by Burak Bekdil
Ironically, it was an anti-Islamist, Kemalist Turkish general who first suggested that Turkey should align its foreign policy with the rising powers of Eurasia -- all of Europe plus Asia. It was just eight months before President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) first came to power, and since then, has remained undefeated. The U.S. at the time was busy with the final touches on the military operation that would oust Iraq's dictator, Saddam Hussein, in March 2003.
General Tuncay Kılınç, the powerful secretary general of Turkey's National Security Council, said that Turkey should seek an alternative alliance with Russia and Iran
It was not a coincidence that in 2009 the Turkish military became the first NATO force to have joint military drills with the Syrian army. In 2010, Turkey became the first NATO member state to have exercises with China's air force.
Erdoğan's decision to deploy the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system in Turkish (NATO) territory reflects his ideological anti-Western thinking.
It was not a coincidence either that Erdoğan in 2013 demanded from Russian President Vladimir Putin a seat at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a Eurasian would-be replica of NATO. "Allow us into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and save us from this [EU membership] trouble," Erdoğan told Putin.
Turkey became the first NATO member state to become a "dialogue partner" with the regional body -- colloquially known as the Shanghai Five -- in April 2013. The SCO's members include Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
In simple terms, Eurasianism broadly encompasses the idea that Turkey should reorient away from the West in favor of an Eastern and Central Asian hinterland.
Apparently Erdoğan's Turkey is an ideal theater: it can perform an oriental rehearsal. No doubt, the S-400 is also a sign of Erdogan's disregard for Turkey's increasingly problematic place in the Western alliance. Erdoğan's ideologues keep on portraying the U.S. as an "enemy country," and many Turks increasingly buy that line. Seven out of 10 Turks now report feeling threatened by U.S. power, an increase of 28 percentage points since 2013 -- a higher jump than in any country recently polled.
While all this is happening, Erdoğan is trying further to establish Turkey as a reliable Eurasian partner, not just by instrumenting its rigid pro-Russian policy calculus.
In a recent visit to Beijing, Erdoğan repeated that Turkey would join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. His other words were also music to Chinese ears: Erdoğan mentioned Turkey's respect for "one China". The "One China" doctrine dictates that Chinese territory, including disputed Taiwan and Uyghur territories, are part of the People's Republic of China and cannot be divided.