advancing liberal democracy and countering violent extremism
Aug 10, 2020
3 min read
Can Hulusi Akar Save Turkey and the Middle East from Erdogan’s Foolishness?
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar talking with President Erdogan on phone
On August 6th, Egypt and Greece signed an agreement designating an area in the eastern Mediterranean as an exclusive economic zone between the two countries. In the press conference that followed the signing of the agreement, the Greek Foreign Minister, Nikolaos Dendias, said that the agreement is designed in compliance with the international law. Then, he added: “Now, the normal place for Turkey’s illegal agreement with Libya is the trash can!”
Five days before that, on August 1st, France and Cyprus announced that their “Defense Cooperation Agreement,” signed in April 2017, entered into force. The agreement ensures cooperation on “energy resources, crisis management, counter-terrorism and maritime security.” The activation of the agreement came as an indirect response to Turkey’s expansion endeavors in the Mediterranean, highlighted by harassing Greece and then directing its force towards Cyprus.
While the announcement of the Egypt-Greece and France-Cyprus agreements received international applaud, the joke went out that Turkey’s president Erdogan was breaking some of the glassware in his house to release anger. The two agreements blow away Turkey’s attempts to manifest the “Mavi Vatan [The Blue Homeland]” dream, and undermines Erdogan’s recent illegitimate moves in the Mediterranean. For over two months, Erdogan turned the quiet basin of the Mediterranean into a war zone, as he went on threatening Turkey’s neighbor states in Europe and deploying Syrian mercenaries and terrorist militia from Syria to North Africa.
Meanwhile, the Turkish economy is collapsing and the people are suffering. On August 6th, the Turkish Lira fell to its lowest rate ever compared to US Dollar. The angry public opinion puts the blame on Erdogan’s flawed policies, at home and abroad, as much as the ineffective monetary policies instigated by Erdogan’s son-in-law, Berat Albayrak, who acts as Minister of Treasury and Finance.
Nevertheless, the militarization of Turkey’s foreign policy in the Middle East and East Mediterranean is putting the Turkish military under a huge amount of pressure and hurting its international reputation. Turkey is under the threat of being sanctioned by the United States Congress on the background of purchasing S-400 air defense system from Russia, while working with the United States on the F-35 fighter jet program. If applied, the sanctions would worsen the reputation of the Turkish military and accelerate the economic collapse.
On July 27th, Turkey’s Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar pleaded the U.S. Congress to reconsider its decision about sanctioning Turkey, and offered to “address any US concerns about the S-400 / F-35 compatibility issue, on a technical basis." Ironically, Minister Hulusi Akar was previously sanctioned, in his professional capacity, by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in October 2019, on the background of Turkish military’s involvement in “escalating violence in Syria, endangering innocent civilians, and destabilizing the region.”
Honestly, it is heart breaking to see the mighty Turkish military, and its one-of-kind commander Sayın Bakan Hulusi Akar turning into a toy in the hands of an Islamist president like Erdogan. The Turkish military should refrain from pursuing Erdogan’s illogical and illegitimate ambitions abroad, as they hurt Turkey and the Turkish people more than anyone else. Erdogan’s policies have already turned Turkey into a “hostile” country to most of its former friends in Europe and the United States, and its neighbors in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Turkish military is the only institution capable of saving Turkey from the “plow down the road,” which Erdogan is driving the country towards, with utmost speed and foolishness. That does not, necessarily, mean overthrowing Erdogan and his Islamist party from power through a coup d’état. Such an action will incur an aftermath that Turkey can hardly survive. But, at least, for the time being, the Turkish military leadership, namely the highly popular and widely adored Hulusi Akar, should intervene and put some brakes on Erdogan’s blinded-with-hate atrocities in the Mediterranean and MENA.
Minister Hulusi Akar must be the sound of reason in this equation, not a helpless obedient follower to Erdogan’s irrationality. That is his responsibility, as a leader, towards the Turkish people and the Middle Eastern countries currently suffering on the hands of Erdogan. Sayın Bakan Hulusi Akar may save an entire region, as big as the Middle East and North Africa, if he wants to.