Tag Archives: Turkey

Making History: China and Russia are Transforming Enemies into Friends, by Federico Pieraccini

This is the third and last of an excellent series on the Chinese-Russian alliance transforming Eurasia. There are links to the previous two articles in the first paragraph. From Federico Pieraccini at strategic-culture.org:

In the previous articles, the military and economic means by which the United States initially aimed for global hegemony were addressed, detailing how the US became the (declining) superpower it is today. In both analyses I highlighted how the threat of US military power is no longer credible, and how sanctions and the strong-arming behavior of corporate giants and international bodies (IMF, World Bank, BIS, etc) have ceased their effectiveness. This has made the United States increasingly irrelevant, leaving in the process a vacuum to be filled by emerging powers like China and Russia, which effectively ushers in a new world order based on multipolarity. In this third and final part of the series, I will dive into the specific events that show how the military, economic and diplomatic combination of Iran, Russia and China have forged, by known as well as less-known means, an alternative world order to the unipolar American one.

Russia, China and Iran have in recent years drawn enormous benefit from the declining military and economic power of the United States, further propelled by a general mistrust of Washington’s diplomatic and political abilities, both with Obama and now with Trump. The two previous articles showed that Moscow, Beijing and Tehran, even as they addressed different situations, shared similar interests and came to coordinate their military, economic and diplomatic strategy.

The success of the Euro-Asian triptych is based on the essential principle of transforming enemies into neutral players, neutral players into allies, and further improving relations with allied nations. In order for this project to be realized, economic, military and diplomatic efforts are variously employed, depending on the country and the general regional context. The flexibility shown by Moscow and Beijing in negotiations has delivered historic deals, not only in the energy sector but also in the military sphere and also in education and poverty reduction, as seen in Africa.

Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Syria are three countries that, when analysed individually, reveal this precise strategy of Russia, China and Iran. Particular attention is focused on the Middle East for several reasons. It is the region where America’s declining military power, unable to achieve its geopolitical objectives in Syria, meets with the progressive loss of Washington’s economic influence, highlighted by the increasingly precarious position of the petrodollar that is about to be challenged by petroyuan deals between Saudi Arabia and China.

To continue reading: Making History: China and Russia are Transforming Enemies into Friends

 

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Is This The Geopolitical Shift Of The Century? by Cyril Widdershoven

Russia is skillfully playing its cards and amassing influence in the Middle East and Northern Africa. From Cyril Widdershoven at oilprice.com:

Putin

The geopolitical reality in the Middle East is changing dramatically.

The impact of the Arab Spring, the retraction of the U.S. military, and diminishing economic influence on the Arab world—as displayed during the Obama Administration—are facts.

The emergence of a Russian-Iranian-Turkish triangle is the new reality. The Western hegemony in the MENA region has ended, and not in a shy way, but with a long list of military conflicts and destabilization.

The first visit of a Saudi king to Russia shows the growing power of Russia in the Middle East. It also shows that not only Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but also Egypt and Libya, are more likely to consider Moscow as a strategic ally. 

King Salman’s visit to Moscow could herald not only several multibillion business deals, but could be the first real step towards a new regional geopolitical and military alliance between OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and Russia. This cooperation will not only have severe consequences for Western interests but also could partly undermine or reshape the position of OPEC at the same time.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is currently hosting a large Saudi delegation, led by King Salman and supported by Saudi minister of energy Khalid Al Falih. Moscow’s open attitude to Saudi Arabia—a lifetime Washington ally and strong opponent of the growing Iran power projections in the Arab world—show that Putin understands the current pivotal changes in the Middle East.

U.S. allies Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey and even the UAE, have shown an increased eagerness to develop military and economic relations with Moscow, even if this means dealing with a global power currently supporting their archenemy Iran. Analysts wonder where the current visit of King Salman will really lead to, but all signs are on green for a straightforward Arab-Saudi support for a bigger Russian role in the region, and more in-depth cooperation in oil and gas markets.

To continue reading: Is This The Geopolitical Shift Of The Century?

