Will Turkey Boycott the West? President Erdogan After The Coup Failed
29 June 2016
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
The number of Gulf Arab tourists who visit Turkey does not exceed more than
200,000 a year, while the number of Russian and Iranian tourists is 4 million
and 1.5 million respectively per year. These figures can help us understand
relations between the states and what really influences them. The Turkish
President Recep Tayyib Erdogan said recently that he intends to reform his
government's relations with neighbouring countries that have been damaged due
to differences over Syria, and there is no doubt that the economy is an
important reason for this.
Tourism is one of Turkey's most important sources of income and brings in
about $30 billion dollars a year. The first decision that President Vladimir
Putin took after the Russian warplane that invaded Turkish airspace was shot
down was to stop Russian citizens from travelling to Turkey, and this
immediately caused a major crisis for Turkey's tourism sector.
Without a thriving economy, Erdogan cannot strengthen his rule, nor can his
party continue to achieve a majority in parliament and municipal elections.
This means that he also has to take into account his country's relations with
Europe which is his country's main economic partner. The trade agreement that
was signed in the mid 1990s with the European Union changed the face of Turkey
and quadrupled the strength of the economy. Today Turkey is ranked 17th in the
list of G-20 economies, and Saudi Arabia is ranked 14th.
After the coup failed, President Erdogan can do whatever he wants in his
country, but he does not have much influence abroad. His success and that of
his party depends on economic prosperity. If this prosperity does not
continue, problems and threats that are more dangerous than the coup attempt
will appear. This explains many of the contradictions in Turkish government
policy concerning various activities. Turkey supported Iran during the
economic sanctions imposed by the West, and it was Iran's foremost trading
partner. It also has a good relationship with the Russians who consider Turkey
an important partner for them in central Asia and a vital passage way for
their exports to Europe.
If Erdogan chooses to eliminate his opponents within the country as a result
of the attempted coup, it is likely that no one will be able to stop him.
Western governments will not do anything no matter how harsh the language that
they use to warn him is. However, it is incredibly unlikely that he will
resort to holding major countries accountable or boycott them, like he
threatened to do with the United States if it did not hand over his opponent
Gulen who lives in Pennsylvania, and who Erdogan accuses of involvement in the
Turkey is a member of NATO, and NATO has military bases and a huge military
presence as part of the west's strategy to confront Russia. Erdogan can cancel
his country's agreements with NATO, and the termination of major agreements is
not a strange thing nowadays. This can be seen from Britain's surprising
decision to exit the European Union. However, Turkey's military and economic
interests will suffer significantly, and this is the price of economic success
and international alliances.
The attempted coup may change President Erdogan's vision regarding foreign
relations, but he remains an intelligent politician. He does not pursue risky
policies as we can see from his policy towards Syria over the duration of five
difficult years. In spite of all his threats, Erdogan did not enter the war
and chose to manage his participation remotely. He supported the Syrian
opposition and did not get directly involved, even when Iranian and Russian
forces entered the war. Now he is ready to reconsider his differences with
these two countries regarding Syria but we do not know how this will pan out.
Al Rashed is the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. He is also the
former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly
magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of
Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass
communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is
currently based in Dubai.