Turkey decent into a five-front war
Not so long ago, Turkey maintained a praised foreign policy called “zero problems with neighbors” – which in reality meant keeping the distance from other countries’ domestic affairs. Nowadays it’s more like “zero friends amongst neighbors“.
The brutal force which met the protesters in the central Gezi Park in Istanbul 2013 confirmed a authoritarian style of government towards anyone challenging the president Tayyip Erdogan and his policy. That same year corruption probes revealed graft in the ruling AKP party, a mix which lay the ground work and lent political support towards political alternatives.
In the June 2015 election, the ruling AKP party lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since 2002. But instead of forming a coalition government, new elections were announced. During this last fall the country quickly descented into a violent chaos, which it hasn’t returned from.
The pressure on civil society, led to worsen human rights and restrictions on freedom of speech. Journalists were arrested for revealing that the goverment was involved in arming the Islamic state fighters in Syria. A revelation which president Erdogan called a personal insult and filed a court complaint. Since August 2014, more than 1800 criminal cases have been opened against Turks for insulting their president. An behaviour that echos the French king Louis XIV: “The state? I am the state.”
Today, four months has passed since the November 2015 election which AKP won a shock victory and thus regained a parliamentary majority. Turkey has since been involved in a war fought on five fronts.
The Kurdish PKK is aerial bombed in northern Iraq by Turkish jets, at the same time Turkey participates in the US-led coalition which air bombs ISIS targets in Syria.
Turkey also arms groups such as ISIS in northern Syria in an effort to stop the Syrian-Kurdish groups YPG and PYD, the only ones with boots on the ground in the fight against ISIS.
At the same time, the Turkish policy towards the Syrian president al-Assad is one that he must leave office, which has put Turkey on a collision course with Russia, a strategic partner of the US.
This five-front war is the result of a potent and violent combination of mixed reasons and these maneuvers have led to suggestions such as Turkey should be expeled from NATO. But that can’t be done – since such decision requests a unanimous vote of all alliance states including Turkey. Other experts believe that Russia might use Turkey as a high-stakes lever to break the NATO, as other alliance members proparbly will not back Turkey in a war against Russia. Regardless, Turkey’s violent chaos is to large extent self-imposed.