Erdogan’s “Great U-Turn’’

Erdogan proved that he is a great tactician, even more interest-oriented than Kissinger or even Machiavelli. Erdogan used the same real-politik as Kissinger.

Turkey’s new prime minister, Binali Yıldırm, speaking about his new government program, said that “Turkey will win back its neighbors,’’ which was actually the last nail in the coffin of former prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s principle of “zero problems with the neigboring countries.’’ The rise and fall of Davutoglu’s “strategic depths’’ policy ended with the historic U-turn of President Erdogan signing the treaty with Israel not to “normalize’’, but to return to the status quo as it was before the Davos incident more than six years ago. Israel is certainly the winner of this situation as the “anti-Israeli policies’’as well as the “Israel bashing’’ policies of Turkish governments came to an end. President Erdogan’s not “tactical but strategic’’ retreat from the former policies will have domestic as well as international implications.

With this “great U-turn,’’ Erdogan proved that he is a great tactician, even more interest-oriented than Kissinger or even Machiavelli. Erdogan used the same real politik as Kissinger. Kissinger once said, “America does not have friends, America has interests.’’ It is now Erdogan who says that Turkey has no friends, but only interests. The Israeli case has also been the end of Turkey’s “articifial Israel enmity.’’ In domestic politics, the radical Islamist groups are waiting for their day of revenge with Erdogan because they feel that they have been betrayed and “sold’’ to Israel. But Erdogan is also like Shimon Perez, with whom he clashed in Davos, where Erdogan told him that the Israelis know well how to kill, and who answered the question about whether he is angry with Erdogan by saying: “I am always looking to future relations, not to the past.’’ This is exactly what Erdogan is doing! He stopped claiming to be the leader of the Islamic world after signing this treaty with Israel.

What motivated Erdogan was this: Today Turkey needs Israel more than ever as article 7 of the treaty envisages “more exchange of intelligence’’ because Turkey’s number one problem is the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and ISIS terrorism and without the “Jerusalem connection’’ it is very difficult to deal with ethnic and religous terrorism. President Erdogan became more “secular’’ in this respect, and he would not have difficulty convincing the Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters that he has done right!

Israel was Turkey’s close ally until the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident and provided Turkey with high-tech weapons and knowhow. Presidents Erdogan and Netanyahu do not sympathize with each other, but Erdogan received the apology from Netanyahu with the help of President Obama two years ago. Now, the future Turkish-Israeli relations look more promising than ever. The exchange of ambassadors soon will also strengthen diplomatic relations. Turkey, Israel and Egypt will have similar relations like in the 1990s , fighting against Islamist terrrorism. Erdogan’s determination to fight ISIS jointly with the West is a prime example, and Turkey will continue to be the “main target’’ of ISIS terrorism in the future. The deal between Turkey and Israel deserves a deeper analysis, but for now: Israel is the winner, and Turkey is the compromise maker.

Using “letter diplomacy,‘’ Erdogan has apologized to Russian President Putin after just seven months! But it was also the most expensive apology Turkey has ever made in its modern history. Russia proved to be a good neighbor, and so Turkey will improve relations after the “badly managed crisis of last November,’’ when Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet.

President Erdogan’s “second U-turn’’ policy will pay off, to Turkey’s advantage. Turkey has lost more than 35 billion dollars, and Erdogan as a “political animal’’ could not hold out any longer, so he ended his “ignorance’’ abruptly. “Whatever has been said is already the past; we have to say something new today,” said the great 13th-century philosopher Mevlana. President Erdogan has already forgotten what he said to Russia and is looking to new relations with Russia, including on the Syrian issue, in the future. “Coordination with Russia will continue’’ said Foreign Minister Çavusoglu after he met with his Russian counterpart Lavrov. Yes, Turkey is no longer “the locomotive of the events in the Middle East but the bandwagon, and it is no longer the ‘consciousness” of the Middle East. President Erdogan won the “old chaps’’ back, but Turkey paid a very high price for this “experiment.’’ Was it really necessary? The problem was that Erdogan and his people did not listen before. Now, the zeitgeist told them what to do!

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Note of the Month March 2019

Turkey’s Local Elections of March 2019


Following very intensive and sometimes dirty campaigns Turkey has finally voted for the local administrations. The results are good for both sides. The AKP who currently holds the majority in the parliament won the local elections by 44% of all the votes. AKP established an alliance with MHP, who gethered 7% of the votes. So together they have more than 51% of all the votes. However, that alliance is not completely happy with the results as they have lost the central municipalities in three major cities of Turkey, namely Istanbul, Ankara and İzmir. In all of those cities the main opposition party CHP succeeded to win the elections. CHP gathered 30% of all the votes and this can be considered as a major success as they increased their votes by 7-8% since from the last elections.

For the last two decades the party in power, AKP and President Erdogan appered to be the undisputed winners of all possible elections but in that election the oppostion found a great motivation for the future as winning the major cities were the main goal for all the parties.

The elections were held relatively in peace. There were couple of unwanted events around the country but for a poplulation of 50 million voters this can be considered normal.

During the campaigns President Erdogan again showed a tremendous performance for the good of the party in power. He sometimes held 8 meetings in one day and appeared on live television debates at the same day. The opposition did not like the fact that a President is working with all the facilities and power of the state for the good of AKP. The opposition tried to stay calm and did not want to increase the tension during the campaign and the increase in their votes shows that it was the proper tactic for the opposition parties. Very high unemployment rates and weak economic performance of the last year together with very high inflation rate helped the opposition to win the elections at major cities.

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