cyprus question and ignore PKK peace overtures in pursuit of total military victory in the war in the southeast.

Finding 3 - The vast majority of U.S. arms transfers to Turkey have been subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. In many cases, these taxpayer funds are supporting military production and employment in Turkey, not in the United States. Of the $10.5 billion in U.S. weaponry delivered to Turkey since the outbreak of the war with the PKK in 1984, 77% of the value of those shipments - $8 billion in all - has been directly or indirectly financed by grants and subsidized loans provided by the U.S. government. Many of the largest deals - such as Lockheed Martin's sale of 240 F-16s to the Turkish air force and the FMC Corporation's provision of 1,698 armored vehicles to the Turkish army - involve coproduction and offset provisions which steer investments, jobs, and production to Turkey as a condition of the sale. For example, Turkey's F-16 assembly plant in Ankara - a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) - employs 2,000 production workers, almost entirely paid for with U.S. tax dollars.

Finding 4 - Despite recent gestures toward reform, to date the Turkish government has failed to make progress on the specific human rights criteria set out by the State Department as a condition for approving a final sale of U.S. attack helicopters to Ankara. A June 1999 ruling by the Council of Europe accused Ankara of "repeated and serious" human rights violations and charged that there had been "no significant progress" in the past two years in limiting incidents of torture, disappearances, and extrajudicial killings. Turkey's continuing crackdown on journalists, independent human rights monitors, and Kurdish and Islamic political parties combined with its systematic failure to bring police and security personnel to justice for committing acts of murder and torture suggest that it will take more than a few changes in procedure or the revision of a few particularly egregious laws to create the conditions for genuine human rights improvements in Turkey. In September 1999, Sami Selcuk, the President of the Turkish Court of Appeals, gave a public address in which he indicated how far Turkey has to go to achieve a "real democracy." He argued that the legitimacy of Turkey's current constitution is "close to naught" because it was "imposed on society under threat," and urged that "Turkey must not enter the 21st century as a country that is busy, by repressive laws, crushing its inhabitants and reducing them to silence."


Recommendation 1 - The Clinton administration should withhold final approval for the sale of U.S. attack helicopters to Turkey unless the Turkish government meets the seven human rights criteria previously outlined by the State Department as a condition of the deal: 1) decriminalization of free speech; 2) release of journalists and parliamentarians who have been imprisoned for political reasons; 3) an end to torture and police impunity; 4) reopening of non-governmental organizations that have been shut down by Turkish authorities; 5) democratization and expansion of political participation; 6) lifting the state of emergency in southeastern Turkey; and 7) resettlement of internal refugees displaced by the civil war.

Recommendation 2 - All future U.S. arms sales to Turkey - from M-16 rifles to F-16 combat aircraft - should be conditioned on concrete improvements in human rights and democratization (as specified above) and efforts to negotiate peaceful settlements to the Cyprus dispute and Turkey's war against the Kurdish resistance in the southeast. Linking U.S. arms sales to peace and democratization may cause friction with the Turkish government in the short-term, but it offers the best hope of building a stable, long-term relationship between the United States and Turkey that addresses the best interests of the people of both nations.

Recommendation 3 - The U.S. government should replace its military-oriented, "arms for influence" policy towards Turkey with a more balanced, "peace first" strategy that emphasizes classic diplomatic and economic ties. Non-military aid and investment projects - from earthquake relief to proposals for a $3.7 billion oil pipeline - should take precedence over arms transfers as a basis for U.S.-Turkish relations.

Recommendation 4 - Congress should enact a uniform set of criteria for arms exports that would subject all countries to the same strict standards. This "Code of Conduct" should prevent U.S. arms sales to countries that are undemocratic, abuse human rights, are engaged in acts of armed aggression, or do not provide data on their arms imports and exports to the United Nations register of conventional armaments.

I. Introduction: Humanitarianism and Double Standards

In the wake of NATO's spring 1999 bombing campaign in Kosovo, pundits and politicians alike have rushed to proclaim a new era in U.S. foreign relations in which humanitarian concerns are expected to play a greater role relative to the traditional strategic and economic interests that shaped U.S. policy during the Cold War. While this optimistic view ignores glaring flaws in the way NATO's Kosovo intervention was carried out - from the absence of a United Nations mandate to the widespread use of anti-personnel weapons that wounded and killed hundreds of civilian non-combatants - it definitely captures the emerging emphasis on human rights concepts and humanitarian rhetoric in providing a public rationale for major foreign policy undertakings.(1)

The humanitarian impulses cited as justification for the intervention in Kosovo raise obvious questions regarding U.S. policies and practices in other parts of the world. At what point does a country's record of repression become so blatant that it outweighs other economic, military, and political considerations in crafting U.S. policy towards that nation? Will the standards that the U.S. applied to an adversary, Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, also be applied to U.S. allies which have engaged in systematic and well-documented human rights abuses?

Perhaps the best test of the staying power of the "new humanitarianism" is the U.S. relationship with Turkey, a NATO ally that has engaged in its own unique brand of internal "ethnic cleansing" against its Kurdish population. Using U.S.-supplied combat planes, helicopters, armored personnel carriers and rifles, the Turkish armed forces have waged a 15-year long civil war against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that has resulted in over 37,000 deaths (mostly Kurds). Turkey's principal strategy in its war against the PKK has been a "scorched earth" policy in the southeastern portion of the country that has involved bombing, burning, and depopulating over 3,000 Kurdish villages and creating between 500,000 and 2.5 million internal refugees.(2)

While the current level of intensity of Turkey's 15-year war against the Kurds may differ from the Milosevic regime's massive spring 1999 campaign of ethnic slaughter in Kosovo, the underlying rationales are eerily similar. Just as ethnic cleansing by the Yugoslav armed forces and Serb militias in Kosovo were justified as responses to "terrorist" activities on the part of the Kosovo Liberation Army, Turkey's military repression of its Kurdish population has been rationalized as a legitimate reaction to PKK "terrorism." In both cases the underlying grievances of the affected populations - the denial of fundamental political and cultural rights and the imposition of military and paramilitary violence - have been ignored as the regime sought to impose its will through force of arms.

Beyond the intensity and duration of the killing, the most glaring difference between the two cases is the response of the United States. In Kosovo, the U.S. and its NATO allies waged a major air war to drive Serb forces out of the province. In Turkey, the United States and its NATO allies have been the primary suppliers of armaments to the Ankara regime.

If the Clinton administration can justify going to war over ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, it should be able to muster the political will for the far less demanding task of stopping the supply of U.S. weaponry that is being used to fuel ethnic repression in Turkey. The rationales for continuing to supply U.S. arms to Turkey - including its role as a NATO ally, its strategic position between Europe, the Middle East and the Caucasus, and its role as an ally in recent conflicts in the Persian Gulf, Bosnia, and Kosovo - must be weighed against the ongoing damage to U.S. credibility and Turkish stability entailed in providing so much of the weaponry that Turkey is using in its war against the Kurds.

This report is being released at a critical juncture in the arms supply relationship between the United States and Turkey. The Ankara regime is about to embark on an eight year, $31 billion arms buying spree, beginning with a major purchase of 145 attack helicopters at a total cost of $3.5 to $4 billion. The choice of a contractor for Turkey's new attack helicopter is slated for some time next year.

The attack helicopter deal is particularly controversial given the past use of U.S. helicopters to transport troops and support attacks on Kurdish villages. In 1996, a coalition of arms control and human rights groups persuaded the Clinton administration to withdraw a smaller deal involving Bell-Textron Cobra helicopters due to concerns over the potential use of the aircraft against the Kurdish population.(3) The postponement of the Cobra deal and several other smaller sales to Turkey eventually prompted the Turkish government and its allies in the U.S. arms industry to complain bitterly of a "shadow embargo" on U.S. arms sales to Turkey. This claim does not hold up to scrutiny - Turkey has received $4.9 billion in U.S. weaponry during the Clinton administration - but it indicates the urgency that Turkish leaders and U.S. arms exporters place on getting some big new deals signed as soon as possible.

In late 1997, under pressure from Bell-Textron and Boeing, the Clinton administration approved licenses for these U.S. firms to participate in the competition to sell attack helicopters to Ankara.(4) Mindful of the human rights concerns raised by the sale, State Department officials have asserted that they will not approve a final export license unless Turkey has made significant progress on human rights and agreed to a system under which Washington can monitor Turkey's use of U.S.-supplied equipment. State Department officials have told non-governmental human rights organizations that the Department's standards for measuring Turkey's progress on human rights will include the following: 1) decriminalization of free speech; 2) release of journalists and parliamentarians who have been imprisoned for political reasons; 3) an end to torture and police impunity; 4) reopening of non-governmental organizations that have been shut down by Turkish authorities; 5) democratization and expansion of political participation; 6) the lifting of the state of emergency in southeastern Turkey; and 7) the resettlement of internal refugees displaced by the civil war.(5) In the year and one-half since the Clinton administration first articulated these criteria, Turkey has failed to show substantial improvement in most of these areas. In fact, in some ways its record has actually gotten worse (see section VI, below). Despite this lack of progress on human rights, there are rumors that President Clinton and his top aides may be preparing to lobby the Turkish government on behalf of U.S. helicopter makers when the president visits Turkey for the summit meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) scheduled for November 18th-20th in Istanbul.

Beyond the specifics of the attack helicopter sale, there are deeper issues raised by the U.S.-Turkish arms supply relationship. Is the supply of billions of dollars in top-of-the-line U.S. weaponry to a regime that has engaged in routine ethnic repression and widespread anti-democratic practices in the best interests of the U.S. or Turkish people? Are there better ways to promote democracy and stability in Turkey? Will the U.S. and its allies in NATO and the OSCE put a small fraction of the energy and resources they spent waging war in Kosovo into diplomatic efforts aimed at reversing ethnic repression and anti-democratic practices in Turkey? This report will address these questions in the context of an analysis of the costs and consequences - human, economic, and strategic - of continued U.S. weapons exports to Turkey.

As this report was going to press, the political situation in Turkey was transformed by the repercussions of the August 17th earthquake, which resulted in 15,000 deaths and provoked serious questions from the Turkish media and public about the competence and integrity of the Turkish state. This in turn has resulted in calls for reform of Turkey's 1982 constitution - which was drafted by a military-led government - and for new approaches to longstanding conflicts like the war in the southeast and Turkey's dispute with Greece over the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Whether this reformist impulse will open the door to major changes in Turkish government policy on the issues of arms and human rights discussed in this report remains to be seen. At a minimum, the sheer costs of repairing the billions of dollars in damage caused by the earthquake should raise questions about the wisdom of proceeding with Turkey's current plans for a multi-billion dollar arms buildup. We will return to these questions below.

The report will cover the following topics: 1) the public rationale for U.S. arms exports to Turkey and a detailed accounting of U.S. arms transfers to Turkey since 1992; 2) an analysis of the use of U.S. weaponry in Turkey's war in the southeast; 3) the role of U.S. arms transfers in fueling tensions in Cyprus and sparking a potential arms race between Greece and Turkey; 4) an overview of Turkey's current weapons shopping spree, including background on the pending attack helicopter deal; 5) an assessment of Turkey's recent record on human rights and democratization; and 6) outlines of a new U.S. security policy towards Turkey.

II. U.S. Arms Sales to Turkey: Rhetoric and Reality

The United States has a longstanding arms supply relationship with Turkey, dating back to the provision of U.S. assistance to Greece and Turkey under the Truman Doctrine in the early 1950s. The architects of the U.S. policy of containment of communism viewed Turkey as a valuable ally because of its strategic location, bordering the former Soviet Union and at the crossroads between Europe and the Middle East. Turkey was also favored because of the willingness of a succession of U.S.-backed regimes in Ankara to provide U.S. forces with access to everything from major airfields (like the air base at Incirlik) to intelligence listening posts that could be used to monitor developments in the Soviet Union.

The U.S.-Turkey security relationship was severely strained during the mid-1970s after Turkish forces used their U.S.-supplied weapons to invade and occupy a portion of the island of Cyprus, nearly sparking a full-scale war with Greece in the process. Public and Congressional reaction to the invasion of Cyprus led to a brief embargo on U.S. military aid to Turkey, but bilateral ties were reinvigorated in the last year of the Carter administration when the two nations signed a Defense and Economic Cooperation Agreement (DECA) on March 29, 1980.(6)

Since the end of the Cold War, the rationale for maintaining the U.S. role as Turkey's top arms supplier has shifted from fighting communism to fighting instability, terrorism, and Islamic fundamentalism. The conventional wisdom in Washington is that Turkey is a moderate regime that lives in a "tough neighborhood," and that its value as an ally in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and recent conflicts in Bosnia and Kosovo (not to mention potential future conflicts in the Middle East and the Caucasus) outweighs the negative consequences of its record of corruption, human rights abuses, and military interference in politics. A sanitized version of this viewpoint was provided in the FY 1999 edition of the State Department's Congressional Presentation for Foreign Operations:

"Turkey is vitally important to U.S. interests. Its position athwart the Bosporus - at the strategic nexus of Europe, the Middle East, the Caucasus and the Caspian - makes it an essential player on a wide range of issues vital to U.S. security, political, and economic interests. In a region of generally weak economies and shaky democratic traditions, political instability, terrorism, and ethnic strife, Turkey is a democratic secular nation that draws its political models from Western Europe and the United States. Turkey has cooperated intensively with the U.S. as a NATO ally and is also vigorously seeking to deepen its political and economic ties with Europe."(7)

The State Department's congressional presentation goes on to note that "Turkish armed forces are roughly 80 percent dependent on U.S.-origin equipment."(8) Despite assertions to the contrary, to date Turkey's extreme dependence on U.S. weaponry has given the United States limited leverage in influencing Turkish behavior on fundamental issues such as respect for human rights, restraint in the war against the PKK, or negotiations to end tensions between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus. As we will discuss in section VI, past promises by Turkey to improve its policies on human rights and democracy in exchange for a continuing flow of U.S. weapons and training have not been fulfilled, raising serious questions about whether the supply of weapons should remain the centerpiece of the U.S.-Turkish relationship (see section VII, below).

