BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Proving once again how shrewd and shameless he is, Turkey’s Sultan-in-waiting president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan 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 Erdoğan 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 Erdoğan/Turkey.
With Russia, Turkey has embarked down a similar road. While the non-apology apology sent by Erdoğan 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 Erdoğan.
Once the row with Russia is tamped down, next may well be the U.S. Erdoğan 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” Erdoğan. And, with Donald Trump making anti-Turkish noises, Erdoğan 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, Erdoğan 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 Erdoğan, 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 lead 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 Erdoğan 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 Erdoğan pushing Ahmet Davutoğlu out of the Prime Ministership was to change the face of Turkish diplomacy (Davutoğlu 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, Erdoğan 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.
What’s the Excuse Now?
Alton Sterling – July 5, 2016, Baton Rouge, Louisiana… dead.
Philando Castile – July 6, 2016 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota (near Minneapolis)… dead.
Police murders both.
It would be too easy to rattle off names of unjustly killed people, overwhelmingly black, all under highly questionable circumstances. In almost all cases, what would seem like justice is somehow circumvented, and this goes at least as far back as Rodney King.
In these two most recent cases, one victim was a peddler of CDs (see him dying here). The other was following an officer’s instructions at a traffic stop, told the officer he had a gun he was licensed to carry, proceeded to reach for his ID… and ended up dying for having a busted taillight…
I can’t wait to hear the rationalizations for these two crimes. There a contingent of “explainers” who always seem to justify anything police officers do. In fairness, when you see and hear the videos, you’ll notice that the responsible police officers are extremely distraught and unnerved by what they have just done.
I had to write this brief item because our community is too oblivious about, or even on the wrong side of things, when these all too frequent tragedies occur. Each time I hear of these incidents, it seems as though a time machine transports me to the days of the Bloody Sultan’s Hamidiyeh militias sweeping down on an Armenian village and doing whatever they wanted. Remember, those groups were official representatives of the state at the time, as are the police of today.
We, as Armenians, unfortunately well experienced in being at the receiving end of injustice, must be at the forefront of the efforts to prevent future killings of innocent people. These needless deaths are happening only because most non-blacks in the U.S. have been inculcated with a fear of black-skinned humans. This causes even well trained police officers to over-react as you can see in the first video.
Get out there and use your credibility as a scion of Genocide survivors to save lives.