Daily Management Review

Tricky Turkish Game


After a suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowd of Kurds in the Turkish city Suruc, Ankara almost immediately named Islamic state as a responsible. But Tayyip Erdogan, expressed his condolences to the families of the victims, is accused of hypocrisy. Hundreds of Kurds took to the Taksim Square, chanting "Erdogan - an accomplice of murderers", and their representatives said that the president and the ruling party "support and cultivate the Islamic State, throwing it on the Kurds in Syria." Why is Turkey, participating in the anti-terrorist coalition against the Islamic State, accused in helping the Islamists?

Tricky Turkish Game
Once the first reports of the attack in Suruc came from Turkey, appeared many versions of who and why did it appeared. Among others, some parallels were drawn with the recent attack on a hotel in Tunisia - then Islamists attacked tourists purposefully trying to disrupt the holiday season in the country.

But it soon turned out that there were no foreigners among of the more than 30 dead and hundreds injured - only Turkish and Kurdish socialists and communists. Unlike Tunisia, in this case the terrorists were not intended to undermine the economy and scare away tourists. Visiting foreigners rarely deign Suruç their attention even before Syrian war: the town has no outstanding attractions, getting there takes quite a long time. Local authorities, realizing they are weak in tourist attracting, did not seem concerned to transfer the information about the city at least for some foreign language.

Turkish Suruç is just ten kilometers from the Syrian Kobani, where stubborn battles had not been stopped from September 2014 till January 2015: forces of the Islamic state stormed the city, turned into a real fortress by the Kurds living there. The battle ended with the defeat and retreat of the Islamists. In Suruc, where tens of thousands of Syrian refugees found temporary shelter, Federation of Socialist Youth (SGDF) held a press conference on the reconstruction of Kobani’s infrastructure. When the participants of the meeting came to the cultural center’s park to be photographed, a bomb exploded.

Turkish authorities named the perpetrators almost immediately. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that Islamic State used a suicide bomber for the attack. President Erdogan expressed his condolences to the families of victims of the terrorist attack. However, the words of Erdogan were not satisfying for relatives and friends of those who died: it was the complicated political game of the Turkish President that led to the thundering explosions in the border cities.

Prior to the "Arab Spring", the relations between Ankara and Damascus were more than warm. Turkey, aspiring to be a regional leader, tried using the Assad regime to increase its influence in the Arab world, including earn credibility on the participation in the settlement of the Palestinian question. Given that at that time the headquarters of Hamas was in Damascus, it can be done only through Syria. In turn, the Syrians tried to weaken the role of the Turks through Saudi Arabia and put pressure on Israel in order to regain the Golan, and to benefit from the same solution of the Palestinian problem. The economy was hand in hand with politics: Turkey received light industry products from Syria, instead supplying the electricity needed for the development of the Syrian economy. In addition, Erdogan and Assad had close personal relations: the two leaders were friends, their families were vacationing together often and even called each other brothers.

"Arab Spring" caused a shock in Turkey: regimes in the Arab countries, rolling in like a house of cards, forced Ankara to urgently reconsider its foreign policy strategy. Under time pressure and confusion, Turks were late to react to the events taking place, in fact losing Libya and Egypt to their rivals - the Saudis and Qatar. But by the time the wave of "Arab Spring" spread to Syria, Turkish politicians have changed their priorities and developed as they felt certain strategic line: rate at moderate Sunni Islamists interested in the implementation of the "Turkish model" and aimed at union with Ankara.

After the Turks were unable to convince Assad to provide a place dominated by moderate Islamists, Ankara started undeclared war against the Syrian regime. Turkey has skillfully used its geographical position: weapons and replenish for the opposition are delivered through its territory to Syria. Ankara supported the moderate Syrian free army: its militants were trained in the camps on the Turkish territory, Turkish instructors guide the actions of groups of PAS.

However, the Assad regime has appeared stronger than anticipated, and the Turkish strategy stalled. According to analytics, Ankara disappointed with their allies from the CAS. "The regime Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided that the government of Bashar al-Assad's collapse, Turkey and Saudi Arabia and Qatar to quickly share the prey. In Syria, Turkey had to get gas and oil pipelines and, apparently, some pieces of territory. Instead, Erdogan received a civil war among neighbors and a couple of millions of refugees on its territory. And now the Turks are betting on themselves, because their bet on the Syrian free army failed, their dreams that they will coordinate activities with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and the fighting forces of the opposition, agreeing with each other, stop killing as a result, and remained dreams.

In this situation, Damascus managed to even strike back, resuming feeding money and weapons to the PKK and the Shiite organizations in Turkey. But the most successful step of the Syrian authorities was the provision of a broad autonomy to the Kurds, which automatically turned them into allies of the regime against the Islamists, put a barrier in the way of a possible Turkish invasion and at the same created a source of constant headache for Turkey. As a result, the idea of Turkish intervention, popped a couple of years ago, died of itself. Direct invasion of Kurdish-populated and the controlled land would be a protracted guerrilla war, which would quickly spread to the territory of Turkey.

It looks like Turkey fears the open use of force against any of the parties in the Syrian war. Ankara has long wanted to get involved in the Syrian conflict, but it is not prepared to intervene alone, and to participate in international operations, Turkey puts forward a condition - to remove the Assad regime. Only then Ankara is ready to fight the guerrillas of the Islamic State. While this condition is not satisfied, Turkey does not want to join anti-islamic action.
Now, the Turkish leadership is forced once again to change its foreign policy strategy - and, it seems, Ankara is seriously considering a bet on Islamic State in the absence of other major powers. The Islamists are able to supply Turkey with necessary resources, conduct Ankara’s policies. With their help, Erdogan’s government will finally be able to solve the Kurdish problem that became painfully familiar.
It's still a big question, what is the Turkish role in what is happening with the Islamic state and why Turkey is the main buyer of oil delivered by Islamic State. Why MIT (National Intelligence Organization of Turkey) and other Turkish special services are helping Islamic state with arms, why militants pass through the Turkish border. There is many questions. As matter as a fact, hey have a direct relationship with the IG, and at the same time are in the camp of the formal anti-terrorist coalition.

The Turkish authorities are playing a dangerous game, trying to find a foothold in the chaos, which overwhelmed Syria - not least thanks to the policy of Erdogan. But, as history shows, even clever combinations often have the weakest link, and the whole plan collapses. It is possible that Ankara flirting with Islamists eventually outsmart itself - as has already happened once, when Turkey got the conflict near its borders instead of a friendly secular regime.

source: lenta