Turkey: The crossroads of world future. An ancient empire between Assad, Kurds and Islamic State

There is one special country, influencing the Middle Eastern region in many critical ways, even holding the future of our world in their hands these days: Turkey, a direct successor of famous Ottoman empire, which made many steps towards fully democratized and secular state in the past, becoming an example for other adjacent countries and regimes, which was hoped to be followed during so called Arab Spring in 2011, but these hopes didn’t fulfill, on the contrary: sectarian violence spread through the Middle East, with vast consequences for the region and the world. Still, without any doubts, Turkey has the peace in the Syria and Iraq in their hands: however, matters are too complicated to be solved so simply and soon, as Turkey is influenced by internal problems and of course outside threats, as the Islamic State, or Daesh, in the first place. Plus, there is a critical question of continuation of Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, which makes many important questions for the future still unanswered.

For decades, Turkey pursued for membership in the European Union, to become a part of European structures, and European Affairs. There was always a strong connection: the strong Turkish community in Germany, which was established during post-war renovation of West Germany, when Turkish workers were invited to help in necessary construction works, and later, they brought their families into the country as well. Also, Turkey became an early member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1952, and represents an important ally of the U.S. interest in the region.

Still, this effort of Turkey was not successful yet, allegedly blocked by Germany and Austria at the first place, even if this country, with her substantial population of 80 million citizens and working democracy feels fully entitled to become a part of Europe, and contributed widely for establishing and keeping the peace in the region, in the past and today.

The current complex and extremely complicated situation in the Middle East brings many large opportunities but also critical threats for Turkey, that are hard to resolve, and the future is the most uncertain. There is a dangerous of foursome of Turkish close and direct neighbours, which are influencing its borders, and the overall security and integrity of the country:

Firstly, an eternal internal affair, the Kurdish community of about 15 millions people, which pursue for larger autonomy, or even their own state. But the Turkish government claims, that their autonomy is sufficient, and widening it is not a priority. The powerful struggle of the Kurds for autonomy and rights changed even to decades of eternal armed struggle and guerilla warfare, and the left-wing PKK, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which lead the resistance, and were designated as a terrorist organization, continues to struggle to these days.

But as the Islamic state arose in the region, matters became yet more complicated. The PKK started to fight the Islamic State, or Daesh, pushing from the south, but still, they practically remained in armed conflict with Turkish government, so they became trapped between two adversaries, which was quite an advantageous situation for Ankara. There was even a suspicion, that Ankara even deliberately supports Daesh, in order to get the PKK into lethal pincers.

But ironically, the Kurds are protecting the southern border of Turkey against growth of the Islamic State, and their reputation as fighters against the Islamic State is extremely high, including their female combat troops. Anyway, from certain point of view, this situation brings many advantages for Turkish government, and no wonder, that the adversity between both parties became yet stronger, keeping the country in an eternal political and social tension, even close to a civil war.

The Islamic State infiltrates long borders of Turkey with Syria and Iraq, measuring about 1300 kilometers, quite easily: there is simply no possibility to keep such long border protected by any Military. And the IS operatives commit various crimes in Turkey, jeopardizing its internal security and yet worsening the relations between government and Kurds. For example, October 2015 Ankara bombings, directed against peaceful rally of people against continuation of fight between PKK and the government, made national tensions yet higher, which is an advantageous situation for the Islamic State, to keep the country destabilized.

The Islamic state gains many advantages from this situation, and one thing is completely clear: in order to defeat Daesh, if such thing could be still possible, it would be absolutely necessary to solve the conflict between Turkish government and Kurds at first, otherwise there can be no hope for peace in the region.

However, Turkish government sees the situation quite differently, claiming, that the key factor for peace and stability in the region is removing Bashar al-Assad Syrian regime once and forever: allegedly, only then the IS can be defeated militarily.

In this moment, considering extremely complicated situation in Syria, where maybe hundreds of factions are fighting for power for years, supported by superpowers, so a new Cold war emerged there, plus of course the Islamic State issue, it is clear that the real challenge for Turkey isn’t Assad, but their own internal relations they refuse to solve. Although officially they welcome Kurds for negotiation, in practice, nothing ever changes, from the view of Kurds, so the struggle continues, bringing more and more instability into the region, which was followed by massive influx of refugees.

