It is often said that one is defined by the company he keeps and as if almost aping its close friend Pakistan, Turkey is now finding itself increasingly isolated as Erdogan’s calamitous move to step up the offensive in Syria has spectacularly backfired on Turkey as Germany, France and The Netherlands have stopped arms sales to the country and the US President Trump has again pledged to obliterate Turkey’s economy.
Turkey President Erdogan sided with Pakistan on Kashmir as he moved to peddle the latter’s nefarious agenda, throwing the India-Turkey relations for a toss. The move to side with Pakistan has been widely regarded as a huge blunder as blunders have become a hallmark of Erdogan’s presidency. India then patiently waited and caught him by surprise when India was one of the first countries to hit out at Turkey for its offensive in Syria which has led to the killings of dozens of Syrians and has displaced over 160,000 people according to the United Nations.
India responded to Turkey with MEA releasing a statement, “We are deeply concerned at the unilateral military offensive by Turkey in northeast Syria. Turkey’s actions can undermine stability in the region and the fight against terrorism. Its action also has the potential to cause humanitarian and civilian distress. We call upon Turkey to exercise restraint and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. We urge the peaceful settlement of all issues through dialogue and discussion.” India rightly sided with Syria who has supported India on critical issues including Kashmir both inside and outside of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.
US President Trump announced the withdrawal of some of his troops from Syria and warned Turkey not to step up the offensive against the Kurds. However, Erdogan who has attempted to turn Turkey into a dictatorial regime with mild success has seen his popularity wane rapidly as he has become infamous for arbitrary decisions as the country’s economy continues to be in a mess. His move to step up the offensive against the Kurds was yet another calamitous move despite a warning by Trump.
Trump has now moved to impose widespread sanctions on Turkey as he brings back the steel tariff to 50% which was earlier reduced in May. He has also immediately stopped the $100 billion trade deal with Turkey as Trump issues an Executive Order which will authorise a broad range of consequences, including financial sanctions, the blocking of property, and barring entry into the United States. In his statement, he also said that he is fully prepared to swiftly destroy Turkey’s economy if the latter doesn’t scale back its aggression which is destabilising the region.
The Netherlands, Norway, Finland, France and Germany have also condemned Turkey’s actions and have collectively ended arms export to the country till it stops the offensive. The European Union has also urged Turkey to stop its destabilising actions at a time when Volkswagen paused its $1.4 billion investment in Turkey over the Syrian invasion.
Russia on Tuesday also condemned Turkey’s military offensive in Syria calling it “unacceptable”. Putin’s envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev said, “We had always urged Turkey to show restraint and always considered some kind of military operation on Syrian territory unacceptable.”
In a rare instance, all-weather allies China and Pakistan have differed on Turkey’s invasion of China as the latter has moved to condemn Turkey’s offensive as its worried that Turkey’s offensive will lead to the liberation of IS fighters many of whom are Uighurs and can pose a threat to China as it has continued its crackdown and ethnic cleansing of Uighurs in the restive town of Xinjiang. As if elated by the prospect of the terrorists fleeing the region and the Islamic State (IS) taking the opportunity to rally up, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called Erdogan to “convey Pakistan’s support and solidarity.”
Erdogan’s actions will have widespread ramifications for Turkey and political commentators have already started writing Erdogan’s political obituaries as he faces widespread criticism for his actions both inside and outside Turkey. Turkey finds itself pushed into a corner along with Pakistan, who is a liability itself.