By Theodore Shoebat
Erdogan is demanding for an “international protection force”. He made this known to Putin recently. Turkey is a country that is encroaching in the Eastern Mediterranean, entering the maritime territories of the Greeks and Egyptians, and also causing consternation for Israel. Meanwhile, Turkey’s military has been occupying the Northeastern part of Syria. Should we really trust that when Turkey demands for an international protection force that they will not use such a situation to advance their own military on Israeli territory? As we read in Al-Jazeera:
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the international community should “give Israel a strong and deterrent lesson” over its conduct towards the Palestinians.
Erdogan made the comment during a phone call with Putin on Wednesday, Turkey’s Presidential Communications Directorate said, amid escalating violence in occupied East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
The Turkish statement on Wednesday said Erdogan stressed the need for “the international community to give Israel a strong and deterrent lesson” and pressed for the UN Security Council to rapidly intervene with “determined and clear messages” to Israel.
The statement said Erdogan suggested to Putin that an international protection force to shield the Palestinians should be considered.
If an international force makes its presence in Israel at the exhortation of Turkey, Ankara will definitely work to make sure that its military force has a preponderating position, and it will be done with the intention of making sure Turkey has an advantage for its geopolitical goals in the region. What Turkey aspires to do reminds me of what Japan did after the First World War in Russia. After the Marxist Bolsheviks took over, Japan joined an international military coalition that was designed to enter Russia and back the White Army to overthrow the Marxists. Japan took advantage of the coalition’s mission to deploy a very high number of troops into Russia as a way to take territory that the Japanese believed belonged to them.
The Japanese military made a plan to attack on two fronts: they would make their way from Vladivostok to Khabarovsk along the Amur River, and through the Chinese Eastern Railway they would go and cut off the Russian Trans-Siberian Railway at Lake Baikal. But the plan was rejected by the the civilian leadership of Prime Minister Hara Takashi. But then, in late 1917, when the Japanese found out that the British fleet, the HMS Suffolk, was heading to Vladivostok, they aspired to outdo their European rival. Japan’s new Prime Minister, Terauchi Masatake, was incensed that the British would go to Russia without including Japan, and so he ordered that the Imperial Japanese Navy head to Vladivostok first.
Japan sent two naval ships, the Iwami and Asahi. The Iwami landed at Vladivostok on January 12th, just two days before the British HMS Suffolk’s arrival. The Asahi arrived on January 17. Supposedly, the intention of this deployment of ships was a show of force. But this ended after a mob attacked a Japanese owned store and murdered its owner. Without being delayed by any investigation on the murder, the Japanese went for the attack, sending marines into Vladivostok who proceeded to occupy the whole city. The British sent one hundred marines to protect their consulate. The Americans did nothing. In July of 1918, President Wilson requested from Japan to send 7,000 soldiers who would have been a part of an international coalition of 25,000 troops, which included an American expeditionary force, to back the Czech White Army against the Bolsheviks. Prime Minister Terauchi agreed to send more than seven thousand — he agreed to send 12,000, but he had his conditions: the large military force would have to be under Japanese command and not under an international coalition.
The Japanese eventually sent 70,000 troops, more than any other of the other Allied powers involved. The Allies thought of the mission as being localized in Vladivostok, but Japan took advantage of the situation to expand further into Russia. Japanese troops extended their presence as far west as Lake Baikal and Buryatia, and by 1920, corporations such as Mitsubishi and Mitsui opened offices in Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Nikolayevsk-on-Amur and Chita. This brought in over 50,000 Japanese civilian settlers. The international coalition withdrew its troops, but Japan stayed and continued to back the White Army against the Bolsheviks.
On June 24th, 1922, Japan agreed to withdraw its troops from all Russian territory by October, except for Northern Sakhalin. Whats very interesting is the fact that today the Russians and Japanese still have tensions over the Sakhalin island which lies right in between Japan and Russia, and it would not be surprising if a conflict erupted between the two in which they would fight for this territory. Japan was not so much as interested in fighting Bolshevism as it was in expanding its own power. It is not surprising that Wilson conceded in 1918 that: “What you would say about Russia and against Germany could be made to apply to Japan or any other power seeking to do what we know Germany is attempting.”
