The so-called “disappearance” of Orhan Inandı, president of the Kyrgyz-Turkish Lyceum network, in Kyrgyzstan is adding new details, which put both the so-called “Western democracy fighters” and Ankara’s demonstrative disregard for international norms and the sovereignty of independent states, stealing their political opponents abroad with the patronage of the US and the EU in a very negative light.
Firstly, it should be recalled that, unlike the “solidarity” demonstrated by Washington and Brussels in imposing multi-format sanctions against Belarus literally the day after the incident with the detention in Minsk of Roman Protasevich, founder of the Telegram channel NEXTA, there has been no critical action by these “bulwarks of Western democracy” against Turkey since May 31. By doing so, Washington and Brussels have fully confirmed the bias of their policy, which actually endorses the theft by force of political opponents by Western allies in third countries who thus influence political processes.
Secondly, we unwittingly become witnesses to the indifferent attitude of the current Turkish authorities to international norms, to the use of any unscrupulous methods of neo-Ottoman expansion with the patronage of the West, the desire of Ankara to establish their own orders in other independent states with the use of national security services.
According to published reports by Kyrgyz law enforcement agencies, Orhan Inandı did not officially cross the Kyrgyz border. Meanwhile, on July 5, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan publicly confirmed that Orhan Inandı, the head of the Sapat network of Kyrgyz educational institutions, who disappeared back on May 31, was secretly taken to Ankara to face a Turkish court. “As a result of the painstaking work of the Turkish security services, Orhan İnandı, FETO’s handler in Central Asia, was brought to Turkey and brought to justice,” said Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, speaking on the TRT television channel. “To date, over 100 people from many countries have been brought to Turkey in the fight against this terrorist group.” It should be noted that while the Turkish authorities have always hunted for supporters of the Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen and obtained their extradition with the consent of the authorities of third countries, in the case of Orhan İnandı the Kyrgyz authorities claim that they had no knowledge of the abduction operation by Ankara. And, taking into account that, according to Erdoğan, not only İnandı, but “more than 100 people from many countries were taken to Turkey,” it cannot be ruled out that a similar scheme of abduction of political opponents by the Turkish secret services was carried out not only in Kyrgyzstan but also in other countries, which requires additional investigation, including by “democracy fighters” in Washington and Brussels.
“The abduction of Orhan Inandı, president of the Sapat school network and citizen of Kyrgyzstan, by the Turkish secret services is commensurate with the attempt on the sovereignty of the country,” the leader of the Kyrgyz Ata Meken political party Omurbek Tekebayev wrote on his social network page on July 6 and urged the Kyrgyz authorities to assess the situation adequately and take appropriate measures. According to the politician, the Constitution stipulates that the state guarantees protection to its citizens and must not acquiesce to such hostile actions by foreign states.
Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov told 24.kg on July 6 that since 2016, Ankara has already made three attempts to kidnap Orhan Inandı.
On July 6, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan Ruslan Kazakbaev handed a note to Ambassador of Turkey Ahmet Sadik Dogan “in connection with the operation of the Turkish side to detain and deliver to Turkey a citizen of the Kyrgyz Republic Orhan Inandı.” The Foreign Ministry urged the Turkish side to return İnandı and take “all necessary measures to ensure his proper treatment and to prevent the use of violent and humiliating acts against him.” The Kyrgyz side also pointed to the inadmissibility of such actions, which are a gross violation of the basic principles and norms of international law.
It should be noted that the incident with the abduction of political opponents in Kyrgyzstan by Turkish special services is by no means the only one. A similar case occurred in 2018 with the Orizont network of lyceums in Moldova. Then the teachers who had previously requested asylum were expelled from the country, but the procedure itself was carried out by the Moldovan Information and Security Service.
Kyrgyzstan is the eastern most distant flank of the notorious Turkic Council and its humanitarian and cultural branch, TURKSOY, actively promoted by Ankara in Central Asia as part of Turkish expansion. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has repeatedly stated that expanding ties with Central Asia is his country’s “national policy” and part of the foreign policy initiative Asia Anew, which involves a comprehensive approach to the region in areas ranging from trade and defense to technology and culture.
All of this explains Ankara’s growing influence on domestic political processes in Kyrgyzstan. Particularly through young people who were educated in Turkey and in 2008 had already created the Tartip (“Order”) party. In addition, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), established in 1993, had already implemented more than 30 investment projects in Kyrgyzstan by 2020 and had carried out 324 soft power activities. Turkish investments in Kyrgyzstan (direct and portfolio investments) have now exceeded 25% of total foreign investments in the country. A very important tool is the military training segment: the training of military personnel of the “Turkic Council” member countries in Turkey (at its expense) takes place not only at the bilateral level, but also in the framework of cooperation programs of these countries with NATO.
However, it should be understood that participation in various organizations under Turkish auspices is an opportunity for Kyrgyzstan and other countries in the region to diversify their foreign relations, especially in the economic sphere. But Turkey, which is in deep economic crisis, lags far behind such regional actors as China and Russia. Therefore, despite Ankara’s desire to intensify its expansion in the region, the participation of Turkish business is limited to small and medium enterprises but it does not include breakthrough projects with significant investments coveted in the region.
Under these circumstances, although Kyrgyzstan is seriously dependent on Turkish investment, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Zhaparov nevertheless expressed his willingness to confront Ankara in the case of Orhan Inandı’s abduction by the Turkish special services. At the same time, public protests continue in front of the parliament building in Bishkek, demanding the return of Orhan Inandı to Kyrgyzstan.
Beyond any doubt, the violent actions of the Turkish special services in Kyrgyzstan in the incident with İnandı will have certain negative consequences for Turkey in the assessment by the Central Asian countries of Ankara’s illegal policy.
Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.