October 14, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8967

Russian Expert Mirzayan: Erdogan Has Succeeded Because He Faced Mediocre Leaders, His Luck Will Run Out And His Dreams Of A Revived Ottoman Empire Will Collapse Like A House Of Cards

October 14, 2020
Russia | Special Dispatch No. 8967

Gevorg Mirzayan, an Associate Professor at Moscow's Financial University, is a hawk on Turkey. He believes that Turkish President Erdogan will settle for no less than a revived Ottoman Empire and anointing himself as caliph. Erdogan has prospered for the time being because the elites that oppose him on the world stage are at best mediocrities and they are divided. Erdogan's triumph will be short lived because eventually his bluff will be called and Turkey's modest capabilities will be exposed. First the international community will fall upon him and then his own people will turn against him.

Mirzayan's article follows below:[1]

Turkish President Recep Tayip Erdogan with Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan (Source:

"Everyone remembers the scene from the 12 Chairs [a 1971 Soviet comedy film based on the novel by Ilf and Petrov], 'when 'Ostap was inspired, he felt a rush of new strength and chess ideas,' after which he told the residents of Vasyuki [village] about their village's prospects to become New Vasyuki. 'And then, who knows, maybe in eight years Vasyuki will host the first interplanetary chess tournament in the history of the universe,' - the son of a Turkish citizen told the stunned Vasyukites.

"The top current Turkish citizen - Turkish President Recep Erdogan - can also be called a 'grand schemer'. After all, he tells the people of Turkey (a regional state with very limited resources) tales on how to achieve global greatness with the help of Islam, weapons, historical legacy and aggression.

Erdogan's Grand Plan

The format of this greatness is well known. The minimum program is to turn Turkey into a leader, or rather, a master of the 'Turkic world' that it will consolidate. [the 'Turkic world'] is a huge territory, including the Caucasus, Central Asia, parts of the Russian Federation (Crimea, North Caucasus, Volga region, Siberia). The optimum program is to add to the Turkic world the space of the former Ottoman Empire, which include the Middle East and North Africa. Erdogan’s maximum program (even his ambitions have a limit) is to achieve the status of the Caliph of the 21st century - the leader of the entire Muslim world.

"At the same time, the difference between Recep Erdogan and Ostap Bender [the main protagonist of the 12 Chairs] is that the Turkish president is truly a major politician. He does not just talk about Turkish greatness, but tries to achieve it, not shrinking from the use of force to reformat someone else’s space into his own. It is enough to look at the map and see that a Turkish footprint is visible in all conflicts from Morocco to Kyrgyzstan and from Georgia to Somalia. To operate there, Erdogan applied an entire range of different methods: military, ideological, economic, political and even terrorist.

"Thus, Ankara uses the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in order to push out all foreign powers from the Caucasus. The first [task], is to remove the Western countries - France and the United States (for which Erdogan proposes to Russia face-to-face talks to solve the Armenian-Azerbaijani issues based on the principle of how Moscow and Ankara settled the situation in Idlib), and this is followed by removing Russia and Iran as well.

"Part of Syria continues to be under Turkish occupation; and it is generally unclear how and under what conditions the Turks will leave this territory. But for Ankara, Syrian territories are teeny; Turkey wants to take Greek territorial waters and even encroaches on the Greek islands. Not for the sake of land itself, but in order to control the entire Eastern Mediterranean and cut it off from the Western Mediterranean with the help of Libya (with which Turkey has an agreement on the division of maritime borders).

"In Libya itself, Turkey imposes a vassal regime, considering this country to be a source of hydrocarbons and a gateway for African migrants to Europe (which can be opened or closed at Ankara’s will). Turkey also penetrates into other West African countries (primarily Muslim ones), where it squeezes out France and even the ubiquitous China. On the other side of the Black Continent - in Somalia, located next to the most important oil trade routes - there is a Turkish military base.

"The Turkish military is also present in Qatar, posing a threat to Saudi Arabia and protecting Turkish interests in the Persian Gulf. And support of Hamas and other Islamic terrorist organizations not only threatens Israel's security, but also gains the sympathy of the “Arab street” for Turkey.

"Finally, Turkey is establishing [a foothold] in Central Asia through investments, TV shows (which promote Turkish narratives and cultural images) and Islamists, thus causing serious concern in China and Russia."

