Observations by Turkish Journalist Burak Bekdil on Fatalities from Inter-Muslim Conflicts
The situation in Iraq after the US withdrawal was not the subject of an August 23, 2011 article appearing in the daily Turkish newspaper “Hurriyet,” journalist Burak Bekdil raises a point now applicable to Iraq’s situation. Bekdil starts with two statements made by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan about Israel. The first was made directly to Israeli President Shimon Peres in 2009: “You (Jews) know well how to kill.” The second, Erdogan has claimed numerous times: Israel is the main obstacle to peace in the region, existing only as “a festering boil in the Middle East that spreads hate and enmity.”
Bekdil’s article focused on the Turkish government’s hypocrisy for making such statements. He pointed out while Erdogan made these claims, Ankara supported the Palestinians’ right to self-determination at the same time it was killing Kurds, denying them a similar right. He suggested from Erdogan’s perspective, hate and enmity in the killing of Kurds didn’t count.
But Bekdil then went on to give a brief history of intra-Muslim turmoil in the Middle East since 1948—when Israel was established as a state—to put things into perspective as to who has killed the most Muslims over the past 64 years, noting:
“Sudan is not in the conventional Middle East, so let’s ignore the genocide there. Let’s ignore, also, the West Pakistani massacres in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) totaling 1.25 million in 1971. Or 200,000 deaths in Algeria in war between Islamists and the government in 1991-2006.
“But a simple, strictly Middle East research will give you one million deaths in the all-Muslim Iran-Iraq war; 300,000 Muslim minorities killed by Saddam Hussein; 80,000 Iranians killed during the Islamic revolution; 25,000 deaths in 1970-71, the days of Black September, by the Jordanian government in its fight against the Palestinians; and 20,000 Islamists killed in 1982 by the elder al-Assad in Hama. The World Health Organization’s estimate of Osama bin Laden’s carnage in Iraq was already 150,000 a few years earlier.
“In their 2007 research, Gunnar Heinsohn from the University of Bremen and Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, found out that some 11 million Muslims have been violently killed since 1948, of which 35,000, (0.3 percent) died during the six years of Arab war against Israel, or one out of every 315 fatalities. In contrast, over 90 percent who perished were killed by fellow Muslims.
“According to Mssrs. Heinsohn and Pipes, the grisly inventory finds the total number of deaths in conflicts all over the world since 1950 numbering around 85 million. Of that, the Muslim Arab deaths in the Arab-Israeli conflict were at 46,000 including 11,000 during Israel’s war of independence. That makes 0.05 percent of all deaths in all conflicts, or 0.4 percent of all Arab deaths in the Arab-Israeli conflict.
“In another calculation ignoring ‘small’ massacres like the one that goes on in Syria and other deaths during the Arab Spring, only Saddam’s Iraq, Jordan, the elder al-Assad’s Syria, Iran-Iraq war, the bin Laden campaign in Iraq, the Iranian Islamic revolution and the Turkish-Kurdish conflict caused 1.65 million Muslim deaths by Muslims compared to less than 50,000 deaths in the Arab-Israeli conflict since 1950…For those who don’t have a calculator ready at their desks, allow me to tell: 50,000 is three percent of 1.65 million.”
Bekdil entitled his article—“Why Golda Meir Was Right”—as he agreed with an observation Israel’s fourth prime minister made in 1957. Referring to Arab parents condoning the martyrdom of their children for killing innocent Israeli civilians, she sadly observed, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.”
The only part of the article with which this author disagrees is Bekdil’s assessment that Golda Meir was right. It is more appropriate, based on the vast majority of deaths caused by intra-Muslim violence, to say about the Middle East, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love it more than they hate themselves.”