Tag Archives: Turkey

PATRICK LAWRENCE: 21st Century Order

Whether the West likes it or not, some of the world’s most substantial countries are building a new world order without them. From Patrick Lawrence at consortiumnews.com:

As a piece of the new world order that is under construction, Putin’s trip to Tehran last week was of singular importance. 

Railway station constructed in 2013 in Kazandzhik, Turkmenistan, an important crossroad of the Trans-Caspian Railway and North-South Transnational Railway. (Balkan Wiki, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

At last we were able to read, last week, a New York Times story that concerned the Russians but not the brutal Russians. However, if we are not reading about the brutal Russians and their brutal military and their brutal attacks on civilians in Ukraine, we are obliged to read about the lonesome Russians, the pariah Russians, the Russians the world has forsaken. We are never going to read about ordinary, just plain Russians in the Times or in the rest of the mainstream press as it apes the Times. This we must accept.

Vladimir Putin traveled to Tehran last Tuesday for a summit with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader. This was an unusual occasion: The Russian president has not been much for foreign travel since the Covid–19 pandemic erupted; it was his second state visit outside the Russian Federation since Russia intervened in Ukraine last February.

And it is a big deal, deserving of our attention. It marks another step, a considerable one, in the construction of the diplomatic, political, and economic infrastructure that will — I don’t consider this a daring prediction — define the 21st century. We witness the new world order many of us anticipate as it is being built.

The new world order many of us anticipate, if you have not noticed, ranks high among the great unsayables in American discourse and among American media. No, we’re still stuck on our “rules-based international order,” which is clunky code for the hegemony America defends. It is hopelessly passé at this point but remains lethally destructive.

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The power troika trumps Biden in West Asia, by Pepe Escobar

As the Eurasian axis takes shape, there’s one simple fact that will override American desires to stifle it. The Eurasian nations are playing on their own territory, the U.S. is not. From Pepe Escobar at thesaker.is:

The presidents of Russia, Iran, and Turkey convened to discuss critical issues pertaining to West Asia, with the illegal US occupation of Syria a key talking point.  Oil and gas, wheat and grains, missiles and drones – the hottest topics in global geopolitics today – were all on the agenda in Tehran this week.

The Tehran summit uniting Iran-Russia-Turkey was a fascinating affair in more ways than one. Ostensibly about the Astana peace process in Syria, launched in 2017, the summit joint statement duly noted that Iran, Russia and (recently rebranded) Turkiye will continue, “cooperating to eliminate terrorists” in Syria and “won’t accept new facts in Syria in the name of defeating terrorism.”

That’s a wholesale rejection of the “war on terror” exceptionalist unipolarity that once ruled West Asia.

Standing up to the global sheriff

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his own speech, was even more explicit. He stressed “specific steps to promote the intra-Syrian inclusive political dialogue” and most of called a spade a spade: “The western states led by the US are strongly encouraging separatist sentiment in some areas of the country and plundering its natural resources with a view to ultimately pulling the Syrian state apart.”

So there will be “extra steps in our trilateral format” aimed at “stabilizing the situation in those areas” and crucially, “returning control to the legitimate government of Syria.” For better or for worse, the days of imperial plunder will be over.

The bilateral meetings on the summit’s sidelines – Putin/Raisi and Putin/Erdogan – were even more intriguing. Context is key here: the Tehran gathering took place after Putin’s visit to Turkmenistan in late June for the 6th Caspian summit, where all the littoral nations, Iran included, were present, and after Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s travels in Algeria, Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, where he met all his Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) counterparts.

