Turkey: A faux coup or what?
Last week, the world watched an Islamic jihadist-inspired massacre-by-truck in Nice, France, the announcement of Indiana Governor, Mike Pence, as Donald Trumps running mate, and what may have been a faux coup attempt in Turkey staged by the Islamist dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
For Turkey, geography has been and will always be: Fate. Sitting astride the waterways that link the Mediterranean and Black Seas and sitting astride the ancient land trade routes between East and West, Turkey serves as a land bridge linking east and west and as a waterway linking Russia to the north with the warm waters of the Mediterranean to the south. Arguably, more international vital interests collide on the Turkish land-waterway-bridge than any other place on earth.
Unfortunately, Turkey has a history of bad choices. In 1914, at the outset of World War I, Turkey allied with Germany and lost what was left of the Ottoman Empire. But, in 1923, a young military officer, Mustafa Kemal, seized power and turned Turkey into a westward looking, successful, modern, secular state open to all the worlds religions, to include Christians (but not Armenian Christians), Jews, and, of course, Muslims. To his given name, Mustafa Kemal, the parliament added "Ataturk," meaning "father of the Turks." Mustafa Kemal Ataturk died in 1938.
After the death of Ataturk, Turkey resumed its ill-advised decision-making. In World War II, Turkey signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler. Four days later, with his southern flank secured, Hitler attacked the Soviet Union. Turkey remained neutral toward Germany until 1945, when Turkey joined the United Nations.
Fast forward to the present: Although ignored by the Obama White House, western intelligence has long known that Erdogan supports ISIS by buying the oil that ISIS steals from Iraq and Syria. That oil is the financial underpinning of the ISIS Caliphate. Because Putin treasures his two warm-water ports and his airfield along the coast of Syria, Putin supports the Syrian tyrant, Bashar al-Assad. This puts Erdogan, Putin, and Assad at cross purposes. The main reason Erdogan remains in NATO is because he fears Putin. Ironically for NATO, its weakest and most problematic member, Turkey, occupies the land mass and water ways most likely to be the locus of World War III.
Historically, it is not unheard for the tyrants of the Middle East and Asia to use agents-provocateurs to trick suspected dissidents to launch coups that are not well-founded enough to succeed. Erdogan has already purged the senior generals and admirals who wanted to keep Turkey true to the ideals of Ataturk. What happened last week may have been a faux coup designed to flush out the officers and NCOs who do not want Turkey to become another Islamic dictatorship allied with Iran, ISIS, and committed to the destruction of Israel.
But Turkey should be mindful that the all-important Bosporus, that thin, 20-mile, earthquake-prone, waterway linking Russia to year-round world shipping is only 800-to-3600-yards-wide in places, and only 100- to-395-feet deep. An underwater jolt from one of Israel’s supposedly non-existent nuclear weapons could shut the Bosporus down forever, throwing Turkey and all the countries bordering the Black Sea into economic chaos. Erdogan may have won for now; however, he antagonizes Israel at his long-term peril.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, is a laureate of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma University Army ROTC Wall of Fame, and is a recipient of the University of Nebraska 2015 Alumni Achievement Award. He was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the Army Language School, the George Washington University, the Infantry School, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
©2016. William Hamilton.
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