The State of the Trade - U.S. Weapons Transfers to Turkey:

Despite President-elect Bill Clinton's November 1992 pledge to "review our arms sales policy and take it up with the other major sellers of the world as part of a long-term effort to reduce the proliferation of weapons of destruction in the hands of people who might use them in very destructive ways," his administration has pursued a business-as-usual policy on arms sales which has, if anything, resulted in more aggressive government support for U.S. weapons exporting firms than they received under the Reagan and Bush administrations.(9) Advocates of limiting arms sales based on human rights and arms control considerations have scored occasional victories, but in general the Clinton administration's approach to arms sales has been "whatever the market will bear." The ups and downs of U.S. arms exports in the Clinton era have had more to do with the availability of cash-paying customers than any consistent pattern of concern about the consequences of U.S. sales. This has certainly been the case with respect to Turkey, where the shelving of specific deals like a proposed 1994 sale of cluster bombs and a 1996 offer of Cobra attack helicopters have been counterbalanced by a steady flow of U.S. weaponry totaling nearly $4.9 billion during the first six years of the Clinton administration. U.S. sales to Turkey during the Clinton era have been more than four times as large as the entire value of U.S. arms transfers to Turkey during the 34 years from 1950 to 1983. For a detailed listing of major arms deals between the United States and Turkey during the Clinton era, see Appendix Table A.

Those who have expressed concern about a "shadow embargo" on U.S. weapons transfers to Turkey can rest easy: deliveries of U.S. weaponry under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) programs - the two largest channels of U.S. arms exports, topped $1 billion for the first time ever in FY 1997 (see Table I, below). U.S. arms transfers to Turkey during the Clinton administration have averaged out to over $800 million per year, making Turkey one of the largest recipients of U.S. arms during the 1990s, ranking right below such favored clients as Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Israel, and Egypt. And despite the fact that the Clinton administration's term of office has coincided with one of the most intense periods of Turkey's war against the PKK, the volume of U.S. weaponry supplied to Turkey has been increasing, not diminishing over this period. Of the $10.5 billion in U.S. weaponry supplied to Turkey since the civil war in the southeast began in 1984, 47% of the shipments (measured by value) have occurred during the Clinton administration. This large and uninterrupted flow of armaments to the Turkish armed forces speaks far more loudly than the occasional State Department protest or the even rarer instances in which a system is withheld or a deal is delayed due to human rights concerns. For a description of current "deals in the works" between U.S. arms makers and the Turkish armed forces, see Appendix Table B.

Table I:

Total Dollar Value of U.S. Arms Deliveries to Turkey through the Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) and Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Programs from FY 1950 to 1998

(dollars in thousands)
Fiscal Year DCS FMS Total
FY 1950 to FY 1983 63,831 1,132,234 $1,196,065
FY 1984 26,751 304,907 $331,658
FY 1985 27,848 389,296 $417,144
FY 1986 23,813 282,300 $306,113
FY 1987 67,947 277,138 $345,085
FY 1988 47,464 699,944 $747,408
FY 1989 342,653 620,929 $963,582
FY 1990 220,302 760,801 $981,103
FY 1991 79,922 626,575 $706,497
FY 1992 37,673 703,369 $741,042
FY 1993 122,481 755,811 $878,292
FY 1994 14,824 937,019 $951,843
FY 1995 162,510 374,425 $536,935
FY 1996 64,124 482,850 $546,974
FY 1997 103,866 1,167,109 $1,270,975
FY 1998* (estimate) 201,000 541,204 742,204
Total 1984 to 1998 $1,543,178 $8,923,677 $10,466,855
Total 1993 to 1998 (Clinton Administration) $668,805 $4,258,418 $4,927,223
Total 1950 to 1998 $1,607,009 $10,055,911 $11,662,920

Source: Foreign Military Sales, Foreign Military Construction Sales and Military Assistance Facts, Defense Security Assistance Agency as of September 1997. *The FY1998 Direct Commercial Sales estimate was taken from the FY2000 Congressional Presentation for Foreign Operations prepared by the U.S. Department of State, and the Foreign Military Sales FY1998 figure was taken from the Section 655 Report prepared by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

Who Pays for Turkey's Weapons Imports - Tracking U.S. Government Subsidies:


The vast majority of U.S. arms transfers to Turkey have been subsidized by U.S. taxpayers. Of the $10.5 billion in U.S. weaponry delivered to Turkey under the FMS and commercial sales programs since the outbreak of the war with the PKK in 1984, 77% of the value of those shipments - over $8 billion in all - has been directly or indirectly subsidized under three major security assistance programs: 1) $1 billion in grants under the Military Assistance Program (discontinued in 1989); 2) $1.9 billion in grants and $3.7 billion in subsidized loans under the Pentagon's Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program; and 3) $1.1 billion in grants and $148.5 million in loans under the Economic Support Fund (ESF) program (see Table II, below). Of the $8 billion in total U.S. subsidies granted since 1984, over $2 billion of that amount was provided during FY 1993 through FY 1998, during the first six years of the Clinton administration.

The three main export subsidy programs have different structures and legislative histories, but their net impacts are similar. The MAP and FMF programs are direct subsidies for weapons exports, while the ESF program is a powerful indirect subsidy. ESF grants and loans are provided only to countries of special security concern to the United States, with the bulk of the funds in recent years going to Israel, Egypt, and Turkey. In Turkey's case, the vast majority of ESF funds have been in the form of cash grants which have been used to offset the costs of weapons purchases from the United States.

Table II:

U.S. Security Assistance to Turkey, FY 1984 to FY 1999

(dollars in thousands)
Fiscal Year MAP[1] Grant


Grant Subsidized



Grant Subsidized


FY 1984 130,000 0 585,000 75,000 63,500 $853,500
FY 1985 215,000 0 485,000 90,000 85,000 $875,000
FY 1986 205,755 0 409,453 119,625 0 $734,833
FY 1987 312,059 0 177,941 100,000 0 $590,000
FY 1988 156,000 156,000 178,000 32,000 0 $522,000
FY 1989 69,250 340,750 90,000 60,000 0 $560,000
FY 1990 -- 412,220 85,630 14,263 0 $512,113
FY 1991 -- 500,000 100,000 250,000 0 $850,000
FY 1992 -- 475,000 25,000 75,000 0 $575,000
FY 1993 -- 0 450,000 125,000 0 $575,000
FY 1994 -- 0 405,000 119,978 0 $524,978
FY 1995 -- 0 328,050 45,750 0 $373,800
FY 1996 -- 0 320,000 33,500 0 $353,500
FY 1997 -- 0 175,000 22,000 0 $197,000
FY 1998 -- -- -- -- -- --
FY 1999 -- -- -- -- -- --
Total $1,088,064 $1,883,970 $3,814,074 $1,162,116 $148,500 $8,096,724

Source: Congressional Presentation for Foreign Operations, U.S. Department of State, FY 1986-2000.

Notes to Table II:

[1] The Military Assistance Program (MAP) used to be the primary channel for grants of U.S. military equipment to foreign countries. MAP was phased out in the late 1980s and the FMF program became the primary channel for grants of U.S. military equipment to foreign countries.

[2] Loans under the Pentagon FMF program are backed by a reserve fund which is funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars. For example, since 1994 $106.9 million in taxpayer funds have been set aside in reserve funds to support more than $1.2 billion of subsidized loans to Turkey. The U.S. government is responsible for the payment of these loans if foreign governments default.

[3] ESF assistance to Turkey has been provided primarily in the form of cash payments which Turkey uses to offset the cost of substantial weapon purchases from the U.S. As such ESF to Turkey represents an important indirect subsidy for U.S. arms exports to Turkey.

In addition to the billions of dollars of U.S. weaponry transferred via the FMS and commercial sales programs, Turkey has been a prime beneficiary of surplus U.S. weapons deliveries, both under the Pentagon's Excess Defense Articles (EDA) program and through the process of "cascading" weapons that the U.S. took out of service in order to meet its commitments under the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. During the 1990s alone, the U.S. has given Turkey weaponry with an original acquisition value of over $1.9 billion under the grant EDA program. More than three-quarters of the value of EDA transfers ($1.53 billion) occurred during the Clinton administration (see Table III, below).

Due to depreciation, weapons transferred under EDA are generally worth anywhere from 50% to 80% less than they were when they were originally purchased by U.S. armed forces; but even allowing for this factor, Turkey has received substantial amounts of usable combat equipment via this route. A 1996 report by the Arms Sales Monitoring Project of the Federation of American Scientists stated that in the first half of this decade, Turkey received an impressive arsenal of equipment from the United States via the EDA and CFE cascading channels: 922 main battle tanks, 250 armored personnel carriers, 72 artillery pieces, 145 combat aircraft, 42 helicopters, and 9 combat ships. Surplus transfers to Turkey represent an additional U.S. subsidy worth hundreds of millions of dollars.(10)

Table III:

Grant Excess Defense Articles (EDA) Under Section 516 to Turkey, FY 1990 to FY 1998

(Congressional Notifications)
Fiscal Year Original Acquisition Value
FY 1990 $56,800,000
FY 1991 $342,400,000
FY 1992 $238,300,000
FY 1993 $626,300,000
FY 1994 $107,900,000
FY 1995 $156,900,000
FY 1996 $18,125,000
FY 1997 $273,350,000
FY 1998 $111,547,000
Total $1,931,622,000


Source: Congressional Presentation for Foreign Operations, U.S. Department of State, FY 1990-2000.

Another economically small but militarily influential form of U.S. support for the Turkish armed forces comes via the Pentagon's International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, which has provided U.S.-funded training to 23,268 Turkish military personnel since 1950. Nearly 2,900 Turkish soldiers, sailors, and pilots have been trained by the U.S. since the beginning of Turkey's war in the southeast in 1984, and of that total 976 have been trained during the Clinton administration's tenure. Over the past decade, Turkey has been the biggest recipient of U.S. military training, outstripping even first-line U.S. allies like Israel and Egypt. The dollar amounts involved are fairly modest relative to the costs of other U.S. security assistance programs to Turkey - a total of $10.7 million in IMET funding has been provided from FY 1993 to FY 1999 (see Table IV, next page). But, as the State Department notes in its most recent presentation to Congress on security assistance, the IMET program is viewed as "a low cost, highly efficient component of U.S. security assistance" that "facilitates the development of important professional and personal relationships that have provided U.S. access and influence in a sector of society that often plays a pivotal role in the transition to democracy."(11) In short, IMET is viewed as a way of gaining influence with and access to military leaders in key countries. But since the program is mostly involved with imparting military skills, its impact on promoting human rights and democratization is arguable. This is particularly true in a country like Turkey, which is in the midst of prosecuting a longstanding and brutal civil conflict in which U.S. personnel and independent observers such as journalists and human rights monitors are rarely allowed to observe what is happening in the main zones of combat.


Table IV:

International Military Education and Training Program (IMET) Assistance Received by Turkey, FY 1950 to FY 1999

(dollars in thousands)
Fiscal Year $ Value No. of Students
FY 1950 to FY 1983 119,937 20,413
FY 1984 3,160 215
FY 1985 3,297 255
FY 1986 3,075 207
FY 1987 3,375 196
FY 1988 3,461 210
FY 1989 3,408 201
FY 1990 3,371 212
FY 1991 3,552 223
FY 1992 3,288 189
FY 1993 3,032 211
FY 1994 1,006 64
FY 1995 1,102 109
FY 1996 1,095 121
FY 1997 1,454 84
FY 1998 1,505 194
FY 1999 (estimate) 1,500 193
Total 1984 to 1999 $40,681 2,884
Total 1993 to 1999 (Clinton Administration) $10,694 976
Total 1950 to 1999 $160,618 23,297

Source: Congressional Presentation for Foreign Operations, U.S. Department of State, FY2000 and Foreign Military Sales, Foreign Military Construction Sales and Military Assistance Facts, Defense Security Assistance Agency as of September 1997.

Over the past few years, the levels of U.S. aid provided to Turkey under major security assistance programs like the Foreign Military Financing and Economic Support Funds programs have dropped off dramatically, from an average of $400 million per year in grants and loans under the two programs during the five years from FY 1993 through FY 1997 down to zero in FY 1998 and FY 1999. In some cases these reductions have been mandated by Congress to send a message of disapproval regarding Turkey's human rights performance and its conduct of the war in the southeast. For example, Rep. John Porter (R-IL) passed an amendment to the FY 1998 foreign operations appropriations bill limiting ESF to Turkey to $40 million, half of which had to be given to non-governmental organizations.(12) But the bulk of the reductions have been driven by other factors, such as the need to find cuts in the context of a shrinking foreign aid pie; Congressional concerns over the risks inherent in FMF loans (a major source of support for Turkey) which led to the termination of the loan program; an assessment that Turkey's overall economic performance justified phasing out ESF and FMF funding as of FY 1999; and the need to divert scarce security assistance funding towards new commitments such as helping prospective members of the NATO alliance upgrade their arsenals to make them interoperable with those of existing NATO members. Whichever factor was predominant, the drop-off in U.S. aid was dramatic. The only military aid programs to receive new infusions of funding over the past two years have been the IMET program, at about $1.5 million per year, and the Excess Defense Articles program, which in FY 1998 authorized the transfer of equipment to Turkey with an original acquisition value of over $111 million.

These cutbacks in security assistance have not dampened the Pentagon and State Department's optimistic outlook regarding future U.S. weapons exports to Turkey. In its FY 1999 congressional presentation, State asserts that despite the reductions, "The U.S. intends to continue to support the maintenance and refurbishing of U.S.-origin defense systems already in the Turkish inventory."(13) In addition to the commitment to maintain current systems, statistics presented in the FY 2000 congressional presentation suggest a significant increase in U.S. sales to Turkey, with agreements under the FMS program expected to more than double, from $240.5 million in FY 1998 to $575 million in FY 2000.(14) It was also estimated that projected deliveries under the commercial sales program - which are generally much harder to predict with any accuracy - could quadruple from FY1998 to FY1999. These large projected increases of U.S. weapons deliveries to Turkey during a period in which short-term subsidies for U.S. arms sales to Ankara have been sharply reduced suggest that some of the new sales may be financed via existing loans and grants that have yet to be fully tapped, or that the Clinton administration will seek creative means of financing to support new deals. The alternative would be for Turkey to devote a larger share of its own budget to weapons purchases at a time when it is seeking billions of dollars worth of humanitarian relief from the United States and other nations to deal with the consequences of the August 17th earthquake.

