By Michael Collins
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey could be headed for troubled waters after a series of seeming victories against the European Union, NATO, and the United States if he blows his latest big deal. (Image; Ggia CC 4.0)
The man who would be Sultan was about to finish negotiations for visa free travel to EU nations by 75 million Turkish citizens. All any Turkish citizen would need is his or her passport to enter and stay for a time in any EU nation. Middle and upper income Turks seeking closer business, professional and personal ties in the EU would benefit considerably by much easier travel regimens. Those seeking economic opportunities in the wealthier EU nations could enter without hindrance and stay as undocumented workers as long as they could.
The deal is in jeopardy at the last minute due to Turkey’s refusal to meet five EU requirements finalize negotiations and begin visa free travel by June. Specifically, Turkey has a problem with the requirement that Turkish anti terrorism laws meet standards similar to EU nations. (The utter absurdity of this will be addressed later in the article but, for the moment, let’s stick with the mainstream media storyline.)
The EU negotiators have ample motivation to insist on new Turkish anti terrorism laws. Erdogan is one of the world’s great enablers of terrorism. According to a leaked briefing of congressional leaders in January 2016 by King Abdullah of Jordan, Erdogan’s anti terrorism credentials are non-existent. According to leaks to the publication Middle East Eye:
[King Abdullah said] “The fact that terrorists are going to Europe is part of Turkish policy and Turkey keeps on getting a slap on the hand, but they are let off the hook.”
Asked by one of the congressmen present whether the Islamic State group was exporting oil to Turkey, Abdullah replied: ”Absolutely.”
Abdullah made his remarks during a wide-ranging debriefing to Congress on 11 January, the day a meeting with the US president, Barack Obama, was cancelled. March 25, Middle East Eye
Senators John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid, and Bob Corker attended the meeting. Of note, McCain has been a virtual cheerleader for Syrian jihadist rebels.
Aside from this insider information leaked shortly after President Erdogan and his soon to be retired Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu threatened the White House over U.S. support of Syrian YPG Kurdish fighters, there is ample evidence that Turkey is a sponsor of terrorism.
Here are two of the many examples of the Turkish government’s pro terrorist efforts.
Turkey officially enables the delivery of weapons to terrorists attacking Syria. In January 2014, police at Turkey’s southern border with Syria stopped a truck headed for Syria. Local police suspected that the truck carried weapons for Syrian rebels. Soon after stopping the trucks, local police received a call from the Syrian intelligence agency instructing them to release the truck. They complied and the weapon-laden convoy allegedly headed for Damascus, Syria. Local prosecutors were prevented from prosecuting the truckers.
A similar incident was reported by two of Turkey’s leading journalists. Erdogan’s government prosecuted and convicted the reporters for “revealing state secrets.” The reporters were just sentenced to five years in prison.
Turkey allowed the delivery of ISIS oil to Turkish ports for shipment and sale overseas. The Russian military supplied concrete evidence of this illicit trade. The profits were cycled back to ISIS to carry on their fight against the Syrian government. After exposing the oil trade, Russia bombed several convoys putting an end to a terror pipeline worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The Turkish government surely knew of the oil deal. Bilal Erdogan, son of the president, owned one of the tanker companies delivering the oil
The very open public record on Turkish policies and actions hardly inspires trust in current Turkey’s stance toward ISIS, Al Nusra, and other extremist groups.
Why is the EU negotiating with a state sponsor of terrorism?
Refugees, that’s why? As a result of the US, EU, Gulf oligarch funding and support of the attack on Syria, there are millions of internal and external refugees of the war. Many are in Turkey. When Erdogan needed some cash and the appearance of a strong leader, he began allowing Syrian refugees to leave Turkey for EU nations. German Chancellor Angela Merkel set the early tone of open arms for the refugees. The public response in Germany and across the EU was growing disapproval and outrage. (Image: thierry ehrmann CC 2.0)
Right wing parties are winning elections solely due to their opposition to the refugee policy. Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, and other leaders fear a full-scale political revolt. If Erdogan opens the tap too many times, governments will fall.
Why is the visa free deal so important to the EU and Erdogan?
The Erdogan government is like a pyramid scheme. The president must offer increasing diversions to avoid losing power. Losing power isn’t just losing political office, it represents a trial and near guaranteed jail sentence for vast corruption, much of which is on audio tape in the president’s own words. The war on the Kurdish towns and cities was one of those. The visa free deal is the latest big deal Erdogan can tout to his people. He can claim that he humbled the Europeans, took billions in payments to Turkey for stopping the refugee flow, and reasserted Turkey as a major power. Erdogan can’t lose the visa deal, lest he look vulnerable to a restive population.
The EU nations need the visa deal to stop Turkey from opening the tap on refugees again. The flow slowed considerably but they know they’re dealing with a thug who can open up the flow any time he chooses. Hence, the EU’s willingness to ignore Turkey becoming a dictatorship without anything that resembles a free press.
Why the visa free deal is completely unnecessary
How many Syrian refugees were there before the attack on Syria in 2012? Not too many.
Stop the attack, repatriate the refugees, and rebuild Syria. That is the answer to the refugee crisis.
Despite this obvious solution, the EU hierarchy can’t even entertain this painfully obvious solution. That would entail admitting that they caused the problem by playing Tonto to the U.S. Lone Ranger assault on a sovereign nation that posed no imminent danger to the homeland.
How much time left for the man who would be Sultan?
That’s hard to say. I speculated that Erdogan’s threats to the White House in February would result in one of those bringing democracy efforts that end the rule of openly defiant or inconvenient lackey regimes (Erdogan, Genocide, and ISIS – The Sultan is Doomed, Feb 27). The White House seems to be taking its time or may have farmed regime change out to someone else.
If the EU stands up to Erdogan on the terrorism law requirement for the visa free travel deal, it will be the first time the organization has shown a spine in years of dealing with Erdogan’s arrogance. Given the fact that Erdogan has bullied his way through almost every public conflict with the West since the Syrian conflict emerged, he may prevail once again.