Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey

28 May 2016

Interconnected with an evolving world

By: Syed Zeeshan Haider

Back in 2014, I got an opportunity to visit Turkey. Not only was I able to observe the country’s political situation closely, I wrote a number of articles on the changes taking place in Turkey’s internal and foreign affairs, as well. The military control on the country’s borders is relatively weak as a result of which, many extremists have been joining Daesh. If we observe the Middle East’s map closely, it becomes clear that the recruits of Daesh, Al-Nasra front have two favorite routes to enter Syria; Jordan and Turkey. Turkey lacks Jordan’s strict border regulations. One reason is because it intends on giving Syrian refugees a way out. Syrian government and Russia, every now and then, accuses Turkey of letting non-Syrian fighters enter into Syria through their soft borders. Turkey usually says that the length of its border makes it impossible to check it entirely and if permanently sealing it will make Syrian refugees suffer. The porous border has provided the non-Syrian fighters a way to enter Syria, bolstering Daesh ranks which have destroyed Syria and Iraq and now they have entered Europe through Turkey as well.

On November 14, 2015, Paris underwent a colossal tragedy in the bomb blasts resulting in the death of almost 120 people. More than 300 were injured. Afterwards, Brussels underwent the same horrendousness, claiming 180 lives while 200 were injured. Syrian fighters were found to be behind the tragedies. The internal situation in Turkey is under threat too. Syrian Kurds consist of immensely active and weapon-laded Sunni Muslims who have achieved a lot of success against the Daesh. However, the group is daggers drawn with Turkey and vice versa. Turkey has been involved in Air strikes against the Kurds. Due to this fragile situation in Syria, the relations between Turkey and Russia have suffered enormously.  Moreover, Turkey supports the Turkish group known as Syrian against the Syrian Arab Army while Russia has been bombing these Turkish groups on the Syria-Turkey border. As a result, Turkey grew hostile towards Russia and destroyed one of their jet planes, which resulted in today’s situation.  Russia, resultantly, installed anti air missiles in Syria, threatening destruction of Turkish entering airspace. Consequently, Turkey reduced their attacks on Kurds. Moreover, Europe and the USA support Kurds while standing with Turkey as well. In the future, they need to either pick one side or look for a way to establish a compromise between Turkey and the Kurds. Turkey has made it clear that it will not accept any Kurdish state in the areas surrounding its borders. However, Syria has signaled the freedom of Kurds to a significant extent, just like they are free in Iraq. Bashar-ul-Asad and Russia are very likely to support the Kurds if this happens. Kurds have been persecuted in the past.

Moving back to Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan has been successful in election once again. However he has been accused of suppressing the media. An editor of one of the leading newspapers Cumhuriyet Daily in Turkey was indicted of being a traitor by Tayyip Erdogan for the paper reported that Turkey has been involved in providing support to the Daesh. On the other hand, Turkey has now become a weakness for Europe as Syrian refugees have been entering Europe through Turkey. Europe has paid billions of dollars to Turkey, asking them to keep the refugees confined to Turkey. Turkey’s been exploiting Europe by asking them to grant a visa-free Europe tours to all the Turks and financial help. On the other hand, Europe has its own reservations as well. It’s been pressurising Turkey to uplift the bans on Media and stop the brutality against the Kurds. However, Europe is in a deep conundrum. There is recent subtle shift in relationship between America and Turkey. American Special Forces are on ground fighting, along with Kurdish Militia YPG, against Daesh in northern Syria. There’s imminent danger that American special forces can be hit by Turkish warplanes or artillery aimed at Kurdish forces. This is one reason for straining of ties.

America has a lot of impact on Europe. Similarly, Israel has considerable influence on American foreign policy. Israel and America want to overthrow Bashar-ul-Asad’s government in Syria as it and Hizb-Ullah have been only opposition against Israel in the Middle East. Hizb-ullah’s been supporting Hamas which created mammoth troubles for Israel. Hence, Bashar-ul-Asad’s government will never be acceptable to Israel, which keeps pressurising America to issue statements against his regime. As a result, the war in Syria is still at its peak and the outflow of refugees will continue resultantly. Consequently, Turkey will keep exploiting Europe, which, in turn, is being manipulated by the USA and USA in turn is being “influenced” by Israel. Hence, Europe needs a more pragmatic approach. It needs to bring about a massive change in its foreign policies and realise that the attacks in Paris and Brussels were a by-product of its wrong foreign policy. An enormous change is expected in White House’s policies as well. Donald Trump, in my view, has a very strong chance to become the president of United States. Donald Trump seems to have soft approach towards Russia and therefore, it is rather likely that he will support Bashar-ul-Asad. Consequently, the situation in Syria will improve thereby, making the situation in Europe better. This is good news for Kurds but not for Turkey.

Lastly, if we talk about Turkey’s inner situation, Tayyip Erdogan wants to introduce Presidential system. As a result, Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has decided to resign. This will lead to uncertainty regarding Turkey’s political situation. Hence, the future seems to promise better prospects for Bashar-ul-Asad’s Syria as compared to Turkey. This could bring an end to brutal Syrian war and resultantly Europe’s migrant crisis will end. Consequently, Turkey will lose its importance that it currently holds. Kurdish semi-autonomous or autonomous region on Syria-Turkey bordering region will prove to be a thorn in eye for Edrogan’sTurkey.

Published in “Pakistan Today” on 28-05-2016

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