Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind
For a long time there was an assumption in Turkey that the ugly Americans and their British and French compatriots had some dirty imperial designs in the “greater Middle East and North Africa” and to achieve their designs they used Turkey’s political Islamists. That is, the assumption was that very much like the role played by Arab collaborators of Lawrence of Arabia at the time of the demise of the Ottoman Empire; Turkey’s political Islam was collaborating with the external factors trying to resign the geography through a pseudo Arab spring.
Apparently we were all wrong or at least such assumptions are no longer valid. While even the United States is talking of “limited punitive operation” on Syria’s Basher al-Assad regime, Britain is balking off and France is maneuvering to undertake a lesser role, the neo-imperials of Ankara are dreaming of some sort of Syria conquest. They want the West to act at least the way it acted on the Kosovo issue, as if the situation in Syria and Kosovo in the previous decade were the same.
Why is that? “To be more royalist than the king” says a Turkish proverb in describing such oddities. Why did the Turkish government start talking of war, one that will bring government change in Syria, while even Washington has been stressing any operation on the Arab country must be limited and surgical? Don’t the Ankara rulers know that headed by the U.S. all major Western powers are scared that forced removal of Assad and his Baath from Syria government would leave Syria to the hands of al-Qaeda or at least some Salafists?
Don’t Turks know that if the Syrian regime could not be somehow imploded and governance change achieved through a national reconciliation, it will explode and that explosion will be a catastrophe for a wider geography? Don’t Turks know that external aggression – with whatever purpose it might be unleashed – might act as a trigger to explode a regional war, if not a global one like the June 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by a Serbian nationalist and the subsequent July 1914 Austro-Hungarian punitive action against Serbia?
Does the Turkish prime minister really act with ideals and principles? Does he indeed brush aside national as well as individual interests in lending all out political and “logistical” support to political Islam-led movements in Egypt, Libya or in Syria? Is he indeed banking on the assumption that his pro-active solidarity with regional elements of political Islam of all sorts can be harvested in the 2015 presidential election or perhaps even at the upcoming mayoral polls in a few months time?
The prime minister and his political clan might be right in their raw expectations. The last time a Turkish government wanted to cash in on a war was in 1974 by Bülent Ecevit, the “conqueror of Cyprus” as he was then called… With the wind of the Cyprus operation for the first and last time in Turkish political history Ecevit collected over 40 percent of the vote for his Republican People’s Party (CHP). Since then, however, Turkey has been held hostage by the Cyprus problem. Could the Turkish political Islam use a war with Syria to get the prime minister elected president with over 60 percent of the vote?
Neither the premier nor his most-lectured foreign minister can make such shallow plans… They sure must know well that if they sow wind they can only harvest a whirlwind.