Erdogan’s quest

By Herbert I. London

Published November 1, 2018 in The American Thinker

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey has raised the stakes in his quest for oil from Saudi Arabia with what he called the premeditated murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It was clear that the murder was premeditated.

Erdoğan said he would reveal the details of the investigation, but those are already clear. Turkey has its claws in Saudi’s oil. Moreover, Erdoğan has a strategy to undermine Mohammed bin Salman without going to war with Saudi Arabia.

Erdoğan has always been deferential toward the king, whom he respects as the protector of Islam of holy mosques, and has decided to separate the king from his son, targeting only the crown.

But Erdoğan cast his net widely. His aim is broad and his lust for power insatiable. He acts like a paranoid schizophrenic with a powerful air force.

Where this will lead is anyone’s guess, but Erdoğan won’t back down, and the king cannot retreat. Trump is up against it, hard pressed for answers yet lost in a quagmire of competing principles.

Trump must be transparent and also stand on principle. Looking over his shoulder is the 900-aircraft deal, one that Trump announced, an important economic breakthrough. Trump is left with high-sounding ideas, low expectations, and a Middle East that could explode.

In this case, it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t. It has long been Turkey’s dream to recreate the Ottoman Empire. The great powers have stood in the way. Where they stand is not obvious. However, Turkish ambitions should not be underestimated. Turkey makes the best candy in the Middle East, but can the sweetness belie the real taste?

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