Now, things have changed radically, even though Turkey is still on the verge. But the verge, this time, encompasses terrorism, fanaticism, and repression–not to mention delusions of grandeur, all thanks to its President, Recep Ergdoğan.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan is turning into the King Lear of the Near East. In his 1,000-room White Palace he rants against his enemies while his realm, living through Lear’s “dark and comfortless times”, tears itself apart with war, strife and recrimination. Easy to forget that five years ago Barack Obama described Mr. Erdogan’s Turkey as “a great Islamic democracy” and later viewed it as a model for countries struggling to emerge from the Arab Spring. (Roger Boyes, The Times (of London); “Sick man of Europe could infect the West”; October 14, 2015.)
But, Erdoğan seems centered on becoming a regional partner of the United States and its President, Barack Obama. His goal is rebuilding the former Ottoman empire through murder, war crimes, and human rights violations, not to mention brinkmanship threatening general war. In the past:
The “sick man of Europe” is still sick, especially internally.
According to Cultural Survival (https://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/turkey/kurdish-repression-turkey), “Since World War I, Kurds in Turkey have been the victims of persistent assaults on their ethnic, cultural, religious identity and economic and political status by successive Turkish governments. Nowhere is their future more threatened than in Turkey where Kurds are one quarter of the population.”
Yet, when Turks seek to redress this repression, the highly-undemocratic government strikes back. This is especially true of Recep Erdoğan’s authoritarianism. As the Gatestone Institute noted February 14, 2016:
On January 11, 2016, a group of academics and researchers from Turkey and abroad called “Academics for Peace” signed and issued a declaration entitled, “We will not be a party to this crime.” In it, they criticized the Turkish government for its recent curfews and massacres in Kurdish districts, and demanded an end to violence against Kurds and a return to peace talks.
“We declare that we will not be a party to this massacre by remaining silent and demand an immediate end to the violence perpetrated by the state,” the declaration said.
In total, 2212 academics and researchers from Turkey, and 2279 from abroad, signed their names onto the declaration.
Unfortunately, those fake intellectuals say that the state is carrying out a massacre. Hey you, fake intellectuals! You are dark people. You are not enlightened. You are dark and ignorant to the point that you do not even know where the southeastern or eastern regions are [in Turkey].
Today we are faced with the treason of the so-called intellectuals, most of whom get their salaries from the state and carry the ID card of this state in their pockets.
You are either by the side of the nation and the state or by the side of the terrorist organization. We will not get permission from those so-called academics. They should know their place.
· The Turkish state authorities have made it clear that calling for an end to state violence in Turkey’s Kurdish regions is “treason.” This means that in Turkey, requesting peace and political equality between Kurds and Turks is illegal.
· The 1128 original signatories of the “Academics for Peace” declaration have been subjected to sustained attacks and threats from the Turkish government and nationalist groups. In the week after the publication of the declaration, at least 33 academics were detained by police. Some have lost their jobs. Associate Professor Battal Odabasi from Istanbul Aydin University, for instance, was fired for supporting the petition. At least 29 academics have been suspended from their jobs at universities.
Let’s hope that Erdoğan’s efforts to repress its large Kurdish population, attack Syria, and threaten war with Russia fail miserably. However, at the moment, the truncated Ottoman empire is working hard on a comeback, the same way it originally established its hegemony in the Middle East—by force.
In the past, Turkey had worked with the United States to destabilize Yugoslavia, and is now laboring hand in glove with America to support ISIL, sponsoring sectarian violence in Iraq while contributing thousands of fighters to the ongoing conflict there. It provided a locale for American officials to meet with Syrian and Libyan terrorists seeking the destruction of Bashar al-Assad’s government in the Syrian Arab Republic. Simultaneously, Turkey aided the movement of surface-to-air missiles and other offensive weapons out of Libya and into Syria. Besides assisting arms transfers from Croatia to Syria, Turkey also helped coordinate support for the extremists who sought to overthrow Moammar Gaddafi in Libya. On June 15, 2013, SANA (Syrian Arab News Agency) reported Bulent Esinoglu, Deputy Chairman of Turkey’s Labor Party, as saying that the CIA had recruited six thousand Arabs, Afghans, and Turks to commit terrorist acts in Syria. (Cf. J. Michael Springmann, Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked The World, Washington, D.C.: Daena Publications LLC, 2014, passim).