Turkey declared the policy of open borders, allowing millions of refugees from Syria to come, to get a protection. But this matter exhausts the state budget quite considerably, not speaking about security risks for Turkey, and worsened public opinion. If the war will last for years… what will be the fate of those refugees that can’t return to their home country? Will they be entitled to receive the Turkish citizenship, or are they condemned to live in a refugee camp forever? What about their human rights?

But allegedly, Turkey is not a primary source of the current influx of refugees, into Europe and particularly Germany, starting so called 2015 refugee crisis. The Turkish government claims that only 30% of those refugees comes from Turkish refugee camps, and 70% from Jordan. Anyway, the option that refugees from Turkey will start their journey into Europe to get better life is more than probable, even inevitable, as the time will pass by, and boredom and desire for better living conditions will enter the camps in large. It can’t be neglected, that by entering of Russia into the Syrian war, the conflict can last for several more years at least. And imagine, that for that whole time, you would have to live in a tent refugee camp somewhere…

As Turkey always massively suggested that Assad has to be removed from ruling, to stop the atrocities against Syrian civilians, and now Russia came to help Assad with their air force and Military, the Middle Eastern conflict seems to be graduating yet more, as the Syrian insurgents, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), are backed by the U.S., and Assad is now backed by powerful Russia. Plus, there are other important players: Persian Gulf states with their incredible amount of money from the oil production, and of course China, current No. 1 superpower that can’t be excluded from Middle Eastern affairs.

And all those clashes and conflicts, eternal wars for local power and territory, it all makes the Islamic State yet stronger and stronger. The Caliphate is advantageously positioned in the middle of things, acquiring much power – not speaking about their continuos effort to spread their influence yet more, for example using propaganda, Psychological Warfare, Gender Warfare or alleged extortion of European VIP families, plus many more dangerous measures for world stability and peace.

Anyway, one thing seems completely clear: to establish peace in the Middle East, it has to start in Turkey, by resolving the Kurdish matter. But there seems to be no will or possibility to achieve this basic goal – so the conflict still continues, getting more and more critical for the future of the world, and the Islamic State is still here, stronger than ever, as the other parties are exhausting each other, and this power vacuum is quickly filled by Daesh.

The future of the world is currently in the Turkish hands, and they know that. Who knows, whether they don’t use this situation to fulfill their old dreams about their high world importance they deserve, or even about supremacy in European Affairs? In fact, Turkey is the most important country for the fate of Europe as well.

But the strong Kurdish community can’t be excluded from this influence too. Maybe the United Nations (UN) should listen to their cause more, helping them to acquire their own state, and only then, maybe, there will be a peace on the horizon in the Middle East. But Turkey can’t allow this… and the circle, leading to eternal war and conflict, closes again.

The Turkish ambassador in Czech Republic, His Excellency Ahmet Necati Bigali, is a diplomat who presents himself rather soft and understanding, talking about achieving peace in the region in the first place. He doesn’t avoid talking about the Kurdish cause as well, but he only repeats the official stance, that “they have enough autonomy. They can use their language, they even have their own TV channel.”

The ambassador insists on removing Assad from power, to achieve peace in the Middle East. But what will be then? Who will rule in Syria? Who is entitled to it, who will be accepted? Wouldn’t such change become just another reason for a next wave of massive violence? “The democratic principles should be applied, and our country will gladly become an example for Syria. We are ready to help them.”

It has to be said, that the Ambassador’s expressions bring nothing new into the matter, and one thing is sure: with this a little bit idealistic approach, the conflict in the Middle East will last for many years yet, and it won’t end, before Kurds will get their own state as they want. Only then can the Islamic State be defeated – but not sooner. And the longer the Daesh will exist, the more it will become, spilling into the world, blending with local population, supporting similar internal unrests, like in Turkey, by commiting similar terrorist attacks, as in Ankara.

Instead of watching and studying Syria, an unsolvable riddle, the world should put his eyes to the north. Because there is a key to everything that concerns our sustainable future.

More detailed insider information, acquired directly in Turkey, including interviews with important representatives of both sides about these issues, critical for the world future, will be brought to subscribers of The Truth About Middle East VIP Exclusive Series soon.

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Alan Svejk - alansvejk@alansvejk.com