Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Wild Turkey, Part 33 1/3

These just keep coming up.  Now it's Daniel Pipes:
In a Middle East wracked by coups d’état and civil insurrections, the Republic of Turkey credibly offers itself as a model, thanks to its impressive economic growth, democratic system, political control of the military, and secular order.
But, in reality, Turkey may be, along with Iran, the most dangerous state of the region.
Pipes lists several reasons:

  • Islamists without any check on their power
  • A secular opposition that, if anything, is even more anti-West than the Islamists
  • Looming economic collapse
  • Escalating Kurdish problems
  • Picking a fight with Israel
  • Stimulating an anti-Turkish alliance
  • Asserting rights over Mediterranean energy reserves
  • Other international problems, mainly involving Cyprus and Syria
Many of these are not surprising.  Islamism and economic vitality generally do not go together.  Trying to become the new Gamal Abd al-Nasser or Saddam Hussein of the Arab world, whatever the other objections to such a policy, is exceedingly difficult when you're not Arab and when those who are Arab have bad "memories" of when your country did rule them.

This is a complicated web, even for Erdogan.  I've been puzzled as to why this anti-Western government would agree to host a NATO anti-missile radar system.  The answer to that particular mystery is Cyprus.  First, hosting such an important part of NATO's missile defense helps limit the countermeasures NATO can take if Turkey goes to the mat over Cyprus.  Second, remember that Russia sees NATO missile defense as aimed at them and has fought tooth and nail against its deployment (and, unfortunately, succeeded at least somewhat with Obama).  Russia, a historic rival of Turkey, is also supporting the Greek Cypriots, who like the Russians are primarily Orthodox Christians, against the Muslim Turks.  The anti-missile system is being used by the Turks here as a defense against the Russians.

Pipes' conclusion is ominous:
While Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu crows that Turkey is ""right at the center of everything," AKP bellicosity has soured his vaunted "zero-problems" with neighbors policy, turning this into a wide-ranging hostility and even potential military confrontations (with Syria, Cyprus, and Israel). As economic troubles hit, a once-exemplary member of NATO may go further off track; watch for signs of Erdoğan emulating his Venezuelan friend, Hugo Chávez.

That's why, along with Iranian nuclear weapons, I see a rogue Turkey as the region's greatest threat.

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