Author Topic: Turkey  (Read 82094 times)

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Turkey in the Bigger Picture
« Reply #200 on: July 30, 2019, 10:12:40 AM »
By Xander Snyder


Turkey in the Bigger Picture


Purchasing the S-400 system from Russia is a sign of its increasingly independent foreign policy.


Until Turkey received the first shipments of the S-400 air defense systems earlier this month, many believed that its deal to buy the Russian-made military hardware was merely a tactic to negotiate better terms on its potential purchase of the U.S-made Patriot system. It’s clear that that wasn’t the case. Now that Turkey has been expelled from the U.S. F-35 fighter jet program, many are asking why Turkey would compromise its access to the modern warplane in exchange for the S-400 when the U.S. had already offered to sell Ankara the Patriot system.

For Turkey, the S-400 purchase was not just about acquiring a defense system; it was about building up its own capabilities. Since the early 1980s, Turkey has been trying to develop its own military industry, an undertaking which requires technology transfer agreements that often come with weapons purchases to learn how to develop similar systems domestically. And although the U.S. was willing to sell Turkey its Patriot system, it wasn’t willing to give tech transfer rights as part of the deal.

As for the timing, Turkey signed the S-400 agreement with Russia before the U.S. passed the 2017 Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which could expose Turkey to secondary sanctions because of its purchase of Russian defense products. And the U.S. threatened to remove Turkey from the F-35 program only after Turkey had already agreed to acquire the S-400. Some have also speculated that Turkey went through with the deal to appease the Russians after it shot down a Russian jet near the Syria-Turkey border in 2015. A month before the incident, the U.S. and Germany pulled their own missile defense systems from Turkey, which Ankara likely perceived as a disregard from its NATO allies about the threats Turkey was facing at the time.

The more critical question, however, is why would Turkey risk its place in NATO – an alliance that has shielded it from its long-standing adversary, Russia – to buy a weapons system for which alternatives exist? And why would the U.S. let an important ally purchase a defense system that could compromise its expensive F-35 fighter jet program and jeopardize the NATO alliance? It seems borderline reckless for the U.S. to risk losing a close ally over tech transfer rights and a few billion dollars. The answer comes down to Turkey’s increasing willingness to pursue its own interests, even at the expense of its NATO allies.

Going It Alone

Over the past several years, relations between the U.S. and Turkey have been tense. The U.S. support of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a mainly Kurdish rebel group supported by the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, has enraged Turkey, which views the YPG as an extension of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK. The U.S., however, began supporting the SDF only after Turkey declined to intervene in the Syrian civil war and fight the Islamic State. In fact, Turkey even neglected its border for years to allow IS recruits to cross into Syria and place greater pressure on Bashar Assad.

U.S. tariffs on Turkish steel – which were initially double the rate of similar duties placed on other countries but later lowered to 25 percent – were another major issue. In addition, in response to Turkey’s jailing of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson, the U.S. imposed sanctions on two Turkish government officials last August, which contributed to the decline of the already struggling Turkish lira. (The U.S. lifted the sanctions in November after the pastor was released.)

One of the most critical disputes between Ankara and Washington has been over Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey has accused of being behind a failed coup attempt in 2016. Because the U.S. has repeatedly refused Turkey’s extradition requests, Turkey has suggested that the U.S. may have also played a role in the coup. Either way, Washington has certainly impeded Turkish efforts to dismantle the Gulen network. Add to all this the U.S. criticism of Turkey’s ongoing natural gas exploration activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and a broader picture begins to emerge: Neither Turkey nor the U.S. is acting in the other’s interests, and Ankara may see more benefits in going it alone than in sticking by Washington’s side.

Toward an Independent Foreign Policy

The S-400 purchase, then, should be seen less as a breaking point and more as a marker in a trajectory leading to a critical goal for Ankara: an independent Turkish foreign policy. Arguably, this long-term goal emerged after Turkey’s 1974 invasion of Cyprus, after which the U.S. imposed an arms embargo on Turkey. At the time, however, Turkey was a key NATO ally, forming one of the southern links in the Soviet containment line. Starting in the early 1980s, Turkey began a more concerted effort to develop a domestic military inventory so that it could stop depending on foreign arms imports.

The S-400, therefore, is part of a broader strategy to diversify Turkey’s arms supply – and not an indicator of a budding strategic alliance between Ankara and Moscow. Still, it’s true that Turkey has been increasing cooperation with Russia, with which it has a long history of conflict. Trade between the two countries has been growing, and Turkey counts Russia as its largest supplier of natural gas. It has also essentially legitimized Russia’s presence in Syria by repeatedly sitting down for peace talks that include Moscow.

Ankara and Moscow, however, aren't exactly friends. It wasn’t too long ago that Turkey shot down a Russian jet that crossed into its territory. And the two countries still support opposing sides in what is essentially a proxy conflict in northwest Syria – Russia backs Assad while Turkey supports anti-Assad rebels. Some observers have even speculated that Turkey followed through on the S-400 deal only because Russia threatened to let Assad unleash a massive offensive on Idlib that would have driven at least tens of thousands of refugees into Turkey. With nearly 4 million Syrian refugees already living in the country, Ankara’s resources are stretched thin. It doesn’t want to take in any more.

Diverging Interests

The S-400 dispute could also have implications for Turkey’s relationship with NATO. Understanding those implications requires understanding why it joined NATO in the first place. It was always Turkey’s fear of Russia that drove it to the alliance. It needed support from a superpower to fend off its long-time adversary – an adversary that emerged from World War II more powerful than ever. Today, however, Russia is a shadow of its former self. It’s bogged down in Ukraine and facing severe economic challenges, and President Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings continue to fall. It has bigger problems to deal with than Turkey. In fact, it has been careful to avoid confrontation with Turkish forces in Syria. Russia’s relative weakness has thus given Turkey more freedom to act independently of its anti-Russia allies. (It should be noted, however, that Russia still spends roughly $50 billion more on defense than Turkey.) Being able to pursue an independent foreign policy without risking Russian retribution has allowed Ankara to distance itself from an alliance that has protected it from Russia for decades.

The last thing to consider are the political factors at play. Both sides, but especially the U.S., have handled this deal in a way that has backed Recep Tayyip Erdogan into a corner, making it extremely difficult for him to back down without losing face at a time when his party’s grip on power is already slipping (as we saw in June’s Istanbul mayoral election). It may just be a result of the Trump administration’s business-like negotiating style. Perhaps the S-400 dispute could have been resolved through more traditional diplomatic channels if the State Department wasn’t understaffed for much of this administration’s tenure. Still, this wouldn’t have changed the long-term trajectory. Regardless of who’s in the White House, Ankara would still be trying to carve out an independent foreign policy now more than ever.





