Satoshi Ikeuchi, Professor, Religion and Global Security, The University of Tokyo
Turkey made a round in making problems with neighbors. It reached to the last target, the old foe, the Armenians.
Fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces around the Nagorno-Karabakh region which started at September 27 is the fiercest since the ceasefire in 1994 which halted the conflict between two former Soviet countries.
Turkey’s full commitment and support to the Azerbaijani military offensive is accused as one of the key factors behind the escalation of the confrontation.
Deployment of Turkish-made weapons including the drone technology seems to have tilted the delicate balance in Azerbaijan’s favor, for the moment. There have been unconfirmed reports that Turkey has mobilized mercenaries from Syria to fight for Azerbaijan.
Rationality of Turkish involvement in such an explosive issue is not well known to outsiders. There might have been a rise of nationalism stoked among Turks who identify themselves with the Turkic nations. There are enough reasons for Turkey’s neighboring countries to fear Turkish irridentism which seeks to regain the realm of the Ottoman empire.
Though Turkey’s foreign policy is undoubtedly very divisive, it ironically unites many countries.
Faced with the Turkish aggressiveness, one neighbor after another silently join hands, effectively forming a loose, de facto coalition aimed at encircling Turkey.
As a byproduct, this wide coalition of anti-Turkish or anti-Erdogan camp supersedes and overrides Islam-Christian and Islam-Jewish divides.
The Arab Gulf countries, for example, which have recently been leaning toward establishing formal relations with the Jewish state and making overtures to Jews in the US and the world over, now seems to be sympathetic with the Christian Armenian more than Muslim Azerbaijani.
It reminds me of a scene from Gulliver’s Travels, a satire written by the Irish author Jonathan Swift, in which Gulliver make a voyage to the island of Lilliput where he finds himself tied down to the ground by the small people in the island, who are suspicious of the intention of the newly arrived giant and fearful of the sheer power and the harm which would be caused by it.
From the East Mediterranean seashore to the mountainous area of the Caucasus, there is a chain of countries, each of which has its own issue with Turkey and joining hands in constraining the giant’s movement.
Erdogan might have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for uniting so many countries which otherwise differ much and are antagonistic to each other.