“The Invisible Hand” is a concept used in economics. The theory (the Theory of Moral Sentiments) in which the concept of “the invisible hand” is introduced suggests that market trends are controlled by an invisible hand; this hand leads economic developments in a controlled, target-driven and goal-oriented manner. Economists argue that this invisible hand is guided by the rules of economy. In reality, however, the owner of the said invisible hand is not an imaginary, unknown, unseen shadowy entity. The hand belongs to the financiers behind the curtains, who seek economic interest.
A similar invisible hand has been lately active in US-Turkish relations as well. Having long acted in concert as strategic partners, the two countries recently have been facing one crisis after another. Trivial problems that could be tackled with relative ease through friendship and alliance have turned into major crises, causing stirs that negatively impact the relations between the two countries. The most recent of these crises is the mutual suspension of visa services that started on October 9th.
The detainment of a Turkish employee at the US consulate because of charges of espionage and links to the FETÖ terrorist organization which is blamed for the July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey that killed 249 people was what sparked off the visa crisis. In its aftermath, the USA suspended visa services at its consulates and embassies in Turkey. Turkey reacted to this decision in the same manner as dictated by the principle of reciprocity in international relations. At the point we are now, it is the citizens of both countries who suffer the consequences. Finally, the announcement by the United States embassy in Turkey for resuming the processing of non-immigrant visas for Turkish nationals “on a limited basis” was reciprocated by the Turkish embassy in Washington, DC to resume processing visa applications for US nationals “on a limited basis”.
Actually President Trump and President Erdogan came together in New York on September 22nd, where both sides conveyed mutually cordial messages. Before the bilateral meeting, President Trump said, “We have a great friendship as countries. I think we’re, right now, as close as we have ever been.” But even the mutually friendly messages from the two leaders could not avert the provocations of this invisible hand.
In fact, Turkey has long been discontent with the policies of the USA in the region. The delivery of over 1,000 trucks of arms to the PYD, the Syria extension of the terrorist organization PKK, under the pretext of the ongoing war against ISIS has been criticized most strongly by Turkey. Turkey also considers the fact that the leader of the FETÖ terrorist organization can still act freely within the US unacceptable.
The influence of a similar hand is also evident in Turkish-EU relations. Campaigns on how Turkey is supposedly ruled under a dictatorship have been appearing in the European media for quite some time now. Those tensions grew significantly in Turkey during the referendum period. After that, anti-Turkey sentiment became the main topic of election campaigns in Germany, Holland and most recently, in Austria. The European Union and Turkey, who were engaged in ongoing accession negotiations not long ago, have drifted far apart and there are signs that rift may well soon become a chasm, as the likely new Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz, has called for an end to Turkey’s EU entry talks.
Numerous significant developments have taken place in the Middle East, the bulk of which are centered on Turkey. The Turkish state considers the recent independence referendum in Northern Iraq, the PKK terrorist organization coming into de facto control of a canton in Syria, and the embargo imposed on Qatar as threats to her national interests. Taking last year’s bloody coup attempt into consideration, a wide-scale project appears to be under way.
Surely there is a power pulling the string of this invisible hand; this power desires a new order for the Middle East. Hence, it is trying to isolate and alienate Turkey, the heart of the region, from its allies. With each passing day, it gradually intensifies the pressure on Turkey but these operations seem to backfire. Far from being isolated, Turkey is forging new and very valuable alliances.
The civil war in Syria and the failed coup of July 15 paved the way for a strategic partnership between Turkey and Russia. Deals that will shift the military balances in the region have been signed, such as Turkey’s acquisition of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system. With the support of Iran, a de-conflict plan was established in Syria. Following the Northern Iraq independence referendum, Turkey, Iraq and Iran have started to take joint decisions. The Qatar crisis has been partially resolved through the support of Iran and Turkey and a climate of cooperation has emerged between Sunnis and Shiites.
Throughout the last month, successive important meetings centered around Tayyip Erdogan were held. In his visit to Turkey, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said, “I think new power groups and centers will be born, and the world will reach a new balance based on cooperation, peace and equality. A struggle is needed for this world. We have come to Turkey because we believe in Turkey. We know that a new power is being born.” Soon afterwards, the Ukrainian and Serbian Presidents, who were visited by Erdogan, took new steps towards cooperation while praising the Turkish government. Lastly, Polish President Andrzej Duda received Erdogan and stated that Turkey is indeed a part of Europe, expressing his support for the full membership of Turkey. This dazzling diplomatic activity over the course of the last month is an indication of the fact that new dynamics are emerging in the region.
There are crucial lessons to be drawn by the European Union and the US from these developments. Turkey is the West’s most important ally in the region, as well as one of the countries that preserve the balance in the Muslim world. It is the sole power capable of safeguarding the Middle East from the flames of war; a powerful Turkey will surely make the world a safer place. Mr. Erdogan is not a leader who is merely concerned with the interests of his own country. He is waging a genuine struggle to be able to bring peace to the Muslim world. A powerful Turkey and a powerful leader are needed to achieve peace in the Middle East and across the world. Those who pursue provocative actions hiding behind an invisible hand intend to lead the world to ruin. These flames of dissent and strife can only be doused by Turkey and her allies. For this exact reason, the right course of action to take, especially in these trying times, is not to create artificial problems with Turkey by falling for the provocations of this invisible hand, but to find mutual solutions to issues by collaborating with Turkey and to expedite peace.