DougMacG

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Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: The Real Cost of Ejecting Turkey from the F-35 Program
« Reply #203 on: August 12, 2019, 12:53:21 PM »
The Real Cost of Ejecting Turkey From the F-35 Program
By Sinan Ciddi

Lockheed Martin rolls out the first F-35 fighter jet built for Turkey during a ceremony in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 21, 2018.
(ATILGAN OZDIL/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Contributor Perspectives offer insight, analysis and commentary from Stratfor’s Board of Contributors and guest contributors who are distinguished leaders in their fields of expertise.

Highlights

    The Trump administration has removed Turkey from the F-35 program after Ankara took delivery of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system.
    The U.S. move presents Turkey with a fundamental question: What model of fighter plane will it procure to replace its aging fleet, currently dominated by F-16s?
    It is not certain the United States will push ahead with sanctions against Turkey as there appears to be a rift between the U.S. Congress and President Donald Trump.
    The growing divide between Turkey and the United States comes at a particularly bad time because of mounting tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean over drilling rights off the coast of Cyprus. It remains unclear whether Turkey will seek to work with its Western partners or track an independent course.

President Donald Trump's administration announced in mid-July that the United States was removing Turkey from its F-35 fighter program after Turkey received its first shipment of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system. The U.S. decision will prevent Turkey from taking delivery of any of the 100-plus F-35s it had planned to buy. What's more, the White House's decision also removes Turkish contractors from the F-35's production chain.

Turkey was also slated to host a maintenance base where Middle Eastern countries that had F-35 fleets could get their planes serviced. This plan was also canceled. It's estimated the Trump administration's move will cost the United States $500 million. As for Turkey, it already has paid more than $1 billion toward its planned purchase of the F-35, money it may not get back.

Playing for Time?

By taking delivery of the S-400, Turkey not only appears to have disrupted the F-35's supply and manufacturing chain, but it also lost its ability to add the next generation of fighter aircraft to its air force inventory on a revenue-neutral basis: Income derived from servicing F-35s from countries such as Israel would have canceled out the purchase cost of Turkey's own F-35s. And in a broader perspective, Turkey has chosen to purchase a tactical weapon — the S-400 — that may provide a modicum of security under a limited set of circumstances over acquiring the F-35, which would have given Turkey's air force regional dominance.

At this point, it remains unclear what Turkey's procurement options are. Its F-16 fighters are aging and its fleet of F-4 and F-5 fighter-bombers is obsolete (with several units crashing in the past few years). Immediately beginning with the delivery of S-400 components in mid-July, Russia began to broadcast its readiness to begin discussions with Turkey about the sale of Russian fighters.

Although S-400 deliveries to Turkey have begun, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that the entire delivery of components and missiles would not be completed until April 2020. That the S-400 system likely will not be operational before then begs the question of whether Turkey is playing for time. The U.S. Congress has indicated that Turkey will face significant sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act if it deploys the S-400. What if Turkey were to delay making the systems operational, or even sell them to a third party? It may be for these reasons that Trump has asked for space to negotiate with Turkey before implementing sanctions.

From the U.S. perspective, there is a genuine desire to avoid disrupting the supply and production cycle of the F-35 that would ensue if Turkey were actually removed from the program. A further concern focuses on what Turkey might do if sanctions are immediately imposed: Erdogan has stated clearly that if the United States takes such measures, then Turkey would respond in kind, beginning with the likely expulsion of U.S. forces from Incirlik air base, which could disrupt U.S. military operations in the region.

By taking delivery of the S-400, Turkey has lost its ability to add the next generation of fighter aircraft to its aging air force inventory.

From Turkey's perspective, the damage could also be very real: Just being removed from the production cycle means that Turkish defense contractors would lose close to $10 billion in revenue, which is likely to prove catastrophic for many. Moreover, the Turkish military could find itself dealing with an arms embargo similar to the one it faced in the mid-1970s when Congress banned the sale of U.S. weapons to Turkey following its invasion of Cyprus. It would likely cripple Turkey's military readiness if it is unable to source U.S. parts and software updates for its existing inventory.

Bad Timing

These variables loom at an inopportune moment. Turkey's decision to begin searching for hydrocarbons off the coast of ethnically divided Cyprus prompted the European Union to sanction Ankara because it considers the EU member's internationally recognized government in the Greek-majority southern part of the island nation to have exclusive rights to those Eastern Mediterranean waters. Turkey recognizes the Turkish Cypriot administration in the breakaway northern part of Cyprus and argues that any hydrocarbons found in the country's exclusive economic zone belong to all Cypriots; the government's drilling activities are only benefitting Greek Cypriots, Turkey says. While Turkey may have a valid point, its drilling activities are perceived to be hostile and belligerent. In the event of a conflict between Turkey and another European power, what will be the position of the United States? This is a clear unknown. In previous years, the United States has mediated and de-escalated contentious issues, but U.S. policy under Trump has resulted in regional disengagement. With the deepening bilateral U.S.-Turkey crisis, it is also clear that Turkey would not trust the United States to mediate if an unexpected conflict arises.

What is off the table for sure is Turkey being ousted from NATO. The F-35 debacle, however, will likely result in Turkey being removed from key NATO military programs, missions and intelligence platforms as the deployment of the S-400 system is a direct threat to NATO's operational security. Even if Trump holds off in pressing ahead with sanctions in the immediate term, such delay is unlikely to continue. Independent of Turkey, countries such as China and Egypt are also interested in purchasing the S-400 system. If they are not disincentivized by making a clear example out of Turkey, it could open the floodgates and allow allies to buy weapons that are not manufactured by the United States. Congress isn't likely to tolerate or accept this.

In the final analysis, the wider picture is clear: The loss of trust between the United States and Turkey is real and will be hard to soon reestablish in any substantive form. The question of whether the S-400s will actually be operational still stands, however.


DougMacG

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Our 'ally' Turkey blocks US northern route to Iraq, 2003
« Reply #204 on: August 12, 2019, 03:14:16 PM »
https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2003-mar-02-fg-iraq2-story.html

Deployment
BY RICHARD BOUDREAUX AND AMBERIN ZAMAN
MARCH 2, 2003
12 AM
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ANKARA, Turkey —  In a stunning rejection that appeared to kill U.S. plans for a “northern front” in any war against Iraq, Turkey’s parliament refused Saturday to authorize the deployment of 62,000 U.S. troops on Turkish soil.
As antiwar protesters staged a tumultuous protest outside the legislature, Turkish lawmakers weighed appeals by their government to join the U.S. war effort -- with the offer of a $15-billion U.S. aid package in return...

