Reason will prevail…
Turkey is not one of those banana republics or any of the one-man-rule sheikhdoms of the Middle Eastern political geography and most of the criticisms directed at President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party aim to divert Turkey from walking down such an anti-democratic, indeed dictatorial, road.
Some people might object, raise eyebrows and underline that Turkey might go down the road to a second Selim-I-era type of imperial rule during which Turks not only took over the caliphate from the Abbasids but enhanced their territory by two-fold within eight years and transformed the country into a Sunni Muslim land. Selim I is also known by the Turks as “Yavuz,” which means “ferocious” and “resolute” in Turkish. Was it not during the Selim I era that Anatolia was compelled to become Sunni or else face death?
Anyhow as the Sunni obsession in the state governance of modern day Turkey might still be a conjectural nuance, the Turkish military is still strong enough to resist Turkey being swung into those dark ages, though it lost much of its might over the past decade of an anti-Kemalist pogrom applied under the pretexts such as the “Ergenekon” or “Sledgehammer” cases. Efforts of rapprochement between Turkey and Israel might be a factor of consolation. Despite all the oriental power-obsessed imperial hallucinations of the ruling Sunni Islamist clan and its continued alleged discreet support for the Islamist zealots in Syria and elsewhere, and at a time when the country has come to loggerheads with Russia, Turkey walking down a road of rapprochement with Israel shows reason can still prevail in some power dens of Ankara.
These are difficult times. Turkey perhaps has always passed through difficult times. Yet, there is no merit in being obsessed with conspiracy theories. The fact is that every country takes positions vis-à-vis regional or international developments in line with their own interests. In this geography, Israel and Turkey are doomed to remain strategic allies for obvious reasons. That does not mean, of course, that either would surrender to the other, but sensitivities of each other must be considered before taking an action particularly on regional security matters. Naturally, the state of Israel forgetting the very traumatic recent history of the Jewish people and applying similar policies on the Palestinians cannot be acceptable, let alone by Turks or by Israelis either. But by constantly bashing Israel, Turkey cannot achieve anything other than further alienating itself and its already problematic foreign policy.
Can a rapprochement with Israel be possible after the “brotherly” relations between Turkey’s strong man and Russia’s tsar went down the drain because of Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet – the first such confrontation since the March 3, 1918 Treaty of Brest-Litovsk? It was, of course, a great setback to decades of efforts to build friendly relations between Ankara and Moscow that in 2004 for the first time ever in 500 years saw a leader-level visit to the Turkish capital. Was Turkey pushed by someone else to down the Russian plane? Was Russia testing Turkey’s resolve and went too far? These and many other issues will be assessed when the propaganda aspects of the “thriller” development are cleansed with time and archives can shed light on what and how things evolved.
Hopefully, Turkey and Russia will understand at some point that this escalation of tension cannot be sustainable. A journalist friend – whose son married a Russian woman and has two beautiful daughters – was complaining the other day that the parents of his daughter-in-law would not be able to join them at their New Year’s Eve celebration because the charter plane they were to travel onboard was cancelled, like tens of other such flights on orders of the Russian government. In Antalya –and not only there– there are thousands of Russian-Turkish families. Forget the luggage tourism or cheap tourism opportunities along the hot Turkish Mediterranean coastline, there is a human dimension of the discord that no one should ignore.
Could Turkish Kurds achieve some sort of international legitimacy by opening a “trade office” or “political bureau” in Moscow under the current conditions in Turkish-Russian relations? Could back patting in Moscow amount to anything back in Diyarbakır or Ankara? Could a “self-rule” declaration in Diyarbakır help the “Kurdish cause” and could anyone achieve anything by saying “There will be a Kurdish state next century” because Russia received Selahattin Demirtaş at a foreign minister level?
It may take some time. Israel rapprochement might take several more months. It might take longer to soothe tensions and reorient the Turkey and Russia transatlantic towards the seas of normalcy. But reason will eventually prevail and opportunistic moves like that of Demirtaş and the so-called Diyarbakır convention will find themselves exposed in the cold.