The creative financing approach has been utilized before with respect to Turkey - in the early 1990s, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) spearheaded a successful effort to pass legislation allowing the Export-Import Bank to make a special one-time military loan to Turkey in support of a $1.3 billion deal for Connecticut-built Black Hawk helicopters (manufactured by the Sikorsky helicopter unit of the United Technologies corporation). And the Aerospace Industries Association has been lobbying Congress and the Clinton administration to allow borrowers using the Pentagon's Defense Export Loan Guarantee program to roll the costs of exposure fees associated with arms sales loans into the cost of the total loan.(15) This change would allow borrowers like Turkey to use the program with no up front costs, but it would also increase the risk of defaults that would have to be paid for by the U.S. Treasury.

If a U.S. firm wins a major new deal for the sale of tanks, fighter aircraft, or attack helicopters in the context of Turkey's new weapons shopping spree (see section IV, below), there is a high likelihood that Turkey and its allies in the U.S. arms industry will either seek new channels of taxpayer subsidies to support the deal or seek to get Turkey back on the rolls of the existing FMF or ESF programs.

Offsets and Coproduction - Subsidizing Turkey's Military-Industrial Complex:

In addition to the benefits that the Turkish military has derived from the billions of dollars in U.S. military grants and loans that it has received over the past two decades, Turkey's military industry has been a prime beneficiary of assistance from U.S. arms exporters as a result of arms sales offsets. Offsets are arrangements negotiated between arms exporting firms and their major client nations in which the weapons company agrees to provide specified investments and other economic assistance to "offset" the costs of importing the system in question. An offset deal is essentially a quid pro quo: if we buy your weapons, you have to plow some money into our economy. Direct offsets involve production of components of the weapons system in the purchasing country. If major portions of the system are produced overseas (including final assembly), a direct offset deal is known as a coproduction arrangement. There are also indirect offsets, in which weapons companies make investments or undertake promotional activities on behalf of the client nation in non-military areas. For example, a company might agree to help build a hotel complex in the client nation, or provide subcontracts to companies in the host country for non-military projects, or help promote that client nation's exports in the U.S. market.(16) The investments and technology transfers provided by U.S. arms companies to their foreign clients have mushroomed into a multi-billion dollar business. In many instances, the business transferred overseas as part of an offset deal comes at the expense of U.S. firms - e.g., in a 1997 Commerce Department survey, 83% of the defense contractors surveyed reported losing significant business to foreign companies as a result of offset deals.(17)

In the case of Turkey, offset deals often directly benefit officials of the armed forces, who are heavily involved in Turkish industry via stock ownership and representation on corporate boards of directors. As a result, U.S. offset deals with Turkey serve to enhance the economic power of Turkey's military elite, which in turn increases their already considerable political clout. Since the Turkish arms industry is one of the top beneficiaries of defense offsets from the United States (see Appendix Table C, below), the economic and political impacts of these deals are substantial. Under the "Peace Onyx" program, Lockheed Martin (and its predecessor on the F-16 program, General Dynamics) has helped Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) establish one of the largest assembly lines for combat aircraft in the world in a facility located on the southern outskirts of Ankara. Since the program was inaugurated in 1984, Turkey has ordered 240 F-16s, of which 175 have been delivered to date. The vast majority of the aircraft have been assembled at TAI's Ankara facility, which employs 2,000 production workers.(18)

Turkey's F-16 program goes far beyond merely assembling components produced in the United States. U.S. firms are providing Turkey with technology, training, and financing to establish a foothold in the major aspects of military aerospace production. Towards that end, General Electric helped create Tusas Engine Industries, a Turkish-American joint stock company which manufactures engine parts and assembles the F110-GE-100 engine for the TAI F-16 production line. Lockheed Martin owns a 49% share in MIKES, a Turkish firm that produces the ALQ-178-V5 radar and electronic countermeasures systems used on the F-16. And Litton is collaborating with the Turkish firm Aselsan to build F-16 components.

Just as Lockheed Martin is at the center of helping Turkey build its own aerospace industry, the U.S.-based FMC Corporation (which now produces armored vehicles as part of a joint venture arrangement with the Harsco Corporation under the name United Defense) has been in on the ground floor of helping Turkish industry develop a capability to build armored personnel carriers and military trucks. In 1991, the Turkish firm FMC-Nurol began production on 1,698 U.S.-designed M-113 armored personnel carriers; as of last year 1,500 of the vehicles had been delivered. The Texas Instruments corporation is helping the Turkish firm Aselsan build optical sights and night vision equipment for the Turkish M-113s, and the U.S. firm Sergant Fletcher has a joint venture with the Turkish company Kayseri Werkplaats to upgrade existing Turkish M-113s. With assistance from United Defense, FMC-Nurol has developed a 'family of military vehicles' ranging from light military trucks to armored personnel carriers that it is now seeking to export to markets in Europe and the Middle East.(19)

Turkey will also be seeking coproduction of its new attack helicopter, which is being bid on by both Boeing (the Apache) and Bell Helicopter Textron (the King Cobra, an advanced version of the company's Super Cobra model), as well as a planned $7 billlion purchase of main battle tanks, in which foreign bidders must team up with potential Turkish co-producers.(20) An early 1990s deal for coproduction of Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters fell through after criticisms were raised about the use of these aircraft to ferry Turkish troops into combat in the southeast, but during this decade Turkey has purchased a total of 95 Black Hawks through direct commercial channels.

Coproduction arrangements with Turkey raise a number of economic and security questions. On the economic front, coproduction shifts jobs to Turkey from arms plants in the United States. Lockheed Martin now assembles or produces components of its F-16 fighter in 11 countries, with full assembly lines in South Korea and Turkey that rival its main U.S. line - in Fort Worth, Texas - in size. The assembly line in Turkey has been used not only to produce the planes purchased by Ankara, but also as the primary production site for an order of 40 F-16s that went to Egypt in the wake of the Persian Gulf War. The Egyptian deal - in which aircraft paid for by $1.6 billion in U.S. military aid were produced in Turkey - is a worst case example of how coproduction can result in the export of U.S. jobs. To add insult to injury, the Turkish facility has also been used to train South Korean workers in production techniques for use on the F-16 line in Seoul - only after unionized workers at the U.S. F-16 plant in Fort Worth, Texas refused to train their South Korean counterparts to do their jobs.(21) Similarly, FMC-Nurol's interest in exporting U.S.-designed M-113s and military trucks could cut into business that might otherwise go to U.S. firms - including FMC's own U.S. facilities.

On the security front, the massive transfer of arms production techniques has implications both for arms proliferation and for the ability of the United States to exert leverage over Turkey's use of U.S.-supplied systems. As Turkish firms master larger and larger shares of the production techniques needed to build U.S. systems, it will be harder for the U.S. government to influence Turkish behavior by cutting off spare parts. In addition, the involvement of Turkish firms in the production of sensitive systems based on U.S. technology - from ammunition production in conjunction with the U.S. firm General Defense to the participation of the Turkish firms Aselsan and Rokestan in a European consortium building the Stinger shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles - could eventually lead to a situation in which Turkey might become yet another significant source of light weaponry to regions of active conflict.

Measuring Dependency - The Role of U.S. Weapons in the Turkish Armed Forces:

The dependency of the Turkish military on U.S. aid and arms has created a situation in which it is hard to imagine Turkish forces undertaking any major operation without utilizing U.S. equipment. U.S. weaponry is particularly prevalent in the Turkish army and air force, the two services most heavily involved in the war in the southeast.

Of the more than 4,200 main battle tanks in the inventory of the Turkish army, over 3,800 are U.S.-designed M-48 and M-60 models which have been transferred primarily under surplus weapons giveaway programs. Similarly, the vast bulk of Turkey's holdings of armored infantry fighting vehicles (AIFV) and armored personnel carriers (APC's) consists of 2,813 United Defense M-113 APC's - this equipment has been used both in Turkey's war in the southeast and in the Turkish armed forces periodic attacks on Kurdish camps in northern Iraq (see next section). The Turkish army's attack helicopter force (37 aircraft) is composed entirely of Bell-Textron AH-1W Cobra helicopters, which have also reportedly been used in attacks on Kurdish villages. And the most important transport helicopter in the Turkish inventory is the Sikorsky Black Hawk (55 transferred to date).(22)

If anything, the Turkish air force is even more dependent on U.S. technology than the army. Aside from 44 Spanish CN-235 transport aircraft which were coproduced in Turkey by Turkish Aerospace Industries, virtually the entire stock of combat aircraft operated by the Turkish Air Force is made up of U.S.-origin planes, including 175 Lockheed Martin F-16s, 87 Northrop (now Northrop Grumman) F-5s, and 178 McDonnell Douglas (now part of Boeing) F-4Es.(23) For a full accounting of U.S. weaponry transferred to Turkey since 1992, see Appendix Table A, below.

III. Turkey's Use of U.S.-Origin Weaponry in Its War Against the Kurds

Since 1984 the Turkish armed forces have been engaged in a brutal and costly war against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a militant Kurdish opposition group. As noted above, since the outbreak of the war, over 37,000 people have been killed, most of them Kurds. In addition, approximately 3,000 Kurdish villages have been destroyed in the southeastern provinces as part of the Turkish military's strategy of attempting to eliminate support for the PKK by attacking entire areas inhabited by suspected PKK sympathizers.

Turkey has shown little interest in pursuing anything but a decisive military victory over the PKK and its sympathizers, however costly or elusive that objective may be in practice. Since the November 12, 1998 capture of PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, the Turkish government has refused numerous offers from Ocalan and other PKK officials for a negotiated end to the conflict. Instead, the Turkish government is seeking the death penalty against Ocalan for his alleged role in terrorism. The Turkish military seems intent on pursuing a military solution to an essentially political problem - the desire of Turkey's Kurdish population for greater cultural and political autonomy.

The root of the conflict is the Turkish state's unwillingness to allow members of the Kurdish population to live as Kurds within Turkey. Turkey is home to approximately ten million Kurds, who account for roughly 20% of Turkey's population. Prior to the war, the majority of Turkey's Kurdish population lived in the nine provinces in the southeast, an area that is poorer and more economically underdeveloped than the rest of Turkey. Among other restrictions, Kurds are banned from speaking their own language in any official forum or in schools. Kurdish newspapers, cultural centers, and political parties are routinely banned, attacked, and in some cases physically destroyed. And while it is true that some Kurds have been integrated into Turkish society and even enjoy positions of political and economic influence, they have been able to achieve this status only by defining themselves as Turks and giving up their distinct ethnic and cultural heritage. Although many Kurds oppose the violent tactics of the PKK, the underlying goals of the insurgency are believed to enjoy strong sympathy from Kurds who oppose the Turkish government's harsh repression of their political, civil, and cultural rights.

Both sides in the war have engaged in serious violations of human rights. PKK abuses have included extrajudicial killings, kidnapping, extortion, and destruction of property. Attacks are often targeted against those the PKK accuses of "cooperating with the state," including civil servants, teachers, and the families of Kurds who have joined the "village guards," a civil defense militia armed and paid for by the Turkish military.

The Turkish military, for its part, has undertaken a systematic scorched earth campaign in the southeast, intended to eradicate any popular base of support for the PKK. This policy has resulted in the deaths of thousands of Kurdish civilians and the displacement of hundreds of thousands more. The two million or more Kurds who have been driven from their homes by the war receive little or no resettlement aid from the Turkish state, and most of them live in desperate poverty in Turkey's urban shanty towns.

For most Kurdish civilians, the war presents an impossible predicament. If villagers provide food or logistical support to the PKK, they risk attack by the Turkish military. If they decide instead to join the government-aligned "village guards," they will be subject to attack by PKK forces. As the State Department has noted, "reputable human rights NGOs, after undertaking research and field interviews, report that most village evacuations result from actions by Turkish security forces and that forced displacements usually result from refusal to join the village guard system or from supporting the PKK, usually for giving food or a place to sleep, or for suspicion of committing such acts"(24) (emphasis added). Some villagers willingly join the village guards out of economic need or political commitment, but many are pressured to enter the system. In January 1997, for example, there were reports of large scale detentions by the gendarmarie in the Lice district of Dyarbakir (the largest city in the southeast) based on the refusal of Kurds to join the village guard system.

Throughout much of the war, the Turkish government has imposed a state of emergency in the southeast, making it very difficult for journalists, human rights monitors, or other independent observers to document what is happening there. The Red Cross has also been banned from conducting relief work in the region. A center for torture survivors set up by the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey was shut down for four months just after it opened in 1998, and staff at the center have been harassed by Turkish officials since that time.

As this report was going to press, some analysts were discerning a glimmer of hope that the Turkish military might be quietly shifting its attitude towards Kurdish cultural rights in response to the PKK's announcement that it would withdraw its forces from Turkish territory and suspend armed operations in exchange for the opportunity to seek Kurdish rights through the Turkish political process. In a meeting with a select group of Turkish journalists in early September, Turkey's military chief-of-staff, General Huseyin Kivrikoglu, acknowledged that the PKK had scaled back its demands for an independent Kurdistan: "They don't want a federation. What they want are some cultural rights. Some of these have been granted anyway." While hardly a ringing endorsement of Kurdish rights, General Kivrikoglu's statements were greeted warmly by PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who described them as a "positive step in developing cultural freedom and democratization." Ertugrul Ozkok, the editor of Turkey's largest circulation paper, Hurriyet, viewed the tone of the general's remarks on the Kurdish issue as a significant breakthrough, and suggested dramatically that "Turkey has come to the brink of a solution."(25) But the Turkish army quickly distanced itself from these optimistic projections in a statement asserting that "It is out of the question that the general staff accept the PKK terror organization as an interlocutor, discuss its suggestions, or make nay concessions."(26) The army later affirmed that "the Turkish armed forces are determined to continue the battle until the last terrorist has been neutralized," or the PKK completely and unconditionally surrenders.(27)

Ongoing military activities suggest a continued hardline position on the part of the Turkish armed forces. On September 5th - four days after PKK leaders had announced their intention to put down their arms and leave Turkey - Turkish forces stepped up attacks on the organization, killing 19 rebels in a battle in the mountains outside of the southeastern city of Diyarbakir. On September 15th, Turkish forces killed 10 PKK rebels in the mountains of Hakkari province, which borders Iran and Iraq. On September 29th, about 5,000 Turkish troops and armed helicopters entered northern Iraq in pursuit of PKK rebels, bombing suspected PKK sites and killing at least 13 rebels.(28)

The Turkish government's reaction to the PKK's peace offer has been mixed at best. In late August the Turkish parliament passed a "repentance law" which would provide an amnesty for PKK rebels who lay down their arms, but it only covers rebels who never participated in any armed operations. Similarly, a recent law pardoning journalists convicted of writing articles sympathetic to the PKK continues to uphold the notion that such writings are a crime under Turkish law, and threatens to imprison authors of similar pieces in the future (see further discussion below, in section VI).(29)

U.S. policy on arms exports to Turkey can have an important impact on the Turkish government's decision making with regard to the war in the southeast. An open-handed policy of providing arms without tough conditions on human rights or a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish conflict could embolden hardliners in the Turkish military who seek a military "final victory." Restricting arms unless and until Turkey makes measurable progress on human rights and peace in the southeast could help tip the balance towards those in the Turkish government who may be open to a non-military solution to the Kurdish problem. In deciding how to handle pending arms requests from Turkey, U.S. policy makers should take a hard look at Turkey's recent history on arms and human rights.

