It seems clear that Erdogan and Macron are benefiting from the tension between them, even on a personal level, as long as they seek to further provoke and charge national and religious feelings.
The Turkish-French apathy and tension acquired a new and exciting style, after Paris’ decision to withdraw its ambassador from Ankara, noting that this is happening for the first time in the history of relations between the two countries.
The decision came as a denunciation of Erdogan’s statements in which he advised Macron to “see a psychiatrist”, in his comment on the latter’s campaign that targeted Islam and Muslims, after the French teacher Samuel Bati was slaughtered by a Chechen ISIS. Erdogan repeated his violent attack on Macron on Sunday, that is, after the withdrawal of the ambassador, calling on the Turkish people and all Muslims in the world to boycott French goods.
This tension was not surprising, despite the “positive and constructive” phone call that took place between Macron and Erdogan on September 22, after a series of reciprocal negative positions, due to Paris’ anti-Erdogan stance in Libya, and his discord with Greece and Cyprus. Macron has hosted on the 10th of last September, on the island of Corsica, the summit of leaders of the European countries bordering the Mediterranean, namely Greece, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, Malta, and Portugal, and together, they strongly condemned Erdogan’s policies in the Mediterranean and the Aegean, including his intervention in Libya.
Macron continued his stance against Ankara, as he played a key role in the recent European summit decisions that threatened Erdogan unless he retreated “from his provocative stances and actions against the two member states of the (European) Union, Greece and Cyprus”. Each time, Erdogan, Turkish officials and his loyalist media were responding to Macron’s statements in the strongest terms and descriptions, including what Erdogan said about him: “You are ignorant even in the history of your country. and your days are numbered,” referring to the end of Macron’s presidential term in May.
The ebb and flow of the personal relationship between Erdogan and Macron may be the product of the knowledge of the head of the French Foreign Intelligence DGSE, Bernard Emme, about Erdogan’s internal and external personality, intentions and plans, as he was his country’s ambassador in Ankara until the end of 2017. Macron brought him to this (new) position.
After this date, the French president and his media accused President Erdogan and the Turkish state apparatus of infiltrating the ranks of the Islamists in France and Europe in general, considering this a threat to French national security, which is repeated from time to time by the leaders of Germany, Belgium, Austria, and the Netherlands, due to the size of the Turkish and Muslim community in these countries, which is more than 7 million.
More Algerians, Tunisians and Moroccans live in France, whose feelings Erdogan tickle every now and then with his talks about the (bad) memories of the French colonial period of their country, which he does with the people of the African countries he frequently visits, after the number of Turkish embassies in it reached 42, trying to challenge through it France in the first degree, then the other colonial countries that are hostile to him in other regions, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and sometimes Britain and America.
The Turkish and French parties forget that the relationship was exceptional between them at the beginning of the “Arab Spring”, when Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was in constant contact, if not on a daily basis, with his French counterpart Alain Juppe, and after him, Laurent Fabius, to coordinate and direct action to support Armed groups in Syria, in coordination with Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and the German Steinmeier (now President of Germany), and with them all, are the Qatari Hamad bin Jassim and the Saudi Saud al-Faisal.
Ankara also forgets that it voted against Algeria’s independence in the United Nations for the period 1958 – 1959, due to its membership in the Atlantic Alliance, forgetting that France had occupied parts of Anatolia after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, and it drew the Sykes-Picot map of the region and helped Israel gain possession of nuclear weapons in the mid-fifties.
This did not prevent Paris from agreeing with Ankara on the subject of the referendum in order to annex the Alexandretta Strip (the Syrian Iskandaron) to Turkey in 1938 when Syria was under the French mandate, nor did it prevent it from being always in solidarity with the Armenians, as the French Parliament and the Senate in 2001 and 2006 approved the “Recognition of the Armenian Genocide” law. This led to violent reactions in Ankara, and the Turkish boycott of French products and goods, which did not last long, as then Prime Minister Erdogan accompanied President Sarkozy on his visit, along with Qatari Emir Hamad Al Thani, to Damascus on September 4, 2008, to persuade President al-Assad to extend gas pipelines from Qatar to Syria via Jordan, and from there to Turkey, then Europe, so that Gulf gas would compete with gas from Russia and Iran.
