Erdogan is the ‘Tony Soprano’ of international politics

John Wight
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan © Christian Hartmann
In Recep Tayyip Erdogan Turkey has a ruler who would be every bit at home making deals with Tony Soprano in the back office of his Bada Bing strip club in New Jersey as he is in any stateroom or chancellery.

Who could argue otherwise given the murky relationship that everyone now knows exists between Turkey and ISIS, and has long existed?

On the most basic level, without their ability to pass back and forth across the Turkish-Syrian border at will, the so-called Islamic State could not have survived and grown as it has, nor its fighters operate anywhere near as effectively.

Just consider for a moment the vile hypocrisy of the West in lecturing Russia, Syria, Iran, and every other nation that refuses to bow at its feet over their lack of democracy, human rights, retrograde cultures, and all the other propaganda that has been shoveled by Western newspapers, news channels, and media outlets over the years – all the while NATO member Turkey has been actively supporting and aiding people that specialize in sawing people’s heads off, burning them alive in cages, mutilating women and children for the crime of praying to a different god than they do, or praying to the same god in a different way; the kind of people that rape and enslave women, who murder parachuting pilots trying to escape burning aircraft as they descend to the ground, whose religion is not Islam but barbarism and bestiality.

Erdogan has been consistent in calling for regime change in Damascus. He is known to have been furious with Obama when at the end of 2013 the American president pulled back from carrying out airstrikes against Assad in the wake of his army’s alleged and disputed use of chemical weapons against civilians in Ghouta in the eastern suburbs of Damascus.

Since then Turkey’s president has called for a safe haven to be created in northern Syria as a way of dealing with the exodus of refugees fleeing the country, two million of those into Turkey. However it is hard to resist, given Erdogan’s repeated calls for Assad to be toppled, that such a safe haven was intended less to halt this exodus and more as a step towards his goal of regime change in Damascus.

Though Turkey has experienced its own terrorist attacks – the most recent the devastating suicide bombing carried out in Ankara a few weeks ago, killing 100 people – the fact that it and previous attacks have taken place against Kurdish or pro-Kurdish gatherings gives us pause to consider if all is as it seems in this regard.

Turkey’s longstanding oppression of its Kurdish minority is no secret. Indeed it is such that as the Kurdish defenders of Kobani just over the Turkish border in Syria were mounting a desperate and heroic defense of the town, as it was being assailed from three sides by thousands of ISIS militants in September and October of 2014, Turkish troops and tanks sat idly by watching the battle unfold like modern day spectators at an ancient Roman gladiatorial contest. Moreover, when Turkey carried out the inevitable airstrikes in Syria in retaliation for the Ankara terrorist attack, its bombs were not directed at ISIS targets but at Kurdish ones, hitting positions of the PKK. Here the stench of opportunism and treachery is hard to escape.

The same treachery hangs like a cloud over the recent decision to shoot down a Russian Su-24 aircraft, claiming it had violated Turkish airspace during an operation against pro-Ankara Turkmen rebels close to the border. Was such a drastic measure carried out over the alleged violation of airspace? Or was it in truth motivated by Russia’s effectiveness against the aforementioned Turkmen anti-Assad rebels, who were also providing Ankara with a useful service in fighting against the Kurds in Syria?

The whole thing grows even murkier when we factor in Russia’s recent targeting of convoys of ISIS trucks ferrying stolen Syrian oil in the direction of Turkey’s border. In taking out these convoys had the Russians begun to bear down on a trade the Turks were involved in and profiting from? In this regard Recep Erdogan’s own son, Bilal Erdogan, has been identified as an important figure.

By any measure Turkey is a rogue state – one that speaks the language of anti-terrorism while working to facilitate terrorism. It has allowed its border to be used as a revolving door for terrorist groups to pass in and out, and in acting as a conduit for stolen Syrian oil it has been key in enabling ISIS to function and flourish.

In President Erdogan Tony Soprano undoubtedly has a kindred spirit. He is a man who practices statecraft like a gangster running a strip club. In fact the only difference is a gangster does so with more integrity and honor.

With allies such as this the West is in no position to lecture anyone on human rights, democracy, or ‘Western values’, used to justify generations of suffering, chaos and mayhem.

The eyes of the world are open and will never again be closed.


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