Ibrahim Karagul: Turkey should launch 3 more military interventions in Iraq and Syria
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan once again has expressed his displeasure with the Treaty of Lausanne. In a speech before local politicians in Ankara he stated, “The Ottomans had a state with such deep roots that its collapse caused material and moral wounds to our nation. … I want youth to examine Lausanne and let some of them be annoyed. These mistakes need to be known.”1
Erdoğan has more than just nostalgic for the good old days of the Ottoman Empire, as he has also made it known that the National Contract (Misak-i Milli) encompasses more than just Turkey itself, but parts of other neighboring countries such as Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Iraq and Syria.2 Such statements coupled to Turkey’s military interventions in northern Syria and Iraq should make Erdoğan’s expansionist intentions rather clear.
Yet the Turkish President is not the only one expressing such sentiments, in fact there are some in Turkey who are openly advocating for further military interventions in Iraq and Syria. One such voice is columnist Ibrahim Karagul who writes for Yeni Şafak and is close to Erdoğan himself.3,4
Karagul believes there to be an international conspiracy of sorts against Turkey. The conspirators are the Western “Crusader” nations (i.e. America, England, etc.), who are also being assisted by the Iranian led Shiite axis. According to Karagul the Crusaders “are forming an anti-Turkey line from the Mediterranean to the Iranian border”4 in an attempt to contain Turkey, with the ultimate goal of overthrowing her–as evinced by the July 15 attempted coup–and dividing her into smaller statelets. To accomplish this task the conspirators are using terrorist groups such as ISIL, the PKK and PYD.
Against such a devious and nefarious plot Turkey is in a precarious situation, one which Karagul believes can only be solved by Turkey taking the offensive. In other words Turkey cannot wait to domestically react to the machinations of those against her, doing so would guarantee her demise. Instead she must take the initiative and prevent the formation of the anti-Turkey strip stretching from the Mediterranean to Iran. Such a plan of action necessitates Turkey launch foreign operations against her enemies, as she is already doing in the form of Euphrates Shield in northern Syria and her deployment of troops to the Mosul region of northern Iraq.
However, in Karagul’s view these operations are not enough to eliminate the threat, and as such he is proposing more foreign interventions, along the lines of Euphrates Shield, in Syria and Iraq. To be exact he is advocating three more such interventions. In Syria the Turkish military must move against Afrin in the west, which is the seat of a PKK/PYD enclave, and the border town of Tal Abyad, another area controlled by the Kurds. In Iraq the target will be Tal Afar, a town between Mosul and the Iraq-Syria border. The purpose of this operation would be to protect local Sunnis and Turkmens from Shiite vengeance and to obviously prevent the Kurds in Iraq and Syria from linking up.
Maybe Karagul is correct to assert that there is a grand Western theory to overthrow the Erdoğan government and to partition Turkey into smaller, easier to manipulate statelets or maybe no such conspiracy exists. If the latter is the case then either Karagul genuinely, but erroneously, believes what he is saying or he knows it is a fabrication, but he is promulgating it so as to provide a pretext to justify Turkish military intervention in neighboring countries. Either way, what is important, is not the veracity of Karagul’s claims, but the course of action he is advocating, which is confirming my belief, and that of others, that Erdoğan is not merely nostalgic towards the bygone days of Ottoman glory but he does in fact want to recreate a modern day Ottoman Empire.
It is possible that Karagul is views are off the mark and what he is advocating will not come to pass. However, given what we know of Erdoğan, his neo-Ottomanism and his disdain of the Kurdish PKK and PYD militia it seems perfectly sensible that he would in fact militarily move on Afrin, Tal Abyad and Tal Afar, even though such actions would definitely bring him into direct conflict with the Assad regime and with Iraq. So we shall wait and see but as Karagul concluded his most recent article:4
“I believe that we are going to see a Turkey that makes sudden and surprising moves from now on.”