By Marios L. Evriviades
(Professor, International Relations and Security, Neapolis University Pafos)
The 6 billion euros “protection” money from the EU to Turkey.
Turkey received recently 6 billion euros from the European Union. Brussels dare not call these 6 billion “protection” money. But this is precisely what it is. The rationale from Brussels had been that the monies were given by agreement to Ankara so that the latter would continue “hosting” on its territory refugees and migrants who would otherwise inundate the EU, much like they did in 2015. Otherwise Ankara had made clear that Turkey would not act to prevent a repeat of 2015. In order to avoid such a repeat, the 6 billion euros was paid to Ankara. Is this action any different from the well known “protection” practices of mafias in cities worldwide?
If the refugee crisis in the regions of Syria and Iraq does continue unabated, in the aftermath of the defeat of the Islamic State in 2018, it is only because of the ongoing aggressive policies of Turkey against Syria, against the Kurds, as well as due to Ankara’s subterfuge support for Islamists terrorists in the greater region. Ankara has been the enabler of ISIS terrorism from the very beginnings of the Syrian crisis. Ankara sustains and manages the ISIS remnants as a matter of state policy. The humanitarian crisis in the region continues because of Ankara’s regional war designs and for no other reason. And a critical part of these designs remains the forceful change through ethic cleansing of the demographics of the region in northern Syria and Iraq. A precedent for these Turkish practice exists in nearby Cyprus.
Forceful demographic change forms part of the delusion of Ankara that in the end millions of Kurds and non Sunni Arabs will somehow either disappear or fatalistically accept a “Turkish peace” in the entire region. The flip side of Turkey’s warmongering is the use of the humanitarian crisis in the greater region as a bludgeon against the EU. This bludgeon policy has so far yielded considerable results for Ankara.
The Turkish President has repeatedly and personally threatened to hold the EU hostage to this Turkish made and managed refugee bludgeon. He has even gone so far as to threaten to unleash terrorists in the streets of Europe, unless his blackmailing political and economic demands are met.
With the sole exception of the practice of “hostage diplomacy”, which Erdogan copied from his brotherly Iranian Mullah regime -the 1980 US Tehran Embassy hostage crisis – the rest of Ankara’s blackmail practices bear an unmistakable Turkish imprint.
I will not go so far back as to cite the double dealing and pro-Nazi policies and practices of Ankara up until, literally, the end of WWII. But I shall mention this. Turkey was the only NATO country (the other was “neutral” Switzerland) that refused to return to its rightful owners gold stolen by the Nazis in Europe -mostly from victimized European Jews- and stored in Turkey. She kept the stolen gold.
The 19 IMF programs for Turkey since 1948.
Let me now move fast forward to 1979. The Turkish economy had collapsed once again and the Atlantic West, with the Americans in the lead, was running another of its now customary Turkey rescue operations through the World Bank and especially the International Monetary Fund (IMF). On its phase, it appears amazing that the Turkish economy had been subsidized in this manner by the West since 1948- Truman and Marshall Plan aid excluded. Aid in the form of grants, low interest loans- almost always forgiven- poured into Turkey from the World Bank, the IMF, the OECD, the US led Atlantic Alliance, plus Sweden, Japan South Korea and Saudi Arabia. And, equally amazing, during all this period Turkey was the largest recipient of Soviet economic aid in the world, with the exception of the Warsaw Pact states and Cuba. This fact is recorded in a 1979 unclassified CIA report on Soviet aid to the non-communist world.
From 1948 to 2005 (when the Erdogan government repaid the last loan) and, on average every three years or so, there have been 19 IMF bail out programs for Turkey. Turkey does hold the world record in this respect. It remains the best IMF client. If to this we add the constant largesse from the West, one conclusion becomes inescapable: Turkey is by far far the largest recipient of aid from the West of any other country. In this sense it rates also as the most politically spoiled. And this remains so to this day, as evidenced by the EU recent 6 billion.
The rational for this largesse had been obvious then, as it is today: Turkey was supposed to function as a bulwark against Soviet communism, against Russia today, and against other “barbarians” that appear every now and then threatening Western civilization of which Turkey is considered to be both a member but also claims to be a founder.
In the early 1950s, Washington selected three countries outside the traditional West that were deemed critical for its security against communism. They were Iran, Indonesia and Turkey. We know the history of the former two. If Turkey is not amongst them today, it is because of its institutional relationship with the West and primarily through NATO. It is this membership in this Western preeminent alliance that enabled Kemalist Turkey then, and enables the Islamist Turkey of today. Without the persistent succor of the Atlantic Alliance, Turkey today would have resembled an amalgamation of Egypt (not Iran) and Pakistan: overpopulated and fundamentalist.
Suleiman Demirel: “You must pay our bills because you need us”.
So, in 1979 the Americans rushed once again to the rescue. Dankward A. Rustow, a former high-ranking official of the Johnson Administration and well-known friend of Turkey, was dispatched to Ankara to make as assessment of the situation. On his return he wrote an article entitled “Turkey’s Travails” (Foreign Affairs, Fall, 1979), where he rehashed the familiar argument: Turkey is so vital for the security of the West it should be helped back on its feet, again. It has been well known that such policy articles in Foreign Affairs, specifically, foreshadowed decisions already made. In Rustow’s case the primary purpose was to enhance the image of Turkey as an “indispensable” but always “a neglected ally”, as well as influence Congress for the outlay of the funds needed. It was no accident, for example, that the 1980 Turkish coupists timed their plans around the relevant Western decisions concerning military and economic grants and loans to Ankara.
Rustow’s article contains, wittingly or not, an extraordinary revelation.
He describes a meeting in Ankara with a former Turkish Prime Minister whom he does not name, but who almost certainly was Suleiman Demirel. Rustow writes that Demirel told him: “You [the US / West] must pay our bills because you need us” (p. 102). And Rustow writes that he advised him, amicably, not to express himself in such a manner lest his position be perceived as blackmail!
Tales Rivaling the Arabian Nights
For Turkey then and now, the Atlantic West remains the goose that that lays the golden eggs. The EU 6 billion is just the latest in this saga. And the recent talk about the country “breaking” from the West, about “going East” (with a hidden “Eurasianists” ideology), about abandoning NATO, nay even about founding and leading an “Islamic NATO”, are tales that rival those of the Arabian nights. These and similar scenarios are concocted by Turkish propagandists and their western satraps as the price that the West will supposedly pay for giving up, or more precisely, for “abandoning” Turkey. The cliche phasing of this come in the form of the “Who lost Turkey?” hullabaloo. A cliche not unlike the “Who lost China”, “Who lost Vietnam”, and “Who lost Iran”, ones. Except that with Turkey “lost”, so would civilization. The disaster would be unmitigated, we are told.
Unlike in the West, in Ankara they have always known who has been buttering their bread. But for this to continue there must always exist threats from the East against the West and with a Turkey, at its best, standing in the way and “mediating” them away. And at its worse “manufacturing” these threats and, again, with typical Turkish “magnanimity” taking care of them for the West. This has been case with Erdogan’s Islamist Turkey.