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Turkey: Admiral’s strike could signal end to Ankara’s Eurasianist relocation, expert says

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ANKARA: Turkey’s latest wave of arrests targeting former admirals who signed a critical statement overnight has sparked debate over whether the strike is the result of Eurasian countries’ relocation.

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused 104 former navy commanders of trying to stage a political coup through an open letter criticizing governments of a new 45-kilometer artificial waterway called the Istanbul Canal, and the influence of its immediate in the 1936 Montreux Convention regulating the traffic of warships in the Strait of Istanbul.

Among the signatories, the most prominent name was Cem Gurdeniz, the mastermind of the controversial naval maximalist naval doctrine of the Turks, known as the Blue Homeland.

Gurdeniz, who has been held in police custody since Monday, is a prominent member of the prominent Eurasianist faction within the Turkish military. The group advocates an anti-Western strategy and stronger relations with Russia and China.

Dr. Berk Essen, a political scientist from Sabanci University in Istanbul, said the admirals’ statement came at a critical moment when the Erdogan administration is recalibrating its position in the international arena.

In recent years, the Turkish government has sought closer ties with authoritarian regimes such as Russia and Qatar to withdraw support for its revisionist moves in the wider region, he told Arab News.

In response to Western criticism of Turkey’s undemocratic policies, Essen said some Turkish government officials had gathered support from retired officers and analysts belonging to the Eurasianist faction.

For several years, the Eurasian movement has pushed the Turkish leadership towards rapprochement with Russia and China. Beinshte rumored that the faction has gained significant influence in government, leaving it to shape Turkey’s foreign and security policy direction.

The prevailing ideology of the Eurasianists, who originated in the Turkish far left, is based on an anti-Western foreign policy coupled with ultra-nationalism in the domestic sphere.

They advocate for leaving NATO and abandoning the EU candidacy process in favor of membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

According to Essen, the Turkish government’s anti-Western policy may soon come to an end, judging by the reports of an agreement between Turkey and the EU.

To bolster this trend, Erdogan is seeking to seek favoritism from the Biden administration by backing the recent US offensive against Russia. The Admirals’ statement came amid this shifting geopolitical situation, he said.

Recent moves by Russian troops in areas bordering eastern Ukraine have angered the Biden administration, prompting the US State Department to ask Moscow to explain the reported provocations.

However, Russia sees the proposed Istanbul Canal project as a threat because it would provide NATO members with free access to the Black Sea and the Crimean peninsula, including the strategic port of Sevastopol, which Moscow annexed in 2014. .

Therefore, the group of admirals fears that the new canal could anger Russia, as Turkey may secede from the Montreux Convention governing the transit of naval vessels during times of peace and war.

The length of stay and tonnage of warships by non-Black Sea naval forces are limited by the convention. They can not stay in the region for more than 21 days, while there is a maximum weight limit of the ship of 45,000 tons.

However, in a televised speech Monday, Erdogan said the government is not considering withdrawing from the convention, adding: “But if the need arises in the future, we can revise any convention to help our country get better.”

According to Essen, although not all signatories to the letter are subject to the Blue Homeland doctrine, admirals are likely to worry that Erdogan will use the Montreux Convention as a negotiating tool with the US, which for decades has sought to undermine the agreement in way to gain access to the Black Sea.

After seeking a tacit alliance with the Eurasianists for the past two years, Erdogan may have received an appropriate excuse to eliminate retired officers linked to the Blue Homeland doctrine as he considers strengthening ties with the U.S., Berk said.

Meanwhile, the Chinese embassy in Ankara condemned capital mayors Mansur Yavas and Good Party leader Meral Aksener for writing messages commemorating the 1990 Uyghur massacre by the Chinese military.

China reserves the right to react proportionately, the embassy tweeted, adding: The Xinjiang Uighur Region Uighur is an integral part of Chinese territory. This is an internationally accepted and indisputable fact.

Turkey’s opposition has long criticized the government for its silence over China’s crackdown on Uighur Muslims.

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