Even as the measure was going down in defeat, about 80 American ships carrying equipment for the 4th U.S. Infantry Division floated off the Turkish coast in an indication of U.S. officials’ expectation that its NATO ally would pass the proposal....
—--------
With friends like this, who needs enemies.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2019, 03:19:15 PM by DougMacG »

Crafty_Dog

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WSJ: Turkey's legit grievances
« Reply #205 on: October 09, 2019, 11:29:55 AM »

Turkey Has Legitimate Grievances Against the U.S.
Trump is right to pull back from supporting PKK-affiliated Kurds in northern Syria.
By Michael Doran and
Michael A. Reynolds
Oct. 8, 2019 7:08 pm ET
A Russian plane carrying parts of the S-400 missile defense system is unloaded in Ankara, Turkey, July 12. Photo: Xinhua/Zuma Press

President Trump’s critics see his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria as the product of a dangerous impulsiveness that ignores strategic realities. They argue that it betrays the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, the Kurdish force that helped the U.S. defeat Islamic State, while rewarding a dangerous autocrat, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But it is Mr. Trump’s critics who disregard reality.

Most members of America’s foreign-policy establishment see Turkey as an ungrateful ally, perhaps even a Trojan horse inside the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s walls. On Capitol Hill and in many Washington think tanks, a call for concessions to Tehran will get a more sympathetic hearing than a call to compromise with Ankara, a treaty ally for 67 years. Turkey’s determination to secure its southern border against the YPG is a wanton impulse, in the prevailing view. But the YPG has substantial ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK, as then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter testified before Congress in April 2016. Classified by the State Department as a terrorist organization, the PKK has been waging armed struggle against Turkey since 1984 at a cost of tens of thousands of lives, according to the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, a respected source on armed conflict.
The GOP Revolt Against Trump on Syria and the Kurds
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Turkey’s critics point to Ankara’s recent purchase of the S-400 air-defense missile system from Russia to confirm their belief that Mr. Erdogan is rupturing the U.S.-Turkey relationship. But that’s an oversimplification that rests on a lazy assumption—that Mr. Erdogan’s personality is the root of the rancor in American-Turkish relations. It invokes his authoritarianism, Islamist worldview, hostility to Israel, sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood, and opposition to Kurdish nationalists inside and outside Turkey’s borders to argue that Turkey is unworthy of U.S. support.

Some articles of this indictment rest on a more solid evidentiary base than others. But the causes of Ankara’s recent willingness to defy Washington go beyond one man’s personality. Polls reliably indicate that 70% to 80% of Turks regard the U.S. as a hostile power. While anti-Americanism is an old story in Turkey, in recent years it has a sharper edge. Turks increasingly see America as a threat.

This is a remarkable development in a country that had been a stalwart U.S. ally and partner for decades. The levels of hostility to America cannot be laid on Mr. Erdogan’s doorstep, for he commands the support of only around 40% of Turks. Dissatisfaction with the U.S. stretches far beyond the president’s AK Party.

Why is the U.S. losing Turkey? Turks have their own list of grievances, of which three stand out.

First, America’s diffident Syria policy. Ankara followed Washington’s lead in backing the Syrian people’s attempt to overthrow the dictator Bashar Assad. But when Turkey shot down a Russian combat jet violating its airspace in 2015, President Obama treated the episode more as a bilateral spat between third parties than as a conflict between America’s key regional ally and a more powerful adversary of U.S. interests. Left on its own, Ankara realized it had little choice but to accommodate Moscow. Vladimir Putin’s steadfastness trumped Mr. Obama’s aloofness. Thus was born the relationship that begot the S-400 deal.

Second is the curious sympathy that America extends to Fethullah Gülen, a guru-like religious figure who has been residing in Pennsylvania since 1999. The Department of Homeland Security originally denied Mr. Gülen’s application for a residence permit under the Bush administration, finding that Mr. Gülen’s claims regarding his educational abilities were exaggerated. Mr. Gülen’s schools have also been investigated for immigration fraud and mismanagement, though no charges have emerged. Figures close to Mr. Gülen have been accused of playing key roles in the July 2016 coup attempt that took the lives of 251 Turks. Though Mr. Gülen condemned the coup and denied any involvement, former followers of his say that his organization is tightly centralized. U.S. experts on Turkey—such as James Jeffrey, a former ambassador to Ankara—say that Mr. Gülen’s followers have pursued power in Turkey by infiltrating government bodies. Many Turks doubt Mr. Gülen’s supporters could participate in a coup without his blessing. Before taking up his current position as the State Department’s point man on Syria, Mr. Jeffrey stated that it is “embarrassing” that Mr. Gülen “is sitting here in the United States.” How, many Turks ask, can the U.S. harbor such a despicable figure?

The third misdeed is the most consequential: the Obama administration’s decision in 2016 to arm and train YPG members and directly embed American special forces with them. Rather than work with Turkey, the U.S. chose to support the Syrian wing of the PKK, which the Turkish public holds responsible for decades of warfare and tens of thousands of deaths. The PKK represents a grave threat to the Turkish Republic, and Turks across the political spectrum loathe it. To dismiss Ankara’s objections to America’s arming of the YPG as mere anti-Kurdish bigotry is ignorant, akin to labeling the fight against al Qaeda as Islamophobia.

The purchase of the S-400s and the pressure Mr. Erdogan is placing on U.S. forces in northern Syria provide a way to demonstrate to the broader Turkish public his willingness to defy Washington for its shabby treatment of Turkey and to restore the balance of power between Turkey and the PKK, which American policy inadvertently overturned. For the U.S. to retaliate against Turkey and alienate it permanently would be folly. To do so now—when Mr. Erdogan’s support is waning and democracy in Turkey is showing its vibrant face—would hand Mr. Putin a gift he couldn’t have dreamed of.

Mr. Doran is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. Mr. Reynolds is a professor of Near Eastern studies and director of the Program in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at Princeton University.


Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Turkey's economy
« Reply #207 on: October 10, 2019, 03:38:17 PM »
Turkey's Fragile Economy Faces a Blowback
11 MINS READOct 9, 2019 | 22:34 GMT
Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak speaks during the launch of Turkey's New Economic Program for 2020-2022 in Ankara on Sept. 30, 2019.
(EVRIM AYDIN/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak speaks during the launch of Turkey's new economic program for 2020-2022 in Ankara on Sept. 30, 2019. Turkey believes it's ready to cope with the economic consequences of its invasion of northeastern Syria.

Editor's Note: Since 2018, Turkey's economy has been fragile, suffering from high inflation, a tanking currency and rising levels of debt. And with some congressional leaders in the United States threatening to hurt Turkey's economy in response to its invasion of northeastern Syria, we're revisiting some of our past pieces that lay bare the plight of the Turkish economy — and what might happen if Washington turns the screws on Ankara.

