NEXT TROUBLE SPOT: TURKEY?

 

15 JUNE 2015

NEXT TROUBLE SPOT: TURKEY?

A partial loss by "Sultan" Recep Tayyip Erdogan Parliamentary in recent elections signaled only part of upcoming events in the Turkish Republic. There are signs of further developments which may place that crucially strategic country within the currently uncontrollable trouble spots.

As Prime Minister, Mr. Erdogan placed Turkey in the forefront of the region's decision-making. Its economy prospered to an unprecedented level. Senior officials from foreign countries became regular visitors. Turkey was generally perceived as one of the most stable countries.

As newly-elected President, Erdogan started ruffling several internal feathers, particularly with a personalized style of pompous announcements. The solid support for him, his style, and by association, the whole country, raised questions not only about his own ambitions of running the country imperially, but about his effective governance. Despite his unflinching devotion to Turkey, "Sultan" Erdogan may have not noted that internal fissures would open the gates of disagreement that would simmer gradually to reach an eventual boiling point. Most conflicts were misguided brinksmanship with untenable consequences.

Complicating factors include:

  1. the uncontrollable role of foreign subsidized fighters brought in through Turkish territory to Syria and Iraq;
  2. the persistent confrontation with the Turkish military establishment -- which some would claim intended to challenge the principles of the state built by General Ataturk;
  3. the growing parameters of Kurdish action stimulated on one hand by Islamic State takeover in Mosul, Raqqa, and Jisr Al-Shughur, and the ability to get them out of Kobani by post-merge (?) forces;
  4. a growing sense of autonomy amongst Kurds to establish their own region, encouraged by key foreign powers which earlier were more cautious not to provoke Mr. Erdogan;
  5. decrease in the amount of foreign financial input, like the unidentified $39 billion in extra investment dollars uncovered last year;
  6. the Syrian government and its allied would wish to reciprocate by injecting fuel in vulnerable flammable joints of the Turkish regime;
  7. as Turkish authorities facilitated passages for thousands of "Islamist" fighters to go to Syria and Iraq, it was obliged to allow millions of refugees to cross into its territory, either to stay in destitute camps, move along its towns (?), or seek to cross to Greece -- and Europe -- mostly through the nearby vulnerable island of Lesbos, leading to unforetold options;
  8. active supporters of Mr. Erdogan's new nemesis, U.S. resident Professor Gulen;
  9. rural popular discontent; and
  10. political adversaries seeking to exploit increasingly opening opportunities.

These are only certain elements raising the potential for increasing turmoil in Turkey. The rest is yet to come -- unless serious effective national reconciliation restores Turkey's healthy balance led by none other than President Erdogan, starting with members of his own party.


Bulent Kilic/AFP


Kadir Celikcan/Reuters