To the utter despair of stoic defenders of “Western values,” Europe is now condemned to suffer two populist autocracies on its eastern borders: Putin’s Russia and Erdogan’s Turkey.
For the EU’s political leaders, the only accepted narrative is blanket, hysterical condemnation of “illiberal democracies” distorted by personal rule, xenophobia and suppression of free speech. And that also applies to the strongmen in Hungary, Austria, Serbia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
These EU leaders and the institutions that support them – political parties, academia, mainstream media – simply can’t understand how and why their bubble does not reflect what voters really think and feel.
Instead, we have irrelevant intellectuals mourning the erosion of the lofty Western mission civilisatrice (civilizing mission), investing in a philosophical maelstrom of historical and even biblical references to catalog their angst.
They are terrified by so many Darth Vaders – from Putin and Erdogan to Xi and Khamenei. Instead of understanding the new remix to Arnold Toynbee’s original intuition – History is again on the move – they wallow in the mire of The West against The Rest.
They cannot possibly understand the mighty process of Eurasia reconfiguration. And that includes not being able to understand why Recep Tayipp Erdogan is so popular in Turkey.
Sultan and CEO
Profiting from a large turnout of up to 85% and fresh from obtaining 52.5% of the popular vote – thus preventing a run-off – Erdogan is now ready to rule Turkey as a fascinating mix of Sultan and CEO.
Under Turkey’s new presidential arrangement – an Erdogan brainchild – a prime minister is no more, a job Erdogan himself held for three terms before he was elected as president for the first time in 2014.
Erdogan may be able to rule the executive and the judiciary, but that’s far from a given in the legislature.
With 42.5% of the votes and holding 295 seats, Erdogan’s AKP, for the first time in 16 years, lost its parliamentary majority and must now establish a coalition with the far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP).
The doomsday interpretation spells out a toxic alliance between intolerant political Islam and fascistic extreme-right – both, of course, hardcore nationalist. Reality though is slightly more nuanced.
Considering that the MHP is even more anti-Western than the AKP, the roadmap ahead, geopolitically, may point to only one direction: Eurasian integration. After all, Turkey’s perennially plagued EU accession process is bound to go nowhere; for Brussels, Erdogan is little else than an unwelcomed, illiberal, faux democrat.
In parallel, Erdogan’s neo-Ottomanism has been given a reality check with the failure of his – and former Prime Minister Davutoglu’s – Syria strategy.
The Kurdish obsession though won’t go away, especially after the success of operations ‘Euphrates Shield’ and ‘Olive Branch’ against the US-backed YPG – which Erdogan brands as an extension of the dreaded PKK. Ankara now holds the previously Kurdish-dominated Afrin, and now, under a US-Turkey deal, the YPG must also leave Manbij. Even after giving up on “Assad must go”, Ankara for all practical purposes will keep a foothold in Syria, and is invested in the Astana peace process alongside Russia and Iran.
Take it to the bridge
Turkish politics used to be a yo-yo between the center-right and the center-left, but always with the secular military as puppet masters. The religious right was always contained – as the military were terrified of its popular appeal across Anatolia.
When the AKP started its political winning streak in 2002, they were frankly pro-Europe (there was no subsequent reciprocity). The AKP also courted the Kurds, who in their absolute, rural, majority were religiously conservative. The AKP and Erdogan even allied themselves with the Gulenists. But once they solidified their electoral hold, the going got much tougher.
The turning point may have been the repression of the Gezi Park movement in 2013. And then, in 2015, the pro-Kurdish – and left-wing – Democratic Peoples’ Party (HDP) started to emerge and capture votes from the AKP. Erdogan’s response was to fashion a strategy of mingling the Democratic Peoples’ Party with the PKK – as in “terrorists,” which is absurd.
Party leaders were routinely thrown in jail. For these latest elections, HDP leader Selahattin Demirtaş actually campaigned from jail, warning: “What we are going through nowadays is only the trailer of the one-man regime. The actual scary part is yet to begin.” Even facing myriad constraints, the HDP managed to get a significant 11.7% of the vote, or 67 seats.
“One-man regime” was actually solidified a good two years ago, after Gulenists in the military ended up launching the (failed) military coup. Erdogan and the AKP leadership are convinced the Gulenists received crucial help from NATO. The subsequent purge was devastating – hitting tens of thousands of people. Anybody, anywhere, from academia to journalism, criticizing Erdogan or the ongoing dirty war in eastern Anatolia, was silenced.
Turkish historian Cam Erimtan stresses how Erdogan defended the necessity of anticipated elections by invoking “historic developments in Iraq and Syria” that have made it “paramount for Turkey to overcome uncertainty.”
Erimtan characterizes the so-called “People’s Alliance” of the AKP with the MHP as the “Turkish-Islamic Synthesis” of the 21st century, pointing how “the AKP base is large and fully convinced of the fact that the current systemic change is on the right track and that the return of Islam to Turkish public life was long overdue.”
