Wednesday, October 8, 2014
JACK OF MANY STATES, SULTAN OF NONE. Ghassan Kadi
8 October 2014
As the once united Anti-Syrian Cocktail breaks apart, the Americans are now trying hard to save face in their attempts to be seen fighting terrorism. The gaff of the goof says it all, and for any whichever reason Biden made his anti-allies statement against Turkey and the Gulf States, and regardless how many apologies follow his statement, fact remains that the once united allies are falling apart as a result of their diverging common interests and concerns.
With or without its regional allies, America can no longer allows the IS to grow further and attain more power. It has to step in when the IS declared divorce and went for its own kill after Bandar’s failure to provide it with the Syrian throne. The Saudis on the other hand are now turning their concerns to the home front with the rising dissent to their rule and growing enormous support for the IS. Qatar’s role is waning as it gets isolated and even probably coerced into partaking in the US-led anti IS coalition.
Most of Syria’s enemies seem to be having a second take and redrawing the lines as they have been moved and misshapen by the outcome of the war on Syria and the rise of the IS. The only wild card now is Turkey.
Turkey seems to have a leg in every corner. Singling out only Syria as its enemy, Turkey has good relationships with both Israel and its arch-enemy Hamas. It supported the deposed Egyptian President Mursi and his version of Muslim Brotherhood, and despite his hostility towards the person of President Sisi, Erdogan remains popular in Egypt. Furthermore, notwithstanding its many historic incursions into Northern Iraq, Turkey somehow manages to keep rather good relationships with Iraq.
Turkey facilitated the entry of fighters and their supplies into Syria. With the recent developments in the last few weeks, Turkey did not take any measures to indicate that it was interested in joining the newly-formed US-led coalition against terror. This looks rather cynical given that countries as far as Australia have pledged support.
And even though the current Turkish government spearheads the inter-Muslim sectarian divide and fuels anti-Shiite passion, it managed to keep good relationships with Iran; something that admittedly casts a question about the willingness of Iran to reciprocate to such bond. It would be good to believe that both major regional powers are trying to work together on preventing an escalation of an all-out expanded sectarian war, but indications that Turkey continues to fuel that divide.
Furthermore, the state that was turned overnight by Ataturk from the capital of the Muslim Khilafet to a westernized secular nation that almost banned Islam, found it natural to join NATO later on. But even though Turkey is now headed by a rigid Islamist who has the aspirations of returning his nation to its former glory both as a regional power and as a super Islamic state, it is still a member of NATO. But this is not all, Turkey has good relationships with Russia.
There is little doubt that Turkey clearly sees that its Anti-Syrian allies are walking away from their joint war efforts empty-handed. Turkey however remains adamant to seek a win for itself out of the Syria war. As it wasn’t able to achieve much with its Qatari friends and co-sponsors, Turkey could well be gleefully watching the fire spreading under the hay within Saudi Arabia in the hope that the IS would remove Al-Saud from the throne. It is possible that Erdogan wishes for the IS to expand and take over Saudi Arabia. After all, an IS-based government in Arabia will round up most of the world to have it removed. Turkey’s advantage in such a scenario will arise from the sensitivity of Mecca and the Islamic Holy Land. Only Sunni Muslim soldiers will be able to have boots on the ground in Hijaz (the Western sector) and perhaps Turkey sees itself the perfect and only candidate for the task, thereby stretching its sphere of influence and control to most of the former Ottoman Empire.
Whatever Erdogan’s real intentions and aspirations are, sooner or later he will realize that he won’t be able to hold his cards close to his chest any longer. He will not be able to continue to remain silent and make advances on all fronts all at once. Somehow or another, he will have to jump. Should he decide to act militarily unilaterally, this good and balanced quote says it all:
“I could see NATO spurning Turkey's request for military intervention if Turkey unilaterally violates Syria's sovereignty. Such a probability would most certainly provoke a Syrian retaliation, and would draw Russia and Iran into the war, a scenario that NATO is unwilling and unable to sustain.” (Christopher Assad).