The Role of U.S. Weapons in Turkish Human Rights Abuses:

Today, it is widely understood that U.S. weapons have been used extensively by the Turkish government in its war in the southeast, and that in many instances these weapons have been used to abuse human rights and violate the laws of war. The only dispute is over the extent of abuses utilizing U.S. systems, and whether they have increased, decreased, or remained steady through the course of the conflict.

The first official acknowledgment of the role of U.S. weaponry in human rights violations in Turkey came in a June 1995 State Department report that was conducted as the result of legislation promoted by key members of Congress such as Rep. John Porter (R-IL). Although State Department investigators were denied access to key conflict areas in the southeast by the Turkish government, their summary of the evidence they were able to gather was conclusive: "U.S.-origin equipment, which accounts for most major items of the Turkish military inventory, has been used in operations against the PKK during which human rights abuses have occurred." The report also found "highly credible" evidence that U.S.-manufactured Sikorsky Black Hawk transport helicopters, Bell-Textron Super Cobra attack helicopters, and FMC Corp. M-113 armored personnel carriers had been used to attack Kurdish villages and violate the human rights of civilians. Citing evidence from 1992 through 1995, during the height of Turkey's campaign to depopulate Kurdish villages, the report notes that "it is highly likely that such equipment was used in the evacuation and/or destruction of villages."(30)

Just three months after the State Department's report came out, Human Rights Watch issued its own extensive report entitled "Weapons Transfers and Violations of the Laws of War in Turkey," based on field research and interviews conducted inside Turkey. Human Rights Watch sharply rebuked the State Department report for its "failure to provide original investigative findings," and for failing to make "independent and full access to the southeast a top priority in its dealings with Turkish authorities." Based on its own original research, the Human Rights Watch report came up with a stronger version of the conclusion that had been arrived at by the State Department: "U.S. weapons, as well as those supplied by other NATO members, are regularly used by Turkey to commit severe human rights abuses and violations of the laws of war in the southeast."(31)

In light of the pending sale of 145 attack helicopters to Turkey, Human Rights Watch's finding that U.S.-made helicopters "are the backbone of the Turkish counterinsurgency effort" is particularly relevant. Transport helicopters, "most likely U.S.-made and -supplied S-70A Black Hawks and UH-1 Hueys," are used to bring troops to Kurdish villages where Turkish soldiers engage in "forcible displacements, summary executions, indiscriminate fire, or torture." The report also notes that "helicopter gunships, most probably U.S.-supplied Cobras, are used to fire indiscriminately at villages or other civilian settlements, either in an attempt to frighten villagers into leaving or as part of an indiscriminate attack against suspected PKK guerillas or suspected PKK civilian sympathizers."

Human Rights Watch also found that U.S. made tanks, armored personnel carriers, and other weaponry were directly implicated in abuses perpetrated by Turkish security forces. One specific example underscores how these U.S. systems have been used by Turkish forces in their campaign of destruction against Kurdish villages:

"A former Turkish soldier told Human Rights Watch that on August 18-20, 1992, troops used U.S.-supplied M-48 and M-60 tanks, 105mm artillery, U.S.-supplied M-113 armored personnel carriers, U.S.-designed M-16 rifles, and LAW anti-tank rockets to assault the town of Sirnak following an alleged PKK provocation. Twenty-two civilians died in the assault, sixty were wounded, and many of the town's 25,000 residents fled in panic. Much of the town was destroyed."(32)

Human Rights Watch has also confirmed that Turkish forces often use U.S.-origin small arms to commit abuses: "Particularly troubling was the preference displayed by Turkey's special counterinsurgency forces, who are renowned for their abusive behavior, for U.S. designed-small arms such as the M-16 assault rifle," made by Colt Industries. The report goes on to note that U.S.-designed M-16 rifles and M-203 grenade launchers, capable of firing a wide range of 40 mm high explosives, are "prevalent in the Jandarma and special police forces, which have the worst human rights reputation in Turkey's southeast." In addition, officers in the Bolu and Kayseri Commando brigades of the Turkish army, who have been trained by the U.S. and "are considered far more abusive of the civilian population than the regular Army," carry U.S.-made M-16s.(33)

Since 1995, the peak year for the Turkish government's strategy of widespread depopulation of Kurdish villages, reporting on the use of U.S. weaponry in the war in the southeast has been much more sporadic. A July 1997 State Department report on "U.S. Military Equipment and Human Rights Violations" in Turkey suggests that there has been a decline in the use of U.S. weaponry to abuse human rights in Turkey simply because the southeast has been severely depopulated and there are therefore fewer examples of large-scale abuses. But the report's own underlying logic seems to suggest that Turkish government forces are still engaging in human rights abuses, but are doing so in a series of smaller actions dictated by the current stage of the conflict. For example, at one point the report notes that "because so many villages have already been evacuated . . . there are fewer large-scale forced evacuations of villages by security forces." But, after noting that most of the fighting is now occurring in more remote mountainous areas, the report states that "smaller-scale forced evacuations from remote areas continue." In short, State seems to be describing a change in Turkish military tactics, not an improvement in human rights attitudes or performance. The State Department's 1997 report also acknowledges that use of U.S. equipment during operations against the PKK in which "serious abuses are committed by security forces" remains "likely," and further notes that the Jandarma and police paramilitary units - the groups most frequently implicated in "disappearances" and political killings - continue to be armed with U.S.-origin M-16 rifles and M-203 grenade launchers.(34)

Another particularly troubling use of U.S. weaponry by Turkish forces is the involvement of U.S. combat aircraft, troop transport helicopters, and armored vehicles in Turkey's ongoing series of raids on suspected Kurdish strongholds in neighboring Iran and Iraq. Although purportedly aimed at PKK fighters, the attacks on northern Iraq have caused significant civilian casualties and depopulated Iraqi villages along the Turkish border. In mid-July of 1999, the Iranian government charged the Turkish air force with bombing targets inside Iranian territory, killing five people and injuring ten. Turkish authorities denied the attack at first, as they had done in the case of a 1994 incursion that Turkey later acknowledged. But as of this writing the Turkish government had agreed to undertake a joint investigation of the alleged attack in conjunction with Iranian authorities.(35) Turkish aerial and land invasions of northern Iraq - which is supposed to be a United Nations approved "no fly zone" designed to protect the vulnerable Iraqi Kurdish population - have become routine occurrences over the past five years, ranging from a 35,000-strong invasion in 1995 that was described as the largest cross-border military action in Turkish history, to a 10,000-person incursion that was undertaken in July of 1999.(36) The Clinton administration's willingness to stand by and let Turkey bomb and shell northern Iraq in pursuit of alleged PKK units stands in stark (and hypocritical) contrast to the participation of U.S. forces in Operation Northern Watch, the no fly zone that is meant to keep the Iraqi air force out of the very same territory.

IV. Fueling Tensions: Cyprus and the Greek/Turkish Arms Race

Regional Tensions:

While U.S.-supplied helicopters, armored personnel carriers, and small arms are misused by the Turkish military against Kurdish rebels, U.S.-origin warships and fighter jets are also used by Turkey to provoke and threaten Greece and to maintain the conflict in Cyprus, directly impacting U.S. strategic interests. Though both are members of NATO, Greece and Turkey have long been bitter rivals whose regular clashes occasionally risk erupting into military conflict. Disputes between Turkey and Greece often impact the formulation of NATO policy, but a full military confrontation between them would be disastrous for the alliance. Yet by supplying both Greece and Turkey with large quantities of sophisticated armaments, the U.S. is helping to augment, rather than alleviate, regional tensions and is undercutting its own efforts to promote peace in the Aegean.

The fractious relationship between Greece and Turkey centers upon Turkey's 25-year occupation of northern Cyprus, disagreement over the rights to several Aegean islands and natural resources in the seabed, contention of territorial waters and airspace delineation, and Greece's alleged support for the PKK. These disputes have sometimes prompted Turkey to threaten military force against Greece or Cyprus, threats which cannot always be written off as grandstanding for domestic consumption. For instance, Greek ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention in 1995 - which would allow Greece to extend its territorial waters to cover most of the Aegean, cutting off major Turkish ports from free access to the high seas - led the Turkish parliament to give the government the right to use "all necessary measures," including force, to prevent this move.(37) Greece has militarized several islands near the Turkish coast, and Turkey has deployed a large Turkish amphibious force - outside of NATO command - along the nearby shore.(38) Turkish threats of force in the winter of 1998-99 pressured the Cypriot government to change course on a planned purchase of S-300 surface-to-air missiles and deploy them in Crete instead. Tensions grew so high over the missile dispute that the U.S. sent in an aircraft carrier to "monitor events in the region."(39) Turkey again threatened force against Greece in March 1999 after it was revealed that Greece had sheltered PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in its embassy in Kenya for several weeks.

The U.S. government has regularly encouraged Greece and Turkey to engage in confidence-building measures and to avoid antagonizing acts. But rather than using arms control as a stabilizing measure, the administration's approach has been to make sure that similar amounts of new weapons enter the Aegean arsenals in parallel. For example, Turkey's decision in the summer of 1999 to co-produce Popeye air-to-ground missiles with Israel prompted the U.S. government to release a sale of similar air-to-ground missiles to Greece.(40)

Frigates, destroyers, and Hellfire antitank missiles sold to Greece in the summer of 1998 were matched with a sale of frigates and Harpoon anti-ship missiles to Turkey. These sales were announced at a time when the U.S. was trying unsuccessfully to launch an effort to renew dialogue on Cyprus, leading one to wonder how the sales notifications to Congress could genuinely proclaim that the sales "will not adversely affect either the military balance in the region or U.S. efforts to encourage a negotiated settlement of the Cyprus question."

The U.S. government should recognize that selling equal amounts of arms to both parties to a dispute is not an equalizing tactic, but a destabilizing one.(41) Both states cite the other as an external security threat and often a justification for new arms acquisitions. For example, Turkey sought new frigates and sea helicopters following the flare-up of tensions in the Aegean in 1996.(42) Moreover, each new level of technology introduced in the region ratchets up the arms race another notch, fueling expensive purchases on both sides. The Turkish decision to launch a $31 billion dollar military modernization program over the next 10 years was countered by a Greek decision to reverse its economizing defense cuts and build up its arsenal as well with $24 billion over the next eight years.(43) Greece is currently considering buying a group of F-15 fighter jets, prompting Turkey to consider upgrading its less sophisticated F-16 fleet.

Finally, this "evenhanded" approach only heightens the militarization of a region already laden with large quantities of weapons. Given the close quarters in which these rivals conduct military exercises and training, clashes are a regular occurrence, as are the crises they induce. In training missions or other sorties, Turkey regularly flies F-16 and F-4 fighters into Greek airspace, twice buzzing the planes of high Greek officials and often leading Greece to intercept the jets.(44) Turkish ships also often enter Greek territorial waters during exercises, and Greek and Turkish ships regularly challenge each other in contested waters.

Cyprus remains one of the most militarized spots in the world, with Turkey maintaining about 30,000 troops on the northern part of Cyprus and Greece also keeping several thousand troops stationed in the south. A classified report to Congress in the summer of 1999 revealed that U.S. arms have been sent by both Greece and Turkey to Cyprus, in contravention of a 1988 law which prohibits equipment sold under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program from being transferred to the island.(45) Press reports from Cyprus state that 90% of the Turkish military equipment in Cyprus - including tanks, armored personnel carriers, anti-aircraft systems, and small arms - are of U.S. origin, though commercial arms sales or pre-1988 FMS sales would not violate the 1988 law.(46) Both Turkey and Greece sent F-16s to Cyprus in a show of force over the pending S-300 missile sale, and Turkey also used F-16 and F-4s during a 1997 major military exercise in Cyprus .(47) Both countries conduct military exercises on the island, and - despite occasional short-lived moratoriums - regularly conduct military over-flights of Cyprus. Elsewhere, Turkey is apparently sending military equipment - some U.S. supplied or produced under U.S. license - to Azerbaijan, a move which aggravates the conflict with Armenia and violates U.S. law on authorized uses for U.S. exported arms.

Greek-Turkish relations have warmed noticeably in the past few months in the wake of bilateral cooperation in dealing with the consequences of the earthquakes which struck each nation (Turkey in August, Greece in September). Whether these constructive steps in the areas of business, political, and journalistic exchanges can carry over into larger issues like a diplomatic resolution to the Cyprus problem remains to be seen. But as Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou has suggested, "I don't think all of a sudden everything has changed. But a climate exists that could allow for a breakthrough on these issues."(48) This conciliatory new climate could be enhanced considerably if the United States and its close allies stop offering large quantities of top-of-the-line combat systems to both nations, stoking a Greek-Turkish arms race in the process.

V. Turkey's Weapons Shopping Spree: The $150 Billion Question Mark

The Turkish government is in the midst of what the military industry journal Defense News has described as "its biggest weapons buying spree in recent memory, expected to be worth more than $31 billion during the next eight years and up to $150 billion by the year 2030."(49) Major proposed acquisitions that have been announced or concluded include a $4 billion deal for 145 advanced attack helicopters; a $560 million sale of 50 Sikorsky Black Hawk transport utility helicopters; 1,000 main battle tanks at a cost of up to $7 billion; four submarines for up to $1 billion; four advanced early warning aircraft for $1 billion; and additional combat aircraft (including a follow-on order of Lockheed Martin F-16s and a possible first-time order of Boeing F-15s) at a cost of $2.5 billion or more. For a detailed rundown of Turkey's potential arms deals in the works, see Appendix Table B.

