Erdogan’s Kissing Buns

Proving once again how shrewd and shameless he is, Turkey’s sultan-in-waiting president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has realized he’s in over his head and is rapidly swimming to shore to save himself and the nouveau-corruption he has brought to Ankara.

He has realized he opened up too many battlefronts and is quickly establishing truces on some of them so he can focus his ego, power-hunger, and tyrannical inclinations on the remaining. In this respect, the Kurds, Armenians, and other minorities inside Turkey are likely to be more strongly targeted. Outside the country, Armenians and Syria are the likely targets once Erdogan increases his maneuverable space.

Israel and Turkey signed an agreement in which Turkey got almost nothing. Its biggest demand—termination of Israel’s blockade of Gaza—is unmet. Instead, Turkey is permitted to keep sending supplies to Gaza through an Israeli port, gets to build some facilities in Gaza, and must not allow Hamas to plan attacks from Turkey’s territory. Israel will pay $20 million into a compensation fund for those killed on the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, when Israeli marines stormed it as the ship tried to break the Gaza blockade. BUT, this only happens after Turkey passes legislation barring any further compensation and promising to compensate Israel if any legal actions outside of Turkey lead to Israel paying out any more money with regard to the Mavi Marmara incident.

Given that the facilities mentioned are power and desalination plants as well as a hospital, it smells to me like a way for Turkish companies to make money off the misery of the people of Gaza. It is anticipated that natural gas soon to be produced by Israel from offshore sources will be sold to Turkey. This factor likely contributed to Turkey’s “cooperativeness” too, since Ankara wants to diversify its energy sources. Altogether, it looks like a pretty thorough humiliation for Erdogan/Turkey.

With Russia, Turkey has embarked down a similar road. While the non-apology apology sent by Erdogan to Putin is just a first step, both countries have reason to move past Turkey’s foolhardy shoot-down of a Russian aircraft operating in Syria. But Turkey’s tourism industry has taken a serious hit with the disappearance of Russian visitors after Moscow imposed sanctions on Ankara. This, too, promises to be humiliating for the wannabe-sultan Erdogan.

Once the row with Russia is tamped down, next may well be the United States. Erdogan has managed to irritate even the famously pro-Turkish establishment in the U.S. Department of State. How?

His bravado, not-so-secret support for ISIS/Daesh, re-initiation of civil war against the Kurds led by the PKK, undercutting Syria’s Kurds in their battle against ISIS/Daesh, and generally being a problem. Even Barack Obama criticized his former “chum” Erdogan. And, with Donald Trump making anti-Turkish noises, Erdogan may be thinking, “It’s better to get things fixed up with America before a new president steps in.”

Recently, there was chatter that after Russia, Egypt might be the next country with which fences got mended by Turkey. This was the latest bout of such speculation since February, when reports attributed such intentions to Ankara. But, Erdogan came out with a statement that the “context” of the issues with Egypt was different than with Russia or Israel, so rapprochement with Egypt may not be coming very soon.

The E.U., though currently being played like a fine-tuned violin by Erdogan, ergo not presenting much of a diplomatic challenge—just think of the refugee deal struck a few months ago—may be on the path to becoming more assertive vis-a-vis Turkey. This would not be limited to the seemingly interminable process of Turkey joining the E.U. Consider some of the sentiments in Great Britain that led to a majority voting in favor of Brexiting. Think of Germany’s genocide resolution. France’s parliament is now considering a genocide denial prohibition law. Something may be brewing, all of which would force Erdogan to become far more conciliatory. Conversely, it might lead him to conclude that even riskier adventurism is the way for him to consolidate support at home by invading Syria or Armenia (that which Turgut Özal did not do) or even engaging in genocide against the Kurds living in Turkey. It seems that he would stop at nothing in his ambitions to recreate an Ottoman Empire-like construct.

It’s even possible that part of the reason, or the real reason, for Erdogan pushing Ahmet Davutoglu out of the prime ministership was to change the face of Turkish diplomacy (Davutoglu is credited with having been its inspiration and source since the AKP came to power) and have someone to blame as he tried to mend fences with all the countries mentioned above.

Messy, isn’t it? But clearly, Erdogan is eating some crow and working hard to get himself out of the hole’s he’s dug for Turkey. Armenians, Kurds, and Syria should be watching Ankara’s maneuvers very closely over the next several weeks.

Do you have any insights? A discussion of these arcane diplomatic moves is important.

Source: Armenian Weekly Mid-West