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Biden’s Political Myopia Endangering Europe: Allow the EastMed Pipeline, by Burak Bekdil

You would think a natural gas pipeline that conveys gas that doesn’t come from Russia and is supported by three U.S. allies (particularly Israel) would get an a green light from the Biden administration. Alas, environmental politics and Turkey are getting in the way. From Burak Bekdil at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • Biden surprised EastMed partners by abruptly withdrawing U.S. support for the pipeline on January 9, thereby effectively killing the project, preventing a diversified supply of energy to Europe, and further assuring even greater revenues for Russia and its war machine.
  • “The Biden Administration’s actions in this matter are particularly objectionable and hypocritical in light of its tacit approval of Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline, which will only deepen Europe’s energy dependence on a volatile adversary.” — U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis, January 24, 2022.
  • As Biden was busy undercutting three staunch U.S. allies in the Mediterranean [Cyprus, Israel and Greece] to appease Erdoğan and a fantasy of “green energy” — that is years from being either ready or affordable — to appease America’s Democrat Party, Ankara would once again prove to be only a part-time Western ally.
  • “During the vote [against Russia]… Turkey decided to abstain,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said. “We don’t want to break off the dialogue with Russia.”
  • Biden should immediately reverse his decision and permit the EastMed pipeline.
  • In December 2019, Biden had described Erdoğan as an autocrat and promised to empower Turkey’s opposition parties through democratic processes. Was that a joke, or is Biden a crypto-fan of Erdoğan?
President Joe Biden surprised EastMed partners by abruptly withdrawing U.S. support for the pipeline on January 9, thereby effectively killing the project, preventing a diversified supply of energy to Europe, and further assuring even greater revenues for Russia and its war machine. “The Biden Administration’s actions in this matter are particularly objectionable and hypocritical in light of its tacit approval of Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline, which will only deepen Europe’s energy dependence on a volatile adversary,” said U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis (pictured) in response. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for Netflix)

Once again U.S. President Joe Biden’s strategic miscalculation is coming with a strategic cost: appeasing NATO’s pro-Putin, part-time ally Turkey and jeopardizing Europe’s energy security.

The past several years saw the East Mediterranean turning into a slow-fuse time bomb sitting over rich hydrocarbons claimed questionably by Turkey as a stand-alone regional force versus an alliance of Greece, Cyprus and Israel.

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NATO appoints Turkey to lead drive into the Middle East and Asia, by Rick Rozoff

NATO’s goal is to disrupt the Chinese-Russian led Eurasian Axis, and Turkey is well positioned to be a disruptive force. From Rick Rozoff at antibellum679354512.wordpress.com:

On the first of the year the North Atlantic Treaty Organization transferred command of the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) to Turkey.

On March 30 NATO turned over its current mission in Afghanistan to Turkish Brigadier General Selçuk Yurtsizoğlu.

In a phone conversation on April 1 U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar discussed Turkey’s role in leading the NATO Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan among other matters.

Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken while both were attending the NATO meeting of foreign ministers and secretaries on March 23-24. (Blinken on the occasion: “Turkey is a long-standing and valued ally.”)

Speaking at an event in the U.S. on March 9 NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “I think that we need to understand that Turkey is an important ally. Because you can just look at the map and then you see that Turkey is extremely important.” [That final sentence is key and will be addressed later.]

A few days earlier Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wrote on Twitter, “We would like to thank the NATO Secretary General for his objective evaluations on Euro-Atlantic security and defence matters.”

This is notwithstanding Turkey having supported and supervised if not directed last year’s 45-day war by Azerbaijan – the countries identify themselves (or itself) as “one nation, two states” – against minuscule Nagorno-Karabakh, its invasion of Northern Iraq thirteen years ago, its ongoing proxy war in Libya, its both direct and proxy war in Syria, its regular buzzing of fellow NATO member Greece’s aircraft in the Aegean Sea and its – now at 43 years – longest counterinsurgency war in the world against ethnic Kurds in its own country (which has spilled over into Iraq and Syria.) None of that in any manner disturbs NATO, the self-styled alliance of democracies.

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Ten Years Since Beginning of Failed Regime-Change Operation Against Syria, by Paul Antonopoulos

When does a long war become a forever war? A decade seems like a good dividing line. From at antiwar.com:

The initial coalition against Syria has collapsed, with Turkey frustrated over the U.S.’ sustained support for the Kurds and the Arabs pivoting back to Syria.

On this exact day ten years ago, NATO, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Turkey and Israel began a coordinated campaign of regime change against President Bashar al-Assad and the destruction of Syria. This has led to the death of over 500,000 people, millions of refugees, destroyed infrastructure and an economy in crisis. Despite numerous political maneuvers, this alliance against Syria catastrophically failed and could not achieve regime change. Not only did Assad survive the onslaught, but the geopolitical situation dramatically changed as a result.

