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Opinion

Turkey moves east, away from Western allies

Catherine Shakdam

Developments in Syria have forced Turkey to move away from the policy of its Nato allies and closer to Russia against whom President Erdogan had committed numerous acts of aggression.

Regardless of what one may think of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s style of governance or his Ottomanesque ambitions to revive the Sultanate, it has become evident that he is a pragmatic politician when faced with fast-paced changes.

Sitting atop very powerful geopolitical fault lines Turkey has long figured as an important pawn in the greater Eurasian-Middle Eastern bloc — a critical key to the unlocking or exacerbating of conflicting hegemonic ambitions. Today Turkey is defiantly looking east, no longer slave to the attraction Western capitals may once have held over a tentatively occidental Turkish state. Ankara had to be wrestled into accepting that its future rests not in the hands of its Western patrons but in that of the rising axis of resistance, headed primarily by Iran and then Russia.

As Syria continues to regain control over more parts of its territory flushing Wahhabi-inspired militants out, Turkey had to execute a dramatic political shift or risk losing its head. Despite the dirty little geopolitical secret nobody wants to talk about for fear of exposing the Western regimes’ alliance with terrorism in the name of empire-building and balkanisation, Turkey is nevertheless the “one that got away” and quite literally unravelled America’s war dynamic in the Levant.

One must pay tribute to the foresight and political wisdom both Russia and Iran have demonstrated in forging an alliance that would not only reaffirm Syria’s sovereign territorial rights but anchor the people’s intrinsic right to resist tyranny whatever form it takes. A lot can be said of those who choose to stand upright when standing is in fact the most difficult thing to do.

Turkey appears to have learned that for all its imperfections and assumed weaknesses, the Levant had yet to abandon its right to live free under its skies. That, we would do well to remember, is the very dynamic that not only broke the military impetus of America’s empire but forced others to rethink their positions within the region.

Without a single shot being fired, without even a grand military standoff against regional rivals, Turkey opened its doors and allowed for change to manifest in favour of peace and against terror. For the first time since 2011, peace in the Muslim East is no longer a distant mirage but a distinct reality. It is being conceptualised by a new brand of politicians, under the premise of collaboration as opposed to military diktat.

And though many may still view such a changed paradigm as tentatively fragile, one must understand that those very dynamics that allowed for Syria and Iraq to withstand terror’s assault, as unleashed and crafted by the Western elite, are anchored in a political system that gravitates around such principles as liberation, sovereign empowerment, justice, and pluralism.

Here, one must look beyond Western-engineered political bias and realise that this pull toward the East is in fact a direct result of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. It was then that its people led by Imam Khomeini decided to opt out of the Western global agenda to reclaim their heritage and seek guidance from the divine source that is the only true guidance. Failing to appreciate the role played by Walayah Faqih (Governance of the Jurist), as put forward by the late Imam Khomeini, will only blind analysts to those realities on the ground that are decisively shaping the region’s future.

This is not to say that all Islamic movements in the Greater Muslim East will adopt Iran’s system of governance, only that Iran created space for other movements to define their political future away from the domination of imperialism, Zionism and globalism.

But back to Turkey! Turkey here really serves as a cautionary tale against Western diktat. If not for Erdogan’s insistence on serving his Western masters, Turkey would not have seen its borders breached by hordes of ferocious Wahhabi-inspired radicals. In fact, one could argue that Erdogan brought the mess he finds himself in upon his own head. He tried to play terror as an asymmetrical weapon of war against Syria in the name of territorial ambitions and profits ultimately allowing for radicals to infiltrate and corrupt Turkey’s socio-political fabric, thus weakening its seat of government.

Erdogan was in fact hijacked by his own greed. But reason and cold pragmatism have a way of waking up even the most stubborn of politicians. Erdogan is most definitely awake now. Turkey is facing several internal and external risks, which have prompted Ankara to change its policies toward the conflict in Syria and other regional issues.

“Turkey is prone to external intervention” and it is “vulnerable to colour revolution,” he told PressTV’s “Top 5” program. That realisation prompted Turkey to change not just its position but its political tone as well.

Ankara has now acknowledged it can no longer insist that Syrian President Bashar al-Asad must leave power as a precondition for peace talks. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said in comments to the press in Davos on January 20 that a settlement without President al-Asad was not realistic.

If not out of conviction, Turkey is nevertheless coming to terms with the new reality that the Axis of Resistance has manifested on the ground in opposition to Western-sponsored terrorism.

“A failed military coup to overthrow the Turkish government on July 15, 2016, its aftermath as well as recent [the] wave of terrorism taking place in the country have been effective in changing [the] minds of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his cabinet toward regional issues including the conflict in Syria,” said Duff.

With Turkey acutely aware that its national interests lie with Russia, Iran, and beyond that with China, the Muslim East of today looks a very different place indeed than a few months ago.


Article from

Crescent International Vol. 45, No. 12

Jumada' al-Ula' 04, 14382017-02-01


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