Erdogan Shows Himself Up As Little More Than A Blackmailing Thug; India Should Back The Kurds

by R Jagannathan - Oct 11, 2019 12:29 PM +05:30 IST
Erdogan Shows Himself Up As Little More Than A Blackmailing Thug; India Should Back The KurdsTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (ADEM ALTAN/AFP/GettyImages)
  • Erdogan is no friend of India, as his statement supporting the Pakistani position of Jammu & Kashmir shows.

    India needs to show him his place.

The Turkish invasion of Syria, ostensibly to deal with Kurdish terrorism, is likely to set off a new wave of Islamic terrorism. This follows the short-sighted decision of US President Donald Trump to let Turkey lead the fight against Islamic State.

It’s like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdogan is an Islamist state, not some benign secular force. In leaving Turkey free to enter Syria and deal with the Kurds – who were at the forefront of the Western fight against Islamic State in the areas they controlled – the US is making the same mistake it made with Pakistan in the late 1980s.

It armed jihadi groups to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, and then left Pakistan to deal with the remnants when the Soviets withdrew. The result was the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, who then sheltered Osama bin Laden and helped perpetrate the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers.

If Turkey now eviscerates the Kurds, the old fighters of Islamic State will regroup and regain strength. India must be firmly on the side of the Kurds. We are freed from all restraints on this score, as Erdogan has chosen to stand closer to the Pakistani view on Jammu & Kashmir. A few weeks ago, India decided to pay Turkey back in its own coin, by schmoozing with Turkey’s rivals in Europe.

Erdogan is nothing more than a blackmailing Islamist, as became apparent when he blasted the European Union (EU) for criticising his invasion of Syria. Erdogan made the following clear threat to the EU.

“Hey EU, wake up. I say it again: if you try to frame our operation there (in Syria) as an invasion, our task is simple: we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you.”

Now, if this is not blackmail, one wonders what is.

Blackmail is the strategy followed by Pakistan. Every time the US or other nations try to get tough with Pakistan or the jihadi groups allied to it, including the Haqqani network that has repeatedly targeted NATO forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan would threaten to close the supply routes to Afghanistan. Or decline to share intelligence with the US. The US ended up repeatedly diluting its tough line with Pakistan.

Another form of blackmail is to repeatedly threaten nuclear escalation in its fight with India over Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan’s postures after India abrogated Article 370 have been about repeatedly threatening nuclear war over the issue.

The key to Pakistan’s power over the US and NATO has always been its ability to blackmail.

Now, we can add Turkey to the list. The EU is mortally afraid of taking in the millions of Syrian and other refugees who have sought to enter Europe via Turkey. Erdogan has now threatened to let those already in Turkey to exit towards continental Europe unless they back his invasion of Syria.

In recent years, the EU has been roiled by a massive influx of Muslim refugees who have not only brought a medieval culture with them, but also hidden cells of jihadis. Their hatred of Western civilisation is as strong as their desire for Western resources and power.

If the EU does not call Erdogan’s bluff, it is going to create a new blackmailing thug right at the doors of Europe. Turkey will be the new Pakistan.

As far as India is concerned, our interests lie with the Kurds and not Turkey. We have rightly criticised Turkey for its action against the Kurds in Syria. Just as we backed the Baloch cause to counter Pakistani support for jihadis in J&K, we should back the Kurdish cause for an independent homeland and show Erdogan the middle finger. Erdogan is no friend of India, as his statement supporting the Pakistani position of Jammu & Kashmir shows.

India needs to show him his place.

Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.
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