Orhan Kemal Cengiz
Erdogan's partnership with Eurasianists getting stronger
Robert Green, in his famous book, "The 48 Laws of Power" tells us how powerful people skillfully turned their enemies into friends and allies in history. He mentions striking examples of politicians who have had this ability. One of the most interesting stories he cites is the partnership formed between Talleyrand, Napoleon's foreign minister, and Joseph Fouche, who was the head of the secret police. They hated each other so much that Fouche even tried to have Talleyrand assassinated. Nevertheless, they formed a partnership to fight against Napoleon.
If Robert Green had known President Erdogan when he was writing his book, I believe he would have allocated a large section to him. Erdogan's ability to turn his solemn enemies into his partners is superb and well above many other leaders.
Erdogan has had huge fights with so many of his present partners before. When he was making "an opening" into the Kurdish question, he was fighting against Devlet Bahceli, who is the Chair of the Nationalist Movement Party. If you listened to their speeches, you would think that they hated each other so much and they would have never come side by side. Bahceli is the biggest supporter of Erdogan now.
The most surprising and mind-boggling partnership Erdogan formed was the one he had with “Ulusalcıs” (neo-nationalists or nationalist-leftists) and Eurasianists, who would like to break Turkey's partnership with the West and move the country to the Russian-Chinese axis. These people once were the targets of Erdogan and some of them were being tried in the Ergenekon cases. For example, one of Erdogan's biggest supporters today, Dogu Perincek, who is the leader of the Patriotic Party and who is a Maoist, has close relations with China and Russia. Perincek spent six years in prison due to the Ergenekon case, for which Erdogan once said "I am the prosecutor of this case!" Perincek is also the person who introduced Alexander Dugin, whose ideas have a profound effect on Putin and Russia's political affairs, to Turkish public opinion and pro-government media.
The partnership between Erdogan and the ultra-nationalist "Left" was a big surprise for everyone because these people are also ultra-secular and once, they were the champions of opposition against Erdogan. However, Erdogan and these groups came together when they were trying to get rid of Gulenists from the state ranks. I think that they also found out they had so much in common during this process. After all, Neo-Ottomanism and Eurasianism have many similarities in understanding the world. They both see the West as a threat and Russia and China as their partners. They are isolationists, do not care much about democracy, and so on.
If you keep all of these in mind, things happening nowadays may be more meaningful. In this sense, Erdogan's closeness to Putin may not only be a practical approach based on mutual interests but also an ideological one fed by a similar understanding of the world. Erdogan’s partners at home and abroad have similar mindsets.
There are a few developments I read as indicators that Erdogan will develop his partnership more and more at home and abroad with the Eurasianists.
One critical development in this sense was that Erdogan appointed Metin Feyzioglu as Turkey's Ambassador to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Feyzioglu, who is a law professor and former Chairperson of the Union of Bar Associations, was once in a big quarrel with Erdogan. He is a staunch Ulusalcı and his views on Cyprus, rejecting any idea of reunification, are well known. His appointment is a serious indicator that the government will be much harsher on the Cyprus issue and Turkey will have more confrontational positions with Greece.
Another interesting thing to notice was an interview given to Sozcu newspaper in which a former Turkish Admiral claimed that the US is planning to invade Turkey (https://gerceknews.com/news/former-turkish-admiral-accuses-the-us-of-planning-to-invade-turkey#gsc.tab=0 ). The admiral asserted that US military buildup in Greece is targeting Turkey, that the US is planning to kick Turkey out of NATO, and an invasion will follow. You may not take this conspiracy theory seriously, but this interview was published in the best-selling newspaper; it was in the headline and covered the first half page of this newspaper.
By appointing Feyzioglu to Northern Cyprus as an Ambassador, Erdogan was refreshing his alignment with Ulusalcıs and Eurasianists. With this interview, Ulusalcıs were also sending friendly messages to him. Erdogan's partnership with these groups will be much stronger in the coming days and it will be felt both at home and abroad in much stronger way.
Putin is doing everything he can to support Erdogan. His last suggestion to create a hub for gas in Turkey is a serious contribution to Erdogan's election campaign. Turkey is getting away from the West and obviously this will accelerate in the coming days.
Erdogan’s partnership with Ulusalcıs and Eurasianists once started as a tactical maneuver. But in that process, they realized that they had so much in common and their geopolitical targets could easily be reconciled. Erdogan is not only getting closer with Putin but also developing stronger ties with Eurasianists at home. All these developments feed each other and will have significant consequences in the coming days.