The current French position in support of Armenia, given that France, along with Russia and America, has chaired since December 1994 the OSCE “Minsk” group, resulted in violent reactions in Ankara, which sees Paris as its archenemy, not only in the Caucasus, but also in Libya, Europe, and the Middle East, taking into account Macron’s successive visits to Lebanon, and finally the military alliance with Greece, Cyprus, and Egypt.
In all cases, and whatever the future of the relationship between the two parties, it seems clear that Erdogan and Macron are benefiting from the tension between them, even on a personal level, as long as they seek to further provoke and charge national and religious feelings, due to their internal and external situation and calculations. President Macron is preparing for the presidential elections next May, he wants to prove to the French people that “he is the only ones who defends their security and stability against the threat of political and ‘terrorist’ Islam supported by Erdogan,” according to his vision that sees the latter’s policies as a threat to all French interests abroad.
This will prompt Macron to search for new allies to face this common threat after the American elections, which will determine the course of American policy in Syria as well, including the fate of the Syrian Kurds and their future, as Paris has always been keen on adopting and supporting the Syrian Kurdistan Democratic Union and the People’s Protection Units loyal to it, starting from the 2014 Ayn al-Arab / Kobani events, President Hollande received in February 2015 the co-chair of the Union, Asia Abdullah, along with the leader of the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units Nasreen Abdullah.
The French President continued this traditional policy of France regarding the Kurdish issue, noting that Paris played the main role in the 1920 Sèvres agreement, which aimed to establish a Kurdish state and an Armenian state in the south and northeast of present-day Turkey.
As for President Erdogan, it seems clear that he has exploited and will exploit his crisis with Macron and France to gain more popularity for his ideological statements, “as he is the heir of the state, the empire, the Sultanate, and the Ottoman Caliphate, and he is now carrying its banner to defend Islam and Muslims whoever they are,” which he relatively succeeded after the so-called “Arab Spring”, as he promotes the experience of Justice and Development (AK Parti), as well as the idea of ”solidarity with oppressed peoples against imperialist and colonial countries”, especially France, ignoring the policies of Britain, and often the strategic ally, America, despite his criticism of it because of its support to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units east of the Euphrates.
It has become clear that all these data will set the relationship between Paris and Ankara, especially President Erdogan and Macron, to more tension during the next few weeks and months, with the potential for escalation, rather confrontation, in various arenas, including Libya and African countries, which Erdogan seeks to win on his side, such as Somalia, Tunisia, Mali, Senegal, Mauritania, and others.
Erdogan did not neglect the cultural aspect in his war against the colonial countries after Turkish films and series, especially those that talk about the Ottoman history, invaded most of the countries of the world, the most important of which are the Arab, African and Balkan countries, which he wants to be his background garden in his future challenges to France and those with it. His pro-government media accuses France of working to revive the memories of the Crusades, which Macron proved with his recent anti-Islam and anti-Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) position.
Erdogan took advantage of this position, not only against Macron, but also against everyone who personally opposes him, as long as he is “the political and spiritual leader of all Muslims in the world, and as long as Turkey today is not Turkey of the past”, which is what his media and all the media of the Islamists who pledged allegiance to him are marketing in the Arab region first, and wherever there are Muslims who he helps them so they always stand in solidarity with him, as is the case now in his war against Macron, as the Islamists launched a campaign to boycott French products, at a time when Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Emirates boycotted Turkish products, after the surrender of the “Muslim” Arab regimes to “Israel”, the latter which has become the sole beneficiary of all that we see and will see in the near future of exciting developments, regardless of the parties to the apathy, tension, escalation, and possible confrontations, not only between Erdogan and Macron but between many parties, which is proven by the experiences of the past ten years of the so-called “Arab Spring”, in which everyone involved in it, Islamists and Crusaders, were hand in hand against everyone who confronted “Israel” and resisted it and still is!