Turkey's arms buying plan has multiple rationales, ranging from assisting in peacekeeping and peace enforcement missions in Bosnia and Kosovo to deterring regional rivals like Iran, Syria, and Greece to building a capability to project force eastward into the Central Asian states of the former Soviet Union. But the most costly items on Ankara's shopping list have direct applications in Turkey's war against the Kurds.

Earlier this year the Turkish government speeded up its $560 million deal for Sikorsky Black Hawk helicopters with the explicit intention of putting them to work ferrying troops to and from the front lines of the war with the PKK in the southeast. In order to expedite the deal, Turkish authorities agreed to buy the aircraft directly, without demanding offsets or coproduction in Turkey. As of late July of 1999, 10 helicopters out of the 50 ordered had already been delivered. Given past experience, there is a high probability that Turkey's planned fleet of 145 modern attack helicopters - for which the Boeing Apache and the Bell-Textron King Cobra are both strong competitors - would also be used to attack Kurdish villages, refugee camps, and mountain strongholds of the PKK or suspected PKK sympathizers. And Human Rights Watch has already documented the use of older generation U.S. tanks in the destruction of Kurdish villages, so there is a danger that some of the 1,000 new tanks sought by the Turkish army - for which the General Dynamics M-1A2 is a strong contender - could be used for similar purposes. A late 1998 sale of 140 U.S.-built armored personnel carriers and crowd control vehicles to the Turkish police has obvious applications in repressing popular dissent, both in Turkey as a whole and in the volatile southeastern region.

In announcing a 30-year weapons purchasing program all at once, Turkish authorities clearly have more than purely military objectives in mind. They want to get the world's arms manufacturers salivating over what appears to be a huge long-term market, in the hopes that they will pressure their governments to cast aside concerns about Turkey's human rights record and turn their efforts towards helping their home country's weapons makers close the deal on one or more major weapons sales to Ankara. This strategy has clearly worked with respect to U.S. arms makers, who have pressured Congress and the Clinton administration to clear the way for U.S. firms to win controversial contracts like the sale of 140 armored vehicles to the Turkish police and compete for deals like the $4 billion tender for 145 attack helicopters. And General Dynamics, which has been looking to foreign sales of its M-1 tank to Greece and Turkey to resuscitate a domestic tank production line which has been subsisting on upgrade funds from the Army, will no doubt put its lobbying muscle to bear in favor of substantial new U.S. government subsidies if it becomes a finalist in the competition for 1,000 new main battle tanks for Turkey. But advocates of arms sales to Turkey who base their case on economic and pork barrel arguments can expect to face stiff opposition from arms control and human rights organizations and their allies in Congress.

The most controversial recent U.S. arms sale to Turkey was the late 1998 decision to grant a license to the Michigan-based AV Technology division of General Dynamics to sell 140 armored vehicles to the Turkish anti-terror and anti-riot police. According to a description of the deal by Dana Priest of the Washington Post, the deal includes "11-ton, armored Patrollers, equipped with water cannons, ramming arms, and front gun ports for urban anti-riot police, and Dragoons, an armored personnel carrier that would transport anti-terror police." Because of the dismal human rights records of Turkey's anti-terror and anti-riot police and the intention to finance the deal using funds from the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the deal triggered a review under the "Leahy Law" - Section 570 of the 1997 Foreign Operations Appropriations Law sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) - which states that "no funds from the Foreign Operations Appropriations, including financing from the Export-Import Bank, can be used to provide equipment to foreign security units if credible evidence of gross human rights violations by specific units exists."(50)

The armored vehicle deal sparked a debate within the State Department about whether the "Leahy Law" should apply only if violations by each specific police unit slated to receive the vehicle could be documented, or if the potential transfer of vehicles to provinces in which the anti-terror and anti-riot police had records of systematic abuses was enough to trigger a denial of U.S. assistance. Over the strong objections of General Dynamics, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) - who made a special trip to Turkey in an effort to smooth the way for the deal - and U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Mark Parris, the State Department opted for the broader interpretation, which would deny assistance to police units in provinces where there was a consistent, ongoing record of human rights abuses by the anti-terror and anti-riot police. Based on the State Department's ruling, General Dynamics was denied Export-Import bank funding for the 39 vehicles out of the 140 vehicle package that were destined for 11 provinces (including Adana, which borders the main area of fighting between the Turkish army and PKK forces in the southeast). The company sought and received private financing for the transfer of those 39 vehicles to replace the ExIm funds. According to the Washington Post's account of the case, the reasoning for cutting off assistance was convincing:

"The [State Department's] annual [Human Rights] report, and an internal State Department document prepared for the General Dynamics case, are rife with examples of abuses by the anti-terror and anti-riot police in 11 provinces. The internal document says rape, near-drowning, burning, beatings, and electric shock were common tactics used by the two police groups, citing reports from the U.S. embassy in Turkey, the United Nations, the Council of Europe, and non-governmental groups. Among the 280 victims cited in the internal document were 'infants, children, the elderly.'"(51)

Given the record of torture and abuse engaged in by the Turkish police, a strong case can be made that the State Department and the White House should have gone beyond the requirements of the Leahy law and denied the armored vehicle purchase altogether.

The next major test of the relative weight of the U.S. commitment to human rights and democracy in Turkey will come with the decision about whether to grant a license to U.S. firms to sell Turkey U.S.-made attack helicopters. But in this case, the State Department has already gone on record in support of much more stringent standards for determining whether Turkey is in fact making progress in reducing human rights abuses and promoting democracy. As noted earlier, when the Clinton administration first announced its decision to let Boeing and Bell-Textron compete for the Turkish attack helicopter sale in December 1997 - hard on the heels of a letter to the White House by the CEO's of Boeing, Bell-Textron, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman urging that very course of action - State Department officials outlined seven specific criteria that would be used to measure Turkey's progress on democracy and human rights before approving an actual export of U.S. attack helicopters to Turkey. The seven criteria are as follows: 1) decriminalization of free speech; 2) release of journalists and parliamentarians who have been imprisoned for political reasons; 3) an end to torture and police impunity; 4) reopening of Non-Governmental Organizations that have been shut down by Turkish authorities; 5) democratization and expansion of political participation; 6) the lifting of the state of emergency in southeastern Turkey; and 7) the resettlement of internal refugees displaced by the civil war. After several delays, Turkish authorities now expect to select a contractor for the attack helicopter deal by May 2000.

The next section reviews Turkey's progress (or lack thereof) under the seven criteria set out by the State Department. In preparation for making its own judgment, the State Department sent a high level delegation to Turkey in August of 1999 to examine the state of human rights in Turkey. Meanwhile, over at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Cohen has given a strong signal that his Department will support the attack helicopter deal. During a July 15th press briefing in Ankara, Cohen gave the following upbeat assessment of the human rights situation in Turkey:

"What I said with respect to future sales of military equipment is that there are no requests pending for which there are any impediments whatsoever. I did indicate that in the past there have been concerns raised on human rights issues by members of Congress. But I also said that I am encouraged by the Prime Minister's support for human rights legislation that will receive favorable consideration by the Parliament and thereby reduce any impediments in the future. So I am encouraged by what is taking place in Turkey and am hopeful that impediments will not be raised in the future."(52)

Is Secretary Cohen's optimism about human rights in Turkey justified? Let's review the record.

VI. Human Rights in Turkey: Recent Developments

Based on press accounts, recent analyses by independent human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and the State Department's annual human rights report, this section assesses the performance of the Turkish government and armed forces with respect to the seven human rights criteria discussed in the previous section. At the end of the section, an overview assessment will be made, and some questions will be raised as to what would constitute significant human rights progress in Turkey in the current context.

Decriminalization of Free Speech:

In February 1999, Human Rights Watch released a report entitled Turkey: Violations of Free Expression which pointed out that the Turkish press "suffers from a multiple personality disorder." There is "lively and unrestricted" discussion of many important issues bounded by a "danger zone where many who criticize state policy face possible state prosecution . . .The risky areas include the role of Islam in politics and society, Turkey's ethnic Kurdish minority and the conflict in southeastern Turkey, the nature of the state, and the proper role of the military." The risks of attempting to speak or write openly on issues such as the war in the southeast can be quite high: "Repression for reporting or writing on such topics includes the killing of journalists by shadowy death squads believed linked to or tolerated by security forces, imprisonment and fines against journalists, writers, and publishers, the closing of newspapers and journals, the banning of books and publications, denial of press access to the conflict in southeastern Turkey, the banning of political parties, and the prohibition on the use of Kurdish in broadcasting and education."(53)

High profile cases of repression against journalists and the press in recent years include the January 1996 beating death in police custody of Metin Goktepe, a press photographer; the 1998 imprisonment (for a ten month sentence) of Ragip Duran, a journalist who has worked for the BBC and the Agence France Presse as well as numerous Turkish publications, for publishing articles based on an interview with PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan; and the banning of book of memoirs by Turkish military veterans who had served in the war against the Kurds in the southeast.

Leftist and Kurdish nationalist publications and journalists are much more likely to face arrest, imprisonment, government-imposed shutdowns, and even murder at the hands of death squads that have connections to government security forces than are journalists who work for mainstream publications. Human Rights Watch has pointed out that actions against journalists at mainstream publications for writing about Kurdish issues or the war in the southeast are often cyclical, stepping up at times when the government is in a period of military crackdown and softening at times when peace overtures are under discussion. Two recent cases show that free speech is still a hope, not a reality, in Turkey: the June 1999 charges against Andrew Finkel, a British reporter who has written for Time magazine, for "insulting the Turkish armed forces" in an article he wrote on the military situation in the southeast; and the May 1999 imposition of a 13-month sentence against Oral Carlislar, a prominent Turkish journalist who writes for the daily Cumhuriyet, for an interview with PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan which was originally published in 1993.(54) Two other pending cases that have raised serious concerns about the state of freedom of expression in Turkey are the cases of Ahmet Kaya, Turkey's musician of the year for 1998, who has been threatened with 10 and years in jail for stating publicly that he wants to compose songs in Kurdish; and Nadire Mater, the author of Mehmet's Book, a collection of critical memoirs by Turkish veterans of the war in the southeast, who faces criminal charges for "insulting" the Turkish military in the book, which has been banned.(55)

Turkey clearly has a long way to go before it can claim to have decriminalized free speech, particularly with respect to the Kurdish issue. As the State Department noted in the section of its 1999 human rights report devoted to Turkey, "government officials continue to harass, intimidate, indict and imprison human rights monitors, journalists, and lawyers for ideas expressed in public forums."(56) And as Human Rights Watch noted in its February 1999 report on these issues, improvements will require more than changing a few laws: the report recommends amending eight separate articles of the Turkish constitution and repealing or changing 15 separate laws as a prerequisite to improving the climate of free expression in Turkey. If these provisions of law were to be changed, the next step would be to establish a way to monitor whether they are being faithfully enforced by the judiciary and respected by the police and security forces.

Release of Journalists and Parliamentarians Who Have Been Jailed for Political Reasons:

As of late 1998, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that 25 journalists in Turkey were in jail for crimes of free expression - essentially for writing about forbidden topics, which is currently considered a criminal act in Turkey. In July of 1999, the Turkish Press Council identified 55 Turkish journalists who were either in jail or facing charges for "publishing articles deemed harmful to the Turkish state." In addition, the Voice of America has reported that "around 25 journalists have been killed over the past seven years, making Turkey one of the most dangerous countries in the world for reporters."(57)

In August of 1999, the Turkish parliament passed a bill that would pardon certain journalists who had been convicted of writing articles deemed to be supportive of the Kurdish resistance. The bill was limited in several respects, however: it did not apply to public statements (as opposed to written work) on the Kurdish issue, and it subjected journalists freed under the pardon to re-imprisonment if they wrote new articles viewed as supportive of the "separatists" within three years of their pardon. Turkish author and social critic Ismail Besikci was freed under the bill in mid-September, but he criticized the provision calling for re-imprisonment for similar offenses: "The postponement law, from the point of view of freedom of thought and of the press, is shameful. For three years you won't think, you won't write."(58)And despite government claims that 32 convicted journalists could be freed under the law, Oktay Eksi, the head of the Turkish Press Council, said "I am not sure at all if this law will save Turkey from the title of the country that jails the most journalists. The number of journalists in prison will still be high."(59)

In addition to actions against journalists, high profile political figures such as the mayors of Istanbul and Diyarbakir have been imprisoned for the content of public speeches - in the case of Istanbul's mayor, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, he was sentenced to ten months in prison and banned from politics forever. In September 1998, 17 people, mainly members of the pro-Kurdish HADEP party, were sentenced to prison terms of 1 to 2 years for articles they had written in a 1997 edition of the party's official bulletin. HADEP chairman Murat Bozlak and former Kurdish parliamentarian Leyla Zana (already serving a 15-year jail term for pro-Kurdish activities) were the most prominent targets in the case. At the time that Turkish authorities captured PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in February 1999, hundreds of HADEP members were detained. And although HADEP leader Murat Bozlak and sixteen other party members were released from prison in July 1999 after serving eight month sentences for their alleged role in protests supporting Ocalan's quest for political asylum outside of Turkey, their release came with a three-to-five year ban on participation in politics.(60) The government's moves towards banning HADEP follow Turkey's prior ban of the pro-Kurdish Democracy party. In all, Turkey has banned 14 political parties since the implementation of its 1982 constitution.(61)

The Turkish government's use of imprisonment, banning, and other repressive mechanisms to curb or dismantle Kurdish and Islamist political parties - including the military's virtual threat of a coup in 1997 if a governing coalition led by the Islamic Welfare Party did not step down, and the subsequent January 1998 banning of the party by Turkey's constitutional court - suggests that full democratic representation for all sectors of Turkish society is still far from being realized.(62)

An End to Torture and Police Impunity:

The 1999 edition of the State Department's human rights report suggests that Turkish police and security forces still have grave problems with torture:

"Extrajudicial killings, including deaths in detention from excessive use of force, 'mystery killings,' and disappearances continued. Torture remained widespread. Police and Jandarma anti-terror personnel often abused detainees and employed torture during incommunicado detention and interrogation . . . the rarity of convictions and the light sentences imposed on police and other security officials for killings and torture fostered a climate of impunity that probably remains the single largest obstacle to reducing human rights abuses."(63)

Concern about the involvement of Turkish authorities in death squad activities has been heightened since a November 3, 1996 car crash near the western Turkish town of Susurluk. The passengers in the car, which was filled with weapons, silencers, and false passports, included Huseyin Kocada, the head of the Istanbul police academy; Abdullah Cat'l, an organized crime figure and right-wing thug implicated in numerous politically-motivated killings in Turkey; and Sedat Bucak, a Kurdish parliamentarian and tribal leader who had worked closely with the Turkish military in setting up portions of the "village guard" system that is a backbone of the Turkish government's war effort in the southeast.

