Hani Suleiman: Future is not for Erdogan

Reportaj Summay

Hani Suleiman: Future is not for Erdogan
5 April 2020   02:40

The executive director of the Arab Center for Research and Studies in Cairo, Hani Suleiman said that Turkey is using different proxies and tools to penetrate the Arab region. He stressed that he is a partner in killing civilians in Syria and pointed out that the future will not be for Erdogan.

The Turkish interventions in the Arab region continues through different proxies to achieve Erdogan's ambitions. In this context our agency interviewed Hani Suleiman, the Executive Director of the Arab Center for Research and Studies in Cairo - Editor-in-Chief of the Political Horizons - Researcher on the Iranian issue, international files.

The text of the dialogue read:

"What are the Turkish ambitions in the Arab region and the ways of penetrating the Arab states?

The Turkish regime carries a project that differs in its intersections, objectives and ambition of the Arab project, since the current Turkish regime is still in the midst of the glories of the Ottoman Empire, trapped in those aspirations and seeks to deepen Turkish influence in a number of Arab countries. Especially in this century there have been attempts to control some countries using the political Islamic groups and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere.

Turkey relies on using several tools to have a strong influence in the Arab depth through several mechanisms; association between Turkey and some regimes which is converging with the Turkish ideology to try to deepen the relationship with it and divide the Arab rank, represented by the Turkish-Qatari relationship, as well as having deep link with the groups and organizations in some Arab countries to use them away from home. It use them to market its ideology for encircling the powerful Arab countries by a package of political and military pressures to achieve gains or blackmail them politically in Libya and at home in Syria. It also tries through soft elements to investment in media, film production and television to create positive images and mental perceptions of Turkey, or to break certain beliefs or principles of the Arab citizen by recalling historical events and religious series to have a profound social impact on the Arab societies.

*What are Turkey's proxies in the Arab states, and how do they move?

Turkey has a strong ideological and consensus relationship with many groups and militias in accordance with the conflicts and entanglements of the interests, or the necessity of the formed blocs at the present time. Now the most blatant example is the Syrian, Tunisian and the Egyptian model, where there are militias and the armed opposition groups in which Turkey invests to bargain with the West for interests. It also use refugees and foreign fighters cards to influence the governments, but the last one has declined significantly in Egypt and Tunisia, but it still exists strongly in Libya.

*Turkey is an active member in the NATO. Do its interventions in the region come on NATO orders or not?

 I think that Turkish interventions are essentially individual behavior, but it exploits the existing vacuum and the indecisiveness in some files as well as that some countries have interests in Turkish interventions or NATO itself may see Turkey playing an important role at a lesser cost.

* In Libya, Turkish intervention is plain sight, despite the arms embargo on the country that toppled Muammar Gaddafi's regime, the international community is not moving. Is this an evidence of NATO's support for Turkey in Libya ?  

NATO does not have internal consensus as a single bloc, but it has a clear and almost semi agreement. The situation in Libya is governed by individual moves opposed to France's position against Italy, Russia in the face of Turkey, or the Arabs  in the face of foreign interventions. All those complications creates a unified and decisive decision that preserves Libya's interest very difficult. Therefore Turkey always benefits from these contradictions.

The international silence is the result of the international organization, the United Nations, and other relevant organizations vulnerable state which are unable to impose peace and calmness arrangements. The higher voices still control the key issues in Syria and Libya. There is a conflict of interests and a proxy war.  Each party has priorities. The European silence on Turkish behavior is the result of the ongoing Turkish threat to Europe with the refugee, illegal immigration, militias  and foreign fighters cards. It issues itself as a wall of repulse and safety valve for NATO and Europe, which makes room for political balances and calculations under a situation that is already complex.

 * Why isn't Erdogan's arrogance put an end to it yet? Who's behind it?

There is more than one reason for the current situation and the ongoing Turkish policy. Turkey still has the ability to play with the strings of the game on more than one level, the opposition and armed groups in Syria, the Syrian refugees and Libya's Al Sarraj cards. Therefore, he is able to influence the European or the American interests in Syria. It is trying to balance with the Russian role in another region by diverting pressure to the Libyan field, as the game of opposing interests and proxy war in Libya that has helped Turkey to take up space for evasiveness and blackmail, especially with the approval and support of Al Sarraj, who is now forced to agree to Turkish entry. The other most important element is the inability of the international community to resolve or adopt a clear vision. On the contrary, it has also become involved and a tool of domination in the hands of certain forces, lastly, the  important reason is the absence of the Arab role able to put forward a consensus vision.