So, “illiberal” or otherwise, the fact is a majority of Turkish voters prefer Erdogan. The European dream may be over – for good. Relations with NATO are fractious. Neo-Ottomanism is a minefield. So Eurasian integration seems the sensible way to go.
Relations with Iran are stable. Energy and military relations with Russia are paramount. Turkey can invest in economic projection across Central Asia. Russia and China are luring it into joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Erdogan may finally be able to position Turkey as the essential bridge between the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the West.
That’s a much better deal than trying to join a club that doesn’t want you as a member. “Illiberal democracy”? Who cares?
This Turkey is a jihadist/ creator of ISIS/ FSA/ Nusra type of enemy that Russia/ China / Iran need to watch out for. This truck driver turned islamist changes his tune like he changes his clothes. Yesterday from doing brisk business with the CIA, Qatar and ISIS to having a falling out with his handlers after that likely orchestrated failed coup and not to mention his defeat in the SyRaq. His untrustworthy and rudderless machinations will hopefully keep him sidelined on what Khamenei, Xi and Putin are aligned on.
The far right in Turkey is secular, so the Islamic influence in government may decrease. The most positive point about the results of these elections may be Turkey finally leaving NATO, which will encourage Europe following suit. Erdogan is not a likeable person but he is a useful pawn in the fight against US hegemony.
No leader from any country (especially in Turkey’s neighborhood) trusts Mr Erdogan———he changes his mind on who he likes one day to who he hates the next day———no one can predict with any certainty where his next move is——–I for one agree with Pepe——–his big move will be East towards the Middle Kingdom (BRI) BUT the dude can never be taken serious———-if he ever pulls out of NATO then the West will see his hand!!!
Pepe, Erdogan is not really choosing anything different. The Kaliphate/Sultanate and Western Corporate Hegemony are two faces of the same coin.
The Sunni Kaliphate that sat smack on the Silk Road milked world trade with Tariffs (Arabic word of Kaliphate origin). Economics 101 tells you that the biggest victim of Tariffs are the very those who impose them – making their own industry uncompetitive. That is why Sunnis produced nothing of value in their 1,400 years. The Kaliphate was based on violence and coersion, not knowledge or values.
The West simply took over where the Kaliphate left over and merrily continued its ways. Says so factually the West’s Prophet of Doom Samuel Huntington:
” .. The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do ” —— The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, p. 51 …
In both systems knowledge was a private good, produced ignorant, skill-less, unemployable men who ultimately turn to suicidal violence. Like Sysphus, Erdogan is simply vacillating between two futile objectives – Kaliphate/Sultanate and Corporate Capitalist West. He will go nowhere with either.
It would be more profitable for Sunnidom to join China’s BRI that wants to break Tariffs and unify Asia, Africa, and Europe into a Free Trading world. Trade leads to peace and knowledge based morally upright society, not a violent one.
The Western Left Liberals mistakenly take Corporate Capitalist Democracy as the lofty Western mission civilisatrice.
2,400 years ago the sage Socrates, faced with godless wasteful law-and-order Democracy, the rule of the Demos (5% moneyed males over the 95% rest – women, plebs, slaves) proposed a more efficient socio-economics – a justice based god fearing Republic, later defined by Lincoln as "govt. of the people, by the people, for the people" led by the learned. He was hemlocked.
Xi, Putin both lead Republics a la Socrates. Now that is a mission civilisatrice the West should be proud of.
The same dilemma is faced by Muslims. 1,000 years after Socrates, Mohammed in another trading centre faced his own Big Business and Bankers, and trounced them to set up a secular Medinan Republic a la Socrates. His mission was hijacked by the Kaliphate that overturned all his progressive reforms. If the West learns no lesson from the debacle of Muslims, it will end up like them – ignorant, poor, violent.
@RT_Erdogan ‘s arrogance will hinder any attempt to join EU and this, with their ultra-right turn are not interested anymore in Turkey.
Ignorant, poor, violent?
The West had always been violent. Now it is ignorant too. Perhaps they will soon be poor … we will see …
LOL. So true.
But what you talk about is of the West run by Demos.
The West proposed by Socrates was civilized.
Let us pray the West sees the light and honors its present Socrates rather than continue to poison them.
Wasn’t Erdogan pleading with EU to accep Turkey as a equal member for 20 years for which EU response was shifting the goal post to make it harder for Turkey to comply with. Same was not applied to other Eastern European countries..
..West has always had a double standard when it comes to Muslims.
Any way Turkeys interests will be better served allinging with Russia, Middle East and East Asia, that’s where future boom is
funny, Erdogan The Magnificent!
Syed Abbas Wait till they unite with the Turkic countries in Central Asia, then you will see the real rise of Ottoman power.
