There is arguably no greater authoritarian leader today than Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. He has cemented his powers over the last dozen years, quashing the press and anyone that stands opposed to him.
That authoritarian leader is now under serious threat.
The Turkish economy has become incredibly weakened over the past several weeks due to various economic decisions by Erdogan and a series of tariffs imposed against Turkey by US President Donald Trump. The Turkish lira is in a state of serious decline and there is a real risk of the country’s economy collapsing.
It is very doubtful that the Turkish egomaniac will accede to the demands of Trump to release an American pastor that Turkey arrested. It is unlikely that Turkey will stop buying weapons from Russia. It is also unlikely that Turkey will only “look for other friends and allies” as Erdogan headlined in his op-ed on the online edition of the New York Times on August 10.
Erdogan is too crafty and mean-spirited to simply “look for friends.” He will provoke. Aggressively.
Erdogan knows that he cannot combat the United States either militarily or economically, so will only resort to some bad-mouthing, when it comes to the U.S.
However, Erdogan will enjoy provoking a war against an American ally, particularly one close to Trump: Israel.
Erdogan has long been allied with the Palestinian Arab terrorist group Hamas that controls Gaza. He has allowed his Turkish ports to be used for “flotillas” to break the Israeli blockade of the region in the past. He is likely to use his current weak economic situation to take a much more aggressive stance to gather support from the greater Arab and Muslim world.
Erdogan had an interview on Al Jazeera in 2011 where he made indirect threats against Israel in relation to Israel’s work with the government of Cyprus in extracting oil, and for the situation in Gaza. Erdogan reiterated Turkey’s claims in Cyprus (which no country in the world believes), and his concern for the people of Gaza. He stated that he would begin using his navy ships to protect Turkey’s interests in both Cyprus and Gaza.
He did not send military vessels into the eastern Mediterranean Sea at that time nor to Cyprus, as Netanyahu apologized to Erdogan for killing attackers on the Mavi Marmara boat in 2010 at the urging of US President Barack Obama. But Erdogan’s situation today is much more precarious.
In his August 2018 NY Times Op-Ed, Erdogan said “Turkey has established time and again that it will take care of its own business if the United States refuses to listen.” It is not far-fetched to imagine that an authoritarian leader with his back to the wall, will now come after Israel in a real concerted way.
It will not be surprising to see Turkish military ships off the coast of Cyprus and/or Gaza in the coming months. The only question is whether this be the start of a broader war.
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