For Turkey's economy, the day of reckoning may be near. The White House and U.S. Congress may disagree on Turkey more than ever, yet both the president and a top Republican senator alike have been bellicose in their economic threats to Ankara in recent days, pledging, respectively, "to destroy and obliterate the economy of Turkey" and impose "sanctions from hell" on the country over its invasion of northeastern Syria. After plumbing the depths in summer 2018, Turkey's economy has stabilized somewhat, possibly convincing Ankara that it is prepared to handle whatever comes next. Nevertheless, Turkey's invasion will put its economy at risk amid the threat of U.S. sanctions — and potentially drive even the European Union to take an economic shot at Ankara itself. All told, Turkey's new venture into Syria against the Kurds means the country is facing a potentially long period of economic pain.
The Current Situation

Turkey's economy remains fragile. In mid-August 2018, the Turkish lira fell as far as 6.95 to the U.S. dollar, but it has since stabilized. In fact, after Ankara launched its offensive into northeastern Syria on the afternoon of Oct. 9, the lira had only dropped slightly to around 5.87 to the dollar. Other aspects of the economy that were especially weak in summer 2018, including inflation, have improved slightly. But even if the lira is stronger than it was 14 months ago, Turkey's economy remains fragile enough that an external shock, such as U.S. sanctions, could severely damage it, sending the country's currency spiraling downward once more.

The divide between the U.S. Congress and the White House over Turkey is deepening. Some members of Congress seem more determined than ever to punish Turkey for its actions in Syria, expressing deep anger at how the White House has ignored their concerns. This means the likelihood of punitive sanctions or penalties from Congress is high. U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen have drafted a bipartisan bill that includes sanctions ranging from limits on arms sales and military assistance to Turkey to specific targeted sanctions on individuals, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and economic sectors, including the Turkish energy sector. If the bill were to pass (which is not a given, let alone with a veto-proof majority), President Donald Trump will have to certify to Congress every 90 days that Turkey is "not operating unilaterally in Syria." This sets up a sharp divide between Trump, who is scheduled to host Erdogan in the White House on Nov. 13, and congressional leaders who want to sanction the Turkish president.

As it has done previously, Turkey is displaying its willingness to risk incurring sanctions in pursuit of national security objectives. In response to the delivery of a Russian S-400 missile defense system to Turkey, the U.S. Congress sought to use the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) to punish Ankara. However, Trump has so far refused to implement any such sanctions, and there is no legal mechanism stipulating when he must do so. Last month, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the United States was still considering CAATSA penalties, but the executive branch is clearly in no rush to financially penalize Turkey. This has likely bolstered Ankara's confidence that it can move forward with a military operation in Syria without facing economic penalties.

The European Union could pursue action independent of the United States that could financially damage Turkey. In response to the Turkish incursion into Syria, France and the United Kingdom are calling for a U.N. Security Council meeting. Although any potential U.N. sanctions or action is unlikely to be powerful enough to dissuade Turkey from pursuing its objectives in Syria, Turkey could face punitive EU measures that include a halt to cooperation agreements between Brussels and Ankara, as well as an end to accession funds. Indeed, the European Union already approved a sanctions package against Turkey in July over the country's ongoing drilling operations in Cypriot waters.

Turkey's new venture into Syria against the Kurds means the country is facing a potentially long period of economic pain.

Trump Targets Turkey With Tariffs

Last summer, Trump first took aim at the Turkish economy with a series of tariffs in response to trade spats — as well as Ankara's intentions in Syria and its increasing coziness with Russia.

Turkey's Economy Takes a Tumble. What's Next?

    Aug. 10, 2018: The United States and Turkey are already at loggerheads over trade, defense deals, the future of the U.S. mission in Syria and Ankara's warming ties with Russia. On the morning of Aug. 10, U.S. President Donald Trump intensified these divisions by tweeting that he had authorized a doubling of tariffs on Turkey's steel and aluminum, rising to 20 percent on aluminum and 50 percent on steel. Erdogan's nationalist campaign and Trump's "America First" policy clash perfectly. Trump's public announcement of tariffs will only fan Erdogan's economic warfare narrative, which puts the source of Turkey's economic woes outside its borders. Furthermore, consternation in the U.S. Congress has led to a nascent bill that could limit Turkey's ability to obtain loans from any U.S.-based financial institutions.

A Missile System Comes Between Erstwhile Allies

Before the U.S. threat to sanction Turkey over its offensive in northeastern Syria, it had threatened to take aim at the country's defense industry and the wider economy for choosing Russia's S-400 missile defense system.

A Game of Turkish Brinksmanship on Missile Defense

    June 27, 2019: Whether by employing the provisions of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) or ending Turkey's involvement in the high-tech F-35 stealth fighter program, the U.S. could invoke retaliatory options that would hurt Turkey's economy. … But while Turkey is well aware of the economic consequences of its choice, domestic political considerations are propelling Ankara to override economics and choose the Russian system. But the fragile state of Turkey's economy does pose the question of whether such political brinkmanship is worth it for Ankara. The country's economy dipped into a recession during the last quarter of 2018, while growth also slowed in the second half of last year. During this time, Turkey has earned more revenue from exports — but only because the lira is so weak that the country's goods are much cheaper. Over the next year, the Turkish private sector must pay back close to $140 billion in debt, while domestic consumption has slowed. But the five-year gap until the next scheduled elections in 2023 also forms part of Ankara's calculations regarding economic risk, as Erdogan believes he has time to stabilize the economy — even if the United States imposes sanctions that cause foreign investors to flee or further depress the lira's value.

This graph shows the bonds that Turkey must repay this year.
Rising Inflation and a Falling Lira

Even without the threat of U.S. sanctions, Turkey's economy is staring at difficulties that stem particularly from the massive amounts of corporate debt that its companies possess, as well as its skyrocketing inflation and poorly performing currency.

Counting the Costs of Potential U.S. Action Against Turkey

        Feb. 4, 2019: The United States is in a position to hurt Turkey's economy in part because of the latter's economic fragility. Turkish corporations are saddled with a high amount of debt, totaling about $200 billion that they must pay back in 2019. What's more, most of this debt is denominated in dollars and euros, meaning companies will struggle to pay it back if the lira remains weak. But debt isn't the only specter haunting Turkey: The country is also suffering from high inflation, decreased consumption and a lack of investor confidence stemming in part from perceptions that the country lacks the rule of law.

        [The arrest of U.S. evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson] demonstrated that the United States' ultimate economic weapon against Turkey is sentiment. Such a tool may be indirect, but Trump proved that caustic rhetoric and the imposition of even limited sanctions can depreciate the lira, rapidly damaging investor confidence and inciting consumer panic that the currency would tumble again, thereby compounding the existing consumption slowdown. Indeed, when the lira plunged last summer, Turks began to lose confidence in the economy, causing them to spend less and convert their liras into dollars or other currencies — in spite of official calls to the contrary — causing the lira to plummet even further.

This graph charts the fall in the Turkish lira in recent years.
An Economic Plan Without Much Support

Last year, in an effort to put the economy back on track, Erdogan tapped his son-in-law — the country's finance minister — to draft a plan. Berat Albayrak's three-year plan, however, has yet to find a ringing endorsement from international investors.

