In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Posts Tagged ‘Turkish diplomacy’

The coup that sank the American ship

Posted by seumasach on July 29, 2016

Winter Patriot

19th July, 2016

Like the British Empire before it, the banking/military/industrial juggernaut that is the US Hegemon is slowly sinking beneath the waves despite its frantic efforts to stay afloat. The attempted coup in Turkey this last week is just the latest fiasco for the hegemon. But before we do any finger pointing at the US, a little history will help with our understanding of what is at stake. Context is everything.

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Erdogan allies himself with military against CIA

Posted by seumasach on June 23, 2014

Azerbaijan: Gülen Schools & NATO Seminar Cause A Stir, Russia Steps Up Fight against Washington’s Fifth Column & More!

The New Great Game Round-Up

Christoph Germann

22nd June, 2014

The power struggle between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and CIA puppet Fethullah Gülen continues to dominate the headlines in Turkey. At the beginning of this week, Turkish police detained 11 suspects, including Erdogan’s former chief bodyguard and an ex-police chief, in a probe into the wiretapping of the Turkish PM. Gülen’s shadowy network has tried to topple Erdogan by all available means, one of which was the leaking of incriminating conversations. Up to this point, all efforts have failed and Erdogan is fighting back with a vengeance. Ever since the conflict intensified, the Turkish PM has made the case for a retrial of the military officers, who were purged in a joint AKP-Hizmet operation, fueling speculation that Erdogan intends to join forces with his old enemies against Gülen. On Wednesday, Turkey’s highest court paved the way for this alliance by ordering the release of 230 military officers convicted in the Sledgehammer trial. The power struggle has spread to several countries affecting even the annual Washington conference of the infamous American-Turkish Council (ATC). As previously discussed, the main battleground besides Turkey is Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani authorities did Erdogan another favor this week

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Turkish-Iranian ties get a makeover

Posted by seumasach on June 9, 2014


Indian Punchline

9th June, 2014

The two-day visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Turkey on Monday is invested with a lot of significance for the Middle Eastern politics. The glaring 18-year gap since the then President Hashemi Rafsanjani visited Turkey in 1996 flags what a complex relationship this has been between the two neighboring countries. Their hidden, unspoken rivalries as regional powers largely accounted for this complexity, laced with the perennial civilizational overtones that lurk below the surface.

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President says Turkey against foreign intervention in Syria

Posted by seumasach on November 21, 2011

Today’s Zaman

21st November, 2011

Turkish President Abdullah Gül has said his country does not favor foreign military intervention in Syria to end the ongoing crackdown in the neighboring country, indicating that a solution to the current stalemate should be found within Syria.

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Turkey blocks Israeli bid to open Israeli office

Posted by seumasach on September 20, 2011

The new NATO wars, it would seem, specifically exclude Israel whilst Erdogan is the great beneficiary of the Arab Spring rather than Obama who will, of course, be obliged to veto a Palestinian state


19th September, 2011

Turkish objections have thwarted Israel’s attempt to open a NATO office, says Turkish FM, stressing determination to also keep Israel out of data-sharing after a high-powered US radar system is deployed in Turkey.

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No kisses, Mr Davutoglu

Posted by seumasach on August 12, 2011

Sami Moubayed

Asia Times

13th August, 2011

DAMASCUS – When Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu landed in Damascus on Tuesday, one Syrian official was startled by how serious the Turkish guest acted on getting off the airplane. It was a chilly “How do you do?,” no doubt. Smiling, the Syrian official looked at him and said, “Mr Minister, no kisses?”

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Turkey And The ‘Arab Spring’

Posted by seumasach on June 16, 2011

Learning to Walk Again

Eric Walberg


16th June, 2011

Turkey’s vibrant democracy is an inspiration to Arab countries throwing off their autocratic yoke and their Western patrons, says Eric Walberg Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) renewed mandate puts the electoral seal of approval on its shift towards the Middle East, even as its importance to Europe increases. Now Turkey itself is being courted by both NATO countries and, increasingly, the Arab world.

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Erdogan leads Turkey – and the Middle East

Posted by seumasach on June 14, 2011


Asia Times

15th June, 2011

Situating oneself in a fairly recent decade, if one were to suggest that someday Turkey, a staunchly secularist country, could have an Islamist head of government, it would have seemed a joke. And to suggest that an Islamist leader could as well prove to be the longest-serving leader in that country, second only to Kemal Attaturk, its founder and father figure, would have seemed a macabre joke.

“No way, the Pashas will never allow it to happen.” That would be the repartee. The Pashas, or civil or military authorities, are confined to barracks. The results of the parliamentary elections held in Turkey on Sunday need to be put in historical perspective.