The Turks seem to rely on their membership in NATO (since October 1951) for outrageous military actions. These have included shooting down a Russian warplane, shelling Syrian army positions, attacking Kurds in Syria and Iraq, violating Greek airspace 2,000 times in 2014, and invading Cyprus in 1974. Erdoğan and his fundamentalist government apparently believe that Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which obligates its signatories to regard an attack on one member as an attack on all, shields them from any response to any Anatolian act of aggression.
They have support for this fantasy. According to PRESSTV December 1, 2015: US President Barack Obama says everyone should know that Turkey is a member of the NATO military alliance, after Ankara shot down a Russian jet in Syria.
But in summer of 2013, Erdogan revealed that he was abandoning appeals to pluralism. The AKP [the ruling “Justice and Development Party”] Istanbul and Ankara provincial branches cracked down hard on the youth protests over plans to turn Gezi Park into a Muslim mall. The government clearly intimidated the Turkish press into not covering the protests or only covering them negatively. The “democracy” being built by the AKP was revealed to be an elective dictatorship…
After the AKP’s losing seats in an election in June 2015, Cole continued
Erdogan responded to this relative defeat with his old divide and rule policy. But this time he did not engage in a positive, inclusive divide and rule strategy. He went negative. He started back up a hot conflict with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a guerrilla group with separatist leanings that had established safe havens on the Iraq side of the border…
Erdogan’s negative divide and rule has brought Turkey to the brink of chaos. A hot war with the PKK is ongoing. HDP offices have been bombed. The Syria proxy war, supporting hard line fundamentalists allied with al-Qaeda versus Russian-backed forces, is ongoing. Press freedom, always precarious, has evaporated. A Russian economic boycott is being imposed…
Yet, the situation under Erdoğan is closing in on regional war.
According to February 12, 2016’s 4thMedia.org, Moscow warned Thursday [the 11th] that any move by Gulf nations to send in troops to support the rebels in Syria would risk a “new world war.”
This produced the desired result in Europe: total chaos. The natives hated the invaders, denouncing them as Muslim zealots and sex-crazed fanatics. The migrants hated the Europeans as being narrow-minded xenophobes and Islamomisiasts. Europe had excluded Turkey from the EU for years. Now, it was Turkey’s chance for revenge. The obviously intended result? Repression. As I said in FEAR FURCHT VREES PEUR (Hausfrauleaks.com, January 1, 2016):
…one astute analyst of the European scene noted:
Immigration and integration politics, and confrontations with Muslim conservatives over education, women’s rights, and the relationship between the state and religion are likely to strengthen right-of-center political organizations and splinter the left-of-center political coalitions that were instrumental in building it.
And what will this lead to? As that observer sagely added:
Germany’s national security is on the verge of collapse… [Expect] militarization of Germany in domestic and international domains as a result of this crisis and respective changes in German and anticipated EU changes in laws… [Look for] restriction of freedom of speech and hate speech laws, No-Go Zones, strictly enforced protest zones…. Europe moves to the political right in fear and attempted public self-defense, uncomfortably far to the right……[As the result of] the groups, individuals and motives behind the entire manufactured mass migration crisis…
COMMENT: There are several obvious solutions, all of which take resolution, the ability to make unpopular choices, and the will to fight real terrorists.
1. Throw Turkey out of NATO so that it can’t call on its Big Brother, Uncle Sam, to fight the enemies it provokes.
2. Withdraw all U.S. and German forces from Turkey, leaving the Anatolians to their own devices.
3. Establish a no-fly zone over the eastern third of Turkey, preventing the new Ottomans from inviting other repressive governments to use Anatolian airfields to attack Syria and other countries.
4. Impose a UN peacekeeping force on Turkey to establish control of the country, taking it out of the hands of the AKP’s fanatics.
5. Require Ankara to cede the eastern third of the country to the Kurds for their homeland.
A longer term goal would be to abolish NATO entirely. Originally set up to counter the Warsaw Pact forces, it now has no reason to exist. The Warsaw Pact and its sponsor, the USSR, have dissolved.
Whether the United States and the Europeans have the gumption to implement these solutions, does not appear in my crystal ball.
N.B. The author wishes to gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the American Kurdish Information Network for background on Turkey and the Kurds.