Sunday, July 17, 2016

VOA: Could Turkey Become Another Pakistan?

Voice of America asks if Turkey may be starting to become another Pakistan for the US:

Erdogan's Turkey is already one of the most admired countries by Pakistanis - it has a more active economy, and burgeoning trade ties with Europe. It's also the former seat of the Caliphate, and has become increasingly Islamized with the rise of Recept Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Party.

For the US, Turkey is increasingly being seen as authoritarian, Islamist, and a double-dealer in the fight against ISIS, not unlike how Pakistan has behaved in the US war against Taliban and AlQaeda in Afghanistan.

However, Turkey has some very powerful neighbors to keep it in check, like Russia to its northeast, and Europe to its west. The only neighbors Turkey is able to push around these days are the Syrians, on whose soil it supports various Islamist rebel groups. Just as Pakistan fears Pashtun consolidation and reunification of Pashtunistan on both sides of the Durand Line, likewise Turkey fears Kurdish consolidation and reunification of Kurdistan on its borders with Syria and Iran.

Unlike Pakistan which has China as its all-weather patron, Turkey has no powerful all-weather supporter other than the United States, which is increasingly anxious about Islamist militancy.

Questions are being raised about who sponsored the coup against Erdogan - and some are even pointing the finger at Erdogan himself. He is after all the only one who has profited handsomely from this whole affair, using the opportunity to now purge all political opposition to his power, effectively seizing control over the entire Turkish state. If this were the 1980s, he could expect to recieve a crate of mangoes sooner or later, but instead he may become Turkey's version of Vladimir Putin, with an Islamist bent.

India should be wary - because even though Pakistan has badly strained its ties with Saudi, it may find new support from an Islamically resurgent Turkey.

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