Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is once again trying to stir up tensions in the Middle East in order to advance both his Islamist agenda and his Ottoman imperialistic aspirations.
The hot-headed Turkish leader is milking the Khashoggi scandal in order to shift the focus from the disastrous state of affairs in Turkey, where inflation jumped over 25 percent last week after the Turkish Lira lost more than 40 percent of its value against the dollar, and to camouflage his continuing attempts to take over eastern Syria where the Kurds have established an autonomous region.
Erdogan is using the Khashoggi scandal to establish himself as the leader of the Sunni Muslim countries in the Middle East at the expense of Saudi Arabia – which is the custodian of the Muslim holy places in the world and has changed the Arab approach towards Israel.
Last week Erdogan penned an op-ed for the Washington Post, the employer of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in early October.
In the article, Erdogan claimed the order to kill Khashoggi on Turkish soil “came from the highest levels of the Saudi government,” while he exonerated King Salman, who according to the Turkish leader could not have ordered the murder.
That leaves Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as the main culprit who, Erdogan made clear, is covering up the assassination of Khashoggi.
The Turkish dictator claimed the “Khashoggi murder was a clear violation and a blatant abuse of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.”
Erdogan’s close aide Yigit Bulut claimed at the same time that Greece, Israel and Egypt were involved in the plot to assassinate Khashogg,i while he accused Europe of “hostility” against Turkey.
“A belt extending from Europe to Israel has always harboured hostility towards Turkey; they never wanted Turks in this region. Europe even made Turks to fight unnecessary wars against Russia,” Bulut said during a television interview.
Israel reacted to the latest Turkish conspiracy theory involving the Jewish state by saying that Turkey, joined by Qatar, is trying to ruin the new- found relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.spearheading the effort to drive a wedge between Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and Israel.
Dermer also accused the international community, Turkey included, of hypocrisy over the outrage that followed the death of Khashoggi.
The Israeli diplomat pointed to the silence over 500,000 deaths in Syria where dictator Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly used chemical agents in the now 7-year-old war and has committed countless other war crimes.
“It is hard for me to take seriously statements of outrage that (the murder) caused and the calls for a fundamental change to the relationship with Saudi Arabia, when (the same people) supported an agreement that gave an avowed enemy of the US hundreds of billions of dollars,” Dermer said in a reference to the lifting of sanctions against Iran after the Obama Administration and 5 other world powers reached the 2015 landmark nuclear deal with Iran.
He could also have pointed out that under Erdogan 14 Turkish journalists have disappeared while 7 others were murdered and 319 reporters have been arrested.
A crackdown on freedom of the press in Turkey also caused the shutdown of no less than 189 media outlets since the botched coup against the Turkish dictator in July 2016.
Also last week, Erdogan made clear he won’t suffice with the occupation of the former Kurdish canton Afrin in northeast Syria and vowed to launch a new military operation against the Kurdish militia YPG, considered a ‘terror group’ by the Turkish government.
The YPG-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are, together with US Special Forces, control of much of the 911 kilometer long border with Turkey in Syria and Erdogan warned the Kurds to leave the border town of Manbij “as soon as as possible” and accused the U.S. of not implementing an agreement about shared control of the town.
Shortly after Erdogan issued his threat to the Kurds, the Turkish army started shelling YPG positions in the border region – officially to ‘protect’ Arab Sunni refugees who left Tel Abyad near the city of Kobani in eastern Syria.
At the same time, the Turks ordered 700 Syrian Islamist rebels from Aleppo and the Afrin canton to cross the Euphrates River and to start targeting the SDF with newly supplied heavy weapons.
The Turkish operation against the SDF is hampering the effort to clear out the last ISIS hubs in eastern Syria and has already caused the Jihadist movement’s recovery in the area east of the Euphrates River.
In a reaction to the renewed Turkish aggression toward the Kurds in Syria the U.S. military started to patrol the border between Syria and Turkey,
Jeeps carrying US soldiers wearing the American flag were spotted on roads adjacent to the Turkish border in eastern Syria.
Erdogan, meanwhile, is also stepping up the pressure on Greece, Cyprus and Israel over the exploitation of oil and gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Aegean Sea.
He warned “bandits” not to unilaterally start oil and gas extraction in the area.
“Those who thought that they could take steps in eastern Mediterranean or the Aegean despite have begun to understand the magnitude of their mistake. We will not allow bandits in the seas to roam free just like we made the terrorists in Syria pay,” the Turkish dictator warned.
Turkey has consequently disputed Greek, Israeli and Greek Cypriot rights on the gas and oil fields in the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean Sea while the U.N. has determined that the Turkish occupation of eastern Cyprus is illegal.
Bulut warned Greece last week not to provoke a war with Turkey over the disputed areas in the Aegean Sea and said the country would face a catastrophe within three or four hours whenever it decides to launch a military operation against its neighbor.