*What is Turkey's role in killing the Syrian people? How did the Syrian people take advantage and where do they want to get to this country?

The responsibility of killing the Syrian people is a shared and collective of the international community and organizations, led by the United Nations, and all the involved parties in killing the Syrian people for hegemony and influence. Iran wants to deepens the Arab world and seize the opportunity to form an ideological demographic transformation along sectarian lines. Even the United States of America camp, which is captive to its own interests in Syria and does not move further. As for Turkey, which has attracted all armed groups and recruited militias to maintain its interests against the Kurds, contributed significantly to fueling the confrontations and killing thousands under the cover of operations carrying pure names such as Olive Branch, Euphrates Shield and Peace Spring. It used the refugees card as a bargaining and pressure one on Syria and the European side, deepening the crisis and contributing in exhausting the opportunities of peace and hope. Turkey undoubtedly bears a large part of the human losses in the Syrian crisis;

*Is the Alliance between Turkey and Russia strategic or tactical and what is turkey's fate in NATO?

 The alliance between Russia and Turkey is tactical par excellence; there is no complete consensus, but there are fundamental differences , conflicts of interests and a clear clash. If the interests are going in parallel and the borders of each side can be controlled, why not, especially that Syria and Libya are an important booty for both sides, but that unintended coordination will collide with contradictions and conflict great interests between the two parties in the coming period.

Turkey benefits from its position in NATO. I think there have been a lot of tensions at certain times and talk about the possibility of excluding it. Turkey is playing an important role in that period since it has tools that may postpone this. Turkey is now benefiting from the world's preoccupation with fighting the Coronavirus to deepen Its presence and influence. This situation will continue for months to come, which makes everything deferred for a long time.

*What is the reason behind the weak Arab attitude towards Turkish plans in the region?

The reason for the Arab weakness is lack of integration and full Arab coordination, as well as Turkey's adoption of creating or taking advantage of the rift in the Arab fabric that is being carried out by some parties such as Qatar, or some organizations and groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition to the lack of the ability to influence deep and impose security and military solutions on the part of the Arab states, especially in light of the important transformation and the beginning of the decline since the difficult Second Gulf War, through the post-9/11 period, to the "Arab Spring" protests. All of which have gained the capabilities of Arab states and their national armies, the unity of their decisions, and the size of the dispute that exists.

*How do foreign interventions affect Turkey's interior?

Turkey, like Iran, has a controlled ideological orientation and project, using all its economic and military resources to support the outside at the expense of the inside, which leads to a number of economically losing bets, starting with the decline in the price of the Turkish lira and a major economic crisis. Politically, popular support for Justice and Development has declined; demonstrations and indignation over Erdogan's policies have subsided, paving the way for the loss of local elections, the withdrawals from the ruling party from historical leaders, the establishment of new opposition political parties, shooting down the public chances socially, militarily by draining the state's resources to support groups and organizations, and directing the army's capabilities to attrition and marginal battles. There is a negative impact on the state as a whole.

*What is the fate of the Erdogan regime in light of the increasing number of enemies abroad and the internally charged atmosphere?

I think that all the indications are that Erdogan no longer enjoys at the domestic level the same support as before. This was evident in the early opposition demonstrations in the local elections, and finally in defections move from the party  and forming new opposition parties, and an economic situation that is significantly regressive before.

On the external level, there are deep skirmishes and differences between Germany and Turkey. Turkey's attempts to enter the Union have failed and the ensuing tense relationship is the result of Erdogan's continued threat to Europe to leave refugees, a card he is good at using, and  unwelcoming behavior and operations of Turkey  in Syria by NATO.

These transformations have imposed a kind of internal and regional isolation on Erdogan, which threatens his presence and charisma, and his chances of continuing as Turkey's leader under such policies take the chances of the Turkish citizen and collide with the regional environment. I think that the future will not be for Erdogan in the light of the rise of new faces promisingly accepted by the Turkish street. it may be able to lead Turkey toward a less interventionist, more disciplined policy abroad and economic reform at home.