Turkey witnessing a surge in xenophobia

NATO member and European Union applicant, Turkey is witnessing a surge in xenophobia, according to new research by Washington-based Pew Research Center.

Findings of the new survey coincide with an increasing amount of conflict along the country’s southern border and strained diplomatic relations with neighbors and allies.

Diplomatic columnist Semih Idiz of Taraf and Al Monitor says the anti-foreigner sentiment isn’t reserved for Western countries alone — the traditional source perceived antagonism among Turks.

Ottoman empire

Ottoman empire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cemil Cicek, speaker of the Turkish parliament, expressed concern Nov. 17 that the international community would begin a smear campaign in 2015 against Turkey, marking the centennial of the lost Armenian lives at the end of the Ottoman Empire. While Turkey has accepted the 1915 events as a “massacre,” it contradicts the international community that calls it a “genocide.” Since the 1980s, Turkey has also been lobbying foreign parliaments, and especially the US Congress, not to make any binding or nonbinding decision declaring it a genocide.

Erdoğan addresses the members of parliament du...

Erdoğan addresses the members of parliament during a heated debate at the Turkish Parliament about democracy and the democratic initiative. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Erdogan trys to collect political gains by highlighting the dark parts of Turkey’s history  — attacking the CHP, the single-party era and therefore its new leader, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who is from Tunceli (formerly Dersim) in the process. Erdogan wanted to embarrass Kilicdaroglu by creating the impression in the nation’s eyes that he was acting against the people of his own hometown by leading a party that had given the order to bomb the uprising in Dersim in 1937, ending so many innocent lives. He hoped that it would bring him votes. He was right. Erdogan has not lost any election since he came to power, but the town of Tunceli voted against him in the 2010 referendum and the CHP won the town’s local elections in 2011.

According to diplomatic columnist Semih Idiz 75 percent of those surveyed said they were anti-American, but an equal 70 percent said they were anti-Russian and most Turks are against Saudi Arabia and China; they’re against NATO; they are against the EU.

The shift also coincides with Ankara’s recently strained or suspended diplomatic relations with neighbouring Syria, Iraq and Iran, and differences with some Western allies over the conflict in Syria and the fight against Islamic State militants.

The perceived sense of isolation on the world stage that Turkish citizens report in the survey, says political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Istanbul’s Suleyman Shah University, is the result of the Turkish government campaign that fuels public hostility toward the world.

“The government is pumping this idea of splendid isolation, which they call ‘worthy loneliness’ — a bit like Russia, by the way — trying to making its case, but of course no avail,”

said Aktar.

Analysts say Turkey’s suspicion and even outright hostility toward outsiders is nothing new. Throughout much of the 20th century, for example, Turkish schoolchildren were taught that their country was surrounded by enemies, and that collapse of the Ottoman Empire was the result of collusion among Western and Arab countries.

According to Aktar, that sentiment, along with the post-WWI occupation of Turkey by European countries, still shapes the national psyche.

“It goes back to the early 20th century, when Turkey was reborn from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire and the country was occupied,” he said. “Mustafa Kemal and his friends ended the state of affairs and created a new country. So there is a huge suspicion of anything which comes from the West, a sense that of being surrounded by enemies all over. It’s of course very worrisome.”

Politicians in Turkey are much aware of the rising nationalism and do not mind using this to their advantage.

“There is this perception they are guarding Turkey against nefarious outside plans. Erdogan himself was reviving imagery pertaining to the First World War, so as you see we have this being utilized at the highest level of the policy in Turkey.”

Semih Idiz notices.

Last month President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Western meddling in the region was akin to the iconic World War I British army officer known as Lawrence of Arabia, who led an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire. President Erdogan warned Turkey was facing the dangers of a new Lawrence of Arabia.

Today there may be found a good climate to manage the plans for creating a renewed strong Ottoman empire with links to a Islamic Caliphate so that it can counter Europe, America and China. As such Ankara is not interested in fighting IS but has in the past already provided combat material to them.

Syria and Iran would probably wish the Kurds who want autonomy and the ability to govern themselves well and feel a sense of good riddance. In Iraq, it comes down to control of the northern oil fields, so Iraqis will not be quite so sanguine. Russia was originally assigned administration of ‘Kurdistan’ but after the Revolution, the new government denounced all Tsar signed agreements, and the British quickly rushed in to seize that former Russian-ruled region. So now could be again an opportunity to take back what they think is theirs.