President Erdogan has many challenges ahead, the economy and resolve the issues related to the Kurds. With peace in the Middle East, Turkish companies will get a huge peace dividend through the rebuilding of the war thorn countries. If President Erdogan can peacefully resolve the Kurdish issues, it will be good for travel and tourism. The obstacle for peace in the Middle East is the USA. Turkey should get out of NATO it will make it more difficult for the US to launch insurgencies and wars. Pakistan might cut of the US supply lines to Afghanistan and ensure peace and stability for the entire region. To get the US out of Eurasia is vital to stop the senseless wars and bring back the millions of refugees to their homelands.
The Afghan Taliban has been able to create a shadow government that has been able to integrate political opponents and modified some of their harsh opinions on female rights. These facts should make it easier for the US to retreat from the long-lost US war against Afghanistan. The US might be hesitant to take their losses and hopes for plundering the Afghan mineral resources. No doubt the US would miss the heroin trade, a gravy train that has made many in the US “Deep State” huge profits. Pepe Escobar’s must-read article about the US involvement in illegal drug-trade that resulted in a genocide of 100.000 US Citizens since the Afghan war started. https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201708251056794770-afghanistan-cia-heroin-ratline/
Anyway, peace in the Middle East would be great for Turkey and ensure a boom in economic growth.
I hope not. That will be a disaster for the region, and Turkey as well.
Sir, you seem to be infected with the same error that I had when I left Pakistan 50 years ago. Paks look at Arabs, Persians, Turks a cut up. 5 decades interaction and having visited/lived their lands tells me Paks are 200+ years ahead in modern thinking. Not Pants/skirts but what is in your head.
Modernity came to Indian Muslims bottom up, from street, East India Company, Raj. In Egypt, Iran, Turkey it was imposed from above, skin deep.
Turkey has difficulty squaring its inglorious past; not owning Armenian Genocide is just one sin. In 1453 over-ran Constantinople, then best lands in Europe, blocked East-West trade. Starving Europe sought new routes, and got New World as bonus making Muslims who lived off Tariffs (Arabic word) history. Turks became sick man.
Ataturk rescued them with a secular Republic. Today: No Socratic or Mohammedan values – freedom, justice, rule through the learned. Only a yearning for the dreaded Kaliphate/Sultanate.
Spurned by Europe Erdogan tried Islam first with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, then with Saudi Arabia/ Daesh. Still no Mohammdean Islam – compassionate Justice, Arabic literacy.
Turkey – neither here nor there. Clinically Turks are Bipolar Schizophrenia, with a no known cure.
(This poster has a smattering of Turkish lingo, visits and friends, and now has a son with a Turkish woman.)
Ashruf Din you are surely joking with us? Those central asian mongols have had the islam literally beaten out of them by the Russians over the last 200 years now. Its over!
You should thank your lucky stars that Russia/ China/ Iran are having mercy on these Turkish jokers, for the time being, despite all these ISIS and Al-Qaeda stunts this Er-Dog-An has been juggling with in Syria and Iraq, not to mention in Xinjiang. If the three were to support the Kurds in their aspirations, this Turkey would lose half its territory, and there is absolutely nothing the US or the EU would do to help Turkey. Infact the West would love to see this happening.
Putin, Xi and Khamenei have been compassionate thus far…..lets hope better sense prevails, in what this joker Er-Dog-An does next. He has to pick up the pieces and move on.
I think your assessment is correct.
I have known a few Turks in the past and my impression is that they have some serious identity issues(East vs West) and are stuck in their glorious past.
The fundamental question of Existence is Survival, Growth, Evolution – in that order.
You eloquently speak of how Turks can Grow and Evolve. But they are more imbued with the idea of Survival of their pan-Islamic Kaliphate/Sultanate or at least a Turko-centric mini-empire.
Both concepts are linked to the past that is never coming back. I wish they would listen to you and Pepe, but I suspect they will follow their nationalist instincts, and become extinct with it. Sad.
What a laugh. After his ISIS terrorists gets soundly defeated in Syria, Erdogan thinks he can raise a sultanate.
US will never leave Afghanistan, It is vital for it creating wars in iran , pakistan and Russia,s underbelly the central asian republics.
The Middle Kingdom would like to extend a helping hand to the West Turks, just as we have to the Eastern Turks within the Middle Kingdom.’
We will extend our control and settlement to Anatolia and and objections will be crushed.
Allen Yu Agreed comrade and this year China will also win the world cup
Yes comrade, there are often things going boom in the middle east.
While China pacifies E Turkmenistan and Tibet with the use of the PLA
Well said comrade in the Middle Kingdom we would love to see the breakup of NATO and Europe becoming socialist. It worked out so well for the Czs, Poles, etc who all still want to overthrown their Govts and invite the CCP back in.
Makes you wonder why so many people from the 3rd world want to live there, why dont they want to come to the Middle Kingdom or Mother Russia, much better places to live.
Erdogan is a hybrid of greedy business man and a sunni Ayotallah. he was resposible for all the ISIS in 2014 while his son managed the oil imports from ISIS. He will revert to his allies in the CIA and Mossad when the West wants him to play another Islamic religous group organisor. it is something he does well.
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