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A blog by Leon Oudejans

Political Islam in Europe (5) – a Turkish Jihad

21 March 2017


On 13 March, the European Commission stated that its 1963 EU Association Agreement with Turkey will de reconsidered if the amendments to the Turkish Constitution will be approved. On 15 March, the German Defense Minister questioned Turkish membership of NATO (eg, GS, TIMES).

On 16 March, the Turkish Foreign Minister claimed that “Holy wars will soon begin in Europe” as “there is no difference between the social democrats and fascist Wilders” (eg, HurriyetIndependent). His words suggest a public call for a Jihad in Europe. If this threat would materialise then the EU and NATO agreements are in serious jeopardy. Turkey can afford losing the EU but cannot afford losing its protective NATO umbrella.

Without its NATO membership, Turkey would be exposed to its 3 arch enemies, being: Iran (east), Russia (north) and Europe (west). Its southern borders are protected by its former territories in the Ottoman Empire and the African and Arab deserts. With or without its NATO umbrella, a resurgence of the Ottoman Empire could happen stealthy and also seemingly voluntarily.

Some of the countries on the North African Mediterranean coast (i.e., Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia) might welcome the expansion of political Islam and thus accept a resurgence of the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, this expansion would not (immediately) threaten its 3 arch enemies. Interestingly, Russian troops were recently deployed in Egypt to support a Libyan general (eg, Guardian).

A Turkish eastbound expansion (i.e., Israel, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria) would be a huge threat to its arch enemy Iran. It’s more likely that Russia would support Iran than Turkey. Russia is well aware that the next expansion would be northbound, into the Balkans and possibly even further. The Russo-Turkish wars have been fought for many centuries.

Turkey can only continue its threats to Europe and its Ottoman resurgence as long as it is protected by NATO’s article 5. Without NATO protection, Turkey is relatively weak as its military was severely punished for its alleged 2016 coup attempt. This might also explain Turkish flirtation with Russia and its flirts with China.

Turkey needs an enemy to convince its domestic and foreign citizens that its 2017 constitutional referendum should be approved. It’s unlikely that Turkish behaviour will become civilised after that approval. A Turkish autocracy is in the making and a dictatorship is likely to follow. The revival of the Ottoman Empire is an obvious next goal.

Russian and Turkish nationalism might indeed collaborate. However, Russia is first and foremost a kleptocracy and it’s unlikely that Russian government would want to jeopardise their semi-public accumulation of wealth (e.g., 2017 Navalny report). Iran and Turkey are enemies (1) ever since the 651 AD Arab conquest of Persia and (2) also because of the Shia (Iran) vs Sunni (Turkey) division in Islam religion.

Turkey applies Sun Tzu‘s advice from The Art of War: “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”


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