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BURAK BEKDİL

burak.bekdil@hurriyet.com.tr

BURAK BEKDİL > Dancing on a shark’s fin

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A couple of light years ago Turkey was proudly spearheading efforts to build what this column said would become “The Middle Eastern Steel and Coal Community,” with (almost) founding members Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Today, Jordan is the weakest and silent link in Turkey’s new pastime, deposing neighboring dictators; Turkey has declared Syria a “hostile country;” while Iraq has declared Turkey a “hostile country.” It’s as if time runs at a much faster pace in this part of the world.

In the meantime, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s biggest fans in the Middle East until recently, the (Lebanese) Hezbollah and the Palestinian liberation groups, have threatened to fight should the Turks intended to interfere in Syria.

Fortunately, everyone sighed with relief when the top Turkish military commander, Gen. Necdet Özel, said Turkey did not intend to declare war on Syria. Gen. Özel is a lucky commander, for his remarks, if they had been made a couple of years previously, could have been perceived as a military intervention in politics and, therefore, he could have been taken to court for plotting to overthrow an elected government.

Despite every visible failure, the illusions of grandeur in Ankara are still as visible as these failures. All that may bring about an additional workload to personnel at the Foreign Ministry as the number of news articles the staff must now hide from Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s attention is sharply increasing.
Most recently, Reuters started to play with fire. In an analysis on Turkey’s foreign policy, Reuters argued that “Turkey’s bark seems worse than its bite.” The wire service also wrote that: “Ask the Syrians, who shot down a Turkish reconnaissance jet on June 22 and got away with it. ... Ask the Israelis, who killed nine pro-Palestine Turkish activists on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara aid ship and got away with it.” The danger for Turkey, Reuters commented, is that [Turkey’s] truculence ... begins to look toothless.”

The potential sixth member of the Middle Eastern Union, Iran, no longer views Ankara as a Middle Eastern Brussels. Instead, for the Persians, the paint on the Trojan Horse has faded and now reveals the Crescent and Star. News reports say tourist arrivals in Turkey from Iran fell by 37 percent in the first four months of 2012 compared to the corresponding period of last year, and Tehran has not denied that it prompted Iranian travel agencies to avoid Turkey.

Mr. Davutoğlu may still think that it is a pure coincidence that only six days after Syrians (Syrians?) shot down the Turkish RF-4E, the Russian government’s food and quarantine authorities announced that they had detected 33 cases of infestation in Turkish fruit and vegetable exports to Russia. Mr. Davutoğlu better take the Russian threat of a trade embargo seriously since Russia is Turkey’s third biggest export market and fruits and vegetables account for one-fifth of all exports to that country.

If you add to this picture the fact that “football diplomacy with Armenia” now resembles a deserted stadium; that a casus belli against Greece remains hanging in the Aegean skies; that EU accession negotiations look like negotiations between two deaf and mute men; that the violent Kurdish conflict is now older than any Turk over 27 years of age but is still killing and that the joint Cypriot-Israeli efforts to explore for hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean risks a second Turkish casus belli, you can see how successfully Turkey has isolated Israel and pushed the Jewish state into complete solitude.

July/13/2012

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READER COMMENTS

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mara mcglothin

7/16/2012 5:03:24 PM

LION Well you theory didn't work! I am Western, Christian and I read this piece by Burak Bey and found it quite amusing. We don't issue "fatwas" in Christianity because someone joked about Jesus or drew an picture of him. We are able to maintain a sense of humor. So I'm still here. He well could have been a Kurd, who knows?

US Observer

7/13/2012 6:47:47 PM

I'm not following you Lion, if you are referring to one of his older pieces...I'm still not following...

The Lion

7/13/2012 5:41:50 PM

Hey watch, I can make all of Burak Bekdil's American & Greek disappear with a few words: Google "Opinion - Jesus Christ was a Kurd!" and click on the second link.

mara mcglothin

7/13/2012 4:12:34 PM

Kudos once again Burak Bey for providing me with some light on a Friday morning. Ditto JRC. FALK The Turkish government perceives all other countries as untrustworthy because they believe that they are all out for themselves just like Turkey. Somethings never change.

US Observer

7/13/2012 4:07:07 PM

Good article BB and you are correct in your inference Turkey's foreign policy is now viewed as a paper tiger. They have effectively taken the military threat out of their Diplomacy thus making it a much weaker nation. Sorry to see that happen. They need to find restraint with their rhetoric or back it up.

JRC JRC

7/13/2012 10:36:14 AM

"number of news articles the staff must now hide from Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s attention is sharply increasing.". Brilliant. Another good article from BB. It's to be hoped that those unable to accept any criticism of Turkey won't find their heads exploding.

DORUS LIVIS

7/13/2012 9:00:09 AM

Mr Bekdil's articles are always balanced. According to them turkish overconfidence lately has resulted to more aggressive policies that is against the doctrine of "zero problems" with neighbours. Turkey doesn't play "safely" anymore...

Johanna Dew

7/13/2012 6:43:19 AM

Dear BB I'm sure that not everybody understand the message (TR imaginary grandeur versus realty on the ground) and will start yelling as usual because their pride is hurt. Fortunate Turkey has sons like you who stands with booth feet in reality and is not carried away by loose fantasies. Bravo, an excellent piece of satire.

Falk Bernard

7/13/2012 5:05:30 AM

The problem is this: Turkey is dealing with untrustworthy countries. Iran, Greece, Armenia, Russia are clear examples.

The Lion

7/13/2012 12:20:26 AM

Yes, Bekdil because Iran and Syria aren't economically destitute nations on the brink of collapse right? Because armenia isn't tiny and poorer than most of Africa right? Because greece and its little sidekick aren't going to be economically toxic for centuries right? Because there isn't a trade imbalance with Russia which means Russia has more to lose right? Because Israel isn't being surrounded by Sunni Arab democracies (Egypt, Libya, Syria) that won't let them abuse them anymore right?
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