Erdogan: Master of Political Duplicity


 

By Edmond Y. Azadian

Any politician claiming to exercise moral principles has to be cast as a hypocrite. World history has never witnessed a war to uphold some moral principles yet almost all wars have been waged under the cover of moral principles, religious and human rights and above all, under the cover of promoting democracy.

Media outlets during the last decade or so have been harping on about how the Arab Spring grew out of popular uprisings in the Middle Eastern countries against dictators. After trumpeting that lie so loudly and for so long, the manufacturers of that lie remained as the only believers while the people at the receiving end of that Spring only witnessed death, destruction and bloodbaths. And mind, only the secular governments were toppled, while the medieval potentates remained under additional protection from those very same powers which concocted the legend of the Spring, which, incidentally created further mayhem for the region.

Only opportunists, manipulators and political jugglers could survive and thrive in that kind of atmosphere. One such political animal has proven to be Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom the West considered the right statesman to facilitate their plans, adorning him with the most gratuitous qualifications, such as “mildly Islamist,” or “moderately religious,” and so on while the latter used and abused the religion and the epithets of democracy to further his own agenda, at the expense of the naiveté of his handlers. Erdogan turned out to be the master of political duplicity and from now on his words and actions need to be measured under that paradigm.

It is true that under Erdogan Turkey became an economic powerhouse and regional military superpower, but Turkey’s growth had to serve the ambitions of its ruler, who dreamt to revive the “glorious” Ottoman Empire and sitting at the top of the pyramid of power to play the caliphate of modern times.

First, he used the Gulenists to destroy the secularist power of the Kemalists. Once he achieved that goal, he began to purge the courts, the military and the police of those very same Gulenist elements.

In the meantime, Turkey’s Achilles’ heel is the Kurdish issue, which may eventually lead to the country’s territorial partition. While entertaining the Gulenists and purging the Kemalists, he opened a dialogue with the Kurds. He did not consider any logical or legal impediment to negotiate with the jailed leader of the Kurds, Abdullah Oçalan, offering some vague promises to disarm the military arm of the PKK. Now that he Kurds have been fighting a life-and-death battle against the Islamic extremists of ISIS, Turkish army is bombarding the Kurdish forces within the country first, by denying any help to the beleaguered Kurdish forces under siege in Kobani, across the Turkish border and second, to weaken the Kurdish armed resistance in preparation for future negotiations.

The case of Kobani is a turning point, and revealing case about Turkey’s standing within the US-led coalition against ISIS. Although Turkey has nominally joined the coalition, it is working at cross-purposes. The irony and Turkish duplicity reside in the fact that Erdogan’s government not only is refusing to fight against the coalition-designated enemy, namely ISIS, but it has also banned the US bases in Turkey from carrying out their mission. On top of all this travesty, Turkey has been arming the ISIS forces and facilitating their barbaric atrocities in Kobani, Mosul and other occupied territories in Iraq and Syria.

Under immense pressure form Turkey’s allies, the foreign minister, Mevlut Çavusoglu, stated cynically that no civilian population is left in Kobani, let two terrorist groups destroy each other.

Erdogan’s government is trying to implement the same policy of duplicity with Israel but certainly not for too long. His angry outbursts against Israel are intended for two main purposes: to comfort his conservative power base at home and win kudos from the Arab street, which can be converted into lucrative business in the Arab world.

The Financial Times, which has dedicated a supplement to Turkey in its September 22, 2014 issue, writes, “In August of 2014, Mr. Erdogan, speaking at a presidential campaign rally, as Israel bombarded targets in Gaza that was to kill 2,100 Palestinians, he said, ‘Those who condemn Hitler day and night have surpassed Hitler in barbarism.’”

The same article, further down, underlines the contradiction between Erdogan’s words and actions, stating: “Not withstanding the acrimony, trade between the two countries continues to new highs. Israel and Turkey bought a record of $5 billion of each other’s goods in 2013.”

The Financial Times also indicates that Turkish energy links have grown 20 percent in 2014 as compared to 2013 and that an energy deal is on the drawing board to build a pipeline utilizing offshore Leviathan Field in the Mediterranean.

No matter how much the western media may portray the Arab world in denigrating terms, the Arab countries have already detected the hypocritical policy of Erdogan’s government and they have already lodged a sobering response during Turkey’s recent campaign to gain a non-voting membership in the United Nation’s Security Council, where Ankara failed miserably. Foreign Minister Çavusoglu justified the defeat by announcing, “We will not give up our principles for votes.” No one has yet questioned what those principles are.

Although Armenia is a small fish in Turkey’s political pond, Erdogan and his ventriloquist, Ahmed Davutoglu, are planning to use the same deceptive means. The protocols, which were much in Ankara’s favor, were not ratified by that country’s parliament after so much fanfare. Of all the statesmen, Hillary Clinton stated that the ball is in Turkey’s court. And still it remains there, neglected.

Mr. Erdogan, after emphatically stating that “our ancestors did not commit a genocide,” eventually deigned to extend a dubious condolence to the survivors and the children of those “deportations.”

In preparation to preempt the impact of the Armenian Genocide’s centennial, the Turkish government has sent out feelers to different Armenian communities in fact-finding missions. Those facts will help the Turkish government to formulate its stand on he Genocide issue to deflate Armenian activism. It was an early sign of that campaign to engage veteran journalist Etyen Mehcubian as Davutoglu’s senior advisor “to deal with issues of democracy.” The Turkish government is trying to get credit that for the first time a non-Muslim has been assigned to that high position. But turning the tables, we need to ask that if Turkey is not a racist country, why is it that a non-Muslim has not been allowed to reach such a position before?

We have to wait and see what kind of spin the Turkish government will put on the Genocide issue. That will impact also President Obama’s position.

In the meantime, the actions of Armenians in the homeland and in the diaspora will be commensurate with the clout they have internationally.

Mr. Erdogan and his prophet, Ahmet Davutoglu, have the unwarranted presumption that they are shaping history. But their actions and their policies speak to the contrary. The motto of “zero problems with neighbors” proved to be an illusory balloon. Actually, it ended up with “zero neighbors with a multitude of problems.”