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Are Erdogan and Putin global war twins?

An arrival of twins in a traditional African family environment I was born, more than seven decades ago, tilted life on the ground. It was accompanied by many and highly suspicious unknowns. Definitely, it was not a blessing. Instantly, names of birthing parents changed into – Ish’abarongo and Nyin’abarongo – meaning father and mother of twins. Life became dominated by many dos and don’ts, some even contradicting good practices of people of the books.

Born a boy after twins, I had no choice to being named Kaiza and my younger brother, Rwiza. We were sort of cleaning or saving the family reproductive path from the twins’ mishaps.  All this is, of course, a product of common ignorance about the processes of ovulation, fertilization, fetus development and the gestation period among animals, including man.

This was complicated by possibilities of those “twins” being non-identical, different sex, sometimes coming in separate placenta, worse as triplets, quadruplets, quintuplets … and, the worst, their big chances of dying immediately after birth due to various complications. There was nothing much positive around twins.

The world is full of twin pregnancies in conflicts

Symbolically, the world today is full of twin (multiple)pregnancies in conflicts, tensions, discrimination, wars. And every time the like situation becomes fully blown, it will not be a surprise to find Turkey (Erdogan) and Russia (Putin) on the frontline, sometimes playing very delicate and inconceivable roles. We have seen this happen in Syria, Libya, Armenia-Azerbaijan crisis and very lately, the invasion of Ukraine. Imagine Erdogan supplying drones to Ukraine to intercept or shoot down Putin’s missiles and still hosting peace talks! He is sort of holding a gun in one hand and pen and paper in the other.

Similarities and differences between Erdogan and Putin

One is led to ask oneself: “What are the similarities and differences between Erdogan and Putin, if any, when it comes to internal, regional and international conflicts? Could the two be war twins – even if non-identical?” Natural science has answers revolving on the offspring becoming identical or non-identical but being part of the same pregnancy. Whose birthing zygote chromosomes have been at play in the case of Erdogan and Putin?

Ironically, one can dare opine that, space put aside, Putin and Erdogan are products of the Ottoman and Tsars crises (pregnancies?). And down the governance lane, both have moved from premier to presidential governance and are head over heels in love with and practice of an authoritarianism system.

Before going too far, it could be interesting to find out the way they see each other. What is their mutual assessment? Slightly beyond two years ago (in March 2020) at the Kremlin, Putin said of Erdogan: “This is a person who keeps his word — a man… He does not follow his tail. If he believes it is advantageous for his country, he goes to the end…There is an element of predictability, and it is very important to understand who you are dealing with”.

Erdogan’s response

And what was Erdogan’s response? This is “exactly how I have known Mr. Putin since I first met him. He is straightforward and keeps his word.” In terms of country ties, he said: “It is rare to have such strong relations with any state”.

It is here that Said Nursi’s observation comes true. When judging others, this great thinker advanced an opinion that we usually assess others along the lines of what we are.  In Africa we say if there is anything a thief is scared of, it is being hit by this malpractice. This is how Putin and Erdogan have complement each other from their individual mirrors. Their messages to the world about each other is clearly stated in the two paragraphs ahead of this one.   Putin says Erdogan is “a man…if he believes it is advantageous for his country he goes to the end…”

But he still warns: “It is very important to understand who you are dealing with”.  Putin could be remembering the November 24, 2015 episode when Turkey shot down a Russian jetfighter killing two soldiers forcing him to go too far and say he did not see “any prospects of improving relations with the Turkish leadership…”

The Erdogan mirror shows somebody “straightforward, keeps his word” and leading a country with which: “It is rare to have such strong relations…”

Could Said Nursi not have been more right? Otherwise, how does one understand Erdogan, a NATO country leader, finding it comfortable to purchase S-400 Russian missile system and telling the whole world his decision is not subject to further debate? He is “a man” isn’t he?  

Erdogan has cheated the world into believing that the planned-to-fail July 2015 coup

Erdogan has cheated the world into believing that the planned-to-fail July 2015 coup was real and has gone ahead to plunge Turkey into all kinds of untold social, economic, governance and human rights difficulties. He has arranged and executed human abductions crossing continent borders. A man who “goes to the end…”

A median line drawn between what they say about each other and their actions could help further illustrate what sort of twins Erdogan and Putin are. The first would be one of ruthlessness when running political affairs. Erdogan and Putin have no room for the opposition. Unexplained disappearances in Turkey and nerve injection stories are common in Erdogan’s Turkey and Putin’s Russia. At the guide of all this is camouflage under “national” which is in fact “self” interest. How does the world understand Turkish bombings of north-eastern Syria targets? What about the current Russian invasion of Ukraine? What national rather than Erdogan and Putin interests are being served?

Ukraine war, Erdogan and Putin

The latest Ukraine war led to the putting place a wide range of sanctions against the Putin regime. Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavutoglu recognized the situation as a war but the Erdogan regime would not participate in enforcing sanctions. This means Russian oligarchs and citizens are welcome in Turkey.

So what do we see instead happening? Turkey has shown every sign of acting as a haven for sanctioned entities along with Putin and his daughters.  Speaking on a flight from the NATO summit, Erdogan said categorically that Turkish authorities will not be able to join the sanctions against Russia in the interest of 80 million plus Turkish people.

There is much more than what meets the eye in the Erdogan-Putin ties to make them look as war twins. They have more common frontlines hidden behind the political stage and, mostly, for self-interest. This could also be a question of survival and death. Imagine if something really goes wrong for either of them in the present domestic and international circumstances, what does one do? Do they have much choice to remaining war twins on as many battle fronts as possible?

Finally, as world sanctions continue to bite and more are definitely in the row, how far can they stand out in the cold together as they struggle to remain ‘warm’? Can they afford to die together? Could they be political conjoined twins? That is the question.

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Felix Kaiza is a Tanzanian journalist with more than 50 years of experience currently working as an independent media consultant. Learned in agriculture, journalism, political science and international relations, his main fields of consultancy, besides the media, are good governance, nature conservation, tourism and investment. He was the first Tanzanian Chief Sub-Editor of an English daily newspaper in 1970, he has been behind the establishment and growth of the national independent media since the early 1990s. He is UNFAO Fellow Journalist since 1975 and has wide experience on regional integration. He worked on the Information Directorate of the original East African Community on whose ashes survive the current one. His ambition is to brand Tanzania in the inbound market with made-in-Tanzania brands, including information, almost all of which is currently foreign brewed.

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