Why is the West kissing Erdoğan now?
We have been through many, many things in the past months, some of which have been unbelievable.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is highly praised; he is on the cover of Time magazine, and in almost every paper there is an article praising him.
Interestingly, this applause is coming from the Western world. We have gotten used to it coming from the streets of the Middle East, but now the wind is blowing differently. Relations between Washington and Ankara have escalated to a level of positivity never before seen. Obama frequently calls Erdoğan, treating the Turkish prime minister as if he were superman.
Just remember last year. You do remember, do you not, those days when the same Erdoğan was bombarded by criticism and viewed with skepticism by the same Western sources?
Do not forget the days when the prime minister was accused of shifting Turkey’s axis, of carrying the country away from a secular system to an Islamic Republic, of trying to implement Ottoman dreams. Remember the era when his admiration of Iran and hatred of Israel was pointed at, while articles in the Western media leaked poison about him. We all lived through the days when Turkey-United States relations were at the edge of an abyss.
So, what has happened? What passed to make the West take such a turn and start supporting Erdoğan?
[HH] Five decisions of Erdoğan changed everything
I can say a few decisions of the prime minister have created this huge change. Despite the fact that there is no change in Erdoğan’s stance upon those matters that were the target of criticisms, the view of the West changed. His Israel politics remained the same. His Iran stance did not change. Indeed, in recent months he has increased his criticism of the West even, dragging it through the mud, accusing it of not caring about the human factor and forming their policies in relation to oil interests.
Especially Washington and, in general, Western capitals have preferred to take their stances not over the Turkish prime minister’s speeches but over the concrete decisions he has made. These five steps of Erdoğan have changed the Western stance:
During the Libyan campaign, after the initial uncertainty, Erdoğan’s later joining the West camp.
His approval of the missile shield the U.S. had set up against Iran developed within the framework of NATO. This decision was considered as the most important and open proof of where Ankara stood – Iran or the U.S. – and has changed the general approach of Washington.
Assuming the leading role against the campaign against the Assad regime in Syria and proving an especially effective pressure.
Following a policy that favors Iraq’s territorial integrity but confronts Iran, demonstrating it will balance the region after the U.S. has left. In a TV interview in Cairo, his suggesting of democracy and secular system to Muslim countries has both surprised all Western capitals and also became an important factor in the change of their views.
I could add additional examples to the reasons I listed above, but these are the most outstanding. Unless a new and surprising development comes from the prime minister, it will be very difficult for today’s atmosphere to change.
In short, it is in Erdoğan’s hands for this wind to continue or change direction.