As Turkey Enters 2019, Its Economic Woes Are Never Far Away

    Nov. 28, 2018: No matter how intense the economic headwinds become, Turkey's government will refuse to budge on certain issues, which will detract from its ability to deftly manage the fragile economy. With Erdogan now wielding enormous control over all aspects of governance — including issues such as the economy that are not necessarily his area of expertise — the country's economic management strategy has failed to inspire much confidence in external investors. Ankara has outlined a three-year, medium-term economic plan to trim spending, tackle inflation and shore up the lira and consumer sentiment, but its economic team has yet to delve into the onerous task of implementing the promised structural changes. What's more, pledges to cut down on spending contradict Erdogan's preferred strategy of spending to spur growth, to say nothing of the challenge the central bank faces in trying to combat inflation given his past interference. And the economic team is led by Erdogan's son-in-law, the finance and economy minister, underlining the close and opaque ties that bind the president to his financial management squad.

This graph shows Turkey's recent inflation trend.

    But regardless of how fragile its economy becomes, Ankara will continue to pursue certain political aims. In pursuing its primary national security goal — namely, to prevent the development of a Kurdish state in the broader Middle East, since Turkey believes that would fuel demands for Kurdish autonomy at home and threaten the country's territorial integrity — Turkey will retain its forces in northern Iraq and northwestern Syria, even if that is likely to tax the country's coffers or irk its regional and Western allies.

Facing Economic Woes, Ankara Plays the Nationalist Card

Time and time again, Erdogan has sought to shore up his administration in the face of economic worries by appealing to a majority of citizens' shared sense of nationalism — as well as the century-old fear that enemies at home and abroad are planning to take down the republic.

The AKP's Thirst for Power Risks Leaving Turkey High and Dry

    June 11, 2019: Getting the Turkish economy up and running again will likely require a period of painful structural reforms and austerity measures — not quick-fix solutions. A more secure electoral position would give the government more leeway to embark on such sweeping reforms. But facing the potential loss of the Istanbul mayoral position come June 23, the AKP [ruling Justice and Development Party] knows it has to weather the political blowback of pursuing unpopular measures such an overhaul would entail. Thus, the AKP will instead opt to zero in on its tried-and-true playbook of nationalist policies in the coming months, as it grasps to retain what power it has left to stave off electoral challenges in 2023. Yet this short-term strategy will ultimately be short-sighted by creating even worse conditions for the economy, and more problems for the government to fix.

In this photo, Haki Pacha signs the Treaty of Sevres on behalf of the Ottoman Empire on Aug. 23, 1920.
Haki Pacha signs the Treaty of Sevres on behalf of the Ottoman Empire on Aug. 23, 1920. The treaty, which would have dismembered much of what is now the Republic of Turkey if not for Turkey's War of Independence against European powers, remains a byword for Turkish nationalists' fears that outside powers are planning to carve up their country.
(BETTMANN/Getty Images)

Making Sense of Turkey's Economic Crisis

    Aug. 16, 2018: When Erdogan declares war against "evil" interest rates and likens dollars, euros and gold to "bullets, cannonballs and missiles" in a war that aims to take Turkey down, he is not entertaining the Western financial community; he is channeling a deep-seated paranoia rooted in the 1920 Treaty of Sevres, which dismembered the Ottoman Empire at the hands of Allied powers. The so-called Sevres syndrome can be channeled in Turkish politics to this day to raise hysteria of outside powers conspiring to kick Turkey while it's down in the dust. It can also be used to enforce politically motivated boycotts of foreign goods. Many educated Turks who despise Erdogan but are bombarded with propaganda of Turkey coming under economic attack are rationally trying to sell lira and secure more stable assets, but they are also seriously questioning whether their country is coming under siege by foreign powers. U.S. President Donald Trump's attempt to fan Turkey's economic flames through a tariff-loaded tweet last week only compounded those suspicions.



ccp

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ottoman trivia
« Reply #210 on: October 12, 2019, 06:27:07 AM »

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kurds
« Reply #213 on: October 13, 2019, 04:46:15 PM »
funny how the kurds have suddenly become another victim group incorporated by the Dem party
just this past week.


We never heard such concern when bama was president
and ISIS was slaughtering Muslims Christians  Kurds etc

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Turkey
« Reply #214 on: October 13, 2019, 06:23:11 PM »
Two simple talking points:

1) Exactly how, when, and why did we become bound to defend the YPG and the YKK in their ongoing war with our NATO ally Turkey?

2) Choose:  3.6 million Syrian Arabs unleashed to walk into Europe or leave the YPG/YKK Kurds to their fight with Turkey?

Separately I am listening to Espy today on Chris Wallace.  Did I just here correctly that we left out of fear that Turkey would go through our tripwire troops?!?  WTF?!?
 
« Last Edit: October 13, 2019, 06:25:09 PM by Crafty_Dog »

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Stratfor: Turkey will pay a price for an imperfect buffer
« Reply #216 on: October 14, 2019, 06:50:11 AM »
In Syria, Turkey Will Pay the Price for an Imperfect Buffer
6 MINS READOct 14, 2019 | 10:00 GMT
This photo shows fighters with the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army gathered near the Turkish border in northeastern Syria on Oct. 11, 2019.
(ANAS ALKHARBOUTLI/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Fighters with the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army gather near the Turkish border in northeastern Syria on Oct. 11, 2019. Turkey has long sought to establish a buffer zone in Syria to protect itself from the effects of that country's civil war.
Highlights

    Turkey will expand its buffer zone along its border with Syria to buttress it from the effects of the Syrian civil war, but the expansion will bring repercussions from Syria, Russia, Iran, the United States and Europe.
    Turkey will endure the risks of U.S. and European sanctions to gain as much as it can from a new, northeastern Syrian buffer zone, but it will not want a military clash with Syrian, Russian or Iranian forces that enter the northeast.
    Turkey's expanded buffer zone will also be subject to insurgent attacks by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces or the Islamic State.

The Turkish military is moving into Syria's northeast as Ankara chases its strategy of expanding a buffer space between Turkey and Syria's civil war. But while Turkey will succeed in building up this buffer zone from Afrin in the west to Iraq in the east, it will also pay a price. Turkey's actions will increase tensions not only between it and Syria and Syria's Russian and Iranian backers, but also between it and the United States, the region's former protector, and Europe. Meanwhile, an insurgency by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will complicate Ankara's bid to establish a truly safe zone for Syrian refugees and Turkish security interests.

 
The Big Picture

Turkey has an opportunity to build a larger buffer zone along its border with Syria to prevent the growth of a Kurdish statelet and militancy and to push back against Russia and Iranian influence in Syria. But Turkey's gains will come at a price, including new tensions with Syria, Russia and Iran; additional U.S. congressional outrage; and increased anger from Europe.
See Middle East and North Africa section of the 2019 Fourth-Quarter Forecast
See The Syrian Civil War

Turkey is moving ever closer to its goal of establishing a broad buffer zone in Syria. It wants to prevent the Syrian border from becoming like its border with Iraq, where an autonomous Kurdish region hosts Kurdish militants in the form of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Ankara also wants to build up space to slow refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war from entering Turkey or even to return some of the 3.6 million refugees it has been sheltering at great expense.

