Mark Thomas asks why we are so pally with Turkey

Tony Blair sees himself as a leader of steely resolution, but he was so rattled by the anti-war marc

With about 40 per cent of the UK opposed to any war on Iraq and about 80 per cent opposed to a war without a second resolution from the UN, I feel a little uneasy with the anti-war movement. Not for any basic political reason - I am merely unused to being on the side with this much public support, and it leaves me a little uncomfortable. In fact, I might join the pro-war pack for a while just to feel isolated, miserable and disregarded again.

Between one and 1.5 million people took to the streets of London to protest against the war, in the largest ever demonstration in Britain. No wonder that in Glasgow on the day of the march Tony Blair had the haunted look of a man about to start on Prozac, downshift, move to Dorset and teach Pilates.

The week of the demonstration was a bad time for the pro-war pack. Colin Powell was not only denied a green light from Hans Blix; he was actually slapped down globally on live TV. After 17 years of performing, I can spot a good heckle when I see one. When Blix said that Powell's grainy photos proved nothing, take it from me, that was the UN equivalent of "fuck off, you're not funny!". France weighed in with the diplomatic version of "Taxi for Powell!" and the applause for the weapons inspectors to be given more time was nothing less than a slow handclap.

It may well transpire that these events have merely been uncomfortable moments on the road to war. However, it is clear that the Prime Minister is politically damaged. You know he's hurt when he has to get John Prescott out to convince people he is sincere. Blair's current PR is "you might not like what I am doing but at least I am acting out of moral conviction".

In his attempt to create the impression that he does have convictions and morals, Blair has accused the demonstrators of having blood on their hands. This has less to do with logic and more to do with playground taunts. If things get really bad for Blair, we can expect to hear him preach from the despatch box that "it takes one to know one and he who smelt it dealt it". After all, it is not the demonstrators who are ordering or executing the current bombing raids on Iraq (more than one a week since 11 September 2001).

The UN Children's Fund (Unicef) estimates that 500,000 Iraqis under five have died as a result of the sanctions. Blair finally admitted that sanctions cost lives (a U-turn from two years ago, when they "were working") and condemned demonstrators for allowing sanctions to continue if war is averted. It seems that the blood is on everyone's hands but his own.*

In fact, the very act of forming an alliance to invade Iraq has murderous consequences. Turkey is essential to the invasion, so it is convenient for the morally committed Blair to forget that Turkey's human rights record easily compares with Iraq's. The war in the Kurdish region cost approximately 30,000 lives; more than 3,000 Kurdish villages and towns have been destroyed; and millions of Kurds have been displaced. The UN has repeatedly condemned Turkey for its record on torture.

Eren Keskin, a Kurdish lawyer, is representing more than 100 Kurdish women who are taking Turkey to the European Court of Human Rights for rape and sexual assault at the hands of the Turkish state. She asks a simple question: if this many are prepared to come forward having been denied justice in the domestic courts, how many women has this actually happened to? The answer is thousands. And thousands of Kurdish students are in jail for the crime of signing a petition asking to be taught in Kurdish.

Yet Turkey is not condemned. America has just granted Turkey $324m in loan guarantees to purchase military helicopters, in a growing package that is likely to involve billions of dollars in aid and loans, if approved. So the very people the US is supposed to be liberating will be oppressed and murdered by one of America's friends, bearing arms from America.

Blair, meanwhile, prepares to underwrite BP pipelines in the Kurdish region, while claiming this has nothing to do with oil. He wants Turkey to have missiles from Nato in case Turkey is attacked by Iraq, conveniently forgetting that it has been Turkey which has continually entered Iraq, butchering and bombing the citizens he is now so morally committed to.

In Blair logic, the blood will be on the hands of the Turkish Kurds for not supporting the war.

* The "peace ribbons" scheme is raising money to initiate legal work against Tony Blair should war start and war crimes occur. The aim is to get him investigated as a war criminal at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Let's see who has blood on their hands:

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