May 01 2019

Turkey’s friendless Erdoğan - analysis

Only a handful of foreign leaders congratulated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on his ruling party’s overall victory in March 31 local elections, a sign of the president’s increasing isolation, said an analysis for U.S. think tank the Gatestone Institute.

“With the exception of Qatar's emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and Venezuela's troubled man, Nicolás Maduro, Erdoğan is increasingly friendless,” Burak Bekdil, a fellow at the Middle East Forum, wrote on Tuesday for Gatestone.

The United States is preparing to sanction Turkey, a NATO ally, because of Ankara's plan to buy a Russian missile defence system, and possibly expel Turkish defence manufacturers from the F-35 fighter jet programme.

“Turkey and Russia are going through the honeymoon period of a new alliance. But this newfound love affair is fragile: Ankara's and Moscow's affair is a tactical alliance rather than a strategic one, with an official break-up looking like a slow-fuse time bomb,” said Bekdil.

China is also more of an economic partner for Turkey, because of the decades-old dispute over China's treatment of Uighurs, the Turks' ethnic brethren. In February, China shut down its consulate in Izmir after Turkish officials denounced Beijing’s internment camps in the country's northwest Xinjiang region, where most Uighurs live.

In February, France made April 24 a national day of commemoration for the Armenian genocide, a move Turkey quickly condemned. Italy soon followed suit and again Ankara denounced the move, describing it as “using Armenian claims for domestic political interests”.

In Africa, things are not going much better for Erdoğan, according to Bekdil. His ally, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, was overthrown last month, in what many analysts have described as a blow to Erdoğan’s plan to gain influence in the region.

In Libya, Turkey and Qatar have supported the Tripoli government, which is now under heavy assault from the forces of General Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, France and Russia.

“With its economy in recession and posting record-high jobless and inflation rates, a further deterioration is Erdoğan's worst nightmare,” said Bekdil. “The strongman of Turkey is running fast to become the solitary man of the world.”

https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/14118/erdogan-friendless