July 31, 2016
By William Medici
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s tyrannical focus to retain his grip on his country has proved to be incredibly dangerous to Turkey’s citizens, allies and will lead to the continuing erosion of stability in the region and beyond. His reluctance to engage complex issues (i.e. Syria’s civil war, migrants, ISIS, etc.) beyond Turkey’s borders have escalated to point where it now hinders on what he and what is left of his ‘loyal’ cohorts’ ability to develop any meaningful strategy to address these issues.
NATO and the European Union have not exactly offered real concrete plans or have been effective with motivating Turkey to do what remains to be done. In turn, our own leadership failed to rally our allies or to provide a strategy to combat this crisis. Instead, we have become spectators, watching it unfold like ‘Oedipus The King,’ as we refuse to acknowledge the reality, even though it will come back to bite us.
Then there is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s push to engage with Erdoğan on “trade deals” as it is described by both state-run media outlets. Putin saw an opening with Britain’s decision to leave the EU. In fact, Brexit will certainly impact a few countries in the Balkans who are looking to get into the EU, the very same countries that both Russia and Turkey are looking to influence. All of this will have consequences that will reverberate beyond the region and affect the political and economic balance in a shaky Europe, in particular in Eastern bloc countries where sketchy political coalitions, financial deficits, high unemployment rates combined with an uncertain future for their youth and a rise in nationalism will sow the seeds of troubles for growth across the rest of Europe.
This does not bode well for our national security. Why? Because Turkey is an NATO ally and the country borders the quagmire that is Syria as well as the highly combustible Iraq and an Iran that is looking to assert its power. Our own complicated relationship with Turkey has us walking a very tightrope when it comes to the Kurdish Peshmerga, a dependable partner and lethal fighting force that have been successful in the war against ISIS and various terrorist groups in the region.
There is no easy solution here. Jihadis have extended their fight across the planet. Focus of fighting still remains in Turkey’s backyard. Still, it will take the entire neighborhood to quell this and not just the United States. The concept of international borders that were drawn by the British and the French after the end of WWI and part of the Sykes-Picot Agreement have been obliterated. They will need to be redefined. The Turks, Syrians, Jordanians, Sunni and Shiites along with the Kurds will be at the table along with the P5 +1 to do what should’ve been done 100 years ago. Make no mistake, the fighting will go on for decades, and containment can not be reversed. We need to live with it.
William Medici is a former intelligence operations officer, Army veteran turned entrepreneur, communications strategist, writer & producer, media contributor and philanthropist.
July 31, 2016