 

 

US Thinking on Arming the Kurds: Complex, Intricate, Nuanced, or Just Plain Stupid? by Michael Scheuer

Not to spoil it, but because this is SLL, and SLL is generally anti-interventionist you can probably guess that the correct answer is the last choice: just plain stupid. From Michael Scheuer at theburningplatform.com:

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We are halfway through May, 2017, and it seems to be a month that again highlights the dearth of commonsense in the minds of most of those who are responsible for conducting the republic’s foreign and domestic affairs. On this score, one event merits special notice, namely, the arming of the Kurds.
This decision will eventually have such a widespread and disastrous impact on the Middle East region that the interventionist diplomats, media, generals, and academics who advised President Trump to arm the Kurds will have to fall back on a paraphrase of that old Iraq-War, Bush lie, “We did our best and the calamity that resulted from our decision to arm the Kurds is a case of unintended consequences.” When the worst occurs, anyone with a bit of commonsense will recognize that the failure, destabilization, and additional war that has resulted from arming the Kurds was something that (a) was perfectly and easily predictable and (b) another long step into a fatal swamp in which America has nothing at stake save the feelings, sensitivities, and ardor for lucre of the already rich American governing elite. But first, take a quick look at these two maps.

As can be seen, there are substantial Kurdish populations in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, and, at least in Iraq, Kurdish territories sit upon enormous oil and natural gas reserves. Each of those four nations has long feared the Kurds’ strident demands for an independent Kurdish state, their fighting abilities, and their fiery nationalism. As fear always does, the nations’ fear of the Kurds has led to their economic, social, linguistic, and – at times — military oppression by each government. In short, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Iran have long seen their Kurdish populations as malcontents bent on independence and so a threat to their territorial integrity.

To continue reading: US Thinking on Arming the Kurds: Complex, Intricate, Nuanced, or Just Plain Stupid?

Erdogan Isn’t as Strong as He Looks – That’s What Makes Him Dangerous, by Conn Hallinan

Turkey’s position in the middle of things—at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, in between Islam and Europe—makes it an important nation to watch. From Conn Hallinan at antiwar.com:

At first glance, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s drive to create an executive presidency with almost unlimited power through a nationwide referendum looks like a slam-dunk.

The man hasn’t lost an election since 1994, and he’s loaded the dice and stacked the deck for the April 15 vote. Using last summer’s failed coup as a shield, he’s declared a state of emergency, fired 130,000 government employees, jailed 45,000 people – including opposition members of parliament – and closed down 176 media outlets. The opposition Republican People’s Party says it’s been harassed by death threats from referendum supporters and arrests by the police.

Meanwhile he’s deliberately picked fights with Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands to help whip up a storm of nationalism, and he charges that his opponents are “acting in concert with terrorists.” Selahattin Demirtas, a member of parliament and co-chair of the Kurdish-dominated People’s Democratic Party, the third largest political formation in Turkey, is under arrest and faces 143 years in prison. Over 70 Kurdish mayors are behind bars.

So why is Erdogan so nervous? Because he has reason to be.

A Wobbly Juggernaut

The juggernaut that Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) put together to dismantle Turkey’s current political system and replace it with a highly centralized executive with the power to dismiss parliament, control the judiciary, and rule by decree has developed a bit of a wobble.

First, Turkey’s nationalists – in particular the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) – are deeply split. The leadership of the MHP supports a “yes” vote on the referendum, but as much as 65 percent of the rank and file are preparing to vote “no.”

Second, there is increasing concern over the economy, formerly the AKP’s strong suit. Erdogan won the 2002 election on a pledge to raise living standards – especially for small businesses and among Turks who live in the country’s interior – and he largely delivered on those promises. Under the AKP’s stewardship, the Turkish economy grew, but with a built-in flaw.

To continue reading: Erdogan Isn’t as Strong as He Looks – That’s What Makes Him Dangerous

Caesar, Turkey and the Ides of March, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

Not that many people in the US are interested in either Turkey or Holland, but this is a good explanation of their spat, and why it haslarger implications and repercussions. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer  at theautomaticearth.com:

I don’t think Holland realized they planned their election on the Ides of March, don’t remember the date or event ever being mentioned when I lived there as a child. That Washington knew what it was doing when back in 2013 it set the end of the latest debt ceiling compromise to March 15 is not likely either. Nor is Janet Yellen deliberately setting the Fed’s ‘next’ rate hike on the date. They may all, in hindsight, wish they had possessed a little more historical knowledge.

