There isn’t a lot that Turkey’s president can do lately to additional debase his repute within the West. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has crushed peaceable protests at house and overseas, closed newspapers, threatened American troopers and collectively scapegoated Kurds. However over the weekend, Erdogan managed to go even decrease.
At a rally at Kahramanmaras, the Turkish chief introduced a trembling 6-year-old woman on stage wearing army garb and advised her she can be honored if she died as a martyr. He gave the impression of a terrorist. We count on this sort of baby abuse from the fanatics in Hamas or Hezbollah. Erdogan although is the chief of an vital NATO ally.
Turkey is starting to resemble Pakistan, a perpetually failing state whose army management has tolerated and superior a imaginative and prescient of political Islam deeply hostile to US and Western pursuits.
To make certain, Turkey isn’t fairly there but. There’s nonetheless a majority of Turks who wish to finally be part of the European Union. The Turkish economic system is stronger than Pakistan’s, and its banks are extra trusted.
And in contrast to in Pakistan, the driving power to additional Islamize society has come from Erdogan, an elected chief, not the army.
That mentioned, Erdogan is following the Pakistani mannequin in disturbing methods, in response to Husain Haqqani, the previous Pakistani ambassador to Washington. Haqqani, a former journalist, is in a novel place to judge this development as a result of he wrote the very best historical past of how the Pakistani army embraced Islamic fundamentalism.
In an interview Haqqani mentioned Erdogan’s strategy was paying homage to Pakistan’s army dictator between 1978 and 1988, Zia ul-Haq. Like Zia, Erdogan has instituted authorized and societal reforms to additional Islamize society.
“Erdogan has taken the Pakistani components of blending hard-line nationalism with religiosity,” Haqqani mentioned. “Zia imposed Islamic legal guidelines by decree, amended the structure, marginalized secular students and leaders, and created establishments for Islamization which have outlasted him. Erdogan is attempting to do the identical in Turkey.”
The clearest parallel with Pakistan is Turkey’s present strategy to the conflict in Syria. In January, Erdogan launched a brand new offensive in opposition to America’s Kurdish allies in Afrin. Despite the fact that the Turks have labored in opposition to the regime in Damascus, in the course of the first weeks of that offensive they really coordinated with their erstwhile adversaries in Syria.
This can be a much less poisonous model of Pakistan’s broader strategy to the US-led conflict in Afghanistan. There, the Pakistani army and intelligence providers have tolerated and at instances inspired the Haqqani Community (no relation to the ambassador) to turn into a lifeline for the Afghan Taliban and different terrorists attacking US forces and the elected authorities in Kabul.
On the identical time, the Pakistanis have been vital allies for america. In fact, when the US lastly tracked down Osama bin Laden, it discovered him residing in the identical city as Pakistan’s prestigious army academy, Abbottabad.
Once more, Turkey has not but sunk to this degree. Nevertheless it’s heading down this path. Within the first years of the Syrian civil conflict after 2011, Turkey’s border with that nation was a sieve for brand spanking new Islamic State recruits becoming a member of the short-lived caliphate in Raqqa. To today, Turkey stays a pleasant outpost for Hamas, the phobia group that has run Gaza since 2007.
As a former US ambassador to Turkey, Eric Edelman, advised me this week: “Turkey isn’t Pakistan but, but when it continues on the trajectory that Erdogan has put it on, there’s a prospect it might turn into like Pakistan.”
That is the deep problem as we speak for Washington. Thus far nevertheless the US authorities has not proven Ankara the robust love essential to cease Turkey’s slide. The newest high-level go to for instance, from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson final month, sought to paper over Turkey’s marketing campaign in Afrin and Erdogan’s latest risk to ship an “Ottoman slap” to the US.
This sort of short-term considering is comprehensible, nevertheless it doesn’t handle the slow-motion catastrophe occurring now in Turkey. Right here it’s vital, on the very least, to attract some boundaries for Erdogan and convey that he can not preserve the present relationship with the US if he crosses them.
A great start line can be to demand Erdogan cease threatening US troopers.