By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
Leaders around the world have been pandering to Recep Tayyip Erdogan for years, trying to win him over to their side. They flattered the Turkish President so much that the lavish compliments went to his head. As the self-appointed Grand Sultan of the neo-Ottoman Empire, Erdogan started meddling in the internal affairs of neighboring countries, and jailing scores of his own citizens who dared to point out that the Sultan is naked!
The first leader to be duped by Erdogan was Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad whose ill-considered honeymoon with Turkey turned into an endless nightmare, devastating his country. The next head of state to part ways with the Turkish dictator was President Al-Sisi of Egypt. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has still not fully learned his lesson, carrying on a baffling love-hate relationship with Turkey. Erdogan almost succeeded even in tricking Armenia’s leaders with the deceptive Armenia-Turkey Protocols. Ironically, Armenia’s interests were saved by none other than Erdogan’s junior partner, Pres. Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, who killed the deal with his persistent self-serving objections.
The latest world leader to discover Erdogan's fiendish nature is Vladimir Putin, after losing a military jet and two Russian airmen to a Turkish attack under the guise that the plane had crossed Turkey’s airspace for 17 seconds!
Within days of this tragic incident, the Russian government took several retaliatory measures that would have a devastating effect on Turkey’s economy:
-- Banned the import of Turkish products. Trade between the two countries amounts to a whopping $33 billion annually, making Russia Turkey’s second largest trading partner.
-- Refused the entry of Turkish businessmen into Russia. Sixty of them were detained upon their arrival in Moscow last week and sent back to Turkey.
-- Lifted the visa-free travel of Turkish citizens to Russia as of January 1.
-- Forbade hiring new Turkish workers -- currently 200,000 live with their families in Russia -- and cancelled multi-billion dollar construction contracts with Turkish firms.
-- Ordered Russian travel agencies not to send tourists to Turkey, depriving that country of billions of dollars in income. Since 4.5 million Russians visited Turkey last year, Russia is the second largest source of foreign tourists.
-- Imposed higher customs duties on imports from and exports to Turkey.
-- Under consideration is the cancellation of three major projects: 1) Selling natural gas to Turkey as Russia supplies over half of that country’s needs; 2) Building Turkey’s first nuclear power plant, worth over $22 billion; and 3) Constructing a multi-billion dollar natural gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey.
Pres. Putin has also taken several military steps since the downing of the Russian jet:
-- Boosted the Russian military presence in Syria -- on the ground, in the air, and off the Mediterranean coast.
-- Bombed pro-Turkish terrorist groups in the region where the Russian jet was hit and two Russian airmen killed.
-- Destroyed hundreds of Turkish trucks, some of which were transporting weapons to the rebels in Syria, and others carrying oil bought from ISIS and smuggled into Turkey.
Russia may take additional military measures against Turkey in the near future:
-- Arming Kurdish militants in Iraq, Syria, and within Turkey.
-- Shooting down Turkish planes and helicopters that cross Syria’s or Armenia’s airspace, in view of such incursions in the past.
On the diplomatic front:
-- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cancelled his pre-planned trip to Turkey last week.
-- Putin refused to take Erdogan’s phone calls and rejected his request for a meeting during their Paris visit.
-- The Russian President called off the planned Summit Meeting with Erdogan in St. Petersburg on Dec. 15.
-- The Russian Duma (Parliament) is considering a law that would criminalize denial of the Armenian Genocide: 300,000-500,000 Ruble penalty and three-year imprisonment.
-- Some Russian politicians have even called for the liberation of Western Armenia from Turkish occupation and the establishment of free Kurdistan with its capital in Diyarbekir!
It appears that Pres. Putin will not easily back down after the treacherous Turkish attack on the Russian jet. He has no choice but to react harshly to show the world that he won’t allow anyone to attack Russians with impunity. Putin described the Turkish action as a “stab in the back from the accomplices of terrorists” and sternly warned of “severe consequences.”
Erdogan has finally bitten more than he can chew! He is foolishly confronting a nuclear power with a leader determined to go to great lengths to teach the arrogant Turkish President a lesson he will not soon forget.
If indeed Sultan Erdogan is counting on NATO to defend his reckless adventure, he is sadly mistaken. He cannot misrepresent the shooting down of a Russian jet as an attack on Turkey, and then seek protection by hiding under NATO’s skirts!
Regrettably, Turkey has become a major liability for NATO. The Turkish President’s irresponsible behavior over a minor incursion risks dragging all NATO members into a larger conflagration. NATO should seriously question the wisdom of harboring a terrorist state in its midst that can trigger yet again a grave international incident with far reaching consequences for the entire world!