Turkey’s Erdogan and President Obama share one very important personal attribute. Both have a surfeit of megalomania. Erdogan pictured himself as the Sultan of the new Ottoman empire, sheltering the hapless Arabs under his protective wing. He thought that by some anti-Israeli play-acting, and using some harsh language would be sufficient to win everlasting Arab gratitude.
Obama thought that by throwing out some Islamic phrases and using a few Arabic words would be sufficient to illustrate himself as the great hope, simply casting himself as an anti-Bush paragon of virtue and sensitive understanding. This was the essence of his 2009 speech in Cairo. Since then as indicated by Ms Al Momen’s study in the previous posting Obama’s standing and consequently American influence has taken a nose dive.
We are close to irrelevant in the Middle East. A recent editorial in one the Arab worlds most read newspapers, the ASharq al Awsat, described Obama as the weakest American president in recent history. While the US media continues to cast their eyes downward to avoid noticing the emperor has no clothes, the foreign media is less reticent.
In Erdogan’s case he thought that by using his Sunni fundamentalist credentials, and wholeheartedly supporting the rebels in Syria he would ride the crest of a winning tide. It has turned into a night mare for him. Little known is the fact that about 30% of Turkey’s population are Alevis, a close cousin of the Alawis of Syria. The Alevis have been threatened by the growing Sunni Islamist trend in Turkey, aided and abetted by Erdogan. The Alevis do not support Erdogan’s support of the Sunni fundamentalist rebels in Syria,
There have been a number of demonstrations happening almost daily to protest the Sunni oppression in Turkey, particularly since the Alevis tend to be more secular than the Sunnis. Add the bleeding sore of the Kurds ( which is nowhere near being solved) and you have Turkey not near as strong as some would pretend. The massive tide of mostly Syrian Sunni refugees in Turkey are living in a Alevi area of southern Turkey and they are immensely unpopular with the locals. Erdogan has been humbled.
As we see happening now there is a turning of the tide in Syria. After two years of various experts depicting the demise of Assad, one no longer hears that. With Russia, Iran and Hezbollah firmly supporting Assad, and a weak ineffectual Obama regime kicking the can down the road, Assad is there for the foreseeable future. Our stock continues to decline and that of our enemies rise.
The hapless Kerry will go the Geneva soon to loudly proclaim his success in getting the Assad government to sit in the same room as the rebels. This is a bad joke. It will only further legitimize the Assad regime.
Obama recently made a “compelling” speech ( as noted by the Obama political news sheet formerly known as the New York Times) in which he said that he retiring from the field of conflict, apparently in his usual muddle-headed way of overweening personal hubris, declaring that he will end war. Seemingly the Obama rule is that it no longer takes to two to make peace, but simply a “compelling” speech. No doubt the Islamists, suitably impressed by his “compelling” speech will declare that the US is now within the “world of peace.”
I still have enough faith in the American people that we will survive the Obama era and gradually undo all the damage he has done to our institutions of democracy and the diminished role of our country in the world.
Istanbul (Bosphorus), 2006