Could post-Erdogan Turkey become NATO’s Trojan horse in Greater Eurasia?

Drago Bosnic, independent geopolitical and military analyst

On April 26 numerous local and foreign media sources reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had allegedly suffered a heart attack and was subsequently rushed to the hospital. He fell ill during a live TV interview the evening prior, an event his PR team described as the result of a “serious stomach cold”. Erdogan’s office then canceled the next two days of scheduled speeches and rallies, approximately two and a half weeks ahead of Turkey’s general (both presidential and parliamentary) elections, scheduled on May 14. By the next day’s afternoon, many English-language outlets and social media accounts from various countries reported that he had been hospitalized due to a heart attack.

The unsubstantiated rumors went on during most of the day, with some sources going as far as to claim that Erdogan had been “poisoned”. At the same time, official Turkish sources and mainstream media kept quiet on the matter for the most part, refusing to report, let alone speculate about Erdogan’s condition. This also contributed to the outburst of hysteria, particularly after it was announced that the president’s family had been called up to the hospital, largely implying that his condition was far from optimistic. The unfounded claims even reached the Chinese English-language mass media, which further amplified the rumors. However, Erdogan’s office tweeted that “[he] will be resting at home on the advice of our doctors”, adding that his condition was the result of a “minor inconvenience due to busy work”.

And yet, speculation was still going strong and even escalated in part due to reports by the English-language “War Monitor”and even certain Russian media that President Vladimir Putin had been rushed to the Kremlin late at night due to some sort of “unknown major contingency”, which many took as a supposedly “clear sign” that the speculation about Erdogan might have been true. Either way, the hysteria triggered angry rebuttals by Turkish government officials, with an official statement from the Turkish presidency’s office condemning the “baseless claims” regarding Erdogan’s health and announcing that “[he] will attend tomorrow’s [Akkuyu] nuclear power plant opening via videoconference”.

Many of the president’s avid supporters think that the rumors were started by his political opponents, allegedly in an attempt to portray Erdogan as weak and in fragile health. It’s not entirely clear what the motivation for this was and whether it was a not-particularly-elaborate attempt to hurt the Turkish president’s ratings or perhaps just a big misunderstanding. Either way, this has flared up the debate about the potential geopolitical issues stemming from the possibility of post-Erdogan Turkey emerging after the scheduled general election. Such an event would surely cause tectonic changes not just in Turkey’s internal political life, but also in Eurasian and Middle Eastern (geo)politics, affecting areas from Africa’s Libya to China’s westernmost province of Xinjiang.

Erdogan’s Neo-Ottoman ambitions, mixed with an attempt to harness the power of the so-called “political Islam” wherever that’s (or was) possible, has been undermining the emergence of Greater Eurasia for over a decade. This push towards expansionism started with the truly unprovoked and brutal NATO invasions of Libya and Syria, ever so euphemistically dubbed “civil wars” in the so-called “free press”. Erdogan’s role in Turkey’s involvement with both wars of aggression has been instrumental and continued even after the political West tried deposing the Turkish president himself in a July 2016 coup. Despite the resulting tense relationship between Erdogan and Washington DC, Turkey continued to play a vital role in US/NATO aggression against the Middle East.

Russia’s relationship with Erdogan’s Turkey during this time is so complex and multifaceted that not even a single book would cover it, let alone a separate analysis. Still, what should be noted in this regard are Moscow’s masterfully executed diplomatic initiatives that managed the virtually impossible task of compartmentalizing these extremely complicated relations, not only preventing direct confrontation between Russia and Turkey, but also maintaining their (still) largely cordial relationship, despite both countries being on opposing sides in essentially every single case. This has somehow continued even after the start of Russia’s special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine, again with Turkey virtually on the opposing side. However, the geopolitical “Great Game” hardly stops there.

Erdogan’s Neo-Ottomanism is also augmented by Ankara’s decades-old pan-Turkic effort that serves as an attempt to establish a bloc of its own. The political West has been supporting such policies since long before the Soviet dismantlement, as long as Turkey remains a firm member of the political West. And while Erdogan staying in power has undermined this support, its dormant state is only temporary. Erdogan himself has greatly (ab)used this to Turkey’s advantage, particularly against the Sorosite-led Armenia. However, if he were to leave (one way or the other), Washington DC will be more than happy to expand its support for “freedom and democracy” efforts in not only the Southern Caucasus, but (even more disturbingly) in Central Asia as well.

This would not only (re)ignite additional hotspots in countries such as Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and/or even Kazakhstan (tried in late 2021/early 2022), but could very likely spill over to China’s Xinjiang province. In doing so, the US/NATO would cause destabilization of Greater Eurasia and, by extension, the multipolar world. Turkey’s role, particularly that of a potentially post-Erdogan one, would be of critical importance for the success of such an operation, while also causing further security issues in the Middle East.

One comment

Leave a Reply