Turkey’s Strategic Blunder PDF Print E-mail

By forming an alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood instead of moderate Kurdish groups, Turkey is hindering the chances for a historic

peace deal with the Kurds and harming their country diplomatically, economically and politically.

 

Nov 09, 2014| Rachel Avraham

Abbas Sabah Ali, the chairman of the Finnish-Kurdish Friendship Society, stated in an interview with Turkish Israeli journalist Rafi Sadi that “Kurds in Turkey are furious at the government for failing to have done anything to help against the extremist organization ISIS in Kobane along the Syrian border.”

“Turkey should openly stop ISIS with the cooperation of the allied countries and with the Kurds,” Sabah Ali stressed. “They don’t have to be afraid of Kurdish autonomy. If this doesn’t happen, the future is going to be dangerous in the area. There will be more conflicts. The Turkish government will lose the trust of their own citizens. For example, Turkey lost the UN Security Council seat and in the future, they will lose a lot more.”

“Now, Turkey has the historic opportunity to resolve the Kurdish question as part of a peaceful political solution,” Sabah Ali emphasized, noting that the struggle against ISIS has the potential to unite Turkey and the Kurds against a common strategic threat if Turkey was merely willing to look beyond the differences that the two peoples possess in order to defeat a terror organization that poses a direct danger to both Turkey and the Kurds.

As it stands presently, either radical Islamists or the Kurds will control Northern Iraq and huge chunks of Syria close to the Turkish border. There are not many other viable options. Some Turkish analysts prefer to back the Muslim Brotherhood not out of love for radical Islam, but because they perceive that they aren’t as extreme as ISIS and they aren’t Kurdish. Turkey fears that if the Kurds are given control of huge chunks of Syria and Iraq, the Kurds within their own country will demand the same rights.

However, there are moderate Kurdish leaders, such as Sherkoh Abbas, who will be more than willing to look into the federation option or to have a Kurdish state only in parts of Syria and Iraq without claiming Turkish territory. These Kurdish moderates support democracy, human rights, world peace, and are diametrically opposed to all forms of terrorism and radical Islam. If Turkey would support them, it would decrease the influence of the PKK, help to de-radicalize the Kurdish community in Turkey, and to obtain Turkish-Kurdish reconciliation within their borders.

It would behoove Turkey to reconcile with the moderate Kurdish leadership and not to oppose Kurdish autonomy in Iraq and Syria. They are the only viable alternative to ISIS. The Turkish authorities should remember that ISIS is the same terror group that held 49 people hostage in the Turkish Consulate, who routinely persecutes the Turcoman community, threatened to harm the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire, and who declared the government in Ankara illegitimate, emphasizing they should be attacked.

The Muslim Brotherhood, who also possesses a radical Islamist outlook even if not as extreme as ISIS, is not a reliable partner for Turkey over the long term. Aside from the fact that radical Islam stands in opposition to Turkey’s Kemalist roots, they could also easily become an enemy in the future and Turkey’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood has contributed to the country facing diplomatic problems with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Israel, and the US. One day, it could potentially lead to Turkey getting booted out of NATO and could contribute to the establishment of oil and gas deals that bypasses Turkey, even though an oil and gas deal that is established via Turkey is the most economical option.

This could strengthen Turkey’s rivals such as Cyprus, Greece, and Russia at the expense of the country, as many in the international community would come to view Turkey as an unreliable partner in the region. To the contrary, an alliance with moderate Kurds opposed to ISIS, the Muslim Brotherhood and the PKK carries none of this baggage. Therefore, the current path that Turkey has chosen is a strategic blunder that could adversely affect Turkey economically, politically, diplomatically, and hinder all chances for a historic peace deal between Kurds and Turks.

The analysis is the author's personal opinion and does not reflect the opinions or views of JerusalemOnline.com

 

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