The cast of characters involved in the crash and the items found in the car strongly suggested a system of formal coordination between Turkish authorities and right-wing death squads that have been involved in the murders of prominent Kurdish nationalists in Turkey. A parliamentary commission set up to investigate the Susurluk scandal brought no indictments, but a former official who worked in the intelligence branch of the Diyarbakir Security Directorate gave testimony suggesting that officials of the Turkish government had decided to sanction and promote extrajudicial killings of Kurdish nationalists as a way to accelerate the fight against the PKK, even if it meant "in the necessity to conduct one's duty acting outside the law and outside the legal system."(64) And Human Rights Watch has reported that a January 1998 report on Susurluk issued by then Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz's office "admitted that security forces had teamed up with some organized crime figures and ultra-right wing nationalists to 'eliminate' ethnic Kurdish businessman, drug dealers, and others believed to be financing the PKK." The report also noted that one of these operations was responsible for the 1992 murder of Kurdish journalist Musa Anter.(65)

In a particularly chilling case of torture by Turkish authorities, in April 1998 the Istanbul Chamber of Doctors certified that a 2 and year old child, Azat Tokmak, was kicked and burned with cigarettes by the Istanbul anti-terror police in an effort to make his mother, Fatma Tokmak, confess to being a PKK member.(66)

The most recent public assessment of efforts to limit torture on the part of Turkish authorities is an April 1999 Amnesty International report, Turkey: The Duty to Supervise, Investigate, and Prosecute. The report cites a drop in the statistics on "ill-treatment, torture, 'disappearance,' and extrajudicial execution" since the peak period of 1992-1995, a change which Amnesty attributes in part to the reduction in the scale of the war in the southeast. Amnesty further notes that over the past few years "there has been much talk, apparently sincere, of new laws, programs, and regulations to improve human rights," but concludes that the "sorry contemporary picture" on human rights is unlikely to improve significantly unless the Turkish government adopts an assertive policy of "dismantling the immunity from prosecution and punishment which torturers and state assassins now enjoy."(67) Among the numerous obstacles to reform cited in the Amnesty Report is the close relationship between Turkish security forces and the judiciary - particularly the special State Security Courts and the Anti-Terror police - which has created a climate in which allegations of torture are not vigorously pursued.

Reopening of Non-Governmental Organizations that Have Been Shut Down by Turkish Authorities:

Non-governmental organizations involved in human rights advocacy or the promotion of Kurdish language and culture still face routine harassment from Turkish authorities, ranging from government-imposed shutdowns, to confiscation of newspapers and other publications, to arrests of key leaders on speech crimes such as "insulting the military." The most prominent recent case of harassment of a major Turkish NGO is the June 3,1999 imprisonment of Akin Birdal, the head of the Turkish Human Rights Association, on charges of "inciting hatred" for making two speeches in which he called for a negotiated end to the Kurdish conflict. The European Union condemned Birdal's one year sentence as a "hard blow to freedom of opinion" in Turkey, while Holly Cartner of Human Rights Watch asserted that "Turkish governments since the 1980s have promised to lift restrictions on freedom of expression, but Mr. Birdal's experience shows how hollow those promises are."(68)

Birdal's imprisonment came just over a year after he was shot seven times in the legs and lungs by two gunmen from the right-wing Turkish Revenge Brigade, an attack that was in part provoked by a smear campaign in which the Turkish prosecutor's office leaked information to the press about alleged connections between the Human Rights Association and the PKK. An officer of the Turkish security police - the Jandarma - was arrested as a suspect in the attack.(69)

As Amnesty International noted in a June 3rd, 1999 statement in which it adopted Akin Birdal as a prisoner of conscience, "his prosecution coincides with a wider pattern of systematic harassment of the HRA . . . by the Turkish state in an apparent attempt to stifle the organization's activities permanently." Amnesty further noted that because the government has closed several HRA branches - including the Diyarbakir branch, which has been shut down for over two years - "the HRA now has limited capacity to monitor the human rights situation in the region under state of emergency, where human rights violations have been even more severe than in the rest of the country."(70)

As this report was going to press, Akin Birdal was temporarily freed from jail after a medical report indicated that serving his full term could be fatal given his ongoing health problems from gunshot wounds. The office of Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit indicated that Birdal's sentence would be "postponed" for six months, implying that he would be expected to serve the rest of his term if his health improves.(71)

The Lifting of the State of Emergency in Southeastern Turkey:

In July 1999, the Turkish parliament extended the state of emergency in six provinces in the southeast, marking more than twelve years of emergency rule for these areas. The State Department's human rights report for 1999 provides a brief summary of the powers associated with emergency rule:

"The regional governor for the state of emergency may censor news, ban strikes or lockouts, and impose internal exile. The decree also calls for doubling the sentences of those convicted of cooperating with separatists. Informants and convicted persons who cooperate with the state are eligible for rewards and reduced sentences. Only limited judicial review of the state of emergency governor's administrative decisions is permitted."(72)

In October 1997, the Turkish government lifted emergency rule in three other southeastern provinces, but reports by human rights organizations suggest that even in these areas the government retains exceptional powers to suppress dissent and limit freedom of expression.

The Resettling of Internal Refugees Displaced by the Civil War:

As part of its 1999 human rights report, the State Department made the following assessment of Turkey's efforts to resettle and assist refugees displaced by its campaign of destroying Kurdish villages in the southeast:

"Government programs to deal with and compensate the forcibly evacuated villagers remain inadequate, as is assistance to those who have resettled in urban areas. Many migrants continue to live in overcrowded, unhealthful conditions with little opportunity for employment."(73)

The State Department report also noted that the Turkish government's "emergency support program" for resettlement in the southeast has been criticized by human rights monitors as "inadequate in relation to the number of forcibly displaced persons."(74)

Synopsis of Human Rights Situation in Turkey:

While the Turkish government has made repeated pledges to improve the human rights situation and eliminate government involvement in incidents of torture and excessive use of force, a June 1999 ruling by the Council of Europe accused Ankara of "repeated and serious" human rights violations and charged that there had been "no significant progress" in the past two years in limiting incidents of torture, disappearances, and extrajudicial killings.(75) Turkey's continuing crackdown on journalists, independent human rights monitors, and Kurdish and Islamic political parties combined with its systematic failure to bring police and security personnel to justice for committing acts of murder and torture suggest that it will take more than a few changes in procedures or the revision of a few particularly egregious statutes to create the conditions for genuine human rights improvements in Turkey.

The call for fundamental change in the Turkish political system received a major boost from a speech given in early September 1999 by Sami Selcuk, the President of the Turkish Court of Appeals, before Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit and other members of the Turkish political elite. Selcuk argued that the legitimacy of Turkey's 1982 constitution (which is still in effect) is "close to naught," because it was "imposed on society under threat" by the leaders of a 1980 military coup. He denounced Turkey's policy of "cultural genocide" (a reference to the treatment of the Kurdish population) and called for "a real democracy . . . that does not forbid opinions and beliefs, that allows their free discussion and emulation under the protection of justice." He pleaded with his audience that "Turkey must not enter the 21st Century as a country that is busy, by repressive laws, crushing its inhabitants and reducing them to silence."(76) Parts of Selcuk's remarks were broadcast on Turkish television, and his speech sparked a lively discussion in Turkish newspapers.

Selcuk's critique is part of a new push for reform on the part of Turkish non-governmental organizations and the Turkish press in the aftermath of the August 17th earthquake. Allegations of faulty building standards linked to corruption and widespread dissatisfaction with the response of the government and the military to the earthquake - plus the active role of non-governmental organizations in mobilizing for the relief effort - have contributed to a climate in which criticism of governmental policies and demands for reform have escalated dramatically. Whether the Turkish government decides to respond to these new demands with reform or repression is still an open question.

In the meantime, absent major initiatives to root out the systemic sources of repression built into the Turkish legal and political system and seek a peaceful resolution for the demands for greater cultural and political autonomy for Turkey's Kurdish population, the Clinton Administration should rule out the sale of U.S. attack helicopters to the Turkish government. The next section will present the outlines of a new U.S. policy towards Turkey that puts less reliance on arms sales and military cooperation and more emphasis on conflict resolution and diplomacy. We believe that a more balanced policy holds out greater hope of promoting democracy in Turkey and setting the stage for a more stable U.S.-Turkish relationship over the long term.

VII. A New U.S. Policy Towards Turkey

U.S. foreign policy towards Turkey is based on the premise that arms exports "buy influence" over the policies of the importing state and help cement a strategic partnership. U.S. officials challenged on the wisdom of arms sales on human rights grounds cite a long list of strategic interests in the region and claim that Turkey's cooperation in forwarding U.S. regional interests takes precedence. Engagement - primarily through arms sales - is also promoted as a way to modify Turkey's human rights record and its aggressive behavior in the region. Yet, as we have demonstrated above, in the case of Turkey the "arms sales buy influence" mantra is belied by the facts. In reality, Washington has had little sway over Ankara's behavior in key foreign policy areas such as promoting human rights and democracy, preserving regional stability, keeping Turkey tied to Western Europe, and promoting Turkish economic growth. In fact, as will be shown below, failure to persuade Turkey to change its policies on several key issues has meant that Turkey has often acted directly against U.S. national interests, often using U.S. arms. On the other hand, political concessions won through the military-dominated foreign policy are relatively limited and not worth the costs. A new policy towards Turkey is therefore imperative.

The arms buy influence fallacy:

Recognizing that human rights protection and democracy are important stabilizing elements in tense regions, the State Department has stressed the need for improvements with Turkey in bilateral discussions and high level official visits. Yet these messages, plus over $4.9 billion in U.S. arms delivered to Turkey since 1993, has garnered only limited promises from successive Turkish governments on key issues such as ending impunity for torture and de-criminalizing free speech. The seven priority areas needing improvement described above were articulated to the Turkish government as conditions for the attack helicopter sale. But State Department officials have admitted - and the department's 1999 human rights report to Congress clearly shows - that little or no progress has been made in any of these areas. Our conclusion must be that either the U.S. government is not pushing as hard as it claims for improvement in human rights (and is therefore not straightforward about its policy priorities) or its efforts - supposedly resting on the weight of large quantities of arms sales to Ankara - have failed.

In addition, U.S. diplomacy has had little impact on the way the war with the PKK has been conducted nor on the search for a peaceful and rapid conclusion. The State Department documented in both 1995 and 1997 the use of U.S.-origin equipment in human rights abuses during military operations in the southeast, though Turkey's increasing restrictions on access to the region made the second report less instructive (see section III, above). But no punitive action seems to have followed these revelations, nor has the U.S. insisted on gaining access to the area to ensure that future abuses do not occur.

The past half year has presented several opportunities for active U.S. diplomacy to bring the conflict with the PKK to an end, as U.S. officials have done in Northern Ireland and Israel, other places where the U.S. government had formerly categorized insurgents as "terrorists." Yet when PKK leader Ocalan came under Italian custody in November 1998, the Clinton administration helped Turkey pressure Italy to extradite him to Turkey, knowing full well that the Turkish government would not seize the opportunity to shift tactics and pursue a negotiated end to the war. Turkey's eventual capture and trial of Ocalan led predictably to a death sentence, and Ocalan's pleas to lead his rebel group toward peace have gone largely unheard. Even after the PKK decided to obey Ocalan's command and lay down their arms, Turkey, so far, has obstinately refused to stop its military pursuit of total victory. Meanwhile, if the U.S. government was encouraging anything but this military strategy, their calls went unheeded by the Turks, despite their reliance on the U.S. for continued arms supplies.

The U.S. government's attempts to use arms sales "leverage" to bring peace to the Aegean have also failed to produce any lasting changes. Instead, by flooding the Aegean region with high-tech arms, the U.S. has actually exacerbated existing tensions between Greece and Turkey. The U.S. often urges Turkey to refrain from military maneuvers which are certain to provoke Greece or Cyprus, such as flying F-16s and other planes over Greek airspace and conducting other "needlessly provocative" operations, but to no avail.(77) It also tried and failed to persuade Turkey to cancel a major exercise on Cyprus in 1997. Congressional resolutions call regularly for an intensified diplomatic effort to resolve the Cyprus deadlock, and the U.S. at one point assigned super-negotiator Richard Holbrooke to try to break through the morass. Yet if anything, the tensions in Cyprus appear to rise year after year.