When Shakespeare (and Plutarch before him) wrote ‘Beware the Ides of March’, he was talking about the murder of Julius Ceasar in 44 BC, by a group of senators, which included Brutus. But the incident can also be more broadly seen as the separation line between the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire. And now we’re getting somewhere interesting when looking at present day events. Democracy under threat of absolutism.

Leafing through the Dutch press, opinions differ on which politicians will profit most from the sudden row with Turkey that flared up over the weekend. Is it far right Wilders, who can now claim that he always foresaw things like this? Or is it “just a little less right” PM Rutte, who gets to look like a statesman and a decision maker? None of the other parties, there are 31 in total, look positioned to reap any gains from the bewildering developments.

The Netherlands is the ‘capital of fascism’, said Turkish foreign minister Cavusoglu on Sunday in France, where he ended up after being refused landing rights on Saturday. I know I’m biased, but no matter how you twist and turn it, that’s quite a statement about the country of Anne Frank, which lost most of its extensive Jewish population, and it was only a follow-up to Turkish president Erdogan earlier calling the Dutch ‘nazi’s and ‘remnants of fascists’.

To continue reading: Caesar, Turkey and the Ides of March

Into the Syrian Quagmire, by Justin Raimondo

Just because you recognize a quagmire doesn’t mean you can get out of it, as Trump may well discover in Syria. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

Donald Trump thinks he’s going to get rid of ISIS in Syria “quickly,” and then we’ll be on our way to making America great again – but already he’s finding that the terrain there is a bit crowded, and that he has a bit more than the fast-dissipating “Caliphate” to contend with.

According to reports, the Pentagon has come up with a plan to carry out Trump’s pledge, as ordered, but reality is racing ahead of the generals – and auguring a clash of civilizations in the midst of Syria’s blasted out cities.

The plan involves an unspecified increase in the number of US Special Forces and a qualitative uptick in heavy armaments: this is to be accompanied by a loosening of the rules of engagement previously imposed by the Obama administration. The cap on US ground forces will be lifted, and arms previously withheld will be put in the hands of Kurdish forces, the “People’s Protection Units” (YPG), in the midst of which US advisors are now embedded. The plan is to use the Arab-Kurdish coalition, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as ground troops, backed up by “U.S. fixed-wing aircraft and attack helicopters.” In tandem with this effort, US forces will move into Syria deploying heavy artillery, “while more Special Operations troops would move closer to the front lines – requiring more US military assets to protect them.”

The goal is Raqqa, the Syrian equivalent of Mordor, where ISIS is ensconced. But the focus of the military situation is currently on the other side of the country, close to the Turkish border, where Turkish troops are moving toward the town of Manbij, with their Islamist allies in tow, and a looming confrontation with Kurdish fighters is eclipsing the now delayed siege of Raqqa.

To continue reading: Into the Syrian Quagmire

Death in Ankara, by Justin Raimondo

Turkey, Russia, and Germany are hit by Middle Eastern blowback, which is what countries that intervene in the Middle East almost invariably get. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

If you think the assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey, the same day terrorist attack in Berlin, and the announcement the next day of an agreement by Russia, Turkey, and Iran to end the Syrian civil war are all a monumental coincidence, then you haven’t been paying attention.

Aside from the requisite “Allahu Akbar!”, Mevlut Mert Altintas, the Russian Ambassador’s killer – a police officer – shouted “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!” That’s what’s being reported widely, but he also said, according to the Daily Mail, in Arabic:

“’We are the descendants of those who supported the Prophet Muhammad for jihad.’ According to local media, his words are similar to the unofficial anthem of Al Nusra. Some reports claimed he said words to the effect of: ‘We made an oath to die in martyrdom … it is revenge for Syria and Aleppo … until they are safe, you will not taste safety.’”

Turkish strongman Recep Erdogan has had to walk a tightrope between the party’s rural fundamentalist supporters and the realities of the Syrian civil war, as the combined might of the Russian-Syrian-Iranian forces has steadily made inroads on the Saudi- and US-supported Syrian rebels, which also include the al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front. With the fall of Aleppo, Erdogan’s turn away from support to the rebels and his focus on defeating ISIS and the Kurds, proved problematic on the home front.

To continue reading: Death in Ankara