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Tom Kirkman

Turkey Muscles-In on Israel-Greece-Cyprus EastMed Gas Pipeline Deal. Erdogan Still Dreaming of Ottoman Empire II.

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For the last few ysars I have paid attention on and off to the grandiose dream of Erdogan to establish an Ottoman Empire 2, with himself as the absolute Islamic dictator in control of large swathes of land (and energy resources) in the vicinity of Turkey.

I paid attention because when I was living in Malaysia, the then Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak admired Erdogan's Islamic conquest vision, and attempted to emulate Erdogan's authoritarian ways to consolidate power.

So, Erdogan is still at it, still dreaming of Ottoman Empire redux, and is not amused by efforts of other countries in the region to siphon off "his" Ottoman Empire II natural resources.

First, some background, an old article from 2015:

Erdogan: Sultan of an Illusionary Ottoman Empire

In many conversations and encounters I had over the years with former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, he emphatically echoed his boss President Erdogan’s grandiose vision.

The vision was that by 2023 — the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic — Turkey will become as powerful and influential as the Ottoman Empire was during its heyday.

Under the best of circumstances, Turkey cannot realize Erdogan’s far-fetched dream.

Had he stayed the course, however, with the socio-political and judiciary reforms and economic developments that he put in motion during his first nine years in power, Turkey could have become a major player on the global stage and a regional powerhouse.

Erdogan undermined his country’s potential

Sadly, Erdogan abandoned much of the impressive democratic reforms he championed. Instead, he embarked upon a systematic Islamization of the country while dismantling the pillars of democracy.

In the process, Erdogan amassed unprecedented powers and transformed Turkey from a democratic to an autocratic country. He has ensured that he has the last word on all matters of state.

Democracy? Just for show

In retrospect, it appears that Erdogan had never committed himself to a democratic form of government. The reforms he undertook during his first nine years in power were largely induced by the European Union’s requirements from any country seeking membership.

But underneath that reformist skin, he exploited it all as a means by which to propel himself toward his ultimate goal.

A quote attributed to him in 1999 describes precisely what his real intentions were from the day he rose to power. “Democracy” he said, “is like a bus, when you arrive at your destination, you step off.”  ...


... Sultan-like power, but no empire to speak of

To realize his grand vision, Erdogan took several measures to consolidate his absolute power.
Remove the friends.   ...


... Create a blame game

Second, the need for a culprit: Erdogan needed a scapegoat to blame for any of his shortcomings. He found the Gülen movement to be the perfect foil.  ...


... Grandiose and pompous, like any bad Sultan

Third, the creation of Ottoman symbolism: To project his grandiose vision, Erdogan needed to instill Ottoman images into the public consciousness. This includes the building of a 1,100-room ‘White Palace’ as his residence at a prohibitive cost to taxpayers.  ...


... The man who tries to get little deals, if any

Fourth, foreign policy assertiveness: Under Erdogan, Turkey has become increasingly assertive and forceful in the region.  ...


... Religion vs. the economy

Fifth, promoting Islam as a powerful tool: Erdogan is also using Sunni Islam to promote the country as a republic with Islamic ideals supported by a loyal state apparatus.  ...


Mission failed

Former Prime Minister Davutoglu said in 2015 that Turkey “will re-found the Ottoman state.” Although Davutoglu was fired, he—like most Turkish officials—depicts the government as the rightful heir of the Ottoman legacy.

To that end, Erdogan uses Islam as the unifying theme that would propel Turkey to the greatness that the Ottoman Empire enjoyed.

In fact, Turkish religious leaders have always thought of themselves as the standard-bearer of Islamic civilization, and though this failed with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, to them it must now be corrected.

As they would have it, “Turks once again should lead the ummah (Islamic community) as the new Ottomans.”  ...



Anyway, now for the current news.  Short except below, the article is long and fairly complex, if you are interested, you should read the entire article.  Note the bits about the gas pipeline would bypass Turkey, and Erdogan's tantrum. 