Each aggressor had its own ambitions in Syria but was united in the goal to achieve regime change. Thanks to the contributions made by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, the Syrian government survived the coordinated aggression. Whilst NATO and Turkey continue to insist on regime change, Arab states, most prominently Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, were forced to normalize their relations with Syria to counter the growing threat of Turkish expansionism and influence into the Arab World that they had not anticipated when they decided to destroy Syria ten years ago.

Although a U.S.-dominated unipolar system was consolidated with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia’s 2008 intervention to defend the de facto republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia against NATO-encouraged Georgian forces was the first sign of an emerging multipolar system. A multipolar system, where there is a more equal distribution of power compacted into spheres of influence, was strengthened whilst the US could only helplessly watch as Russia successfully defended South Ossetia and Abkhazia in a region that falls under Moscow’s sphere of influence.

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US Goes to Economic War Against NATO Ally Turkey: Time for a Civil Divorce? by Doug Bandow

NATO lost its reason for being when the Soviet Union collapsed, and so too did the rationale for Turkey’s membership. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

The Turkish-American marriage, solemnized by Ankara’s accession to NATO in 1952, is on the rocks. The partners were ill-matched from the beginning but stayed together so long as the Soviet threat loomed and the Turkish military was in charge.

The Evil Empire, as Ronald Reagan characterized it, disappear more than three decades ago. Nearly two decades of rule by Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) have transformed Turkey. In Abraham Lincoln’s enduring words, the resulting “passion” has strained the “bonds of affection” between the two nations to the breaking point and perhaps beyond. The incoming Biden administration should stop treating Ankara as an ally and instead recognize it as the independent and often hostile power that it has become.

Tensions have long been evident. Although the AKP’s triumph in 2003 was not welcomed by Washington, which had grown comfortable with the secular nationalists who dominated Turkish politics and the generals who stood behind them, he began cautiously, using domestic liberal and foreign, especially European, support to dismantle the military-first regime. Erdogan’s early reforms won backing even from academics and feminists, who found his government more open than the ruthless nationalists replaced by the AKP. However, his professed retreat from Islamism and support for democracy was always suspect, and within a decade he acted on very different ideas.

Over time he centralized power, pushed aside old colleagues, concocted fantastic conspiracy charges against perceived enemies, deployed state agencies against opposition businessmen, detained journalists, seized critical media, arrested political opponents, and ousted opposition officials on dubious charges. He also variously used Islamism and nationalism to win increasingly unfair elections. The attempted 2016 coup became his Reichstag fire, allowing him to arrest around 100,000 people, most on contrived, often risible charges; 150,000 more were fired from public and private jobs. Hundreds of banks, businesses, schools, and other organizations were closed or confiscated.

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‘Like Horse-Mounted Cavalry Against Tanks’, by Scott Ritter

The future of warfare will involve drones, and Turkey has some of the world’s best. From Scott Ritter at RT News via lewrockwell.com:

From Syria to Libya to Nagorno-Karabakh, this new method of military offense has been brutally effective. We are witnessing a revolution in the history of warfare, one that is causing panic, particularly in Europe.

In an analysis written for the European Council on Foreign Relations, Gustav Gressel, a senior policy fellow, argues that the extensive (and successful) use of military drones by Azerbaijan in its recent conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh holds “distinct lessons for how well Europe can defend itself.” 

Gressel warns that Europe would be doing itself a disservice if it simply dismissed the Nagorno-Karabakh fighting as “a minor war between poor countries.” In this, Gressel is correct – the military defeat inflicted on Armenia by Azerbaijan was not a fluke, but rather a manifestation of the perfection of the art of drone warfare by Baku’s major ally in the fighting, Turkey. Gressel’s conclusion – that “most of the [European Union’s] armies… would do as miserably as the Armenian Army” when faced by such a threat – is spot on.

