Stuck in a hard place
After eight years of intense fighting, shelling, and terrorist-hunting, the war in Syria seems to have come to a gradual end.
Unsurprisingly, France will play a bigger game on the ground than before, and Ankara is not really happy about that. So, let’s look at the circumstances that are giving President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a headache these days.
Ankara jumped in too quickly to support and celebrate the airstrikes launched by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. Once again, the Ak (Justice and Development) Party’s heavyweights have failed to bury the hatchet and see the bigger picture. When big powers come and bomb your neighbor, they send a message to the entire Middle East that this can be done in a very quick way, everywhere and anywhere, without consent from the United Nations.
Once a regional power openly expresses support for such a military action, who knows where the dominoes may fall. A better example on how to navigate in such a crisis is Jordan. The Kingdom of Jordan may have even helped the operation logistically, but the Amman government has kept silent and has kept its population and refugees away from daily discussions.
On the other hand, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said they were “pleased” and “satisfied” about the airstrikes in the blink of an eye. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim went even further by saying it may not be enough and that further action should be taken.
The Ak Party’s obsession to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by military means should really come to an end. Take a look at Doğu Perinçek’s newspaper Aydınlık and you can see the support for Assad on the streets of Damascus. Take a poll on the streets of Istanbul and you will get more support for Assad than the U.S. or maybe even more than the Ak Party
Erdoğan may have already seen the poll results, as he switched to bashing France and the U.S. by Monday afternoon, claiming they are like “sharks” when they smell oil in the region. Erdoğan and the Ak Party’s tacit support for the airstrikes may have eased tensions in the market by bringing the U.S. dollar to 4.08 from 4.20 last week. But make no mistake, this realignment with the U.S. will not make investors parachute to Turkey with their suitcases full of money.
Sadly, that is what Ankara desperately needs these days. When the current account deficit hit a record of 50 billion last year, Minister Nihat Zeybekçi claimed it was because Turkey had been importing its own gold from the United Arab Emirates. Durmuş Yılmaz, the former governor of the Turkish Central Bank and currently an MP for the İYİ Party, corrected him.
“The Central Bank’s gold reserves are in London. That transaction is a transfer, not an import/export. Mr. Zeybekçi also claims we pay gold for Iranian gas and oil but that is a payment, not an export/import. Either Minister Zeybekçi does not know how things work or he is mocking MPs,” said Yılmaz.
The elephant in the room is finally visible for everyone. Mr. Devlet Bahçeli has once again made history by calling for early elections in August 2018. He most likely sees the economic landscape worsening and his alliance with the Ak Party in deep trouble. He also sees the danger of the entire state apparatus collapsing right before his eyes. Will the AK Party-MHP alliance emerge victorious? It is difficult on all terms.
This summer will be hot indeed.