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Turkey: Empire strikes back

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16.09.2019

By Gwynne Dyer

The Ottoman Empire, like many of its Middle Eastern predecessors, had the bad habit of moving entire peoples around if they were causing trouble. And sometimes, as happened to the Armenians during World War I, what started as deportation ended up as genocide.

The empire collapsed a century ago, but old habits die hard. Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan (whose admirers often call him the "Sultan") has a new plan: He's going to move a million Kurds away from Turkey's southern frontier with Syria, and replace them with a million Arabs.

And if his Western allies don't like that, he'll dump another million or so Arabs in Europe. "Either this happens (in Syria)," he said recently, "or we will have to open the gates (to Europe)." This is a blackmail threat with teeth: It was the sudden arrival of a million Syrian refugees in Europe in 2016 that energized extreme right-wing populists from England to Hungary.

Very few of those refugees ever wound up in either England or Hungary ― the great majority of them were given shelter in Germany ― but their arrival gave nationalists and racists all over Europe a stick to beat their opponents with. Erdogan, who is an accomplished nationalist rabble-rouser himself,........

© The Korea Times