Turkey must look for its own interests

Turkey must look for its own interests

In response to the question of why U.S. President Donald Trump made such a mindless move on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, sensible people have drawn attention to his domestic political plans.

Why did Trump do this at a time when the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) is almost cleared from the Middle East?

Retired Turkish Ambassador Ünal Çeviköz has suggested that Trump may be trying to fuel the Arab-Israel conflict again so that it can be an opportunity for him to strengthen the backing of far-right supporters in the U.S. and the Israel lobby.

Those groups are certainly thankful to Trump for his Jerusalem step – a step taken by no other president before.

Populist mindset

While Trump is making political plans, outrage against the U.S. will increase and radicals in the Middle East will only get more hawkish.

Trump’s mindless decision seems to be based on personal political interests. In his slim recent book “What is Populism?” academic Jan-Werner Müller writes about the authoritarian and ego-centric personalities of various populist leaders.

Müller describes the mindset of Trump as follows: “Trump is the only representative of the nation ... Those who are against Trump are imposters, lack patriotism, and are liars and self-seekers.” Whatever Trump does, he does it to make America great again.

Müller argues that “clientelism” - viewing voters as clients - is particularly prevalent among populists everywhere.

Economy is important

The world - and more importantly the Middle East – look set to experience more turmoil in the coming period.

Of course, Turkey cannot neglect the Jerusalem case. Ankara’s reaction must be active and effective.

But Turkey’s priority should always be Turkey. Ankara must be very careful not to do the country any harm while embracing the Jerusalem cause.

We have serious problems in Turkey too.

In a recent article, economist Selva Demiralp wrote about how S&P Global Ratings recently declared Turkey as being among the world’s most fragile five economies, along with Argentina, Pakistan, Egypt and Qatar.

The Turkish Lira is one of the currencies that have lost the most value in recent months.

Turkey was also on the same list two years ago, together with South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia and India. However, those countries have overcome the crisis in the two years since and their money has been gaining value.

Of course, Turkey has been through severe turbulence, including a series of terror attacks and the July 2016 coup attempt. But let’s not forget that before then we were among the “most fragile” two years ago too.

Where are we heading?

Experts have been warning Turkey to be careful with the economy since 2011.

“Only building more luxury shopping malls and houses with foreign loans, without increasing industrial production, may lead Turkey into a dead end,” former Foreign Minister Ali Babacan warned back on July 23, 2014.

Indeed, we must try to accurately forecast the future by analyzing the course of events. We must form today’s policies with an awareness of the future.

Unfortunately, Turkey’s political strife does not seem to be anywhere near ending. And the country’s rapidly multiplying foreign problems are also apparent.

Taha Akyol, hdn, opinion