Has Erdogan Taken Turkey off a Cliff?
We do live, as they say, in interesting times. The Turkish president, with the support of his Islamist supporters and his intelligence services, has created a situation in which his interests have more in common with any and all Sunni insurgents in Syria than with the Kurdish fighters in the north of that country. These PKK aligned Kurds are not friends of Turkey and they are not popular with all of the region's Kurds, but they are united in blood with about seventeen million Turkish Kurdish citizens. And they are an effective force against ISIS. Turkey has chosen to fight them rather than do anything effective against ISIS.
By encouraging the unraveling of the Kurdish peace process before the last elections, Erdogan has allowed the creation of a bloody chaos in Turkey's southeast. Now he has managed to turn the sympathy of most Kurds, except for the leadership in Erbil, against Turkey.
Erdogan seems to be stepping through a cow pasture spread evenly with dung. Every step he takes removes Turkey from its more balanced strategic postures, while at the same time alienating his former allies and world public opinion.
So, he feels he must divert attention from his troubles. Hey, why not show some muscle! Shoot down a Russian plane and get Russians and NATO to be at daggers drawn. ("Let's you and him fight.") Or establish a military base in Iraq near Mosul over the express objections of the Iraqi government. One can only guess what the Turkish generals and colonels are saying about their commander in chief behind closed doors.
It is fairly easy to guess that American strategists are thinking that the Turkish president is a corrupt megalomaniac who has just taken steps to guarantee the end of his reasonably successful decade in power. It is difficult to predict what will finish this ridiculous side-show off: sanity from within, Russian fury, or a new-found American pragmatic approach to Russia, Iran, and (hold your nose) Assad. And how can we rescue the Turkish population from Erdogan's drastic miscalculations?