The Activization of the Turkish Factor in Lebanon

By Shahan KANDAKHARIAN

Editor-in-Chief, “Azdak” newspaper

Beirut

 From the Arab spring to the Azerbaijani winter

The change of power in the Middle East, especially in the Arab countries, may invoke numerous comments and analytical interpretations from the view of Armenian interests. On the one hand, the main reason for concern is the security and stability of the Armenian communities in the Middle East; and on the other hand, there are some limitations, imposed by the necessity to be guided by the state interests.

In this case the problem may have various contents, if we try analyzing the probable scales of the possible impact on all these processes from the two states, neighboring to our country. Those, following the chain of events, start noticing the imperative of changing borders in the Middle East more clearly. Toppling of former governments, civil clashes, divisions, formation of new or partly new forces lead us to the conclusion that there are concrete programs behind the spontaneity of such movements and the chain of events.

In view of all these rapidly developing processes, Turkey has found itself in an uneasy situation, as far as its domestic and external problems, despite the visible lack of immediate danger at a declarative level, however, are now a hotly discussable agenda.  The current politically strained relations between Turkey and Syria, and in the case with Iraq, such a policy was escalated from just declarations  up to military interventions, as well as the continuous threat against Syria that Turkish armed forces can really intervene, clearly show that this country is in the very complicated situation due to the unexpected and at the same time all-round increased threats, stemming from the Kurdish factor. There a lot of indicators, allowing to make a comprehensive analysis of the possible vectors of  how the situation might develop. In this sense, we should not miss some news that the activities of the Turkish embassy are temporarily frozen. A part of sources of information does not provide any visible reasons for that, but some others relate that decision with the Syrian issue.

The internal Turkish  level can encounter an unpredictable reaction, if the diplomatic tension leads to military steps and becomes a source of the regional shocks. We should not overestimate the possibility of disintegration of Turkey, as far as the Kurdish movements have already received support from the influential power centers for a certain time. However, in any case, Turkey cannot remain beyond the plans of establishment of new borders in the region. Let us point out that the information, published by an important Russian media source, that the US Secretary of  State reminded  her Turkish colleague about the unfulfilled debt of the United States to the Armenians in providing them the access to the Black Sea, has not been refuted so far.

These days the number of parallels between the Arab spring and the delayed Azerbaijani spring in Azerbaijan has increased in the analytical materials. These parallels are based on the realities of the family-dictator governance, anti-democratic practices, banning the opposition, repressions and other facts of that kind. The attempts to treat Aliyev and Gaddafi  the same way, despite all their relative differences, are numerous enough.  But winter still reigns in Azerbaijan. Taking into account the given political and societal criteria, such parallels are justified. In this case, the Artsakh Armenians, unlike the externally imposed types of the Arab spring, have put all before the new actual territorial division, based on the principles of the national and human self-determination. Neither spring, nor the autumn, or any other season, may bring in any changes into self-determined Artsakh.

 

The message of the closed forum

Following the recent meetings of Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Lebanon, we can make some judgments  and general conclusions. First, we should state that he was the only non-Arab Minister, invited to take part in the forum, headed by the UN Secretary General. The second fact that requires explanation is that after the official open session, where the UN Secretary General and some other gusts delivered their speeches, Davutoglu also made his presentation, but in the closed regime.

Certainly, we are not speaking about the extra-secret meetings. The text of  Davutoglu’s speech will be undoubtedly made public. The Turkish mass media have also provided some details of the statement, made by their own Foreign Minister. But the message is to attach a special significance to the role that Turkey has chosen to play in the region. And it all was displayed fully during the visit of such a high-ranking official as Davutoglu and the special attention to him.

If we look through the mass media, we will notice that his meetings with the Prime-Minister, former Prime-Minister and to some extent with the President of the Republic were described positively, meanwhile, according to the press, the meeting with the Chairman of the Parliament and the Hezbollah delegation took place in a more restrained atmosphere. Certainly, only press publications are not enough for a comprehensive analysis, but it seems that the mentioned positive and negative characteristics, given by the mass media to the atmosphere of the meetings, during which the Turkish high-ranking official and leaders of various Lebanese parties presented their positions regarding the regional events, were true enough.

