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26 June 2015


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To summed it up it’s just simpler to say “He, Erdogan don’t know what the hell is he doing” if he really believes he can glue back and put together a Turkish centric alliance back on old Ottoman Empire.
Contrary to the policy of no problem with neighbors it turned out that turkey has problem with every, and each of his neighbors. Imagine how easy is to win / resolve issues over each of those neighbors and make them a sort of ally with current wider dived within the Sunni sates than that of within the Shia majority controlled states and groups.

Richard Armstrong

His plan, if it is a plan is a very Byzantine plan.

Babak Makkinejad

FB Ali"

The simpler explanation is that Turkey has wanted, in conjunction with her NATO allies, to combat Iranian expansion into Mesopotamia and Levant.

That project has been a partial success, the price being the creation of a new state called ISIS at the expense of Republic of Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic.

Iranians and their allies have not folded and the war drags on.

It is inconceivable for me to imagine Turkey wishing to lead the Arabs - they despise Arabs in Turkey.


I wrote something similar but much shorter on June 29 2014 when the caliphate was announced.
It will be interesting to see the reaction from Turkey, the rearward logistic base for ISIS, now IS. Erdogan surely would not mind a new caliphate but he will have objections against one in which he isn't the Caliph ruling it.
/endquote/ :-)


So I agree, Erdogan may well have these plans. But he will be able to go for that stunt? Will the Islamic State fall for his tricks? I doubt it. The Islamic State is at its core a Salafist/Wahhabi project. I doubt that its allegiance to that strain could be changed. Erdogan does not really fit into that concept nor would the Turkish people in my view go with it.

William R. Cumming

Thanks General Ali for your post and other comment providers for their comments.

For many reasons, some quite odd, I have long wondered why Turkey punched below its weight in the international order. In part I blamed on earthquakes and corruption.

But perhaps unfulfilled dreams are the main reasons. Odd how long dreams persist.


"they despise Arabs in Turkey."

They do.

In the pecking order I observed with my Turkish acquaintances here in Germany it about went like this: They come below Iranians, Egyptians, Israelis, Lebanese and Kurds. Turks naturally being on top.


I find it difficult to contemplate how Erdogan could possibly gain any purchase as a leader of ISIS' (islamic traditionalist) citizens when such a substantial percentage of Turkey's citizens wish to be embraced by European (modern, pluralistic) culture. Turkey's culture has extremely strong ties to pre-Islamic, nation-state-centered, culture, does it not? There must be a bloodbath inside Turkey before any of FB Ali's prognostications could possibly come to pass, imo.


One of the posters here wondered of late why Turlkey is so unconcerned about their border in light ofthe ongoing instability. Hunch: Perhaps because of their perceived temporary nature?

The Hungarians are unhappy about Trianon, pretty much as if it was yesterday.

Likewise, the Turks can't be happy about the Armistice of Mudros or Sykes-Picot, and may now see themeselves in a position to do something about it. At the least they probably would like to incorporate the tomb of Suleyman Shah back into Turkey.


"Odd how long dreams persist"

Spreaking of persistent dreams, I know a turkish woman (liked to wear necklace with a howling wolf sitting in a halfmoon) who told me that Crimea will be Turkish again.


There is a general assumption that Erdogan is fire-proof, i.e. impervious to external pressure/influence. This may be true for Erdogan himself who seems to have gone off the rails. It is not true, though, of his party colleagues and government leaders - much less the Turkish political class. They have striven for the past 20 years or so to gain a position of respect and influence in the world. They fear a return to marginalization. That opens the way for a strategy to bring them to their senses.

The central theme is to cast doubt on Turkey as a responsible state and to suggest that it is showing traits of a rogue state. Tactics could include the following: a public statement by senior American official that some friendly governments have engaged in actions that abet dangerous terrorist organizations; the planting of stories in the foreign press that some in Washington are questioning whether Turkey hasn't become a state sponsor of terrorism; tacitly encourage the American MSM to pick up the story - adding comparisons with Iran; have some pliable Sunday morning talk-fest dimwit (Chuck Todd?)raise the question of placing Turkey on the official "state sponsor of terrorism list;
let the good times roll.

Chances of the Obama people doing something like this? Zero - they probably have never even thought along these lines. They are too complacent and cocksure of themselves.

A side benefit of this approach is that it leads to questions as to why we are deeply engaged in the bombing of al-Qaeda's foes in Yemen.

FB Ali

I'm glad you also noted RTE's boundless ambition. How far he is successful in achieving some of that depends so much on circumstances, many beyond his control.

IS is a very centralized organization as far as command and control is concerned. If the leadership were to be changed (in a concealed coup) while ostensibly maintaining its Salafi creed, I doubt if the rank and file would question it. RTE may himself have Salafi leanings.

In the near term, I would not be at all surprised to see Turkey discreetly assisting the IS in overthrowing Assad and in controlling the Sunni areas of Iraq.

FB Ali

I would suggest that looking at everything through the prism of Iran skews the picture.

Despising someone does not preclude ruling over them - especially if they have resources one needs.

FB Ali

As far as "his party colleagues and government leaders" are concerned, I wonder if you've read the transcript of Davutoglu's conversation with the intelligence chief. They were like school children wondering what the teacher would want them to do!