Without doubt, the resounding victory by the ruling party AKP (Justice and Development Party) led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with a mandate of 50% of popular support is a landmark event. Victory was expected, but not on a scale exceeding the 47% mandate of the 2007 elections.

The heart of the matter is that Turkey is reaching unprecedented heights of economic prosperity and is a land at peace after several decades of strife, bloodshed and chronic political instability. The contrast couldn’t be sharper with its neighborhood, which is passing through great upheaval and uncertainties.

Turkey’s economy grew at a rate of 9% last year, second only to China’s among the Group of 20. The economy is already the world’s 17th largest and growing income is beginning to percolate and give people hope of a better tomorrow.

Today, Turkey borrows more cheaply than Spain; a far cry from the not-too-distant past when it used to hold a begging bowl before the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Yet, it also showcases the IMF’s success. Turkey has been one of IMF’s biggest borrowers – US$25 billion in the past decade – but is well-poised to pay back its debts by 2013. The contrast with Greece, a pristine European Union (EU) member country, is at once obvious.
Unsurprisingly, a Turkish name that spontaneously sailed into view as a terrific candidate for the vacant post of managing director of IMF was of Kemal Davis, who nursed the sick Turkish economy at a critical phase when it was in intensive care. Arguably, it would have been a bitter pill to swallow for EU member countries if a brilliant Turkish wizard were to be employed to restore their economies to recovery.

Explaining Erdogan’s mandate 
Ironically, as a Bloomberg report wrote, “Rebuffed in its efforts to join the EU, Turkey now borrows at 10-year yields lower than at least eight members of the 27-nation bloc.” The Turkish electorate is grateful to Erdogan’s government for successful economic management. However, Erdogan’s renewed mandate to lead the country for a third successive four-year term demands a much broader explanation.

Personal charisma was certainly a factor, as there is no one today in Turkish politics who can even come up to his shoulders in sheer stature as a statesman. It is a saga that becomes the stuff of an absorbing political biography – a long journey from the backstreets of a Black Sea town to Ankara via Istanbul, from a prison cell to the office of the prime minister, from rabble-rousing Islamism to consensual politics, from a Turkish politician to a towering regional figure who might very well end up in the years ahead moulding the New Middle East in a far more enduring and humane way than the Ottomans from Suleiman the Magnificent could manage through centuries.

The Turkey which Erdogan inherited in 2003 was a practicing democracy in appearance but still had common characteristics with the authoritarian regimes of the Middle East.

The military as the self-appointed Praetorian Guards of the Turkish state; the strong authoritarian undercurrent of the “deep state”; coercion as the instrument to smother dissent; a form of secularism that was as militant and suffocating as any religious extremism; the deep-rooted religiosity of the common people who were observant Muslims but steeped in worldly concerns; and, the inability or refusal to comprehend and to come to terms with political Islam – these were as much features of the Turkish crisis.
Erdogan proved himself to be a “liberator” and a “conqueror”. He gently eased Turkey to face the reality that practicing or holding religious beliefs is not antithetical to the state or modernity. The thought churning through the Turkish mind when Erdogan took over the leadership was whether the practice of women wearing headscarves was compatible with the tenets of a secularist state.

There are two Erdogans in evidence. In his first term, as he began the project to roll back the Turkish “deep state” and to ease the country of its dogmatic notions regarding the essence of secularism, he knew he was taking on a formidable challenge and a vicious backlash was to be expected.

So, Erdogan resorted to the politics of moderation and became a “centrist”. He made great tactical use of Turkey’s EU membership bid to push forward his reform program. This approach helped him form a rainbow coalition of large industrialists, Islamist conservatives and liberals, Kurdish nationalists and sections of the intelligentsia which were, per se, antithetical to the politics of Islamism.

The strategy of stooping to conquer paid off and Erdogan presided over what is arguably one of the most transformative periods of Turkish history. Turkey is indeed a vastly different country compared to what it was in 2002 when the AKP first came to power.

During his second term in office from 2007, Erdogan turned out to be a different man. He was much more assertive and confident, borne out of the awareness that he was no longer leading the party of the underdog – AKP had become a Turkish “establishment” party par excellence.

He saw no further use of his “centrist” coalition. As a prominent columnist put it in the Hurriyet newspaper:

Moderation brought the AKP popularity. Yet the more popular it became, the more the AKP felt it could ignore centrist consensual politics and the liberal vision of EU membership. In due course, the party abandoned the EU process and instead started to go after those who disagreed with it, including the media and the courts.

