2/6/17

I predict that Turkey is going to be one of the biggest headaches of the Trump administration soon, very soon.

It will be a huge and an urgent issue.

Turkey used to be a miracle—;a westernized, secular, democratic, Muslim country; a pivotal member of NATO and an aspiring member of the EU. Until the early 2000s it was the example that everyone was looking at when they were looking for the redemption of other Muslim countries.

However, things started to change and deteriorate with the slow but insistent rise of the AKP and its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The first significant blow to this “picture-perfect” scenario was the denial of the US request to use Turkey as an additional launching ground for its attack on Iraq in 2003. Not many people remember it or even discuss it (probably because of the tendency of US policy makers to be delicate and not shake the ground; that is, until Trump…), but it had a devastating long-term effect and was a big part of the failure of the US to initially control Iraq. Then came problems with its EU discussions, problems with its NATO membership, Erdoğan’s ascension to the presidency and slowly but surely taking over democracy in Turkey making it less so by the day, the cumulative effect of these brought us to where we are today:

Turkey is a semi-dictatorship, Islamist country looking to strengthen its ties with like-minded-type régimes.

Fourteen months ago, in my post “Russia’s Grand Scheme,” I predicted that Putin’s big prize in this Middle East power game is Turkey. I believe that he wants to pry Turkey out of NATO and make it part of a regional alliance with Iran, dominated by Russia.

I was wrong on timing when I wrote that post, partially due to failing to predict the strange and still inexplicable downing of the Russian plane by Turkey, and due to other things too. Bottom line, I may have been 12 months off, but I am right in principle.

The recent developments in Syria and the close relationship developing between Russia and Turkey (see “Syria ‘Peace Conference’ — The Humiliation of the Week”) indicate that the time table is accelerating.

I am convinced that if Hillary Clinton had become the president Turkey would have succeeded from NATO within the year.

With Trump, I do not know; as to be frank, no one really knows how Trump will act or react, which is a great plus for him and for the USA. To be fair to Trump, he kept saying that being vague and unpredictable is an advantage in the power game.

Having said all that, I find it hard to see how he can stop the slow rolling disaster that is Turkey, brought to where it is now after the neglect of two prior presidents.

President George W. Bush did nothing about it and he should have. Yet again, we see that a conflict delayed is a conflict aggravated.

President Obama not only did nothing to stop it, but he strongly supported Erdoğan and emboldened him not only by his signature weak, do-nothing approach, but also by strong friendship and support to Erdoğan, at least until the rise of ISIS.

It will be interesting.