November 17, 2009
In May 2008, I met a Europe correspondent of the Wall Street Journal on an international conference in Brussels. As we talked about the Turkish politics, he expressed his bafflement at how “biased the intellectuals and secular sections of the Turkish society were” against AKP, the Islamic ruling party which had taken over the government in a landslide victory in 2002. He thought that seculars were a bunch of corrupt elitists, contemptuous of the people and its democratically elected representatives. They were some mean fascist, anti-western bastards who for years prevented democratization of the Turkish politics and deprived the people of their freedoms. AKP, on the other hand, coming from the midst of the people and deeply-routed in Islam, promised to be the Muslim democrat alternative which would salvage this democracy-handicapped country and liberate its people from the autocratic secular yoke. Or so it seemed.
In the wake of the recent developments in Turkish foreign and domestic politics, I am not sure if that journalist who worshiped AKP as a democratic savior is biting his fingernails, but many others undoubtedly are: under AKP leadership, Turkey has just jumped out of the Western trenches and joined the ranks of anti-western, fundamentalist Islamic regimes.
The first indication of Turkey’s strategic realignment was the shameless bashing of the Israeli president, Shimon Peres, by the prime minister and AKP chairman, Tayyip Erdoğan at Davos. Yelling at President Peres, Erdoğan said “When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill,” trampling upon all decorum, let alone diplomatic norms. Next came the expulsion of Israel by Turkey from a multinational air exercise which was scheduled to be held in Central Turkey. To add insult to the injury, the fundamentalist AKP government lifted visa requirement for Syria, arch enemy of Israel and a known supporter of state-sponsored terrorism, shortly after the joint exercise incident. Turkish and Syrian ministers held a joint cabinet meeting and then symbolically removed the barrier at the border crossing. Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, the mastermind of the Islamic realignment, talked about an integration of the two countries, with a prospect of inclusion of Iraq in this alliance in the near future. Shortly thereafter, plans for military cooperation and joint exercises between Syria and Turkey were announced.
If this is not enough to prove a strategic shift in Turkey’s orientation, wait to hear more: Erdoğan expressed staunch support to Iran’s nuclear ambitions on several occasions and accused the West of making Iran a scapegoat. He called the dictator Ahmedinajad a “dear friend,” whom he, along with the Turkish President Gül, also a fellow jihadist, had rushed to congratulate upon his success in rigged June 2009 elections. He said that Iran’s nuclear activities were “totally peaceful,” Iran was “being treated unfairly,” and allegations about a nuclear weapons program were “merely a gossip.” Criticizing the US invasion in Iraq, he added that “a civilization was destroyed there.” Not quite the kind of words you would expect to hear from a key NATO ally. In October of this year, Erdoğan flew to Teheran with a massive diplomatic and trade delegation to strengthen economic and strategic ties with the terrorist regime. In November, Ahmedinajad kindly reciprocated to Erdogan’s visit by attending an Islamic summit in Istanbul.
Pictures above: Brothers in jihad, AKP leaders Erdogan and Gul shaking hands with a mass murderer and a dictator.
AKP’s courtship with terrorist countries has not been confined to Iran and Syria: Erdoğan government speedily invited the leaders of Hamas to Turkey after the 2006 election victory of the radical terror organization in Gaza. Furthermore, Sudanese mass murderer Omar Al-Bashir visited Turkey twice in recent past and was welcomed by Gül at the presidential residence in Ankara. Ridiculing the international community, Erdoğan recently denied the genocide which took place in Sudan, asserting “I did not observe any genocide during my visit in Darfur.” He went on to shamelessly defend Al-Bashir: “A Muslim cannot be a mass murderer,” as in his opinion, murderers can only be Jews and Christians. AKP’s rapprochement to Sudan’s murderous regime has an economic component in addition to the common jihadist ideology: Newspapers report increasing investments in Sudan of Turkish Islamic businessmen with close ties to AKP. Nevertheless, nobody has bothered asking Erdoğan what he thinks about the Holocaust. The answer is obvious: He will most likely deny it. As a radical Islamist, he is anti-Semitic by nature and made public his sentiments about Jews in a speech to college students: “Jews have made significant inventions in history and now they simply sit back and watch their monetary returns from these inventions grow,” which can be translated to plain English as: “Jews are a bunch of blood-sucking leaches.”
Those who are still debating whether Turkey is really changing sides or not are either blind or ignorant: Turkey, under a jihadist rule, has already joined the global Islamic revolutionary front, while U.S. and EU kept looking on as apathetic bystanders. One of the main external drivers of this realignment has been the continuous rebuttal of Turkey by the European countries in its bid to join the EU, a prospect which had served as a key factor modernizing the Turkish society. I will handle this topic separately in another article. However, no matter what the causes, the West has an enormous problem at hand now. AKP’s policies will have far-reaching and serious implications for the US and the EU on several fronts, including but not limited to national security, war against terrorism, immigration, narcotics trafficking, nuclear proliferation and energy security. Thus, while preparing to face the adverse strategic impact of Turkey’s shift in the long term, Washington and Brussels must also brace themselves for more unpleasant surprises by the radical Islamic AKP regime in the short term.