21 December 2018 02:47

Getting ever more bogged down in the quagmire

For the past week, the political agenda has been monopolized by a military operation to be conducted 'east of the Euphrates.'

Photograph: TSK


For the past week, the political agenda has been monopolized by a military operation to be conducted “east of the Euphrates.”

The media’s “Inward operation” has also attained an extraordinary speed over the past week.

This “east of the Euphrates” is most surely a huge chunk of territory stretching from Manbij to Qandil in which uncertainties prevail over many relationships.

However, one thing is abundantly clear from among the “uncertainties” and this is that its Syria policy has dragged Turkey into a quagmire from which it cannot easily extricate itself, made up of sectarian clashes, civil wars, imperialist powers clashing with a view to “redistribution” and “local reactionaries.”

It is for this reason that all historically aware people who to a greater or lesser extent follow Turkey’s Syria-centred Middle East policy have dubbed the Erdoğan-AKP governments’ Syria policy “Turkey’s entry into the Middle East quagmire.”


It has developed from a strategy motivated by “murderer and terrorist Assad” rhetoric;

encouraging a significant portion of the Syrian people to seek shelter as refugees in neighbouring countries so as to overthrow Assad;

supporting jihadist groups fighting the Assad regime;

endeavouring in cooperation with Qatar and Saudi Arabia and in conjunction with Western imperialist forces to overthrow the Syrian regime;

Turkey entering cooperation with the Russia and Iran alliance and reinventing itself as “broker” between the jihadist groups and Russia-Iran-Syria on seeing that overturning the Assad regime could not to be achieved so easily, and ending up as protector and patron of the jihadist groups in Idlib;

staging the “Euphrates Shield” operation to gain influence at the Syria table;

needing the “Olive Branch (Afrin)” operation in the run-up to the 24 June election; and, now, to preparations for a new operation with the claim that Turkey’s national security cannot be secured without staging an operation “east of the Euphrates.”


It was undoubtedly not the Syria crisis that first pushed Turkey towards a position where it cannot easily extricate itself from this Middle East quagmire.

Underlying Turkey’s embroilment in this quagmire is the mindset informing Turkey’s “national security strategy” in the “Intelligence Agency Report” penned in 2007 which argued for Turkey to assume an active foreign policy and which Davutoğlu then called “deep strategy.” Turkey has thereby been transformed into a country that sees itself entitled to conduct clandestine and open cross-border operations, interfere in the regimes of neighbouring countries and impose regimes on them.

Underlying both the military operations undertaken in North Iraq and relations with jihadist Islamist groups via the National Intelligence Agency as well as the Euphrates Shield and Afrin operations, the role assumed in Idlib and now the operation said to be going to target the “east of the Euphrates” is this view that the border of our national security starts beyond our borders.

That is, having pronounced that the border of our national security starts beyond our borders, this says our national security has no border.


For, “defending national security” dictates that wherever there is a border drawn on the soil of foreign territory that border must be transcended! Even if Turkey today controls two-thirds of the area under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria, tomorrow the threat to national security will be sought beyond those borders. This is the imperative of such a policy. In short, every step taken in this direction amounts to Turkey getting ever more bogged down in the quagmire.

This state of affairs is one that thrills nationalist circles and sets the sails of heroism-inspired and populist politics billowing. But, getting out of a quagmire takes far more energy than getting sucked into one. Never mind a Turkey enmeshed in economic crisis, not even the USA is able to muster this energy today. This is why the latter was forced to leave Iraq as if fleeing, cannot get out of Afghanistan much as it would like to and in Syria, conversely, is trying to procure forces that it will push into the quagmire on its behalf.

But Turkey is providing the USA with a blank cheque even against the remnants of Islamic State in the Syrian interior, saying, “Never mind the Syrian Democratic Forces, let us come and mop them up.”

Had the lesson been drawn from history, it would have been known that Turkey’s national security comes from peace with neighbours, respecting the right of peoples to self-determination and not imposing regimes on anyone.

But what those governing Turkey today know as history consists of legends encompassing a bit of “Islamism” and a bit of the “Grey wolf saga.”

And this suggests to them that history is only written by floundering from one end of the quagmire to the other!

(*) The reply as to why “east of the Euphrates” has come onto the agenda today is to be found in the Erdoğan-Bahçeli alliance’s need for a “state of war” in the approaching local elections.