Turkey and Syria: Political Plate Tectonics Middle East (Part 3)

Posted: October 11, 2012 in Sideviews
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After the seizure of power by the Islamists, the policy of Turkey has lost any semblance of sense and looks like a single back and forth, mixed with Buridan’s donkey. This could ultimately end fatal for Turkey. However, if one thinks about the concrete situation of the Syrian conflict and the possible Israeli attack on Iran, one is able to point out two fundamental mistakes which the Turks do commit.

At the beginning, so in 2002, the Islamists still were completely sane people who have understood very well, that the control over the army is synonymous with the opportunity to realize its policy, and a policy, that simply runs contrary to the centenarian Kemalist political tradition of the country. And which could, in some cases, set back Turkey to the point from which they already were fallen deeply, and therefore was obliged to start the project “Atatürk”.

The military has always considered the aims and objectives of the JDP (Justice and Development Party / AKP) as incompatible with the Kemalist ideology. But it became a hostage of its own convictions. The fineness of a democracy lies precisely in the fact that a popularly elected leader can be repulsive to for you, but you have the duty to respect, admittedly not the leader, but the people. Even if they are wrong.


Precisely for this reason, the military has allowed that the first setback can pass through, namely the arrests in the wake of the “Operation Sledgehammer“. Here, the Islamists have done a very properly job, and they pushed the situation in the category of a trivial dispute within the apparatus of state.

But the tenacious slow-moving investigations have allowed the rulers to rage in the realm of the military for a long time and to constantly arrest somebody – what can someone do, the investigations are proceeding, and there are always just new facts that come to light. Oh, it’s nothing personal; please contact the prosecutor with your questions…

Illustration by Brian Rea

Illustration by Brian Rea

In parallel, during this period, various upstarts from the rural areas and the suburbs were able to hike up the corporate ladder – and they are the strut and ultimately the voters of the Islamists. Gül and Erdoğan would have needed about further 5 years in order to build up loyal people in all key positions in the Turkish military. But then came the “Arab Spring”.

The Arab Spring meant no threat for Turkey – there are no dictators, but there is a positive economic development on the other hand. So no reason why the democracy should spread in the Anatolian widths. Moreover, the first months of the “(Arab) Spring” have taken place in a jubilant mood and the general effort of the winning crowds to build up a thriving economy “like in Turkey”.

The Islamists in North Africa clearly tried to copy the JDP (Justice and Development Party / AKP) and to clone it at home; Turkish flags were in fact equal present like the national flags at the various demonstrations. This was a wonderful opportunity for the Turkish Islamists to solve their problems with the army, and to finally address the Neo-Ottoman project, a revival of the empire.

And here’s the first mistake of Turkey: it started to fall out with Israel.

Why this happened is clear. It is not possible to win the “Arab street”, if you are not an enemy of Israel. But pretty soon, the Turks had to handle the situation, that they were confronted alongside the Islamic solidarity with some nationalist factors. If the Arabs consider the Turks as brothers then, in the best case, as stepbrothers.

That is the reason why Turkey has lost its position fairly quickly to the Arab monarchies, which were virtually able to push the Turks aside without a fight, and then they started to divide the sympathies of the electorate in the key countries of the Arab Spring: Egypt and Libya. Erdogan is under a compulsion to move: if you got into the game, then please do it, we’re waiting for your turn.

After the Turkish Islamists broke with their own motto to be a good friend with all neighbours, they have stretched the already stressed military even further and they were forced to accelerate the events. All or nothing, here, it is hardly still about some clever combinations. And hence, they have made the second big mistake – they coalesced with the Gulf monarchies against Syria. Why they did this, is again clear.

Syria was the jewel of the Ottoman Empire, one of the two most important countries in the Middle East (including Egypt), that – if you have control about it – offers absolutely fantastic opportunities in terms of the infrastructure. The Arab “dictators” who were toppled like dominoes, have raised the hope that it is even possible in Syria, to approach with your plans with little blood on foreign soil.

One has to also realize that a victory for the Turks against Syria could cement the control of the Islamists over the army. Winners don`t get judged. And it would have also been a wonderful trophy and a joker in any negotiations with whomever at a possible, future Middle East conference. But Bashar al-Assad is still there till now.

Among other reasons, also because Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia do pursue completely different goals in this war and are not able to coordinate (adjust) their actions. That means, they all want to overthrow Assad, but everyone wants to do it so that the best opportunities will be open for him after such a victory. It is like in the tale by Ivan Krylov: “If the cooperative is not joined by concord, then it is poor for the works.”

So the victory came not fallen into the laps of the aggressors, and thus, Turkey received the whole bouquet of problems.  “Crap” and chaos on own soil. Refugees, bandits from all over the world and tensions on the borders. Mobilized Kurds and their attacks – now already on Turkish territory. A deterioration of relations with Iran and Israel.

And all this in a completely unclear prospects of the continuation of the war against Syria, that is led by Turkey with the hands of international bands; which are also boosted by Turkey. Erdoğan got between hammer and anvil:

The victory is too expensive, and the possibility of a military coup in Turkey is meanwhile not so far-fetched.

Something has to happen that drives up the situation to any catharsis, and the shelling of Turkish border villages, allegedly carried out by the Syrian Arab Army, could become a prelude of this.

It is a traditional fault of politicians to be sure to have a situation under control, even in the worsening crisis. Sometimes one is able to pull this through, and then, the dance on a knife`s sheath will be sold as wisdom and farsightedness. But mostly, one loses the control and it will actually get a real catastrophe.

Turkey is in exactly this situation. An escalation of the conflict in this region is becoming essential for a survival of the trio Erdogan – Davutoğlu – Gül. However, they are not able to carry out a war against anyone on their own. Nevertheless, any aggressor can be reassured in terms of Turkey – it will form a coalition with anybody who is able to offer to the Turkish army that they can fire in all directions a little bit, and it is relatively unimportant, on whom.

Political Plate Tectonics Middle East (Part 1)
Political Plate Tectonics Middle East (Part 2)
Israelis and Wahhabis: Political Plate Tectonics Middle East (Final)

Source of the article: apxwn.blogspot.de

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