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New Turkish film villifies Americans

‘Valley of the Wolves: Iraq’ reflects a growing antipathy against the U.S.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The latest in a new genre of Turkish popular culture that vilifies the United States, a Turkish movie shows American soldiers in Iraq crashing a wedding and pumping a little boy full of lead in front of his mother.

They randomly machine-gun dozens of people to death, shoot the groom in the head and drag those left alive to Abu Ghraib prison — where a Jewish-American doctor cuts out their organs, which he sells to rich people in New York, London and Tel Aviv.

“Valley of the Wolves: Iraq,” which opens in Turkey on Friday, feeds off the increasingly negative feelings many Turks harbor toward their longtime allies: Americans. It stars Billy Zane as a self-professed “peacekeeper sent by God” and Gary Busey as the doctor.

The movie reportedly was made for some $10 million — the most expensive Turkish film ever — and it follows the best-selling novel “Metal Storm,” about a war between Turkey and the U.S.

One recent opinion poll revealed the depth of the hostility in Turkey toward Americans: 53 percent of Turks who responded to the 2005 Pew Global Attitudes survey associated Americans with the word “rude”; 70 percent with “violent”; 68 percent with “greedy”; and 57 percent with “immoral.”

Advance tickets for the film already are selling out across Turkey. And the film is scheduled for release in more than a dozen other countries — including the United States.

U.S. soldiers have become hate figures in Muslim countries around the world after the war in Iraq. But in Turkey, a personal grudge fuels the resentment.

“Valley of the Wolves: Iraq” — a spinoff of a popular Turkish TV series — opens with a true story: On July 4, 2003, in northern Iraq, troops from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade raided and ransacked a Turkish special forces office, threw hoods over the heads of 11 officers, and held them in custody for more than two days.

The Americans said they had been looking for Iraqi insurgents and unwittingly rounded up the Turks because they were not in uniform.

Still, the incident damaged Turkish-U.S. relations and hurt Turkish national pride. Turks traditionally idolize their soldiers; most enthusiastically send their sons off for mandatory military service.

In the movie, which veers into fiction after the opening scenes, one of the Turkish special forces officers commits suicide to save his honor. His farewell letter reaches Polat Alemdar, an elite Turkish intelligence officer who travels to northern Iraq with a small group of men to avenge the humiliation. They find rogue U.S. soldiers led by Sam William Marshall (Zane). In the bloodfest that ensues, the small band of Turks bonds with the people of Iraq and eventually ends American atrocities there, killing Zane and his men in the final scene.

“The scenario is great,” Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas told The Associated Press after the film was shown at a posh opening gala Tuesday night. “It was very successful. ... a soldier’s honor must never be damaged.”

But Topbas and other Turks at the premiere weren’t too concerned about how the movie would be perceived in the United States.

“There isn’t going to be a war over this,” said Nefise Karatay, a Turkish model lounging on a sofa after the premiere. “Everyone knows that Americans have a good side. That’s not what this is about.”