Finally, by establishing a zone of influence along the border, Turkey aims to maintain a degree of influence in neighboring Syria and thus the Arab world — and a means to create some counterbalance against the sometimes unfriendly Russian and Iranian influence inside Syria.
Why a Buffer Zone Is Tricky

Building this buffer zone, however, comes with costs, from rising tensions with Syria, Russia and Iran to problems with the United States and Europe, to an ongoing Kurdish insurgency. And the more Turkey expands the buffer, the more of these costs it will incur.

A bigger buffer will increase tensions between Turkey and Syria and, by extension, between Turkey and Russia and Turkey and Iran. The Turkish incursion is coming about because the United States is signaling it is no longer protecting the SDF, creating a power vacuum for Turkey to exploit. But the SDF will not just step aside as Turkey rolls in. It has already signaled it will reach out to Damascus for protection to offset the U.S. withdrawal. A partnership with Damascus will likely erode the SDF's goal of autonomy, but the SDF, without the United States, will have little choice.

By bringing in Damascus, the SDF will create a new front between Syria and Turkey — and, again by extension, with Russia and Iran, which Syria will rely on to help it take control of the northeast. A larger buffer zone in the northeast will require Turkish proxies and forces to extend their reach to maintain it, creating opportunities for mistakes and friction between Syria and its allies on one side and Turkey on the other. The recurrent de-escalation talks between Ankara, Moscow and Tehran will also increasingly have to factor in the northeast.
This map shows the location of Turkish, Kurdish and other forces along the Turkey-Syria border.

Even as the big powers seek to de-escalate the conflict, the SDF will build on the anti-Turkish insurgency already present in Afrin and extend it to whatever new buffer zones are built up in northeastern Syria. Once more, the larger the zone, the more targets there will be for the insurgency. This insurgency will also reflect the geographic reality of the region: With such a vast area to patrol, Turkey will not be able to wholly control the border, and thus will not completely cut off the SDF-PKK links it is seeking to sever. Smuggling of arms and supplies back and forth will continue on some scale. In addition to the increased risks from the SDF, the Islamic State's underground elements will also potentially strike Turkish proxies and forces as they stay in Syria. This situation will create a long-term drain on Turkish military and security resources while failing to fully address its security concerns.
A Place to Resettle Syrian Refugees

Turkey also will not be able to use the expanded buffer zone to solve all of its refugee-related problems. Many refugees are from Syria's west — which is under regime control — and will resist resettlement in the northeast; they will not want to move to an unfamiliar part of the country. The northeast also lacks housing and employment opportunities. Even in pre-civil war Syria, the Syria-Turkish border region was relatively underdeveloped, and its cities small. Housing will be hard to find, and many refugees will realize they will be placed in long-term camps, dependent on aid.

That does not mean Turkey will not force some refugees to go to the safe zones. With anti-Arab sentiment rising in cash-strapped Turkey, the Turkish government needs to show it is not prioritizing foreign refugees over its own citizens. But the harsher Turkey acts toward Syrian refugees, the more Ankara risks outrage from Europe and the United States, with disruptions in their relationships possible. In addition, to find suitable housing for refugees and to disrupt the connections between Turkish Kurdistan and Syrian Kurdistan, Turkey will be tempted to repeat its Afrin population strategy, ejecting people it considers disloyal and replacing them with other Syrian refugees. In doing so, Turkey once more would risk international outrage from its Western partners and create a new incentive for sanctions against it.

Building a buffer zone in Syria comes with costs. And the more Turkey expands the buffer, the more of these costs it will incur.

Finally, the more Turkey expands its buffer zones, the more it will risk its ties with the United States, particularly with the U.S. Congress, whose members are already outraged by Turkish military action against the SDF, a U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State. A larger or lengthier Turkish military operation will increase Congress' desire to penalize Turkey. Further humanitarian-related concerns may arise as Turkey resettles refugees and carries out military operations. Congress could introduce fresh legislation in response to such incidents, producing more tension between the United States and Turkey.

But because of its imperative to diminish Kurdish militancy that could lead to a Kurdish state, Ankara will have a high tolerance for some of these risks as it seeks to gain as much as it can from its current military operations. While it will not want to escalate the situation to a military confrontation with Syria, Russia or Iran, Turkey will brave sanctions from the United States and Europe to achieve its buffer zone — before Syria and its allies move into parts of the northeast.

DougMacG

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Re: Turkiye
« Reply #217 on: October 14, 2019, 07:53:57 AM »
Two simple talking points:

1) Exactly how, when, and why did we become bound to defend the YPG and the YKK in their ongoing war with our NATO ally Turkey?

2) Choose:  3.6 million Syrian Arabs unleashed to walk into Europe or leave the YPG/YKK Kurds to their fight with Turkey?

Separately I am listening to Espy today on Chris Wallace.  Did I just hear correctly that we left out of fear that Turkey would go through our tripwire troops?!?  WTF?!?

The counterpoint in point 1) would center on these three words:  Nato.  ally.  Turkey.

Trump threatened our withdrawal from NATO in the campaign.  Then he rescued it getting Europe's contribution boosted.  Now the Turkey question rears its ugly head.  They are signatories to NATO and so are we.  Treaties have obligations.  But is Turkey an ally, is a larger question.

Trump doesn't want to be a war president.  The implication in the tripwire theory is that the full force of the world's greatest military will come down upon you if you cross it.  But it won't. We can't, see above, NATO ally Turkey.  Trump doesn't want to have his own Obama Red Line gaffe.

Did he overspeak that we will destroy your economy, Turkey, if you go to far?  Does he have Europe on board with that?  How far is too far?  What is really happening there and is our visual media sensationalizing it? 

Turkey has taken a part of a town.  Did that section of town give safe haven to people who commit terror in Turkey or were they shooting innocent civilians?  I can't tell from the pictures on my screen.  I see a man shooting an automatic rifle at a building.  What man, what building, why?  Don't know.

It looks to me like this is Turkey's moment to determine their own future.  If they commit genocide, I would expect a move to boot them out of NATO, diplomacy instead of military action. 

They may want to be booted from NATO, free to expand other alliances.  https://worldview.stratfor.com/article/turkey-and-russia-new-alignment
« Last Edit: October 14, 2019, 07:58:24 AM by DougMacG »


DougMacG

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Re: Turkey, Stratfor, 2017
« Reply #219 on: October 16, 2019, 06:33:24 AM »
If the Kurds have luck turning to Russia for help, doesn't that drive Turkey away from Russia?  A strategic gain for the US?

The post Crafty was looking for (?) is worth a second look in hindsight.  What a complicated web.  We don't really know what is said in these various meetings.  Erdogan met with Iran, Russia and Mattis in the same week?  We can just try to figure it out by seeing what happens afterward.