Nice delusions of grandeur you have there, Erdogan.  Be a shame if others ignored you.


Turkey Muscles-In On Israel-Greece-Cyprus EastMed Gas Pipeline Deal

Israel, Greece and Cyprus have signed an agreement for a pipeline project to ship natural gas from the Eastern Mediterranean region to Europe. The deal comes amid increasing tensions with Turkey as Ankara seeks to expand its claims over gas-rich areas of the Mediterranean Sea.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, along with their energy ministers, signed the so-called EastMed pipeline deal in Athens on January 2.

The 6-billion-euro ($6.6 billion) project envisages the construction of a 1,900-kilometer (1,180-mile) undersea pipeline that would carry up to 20 billion cubic meters of gas a year from Israeli and Cypriot waters to Crete and then on to the Greek mainland. From there, the gas would be transported to Italy and other countries in southeastern Europe.

Israel, Greece and Cyprus hope to reach a final investment decision by 2022 and have the pipeline completed by 2025. The EastMed project, which would bypass Turkey, could eventually supply up to 10% of Europe's natural gas needs.   ..


... Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis said that the pipeline was of "geostrategic importance" and would contribute to regional peace. Greek Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis called it "a project of peace and cooperation" despite "Turkish threats." Cypriot President Anastasiades said that his aim was "cooperation and not rivalry in the Middle East."  ...


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When will the politicians wake up and kick Turkey out of the EU and NATO?

Turkey is an unreliable, festering sore to both organizations!

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The Turkey EU/NATO experiment isn't working.  The idea of bring western, democratic and capitalist ideologies geographically toward the ME isn't bringing the fruit necessary to continue the experiment.  Not a total surprise and probably worth the effort to see IF it would work.

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The issue is that Erdogan was not kicked in the teeth right off the bat and threatened with immediate expulsion from both NATO and EU when he first projected his theocratic Ottoman empire project. 

The urban Turks were thoroughly modern, mostly democratic, and secular before Erdogan. His rise to power is causing a brain drain from Turkey. Ask around in the Turkish diaspora and you will find out what they think of Erdogan. If this continues, Turkey will indeed be Ottoman and require German assistance to run a railroad, not to speak of running an imperial army in the 21st century.. 

We await Turkey, which is heavily dependent on foreign funding of private and state debt, making a military forey recklessly and finding itself cutoff from finance. 

Its future may be to be decimated into an ethnically reconstructed geopolitical map of the ME with its Eastern provinces (1/3 of the country) becoming the Northern half of Kurdistan, if their Ottoman ambitions continue. Erdogan undid the tough reforms that Ataturk put in place to suppress the clergy and modernize his country. It will take generations for Turkey to recover from the response of the world if Erdogan actually attempted to put his ambitions into effect outside Turkey's borders. 


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Turkey is a mess. They aren't in the EU though, just some half-assed status and an application. 

Their NATO membership is partially a cold war relic. The Jupiter missiles the USA put in there in late 50s/early 60s help start the Cuban missile crisis. The USA has used Turkey as a military installations for decades, and a launching site for a lot of our Middle East adventures in Iraq, etc.. Aircraft carriers in the Persian/Arab Gulf are big fat targets, and expensive to operate. Ground installations in Turkey, not so much.

Erdogan is, IMHO a mess. But how does he compare to leadership in Iran, Iraq, KSA, Syria?

I am a fan for getting out. Extraction from the region is difficult, there would be nasty repercussions, and to date, no politician has had the guts for it.



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All the politicos on the US side want out. But there would be chaos if it is done without coordination with a successor caretaker force. The US can even remain a small portion of that force and provide leadership, but it should be from end markets (but not China) from Europe, India, SE Asia, Japan and S Korea. You can let the French lead the new Gulf security force and that would make sure there would be a conflagration and then the French would leave and loudly criticize everyone who they left behind to deal with the mess. 

The US would have a terrific advantage over the rest of the world if prolonged crisis in the Gulf were to follow a US pullout and production and shipping were damaged for a long spell. Unfortunately, that would also be painful for consumers.


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