On the other hand, U.S. government claims that Turkey's value lies in its status as a cooperative alliance member and strategic partner are exaggerated. "The belief that Turkey, in exchange for such succor [helping building Turkey's armed forces into the second biggest in NATO], will be a loyal enforcer of US policy is mistaken," says Turkey scholar John Tirman.(78) Turkey's efforts to become a regional power take it in policy directions that are often in direct contrast to U.S. goals. For example, Turkey is disrupting aid to Armenia, while helping to build up the Azerbaijan armed forces. It has also helped arm Chechen rebels, again challenging U.S. claims that it is partnering with Turkey to stabilize the Caucasus. Turkey has only reluctantly accepted the embargo against Iraq, and uses its economic loses as a way to blackmail the U.S. into selling more arms. Turkey is pursuing a natural gas pipeline deal with Iran despite ardent U.S. efforts to build a pipeline that would circumvent Iran.(79) Finally, Turkish obstinacy almost stopped the NATO enlargement process, as Turkey threatened to veto the enlargement decision if it was not also considered for EU membership.(80)

In fact, the only tangible foreign policy victories the U.S. can lay claim to vis-à-vis Turkey are Turkish participation in peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Kosovo and the use of the Incirlik base in southern Turkey to monitor the no-fly zone over northern Iraq. Yet Turkey clearly has an independent interest in returning stability to the Balkans, regardless of U.S. pressure. Moreover, a NATO member's participation in a NATO-led mission is no great foreign policy achievement for the State Department. On the contrary, the U.S. might have been more cautious in soliciting Turkish participation in these missions given its imperial history in the region. Thus, the much-touted gains from an open-ended arms supply policy can be boiled down to Turkey's support in containing Iraq. Yet while Turkey reluctantly allows the U.S. to use the Incirlik base, its military regularly violates the U.S.-enforced flight ban over Iraq in its own attacks against Kurdish rebel bases in Iraq. The U.S. government has only halfheartedly sought to prevent such attacks, communicating to Turkey that "any intervention in northern Iraq to go after terrorists should be limited in scope and duration and ensure proper regard for human rights."(81) With similar statements in the past having gone unheeded, this hardly seems like an effective way to protect Kurdish civilians in northern Iraq. Moreover, as will be shown below, the U.S. has sacrificed many other foreign policy goals in the region for this gain, leaving one to question U.S. priorities.

Current Policy Damages U.S. Interests:

The protection of minority ethnic populations is considered an important tenet of the Clinton administration's foreign policy. As Secretary Albright stated in 1998, "Support for human rights is not just some kind of international social work. It is vital to our security and well-being, for governments that disregard the rights of their own citizens are not likely to respect the rights of anyone else. Such regimes are also more likely to spark unrest by persecuting minorities."(82) Following this logic, NATO forces launched a major air campaign against Yugoslavia to protect the ethnic Albanian population in Kosovo, and U.S. jets still patrol "no fly zones" in northern and southern Iraq, ostensibly to protect the Kurdish minorities against attack from Saddam Hussein. In stark contrast, the U.S. has provided assistance - through arms transfers and political support -- for Turkey's brutal repression of the Kurdish population and an aggressive war against Kurdish rebels. Failure to offer the same protection to the Kurdish minority in Turkey is not only hypocritical, but it also brings into question U.S. motives in previous humanitarian operations, undermining the credibility of policy-makers who argue that humanitarian intervention was justified in those cases.

In the end, neither U.S. nor Turkish interests are served by the continuation of the war with the PKK, internal repression, or a weak democracy. As Secretary Albright noted, the protection of minorities is a matter of U.S. national security because of the destabilizing effect repression has on a state and its neighbors. Indeed, Turkey's historic persecution of its Kurdish minority and the lack of avenues for democratic protest sparked the Kurdish rebellion in 1984, which was the 28th major rebellion by the Kurdish population since the founding of the modern Turkish state in 1923. Continued repression by the Turkish military since 1984 has built up popular Kurdish support for the PKK's goals, if not methods, which will not subside until the Kurds feel their views can be truly represented in Ankara. Other U.S. interests are at risk through the continuation of the war. The prolonged conflict has at times risked bringing in other states in the region, such as Syria, Iran, or Iraq, where PKK fighters have been based. An end to the war would remove one element of tension between Turkey and Greece, as there would be no more cause to accuse Greece of aiding the PKK. In addition, if the U.S.-backed plan for a Caspian Sea oil pipeline through Turkey progresses, it would go through territory where the PKK currently operates. Obviously, an end to the war would reduce the risk of rebel attacks on what will be a substantial U.S. economic investment.

A democratic Turkey would make a much more reliable ally, but U.S. support for the Turkish military has taken a heavy toll on Turkey's burgeoning democracy. If the U.S. government truly wants to partner with Turkey to combat terrorism and drug-trafficking, prevent conflict in the Caucasus, and resolve the problems in the Aegean, it needs to work with a stable, reliable government unfettered by the risk of military interference. The civilian government cannot reclaim control over Turkey's domestic and foreign policies as long as the war continues. In the meantime, the elected leaders' impotence, widespread war-related corruption, economic stress, and general popular dissatisfaction have claimed five governments over the past two years. Social ills resulting from the war first contributed to the rise of the Islamic party, especially in the Southeast, where its non-nationalistic tones are appreciated by the largely Kurdish population. The Welfare party even led a government in 1997, until Turkish military leaders--supposedly worried about Prime Minister Erbakan's approach to Islamic states in the Middle East and pursuit of minor reforms to permit greater religious expression--forced his resignation. Turkish voters' frustration with their leaders next led them to vote in surprisingly large numbers for the far-right nationalist party in the April 1999 elections, boding ill for confidence-building measures with Greece and for a re-prioritization of human rights.

As noted above, free-flowing arms sales to Greece and Turkey adversely affect U.S. security interests by undermining U.S. efforts to bring peace to the Aegean. Turkey uses U.S. arms to fly over Greek and Cypriot airspace and enter their territorial waters, acts which help prolong the tense status quo. U.S. efforts to end the stalemate in Cyprus are defeated by the simultaneous provision of arms to Turkey, which can be counted on to transfer them to the Turkish troops in northern Cyprus. Tensions between Greece and Turkey also damage the credibility and effectiveness of NATO. An alliance that is unable to settle serious disputes between two members cannot be a legitimate representative of peace and stability in Europe.(83) Bilateral disagreements have at times interfered with key decisions on budgetary and operational matters, including decisions on NATO expansion.(84) As the de facto leader of this alliance, the United States has an interest in minimizing such intra-member disputes, both for the health of the organization and to project an image of cohesiveness and determination. Instead, the U.S. and other NATO allies have had to invest considerable time and energy diffusing crises between Greece and Turkey. For example, in January 1996, the entire top U.S. foreign policy-making team, including the President, spent several hours coaxing Greece and Turkey away from military confrontation over an uninhabited islet off the Turkish coast.(85) Moreover, a stable and productive Greece-Turkey relationship would have facilitated development of sound policy to address the wars in the former Yugoslavia; instead, the Greece-Turkey fissure created fears that they would be dragged into a larger Balkan conflict.

U.S. arms sales and continued conflict in Turkey also damage Turkey's economy and prospects for economic cooperation with the West. Given that the U.S. Department of Commerce has identified Turkey as one of the ten "Big Emerging Markets," U.S. business interests would be better served by a healthy Turkish economy. The 1998 CIA factbook states that Turkey spends approximately $7 billion a year on the war with the PKK, which contributed to a 99% inflation rate for 1998 and a national debt equal to half the government's revenue. Needless to say, the money invested in this war is money not being spent on domestic infrastructure and social programs. Similar amounts of investment in the economically strapped southeast would be a much more effective way of reducing support for the PKK than an aggressive military campaign. In addition, war-related political and financial instability has also discouraged foreign investment, which could help stimulate growth in the southeast and elsewhere in Turkey. Furthermore, at a time when damage due to the August 17th earthquake has been estimated at $7 billion or more, continuing Turkey's costly war in the southeast seems particularly ill-advised. Mindful of the contradiction between spending for arms and spending for reconstruction, Turkey's state minister for economic affairs Rustu Kazim Yucelen told a group of Turkish parliamentary deputies "We should consider cuts in the defense budget."(86)

One oft-repeated foreign policy goal in the Aegean is to keep Turkey "tied to the West," rather than letting it fall under the influence of radical Islamic states to its east. But the Turkish military is traditionally a fiercely secular institution, which is not in danger of falling under the influence of radical Islam. In fact, the military - with U.S. support - has used its overbearing influence over government policy to secure certain pro-secular policies, force the resignation of Welfare party Prime Minister Erbakan in 1997, incarcerate prominent Islamic leaders, and force out a female deputy for wearing a head scarf to Parliament. But such repression of religious freedom has had the unintended effect of building support for the Islamic movement. Moreover, the enormous investment in the war with the PKK has reduced social programs, caused severe inflation and debt, and spawned widespread governmental corruption, all issues targeted by the Islamic party's reform platform. In fact, popular support for the Islamic party only declined after the democratically-elected Welfare party failed to achieve the progress it had promised dissatisfied voters. If Erbakan had been allowed to finish his term, the appeal of an Islamic party might have been diluted even more as the party became demystified under voter scrutiny. U.S. policy therefore undermined a democratic solution to the risk of Islamic fundamentalism and supported a repressive policy that actually fostered Islamic sentiment.

The goal of keeping Turkey anchored to the West became a greater priority after it was rejected for European Union membership consideration in December 1997. (The timing of this rejection was yet another rationalization for granting marketing licenses for the attack helicopter sale to be issued in December 1997.) But the EU's reservations about Turkey came from its failure to live up to international human rights obligations, its aggression toward EU member Greece, and its poor economic health. Again, U.S. policy exacerbated each of these problems by encouraging reckless military spending and providing the weapons that Turkey has used to abuse human rights and menace Greece.

Seizing the Moment - Towards a New Policy:

The administration's "open-arms" strategy has failed to reap enough foreign policy rewards to justify the damage being done to human rights and stability in the region. A business-as-usual approach to U.S. arms sales to Turkey would be particularly inappropriate now, in light of the new diplomatic opportunities that have been opened up in the wake of the August 17th earthquake and the September declaration by PKK leaders that they are willing to abandon armed operations in exchange for political recognition within Turkey.

The U.S. government should adopt a new policy which stresses support for Turkey's democratic institutions and peaceful conflict resolution. A strict link needs to be made between the sale of arms and the use to which they are put. Thus, the U.S. should stop selling arms to Turkey until it meets certain specific, clearly articulated criteria, such as an end to the war with the PKK, an end to aggressive posturing towards Greece and Cyprus, and the guarantee of rights to all Turkish citizens.

The first step in this strategy should be a more pro-active U.S. role in the quest for a peaceful solution to the conflict with the PKK. Although the Clinton administration labels the PKK a terrorist organization and would therefore normally not negotiate nor encourage negotiation with its leaders, it has moved beyond this static policy in Israel, Northern Ireland, and South Africa. There, all parties realized it would be counter-productive to rule out dialogue with groups that had built a significant constituency and represented real grievances of substantial segments of the population. PKK leader Ocalan has even suggested that another organization represent Kurdish interests at the negotiating table. Perhaps the popular Kurdish political party HADEP, which has unofficial ties to the PKK, could be a more palatable party to the talks. This would signify, of course, an end to the Turkish government's ongoing attempt to ban HADEP.

Turkey is in an excellent position to make the transition from military to peaceful resolution of this conflict. Military victory will continue to be evasive, as the Kurds can always retreat to bases in Iraq and Iran, as they in fact began to do in September of 1999. Moreover, as long as the underlying causes have not been addressed, the Turkish government can never win the full allegiance of many Kurds in the southeast. Turkey does, however, have the military upper hand and should easily be able to tolerate the limited PKK demands which remain after so many years of fighting. The rebel Kurds are essentially looking for cultural rights and greater economic investment; the Turkish government has expressed support for the latter, and the former should be less objectionable as a settlement reduces fears of separatism. The situation is reminiscent of the protracted wars in Central America, which came to a negotiated close when the outside powers withdrew military support. The U.S. government, along with its NATO allies, need to do the same in Turkey if they hope to push forward peace in the Eastern Mediterranean. A sincere move toward peace, especially backed by the U.S. government, would surely reduce most war-weary Kurds' support for maintaining the conflict.

The United States and the other states of the Group of Eight industrialized states have called for an intensified effort to resolve the Cyprus conflict in the fall of 1999. The U.S. government has watched other peace efforts fail as it simultaneously promoted arms transfers to Greece and Turkey. This time, the U.S. - along with fellow G-8 arms exporting states - should not undermine their own diplomatic efforts with a liberal arms export policy. As current Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit said himself in 1997 as he called for an arms reduction agreement in the eastern Mediterranean, "If we can reduce the arms level, it could greatly help Turkey and Greece resolve their disputes."(87)

U.S. concerns that setting strict conditions on future arms transfers will irreversibly damage bilateral relations with Turkey have not looked closely at Turkey's fickle relationship with several Western European states. Many European governments, including Austria, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, and Sweden, have taken a stand against Turkey's human rights record and prohibited arms sales until progress is made.(88) Under its previous government, Germany decided not to participate with its French partner in the tests for the attack helicopter bid, temporarily disqualifying it for consideration. Germany also declined to press charges against PKK leader Ocalan when Italy had him in custody in the fall of 1998. Italy offended Turkey even more by refusing to extradite Ocalan to Turkey. Yet Turkey's angry rhetoric against these states soon evaporated, and both countries' helicopters were included in the group of five finalists announced in February 1999. In the end, the U.S. usually has better, more technologically advanced equipment. When the situation in Turkey has evolved to the point that U.S. arms exports are no longer problematic, the U.S. industry should have no problem winning future contracts.

In the meantime, a "peace first" strategy will require the U.S. government to emphasize non-military aspects of its relationship with Turkey, such as classic diplomatic and economic ties. The arms for influence policy has allowed Turkey to elevate arms exports to the central element of the relationship, leaving bilateral ties inappropriately susceptible to U.S. export decisions. Every delay on an arms sale is translated into a near catastrophic break in relations, and every approval sends a clear signal of support for Turkey's military policies. As RAND analyst Ian Lesser stated, "U.S.-Turkish friendship is unlikely to deepen if the arms transfer issue remains the focus of their relations. The real fix is to refocus the relationship off narrow, short-term issues toward long-term shared interests."(89) U.S. foreign policymakers stand to gain from such a move, as the current situation gives Turkey the upper hand in the relationship. By threatening to look elsewhere for arms, Turkey makes U.S. policymakers reluctant to ask for very much in exchange for the arms deals, effectively negating the influence arms sales were meant to provide and discarding the value of all other U.S. aid and investment. For example, plans for a $3.7 billion oil pipeline project should be given as much importance by Ankara as decisions on arms sales.

