These moves are no “unforced errors”. This is straightforward “looking for trouble.” Why is that? Because “trouble” comes with a story attached to it. And story-telling is all politics about. Especially, when the ruler has full authority of control over the political (campaign) messaging. Yes, I said the “ruler” not the “manager”.
Then again, down here in Turkey at southeastern end of Europe, we are almost always in a never ending electoral campaign season. A constant de facto emergency rule is part and parcel of that political campaign. This is a suffocating and tiresome political environment. We experiment the “shock doctrine” on a daily basis.
Whether it’s the proposed or rather imposed “Channel Istanbul” or the fully electrical powered national SUV All is national, native, new and all are must-dos. There is neither space nor need for further discussion. Discussion is by nature effete, time-consuming, bureaucratic. Yet, time is of essence. Hence, we need to move forward. And real quick.
While others scream, shout and agitate, the juggernaut moves relentlessly forward. From election to election, from one trouble spot to the next. Hence, today the barren coastline of Libya is in our sights. “Entourage” media’s sycophantic pens are doing overtime in reminding the not-so-well-versed in recent history how none other than Kemal Atatürk fought a guerilla war more than a hundred years ago on those African shores.
Here you are already four paragraph through into your reading. Did you come across any content till this point? Of course, not. None whatsoever at all and that is the whole point. That’s what Mr.Erdoğan’s and his team’s foreign policy endeavours are all about. Well, that and whipping up the already running high nationalistic rhetoric and plus, if there are gains to be monetized in the short term, even better.
The following are absent from the Libya bamboozle: Atatürk fought in Libya as it was Ottoman land. Mr.Erdoğan went to Tunisia but came back empty handed following his meeting with his counterpart Mr.Saied. The joint diplomatic, military, intelligence team that was dispatched to Moscow got no deal after three days long talks. Italy, Britain, France and Germany are seriously considering imposing a No Fly Zone which will definitely put a hold to armed drones provided by Turkey to GNA.
Libya will not be a crossborder operation like in Iraq or Syria. It will be an overseas amphibious operation 2,000 kilometers away from Anatolia. It will not be counterinsurgency operation but a full-fledged war involving naval and aerial elements. On Hafter’s LNA’s side are not only next door Egypt but also heavy weights like Russia and the US. Furthermore, Ankara burned the bridges with Damascus, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi since a long time ago.
Hafter recently acquired tactical ballistic surface to surface Scud B missiles and already has Kornet portable antitank guided missiles. Their common point being both Russian products as anyone can see. Also in the field are two Russian mercenary companies Wagner and Vega. Sarraj, in return, reportedly tested the waters by reaching out to Chechnya’s leader Kadyrov and through him to Moscow’s Dengov.
There is a last ditch diplomatic summit effort by Germany to avoid approaching calamity. Chancellor Merkel called President Erdoğan on Sunday. Italian PM Conte did the same during the course of the week. If past experience is our guide these will not divert Mr.Erdoğan from collision course. The motion to allow Turkish Armed Forces to be positioned in Libya will come to parliament’s floor on the 8th of January. So will land in Ankara Mr.Putin the same day.
Mr.Putin appears to be the unique political counterpart who effectively figured out Mr.Erdoğan’s game. He is pushing Syrian army hard in Idlib and the tens of thousands of civilians to the Turkish border along the way. Russia is betting on both sides in Libya. Mr.Erdoğan’s spokesman Mr.Kalın did not spare Russia of his criticism when accusing foreign powers actively hindering a political solution in Libya recently.
Mr.Erdoğan needs another story. Operation Peace Spring was cut short and stopped dead before reaching the M4. National automobile production, Channel Istanbul, tension with the EU due to drilling for fossil fuel in the EastMed and the EEZ deal signed with Libya’s GNA alongside the AKP congress will provide the springboard for him to re-energize his presidency before a highly probable snap election in 2020.