The Fate of the World Literally Lies in the Hands of One of Its Worst Leaders

Think about it- Turkey has been in the news a lot lately and not for good reasons. Between the refugee crisis of the past year to the attack at Ataturk Airport to the failed coup d’etat of last month, it seems that the Turkish state is reaching a tipping point. Of course, let’s not forget the seemingly endless and destructive war in Syria that is knocking on Turkey’s front door. ISIL is definitely able to infiltrate scores of disaffected young refugees who are encamped throughout the Turkish terrain and radicalise anyone who wants to fight against those who have forced them to flee and/or earn money for their families.

In the midst of all this, it is easy to forget history. Turkey is not an Arab nation. Turks are more secular and Westernised than many of their Arab neighbours and counterparts and tend to also be a lot more pro-US, though certainly not by a majority. Here’s the thing: Turkey now finds itself at an international crossroads in the balance of power, not just in the Middle-East, but arguably in the whole of the world, like it never has before. The United States is attempting to strengthen Turkey’s membership of NATO by inviting them to launch airstrikes into Syria. Problem is, the Turks are not targeting ISIL- they’re targeting Kurdish forces operating in Syria with the backing of the United States because any growth in territory of Kurds along the Turkish border with Syria spells bad news for Ankara. Coincidentally, these are the same fighters that Russia are bombing, but for different reasons. Moscow is targeting US-backed militias because they want to see Assad remain in power, and the Kurds and other pro-US forces want to see Assad ousted. Iran has a stake in this game too. The Iranians are fierce supporters of the Assad regime because they share the same religious background (Shia Islam) as opposed to Iraqi Sunni Islam. Without Assad, they lose a key Shia ally in the region- one who also is able to connect, through geography, Iranian agents in Syria to Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon to fight against Israel.

trieb 17.nbcnews-ux-1024-900A surprise actor has found its place in this conflict- China. Believe it or not, China plays a major role in this conflict. The Chinese are attempting to create a pan-Asian “New Silk Road” which would cross Central Asia into Eurasia and then of course, into Europe. Through which route? Why, Turkey of course. The only way China can guarantee the success of their new trade route is by having a strong ally in Ankara and that of course leads us to our biggest problem- Ergodan.


President Erdogan is playing all four sides with the same hand. He thinks that if he portrays himself as a necessary, pragmatic voice in the Middle East, all sides will want him to stay. This gamble is destined to fail him. The United States want a partner who respects human rights and democracy and who will take the fight of Turkey’s enormous armed forces to ISIL. Russia is still fuming over the downing of one of its Air Force jets by the Turks and want Erdogan to publicly endorse Assad to stay in power. Iran wants Turkey to crush the Kurdish separatist movement because, as of recently, they have their own Kurdish ‘problem’ arising in the west of their country. China wants to break into the Eurasian markets and the only way to do that is to have the largest democracy with the strongest military capability maintain its own stability and keep its commerce safe and sound.

At this point, Erdogan is failing on all fronts. Yesterday, the PKK (Kurdish Worker’s Party) launched coordinated roadside bomb attacks outside police headquarters in Eastern Turkey. The coup d’etat of last month has raised doubts of many in Washington and Brussels as to whether Turkey is able to implement any of the democratic reforms it pledged to enact to prepare itself for EU membership. Of course, simply having a military-led coup has shown the United States and Europe that Erdogan has lost control of his military and thus cannot be relied upon as a NATO partner in this critical juncture in the fight against ISIL. What’s more, this coup has rendered Turkey completely unable to enforce its own airspace, allowing Russian fighters to fly from Iran over Turkey and into Syria unmolested by the Turkish Air Force. In addition, Turkey’s economy is in tatters because of all of the unrest, going back to the start of the refugee crisis which has overwhelmed Turkey’s domestic resources. All of this strife, plus an inept, paranoid autocrat who will sooner see his people suffer than leave office, makes for a very fragile situation.


If Turkey fails, as it is possible will happen in the next five-ten years if there is not a change in leadership soon, the fate of the world is at stake. The Turkish people need a strong leader who is also committed to democracy and cooperating with NATO objectives in order to maintain the global order enshrined after WWII. Turkey is no less important to global security than it was in 1962 when, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy order nuclear weapons to be based in Turkey to scare off the Russians from putting missiles in Cuba. Erdogan has done well to ensure that destabilise not only his own country, but the region as a whole through his gross incompetence and failure to care for his own people. His €1bn palace and his Presidential Guard units will not be able to stop the onslaught of what is inevitable if the current trajectory is unchanged- four angry powers vying for top spot.