It is noteworthy that during his multiple meetings, Davutoglu also expressed the desire to meet with the representatives of the Christian communities of the country. He pointed out the issue of the peaceful co-existence of communities, which was a striking example of dual standards, especially taking into account the fact that Davuoglu’s country conducts the discriminative policy regarding the Christian communities.

This political irony is consistent. Only a month ago, when the same Turkish Minister invited representatives of the Middle East Christian communities to Istanbul, he expressed his “concerns” for the fate of the Christians of the region. This policy was continued, when Davutoglu in Lebanon, during his meeting with former President of the country, once again discussed the necessity of organization and holding in Turkey of an enlarged meeting between the representatives of the Muslim and Christian clergies.

The representative of the administration with a Muslim face intends to initiate a process of consolidation of Christian communities and their dialog with the Islamic representatives. Ankara chose Beirut as a place to announce its political initiative in this sphere, and the international forum as an occasion for holding closed consultations and to warn Lebanon keeping away from the regional turmoil, that might once again throw the country into the civil war.

Davutoglu said that the “Arab spring” started from Beirut and confirmed the fact of disengagement between Damascus and Ankara and insisted that the new “spring” shocks should not hurt the initial logic of the processes of the “Arab spring.” This is the main message of his statements. Thus, the appearance of the Turkish Foreign Minister near the UN Secretary General and the political theater, showed by him, convince the observers that the activity along the Ankara-Beirut line have all prerequisites for the enlarged development.

 

 

The Turkish reconciliation-penetration factor

The regional situation has all appropriate components to consider it as a very alarming. The explosions in Aleppo, the number of victims and places chosen for  terrorist acts deepen  Syria’s concerns and show the trend of the rapidly increased  instability.

The unprecedented reconciliation between Damascus and Ankara during the period preceding the current events, the treaty on the special military and political partnership, the bilateral  abolition of the visa regime, signing of numerous trade and other agreements have actually been the Turkish penetration under the disguise of the reconciliation slogans. In these conditions, the presence of 40 Turkish officers clearly shows the real direction of the Turkish policy, covered by statements about the reconciliation.

The Turkish factor of “reconciliation” id displayed just that way, and it should considered in the context of the general foreign policy of “Zero problems with the neighbors”. Syria is a neighboring country, with which the existing problems can be reduced to nothing …

There are obvious prerequisites that the penetration policy through reconciliation is fraught with a new chaotic situation for Syria.

Lebanon is also not safe from such a policy, as far as it has its own complicated situation. During one of the sessions of the government, the existing disagreements go beyond the institutional frameworks and paralyze its activity. Even the governments, formed by easily shattered coalitions of polar forces, facing much more sharp contradictions, rarely let the political processes desperately deadlocked. But now the disagreements related to the appointments of officials let us conclude that they are used just to freeze the work of the government.

Even the most serious disagreement might just lead to postponement of the given point of the agenda but not paralyze the work of the government. Especially, when there are multiple vital problems, directly connected with the habitual life, needs and elementary rights of the citizens.

It seems that Lebanon is now in a wait-and-see situation, as far as due to its geography, political and systemic structure, the country is understandably under the pressure of the Syrian events. That is why it is just here where the Lebanese forces should take into account and resist the consequences of the policy of reconciliation with Ankara. The appearance of the Turkish military units in the South of Lebanon, the construction of hospitals and educational facilities under the disguise of charity, cultural initiatives, the open doors policy for the Lebanese journalists, the multifunctional penetration into Beirut under the pretext of assistance to the economic development, are various links of one single political chain.

The Lebanese political thought, regardless the communal preferences, should be able to give its own assessment of Ankara’s current role in the events, going on in Syria. It is necessary to understand the real effects of demonstrative reconciliation of the Turkish leaders with Damascus, as far as the Beirut option of such reconciliation, connected with the UN decisions, was presented just yesterday to the political and spiritual leaders of the country by the Turkish Foreign Minister.

There have already been several clashes between Sunnis and Alavites in the Northern Lebanon. It is an immediate result of the situation in Syria on Lebanon. We should not forget that the Northern Lebanon is the most targeted territorial segment for realization of Ankara’s plans to penetrate into the country. The Turkish population lives there, enjoying the official protection policy, conducted by Ankara.

It is time to make a cause-effect evaluation of the Turkish factor, which is now so active in the region. Such an evaluation must be done now.

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