Is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan really turning his back on the West? Or is what we’re seeing in the media today all just a charade? And if it’s a charade, what is the purpose of it?
Since the failed Turkish coup, we have seen Erdogan seemingly pivoting away from the US and toward Russia. And as this has been happening, we have also observed certain writers and pundits, including some who in the past have offered reasonable analyses, seemingly begin to reassess their views of the Turkish leader. It is almost as if Erdogan’s support for terrorists who have committed unspeakable horrors in Syria over the past five years is now not worth getting too bothered over–and all because Erdogan now seems to have switched his political alliances.
This is the case in Russian media in particular, but Western commentators have been offering similar views–which is why I wanted to post the following video filmed in Syria shortly after the coup attempt.
The people interviewed are Syrians on the street, who speak of the joy they felt upon first hearing of the coup taking place in Turkey…followed by the disappointment and letdown when news came that it had failed. Well can we understand their feelings. They, more so than anyone, are fully cognizant of the depravities Erdogan has unleashed upon their country.
Clearly these Syrians viewed Erdogan’s potential overthrow as a good thing–as something that could have brought an end to the five-year-long Western-waged proxy war that has plagued their country.
But you can go here and view two analysts interviewed on Press TV, both of them (starting at about 15 minutes into the program) expressing the view that it was a good thing the coup failed; or here to read a Counterpunch article whose author asserts confidently, “The Obama administrations (sic) disregard for the national security interests of its allies, has pushed the Turkish president into Moscow’s camp.” Amazingly, the author of the latter piece completely glosses over atrocities committed in Syria as well as Erdogan’s support for the terrorists who carried them out.
By contrast, Islamic scholar Sheikh Imran Hosein has characterized Turkey as a “Trojan horse.” In a talk given in Kuala Lumpur on July 29 (see video here starting at about 35:38), Hosein gives an analysis of the Turkish coup, offering up the view that “Turkey is being prepared to become the Trojan horse for Russia.” He returns to the subject again at the tail end of the program (1:49:27):
This is not a civil war between Muslims and Muslims. You (Turkey and others who have supported NATO) have left Islam when you joined NATO. And you are proud and happy to be a member of NATO. And now you are becoming NATO’s Trojan horse after the failed coup d’état. He (Erdogan) knew the coup d’état was coming. He knew that Fethullah Gulen was part of it. He knew that NATO was a part of it. He knew all of that. And he knew that the coup was going to fail so that he could have a chance now to wipe out all the opposition there is to him in Turkey, so that Turkey now is strong, without any internal opposition, so that Turkey can now play a strategic role in anticipation of the war against Russia. We are not fools. Erdogan should know we are not fools. And I hope Putin knows that this is a Trojan horse.
Important to note here is that Erdogan is scheduled to visit Russia on August 9 for a meeting with Putin. The Turkish Stream gas pipeline is expected to be one of the topics of conversation. The pipeline would make it possible for the Russian company Gazprom to transport gas to Turkey, via the Black Sea, for export into southern Europe. Talks on the project began in 2014, but were suspended last year after the Turkish downing of a Russian Su-24 jet.
I’m not saying this is absolutely going to happen, but suppose Russia and Turkey were to seal an agreement, and suppose as a result Russia were to invest enormous sums of money into building the pipeline–only to see Turkey, once the pipeline is built, switch its alliance back to NATO and the US?
In the following video, most of the speakers, including the show host Peter Lavelle, take the “penitent sinner” view of Erdogan, seeing him, in other words, as one who has finally seen the error of his ways and who should, provided he meets certain stipulations (like sealing the Turkish-Syrian border to terrorists) be welcomed back into humanity’s fold. The only member of the panel to take an opposing view is Mark Sleboda, who refers to Erdogan as “a viper who can’t be trusted.”
One of the guests, Dimitry Babich, does make an important point, however, and that is that prior to the outbreak of the Syrian conflict in 2011, Turkey had been well-thought of and Erdogan himself a respected figure on the world stage. Babich is correct in this. In 2009, at a World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Erdogan castigated then-Israeli President Shimon Peres over the Jewish state’s brutal assault upon Gaza (in Operation Cast Lead), and even quoted Gilad Atzmon in his comments! When the event moderator, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, tried to cut him off, Erdogan angrily got up and walked out of the event.
The episode made international news. Erdogan left Davos and returned home to a hero’s welcome in Turkey. Thousands of people turned out at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul waving Turkish and Palestinian flags. And it wasn’t only people in Turkey who were cheering at that point. A leader of a country–and not just any country, but a member of NATO–had finally told off the Israelis!
The following year, Erdogan’s esteem grew even higher. This was when a Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, led a humanitarian effort to break the blockade of Gaza. The Israelis attacked the ship, and killed nine people (a tenth died later), all of them Turks, except for Furkan Dogan, who was Turkish-American.
But starting in 2011, Erdogan changed. He began to align himself with what might conceivably be thought of as the powers of darkness. He gave his support to Zionist attempts at regime change in Syria. In essence it was a declaration of war by Turkey upon its southern neighbor. There was no outward reason for this sudden shift in policy. Relations between Syria and Turkey had been cordial up until this point. Why did Erdogan do it? I don’t know the answer to that, but I am reminded here of the temptation of Christ as told of in the gospels. I’ll quote a bit from the Gospel of Matthew:
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Did the Zionists promise Erdogan “the kingdoms of the world and their splendor” if he would cooperate in the regime change effort in Syria? Did they promise him a newly-reestablished Ottoman empire in a Middle East with redrawn national boundaries? Or perhaps fabulous wealth from stolen oil? And is that why US leaders had nothing to say when Turkish troops entered northern Iraq in the latter part of last year? Is it why they still have nothing to say about their presence there now?
Is it also possible this is why they had nothing to say about Turkish support for ISIS–even after Russian surveillance exposed ISIS convoys of stolen oil entering Turkey?
And here is perhaps the most pertinent question of all: Now that Turkey has carried out a policy of treachery against its Syrian neighbors over the past five years, has it at this time begun to plan a further treachery against Russia?
I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I’m inclined to agree with Sleboda when he offers the opinion that Erdogan is “a viper who can’t be trusted.”
Another point worth making is that most of Erdogan’s opposition is now jailed, which, as Hosein points out, gives the Turkish leader a much freer hand. This means that should he commit some outrage, against Russia or another country, Turkish civil society will be much less able to mount any sort of effective opposition.