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Thread: Turkish Women Blast Karen Hughes With Iraq War Criticism

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    Turkish Women Blast Karen Hughes With Iraq War Criticism

    Turkish Women Blast Karen Hughes With Iraq War Criticism

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...801429_pf.html

    By Glenn Kessler
    Wednesday, September 28, 2005; 1:45 PM

    ISTANBUL, Sept. 28 -- A group of Turkish female activists confronted Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes Wednesday with heated complaints about the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, turning a session designed to highlight the empowering of women into a raw display of the anger at U.S. policy in the region.

    "This war is really, really bringing your positive efforts to the level of zero," said Hidayet Sefkatli Tuksal, an activist with the Capital City Women's Forum. She said it was difficult to talk about cooperation between women in the United States and Turkey as long as Iraq was under occupation.

    Hughes, a longtime confidant of President Bush tasked with burnishing the U.S. image overseas, has generally met with polite audiences -- many of whom received U.S. funding or consisted of former exchange students -- during a tour of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey this week.

    In this case the U.S. Embassy asked Kader, an umbrella group that supports woman candidates, to assemble the guest list. None of the activists currently receive U.S. funds and the guests apparently had little desire to mince words. Six of the eight women who spoke at the session, held in Ankara, the capital, focused on the Iraq war.

    "War makes the rights of women completely erased and poverty comes after war -- and women pay the price," said Fatma Nevin Vargun, a Kurdish women's rights activist. Vargun denounced the arrest of Cindy Sheehan, the activist mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, in front of the White House Monday at an antiwar protest.

    Hughes, looking increasingly pained, defended the decision to invade Iraq as a difficult and wrenching moment for President Bush, but necessary to protect America.

    "You're concerned about war, and no one likes war," she said. But, she said, "to preserve the peace sometimes my country believes war is necessary." She also asserted that women are faring much better in Iraq than under the rule of deposed president Saddam Hussein.

    "War is not necessary for peace," shot back Feray Salman, a human rights advocate. She said countries should not try to impose democracy through war, adding that "we can never, ever export democracy and freedom from one country to another."

    Tuksal said she was "feeling myself wounded, feeling myself insulted here" by Hughes' response. "In every photograph that comes from Iraq there is that look of fear in the eyes of women and children. . . . This needs to be resolved as soon as possible."

    Turkey, a member of NATO, has long been a close ally of the United States, but relations have soured during the Bush administration, especially after the Turkish parliament blocked a request to allow U.S. troops to stage an invasion of northern Iraq via Turkey. National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley visited Ankara last week as part of a new effort by the White House to mend ties.

    The Turkish public has also become rattled by an increase in attacks by the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers' Party, a Kurdish militant group operating out of northern Iraq, amid accusations that the United States has not done enough to rein in the group.

    Nurdan Bernard, a journalist participating in the panel, raised concerns about the PKK, prompting Hughes to respond that it was "somewhat an irony." She added: "Sometimes you have to engage in combat in order to confront terrorists who want to kill you."

    Hughes later flew to Istanbul for meetings with religious leaders -- part of an effort to promote interfaith dialogue -- and with Turks who have participated in U.S. exchange programs. She returns to Washington Thursday.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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    The American Turkish Council popped into my head when reading this...
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


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