The Turks who are not so keen of the Kurds, though I found their attitude had much improved since 1992, will be very careful in engaging the Kurdish Peshmerga to fight against ISIS or other forces. But for all of the cruelty heaped upon both Kurds and Armenians, the Kurds are still stateless.

French philosopher-writer Bernard-Henri Levy maintained that the battle against IS was

“the moment of truth, the now or never, for the (NATO) alliance and the system of collective security that was established in the region in the aftermath of the Second World War.” {Shame on Turkey for Choosing the Islamic State over the Kurds}

“If Turkey stands down a third time — if Kobani becomes the name of yet another Turkish default, this one inexcusable — its future in NATO is in doubt,”

Levy said.

Western diplomats in Ankara sounded out by Al-Monitor admitted that there is frustration with Turkey among Western governments over the reluctant, almost standoffish, position Ankara has taken in the fight against IS. They pointed out that it’s a long shot, however, to look at this and argue that Turkey should be expelled from NATO.


Find also preceding posts:

Turkey inbetween two visits

Turkey anno 2002 #1 Aspendos

Turkey anno 2002 #2 Antalya and Side inside out

Turkey a wolf in the sheep house of the European Union


  • Opinion – Turkish President Erdoğan complains of cacophony in US – POLITICS – Hurryet News – Turkey – John Gelmini (dralfoldman.com)
    Dr Alf says he struggles to find logic in Erdogan’s position and sees conflicting signals emerging from Washington’s position.He is right on both counts.

    President Erdogan of Turkey is trying to rebuild the Ottoman Empire, using Qatari and Kuwaiti money and assistance from Saudi Arabia, whilst pretending to be Washington’s ally.

  • No Chance Turkey Will Be ‘Kicked Out of NATO’ (usnews.com)
    The US-led fight against the Islamic State (IS), and in particular the battle for Kobani, the predominantly Kurdish town in northern Syria that is shouting distance from the Turkish border, has turned into a “stress test” for Turkey’s NATO membership, if one is to go by some Western opinion-makers.
  • Diplomatic Crisis Looms as Turkey Steps Into Cypriot Controversy (voanews.com)
    Turkey’s decision to dispatch a warship to Cyprus to protect an oil and gas research ship is threatening to provoke a diplomatic crisis.Greek Cypriots have suspended island unification talks and called for Ankara’s EU bid to be suspended.

    And on Friday, Greece has warned NATO partner Turkey not to intimidate Cyprus over Turkish efforts to develop off-shore natural gas fields.  The Greek intervention is the latest ratcheting up of regional tensions over the disputed energy fields.

  • Turkish-Cypriots: EU Resolution Condemning Turkey Is Unacceptable (greece.greekreporter.com)
    As “unacceptable” and “one sided” characterized the self-proclaimed Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Turkish occupied northern part of Cyprus the European Parliament’s joint resolution that was passed on Thursday and condemned the ongoing Turkish violations in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In an announcement, the so-called Ministry assumed that the Turkish-Cypriot community should have the right of speech in the European Parliament, while at the same time stressed that the decisions taken by the European Union on the issue do not commit Turkey to take any actions.
  • EU: Turkey should ‘show restraint’ in Cyprus gas row (worldbulletin.net)
    European Union leaders expressed ‘concern’ about renewed tensions between the Greek Cypriot administration and Turkey over marine exploration for oil and gas.The Greek Cypriot administration said in the first week of October it would block Turkey’s accession talks in the EU in response to Ankara’s hydrocarbon exploration in waters that the administration claims as its territory.

    Leaders of the 28 EU member states urged Turkey to “show restraint” and to “respect” the Greek Cypriot administration’s “sovereign rights” in these waters.

    The Greek Foreign Ministry accused Turkey of violating the law of the sea with its exploration vessel.

    Turkey rejects Greek accusations of sea law violations and Ankara has vowed to continue hydrocarbon explorations off the island.

    “The Barbaros ship will continue to make its seismic studies [off Cyprus] … nobody should try to create a crisis,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference after holding a briefing meeting with Energy Minister Taner Yıldız on the issue on Oct. 21.

    “We have the right to conduct seismic studies there, according to agreements signed between Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. We will always use this right,” Davutoglu said.


About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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