Unlike Bismarck, Erdogan Does Not Fear A 'Nightmare Of Coalitions'

"International relations theorists might think that Recep Erdogan is committing two serious mistakes in his political jihad for leadership:

"Firstly, he fights on multiple fronts at once, dispersing his country's limited resources.

Secondly, he makes too many enemies. And we are not talking about small states like Armenia, Cyprus or Greece, whose opinion can be ignored. Erdogan has alienated regional leaders (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran), and great powers like Russia, the United States, France and [maybe] China. As a result, a scenario may materialize before 'The Great Schemer' of the 21st century, which 'The Great Schemer' of the 19th century – the Chancellor of the German Empire Otto von Bismarck, called the “nightmare of coalitions”. The ruler of that era's greatest, Bismarck, was well aware that German aggression could consolidate the world against Berlin, and then even great Germany would reach the breaking point. Which, incidentally, is what happened when the aggressive behavior of the “iron chancellor's” heirs united other great powers against the empire.

"Practitioners will disagree with the theorists. They will point out that while it is true that, pockets of resistance exist: the French send troops to help Greece, Saudi Arabia imposes an embargo on Turkish goods. However, these pockets do not unify, and so no 'nightmare of coalitions' arises. This is possible, because, Erdogan is not opposed by the Bismarcks [of our time]. The elites of most states, whose policies Erdogan opposes, are of such low quality, that they are even incapable of appreciating the full danger of the Turkish threat.

"Turkey attacks Greece - and Germany wants to negotiate with it [Turkey]. Paris is committed to Athens - but instead of creating a common anti-Turkish front with Moscow, it urges all of Europe to adopt anti-Russian sanctions over the fake 'Navalny affair'. And the Americans in general support Erdogan’s actions against Russia, China and Europe, not understanding that the consolidation of the Islamic world under Turkish rule could lead to the expulsion of Americans from the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa and, possibly, even from Europe. It is not surprising that the elites of all these countries cave in to Turkish impudence, aggressiveness and skill at 'diplomatic poker' (when Turkey sharply raises the stakes and the heat of hysteria, compels the opponent to fold)."

Erdogan's Grand Design Is A House of Cards

"So, does it work out that no one can stop Erdogan? The Turkish leader himself is certain of this, but he is mistaken. Yes, the elites of most countries are not 'eagles', but they are the material for great 'vultures'. They can abase themselves before the oriental despot, in front of the very same Gaddafi, who set up a tent near the Élysée Palace in Paris. But when this dictator finds himself in a difficult situation, he is simply eaten to the bone.

"They will also gnaw away at Erdogan to the bone. After all, the entire strategy of the Turkish “Akela” [a fictional character in Rudyard Kipling's “The Jungle Book”], who, confident of his own power, behaves ever more aggressively and riskily each time, may collapse after the first blunder.

"This blunder could occur in a situation when some power will hit back and demonstrate to the whole world (as well as to the Turkish population, that tolerates Erdogan, inter alia, due to his victories) the extremely modest limits of Turkish capabilities.

I’m talking for example about the great power’s strike in particular, Russia for example, which might decide to use high-precision weapons to nullify the Turkish 'Bashi-bazouks'[2] (Syrian mercenary terrorists), entrenched in Azerbaijan and threatening the Russian North Caucasus. A rising regional power – the very same Israel, which is unaccustomed to walk on tiptoes around the sponsors of terrorism - can also attack Turkey. Finally, a small country which Erdogan will drive into a corner with his unbridled aggression, can also strike back.

Ottoman Bashi-bazouks (Source: Ilawjournals)

"And as soon as Erdogan fails to respond (and a bluff is only good as long as words do not turn into actions) and retreats, “vultures” will immediately fall upon him from all sides - to finish him off and gnaw him to the bone. After that, a sharply revitalized Turkish internal opposition, will consolidate the Turkish population against the “loser president”.

As a result, the entire “house of cards” of Erdogan’s policies will fall apart..."

Gevorg Mirzayan (Source:


[1], October 8, 2020.

[2] The original Bashi-bazouks were irregular soldiers recruited by the Ottoman army in Albanian, Kurdistan. Their immense cruelty in Bulgaria's revolt against the Ottoman Empire in 1876-7 triggered world outrage and legitimized Russia's intervention against the Ottomans. Britain's pro-Turkish policy that served as a check on Russia hitherto, was neutralized by popular outrage in Britain.

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