Stratfor: Turkey in the Eye of the Storm
« Reply #148 on: August 26, 2017,
Turkey: In the Eye of the Storm
Aug 25, 2017
By Jacob L. Shapiro

This time last year (2016), Turkey was in the throes of a crisis. A faction of the military had tried to – and nearly did – overthrow the government. The putsch failed, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took the opportunity to purge the system of current and potential opponents to his rule. The purges haven’t stopped, and Turkey is still in a formal state of emergency, but the worst of the crisis has passed and Turkey is beginning to stabilize.

Now, the chaos isn’t in Turkey but around it. And one of the surest signs that Turkey is nearly back on its feet is the way it is confronting the chaos.
Ankara’s Perspective

Consider for a moment the world from Ankara’s perspective. To the south, the Islamic State is slowly being crushed. In Iraq, it’s barely hanging on to its last strongholds; in Syria, it is under assault from the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and the Russian-backed Assad regime. Turkey wants to see IS defeated, but it isn’t a fan of who is doing it: The SDF is made up of Syrian Kurds, who, to Turkey, are just as much a terrorist group as IS, and Turkey was an enemy of the Assad regime long before the Syrian civil war began. To the southeast, the Kurdistan Regional Government – an autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq – appears determined to go forward with an independence referendum on Sept. 25. Turkey has already told the KRG to cancel the referendum because it fears what a vote for independence would mean for the millions of Kurds who live in or on the border with Turkey.

Farther south, Iran and Saudi Arabia are flirting one minute and threatening each other the next. Turkey is getting in on the action, broaching the possibility of limited cooperation with Iran in some areas of mutual interest. Meanwhile, to the north, Turkish relations with Russia remain complicated and inextricably linked to the U.S.-Russia relationship. Russia and the U.S. are quietly cooperating in Syria in the fight against IS, but they are at loggerheads everywhere else. Across the Black Sea from Turkey in Ukraine, the U.S. is backing Russia into a corner, and two places we expect Russia to respond are the Balkans and the Caucasus. Turkey hopes to expand its influence into the former and is already a major player in the latter. Russian activity in either of these regions would affect Turkey, and the Turks must be ready for that.

Turkey’s response to these challenges is one that has become typical of Turkish foreign policy: It is trying to balance between all the various parties without solidly committing itself to any. The number of high-profile visits Turkey has hosted in recent weeks is telling. Last week, Iran’s chairman of the armed forces General Staff was in Ankara for talks. Earlier this week, Russia’s armed forces chief of staff also visited Turkey to discuss coordinating efforts in Syria. Then on Aug. 23, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis arrived in Turkey for a marathon day of meetings with Turkish officials.

With Iran, Turkey promised to boost military cooperation – something of a surprise considering that Turkey and Iran both aspire to regional leadership in the long term. Their interests are, ultimately, mutually exclusive. With Russia, Turkey agreed to tactical coordination in Syria and saluted Moscow’s understanding of Turkey’s concerns about the dangers posed by Syrian Kurds. As with Iran, however, Turkey has fundamental strategic differences with Russia in the short term (the future of Syria and Assad’s place in it) and the long term (competition in the Caucasus and southeastern Europe). There are tactical ways in which these powers can help each other – Iran and Turkey against the Kurds, Russia and Turkey against U.S. influence in the region – but these are not long-term alliances.

Then there is the U.S., with which Turkish relations have been deteriorating for years. The U.S. decision to begin arming Syrian Kurds in May (2017) was another blow to relations, and Mattis’ visit appears to have been in large measure to patch up the issue. The official statements out of the Pentagon are typical of political statements: sweet sounding with no substance. But unnamed Turkish officials have been telling any reporter who will listen about how Mattis pledged to help Turkey fight the Kurdish PKK militant group and how American support for Syrian Kurds is limited to the duration of the fight against the Islamic State. That Mattis came out publicly against the KRG’s independence referendum probably didn’t hurt either. For the moment, Turkey seems more publicly comfortable than it has been with the U.S. in months, so whatever Mattis promised in Ankara had the desired effect.

Between Superpowers

It’s the balance between Russia and the U.S. that is particularly difficult for Turkey to strike right now. In the coming years, Turkey’s imperatives will compel it to encroach on areas that Russia considers within its sphere of influence. Turkey isn’t ready for that conflict, and in the interim, Russia is a crucial player in the Caucasus and a powerful one in the Middle East.

Turkey’s imperatives jibe better with the U.S. vision for the region, but it isn’t a perfect marriage. The U.S. seeks a balance of power in the region and wants Turkey as a junior ally; Turkey sees itself as a rising power that doesn’t have to do anyone’s bidding, even if the one asking is the mighty United States. Turkey isn’t strong enough to push back against both, and kowtowing to one does nothing to advance Turkish interests either, hence its complicated relationship with both.

As if to underline the complexity of the game Turkey is playing, Mattis’ next stop after leaving Ankara was Kiev. Both Ukrainian and Russian media sources quoted Mattis as saying the U.S. had approved the delivery of $175 million worth of “special equipment that will strengthen the defense capability of Ukraine.” U.S. media’s reporting on the issue omitted this particular detail, but even so, there can be no doubt about the tone of Mattis’ meeting with Ukraine’s president and his comments afterward. The defense secretary decried Russian aggression and vowed that the U.S. would not tolerate Russian violation of Ukrainian sovereignty.

Mattis stopped short of throwing down the gauntlet: The U.S. is still debating whether to supply Ukraine with defensive weapons such as anti-tank missiles. Doing so would cross a serious line from Russia’s perspective. And there have been hints that the U.S. is at least open to dialogue: An upcoming meeting between the U.S. special envoy to Ukraine and one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s presidential aides could be a step toward defusing the situation. But between Mattis’ strong language and recent U.S. sanctions against Russia, U.S.-Russia relations outside of Syria are trending toward distrust and hostility. Russia can absorb only so many challenges from the U.S. before the Kremlin will need to demonstrate that it is strong enough to prevent the U.S. from pushing it around.

Articulating a Vision

All these issues matter to Turkey, and now (2017) the Turks are trying to formulate a coherent plan to pursue their interests that doesn’t outstrip their capabilities. For all of Turkey’s threats to intervene in Syria or to attack various Kurdish groups, it has stayed out of the fray. Turkey’s foreign minister even ruled out closing the border with the KRG if it goes through with its independence referendum. Turkey’s primary goal is to demonize the Syrian Kurds, who have more in common with Turkey’s Kurds than they do with most of Iraq’s Kurds, and to leverage the support it can offer to Russia and the U.S. to align the policies of both with Turkey’s immediate concerns.

The coup attempt weakened Turkey briefly, especially its ability to project hard power. But it also gave Erdogan a chance to clear the deck and pursue grander ambitions. Now, after a year of recuperation, Turkey is hosting the top defense leaders of the U.S., Russia and Iran, all in the course of a week and a half. Not only that, but those representatives are all coming to Turkey, and Turkey is setting the price for its help without committing itself to any agenda except its own immediate ones: to keep its national integrity intact, to rebuild its military and economy, and to let everyone else weaken themselves by fighting each other.

