Turkey concerned about Lebanon protests – J Post

Turkey is concerned that protests in Lebanon, taking place in the wake of the explosion that destroyed the port of Beirut, will undermine its attempt to spread its influence in the country, a columnist writing for the Jerusalem Post said on Sunday. 

Turkey’s vice-president Fuat Oktay and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu visited Beirut on Saturday and promised to help rebuild the port.  

“In a bizarre initiative Turkey also said it would grant citizenship to ethnic Turks in Lebanon, a play for ethno-populism that seemed out of character with the non-sectarian support other countries were giving,” columnist Seth J. Frantzman said. “In this statement it was not clear if Turkey’s main goal in Lebanon is to create a foothold as it has in Iraq, Syria, Qatar, Somalia and Libya in recent years.”

Pro-government media in Turkey seemed to either ignore the protests or described them as “violent”, Frantzman said.

“Ankara seems worried that the protests in Lebanon will remind a Turkish public that increasingly faces bans on dissent at home of the days when they could protest.”

He said it was clear that Turkey, along with other countries, was preparing its "narrative" on Lebanon. But he said Ankara should tread carefully since everything is in flux now in Beirut. 

“These narratives are already being formed, quietly and on social media and online,” he said.