Roots of Turkey’s Eurasian Tilt: Turexit

“Every terrorism incident and this coup attempt can be traced and linked to international power centers,” Aziz Babuscu, an AKP parliamentarian from Istanbul, told Al Jazeera. “There’s no need to name the international power centers…This is not the first time Turkey has been targeted by these centers in recent years.” He told further, “They developed a term for us during Ottoman times and called us the ‘sick man of Europe’. They would love for us to fit that definition now.” Babuscu’s contemplation of global power centers’ involvement without naming them is not just a conspiratorial plot. It has a substantial background which delves its present-day saga into World War I. The Sykes-Picot Act, signed on 16 May 1916 and also to be known as Asia Minor Agreement, was a secret understanding between the UK and France for drawing ‘spheres of influence’ to place Southwestern Asia under western iron fist. The ignominious defeat of Turks in 1918 along with the gluttonous partition of Ottoman Empire by then global greedy-guts France and Britain was an immediate aftermath of the hush-hush Sykes-Picot concord which is still mentioned when bleaky Middle East is to be torn apart by the IS’ doggone conflicts turning Sykes-Picot geographical infrastructure into tatters.

The July 15 lame coup that jolted Turkey between the vacillations of democracy and dictatorship for few hours has had some clues of simmering conflict between Turkey and the West particularly with the USA with whom Turkey’s relations have not been on amicable terms for a few years now. The dichotomy between Ankara and Washington upon how to cope with the IS’ monster and with the US’ support for the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria to augment its combat against IS has crept the waves of atrocious abomination in Ankara’s strategic mindset against Washington. Another source of friction between Ankara and Washington is the foreseeable extradition status of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish Muslim preacher who has been on self-imposed banishment in the US state of Pennsylvania since 1999, as being alleged conspirator behind the abortive putsch.  Erdogan’s fiscal reckoning of the EU especially after the Brexit, as a result of which the EU’s swift monetary slackening get Turkey unable to milk extra benefits from the bloc, drive him to weigh the new realities of the multi-polar world.

To “look East” is a new skyline of the Turkish foreign policy that let it to participate in Russia’s inchoate coalition of regional powers to blow the American idea of “second geopolitical Israel” of “Kurdistan”. Both Russia and Turkey are also enthusiastic about rejuvenation of Balkan Stream megaproject which will definitely gain vigor with China’s pairing of Balkan Silk Road high-speed rail project from Budapest to Piraeus, perhaps the most would-be multi-polar “go-too-far” to Europe. In a nut-shell, Turkey may perhaps expedite its multi-polar pivot by stabilizing itself with healthy economy so that it may cling to its Eurasian destiny. But the dilemma of increasingly assertive Turkey in switching itself from European to Eurasian manifest-destiny is that the flip-flop is too portentous to be ever envisaged especially in face of havocs wreaked by about-to-come US-impromptu hybrid warfare challenges: a replenished Kurdish insurgency, left-wing bullying, right-wing cleavage through Gulen’s color revolution, Daesh terror, dwindling economy, maritime proxy conflict via Greece and last but not the least coup d’etats. Stability means near-to-come Eurasian Turkey. So Uncle Sam creates such a chaos that Turkey is to be caught into hornets’ nest. Erdogan was not wrong when he said once that Daesh’s vicious object was to mutate whole Middle East into graveyard so that Israel might face zero-resistance in its outreach to holy land of Medina. The timing of coup, too, is very important. It was engineered precisely at the moment when Erdogan apologized to Putin over last-November Su-24 incident. The replacement of PM Davotaglu with Yildrim being former as formal scapegoat for the Su-24 shot down, Erdogan veritably crafted the “geopolitical indemnity blueprint” for weathering the storm under Russian umbrella in case if EU-US combined hostility draws him against the wall.

The new Russo-Turkish bonhomie is a forecast of the near-future in context of Turexit: Having eschewed its quest for the EU membership, if increasingly Eurasian Turkey goes one step further and leaves NATO, what will likely security repercussions for Turkey….what will be the politico-strategic consequences this Turexit will cast upon NATO’s future especially when John Kerry warns that using the coup as pretext to attain the real stimulus-crackdown on its detractors and undermine its democracy-could cost Turkey its NATO membership. The accusations of western media against Erdogan such as a “strategic liability”, an” irresponsible loose cannon”, a “reckless irresponsible ally” and a “fifth column”  are much more inauspicious. Now realistically if Turkey quits NATO, the security ramifications it faces are not colossal. Turkey is pacing to ameliorate its relations with Russia and Israel. The economic sanctions imposed on Turkey after Su-24 episode have already been lifted by Russia. But for NATO, the baggage of Turexit is too prodigious to be endured. Turkey’s armed forces in NATO are second largest after the US. USA and NATO would lose their five major military facilities in Turkey. If Turkey were to descent into chaos, the entire Europe has to bear the brunt of the IS. And last, Russia will be more intrepid to assert itself in the region finally aggravating the US’ strategic nightmare.

So the abortive putsch was the last failed bid to limit the slow-and-steady march of Turkey towards Eurasian destiny and to hang it within the Euro-Atlantic imbroglio. Mission failed. Welcome to the new bipolar assertive realignment with much more authoritative Erdogan. Perhaps the echoes of Huntington in terms of West versus the Rest are much more clamorous.

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