WHY TURKEY IS CONFIDENT OF WESTERN SUPPORT
First Post, UK
Oct 23 2007
Ashley Inglis sees the Turkish PM in bullish form on the eve of his
meeting with Gordon Brown
The Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan should have looked like a man under
intense pressure. The current impasse with Washington over how to
respond to Kurdish separatist attacks on the Turkish army threatens
another regional crisis. So why did Erdogan look so confident in his
Oxford Union address on Monday, ahead of talks today with Gordon Brown
Despite his protestations that "our goal is to make friends not
enemies", Turkey’s build-up of troops on the border with Iraq has
caused dismay in Washington and therefore here in Britain.
Yet Erdogan is confident we will side with him. Why? Because he knows
we need what he’s got (trade and military supply routes, air space).
And because he’s been on our side all along.
Just look at the list of shared interests, he seemed to be saying:
Afghanistan ("Turkey Erdogan knows that the West will side with him –
we need what he has got twice commanded ISAF"), the ‘security’ of Iraq
("If they need us to train their army we will"), even global warming
(Turkey is moving towards Kyoto). And, of course, that common thread –
the war against ‘terrorism’.
Erdogan used the word 32 times in Oxford. He needn’t have bothered:
the point was made for him by a young Turkish girl who explained in
a choked voice how her uncle, a soldier, had gone to fight the PKK
and never returned.
Erdogan’s gentle smile at this – somewhere between compassion and
vindication – said it all: Turkey, just like the US and Europe,
must defend itself from the scourge of terrorism. All talk of genuine
Kurdish grievances, along with that unmentionable Armenian genocide,
was swept away.
Perhaps that was why Erdogan, reminiscent of a car salesman as he
listed Turkey’s international mod cons, was so confident. He was
selling us our own product. He knows he is talking our talk and – if
the current round of diplomacy fails – he also knows that, ultimately,
we’ll let him walk our walk.