Friday, February 24, 2006

Valley of the Wolves

It's evidently a smash hit here in Berlin - where I am at the moment - with its very large Turkish community.

The film "Valley of the Wolves" is already attracting full houses in Turkey, but now it is evidently catching on here as well.

And unfortunately it fits into the picture of a dangereously increasing gap between the United States and Europe on the one side and some key countries of the Muslim world on the other. Turkey is obviously a very important country in this respect - hanging between the West and the Muslim world with its secular democracy and its European ambitions.

The film takes it start in a real even in northern Iraq when Turkish special soldiers there were arrested by American forces. And then it descend into story of evil Americans and brave Turks fighting for their interests. Anti-Semitic overtones are certainly there as well.

When the Americans marched into Iraq without waiting for Turkey to work through the difficult issue of whether they wanted to be part of it or not a very major strategic mistake was undoubtedly made. The confrontation between the US and Turkish strategic interests in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq was unavoidable - and when it happened mishandled primarily from the American side.

We are now beginning to see the consequences.

Large segments of Turkish public opinion is getting increasingly critical of - perhaps even hostile to - the United States. The risk that this will accelerate even further is obvious.

And to this should be added a perceived reluctance by parts of European public opinion to accept Turkey as a European country and future member of the European Union. Here in Germany the CDU/CSU is on the record as being against Turkish membership.

If Turkey then feels betrayed by the Americans and rejected by the Europeans it is bound to have an effect on its development. A descent into a more Muslim orientation looks significantly less likely, but a rapid increase in more hard-line nationalist sentiments will in such a situation become almost unavoidable.

That would significantly add to all the others worries we are likely to face in the Southeastern direction in the years to come.

The Valley of the Wolves is a fiction that warns us of were a more nationalistic Turkey might be heading.

We have a deep strategic interest in a more European Turkey.

But then we must shape our policies accordingly.

An important message - not the least here in Berlin where the film is attracting audience night after night. Posted by Picasa