Not strategy, but an urgent need for cash is main factor on Erdogan’s disregarding Syria and focusing on Libya. He begun to deploy SADAT militias to Libya. Channel Istanbul is a part of this bargain.
The Arab Spring caused civil uprisings, civil wars and overthrow of dictators in North Africa and Middle East countries. During this time, Turkey chose to be practitioner of Political Islam Project, financed by Qatar, on the field instead of understanding the events and deciding wisely. Unrealistically, Turkey believed that she would be the leader of new Middle East. She led training and arming of moderate opponents in Syria. The fighters and jihadists coming from all over the world crossed into the Syria by using the Turkish territory and borders. Oil obtained in ISIS-controlled areas was sold through Turkey. The information on money traffic between Erdogan Regime and ISIS was handed to the United Nations Security Council by Russia in March 2016. When the Erdogan Regime apologised to Russia in June 2016, the case was closed.
Started with a demand of legitimate democracy by public, Arab uprisings hit the wall in Syria. Started on a legal ground with support of Turkey, too, these movements were terrorized in Syria. The radical Salafist groups, coming from all over the world, overshadowed Arab peoples’ legitimate demand on change as a result of what they did in Syria. It was understood that political Islam would not emerge as a democratic movement as in the case of Egypt. The idea, Islam and democracy cannot co-exist, has gained strength. The Erdogan regime’s activities in the field with the financial support of Qatar played a significant role in these developments. Erdogan, in response to a deal to establish his regime in Turkey became practitioner of the global project. Ultimately, one-person rule regime started to rule over Turkey.
Money is vital in sustainment of this regime. Erdogan thinks that his power will continue as long as he maintains the unearned income system, he established through government procurements. Everything, including Turkey’s strategic location, can be subject to negotiation to ensure the flow of money. Thanks to the created fear empire and thanks to the people in bureaucracy who replaced purged people in state institutions and who believe sustainment of their gains is bonded to sustainment of the Erdogan regime, anything can be done as long as public is deceived with narratives such as survival of the state, sustainment of land, etc.
Until two weeks ago, Syria, YPG and the Operation Spring Peace occupied the first place on the agenda, but on these days, we are discussing Canal Istanbul, the Eastern Mediterranean and Libya. So, what happened and why has the schedule changed so quickly?
When said establishing new cities in the east of Euphrates with Operation Spring Peace, Erdogan was planning not only to create new opportunities for the construction companies, most prominent supporters of him, but also to place the refugees who are becoming a burden on the country’s economy. He thought that the EU would support him financially. However, when the plans changed in the field, Erdogan began to look for new ways out.
Canal Istanbul project came up again. Even though it would cause loss of the rights gained by the Montreux Convention, Erdogan opened the Channel Istanbul project to the debate. Montreux Convention together with the Lausanne Treaty, is one of the most important founding documents of the Republic of Turkey. It regulates the transit of commercial and military ships through the Turkish straits under conditions of war and peace while ensuring the security of the Black Sea coastal states. It is not wrong to say with tonnage restrictions it provides protection of not only Turkey but also Russia.
From this point, this time, Erdogan seems to have opened negotiations with Putin over the straits. Tonnage limitation regulations on warships in Montreux Convention also protects Russia. If the Canal Istanbul would be done, this protection will be over. The bargain issue in Erdogan’s mind should not be too difficult to predict.
As it is often repeated, the protection of our rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean depends on the existence of the UN-backed Libyan Government of National Accord, the signatory of the recent agreement. But there is a problem here. Russia and Erdogan support different sides in Libya.
Soldiers connected to the Russian Wagner Company has changed the balance in favour of General Hafter. Egypt sees any external intervention in Libya as a problem for its national security. Apart from Turkey, England, Italy and Qatar supports the Government of National Accord in Libya. Yet no country except Turkey has announced that they would provide military support.
The world’s best quality oil comes out in Libya. General Hafter has control of this oil fields. Unless there is external support, General Hafter will seize Tripoli in the future and will be recognized as a legitimate authority. Erdogan thinks that he will get a share of oil only if he changes the balance in favour of the Government of National Accord in Libya. That’s why he says they can send troops if needed.
Last week Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov stated that some of the jihadist groups in Idlib were seen in Libya and they are worried about that situation. Those jihadists can go to Libya only via Turkey. Erdogan prefers to be on the field under the umbrella of SADAT first. Erdogan will use the bargain of the Canal Istanbul project with Putin to be active in the area of Libya.
The Erdogan regime has made a plan to obtain a share on the oil of Libya through enlarging the civil war in Libya, which is very similar what he did to establish a funding source in Syria. Thus, the palace will have the urgent liquid money that needed to maintain its system.
No country in the world is a party to a civil war and that is not damaged, including USA. In Libya, Turkey is being dragged to an adventure that would cause a strategic loss as she conflicts with all actors in the field, as she can face an armed conflict with Egypt, and as she is concentrating all her rights to her weakest point in the eastern Mediterranean. It is not possible to explain the events with the words of state policy, survivorship and national interest. After 15 July 2016, a regime change has happened in Turkey. For the continuation of this regime, Erdogan owes a penance debt to those who presented this regime to him, and he also has homework to do, and he must maintain the unearned income system with liquid money, regularly. There’s nothing he may not do for this sake.