Ten years later, Mr Erdogan still has the support of Islamist-conservatives, but the rest of his coalition has abandoned him. Liberals have left the AKP for its lackluster commitment to Europe. Large businesses are disheartened by heavy-handed treatment of secular companies by the AKP.

The criticism is somewhat uncharitable. The EU didn’t help matters with Germany and France in particular making it abundantly clear that Turkey’s hopes of taking habitation in a common European home would always remain a pipedream. The AKP reacted to the EU’s arrogance of politico-cultural superiority.

Erdogan’s choices 
Apart from the Westernized sections of Turkish elites, people on the whole resented the EU’s attitude. Turkish nationalism, which has always remained a strong undercurrent, reared its head. Thus, on the one hand, Erdogan’s hands were forced by the EU, while on the other hand, he estimated that it was also the smart thing to do – to seize the moment to career away from Western-style reforms toward Turkish-style reforms.

Underlying all this was Erdogan’s own personality. He is an archetypal Turk who can be stubborn, who should never be rubbed the wrong way; impulsive and large-hearted, and amiable and dominating at the same time.

The path that Erodgan chooses to take in his forthcoming term is already a matter of animated discussion. The AKP’s mandate translates as 326 seats in the 550-member parliament, which is 40 short of the two-thirds majority he needs to amend the constitution and four short of the 330 seats he needs to seek a referendum over a constitutional reform.

The AKP needs to draw the support of the left-of-center Republican People’s Party (135 seats), the ultra-nationalistic Nationalist Movement Party (53 seats) or the Kurdish party Peace and Democratic Party (36 seats).

Erdogan has projected as a major agenda of the new government the drafting of a new constitution that would include “basic rights and freedoms”, replacing the 1982 constitution drawn after the 1980 military coup d’etat. Few details are available as to what Erdogan has on his mind. Murat Yetkin, one of Turkey’s most respected editors, wrote:

The voters wanted to see Erdogan and his government in power for another four years but asked him to seek compromise for a new constitution with opposition parties. Is Erdogan going to look for common ground with opposition and with whom? The answer to it will shape the Turkish politics in the months ahead.

In sum, Erdogan has to reconcile the two “halves” of Turkey – secular and liberal Turks on the one hand and a large established Islamic conservative elite with a well-organized political party on the other.

Equally, what lies ahead of him is also a challenge that these two “halves” should be willing to reconcile. Any disharmony can be disruptive while the high probability is that Erdogan will bring Islam and democracy together, since overarching all personal traits and political compulsions, he is also conscious by now that he is destined to be a man of history. Thus, he vowed to embrace the whole nation in his first victory speech on Sunday:

Our nation assigned us to draft the new constitution. They gave us a message to build the new constitution through consensus and negotiation. We will discuss the new constitution with opposition parties, civil society groups and academics. We will seek the broadest consensus.

We will draft a civilian, pro-freedom, participatory constitution together. It will be constitution of Turks, Kurds … the Roma minorities.

What lends enchantment to the view is that it is all going to be Erdogan’s and Turkey’s choice – a choice that will be made not because of American or European pressure. (The deep-rooted “anti-Americanism” in Turkey is as intense as in Pakistan with only 10% Turks viewing the United States favorably.) Second, the entire Muslim Middle East is curiously watching the choices that Erdogan makes in his third term.

Erdogan is well-placed to plant an iron signpost for the road that the Muslim Brotherhood can take in Egypt or Jordan; what quintessentially Shi’ite empowerment can mean within a democratic framework in Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Bahrain without the Muslim psyche having to tear itself apart; how despite Arabism, the Middle East can still pull on excellently well with the West, as Erdogan indeed is doing, despite being an Islamist and a proud Turk.

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

(Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

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Turkey and the Middle East: the reshaping of regional relations

Posted by seumasach on March 28, 2011

Eric Walberg

Global Research

25th March, 2011

Recent initiatives by its government attest to Turkey’s determination to bring a new realism to world politics, and events in the Arab world provide an opportunity to reshape regional relations.

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NATO bases in Turkey not to be used against other countries: president

Posted by seumasach on February 18, 2011

People’s Daily

17th February, 2011

Visiting Turkish President Abdullah Gul said Ankara will not allow the military bases of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Turkey to be used for military purposes against other countries, Iran’s English language Press TV reported Wednesday.

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Experts say Turkey to become center of political awakening

Posted by seumasach on February 18, 2011

Today’s Zaman

18th February, 2011

While unceasing protests have toppled two pro-Western governments in the Arab world, they have mushroomed in a number of Muslim nations, such as Yemen, Jordan, Libya and Iran. Experts believe Turkey could be a major source of inspiration and a center of political awakening in the region for other autocracies.

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