Turkey’s Western pivot in death throes as Atatürk will violated

Turkey’s pivot to the West, which began after the country’s war of independence early last century, is in its death throes, according to Amotz Asa-El, senior commentator for the Jerusalem Post.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has turned Turkey eastwards again – a policy followed during the Ottoman Empire – violating the will of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of modern Turkey, Asa-El said in an analysis published late on Thursday.

Atatürk had chosen to shun the Middle East as he sought to turn Turkey into a modern state, fascinated by European technology, education and government. But Erdoğan has launched an Islamist counter-revolution, rejecting the West and embracing the country’s Ottoman past, Asa-El said.

“Erdoğan is at best indifferent, at worst hostile, to the legacy of Turkey’s founding father, and will keep ruining it as his Islamist guts demand, and circumstances will allow,” said Asa-El, who is author of The Diaspora and the Lost Tribes of Israel (Universe, 2004).

Proof of Erdoğan’s abandoning of the West is not only evident at home in his hammering at Atatürk’s secularist legacy – including purging the secular military and banning alcohol advertising – but in the emerging crises with Turkey’s traditional Western allies, Asa-El said. So much so that the United States no longer trusts Turkey’s once loyal and powerful army, the second largest in NATO.

Erdoğan’s eastern pivot is clearly evident in his purchase of S-400 missiles from Russia, which will be delivered in July, Asa-El said. While the plan has precedents – Finland and Yugoslavia both bought U.S. and Russian hardware, Turkey is doing so firmly from within the Western fold, he said.

Turkey’s plan to buy the Russian weapons also differs from similar moves by Saudi Arabia, because the S-400s are more technologically advanced and Saudi Arabia is neither a NATO member nor has it been intimately involved in the development and production of the F-35, the most advanced U.S. fighter jet.

While Erdoğan thinks he can benefit from his tilting between Moscow and Washington, what he doesn’t understand is that both countries have one common strategic adversary; the Islamists who threaten both east and west, north and south, with equal zeal, Asa-El said.

“Atatürk’s position vis-à-vis this war, had he been with us, would be obvious: he would stand on this side of the chasm – and Erdoğan on that,” Asa-El said.