Bipin Shah
Bipin Shah

An Opportunity For Turkey to mend fences with Israel, India, and the USA

It was the battle of Gallipoli that advanced the career of a visionary Pasha (commander) Kemal Atatürk of Turkey. He was commonly referred to the world as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. He became a founding father of modern Turkey serving as the first President until he died in 1938. He undertook sweeping reforms that modernized Turkey into a secular, industrializing nation that prompted an invitation to join a military group of NATO and CENTO during the cold war era. He was a secularist but nationalist similar to today’s leaders in Israel and India. He was instrumental in disposing of Ottoman Empire’s theological orientation.

India, Israel, and Turkey have a long history of civilization. The Ottoman admiral Sidi Reis of the Ottoman Empire was engaged in a naval battle with the Portuguese off the Red Sea when he encountered a storm that steered him to an unplanned and accidental visit to India in 1555 A.D. Mirat-ul- Memalik, his memoir, describes his experience in India and his fascinations with Indian society and culture. Upon his visit, the Ottoman-Gujarati Sultanate continued to exchange and reciprocate their relationships together and fought against the Portuguese. The part of his experience is captured on the two-part papers that I published on my Academia site. Here is the link to one of them.

https://www.academia.edu/30685894/Early_Turks_Rise_of_Ottoman_Turks_Admiral_Seydi_Ali_Reis_Travel_to_Gujarat_and_conflict_with_Portuguese

The Israeli Jews lived in ancient Anatolia that was an ancient Roman province. Anatolian Jews later were known as Byzantine Jews. After the Fall of the Moorish rule of Grenada, The Ottoman Empire became a haven for Iberian Jews fleeing inquisition and persecution. Two migrations recorded known as “Aliyah” brought an increased Jewish presence to Ottoman Palestine. Turkey benefited from Jewish skills in Jewelry, architecture, and running of the empire to mention just a few. The Jewish soldiers also gave their life when Turks faced their wars against their enemies. India and Israel both enjoyed a friendly relationship with modern Turkey despite some minor differences. We upheld the principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. During the Turko-Russian war of 1876, India under Muslim rulers provided financial support to Turkey after Turkey lost the war. Gujarati forces were allied with the Turkish Navy during the Portuguese invasion of Diu led by Portuguese Admiral Almeida. Non-interference and secularism were the binding glue to our relationship. This tradition of Turkey has continued up until the rise and concentration of power under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan’s worldview resembles the Ottoman’s Sultan of the past and poses the danger to Turkey’s prosperity and stability. Turkey has long considered Kurdish resistance and the Armenian Republic as threats and Turkey’s foreign policy has drifted and non-interference in other country’s internal affairs created problems both with India and Israel. The days of the Ottoman Caliphate are over in the “nuclear age”, and Turkey has recognized that. The Lausanne treaty was signed by Turkey after seven months of negotiation and the continuation of the treaty next year should be a reminder for ensuring peace and stability of the Turkish State. Lausanne Treaty also guaranteed the Turkish border when secularism and freedom of the Press were guaranteed by Atatürk.

The plunge of the Turkish Lira has impacted Turkey’s factories, farmers, Press, and retailers who rely on the import of raw materials from the free world. For example, the Newspaper is shutting down due to a lack of imported papers. In another such report, Mehmet Sapci’s 86-year-old pharmaceutical company was out of business. The story just goes on. The rapid devaluation of Turkey’s lira is rippling throughout the country’s private sector.

Although India and Israel both have concerns of their own due to terrorists using Turkey’s soil to spread terror in the neighborhood and far beyond Turkey’s border through indirect funding. Joining FATF’s Grey list will not help Turkey. India So far has not allowed them to interfere in their bilateral civilian and commercial exchanges. Erdogan has ruined friendly relations with Israel. After unsolicited comments by Erdogan on the bilateral issue and FATF restriction, India may review awarded a contract worth $ 2.3 billion to Turkey’s top shipbuilding contractor. A Turkish company was allowed to participate in an Indian infrastructure project related to building a tunnel in India’s Leh-Manali highway that is now completed. India provided emergency help during the COVID-19.

Indian movie-makers are visiting Turkey for the shooting of Indian movies. Turkey is also an Indian tourist destination. Indian businesses are also expanding their presence in Turkey and other countries. However, the “caliphate bent” of Erdogan scares the investors away. India’s Indigo Airlines reached a deal with Turkish Airlines for promoting tourism in each other countries. There is a great resemblance between the architect of the Blue Mosque of Istanbul and the Taj Mahal of India. Indian TV programs are popular in the Middle East while the Turkish series of Ertugrul, Osman, and Söğüt is getting popular in India. So, what is the problem, Pasha?

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has emasculated Turkish democracy and the private sector with his increasingly authoritarian rule. His unorthodox economic policies have thrown the country’s economy into a bottomless dump, while his foreign policy has torn Turkey away from its transatlantic and other important allies and brought its status closer to autocratic countries such as Pakistan and China. His advocacy of lowering the interest rate under rising inflation due to the “supply chain issue” makes no economic sense.

This ultimately led to President Biden’s decision not to invite Turkey to the recently held “Democracy Summit.” In no uncertain terms, It was made clear to Erdogan to return to its long-established democratic traditions. It is not too late for Turkey to abandon the dream of the Ottoman caliphate and return to the fold of modern democracies. If Erdogan changes his track, he may be able to Join Quad-2, a new forum that has the members like Israel, India, UAE, and the USA to help free repression of China over its Turkish speaking minorities of Uighur.

About the Author
Born In India now a US citizen for over 40 years. Presently semi-retired and loved traveling. Visited Israel several years ago and loved it. A strong advocate of India-Israel's friendship
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