Turkey's attempts to school Russia on democracy - and why it should not!

Catherine Shakdam
Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen. A regular pundit on RT and other networks her work has appeared in major publications: MintPress, the Foreign Policy Journal, Mehr News and many others.Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Catherine is also the co-founder of Veritas Consulting. She is the author of Arabia’s Rising - Under The Banner Of The First Imam
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. © Darren Whiteside
If world affairs were not complicated enough, Turkey has now engaged Russia on dangerous grounds as it is arguing legitimacy and higher political morality over Crimea; just as its government is actively engaged in crushing a people's right to political self-determination - the Kurds.

In the long list of instances world leaders would have gained from being silent, it appears Turkish President Recep Erdogan lost one critical opportunity earlier this August. Lamenting over the political fate of Crimean Tatars at the second World Congress of Crimean Tatars in Ankara, Erdogan smugly decried the tragedy of this people, arguing from the top of his pulpit that Russia had somehow denied them their sovereign rights, condemning them to a life of "collective deportation and repression" through the annexation of Crimea.

With much political posing, Erdogan quite literally attempted to paint Crimea's return to Russia as a military invasion, bypassing the fact that its people called on Moscow, through a referendum, to intervene against the rise of the Ukrainian far-right movement.

READ MORE: US launches first anti-ISIS drone strikes from Turkey

And while undoubtedly, Russia's control over Crimea might have upset neighboring powers, Turkey in the lead, one cannot argue political or even legal foul play when a people is made to exercise its right to political self-determination.
Or is it that Turkey understands democracy as the expression of will from a designated few?

Not to debate historical semantics, but it seems that Turkey is not exactly one to judge when it comes to discussing repression or even define what constitutes oppression - let alone deportation. Armenia, among other defining moments of Turkish history comes to mind… But since Turkey has long indulged in the art of political redacting and at times engineering, Ankara's outcries very much sound premeditated, most likely inspired by ulterior motives and a tad hypocritical given the current circumstances.

As Ankara worries about the fate of the Crimean Tatars, it has no qualms denying the Kurds their long-awaited independence, nor has it express any remorse in targeting civilians in its broad attempt to silence the Kurdish resistance movement over the decades.

Turkish Kurds. © Murad Sezer

To really put things in perspective, Turkey has actually proven willing to sabotage Kurdistan's efforts in opposing the rise of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and ultimately Syria, because it would embolden the Kurds and help them materialize their sovereign ambitions.

As for its campaign against Russia in Crimea, Erdogan has condoned and even justified Crimean Tatars' alliance with fascist Ukraine, playing ethnicity and sectarianism to sow instability and score major hegemonic points. Interestingly and again, in a twist not devoid of irony, Turkey is indulging in the same tactics in Crimea as Saudi Arabia has employed against Damascus: the exploitation of radical outfits to manifest a change of regime.

Citing local media the International Business Times confirmed that Ukraine established an all-Muslims military unit made up of Crimean Tatars to organize the "protection" of Crimea's borders. This sudden desire to rally men under one religious umbrella against a designated enemy sounds eerily similar to America's calls back in 2012 to use Syria's "moderate Islamists" against President Bashar Assad.

We all know now that "moderate" is really a euphemism for downright extremist.
Seen in this light, one might argue that Crimea's sovereignty and territorial independence has been safeguarded by Russia and Russia alone. Especially since so far all that other "well-thinking" nations have been able to do is sponsor neo-fascism and foster religious extremism.

But for ever-pragmatic Turkey it is all in a days' work. Whether in its critique of Russia or in its denunciation of Kurdistan's ambitions, Ankara has reserved itself the right to play both sides of the river, allowing its ambitions to dictate the narrative, rather than actually stand for something politically.

And still Turkey wants to school Russia on democracy. But what about turning the magnifying glass around?

On July 20, an alleged IS militant targeted the Turkish city of Suruc, an area predominantly Kurdish, killing over a dozen civilians. While the event was sold as a revenge kill on the part of Islamic State, a form of retribution against Ankara for joining the coalition on terror, many have since cried conspiracy and false flag.
One whistleblower claimed President Erdogan is looking for an excuse to put boots on the ground in both Syria and Iraq, not to break Islamic State’s advances but to secure victory against both the Assad government and the Kurds. Fuat Avni, a bona fide Turkish Julian Assange claimed, “For ISIL to strike Turkey, when Yezid [Erdoğan] and his gang are their biggest supporters, is nonsensical."

So while Ankara has been quick to exploit terror attacks within its borders to justify its military mobilization and rationalize its intervention on foreign soil (Syria and Iraq), could it be that Turkey has an ulterior motive?

On August 1, Turkish fighter jets launched an attack against PKK positions, killing 10 civilians and injuring 11 others in the Qandil Mountains of the Kurdistan region, Rudaw reported. Before Turkey's wrath against the Kurds, even Washington is calling for restraint - an interesting position since the US lists the PKK as a terror organization.

"We want to see the PKK renounce violence and re-engage in talks with the government of Turkey. And... we want to see the Turkish government respond proportionately," said Mark Toner, the US State Department spokesman.

In light of Ankara's newfound ambitions and the AKP's increased monopoly over Turkey's political life, it is quite clear that in its attacks of Russia, Erdogan is only really expressing out loud his neo-Ottomanism.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.