Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Erdogan’s open wounds and his strategic mistake

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Diplomat Magazine
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By Eleni-Vasiliki Bampaliouta.

It is the first time in at least modern history that Turkey has achieved the impossible: gaining so many enemies and dislikes from third countries. Exceeding all expectations and realistic estimates, the neo-Ottoman Turkey of the Islamic government of AKP and Erdogan deservedly won with its sword, the dislike of a large portion of Western as well as Arab / Muslim states. Greece, Cyprus, France, Austria, Armenia, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Armenia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, until recently India, Kurds but also much of the EU and forces within Washington seem to perceive and worry about role of the Erdogan government.

With each of the above powers, Turkey has points of friction and controversy, which may stem from different interests and causes, but all flow into one bed: The Ottoman Empire that Erdogan envisions reviving.

 Today’s Turkey has only managed to sink its economy and end up with “friendships” that may create more problems for it than offer solutions.

Greece-Cyprus

The current rivalry between Turkey – Greece and Cyprus is certainly rooted several centuries before, already from the time of the Eastern Roman Empire, to continue in the 400 years of Ottoman slavery and the great Uprising of ’21, the unfortunate Greek-Turkish war, the Asia Minor Catastrophe in ’23 and the Attila operation in Cyprus in 1974. The rivalry for the maritime zones of the Eastern Mediterranean is the last episode of this conflict.

France

The escalating Turkish-French rivalry is essentially about sovereignty in the Eastern Mediterranean. The power vacuum left by the gradual withdrawal of the Americans, combined with the weakness of the British, left room for third countries to expand their sphere of influence, with Russia consolidating a naval presence in Syria and Turkey finding an opportunity for maritime expansion. France has always had vital interests in the Mediterranean, especially with countries in the Middle East and North and Sub-Saharan Africa. The French aeronautical deployment in the region and the conclusion of military alliances with Cyprus and Greece are part of the halting of the effort to transform the Mediterranean into a Turkish lake.

Israel

Israeli-Turkish relations have always been a function of developments on both the Arab-Israeli front and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Despite traditionally good trade and political ties, bilateral relations between Israel and Turkey deteriorated during the AKP government and its contradictory stance on Israel in Lebanon’s second war and Israel’s policies in Gaza. The rupture came with the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in 2011 and, despite partial reconciliation in mid-2016, little has been done since then to heal wounds. There are still terrible obstacles between the two countries, mainly the deep mistrust between the current political leadership in each country and fundamental differences in the Palestinian issue and the status of Jerusalem. Israel’s efforts to expand defense and energy cooperation with Cyprus, Greece and Egypt as a counterweight to Turkey and support for the Kurds have further damaged relations between the two countries.

Egypt

Following the uprisings in the Arab world in 2010 – the so-called “Arab Spring” – the Islamist government in Ankara openly supported the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi. However, with his ousting in a military coup by General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman dreams were shattered, as he lost significant political foothold on the Egyptian geopolitical chessboard. The al-Sisi government’s subsequent rapprochement with Cyprus, Greece and Israel and the establishment of the East Med Gas Forum, which excluded Ankara from talks on the commercial exploitation of deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean, widened the interest gap. The signing of an EEZ partial demarcation agreement between Greece and Egypt further angered Ankara, which revealed this week that it had offered Cairo an EEZ agreement with greater benefits, which it rejected.

The Arab League denounced Turkish interventions in Arab countries (Syria, Libya and Iraq) and called on the Turkish side “not to interfere in the internal affairs of Arab countries and to stop its provocative actions that will sabotage the confidence and security and stability of the region “. Qatar, Libya, Somalia and Djibouti, however, abstained from voting on the declaration.

Saudi Arabia – UAE – Bahrain

The tension in relations between Turkey and the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia largely reflects the struggle for sovereignty in the Arab world and the Middle East.

By supporting the “Arab Spring” and the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey hoped to undermine the monarchies in the Gulf countries. The Muslim Brotherhood poses a major threat to Gulf regimes and has found refuge and protection in Turkey.

Austria

The Austrians never forgot that after the fall of Byzantium (1453) the Ottomans besieged the walls of Vienna in 1529, threatening to invade the heart of Europe. The horrors of the Turks have remained indelible in the memory of Europeans until today. The victory of the besieged was of the utmost importance for Europe, because the expansion of the Turks was stopped for a century and a half, until they reappeared. After Erdogan’s conversion of Hagia Sophia, Libya and the invasion of northern Iraq, he noted that “Turkey is simply not a reliable partner of Europe.” Austria is one of the countries in favor of suspending accession negotiations with Turkey.

India

Turkey’s long-held Islamic hand reaches as far as India, as, according to Indian reports, Ankara is said to be behind efforts to build Islamist nuclei in the country. Turkey’s attempt to extend its influence to Muslims in Southeast Asia is part of its rivalry with Saudi Arabia for hegemony of the Islamic world. The Erdogan government also funds religious schools in India.

Another concern of the Indian authorities is located in the south and specifically in the coastal state of Kerala, where an extremist Islamist organization has been funded for some time by Turkey and Qatar. It is also reported that Turkey and Pakistan, through Qatar, are funding the preacher Zakir Naik, who is accused of radicalizing Muslims.

Armenia

Turkey is unhappy with Armenia’s support for Cyprus and Greece over their rights in the Eastern Mediterranean and allegations against Ankara’s irregular actions. Turks and Armenians have had open accounts for more than a century.

 The Armenian Genocide and Turkey’s refusal to recognize this crime against humanity is the most serious thorn in the relations between the two. Recently, Azerbaijan and Armenia accused each other of violating the fragile ceasefire along their borders with bloody incidents lasting days. Turkey was one of the first countries to support Azeris’ attacks on Armenian positions. The two countries are conducting joint military exercises, a fact that worries Armenians, who have never forgotten Turkish barbarism.

 China

In addition to the aforementioned countries, other groups of countries, such as the Kurds, are waging dislike and hatred towards Erdogan’s Turkey, which is waging a long struggle for self-determination. Also, Bashar al-Assad’s Syrians and large groups in Lebanon and Libya, even in traditionally pro-Turkish countries such as Germany, are now beginning to realize that the Turkish model they hoped to apply to other Muslim countries now belongs. in the realm of fantasy. Foreign Affairs analysis that Erdogan is turning Turkey into a Client State of China opens another big chapter, touching on the sensitive strings in US circles, who are beginning to realize the need to change the AKP’s relationship with Turkey.

About the author:

Eleni-Vasiliki Bampaliouta – Experienced journalist  and writer, specialist in politics and diplomacy, extended list of interviews to top politicians from Europe, Africa and Middle East. Permanently working in Politic.gr, London Greek Radio and Epikaira. Press manager of the International Association for Greek Philosophy.

  • twitter: @babalioutaeleni
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