The countdown to Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary elections has begun. Scheduled for 24 June, they are being held 16 months earlier than required. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan surprised everyone by agreeing to the request by Nationalist Movement Party leader Devlet Bahceli for an early poll. It may well be that the two men based their agreement on this issue on their patriotism and understanding of the magnitude of the threats facing Turkey and the plots against it by the global superpowers, especially the US. Erdogan in particular appears to be a target.
In order for us to understand why conspiracies are being waged against Turkey — which is a NATO member and is supposed to be an ally of the West — we must go back to the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate in 1924. It was then that the victors of World War One stripped Turkey of its Islamic identity and imposed on it a limited role beyond which it could not act. The West wanted the former centre of the Caliphate to be an example for secular countries in the region by erasing any trace or evidence of Islam in the public sphere, although Turkey’s population was 95 per cent Sunni Muslim. Kemal Ataturk helped the West in this until his death in 1938, and all of the presidents who succeeded him were from the military and followed the same path; nobody with an Islamist vision was allowed to serve as president of the republic. Thus, when Necmettin Erbakan, the leader of the Welfare Party, became prime minister and carried with him a great idea of regional economic advancement as an alternative to the world order — and declared the establishment of seven Islamic countries as a third pole in the world, like the Bandung Conference — the military staged a soft coup against him, dissolved his party and put him on trial.
The West imposed a siege around Turkey to keep it away from its Muslim milieu in order to prevent any return to its Islamic roots. The pro-Western Turkish army took it upon itself to continue this task by carrying out coups against governments which neglected Ataturk’s secular teachings or displayed some Islamic features.
This was the case until the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) was established in 2002, from the ashes of the Welfare Party and led by Erdogan with an Islamist vision. Some of Erbakan’s students came to power after electoral victories. They found themselves in power during one of the worst periods in Turkey’s modern history, with corruption affecting all aspects of life. Economically, Turkey ranked 111th in the world.
Nevertheless, the AK Party managed to take the country to a different level thanks to a series of major achievements, unexpected by economic analysts; suddenly Turkey was ranked 16th in the world economically, and 6th in Europe. Its economy was the largest amongst the Muslim countries, and having once been in debt to the World Bank, the latter became indebted to Ankara. On top of this was Turkey’s independent political position, as the AK Party removed it from dependence on the West. Such independence was clear in its respectable position on the US-led invasion of Iraq and its refusal to allow its airspace to be used by America, while the Gulf countries were opening their land and skies to the invading US troops.
Turkey became an inspirational Islamic model for young people in the Arab world who witnessed the Arab Spring revolutions. The charismatic Erdogan became the role model of a leader that the Arabs wished for in their own countries.
Therein lies Erdogan’s danger to the West and his influence on the Islamic environment. The Turkish government became the civilian alternative to the oppressive military-tyrannies in the Arab world. This has frightened politicians in the West, who are afraid that the Arab governments who work and cooperate with them in exploiting the region are on the verge of collapse, which would lead to the downfall of the regional hegemony that has been in place for almost a century. Naturally, the West will not allow this to happen.
Furthermore, the Arab leaders themselves were (and are) afraid that they will lose their thrones, especially in the Gulf. Hence, they felt the need to fight Erdogan and suppress the Arab Spring revolutions. The UAE became the headquarters of the counter-revolutions after receiving the approval and blessing of Israel and America. This is where the failed coup attempt against Erdogan in July 2016 was plotted, sponsored by the US, which supports the parallel state run by Fethullah Gülen while living in self-imposed exile in America.
Since the failed coup, the West has tried to undermine Erdogan and besiege Turkey from within Syria by forming the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), armed by the US — which also provides the YPG with political and logistical support — in addition to the financial support provided, of course, by the UAE. The aim of the YPG is to destabilise Turkey and threaten its national security by creating a secessionist pocket in southern Turkey and working to establish a Kurdish state based on the vision of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). However, Erdogan surprised everyone with Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, and despite all of the predictions that it was a trap set up by the US, the Turkish President emerged victorious. He even threatened more military operations around Syria, in places such as Manbij, Ayn Al-Arab, Tell Abyad and Qashmali, to eliminate all terrorist elements which were originally planted to act as a constant and ongoing threat to his country. This intimidated the US and its allies who are anti-Erdogan.
After the Syrian revolution and the removal of NATO’s Patriot missiles from Turkey, Erdogan took a bold step. The result is that Turkey now produces about 65 per cent of its weapons and military equipment comparable in standard to those from the West. This is a red line as it has broken the West’s near-monopoly on the global arms trade, which has existed for around 100 years.
There is no doubt that Turkey is now a strategic target for America; today’s Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is not the Turkey that was under Ataturk and the pro-American presidents who followed him. The Turkey of NATO and a Western ally, which the US believed it had trained to revolve in its orbit, is no more. Washington wants it to be reined-in and weakened to curb its independence. This cannot happen without removing Erdogan and eliminating him from Turkish politics.
Previous conspiracies have failed, forcing the Americans to intensify their efforts by other means to abort the successful Turkish experience. In order to get Turkey to fly within the flock once more, the US is fighting the government in Ankara economically and tampering with the value of the Turkish Lira. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and those cooperating with them and following their orders, such as Lebanon, have stopped importing Turkish agricultural and industrial products. Jordan has cancelled a free trade agreement with Turkey to deal a blow to the Turkish economy. They have failed to shatter it, though, so they have resorted to bombing various AK Party buildings, only to lose the battle once again.
Led by America and the Arab rulers colluding with it, the chances of a candidate favoured by the West beating Erdogan in the presidential elections next weekend are slim; someone able to beat the incumbent President by fair means has not been found. Even likely alternatives such as former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and ex-President Abdullah Gul announced that they were not running against Erdogan and have instead supported the AK Party’s nomination of him as its presidential candidate. This is despite the fervent efforts made by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, including, apparently, financial offers to both men to challenge him. Their refusal was a blow for Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, which are not only conspiring against Erdogan himself, but also against Islam.
It is obvious that the global conspiracy against Turkey began after Erdogan’s successful experience created a renaissance in his country linked to his Islamist leanings. The conspiracy aims to prevent Turkey from leading the Muslim world once more, as Washington does not want a strong Sunni country to act as a reference point for the vast majority of the world’s Muslims; America’s dirty war against Sunni Muslims relies on the collaboration of so-called Sunni leaders. The US also refuses to allow the portrayal of a civilised image of Islam and Islamist politics, as it completely contradicts the Islamophobic bogey created to scare the world by means of Daesh, itself a creation of US intelligence. The US uses such Islamophobia as a cover to attack Muslim countries under the pretext of the “war on terror”, which is actually and very obviously a war on Islam.
Which president in any country in the world would be willing to sacrifice even an hour of their term of office, let alone sixteen months, as Erdogan has done? This demonstrates his absolute trust in the people, his strength and his confidence in what he has achieved. He is showing with his popularity that he is not afraid of competition at the polls.
Above all else, this proves his utmost respect for democracy and the will of the people, which is not something that can easily be said about governments in the West and their stooges in the Arab world. Erdogan’s experience will be studied in years to come as one of the most important political experiences of the modern era, one which the West, with all its power and might, could not abort.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.