If Turkey is pushing for an international coalition to provide stability in Israel, it will be a pretext to expand Turkey’s military into Israel. I don’t see how one can see Turkey’s intentions in any other way when the country just had a victory over Armenia — her very old enemy — through its proxy, Azerbaijan; and when it now control’s northern Syria and is encroaching over other countries’ maritime territories in the Eastern Mediterranean. It is an official plan of the Turkish government, called Mavi Vatan, or Blue Homeland, that is, the Mediterranean Sea becoming Ottoman turf. The plan is, in fact, fourteen years old, and is aimed at the oil and natural gas of the eastern Mediterranean in competition against Egypt, Israel, Greece and Cyprus.
On November of 2019, Erdogan and the head of the GNA, Fayez al-Sarraj, signed a military cooperation agreement and a separate deal on maritime boundaries that gives to Turkey drilling and pipeline rights over a huge part of the Mediterranean Sea between Libya and Turkey. Conforming to Turkey’s plan to revive the Ottoman Empire, the agreement establishes that a number of the gas fields found in the Mediterranean a few years ago are no longer within Libya’s maritime zone, but instead belong to Turkey, essentially giving territory to Turkish expansionism without a bullet fired.
Turkey’s commercial deals solidify control over huge swaths of territory. In the words of Mustafa Karahan, the director of consultancy for Dragon Energy:
“The push for control over any oil and gas in the Mediterranean basin is not really an economic project at all: gas supply is not a pressing need or financial imperative for Turkey yet. This is really about the projection of political power … Spending on Mediterranean energy projects is a bit like national defence budgets. It’s like an arms race where you have to act before your rival does.”
The commercial deals are more about power over territory and expansionism than they are about money. As Turkey gains control over natural resources, she encroaches on the maritime territories or the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of other countries, hence why Egypt, Cyprus, Greece and Israel are very wary about Turkey’s drilling on the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey’s struggle for neo-Ottomanism is occurring within a tense rivalry with other countries. Turkey is currently battling both the Assad regime and Kurdish fighters in Syria while combating the influence of the UAE (United Arab Emirates) in Somalia and across the Horn of Africa, which signifies a rift between Turkey and the Arabs.
In the pursuit of this power, the Turkish military machine is quickly manifesting itself in the Mediterranean, with drones flying in Syrian airspace, navy frigates steering along the Libyan coast, Turkish military advisors in Tripoli to help the GNA, mountain commando units conducting operations in northern Iraq, and major Turkish officers in Qatar and Somalia.
Turkey’s military aspirations are also signified through her advanced, and continuously advancing, navy. In 2016, the Turkish government announced that it was going to boost up it’s navy capacity by purchasing scores of naval technology in a program known as MILGEM (a Turkish acronym for “the national ship”). This program has been being accelerating with the help a global technological force: Germany. In 2016, Turkey’s top procurement official, Ismail Demir, announced that Turkey was going to construct six “new type” submarines, under German license, and that the deliveries of submarines would be done in this year of 2020. “These [submarines] will be built entirely in Turkey although they are German design,” he said. But, Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) made it known that the next generation of submarines would be designed, developed and constructed locally, an objective that Turkey is working very tenaciously on today. The 2020s is going to be the decade of global militarism.
Turkey has quickly made a name for herself in the global world of weapons exports and developers. According to a 2018 report from the German publication, Welt, Turkey’s weapons export industry has gotten big enough to surpass even the Israelis:
“exports, it is said, reached a volume of two billion dollars for the first time – an increase of 14 percent compared to the previous year. The Turkish arms industry has overtaken the Israelis in scope and performance.”
With the rise of Turkish power means the revival of the Ottoman Empire. Since there is a tremendous amount of hatred for Israel and Jews in Turkey (Mein Kampf has sold tremendously well in Turkey), and since there is a very intense aspiration to restore the empire of the Turk, we will be seeing a resurgence of Turkish expansionism in the Middle East.