I agree a large number of Turks have no desire to resurrect the 'empire', and would much rather attach their country to the West. But one should not underestimate RTE's ability to ride roughshod over such objections. Look what he did to the all-powerful military, the judiciary, and the Gulen organization.

Babak Makkinejad

Ockham's Razor.

Else I am to believe that a member of NATO Alliance has gone off reservation...

Babak Makkinejad

A foreign government official walks into Quai d'Orsay and is met by the Foreign Minister.

He says: "We need development aide."

The Foreign Minister replies: "We can help you. But first tell me, do you have any Shia Muslims in your country?"

The fellow responds: "No, but why do you ask?"

The Foreign Minister replies: "That is too bad because then we could help you fight them."

And the fellow asks: "Where can I get some Shia Muslims?"

The Foreign Minister replies: "Oh, you can get them in Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, India, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, UAE, and Egypt."

And the fellow asks: "Any of these would work?"

And the Foreign Minister replies: "Of course, just make sure that they have "Shia" in their designation."

That, MB, is why Houthis are bad.


"Despising someone does not preclude ruling over them - especially if they have resources one needs."

That is certainly what the pecking order suggests.



Alliance with a country that becomes an adversary is no advantage. pl

Babak Makkinejad

The sad part of it is that many ayatollahs do not even consider them Shia....the Houthis that is.


And after that, it's on to Vienna!


I have no basis for questioning Brigadier Ali's assessment of these two - especially since the former, I believe, was a professor. However, I do wonder how far we can generalize. The heavy discipline imposed by RTE may be a fact of life for his party and members of his government at the present time. However, we should be reminded that Turkey is not yet an autocracy; it still has free elections. It can produce unexpected results as recently was demonstrated. the upshot is that his government ministers , many appointed officials and their entourage may soon find themselves out on their ar..s in the streets without power or perks of office. No more luxury travel, no more grand conferences, no more Davos, no more deference from the high and mighty. If they leave stigmatized, the best they could hope for would be a long weekend in Raqqa. For true dogmatists, that wouldn't matter. Other than Erdogan himself, we don't know for how many this is true. We also should consider wives and children whose aspirations and expectations in today's world cannot be insulated from the wider world around them. At the end of the day, I believe, most of these guys are just people.

That holds doubly for the fellow travelers, businessmen, et al who will not be pleased at being treated as "Turks" when they travel outside the country.

FB Ali

Dr Brenner,

You may well be right. I'm afraid I have no special knowledge of the dynamics unfolding in Turkey.

However, I believe RTE is very ambitious, and seeks a role on a larger stage than just the national. He first tried to find this in the EU, and was rebuffed. My speculative post above poses an alternative role he could be seeking.

I agree that the recent election results are a rebuff and may clip his wings. Whether they will dent his apparent megalomania remains to be seen. He does have a large base of support among ordinary Turks who live in the countryside and in smaller towns. Including for his Islamist tendencies.


so long as we have Turkey on our minds, here is a further question raised by the growing awareness that the Erdogan government must have played a key role in ISIL's organization, implantation and spread. It is the Intelligence warning question. Largely "missing" a phenomenon of this magnitude is mind-boggling as often commented (and we did miss it insofar as Brennan and the Obama White house are concerned). Many in Ankara obviously were involved in, or knew what was going on. Doesn't the US IC have well placed contacts/assets in Turkey? We've had military, CIA and diplomatic people in the thousands prowling around Turkey for 70 years. What were they doing? Were they all occupied trying to ferret out Soviet agents by examining footwear for telltale snow on their boots?

 Ishmael Zechariah

General Ali, Dr. Brenner, SST;

It might be helpful to understand the "Erdogan meme" by identifying the groups which brought him to power-and kept him there- by supplying immense amounts of cash and providing MSM propaganda cover over the entire world. I could make a case that this was primarily a neocon/KSA operation.

Re. Dr. Brenner's question "Largely "missing" a phenomenon of this magnitude is mind-boggling... We've had military, CIA and diplomatic people in the thousands prowling around Turkey for 70 years. What were they doing?" I can speculate that the CIA Station personnel in ADANA, who were/are touring the "Kurdish" regions every week and meeting the separatist Kurds, did know about it. Their silence has led me to conclude that they supported the assistance to DAASH, another " curious case of the dogs that did not bark".
Here are three links:

Ishmael Zechariah

P.s: ConfusedPonderer, MHP is an ethno-nationalist party which uses the symbol of Asena, the Grey Wolf (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asena). This group does not care about the Ottoman Empire as much as about "Captive Turkic Nations". They consider Crimea one such land; there are plenty of Crimean Tatars in Turkey. Quite a few of these support MHP.

Ishmael Zechariah


Months ago, at the onset of Battle of Kobane, before the intervention in force by U.S.-led tactical airpower, open-source photographs were posted on social media of Turkish troops openly fraternizing with ISIL fighters at the border.

This can't necessarily be construed as an extension of official Turkish policy, but it did raise eyebrows.


General Ali:

There is now incontrovertible evidence that the Turkish government is aiding ISIS. Three members of Turkish special forces were captured during the attack on Kobani. They were aiding ISIS.


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