The grisly terrorist attacks in France’s cities of Nice and Avignon, which followed the verbal exchanges between French President Emmanuel Macron and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, show that the latter’s threats had an impact on Europe’s Islamist fundamentalists.
The murder of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty by an 18-year-old radical Islamist on October 16 prompted Macron to launch raids in which several suspected Islamist radicals were arrested and approximately 50 organizations allegedly linked to terrorism — and reportedly funded by Turkey and Qatar — have been earmarked to be shut down.
Erdogan accused Macron of staging a witch hunt against Europe’s Muslims and astonishingly drew a parallel between France’s very measured reaction with the brutal Nazi persecution of Jews in World War II.
Macron does not stand alone in taking these actions. An opinion poll following Paty’s beheading — the execution method favored by the Islamic State — found 79 percent of respondents believing that “Islamism had declared war” on France and the French Republic.
An even higher percentage considered France’s highly-valued secularism to be threatened.
The Islamist terrorist acts in France indicate that Erdogan’s plan to appear as the leader and self-appointed protector of all Muslims, including those living in liberal western democracies, is gaining ground. The instrumentalization of the Muslims of Europe, using them as a weapon against the European countries in which they live and work, is part of the Turkish president’s plan to destabilize Europe in order to achieve his expansionist aims.
Before he appealed to the sentiments of the 70 million Muslims living in Europe, Erdogan had also used the migration card which he has long held up his sleeve. He has openly threatened Europe with unleashing the millions of refugees and migrants in his country and allowing them to enter the Continent, unless he got what he wanted from the EU.
Now, it appears, Islamist terrorists already living in Europe are the weapon of the day.
After his verbal spat with Macron, the Turkish leader also accused European leaders of conducting anti-Islam policies and warned that “Europe is preparing its own end with its front against Muslims,” during a AK Party speech last Saturday.
“You are fascists in the true meaning of the world. You are truly the link in the Nazi chain,” he said, referring to European leaders in a ceremony in Turkey on Monday. He further called on all Muslim nations to come to the assistance of Muslims in France who, he claims, are being persecuted.
Erdogan’s pointed propaganda against Europe seems to be paying off. So far Turkey has received backing from the leaders of Pakistan and Iran in its conflict with Europe. And the Turkish leader continues to act as the protector of all Muslims in the world.
In retrospect, his much-criticized act of turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque seems to be not so much a stab at Greece and Greek Orthodoxy, as originally thought — but rather, it was an act intended to embolden all the Muslims in the world.
However, behind Erdogan’s hostile rhetoric against any nation that stands in his way to rebuild the Ottoman Empire he fantasizes about, looms the economic catastrophe Turkey is facing. The Turkish economy is in freefall and the lira exchange rate is reaching a new low every single day.
Erdogan’s bravado in his continuous involvement in armed conflicts in the Middle East — including Syria, Iraq, Libya, and the Azerbaijan-Armenian situation — anlong with his open threats to Greece, Cyprus and France, could be nothing more than efforts to distract his constituents from the catastrophic problems they are facing.
The man has made a fine art of manufacturing crises and then promising his people that he will resolve them.
Certain European leaders are now prepared to vote to impose sanctions on Turkey at the EU Summit in December. If indeed the EU does finally impose sanctions, the Turkish economy’s downward spiral will become even steeper. Which would, one imagines, be mirrored in Erdogan’s drop in popularity.