Costas Iordanidis COSTAS IORDANIDIS

Meanwhile in the East

COMMENT

In this Saturday, Jan. 20 file photo, plumes of smoke rise on the air from inside Syria, as seen from the outskirts of the border town of Kilis, Turkey.

TAGS: Defense, Diplomacy, Politics

Turkey has for years been embroiled in turmoil, which has only intensified after the failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016.

Antagonism between the country’s Kemalists and Islamists has escalated into an all-out confrontation. Meanwhile, the ultranationalist party can be seen swinging between the two camps.

Suddenly, however, virtually all forces have rallied behind the president. And the military operation in northern Syria, which is aimed at destroying Kurdish forces in the area, has drawn passionate support from all Turkish parties – barring the Kurdish party.

To be sure, Turkey cannot serve as a role model of political behavior – either at home or abroad. It is nevertheless clear that Turkey, and particularly its political parties, have a solid understanding of the national interest; and they defend it with any means at their disposal – whether these be civilized or primitive.

In the case of Greece, political parties have in the past cited “reasons of national interest” (without bothering too much about the details) in their efforts to dissolve Parliament and call early elections.

Parties have for years abused the idea of the “national interest” for the sake of serving their own objectives. This has happened again now that the so-called “Macedonia” issue is back on the agenda.

Leaving aside concerns closer to home, the opportunistic policy adopted by Western powers in the Syrian civil war failed to take into consideration Turkey’s interests south of its border. In light of the fact that the country’s eastern areas have seen a decades-long bloody civil conflict against Kurdish separatists, it would be impossible for Ankara to disregard Washington’s decision to arm Syria’s Kurds. Similarly, it would be impossible for Turkey not to take action, with all available means, to avoid the creation south of its border of a Kurdish-controlled zone with access to the Mediterranean Sea.

The West, and the United States in particular, have over the past few decades gradually lost the preventive power they possessed during the Cold War.

Washington’s warnings are ignored by pariah-states around the globe, while expressions of Western “concern” will never stop the action of Turkey’s military forces in northern Syria.

Despite the rapprochement between Moscow and Ankara, Turkey will never leave NATO or be kicked out of it. Recent developments merely confirm the West’s policy deficit in the region.

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