As I noted on this blog on Tuesday, whoever emerges as the next American President will inherit enormous challenges in the Middle East.
The Iran and ISIS threats are certainly chief among them. But there are more.
Keep your eyes on Turkey, for example — it’s rapidly emerging as anti-American, anti-Western, anti-Israel Islamist dictatorship.
After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, the predominately Muslim Turkey emerged as a moderate, peaceful, even friendly democracy. Indeed, as I wrote about in my 2009 non-fiction book, Inside The Revolution, in many ways Turkey emerged in the mid- to late-20th century as a model for the “Reformers,” those Muslims eager to show the world they were not violent extremists but eager to build a modern, safe country characterized by economic growth and even pluralism.
Turkey was welcomed into NATO. It became a faithfully ally of the U.S. and the West against the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union. It became a beautiful tourist destination for millions of Europeans, and even tens of thousands of Israelis.
But all that began changing when Recep Tayyip Erdogan emerged as Turkey’s President in August of 2014, after serving 13 years as the Turkish Prime Minister.
Erdogan (pronounced “Air-do-wan”) is no Reformer. He’s an Islamic Radical. Driven perhaps by visions of restoring Turkey to the power and glory of the Ottoman Empire at its peak, Erdogan is aggressively fashioning himself into a brutal dictator. He’s cracking down on Internet freedom. He’s seizing churches. He’s seizing media outlets that speak out against him. He’s using the crisis in Syria not to go after ISIS — as he claims — but to bomb the Kurds who are at war with ISIS.
What’s more, after drawing Turkey close to Russia and Iran, he has now run afoul of Russia’s own rising Czar, Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin leader is apparently furious at Ergdogan for meddling in Syria, a key Russian client state.
At some point, I hope to update Inside The Revolution to indicate the dangerous track Turkey is on under Erdogan. But for now, it’s important that the next President of the United States — and Congress — understand that path the dictator is on and be prepared to deal with him from a position of wisdom and strength.