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Committee to Protect Journalists, Turkey | Freedom House, Turkey

From the Mavi Mamara Incident forward, the west and Israel have bent over backward — and plainly looked away from — President Tayyip Recep Erdogan’s bent for self-aggrandizing absolutism, Islamist ambitions, and traitorous anti-western defense and security behavior. To my mind, the present course was set when the Turkish president caved to Vladimir Putin over the shooting down of a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 (November 24, 2015) that had overflown Turkish airspace. At first, and for some months, Erdogan refused apology for the incident, but leveraged by the Turkish Stream energy project he caved. Not only had he given in to Putin on the matter but turned to threaten the U.S. presence at Incirlik (albeit in association with a failed 2016 coup), bought into Russia’s anti-NATO air defense technology (S300/400 SAM batteries [news released December 2017]), before proceeding to march forward into the past with the transformation of Turkey into a feudal estate, another kleptocratic family-run business (see for example Craig Shaw’s “President Erdogan’s family in secret offshore ship deal” [The Black Sea, May 26, 2017]) among states, and goad to western interests and modernity.

Today, Erdogan’s idea of a Turkish state appears to be involved in aggression or conflict on two fronts, at least, i.e., in the Azerbaijan conflict with Armenian in-holders in the Caucuses and in the Mediterranean Basin where energy appears to tempt the not-so-Ottoman wannabee.

Journalist and political analyst Seth J. Frantzman posted this recap recently:

Turkey has been threatening Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, the UAE, Libya, Greece, France, Armenia, Syria, Iraq and other countries in recent months. Turkey has also bombed Iraq, sent extremists into Syria to ethnically-cleanse Kurds, Yazidis and Christians, encouraged Azerbaijan to attack Armenia, sent Syrian extremists to Azerbaijan to attack Armenia, claimed that Jerusalem belongs to Ankara and that Turkish-backed Islamists will “liberate” Jerusalem, hosted Hamas terrorists, exported Syrian rebels to Libya, threatened a French warship, flown drones near Greek islands, used a Russian S-400 system to threaten Greek planes, harassed a Greek F-16, and also sought to involve itself in the US election.

Frantzman, Seth J. “Growing consensus against Turkey’s threats to Greece — analysis.” The Jerusalem Post, October 13, 2020.

Of course, Putin has put Erdogan right where he wants him, i.e., deeply rooted in the medieval world, its familial and tribal habits, its disingenuous methods, and its unbridled lusts for aggrandizement, power, and wealth without bounds, not that Putin’s own approaches and practices differ all that much.

If there is such a thing as a medieval world and worldview, may there be another idea and spirit that is democratic, modern, multicultural, responsible, and responsive to its humanity?

Five to ten years ago, the question would have been superfluous — of course there’s a modern world (and a hyper-modern west) and the economic and social engines of Europe and North America happily reside in it.

Today, however, with an autocrat in America’s White House and such European states as Hungary, Italy, and Poland given to fascination with resurgent nationalism or narcissistic singular leadership (and the partial return of the idea of the state as a family-run business), the path toward a greater modernity would seem questionable. On the other side of Azerbaijan’s moan — and Azerbaijan appears a culturally modern and multicultural state beneath the sway of feudal family power — resides a part of Putin’s world characterized by absolutism plus centralized control not only of government and politics but of family and associated mafia-style power as well. His has become a world devoid of conscience (well demonstrated in Syria) and happy to manipulate other malign narcissists (one should count President Erdogan among the world’s complement of dictators at the disposal of the greater power) for the purpose of turning a few extra dollars in defense sales and perhaps obtaining some favors as well.

Armenia appears no less modern a European culture, but it may have an issue with land-gobbling and Azerbaijani-sovereignty-challenging Armenian separatists and settlers that have persisted in sustaining the Nagorno-Karabakh region as a bloody — and bloody feudal “nationalist” — frontier. Instead of pursuing a modern cooperative multicultural course in development, the retrograde Russian and Turkish presidents have chosen to urge the reinvention of the 19th Century zeitgeist (or that of earlier centuries) in the 21st far at the expense of Armenian and Azerbaijani civilians now paying twice for the privilege, i.e., first as taxed for the purchasing of arms and again — as conflict escalates — as each becomes the receiver of the dark fruits thrown (and forces advanced) by the other.

For the less sophisticated, a frontier is a place between places; for the more cognizant, a frontier is a region in time between two ways of living.

Medieval v Modern

Shall Nagorno-Karabakh remain medieval in its character in total or might it become modern, tolerant, and resilient against the fears, forces, and powers dominant in what should have been a rapidly receding past?

The belligerents would do well to turn around and fight the past while fighting for an updated (modern!) cultural and politically progressing future.

Related Online

Of course there’s plenty “related online” but I’ve thought here to relay just two quotations and URLs in a manner suited to somewhat impatient blogging. 🙂

In recent months, Azerbaijan’s and Armenia’s foreign ministers met several times and pledged to prepare their populations for peace. Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani community of Nagorno-Karabakh has repeatedly reached out to the region’s Armenian community for peaceful reconciliation, while Azerbaijan’s government pledged to ensure the security of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians and recognize their right to the highest level of self-determination within Azerbaijan’s international borders. The Armenian government, however, disregards very idea of negotiations on the de-occupation of Azerbaijan’s occupied territories, which constitutes the cornerstone of the entire process. The process was aggravated by a controversial statement from Armenia’s National Security Director Arthur Vanetsian that “none [in Armenia] will surrender even an inch of land.” In Azerbaijan, this was received as clear evidence of Armenia’s direct participation in the annexation of Azerbaijani territories.

https://www.cacianalyst.org/publications/analytical-articles/item/13576-armenias-approach-to-conflict-settlement-leads-to-deadlock.html 6 /27/2019

Turkey’s active involvement on the side of Azerbaijan adds a new complicating factor. Presidents Erdoğan and Putin may try to impose a new settlement on Armenians and Azerbaijanis that suits their own interests but is careless of humanitarian principles and the claims of both countries to be part of Europe. Lenin and Ataturk did this in the Caucasus exactly a century ago in 1920-1.

Or else Europeans, and perhaps a post-Trump United States, may try to convene a multilateral peace conference, first mooted in 1992, to resolve the conflict, seeking to respect people’s needs and the differing claims of international law.

That looks distant now. At the moment the only people who are celebrating are extreme nationalists, Erdoğan’s Turkey – and Russia’s defence industry which has supplied both sides with arms and will be ready to give them more as soon as they start to run out of weapons of death.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/oct/10/war-edge-europe-nagorno-karabakh-conflict-armenia-azerbaijan 10/10/2020