The Middle East, Political Islam, the changing foreign politics and the coup

By: Merve Şebnem Oruç*

Before the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey, I had started to write an article series named, “The Middle East, Political Islam and the changing foreign politics.” I was preparing to write about the possible scenarios in the third and last article after evaluating why Turkey was so socially and politically affected by, and had to change its foreign politics with, the start of the Arab Spring in 2010, and continued with the turbulences in the Middle East. It seemed that a coup was on its way. As we had mentioned once in a while, the risk of a coup was always there, and it was especially desired by the foreign media. But it wasn’t easy to guess that this was actually the next move.

If we summarize the first two articles: Turkey was pushed towards changing its foreign politics in the Middle East after a long and tiring wrist wrestle. And thus it was inevitable for Turkey not to change its tactics. In the first article, I had touched upon the role of Islamism and then the civil war and the effects of terrorism in Syria in the following article. The fact that the necessary actions needed to be taken in Syria being delayed was an important factor in civil war moving into the borders of Turkey with the help of terrorist organizations. Being weak in the international media arena was one of the most important reasons we couldn’t properly express our human aid efforts in the Syrian refugee crisis. Our suspicions that once sounded like conspiracy theories to some have now proved that they weren’t just that. For example, the Turkish Armed Forces members who were dealing with the Syrian issue were all FETÖ members, and they were clearly acting in accordance with the wants and needs of the U.S. Government instead of working for the benefit of their own country. Certainly, the FETÖ members had the upper hand in terms of foreign media contacts; but time will show whether they have weak connections, too, like they do in Turkey. On the other hand, as the active FETÖ supporters on social media had said they were struggling against ‘Political Islam’, the fight they waged on Erdoğan was part of this, and that this wasn’t a religious group trying to take over via a coup. Instead, it was a secular group hoping to instill ‘moderate Islam’ and ‘dialogue between religions’, clearly showing that this was a Western project.

It isn’t a coincidence that the first trigger of the Arab Spring started in Tunisia just a month after NATO announced the ‘ Strategic Concept, in the November 2010 Lisbon Summit. As it was known that Turkey’s ‘zero-problem attitude’ policies with neighbors would be affected by this incident. And that’s what exactly happened when the Arab Spring started to move into a winter mode two years later. Similarly, it doesn’t seem that the failed coup attempt, that was staged a week after the NATO Summit in Warsaw on July 8-9, was a coincidence ever. For example, let’s remember that: it was announced that it was promised that the AWACS (early warning system) was to start flying in the Turkish airspace and monitor what was happening in Syria and Iraq and the matter of a Russian threat was underlined in the Warsaw Summit; which actually happened to come just after Turkey’s relations with Israel and Russia started to normalize. The NATO members were extremely quiet on the bettering of these relations during the Summit.

It was clear that the agreement with Israel was import due to the fact that important steps were going to be taken in terms of the chaos surrounding the region, especially around Egypt and Syria. And the bettering of relations with Russia was very important in terms of the crisis in Syria and the Mediterranean. The fact that the FETÖ coup attempt failing and displeasing NATO once again shows us that NATO, who constantly says they want peace in the region, actually does have ulterior motives. Therefore, it isn’t hesitating to use terror organizations to stage a coup and redesign things to their wishes. If the coup attempt had not failed, it is for sure that the agenda of Turkey, Syria and the Middle East would then be structured accordingly. It is important that we take urgent steps in the Syria issue and foreign politics, as the West, who has constantly been running into the Erdoğan factor when trying to take a step, has now run into a nation standing by their President, and therefore is frustrated.

Thus, Erdogan’s recent Russia visit is very important in this sense. Those who had been discussing the expelling of Turkey from NATO, are now talking about the importance of Turkey’s NATO membership. Turkey’s new relations with Russia, coming at a time when everyone’s ulterior motives have been exposed, has risks for the future of NATO and its plans. However, if a consensus on the Syrian crisis is reached between the two countries, this will ensure peace in the region despite the West. But we shouldn’t forget that this isn’t as easy as it looks, and we have to continue our relations with our hypocrite allies for the time being. It would be stupidity to believe that our ‘allies’ would give up; they surely will be planning for some kind of chaos to pull us into the turmoil whether it be a new attempt via Syria or Iraq or creating tension between Turkey and Iran or a ‘human rights/ democracy) issue through terror organizations. It is also clear that there will be many assassination attempts towards Erdoğan.

At this point, it is important to see the importance of international media broadcasting, which had been overlooked for years and done in a backward ways. Instead, a direct, inclusive, strategic and result-oriented method is needed. But how? I will try to discuss this in the upcoming days.

*Merve Şebnem Oruç is a Turkish journalist and columnist.

(Published in Yeni Şhafak on Thursday, August 11, 2016)