Ankara’s Penetration into Central Asia Threatens to Bring Pan-Turkic Extremism to Russia’s Border | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

Ankara’s Penetration into Central Asia Threatens to Bring Pan-Turkic Extremism to Russia’s Border

The Central Asia region for thousands of years has been the location of endless conflict and Great Power competition as it is a crossroads for East-West trade routes. Scythians, Huns and various tribes of Turks and Mongols, among a plethora of other groups, have swept across the region. In the 19th century, Central Asia hosted the so-called Great Game between the British and Russian Empires, and, over the last two decades, the U.S. made a serious attempt to establish a permanent presence. However, just as the U.S. makes its withdrawal from Afghanistan, Ankara is making serious attempts to supplant the dominant Russian and Chinese influences in the region.

In 2010, Prime Minister (now President) Recep Tayyip Erdo?an announced his ambitious 2023 vision as the year being the centenary celebration of the Republic of Turkey. The 2023 Vision aimed for Turkey to have a vigorous foreign policy and involvement in all major global organizations and events. Also envisioned was Turkey becoming a key transportation-trade-pipeline hub as just like Central Asia, it too is a crossroads for East-West trade routes.

Under this ambitious vision to elevate Turkey’s power and influence was the “Policy of Zero Problems with our Neighbors,” created by former foreign minister and current Future Party leader Ahmet Davuto?lu. Ankara went from “Zero Problems with Neighbors” to “Problems with nearly all Neighbors” very quickly as the breakout of the Syrian War provided Turkey a rare opportunity to significantly expand its influence – if President Bashar al-Assad was deposed. The Syrian War was the first giveaway that the so-called “Zero Problems with Neighbors” policy, implemented in 2010, had not even lasted the course of 2011 before Erdo?an scrapped Davuto?lu’s vision and quickly descended into an ideology of syncretic neo-Ottomanism and pan-Turkism.

The Republic of Turkey was founded by Mustafa Kemal following a campaign to create a “Turkey for the Turks” that culminated in the genocide of 3 million Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians. Surviving Christian populations that were not deported to Greece, the Soviet Union or allowed to remain in Istanbul, were forcibly Turkified and Islamified.

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