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Short Armenia vs Azerbaijan war update, by the Saker

The situation is getting both worse and more complicated. From the Saker at thesaker.is:

As was predicted by many, in spite of the agreement signed in Moscow, thing on the ground in the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan  have escalated: the Armenians have claimed that Azeri drones have attacked Armenian tactical ballistic missiles on Armenian soil and the Azeris have confirmed this, saying that this was both a warning and a preemptive attack to protect Azeri civilians.

Bottom line is this: Azerbaijan has now officially attacked Armenian soil (as opposed to Karabakh soil) and Armenia now has the right to appeal to the CSTO.  So far, the Armenians have not done so, but now they can and, I believe, probably will do so.

Another interesting development is that the USA has accused Turkey of being involved in this war.  This means that by now all three countries Russia, France and the USA are now declaring that the Turks (and or their “good terrorist” proxies from Syria) are involved.  Aliev is outraged and accused everybody of lying.

Finally, Azeri and Turkish outlets have claimed the Kurds are now fighting on the Armenian side.  However, there have been no verifiable sources for this probably false rumor.

As for the Armenian leader Pashinian, he has accused Aliev of being “Hitler”.

What does all this mean?

Well, for one thing, it was inevitable that the very first ceasefire agreement would be broken.  In such situations, they typically are.

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Driven By Delusions: The West’s Nagorno-Karabakh Hypocrisy, by Danny Sjursen

What’s at stake in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

Something stands out in recent U.S. and most Western reporting on the ongoing bloodletting in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK). Well, two things actually: ignorance and hypocrisy. Having shuttered most of their foreign bureaus long ago, there’s a distinct lack of expertise in the mainstream press on this – and many other – regional hot spots. That’s translated to a series of Nagorno-Karabakh “explainers” that read like Wikipedia-ripoffs hastily filtered through Washington’s built-in “blame Russia” conflict-colander.

Peddling in platitudes, they assume binaries that aren’t and Russian aggression that isn’t. All the while missing the core cause of this far worse than standard flare-up along the unmonitored Azeri-Armenian “line of contact.” In other words, the Erdogan elephant in the regional room. High-intensity air and armored combat has entered its tenth day, with little sign of abatement. Hundreds have been killed, including civilians, and major cities shelled, along with credible and corroborated reports that Turkey has indeed shipped in Ankara-paid Syrian mercenaries to support the Azeri army.

In other words, while the current conflict has largely local roots, and is prolonged by subpar political leaders on both sides of the frontlines, the real inciter this time around is Turkey. That is, the violence is heightened and widened by a NATO member state that’s led by an ethno-national-chauvinist president who’s stretched that alliance’s ostensible purpose and utility well past breaking point.

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U.S. Weighs Into Mediterranean Tensions With Weapons and Hypocrisy, by the Strategic Culture Editorial Board

The U.S. government is once again sticking its nose into a situation it doesn’t really belong. From the Strategic Culture Editorial Board at strategic-culture.org:

Twice in the past week, the United States has clumsily weighed into mounting tensions in the East Mediterranean between Greece and Turkey.

First, Washington announced last weekend the opening of a maritime security base on the island state of Cyprus, which is allied with Greece. Then the U.S. followed up by formally clearing the way to send weapons to Cyprus, ending a 33-year arms embargo. Washington claims the arms are “non-lethal”, but we have seen that semantic ruse played before with regard to U.S. weaponizing Ukraine and other places. Never mind the hairsplitting, the move is a military involvement whichever way it’s presented.

Both U.S. moves have infuriated Turkey, which lies to the north of Cyprus and which maintains territorial claims over the northern part of the island populated by Turkish-Cypriots. The main part of the island, the Republic of Cyprus, is historically aligned with Greece. Cyprus became divided in 1974 after Turkey invaded following a coup led by the Greek military. The territory has been a source of tensions ever since and a recurring cause for confrontation between Greece and Turkey over competing claims.

This year tensions have flared up again over disputed rights to oil and gas exploration in the East Mediterranean Sea. The area is reckoned to be rich in untapped hydrocarbon resources. There are even fears of a military confrontation escalating between patrolling Greek and Turkish navy vessels.

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