Monday, 13 March 2017

The Turkish-Dutch Dispute and Diaspora Politics in the New Great Game.

“I said 'I thought Nazism was over,' but I was wrong. In fact, Nazism is alive in the West.” -President Erdogan

“These comparisons with the Nazis must stop.”-Chancellor Merkel

“What they are saying is not helping”-PM Mark Rutter

“Mrs Merkel, why are you hiding terrorists in your country? ... Why are you not doing anything?  

“Nazism, we can call this neo-nazism. A new nazism tendency,” -President Erdogan

President Erdogan is playing well a power game with Germany and Holland because of the criticism from them over his growing authoritarianism in Turkey. His provocative plans to hold rallies in both countries, to get support behind his referendum to give the Turkish president more executive powers, are demonstrating his reach and ambition.

By accusing Germany of “Nazi-style practices” in using all sorts of excuses to prevent Erdogan's ministers holding public rallies, he intends to polarise and to exploit feeble plodding and witless politicians as Chancellor Merkel, who believe that Great Power struggles can be determined by money and transnational human rights agendas.

On March 13 2017 Erdogan stoked up the threats to Holland after it banned leading AKP ministers fromflying in to address supporters. Turkish airspace would be closed to Dutch diplomats, the ambassador refused entry and further sanctions contemplated. Erdogan wanted to take up the victimisation with the EU Court of Human Rights.

The greater the controversy, the more chance Erdogan has of improving his bargaining status with the EU and the dominant power within it.The decision to hold rallies before the Dutch elections of March 2017 was a stroke of political timing, as it could ramp up tensions there and in Germany ready for the summer.

Erdogan has numerous times made it clear that he could flood the EU with migrants again in a way that could further exacerbate tensions in the Western Balkans and to cause the outbreak of war again even closer to EU member states. Merkel's botched response to the 2015 crisis has made that more rather than less likely.

Incapable of ( and refusing to ) understand the power of ethnic-sectarian struggles in history as something that could ever return to Germany, the naive idealism and universalism that promoted Merkel to effectively invite almost a million migrants in one year from Muslim majority states has weakened German power.

Merkel's entire 'we can manage' mantra  and effective decision to invite in huge numbers of migrants on the well-meaning basis of helping Syrian refugees ended up, in the age of instant social media, drawing in huge numbers, some 61% of the total influx, that were not from Syria and not clearly fleeing any obvious conflict.

After having unilaterally decided to welcome huge numbers in from countries as diverse as Algeria, Morocco, Iraq, Eritrea, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Merkel then tried to push other EU nations towards accepting their 'fair share' of under a quota scheme that was rejected especially by newer eastern V4 nations.

To the West in neighbouring Holland, the liberal and leftist coalition government of Rutte has faced an upsurge of support for populist-right Geert Wilder's PVV which is now the single largest party in Holland, though the system of proportional representation means the other parties would combine to keep him out of power.

The diplomatic spat between Erdogan and Rutte and the spectacle of the consequence of Turkish domestic unrest, even violence and potential riots, spilling over into the streets of the Netherlands, is going to benefit Wilders who will be seen to be proved right that mass migration means importing Middle Eastern problems.

When Wilders is shunned, after winning a majority of votes, he need only sit tight and continue promoting his agenda so as to get the other parties to continue tacking towards it to keep him out. The more his anti-Islam rhetoric gets ratcheted up and finds increased support, the more Erdogan's 'Nazi' could claim plausibility.

Erdogan is going to increase his mobilisation of the Turkish diaspora for his own game plan to which is to try and provoke reactions and claim 'Islamophobia', that he is needed to defend Turkish interests and people in Europe. The migrant card, as well as control over east-west oil and gas flows, ensure he has Germany in a bind.

Erdogan is dabbling in promoting a brand of pan-Turkist/ Islamist diaspora politics to gain leverage. Just as Russia used pan-Slavism in South-eastarn Europe in the late nineteenth century, in the context of a weak and crumbling Ottoman Empire, so too is Erdogan using it in a fragmented and more generally Balkanised Europe.

This ought to come as no surprise as Erdogan has continuously attempted to back separatists such as the Uighurs in Xinjiang in China in order to project his neo-Ottoman strategy and gain the upper hand in vying for control over geopolitically strategically vital east-west oil and gas pipeline routes from Central Asia.

Turkey's emergence as an east-west regional Great Power broker is motivated by interest but also contains a streak of revenge for the way the Ottoman Empire was picked apart by the Western Powers a century ago when it was 'the sick man of Europe'. Now the AKPs Nurettin Canikli, a deputy prime minister, calls Europe as a “very sick man”

As the EU declines and fragments, as it becomes surrounded by stronger and more  assertive state-nations full of growing confidence in their civilisation's power, whether Russia or Turkey-or indeed the US under Trump-it will become easier to divide and rule Europe by playing on ethnic-sectarian divisions to advance power strategies.

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