Saturday, April 2, 2016

Erdogan's last stand, by Ioannis Michaletos

The past 15 years in Turkey and in the wider Middle East, were characterized, amongst other, by the emergence of an Islamist government via democratic-electoral methods, that of Tayip Erdogan and the AKP political party in Turkey. 

The process was supported tacitly and continuously by various power centers in NATO, EU and USA, favoring a "moderate Islam" to be "imitated" by the rest of the Sunni-Islamic states. 

Today this is no longer the case. AKP's leadership by Erdogan is widely seen as a "loose cannon" that meddles with vital geopolitical interests, causing more harm than good.

All started because of the materialization of the "Neo Ottoman" ambitions. In fact these tendencies have started their preparation back in the e1980's during Turgut Ozal's reign but implementation was to be delivered by Erdogan himself. Firstly he dismantles to a great extent the secular foundations of Turkey by virtually exterminating Kemalists, academia, media, intellectuals, military and justice system. What proved a fatal mistake or a grossly wronged calculation was the meddling of Ankara into Syria and the fallout of that intervention which has now lead to a geopolitical break down of Turkey's reach into the Middle East along with an upheaval of its Kurdish population. 

Actually the Kurds in Syria-as well as those in Iraq- are de facto independent and a de jure admission is lacking before the domino effect, pierces inside Turkey's own substantial Kurdish minority.  

For Erdogan that is a nightmare because it delegitimizes its status as a protector of the Turkish republic, and will ultimately lead either in a coup d’état or a popular uprising of the main Turkish ethnic group. In both cases he and AKP will face hard fate ahead. 

Furthermore the vast and continuous media and diplomatic revelations regarding the involvement of his family members in international contraband, the assistance of Turkish security forces into supplying Jihadists in Syria-Iraq, plus the  brutal repression and open warfare in Kurdish urban areas, creates centrifugal power dynamics within the Turkish society.

The loss of confidence of Erdogan with the American leadership is coupled with the concurrent loss of EU confidence due to the massive immigration waves which been unleashed from Turkey and the blackmail tactics used so far from Ankara's side. Added to these facts is the cold war with Russia and the little trust that other powers such as Iran, China and Israel have. As a result the diplomatic and economic losses are mounting with no end in sight. 

The trial by Erdogan to engage NATO, which was evident regarding the shoot-down of a Russian airplane back in November 2015, backfired. Presently NATO in Aegean is primarily tasked in electronic surveillance of the Turkish naval presence in the area. At the same time the Ministries of foreign affairs of Australia and Israel call their citizens to leave or not to visit turkey. USA defense department calls on family members of the military personnel stationed in Turkey to evacuate as well. Tourism from Western citizens is in fact collapsing nowadays in Turkey, along with the Russian embargo. 

Consequences deriving from the aforementioned will be further destabilization in the country which is increasingly divided into three parts, Kurds-Islamists-Kemalists. Until now this division has helped Erdogan to secure a Divide et Impera domestic policy, but this has been a tactical and short-term move. On a strategic level, a head of state that uses differences of such magnitude, risks of being the main source of destabilization for the whole of society thus being the person on which anger, revolt and hostility will turn against. 

Further escalation of the Syrian crisis if attempted by Erdogan will prove the last stand of his government which is now often called a "regime" by the Western media, and diplomatic circles alike, a word that emphasizes a non-legitimate rule, one that its best to be ousted.