Until the U.S. government takes a firm stand on arms exports to Turkey, it will be sending contradictory messages to Turkey and other states worldwide. On the one hand, the U.S. publicly expresses support for a democratic Turkey that respects the rights of all Turkish citizens and the territorial integrity of its neighbors. On the other, it continues to provide the equipment which undermines these policies. Conditioning future U.S. arms sales to Turkey on concrete improvements in human rights and diplomatic resolutions to Turkey's internal and external conflicts would send the clearest possible signal of U.S. disapproval for the use of arms in violation of international law and the clearest demonstration of its commitment to peace in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Appendix Tables

Table A: U.S. Arms Transfers to Turkey, 1992 - Present

Table B: Turkey's Deals in the Works

Table C: Coproduction and Offset Deals with Turkey

1. For one of many discussions on the role of human rights concerns in the Kosovo conflict, see Tina Rosenberg, "A Bad Year for the World's Boarder Guards," New York Times, July 2, 1999, in which she states that "NATO's bombing of Serbia was based on . . . enforcing respect for international law."

2. An Associated Press dispatch filed on August 5, 1999 (entitled "Kurd Rebels Agree to Leave Turkey") notes that the "conflict has cost 37,000 lives - mostly Kurds." For estimates on the numbers of Kurdish villages destroyed and the number of Kurdish people displaced in the war in the southeast, see U.S. Department of State, Turkey Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998, available on the web at 1998_hrp_report/turkey.html, pp.3 and 12. Estimates on the number of people displaced by the conflict vary so dramatically (from 500,000 to 2.5 million) because, as Human Rights Watch has noted, "The exact number of displaced is unknown because no independent group has been able to freely conduct research in the region." (see Human Rights Watch, "Background on Repression of the Kurds in Turkey," available at

3. Raymond Bonner, "U.S. Helicopter Sale to Turkey Hits Snag," New York Times, March 29, 1996.

4. Stanley Meisler, "Arms Makers Look Overseas to Make Profits," Los Angeles Times, June 7, 1998.

5. The summary of the State Department's criteria for approving the attack helicopter sale to Turkey are drawn from Tamar Gabelnick, "Turkey: Arms and Human Rights," Foreign Policy in Focus, Vol. 4, No.16, May 1999, available at

6. See Gabelnick, op.cit. For an official overview of the U.S. security relationship with Turkey, see the special section on "Turkey's Armed Forces: A Modernizing Military," in The DISAM Journal of International Security Assistance, Vol. 17, No. 3, Spring 1995, published at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio.

7. U.S. Department of State, Congressional Presentation for Foreign Operations for FY 1999, p. 339.

8. Ibid., p. 340.

9. Transcript of President-Elect Clinton's Capitol Hill News Conference, Washington Post, Nov. 20, 1992.

10. Paul F. Pineo and Lora Lumpe, Recycled Weapons: American Exports of Surplus Arms, 1990-1995, Washington, DC, Arms Sales Monitoring Project, Federation of American Scientists, May 1996, p. 19.

11. Congressional Presentation for Foreign Operation for FY 2000, edition, op.cit., p. 1101.

12. For example, according to the Arms Sales Monitor, "In a show of displeasure over Turkey's continued poor human rights performance . . . Congress cut Turkey's Economic Support Fund payment . . . by two-thirds," while in FY 1998 Turkey refused to accept its $40 million ESF allotment "because half of the aid was directed to non-governmental organizations in Turkey working in support of human rights and democratization." On these points, see the Arms Sales Monitor, No. 32, March 5, 1996, p.6 and No. 37, April 10, 1998, p. 5 (both available on the web at ).

13. Congressional Presentation for Foreign Operations, FY 1999 edition, op. cit., p. 340.

14. Congressional Presentation for Foreign Operations, FY 2000 edition, pp. 1253, 1286.

15. For a further description of the Export-Import Bank loan guarantees for Turkey, see William D. Hartung, Welfare for Weapons Dealers: The Hidden Costs of the Arms Trade (New York: World Policy Institute, 1996), p. 41. For the Aerospace Industries Association's position on easing credit terms on the Defense Export Loan Guarantee Program, see the discussion in the "Top 10 Issues" of the AIA web site, at

16. For a succinct overview of the offsets phenomenon, see Lora Lumpe, "Sweet Deals and Low Politics: Offsets in the Arms Market," F.A.S. Public Interest Report, Vol. 47, No. 1, Washington, DC, Federation of American Scientists, January/February 1994, online at

17. U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Export Administration, Offsets in Defense Trade: A Study Conducted Under Section 309 of the Defense Production Act of 1950, As Amended (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, 1996), p. 64.

18. On employment at the F-16 plant in Ankara, see Charles Sennott, "In These Deals, Workers Pay," Boston Globe, Feb. 11, 1996.

19. For further details on partnerships between U.S. and Turkish firms in the armored vehicle sector, see Appendix Table C, below.

20. Ege Bekdil and Umit Eginsoy, "Local Ties Vital to Turkish Tank Bids," Defense News, September 27, 1999.

21. On the Egyptian F-16 deal see Hartung, Welfare for Weapons Dealers, op. cit., pp. 43-44; on the use of the Turkish facility to train South Korean workers in F-16 production techniques, see William D. Hartung, And Weapons for All (New York: HarperCollins, 1995), pp. 269-270.

22. Statistics on U.S. weaponry in the Turkish inventory are from International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 1998/99 (London: IISS, 1999), pp. 67-69.

23. IISS, Military Balance, op. cit., note 19.

24. U.S. Department of State, "Report on Allegations of Human Rights Abuses by the Turkish Military and on the Situation in Cyprus," June 1995, p. 12.

25. Chris Morris, "General Raises Hopes of Softening Towards Kurds," The Guardian (UK), September 8, 1999; and Pelin Turgut, "Kurd Rebels See Turkish Change of Tack," Reuters, Sep. 7, 1999.

26. "Top General's Remarks Misinterpreted, General Staff Says," Agence France-Presse, September 11, 1999.

27. "PKK Rejects Turkish Call for Surrender, Rules Out Further Concessions," Agence France-Presse, September 29, 1999.

28. Ferit Demir, "Turkish Troops Attack Kurd Rebels in Iraq," Reuters, September 29, 1999.

29. "26 Killed in Army-PKK Clashes," Agence France-Presse, Sep. 5, 1999; "Turkey Says Army Kills 10 PKK Kurdish Rebels," Reuters, Sep. 15, 1999; and "Turkey Passes Amnesty, Excludes Political Crimes," Reuters, Aug. 28, 1999.

30. U.S. Department of State, "Report on Allegations . . .", op. cit., p. 1.

31. Human Rights Watch, Weapons Transfers and Violations of the Laws of War in Turkey (New York: Human Rights Watch, November 1995), p. 2.

32. Human Rights Watch, Weapons Transfers . . ., op. cit., p. 11.

33. Ibid., pp. 48, 63; and Dana Priest, "Bonds Forged in Turkish Drill Exemplify U.S. Forces' Goal," Washington Post, July 12, 1998.

34. U.S. Department of State, "U.S. Military Equipment and Human Rights Violations," Report submitted to the Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate, July 1, 1997, in accordance with a request made in Senate Appropriations Committee Report 104-295, asking that the "Secretary of State update an earlier report on allegations of human rights abuses by Turkish security forces," pp. 6 and 12.

35. On the Iranian allegations of Turkish bombing raids against targets in Iran, see "Turkey and Iran Hold Security Talks," Turkey Update, August 10, 1999.

36. "Turkish Troops End Iraqi Incursion; 40 Kurdish Rebels Killed," Agence France-Presse, July 10, 1999; and "Turkey Unleashes a Massive Raid on Kurdish Bases in Iraq," International Herald Tribune, March 21, 1995.

37. "Tension Riding High in the Aegean," Jane's Intelligence Review, March 1996, p. 120.

38. "Tension Riding High in the Aegean," p. 123.

39. Umit Enginsoy, "Turkey, Greece Edge Closer to Cyprus Clash," Defense News, June 22-28, 1998, p. 3.

40. Ege Bekdil and Umit Enginsoy, "Turkey, Israel Move Closer to Popeye 2 Accord," Defense News, Aug. 9, 1999.

41. Umit Enginsoy, "Pentagon Defends Proposed Sale of Missiles to Turkey, Greece," Defense News, May 25-31, 1998, p. 7.

42. Umit Enginsoy, "Greek Conflict Fuels Turkish Navy Upgrades," Defense News, Feb. 5-11, 1996, p. 4.

43. Tasos Kokkinides, Lucy Amis and Nino Lorenzini, "Diplomacy and Arms: West Sends Mixed Messages to Aegean Adversaries," BASIC Papers, August 1998, p. 1.

44. "Turkey Bolsters North and Warns Greeks," Jane's Defense Weekly, January 10, 1996, p. 3.

45. After the report was released, both Greece and Turkey removed the illegal arms from Cyprus, according to a congressional staffer familiar with the case.

46. "American-Made Arms in Northern Cyprus: U.S. Must Act Now," Nicosia Cyprus Mail, Nov. 21, 1998, p. 9.

47. "Turkey, Greece Edge Closer to Cyprus Clash," Defense News, June 22-28, 1998, p. 3, "Greek, Turkish Premiers Meet After U.S. Pressure," Jane's Defense Weekly, Nov. 12, 1997, p. 5.

48. Stephen Kinzer, "A Sudden Friendship Blossoms Between Greece and Turkey," New York Times, September 13, 1999.

49. Umit Enginsoy, "Turkish Budget Anticipates Arms-Buying Program," Defense News, October 26-November 1, 1998.

50. Dana Priest, "New Human Rights Policy Triggers Policy Debate - Military Aid Restrictions Said to Harm U.S. Interests," Washington Post, December 31, 1998.

51. Ibid.

52. "DoD News Briefing: Press Conference with the Turkish Minister of National Defense Sabahattin Cakmakoglu at the Ministry of National Defense, Ankara, Turkey," July 15, 1999, available at

53. Human Rights Watch, Turkey: Violations of Free Expression (New York: Human Rights Watch, February 1999), available at Quotes in this paragraph are from the summary, p. 2.

54. Amberin Zaman,"Turkey - Press Freedom," Voice of America transcript, June 10, 1999.

55. On Ahmet Kaya, see Turkey Update, 9/13/99, available at On Nadire Mater, see "Turkish Journalist Exposes Frustrations of Kurdish War," Associated Press, July 31, 1999; and "Journalist Charged," New York, Committee to Protect Journalists, Alert Update-Turkey, September 22, 1999.

56. U.S. Department of State, Turkey Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1998, op. cit., p. 3; and Human Rights Watch, Turkey: Violations of Free Expression, op. cit., "Recommendations" section, pp. 1-2.

57. "Turkey One of the Most Dangerous Countries in the World," Voice of America, July 25, 1999.

58. "Amnesty Scandal in Turkey!," Info-Turk, August 31, 1999, available at "Turkish Writer Freed, 79-year Jail Term Suspended," Reuters, September 16, 1999.

59. "Human Rights Diary: Press Amnesty to Free Dozens of Turkish Journalists from Prisons," Turkish Daily News, online edition, September 12, 1999, available at

60. U.S. Department of State, Turkey Country Report, op. cit., pp. 2, 14, and 15; and "Pro-Kurdish Party Leaders Lose Posts Over Prison Sentence," Agence France-Presse, July 21, 1999.

61. Washington Kurdish Institute, "WKI Condemns Imminent Ban of HADEP, Turkey's Largest Kurdish-based Party; Calls on OSCE and Other International Institutions to Send Election Monitors," press release, February 5, 1999; and Louis Meixler, "PKK Latest in Long Line of Kurdish Rebellions," Associated Press, July 13, 1999.

62. "Crackdown on Kurds and Islamists Before Elections," Turkey Update, February 5, 1999.

63. U.S. Department of State, Turkey Country Report, op. cit., p. 2.

64. Human Rights Watch, Turkey: Violations of Free Expression, op. cit., section VI, p. 2.

65. Ibid., section VI, p. 3.

66. U.S. Department of State, Turkey Human Rights Report, op. cit., p. 6.

67. Amnesty International, Turkey: The Duty to Supervise, Investigate, and Prosecute (London: Amnesty International, April 1999), pp.1-3.

68. Human Rights Watch, "Imprisonment of Leading Turkish Activist Condemned," news release, June 3, 1999.

69. Amnesty International, "AI Report 1999: Turkey," p. 2, available at

70. "Turkey: Akin Birdal Adopted As Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International," Amnesty International news release, June 4, 1999.

71. "Turkey Frees Top Rights Campaigner, Suspends Term," Reuters, Sep. 25, 1999.

72. U.S. Department of State, Turkey Country Report, op. cit., pp. 12-13.

73. Ibid., p. 12.

74. Ibid., p. 12.

75. "European Rights Council Faults Turkey on Abuses," Agence France-Presse, June 10, 1999.

76. "President of Turkish Court of Appeals Argues for Democracy," Turkey Update, No. 142, Sep. 9, 1999, available at; and Chris Morris, "Judge Attacks Turkish Democracy," British Broadcasting Corporation, Sep. 6, 1999.

77. "Greek, Turkish Premiers Meet After U.S. Pressure," Jane's Defense Weekly, Nov. 12, 1997, p. 5.

78. John Tirman, "A Country that Needs Tough Love," Los Angeles Times, Dec. 19, 1997.

79. "Turks Ignore U.S. Wishes and Opt for Iran Pipeline," Washington Post, Dec. 13, 1998.

80. "Greece and Turkey Surprise with Peace Pact," Jane's Defense Weekly, July 16, 1997, p. 4.

81. James Rubin, State briefing on Secretary Albright's meeting with the Turkish Foreign Minister, Dec. 4, 1997.


82. Secretary of State Madeline K. Albright, Address to the Rosalyn Carter Distinguished Lecture Series, Atlanta, Georgia, Dec. 3, 1998.

83. Louis J. Klarevas, "If this Alliance is to Survive . . .," Washington Post, Jan. 2, 1998, p. A23.

84. "Tension Riding High in the Aegean," Jane's Intelligence Review, March 1996, p. 123.

85. Marilyn Greene and Steve Komarrow, "U.S. Jumps on Aegean Crisis," USA Today, Feb. 1, 1996, p. 1.

86. Ege Bekdil and Umit Egensoy, "Turkey's Defense Plans Slip On Quake," Defense News, Sep. 6, 1999.

87. "Turkish Call for Arms Curb in Region Fails to Move Greece," Defense News, Oct. 13-19, 1997, p. 24.

88. Norway stopped arms transfers in 1995 because of Turkey's invasion of Northern Iraq.

89. Paul Mann, "U.S., Turkey Encouraged to Bolster Defense Ties," Aviation Week & Space Technology, Aug. 11, 1997.

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