Difficult Times for the Turkish ‘Line that Roared’

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By Miran P. Sarkissian

In politics, and much more so in international politics, conducted in an anarchic and competitive area of constant deception and continuous fluidity, the roar of a lion is never univocal. It may mean that somewhere around and nearby there is a lion urgently seeking its next prey or that somewhere around there is someone pretending to be “king of the jungle.”

Turkey is currently in the “eye of the storm.” The structural changes taking place in Syria and Iraq and the rise of Islamic jihadists pose a continuous source of friction on Ankara’s eastern borders. Also, the Kurdish issue is now essentially open, for whatever that may mean for the strategic considerations of the region.

The rupture of relations with Egypt, due to Turkey’s support and funding of the Muslim Brotherhood in that country, the strong alliance between Greece, Israel and Cyprus due to enormous oil and gas findings in their territorial waters, but also the distance Saudi Arabia maintains from Ankara mainly because the Royal House of Saud does not very positively eye Ahmet Davutoglu’s Neo-Ottomanism, all together create a situation in the Eastern Mediterranean which does not offer any chances for opportunism by Sultan Erdogan’s White Palace.

To these conditions we can add the following parameter: the US is clearly troubled by Ankara’s bravado, mostly because it finds that once again, after 2003, they cannot count on Turkey’s help at a critical moment. Turkish policy has always had its own “agenda,” which, after the Cold War, has greatly varied from that of North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and this situation has become worse since Erdogan’s and the Islamists of the AKP rise to power.

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The constant “roars” by Ankara should certainly not pass unnoticed by Athens, Nicosia or Yerevan. Greeks and Armenians, however, should be aware that the international arena does not reward bullies when opposite them are calm and well prepared actors. The totality of Greeks and Armenians around the world is not of a meaningless size, particularly in North America, and can play a very diplomatic and strategic role in the resolution of existing conflicts.

Persistence is needed in building a modern deterrent strategy which would eliminate the phobias instilled in our Greek and Armenian societies of what Turkey may or may not do to achieve their expansionistic purposes. We need determination towards this problematic neighbor, who in recent years has become accustomed to “roar” and get what he wants. The ongoing fluidity of the international political scene, however, prevents countries like Armenia from holding rigid positions on matters such as the embargo, Karabagh and even official recognition of the Genocide by Turkey. This ongoing phenomenon of fluidity becomes visible also from last week’s report by the Central Bank of Turkey announcing a bigger increase in the country’s inflation of 8.9 percent which it had forecast last July with serious economic repercussions following soon.

Difficult times are, indeed, on the way for the “roaring lion”………