The significance of attacking U.S. sailors in Turkey

n Nov. 12, activists from the Youth Union of Turkey (TGB) assaulted American sailors in Istanbul

Ceylan Ozbudak
Ceylan Ozbudak
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On Nov. 12, activists from the Youth Union of Turkey (TGB) assaulted American sailors in Istanbul by trying to cover their heads with sacks. The TGB is known for such attacks against U.S. and NATO soldiers in Turkey. In 2013, it tried to place hoods on the heads of German troops. In both cases, Turkish police arrived at the scene and detained members of the group.

Putting sacks over the heads of U.S. sailors can be seen as a form of revenge for an incident in Iraq known as the “hood event.” On July 4, 2003, Turkish military personnel in northern Iraq were hooded and detained by American troops. They were released after Ankara officially protested to the United States. The incident caused public outrage in Turkey, and then-U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wrote a letter to then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressing regret.

Most Turks were appalled by the TGB’s assault on the American sailors. “This action doesn’t reflect Turkish hospitality at all,” Harun Yahya said on his TV show. “These young soldiers aren’t to blame for an event [the ‘hood event’] that took place when they were children. These young soldiers only follow orders and come here – they should be safe here.”

Putting sacks over the heads of U.S. sailors can be seen as a form of revenge for an incident in Iraq known as the “hood event”

Ceylan Ozbudak

The U.S. embassy in Ankara condemned the attack, saying: “We... have no doubt the vast majority of Turks would join us in rejecting an action that so disrespects Turkey’s reputation for hospitality.” Some Turks might oppose some U.S. practices, but such outlandish behavior deserves nothing but scorn.


The TGB is vehemently against the AK Party-led government, and even though it is nominally a nationalist movement, the group’s ideology can be easily seen in their red communist flags, and it has a reputation for vandalism during protests.

The TGB is the youth branch of the socialist Workers’ Party (IP), which was founded by Dogu Perincek. According to reports, Perincek congratulated the attack on the U.S. sailors.

Communist organizations will never betray their ideology, and no matter what weapons or financial help Washington provides communist insurgencies, they will inevitably betray the United States because their ideology is paramount.

For example, during protests against the Turkish government in Jan. 2013, the TGB attacked NATO forces; in May 2013, the group established close relations with American media to complain about the AK Party; and in 2014, they reverted to their true colors by attacking the sailors on the grounds of “opposing capitalism and imperialism.”

This is typical behavior for a communist group, in my opinion. If Turkey’s Western allies do not realize this duplicitous game soon, they will find themselves similarly betrayed in the near future.

This ideology must be countered intellectually. Regional peace and prosperity will not come by simply arming insurgencies. “My enemy’s enemy is my friend” is not a rational or productive strategy to deal with complex societies. In a historical context, this strategy has proven foolish. The region needs new ideas, bold movements and constructive messages, not more weapons.

Due to a media frenzy, Western public opinion is misled into thinking that far-left groups are their allies against radicalism. The TGB is an example of these groups’ true colors. They cannot be trusted until they change their ideology.


Ceylan Ozbudak is a Turkish political analyst, television presenter, and executive director of Building Bridges, an Istanbul-based NGO. As a representative of Harun Yahya organization, she frequently cites quotations from the author in her writings. She can be followed on Twitter via @ceylanozbudak

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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