Turkish President Erdoğan, who has long dreamed of restoring the former Ottoman Empire under his rule, including power-based methods, attended the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in a desperately bellicose mood, accompanied, as always, by numerous guards.
At the behest of the Turkish leader, this visit was preceded by a propaganda campaign about the allegedly special “peace-loving nature of today’s Turkey.” To that end, on September 19, immediately upon his arrival in New York, Erdoğan opened a conference in the context of the publication in various languages of his treatise “A Fairer Peace Is Possible” at the fashionable Manhattan Center. The conference was organized on his direct order by the largest lobbying organization, the Turkish American National Steering Committee. In this book, Erdoğan persistently attempts to describe Turkey’s efforts to bring “justice to the world,” raising issues such as global politics, the migration crisis, the issue of Islamophobia, and the West’s double standards, among others.
While deliberately stressing the West’s double standards, Erdoğan did not mention his confrontational and aggressive policies towards Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean in recent years, in the invasive policy of sending Turkish troops to Syria without the consent of the Syrian authorities. In addition, some observers have already noted that Erdoğan’s conference was not without the activists of extreme right-wing groups, including the Grey Wolves, which are banned in many countries of the world. However, just the day before The United States House of Representatives gave favorable consideration to Dina Titus’ Amendment (No. 431) requiring the Secretary of State to report on the activities of the Grey Wolves against the USA’s interests, allies and international partners, including a review of the criteria for treating the Grey Wolves as a foreign terrorist organization.
Another propaganda element of Erdoğan’s support was the opening ceremony of “Turkish House” in New York, a tulip-shaped skyscraper. “Turkey has created a masterpiece that reflects its greatness, heritage, and growing power,” was Erdoğan’s unashamed declaration at the opening ceremony of this 35-story and 171-meter-high “masterpiece.” Moreover, Erdoğan added that in addition to the Turkish Permanent Mission to the United Nations and the Consulate General in New York, “Turkish House” will also house the representation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in New York, the self-proclaimed and internationally unrecognized pseudo-state of occupied Northern Cyprus, whose representative, Ersin Tatar was brought to the UN building by the Turkish president but was not allowed to address the General Assembly as Erdoğan wanted.
Amid this camarilla, the Turkish leader decided to make what he called a “momentous speech” at the UN General Assembly, touching upon many topics ranging from the pandemic to Afghanistan, Syria, and Northern Cyprus, the importance of the UN reform, and the need to share the refugees’ burden with justice. But in doing so, Erdogan did not fail to lash out, at the behest of his “mentors in the US,” with criticism of Russia, claiming non-recognition of Russia’s Crimea and the political processes taking place there. At the same time, as many Greek politicians have already noted, he, for unknown reasons, remained silent about his unjustified support to unrecognized North Cyprus. He Openly demonstrated his double standards and neo-Ottoman aspirations, including his regard to the Russian Crimea.
As for Erdoğan’s desire for a “just peace,” his true face in this regard is demonstrated by Turkey’s actions concerning Ukraine, the supply of Turkish combat drones over there to conduct combat operations at the hands of the Ukrainian military in Donbas and then clearly in Crimea.
Erdoğan’s “Turkish-style justice” and aspirations are also evidenced by his statement at the UN about Turkish right to Georgian, Greek, and Syrian territories. “Our physical boundaries are different from the boundaries in our heart. Is it possible to tell the difference between Rize and Batumi? Many historians believe Turkey’s borders should include Cyprus, Aleppo, Mosul, Salonika, and Batumi,” Erdoğan said from the UN podium.
Another vivid example of the Turkish-style “just peace” is the deteriorating situation in the Syrian province of Idlib, where terrorist groups are building a virtually full-fledged military infrastructure under cover of blatant Ankara patronage and so-called Turkish observation posts.
To strengthen his “just role” in Syria, Erdoğan ordered to send more reinforcements to Syria the other day, without any agreement from the Astana Platform. Therefore, according to media reports, in recent days, about 4,000 Turkish soldiers and up to 300 armored vehicles, including tanks, have arrived in the territory of the Syrian province of Idlib. In this regard, the number of Turkish strongholds has also increased manifold. Of the 27 Turkish positions, 11 are now south of the “security corridor” border with tanks and heavy weapons deployed there. Ankara continues not to implement the Joint Memorandum, hiding behind its provisions and ignoring Russia’s agreements.
Official Damascus did not ignore the relocation of Turkish troops to the northwest of the country. According to Faisal Mekdad, the Syrian Foreign Minister, Turkey has increased its aggressive occupying force in the Arab Republic of Syria. Mekdad said the presence of Turkish troops in northern Syria is one of the main destabilizing factors today, leading to the cultivation of terrorism and extremism.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry has reiterated its condemnation of Turkey’s anti-Syrian policies. Syria’s foreign-policy establishment stressed on September 20 that the occupation is a manifestation of aggression, a violation of Syrian sovereignty, and part of the hostile policy pursued by Ankara against Syria for more than ten years. The statement said the Turkish defense minister’s meeting with the leaders of the Syrian opposition is also a violation of Syrian sovereignty, international law, and UN Security Council resolutions. The Syrian Foreign Ministry called on the UN Secretary-General and the UN Security Council to take a clear position on these actions by Turkey. At the end of the statement, as the Syrian Arab news agency SANA points out: “Syria reserves the right, endorsed by the Constitution, national legislation and the principles of international law, to respond to Turkey’s aggressive actions and holds the Turkish regime fully legally, politically and financially responsible in this matter.”
Although the West started the decade-long Syrian conflict to overthrow Syrian President Assad, it has turned into an endless war by Turkey with no apparent exit strategy. Over the past ten years, Turkey, having taken the lead in the confrontation with official Syrian authorities at the behest of the USA and NATO, has only bogged down in this quagmire. Assad remains in power, and Russia and Iran support him. And Turkey and the USA continue to support the forces that want to overthrow Assad, trying to secure their position in the country. However, it is already clear to everyone that the Biden administration is unlikely to get involved in the game of regime change in Damascus.
Turkey’s position increasingly diverges from the views of both Washington and Moscow. And none of Erdoğan’s propaganda tricks with the publication of his book or the pompous opening of Turkish House in New York, and even more his criticism of Moscow over the Crimea, can change the already clear universal opinion of the international community about the true, and by no means “just” image of the Turkish leader. This is also understood within Turkey itself, which has already openly criticized Erdoğan for throwing much-needed public money at his unjustified “project” for the Istanbul Canal or the very costly construction of the Turkish House in New York. According to the idea of the principal tenant of Ak Saray (White Palace, the primary residence of the head of state in Ankara with more than 1,000 rooms), it should represent the power of Erdoğan rather than the Egyptian pyramid.
Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook“.