Türkiye always looks westward, but where is the West?

The caption of an Associated Press (AP) photo that was embellishing an article titled “Will Turkey turn westward once again?” by Eric Mandel, an opinion contributor of The Hill magazine, was cut with an ellipsis: “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, walks with U.S. President Joe Biden during the G-20 leaders’ summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Nov. 15, 2022. Biden administration officials are toughening their language toward NATO ally Turkey as they try to talk Turkish President Recep Erdogan out of launching a bloody and destabilizing ground… Made Nagi/Pool Photo via AP.”

I don’t think it was written by Made Nagi, the photographer from Bali. A little Google search showed that these lines were the pearls of wisdom penned by Ellen Knickmeyer, on Dec. 3, 2022, from Bucharest, Romania, and they were completed with these: “… American-allied Kurdish forces in neighboring Syria.”

Ah! That is the devil we know!! And we in Türkiye are tired of the constant Western worries about the direction we should take. We look toward the West, but nowadays we do not see it where it used to be located.

Ellen Knickmeyer, AP’s foreign policy and national security analyst with 18 years in Riyadh, Cairo, Baghdad and Dakar, was referring to the Turkish counterterrorism operation that had taken place after the PKK terrorist attack at the center of Istanbul on Nov. 3, 2022, in which six innocent people were killed and 81 people maimed and wounded. The U.S. had invented the doctrine to track the terrorists who come across the borders beyond the borders.

The U.N. and the EU endorsed this counterterrorism policy and they have pursued terrorists beyond their borders, into neighboring countries. As you read these lines, the U.S. has counterterrorism units beyond its borders in hot pursuit of terrorists in several countries. Türkiye does too.

Since Syria’s Bashar Assad’s father, Hafez Assad, nestled Abdullah Öcalan, the founder and the main honcho of PKK in Syria and provided safe heavens to his terrorists, Türkiye has been pursuing the PKK terrorists in Syria and Iraq. Turkish police and gendarme pinpointed the training camps and terrorists and carried out an operation. It was not “a bloody and destabilizing ground offensive against American-allied Kurdish forces in Syria” as Ellen had claimed. The question was, then, and is now, why on earth, the U.S. has PKK extensions as its ally against anybody in Syria? Türkiye did fight against the “dummy” extremist forces (created by Barrack Obama, the 44th President of the United States according to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, who later was elected as the 45th president of the U.S.).

By the way, Türkiye is the only NATO country to have fought and neutralized Daesh in Syria; the U.S. should not ally with a group of terrorists to fight another group of terrorists. But this is a separate but bizarre subject about the U.S. and its position in Syria.

Now, Eric Mandel, posing the question of whether Türkiye would turn westward once again, implies that it has done that before.

Türkiye’s ‘guilts’?

Mandel lists Türkiye’s “guilts” beginning with Parliament’s not approving the government decree to join George Bush’s Iraq War against Saddam Hussein, mentioning the purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-missile system and making up about the availability of Western options to the S-400. Türkiye’s request for aerial defense systems, i.e., Raytheon’s PATRIOT system had been turned down by the U.S. repeatedly, leaving the Russian S-400s as the last option for the country. Mr. Mandel adds old and new claims about Türkiye’s “bypassing American sanctions” related to Iran and Russia and concludes that “(President) Erdoğan took his nation to a more sectarian Islamist direction, leaving behind Americans’ idealized vision of Turkey as a secular, democratic Muslim nation.”

Of course, there is not one single iota of proof about what happened to the nation in the process of being taken “in a more sectarian Islamist direction.” If Americans think that Türkiye is leaving their “idealized vision of Turkey” behind, Türkiye must be leaving Americans’ “idealized vision of Turkey” behind! No need to prove the claim.

Mr. Mandel goes on to list the economic difficulties the country faces, again mentioning no U.S. involvement in their creation. He sure does not mention Trump’s threat that he would “destroy and obliterate” the Turkish economy overnight lest he considers Türkiye “off limits” in Syria, nor Joe Biden’s warning about “precipitous actions” that would not benefit U.S.-Turkish relations. Don’t look for any acknowledgment of Türkiye’s globally recognized service in the U.N.’s Black Sea Grain Initiative, as well as organizing the Istanbul talks between the parties that had raised hopes in the early days of the Ukraine and Russia conflict. Still, Türkiye is the only country that can talk to both sides in a constructive way. Both sides listen to Türkiye only.

Mr. Mandel, the director of the Middle East Political Information Network and Mandel Strategies, sets several conditions to “repair the U.S.-Turkish relationship” like observing and enforcing U.S. restrictions in its dealings with Russia and Iran;” getting rid of the S-400 system, and cutting off all its relations to Hamas.

Türkiye’s role in preventing Black Sea war

I do not know how “a consulting and advising firm for business and government officials in the Middle East” Mr. Mandel operates with such miscued advice to the only party left on the scene. After France’s throwing in the towel India is changing its position after managing the tightrope balance between the two sides. Türkiye is the only country left to prevent an all-out Black Sea War. Türkiye seems to be acting as an honest broker since the first day the Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine in February 2022 although it never recognized the Russian annexation of Crimea and always defended Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Pushing Türkiye to join the U.S. restrictions on Russia would help only one cause: losing Türkiye’s position as the only mediator between Ukraine and Russia, thus prolonging and expanding the Ukraine conflict. Any person who is advising Türkiye to stop playing this role would hope that the Ukraine conflict would expand into a Black Sea War which could destroy the unity of the Russian Federation and, thus, open the road to Beijing.

If you can see Türkiye as the continuation of the Ottomans and the Ottomans of Seljukis, then you can safely say that Turks and all other people who had been part of those two great empires had always been oriented westward, either occupying those counties on the West or emulating them in their non-colonial empire schema (remember: neither the Seljukis nor the Ottomans had a notion of the motherland in their expansionism. They came from the East and moved onto the West.)

They never turned back. During the last two centuries of the Ottomans and the first century of the republic that replaced it, Turks and their imperial and republican partners always had “Westernization” as their political, economic and cultural destination.

Until the West turned out to be only the U.S. and its cronies, and they began dictating their own conditions of “docility,” not partners, but docile, obedient, good bodies. As the Turkish saying goes: “You’ll say come, he will come; you’ll say go, he will go.”

Well, Eric Mandels and Ellen Knickmeyers of the West, this is not the West Turks wish to be part of. And that is why Turks uphold the policies targeting self-sufficiency in the areas of energy, defense and finance, and the politicians who promise to realize them.

Source: Daily Sabah

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author

Hakki Ocal

Hakki Ocal

Hakkı Öcal is a columnist at both Daily Sabah and Milliyet newspapers, which are based in Istanbul. He is also an advisor to the President of Ibn Haldun University.

Follow us on Twitter


Follow us on Twitter