Erdogan's "Great U-Turn’’

15.07.2016

Erdogan proved that he is a great tactician, even more interest-oriented than Kissinger or even Machiavelli. Erdogan used the same real-politik as Kissinger.

Turkey’s new prime minister, Binali Yıldırm, speaking about his new government program, said that “Turkey will win back its neighbors,’’ which was actually the last nail in the coffin of former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s principle of “zero problems with the neigboring countries.’’ The rise and fall of Davutoglu’s “strategic depths’’ policy ended with the historic U-turn of President Erdogan signing the treaty with Israel not to “normalize’’, but to return to the status quo as it was before the Davos incident more than six years ago. Israel is certainly the winner of this situation as the “anti-Israeli policies’’as well as the “Israel bashing’’ policies of Turkish governments came to an end. President Erdogan’s not “tactical but strategic’’ retreat from the former policies will have domestic as well as international implications.

With this “great U-turn,’’ Erdogan proved that he is a great tactician, even more interest-oriented than Kissinger or even Machiavelli. Erdogan used the same real politik as Kissinger. Kissinger once said, “America does not have friends, America has interests.’’ It is now Erdogan who says that Turkey has no friends, but only interests. The Israeli case has also been the end of Turkey’s “articifial Israel enmity.’’ In domestic politics, the radical Islamist groups are waiting for their day of revenge with Erdogan because they feel that they have been betrayed and “sold’’ to Israel. But Erdogan is also like Shimon Perez, with whom he clashed in Davos, where Erdogan told him that the Israelis know well how to kill, and who answered the question about whether he is angry with Erdogan by saying: “I am always looking to future relations, not to the past.’’ This is exactly what Erdogan is doing! He stopped claiming to be the leader of the Islamic world after signing this treaty with Israel.

What motivated Erdogan was this: Today Turkey needs Israel more than ever as article 7 of the treaty envisages “more exchange of intelligence’’ because Turkey’s number one problem is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and ISIS terrorism and without the “Jerusalem connection’’ it is very difficult to deal with ethnic and religous terrorism. President Erdogan became more “secular’’ in this respect, and he would not have difficulty convincing the Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters that he has done right!

Israel was Turkey’s close ally until the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident and provided Turkey with high-tech weapons and knowhow. Presidents Erdogan and Netanyahu do not sympathize with each other, but Erdogan received the apology from Netanyahu with the help of President Obama two years ago. Now, the future Turkish-Israeli relations look more promising than ever. The exchange of ambassadors soon will also strengthen diplomatic relations. Turkey, Israel and Egypt will have similar relations like in the 1990s , fighting against Islamist terrrorism. Erdogan’s determination to fight ISIS jointly with the West is a prime example, and Turkey will continue to be the “main target’’ of ISIS terrorism in the future. The deal between Turkey and Israel deserves a deeper analysis, but for now: Israel is the winner, and Turkey is the compromise maker.

Using “letter diplomacy,‘’ Erdogan has apologized to Russian President Putin after just seven months! But it was also the most expensive apology Turkey has ever made in its modern history. Russia proved to be a good neighbor, and so Turkey will improve relations after the “badly managed crisis of last November,’’ when Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet.

President Erdogan’s “second U-turn’’ policy will pay off, to Turkey’s advantage. Turkey has lost more than 35 billion dollars, and Erdogan as a “political animal’’ could not hold out any longer, so he ended his “ignorance’’ abruptly. “Whatever has been said is already the past; we have to say something new today,” said the great 13th-century philosopher Mevlana. President Erdogan has already forgotten what he said to Russia and is looking to new relations with Russia, including on the Syrian issue, in the future. “Coordination with Russia will continue’’ said Foreign Minister Çavusoglu after he met with his Russian counterpart Lavrov. Yes, Turkey is no longer “the locomotive of the events in the Middle East but the bandwagon, and it is no longer the ‘consciousness” of the Middle East. President Erdogan won the “old chaps’’ back, but Turkey paid a very high price for this “experiment.’’ Was it really necessary? The problem was that Erdogan and his people did not listen before. Now, the zeitgeist told them what to do!
Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

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