EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Turkey poses a long-term threat to the security of the Middle East. Containing Neo-Ottomanism requires a defensive policy that integrates Greece, Cyprus, Israel, and the Kurds into a regional alliance.
By Dmitri Shufutinsky
SOURCE: BESA Center, Perspectives, Paper No. 1,149, April 23, 2019
A new era has dawned in the northern Levant. The Republic of Turkey has left behind its Kemalist, secular foundations in pursuit of Islamist, authoritarian governance. The Justice & Development Party (AKP), headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has alienated the US, Israel, and the EU and abandoned the country’s pro-Western and NATO credentials.
The AKP has adopted a neo-Ottoman policy of imperialism, seeking to usurp the position of “leader of the Muslim World” from Saudi Arabia. In colonial language reminiscent of Mussolini’s fascist Italy, Erdoğan has threatened to conquer the Greek Isles, Cyprus, and the Levant. He has taken concrete steps toward advancing this vision, despite alienating European and Arab allies.
Some analysts have called for maintaining ties with Turkey in the hope that the AKP government will fall and relations with a more moderate leader can resume. But this is wishful thinking.
Despite poor showings in local elections and a recent poor economic performance, ultra-nationalist and neo-fascist organizations like the Grey Wolves have been emboldened since the AKP’s rise.
The AKP has also sought to Islamize the still-secular North Cyprus, turning the conflict from an ethno-national one into a religious one. Ankara has hopes of changing the peace process in Cyprus from one of reunion with equal rights to a two-state solution. This would be the pretext for an eventual annexation of the island (or at least its northern portion).
Given Ankara’s increasing interference in the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean, it is necessary to build and strengthen a multilateral mechanism among the region’s most affected states and “statelets” to contain it.
The US is already providing major support to both the Kurds in Syria and the burgeoning “Axis of Antiquity” of Greece, Israel, and the Republic of Cyprus.
The Kurds and the eastern Mediterranean coalition have a common interest in challenging Erdoğan’s hegemonic ambitions and protecting their sovereignty. These actors – perhaps with guidance from Washington – must iron out a cohesive plan to make it happen. CONTINUE READING BY FOLLOWING THE LINK