Turkey and the Belt of Evil
Turkey is facing hard challenges. There are many developments are now occurring in its southern neighboring countries. It has started to feel this threat since the failed coup attempt against the Turkish president, Erdogan, in mid-2016. Hence, it presently believes that there is a deliberate project targeting its national security. In the long term, Turkey wants to counter this plot that many Turkish politicians recently indicated on several occasions.
Turkey has, to a great extent, lost its ability to control the military equation in the north of Syria. This area has become a place for instability since IS appeared there in 2011. After the Arab Spring in Egypt, the turmoil engulfed many Arab countries including Syria. From then on, several armed groups have been fighting for dominating the cities on the border between Syria and Turkey. Consequently, the Kurds are already advancing towards their historic dream, the Kurdish state.
This time, experts predict that the Kurds would command a wider geographic region overlooking the Mediterranean sea. In this way, the Kurds would be able to get rid of their strategic weak point, their landlocked state. Turkey is sure that the American leaders are behind this project since they openly support the Kurds in their fight against IS. The US considers the Kurds of Syria as a trusted ally in this anti-terror war.
As another step in this direction, the Iraqi Kurds held their referendum on independence to separate from Iraq. They are now looking forward to annexing the oil-rich city of Kirkuk to their supposed state. But due to the recent Turkish-Iranian-Iraqi alliance, this Kurdish ambition has not come true yet. In this respect, the Turkish government affirms that the US is endorsing the Iraqi Kurds in their separatism endeavor, and pushing them to antagonize Turkey. The Turkish ruling party, the Justice and Development Party, has insisted that the US encourages the Kurds to achieve these goals: forming a greater Kurdistan, taking over petroleum resources, and possessing a seafront. This would make this assumed Kurdish state have the capacity to deal with any economic or military siege that the others might impose. In this way, the US will thereafter reshape the map of the Middle East in accordance with its interests.
In the light of these concerns, Turkey has strongly threatened the others not to try to prejudice its territorial integrity or national security. So, the Turkish prime minister, Binali Yildirim, said: " our country knows those who are paving the road for the Belt of Evil on our border with Syria and Iraq. We recognize the enemies who are seeking to destroy our unity and solidarity. Thus, the Turkish people will not allow them to establish a terror state whatever it takes". Concurrently with this statement, Erdogan stated that in the wake of spreading the Turkish forces in Idlib of Syria that no one has the right to ask us about the reasons for taking this decision. He added that Turkey is now facing terrorist risks from Syria and Iraq and therefore the Turkish government has the complete right to erase this danger.
As a matter fact, Turkey is today paying the cost of its mistakes that it made in the previous years. It turned a blind eye to the IS activities and then it started to face the adverse effects of such opportunistic perform. As such, it is true to say that: "What goes around comes around". Actually, Turkey sought to apply a high-risk project in the neighboring countries. Many writers, including the Turkish ones, warned the Turkish leaders of supporting IS. That radical group was about to have its own Islamic state, running from the Mediterranean shores through the Syrian land to the Iranian borders via the north of Iraq. Once this semi-Talaban state failed, the Kurdish dilemma has emerged. So, this is a normal outcome of this game that Turkey did not manage well.
Turkey refused to listen to the voice of wisdom. This yielded a strategic vacuum in the north of Syria and Iraq. SO, countless analytic scholars urged Ankara to discuss the future of this geographic zone with the legal governments of Baghdad and Damascus. But Turkey, unfortunately, dealt with these capitals arrogantly. Then, it declared that it would expand its national borders to stretch from Idlib to Mosul city. For this, Turkey is caught in this complicated quagmire.
Over the past years, this Important region of the Middle East has testified what the US and its allies called: The extension of the Shiite Crescent. As a pro-American at that time, Turkey did every possible thing and conducted all its inflammatory policies to obliterate this project. Turkey was working on constructing a new radical Sunni state to be a buffer zone preventing Iran from reaching the Mediterranean sea. This led to destroy cities, annihilate innocent people, deport millions of families from their homes, and to tear the communities of Iraq and Syria severely.
Turkey, as it claimed, was aspiring to be the strongest savior to the Sunni world from what is known as the Shii threat. Turkey itself was a cause of this mess which later led to a new phase of troubles. But this time, Turkey became targeted by the results of this radical policy. Ironically, Turkey is now calling for more cooperation with Iran, the leading Shiite power, to find a solution for these challenges.
Finally, we can say that the Ottoman approach that Turkey followed in the previous period has generated this volatile belt. Hence, if Turkey does not negotiate with the central governments of Iraq and Syria to solve these problems in the Kurdish areas, it would bear a great burden.
Diyari Salih is an Iraqi academic, Ph.D. in Political Geography, Baghdad, Post-Doctorate in International Relations, Warsaw, Focuses on the Geopolitical Issues in Iraq.