The Mating Season

2023-02-12 • 3 min read


The majority of Swedes, and Swedish politicians, and certainly the new conservative Swedish government, want Sweden to join NATO.

Swedish socialists want no such thing. They protested against NATO and Erdogan and for the Kurds in Stockholm a few weeks ago (they walked past me as I lounged in a bookshop), chanting “No alliance with the fascist state!” and other jingles.[1] That same day, and in the same city, a far-right nationalist protested against Erdogan too, only instead of marching and chanting, he was burning the Quran outside the Turkish embassy. Needless to say, the former protest did little, but the latter put a monkey wrench in the wheel of Sweden’s NATO courtship.

Çavuşoğlu: “The Swedish government has taken part in this crime by allowing this despicable act.”

Erdogan: “Don’t even bother! As long as you allow my holy book, the Quran, to be burned and torn, and you do so together with your security forces, we will not say ‘yes’ to your entry into NATO.”

So there’s a strain between Sweden and the nation formerly known as Turkey[2]. Erdogan has a bone to pick, and he’ll pick it in the privacy of a Turkish election cycle. Not only does Sweden harbour Kurdish terrorists, it now permits its citizens to burn the Quran. So protests have followed, denunciations, flag burnings and all the other signs of a faltering love affair.

And so the socialists, who desired Sweden’s distance from NATO, have a shot at getting what they want thanks to a Quran torcher whom they presumably despise.[3]

But the Swedes still want in. They’re on their knees, and they won’t take “don’t even bother” for an answer. Minister for Justice Gunnar Strömmer has announced a proposal for a new law. The law will counter terrorism. Its motivation is threefold. The process that led to the proposal began in 2017 after a terrorist attack in Stockholm. The proposal is also the result of last year’s agreement between Turkey, Sweden and Finland wherein Sweden pledged to get tougher on terrorism. And it’s also, says Mr. Strömmer, a response to the increased threat of terrorism Sweden is seeing these past days in response to the burnings of the Quran.

And so Erdogan, who ostensibly wanted Sweden to have tougher laws against terrorism with PKK and YPG in mind, is getting a Sweden with tougher laws against terrorism, only written with Islamist terrorists in mind.[4]

And so you see how the current geopolitical situation in Europe was in fact authored by a sniggering, Austro-Hungarian[5] ironist in 1931.

Footnotes #

  1. Was the fascist state Turkey or the US? I don’t know. Maybe both. ↩︎

  2. For now I’ll stick to using what Wikipedia uses, but I expect it to be switching to Türkiye soon enough. ↩︎

  3. The Metaculus community prediction that Sweden joins NATO this year is down from 95% on 1 January to 63% now, but 63% is still pretty likely, and again, it’s only for this year. The Swedish government wants it, the majority of the Swedish people want it, and nearly all NATO members want it. I imagine we’ll have a better idea after the Turkish election cycle is over.

    By the way, I’m unsure about whether Sweden’s entry into NATO would be a good thing. I don’t know if it’d be good for Sweden, and I don’t know if it’d be good for the world. ↩︎

  4. Erdogan apparently loves to prosecute his Kurdish enemies on grounds of supporting terrorism. This article, a saddening and terrifying chronicle of Erdogan’s efforts to seek and retain power, says: “The [pro-Kurdish] HDP’s charismatic leader, Selahattin Demirtas, has been in jail since November 2016, and several of its parliamentary members have had their parliamentary immunity revoked and have been jailed, usually for ‘supporting terrorism’, a catchall charge liberally interpreted by the authorities. Similarly, this January, the Constitutional Court froze the HDP’s state-provided funds on the spurious grounds that the party supports terrorism. The court is considering whether to ban the HDP on similar grounds, and the court rejected the party’s recent request to postpone the ban till after the May elections.”

    I’m not actually sure to which extent Erdogan cares about Sweden’s combatting PKK and YPG. Maybe he’s just posturing for the electorate. ↩︎

  5. I have people like Robert Musil or Joseph Roth in mind. ↩︎