Almost every week lately, there is another incident that can be tied to ISIS whether or not it actually takes “credit”. On New Year’s Eve, we were at her brother-in-law Mehmet’s apartment on the upper west side of Manhattan sitting down for dinner with Prosecco, the poor man’s Champagne, when the news broke about the terrorist attack on the Reina nightclub in the Beşiktaş district of Istanbul. When I first met Mehmet on a visit to Istanbul in 2003, he anticipated that this sort of thing would eventually begin to take place in Turkey. He thought that the war in Iraq could spill over into Turkey and that it would be best for his family to relocate to the USA. This is pretty much what has happened.
ISIS is a product of the invasion of Iraq, a war that Turkey opposed and whose decision was welcomed by the left. While most people might remember the AKP as key to voting down a resolution that would have permitted Turkey to be a staging ground for the invasion, the truth is that its opposition was based more on cash than principle. Like a mafia gang, it offered the USA a deal. A fifty-two-billion-dollar aid package would buy Turkey’s backing but when Bush refused to pay more than half of that, the AKP nixed the deal.
In fact, the baksheesh economy prevailed in Syria as well, the “anti-imperialist” country often depicted as the polar opposite of NATO member Turkey. Clifford Krause reported in the NY Times on January 2nd, 2003 that the Bush administration was “surprised and gratified by Syria’s recent vote in the United Nations Security Council in favor of the resolution demanding Iraq allow weapons inspectors to return or face possible military action.”