Subscribe Now!

 

Tuesday, October 4, 2022
spot_img
spot_img
Why Does Nobody Want to Play with Turkey?

Why Does Nobody Want to Play with Turkey?

Hellenic News
Hellenic News
The copyrights for these articles are owned by HNA. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of HNA and its representatives.

Latest articles

by Burak Bekdil
 based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the

Hürriyet Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

December 26, 2014

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/4979/turkey-eu-nato-sco

Turkey is too big, too Islamist and too un-European for the EU; it is
too little Islamist and a disliked former colonial power for most of
the Arab street; a sectarian and regional rival for Iran, and a
security threat to the bigwigs in the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization.

Thanks for reading Hellenic News of America

Theoretically, Turkey is a NATO ally. In reality, it is a part-time
NATO ally. It became the first member state that had military
exercises with the Syrian army and the Chinese Air Force; awarded a
NATO-sensitive air defense contract to a Chinese company; supported
jihadists in Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood elsewhere in the Middle
East; allied with what NATO nations view as a terrorist organization
(Hamas); shared, until recently, an embarrassing list of potentially
terrorist-sponsoring countries with seven others including Syria and
Pakistan, and sported a population with the lowest support for the
NATO alliance.

Also, theoretically, Turkey is a member candidate of the European
Union [EU]. In reality, since 1974, Turkey has been occupying
one-third of the territory of an EU member state, Cyprus; it boasts a
record number of violations of human rights, according to rulings by
the European Court of Human Rights; it remains the EU’s dreaded
problem in most areas of fundamental policy; it habitually (and
undiplomatically) ignores EU calls for broader freedoms; and it is
gripped by a deep distrust of the EU. A most recent survey, “Public
Opinion in The European Union – November 2014,” conducted by the
European Commission’s Eurobarometer, revealed that only 18% of Turks
trust the EU.

Just recently, Russia’s prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, recalled a
joke by his predecessor Viktor Chernomyrdin [prime minister between
1992 and 1998] who once was asked by a journalist when Ukraine could
join the EU. “After Turkey,” Chernomyrdin replied. When should we
expect Turkey to become a member, asked the journalist. “Never,” he
said.

During most of the 2000s, Turkey’s soul searching, coupled with its
leaders’ apparent quest for the revival of pan-Islamist and
neo-Ottoman ideas, pushed the country into the illusion of a “Middle
East Union” to be led, of course, by Turkey. Instead, Turkey in the
post-Arab Spring years has found itself as the target of enmity in the
Middle East. Many overt and covert hostilities and tensions created
diplomatic crises with all countries in the former Ottoman lands —
except one: the tiny hydrocarbon-rich emirate, Qatar (along with
Hamas).

Theoretically, Turkey is the regional empire in the Muslim Middle
East. In reality, it is an unwanted ally.

So, the soul searching continues. In January 2013, President [then
prime minister] Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly toyed with the idea of
Turkey seeking its future in another alliance: the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization [SCO]. Since then, he has mentioned this
desire a couple of times. In November 2013, Erdogan once again
demanded a seat for Turkey at the SCO from Russian President Vladimir
Putin, as this would “save Ankara from the troubles of the EU
accession process.”

“Allow us into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and save us from
this trouble,” Erdogan asked Putin.
‘Why won’t anyone play with us?’ Pictured: Turkey’s President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan (left) and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

A few years earlier, Turkey had behaved like the “bizarre ally” it
was: it became the first NATO member state to become a “dialogue
partner” with the SCO. But is there a future for Turkey in the SCO,
sometimes call the “eastern NATO plus EU?”

Theoretically, yes. Turkey, with its democratic culture and Erdogan’s
increasingly authoritarian rule, looks like a perfect fit for the
group. Its members already include Russia, China, Uzbekistan,
Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan (the SCO’s other dialogue
partners are Belarus and Sri Lanka. Countries with an observer status
are Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Iran and Mongolia).

But actually, Turkey is probably no more wanted in the SCO than in the
EU or among Arab nations in the Middle East. The SCO’s heavyweights
are Russia and China, both of which support Syrian President Bashar
al-Assad, Erdogan’s one-time best regional ally and presently his
regional nemesis. During Putin’s high-profile visit to Ankara at the
beginning of December, Erdogan had to admit that Turkey and Russia
“keep on falling apart” on the issue of Syria.

For Russia, Turkey means $$$$$: Tens of billions of dollars in
bilateral trade — a perfect client for Russian natural gas, as well
as a potential transit route to export gas to third countries. But it
also means a hostile country ruled by Islamists who seek Sunni
supremacy using jihadists, Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood to expand
its regional clout in the Middle East, often against Russian
interests.

For China, too, Turkey is a good client. Unlike Russia, Chinese
companies actively win infrastructure, telecommunications and mining
contracts in Turkey. But like Russia, China, too, deeply distrusts
Turkey politically. China’s most pressing domestic security issue, the
ethnically Turkic Uighur Muslim separatists in the western province of
Xinjiang, has a Turkish connection. Chinese authorities often accuse
Turkey of harboring Uighur terrorists and allowing jihadist Uighurs a
safe passage between Syria and China.

With its neo-imperial ambitions and Sunni Islamist policy calculus,
Turkey once again fails to fit any alliance’s broad foreign policy and
security structure. The soul searching will have to go on.

Turkey is too big, too Islamist and too un-European for the EU; it is
too little Islamist and a disliked former colonial power for most of
the Arab Street; a sectarian and regional rival for Iran, and a
security threat to the bigwigs in the SCO.

Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet
Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

Get Access Now!

spot_img
spot_img
spot_img
spot_img