Turkey wants to stay in the eye of the storm as long as it can, but ultimately, Turkey can’t control everything that happens around it. All it can do is make itself strong enough and shape its regional environment enough so that when it does have to step out into the storm, it can protect its interests. The most important thing after this week is not just that Turkey is articulating that vision, but that it is forgoing opportunistic relationships to see that its vision comes to pass.


Crafty_Dog

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Erdogan: Turkey is stepping up where others fail to act
« Reply #221 on: October 16, 2019, 12:34:03 PM »

Turkey Is Stepping Up Where Others Fail to Act
Syria’s refugee flows, violence and instability have pushed us to the limit of our tolerance.
By Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Oct. 14, 2019 6:57 pm ET
Turkish civilians wave at an army convoy driving toward Syria, Oct. 9. Photo: bulent kilic/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, no country has felt the pain of the ensuing humanitarian crisis more severely than Turkey. We took in 3.6 million Syrian refugees—more than any other country—and spent $40 billion to offer them education, health care and housing. Our culture of hospitality compelled us to shoulder the burden of hosting millions of war victims with very little help from the international community.

Yet at a certain point, Turkey reached its limit. My administration repeatedly warned that we would be unable to stop refugees from flooding into the West without international financial support. Those warnings fell on deaf ears as governments, eager to avoid responsibility, portrayed as a threat what was intended as a mere statement of fact.


My administration concluded that the international community wasn’t going to act, so we developed a plan for northern Syria. I shared the plan with world leaders at last month’s United Nations General Assembly. In line with that plan, Turkey last week launched Operation Peace Spring to end the humanitarian crisis and address the violence and instability that are the root causes of irregular migration in our region. Absent an alternative plan to deal with the refugee crisis, the international community should either join our efforts or begin admitting refugees.

As part of Operation Peace Spring, the Turkish military, together with the Syrian National Army, will remove all terrorist elements in northeastern Syria. These militants are preventing Syrian refugees, including some 300,000 Kurds, from returning home. Our mission is simultaneously to combat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the terrorist organization known as the PKK, along with its Syrian affiliates and Islamic State. Turkey has no argument with any ethnic or religious group. From our perspective, all citizens of the Syrian Arab Republic—who don’t belong to terrorist groups—are equal. In particular, we object to equation of the PKK with the Syrian Kurds.

Likewise, Turkey opposes equation of ISIS, which has murdered thousands of innocent people, with Islam. We will ensure that no ISIS fighters leave northeastern Syria. We are prepared to cooperate with source countries and international organizations on the rehabilitation of foreign terrorist fighters’ spouses and children.

The same countries that lecture Turkey on the virtues of combating ISIS today, failed to stem the influx of foreign terrorist fighters in 2014 and 2015. Perhaps the government of a certain European country, which I won’t name, would like to explain to the world how one of its nationals could board a flight to Istanbul in 2014 with live ammunition in his checked luggage. Likewise, France has blocked weapons sales to Turkey, but why did it ignore our repeated early warnings about imminent terrorist attacks?

Members of the Arab League, which has described Turkey’s operation in northern Syria as an invasion, need to answer some questions. Since they are so unhappy with Turkey’s efforts to reunite Syrian refugees with their ancestral lands, how many war victims have they admitted? How much did they contribute to efforts to end the humanitarian crisis in Syria? Which political initiatives did they support to stop the civil war? The Arab League, whose statements don’t reflect the true views and sentiments of the Arab people, has no legitimacy.

The international community missed its opportunity to prevent the Syrian crisis from pulling an entire region into a maelstrom of instability. Many countries have had to deal with the conflict’s negative side effects, including irregular migration and an uptick in terrorist attacks. Operation Peace Spring represents a second chance to help Turkey end proxy wars in Syria and restore peace and stability to the region. The European Union—and the world—should support what Turkey is trying to do.

Mr. Erdoğan is president of Turkey.

Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Turkey fights a losing PR battle
« Reply #222 on: October 16, 2019, 12:47:59 PM »
second post

Turkey Fights a Losing PR Battle Over Syria
Sinan Ciddi
Sinan Ciddi
Board of Contributors
7 MINS READOct 16, 2019 | 09:30 GMT
Turkish-backed proxies search for members of the mainly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces in Tal Abyad, Syria, on Oct. 15, 2019.
(OMER ALVEN/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Turkish-backed proxies search for members of the mainly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces in Tal Abyad, Syria, on Oct. 15, 2019. Turkey has struggled to satisfy the international community as to why it has attacked northern Syria.
Contributor Perspectives offer insight, analysis and commentary from Stratfor’s Board of Contributors and guest contributors who are distinguished leaders in their fields of expertise.
Highlights

    Turkey has begun combat operations in northern Syria to wipe out the mainly Kurdish People's Protection Units.
    Turkey's allies, however, are worried the move will destabilize Syria and reinvigorate the Islamic State.
    Turkey's unilateral action could isolate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government amid widespread global condemnation.

On Oct. 9, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan finally confirmed speculation that had been swirling for months: Turkey was beginning major combat operations in northern Syria with the goal of creating a safe zone to eradicate the presence of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) and the Islamic State. The issue is complicated, however, by Washington's tactical partnership with the YPG (which rebranded itself as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF) as a joint means of terminating the Islamic State. Turkey has criticized the partnership since it began in 2014, viewing it as a betrayal on the grounds that the YPG is tied to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), an organization that Ankara, Brussels and Washington recognize as a terrorist group.

The flawed, yet effective U.S. motivation to collaborate with the YPG/SDF stemmed from two related developments: From 2012 to 2014, the fight to eliminate the Islamic State was only a distant second priority for most countries in the region — in contrast to the United States. Second, Turkey had directed its energies to toppling Syrian President Bashar al Assad, making it clear that it would not commit military assets to fight the Islamic State in Syria or Iraq. Given the lay of the land, the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama hit upon what it deemed an effective and acceptable approach, committing a limited number of U.S. special forces and airpower and relying on the YPG to conduct the bulk of combat operations against the Islamic State. But even if Turkey's contempt for the YPG was always evident, why has it chosen to act unilaterally against the Syrian Kurds now? Ultimately, the answer is simple: There isn't one — at least a palatable one from Turkey.
A Case for War?

Turkey's move is motivated more by Erdogan's domestic political concerns than any imminent threat posed by the YPG. To be fair, Turkey does have a legitimate concern with the emergence of a large Kurdish political entity along its southern border, especially if it is organized by a political entity that presents a threat to Turkey's sovereignty and security. Such concern, however, is not tantamount to an imminent and dangerous threat. Turkey, in its near-century history as a republic, has faced such imminent threats and responded accordingly. During World War II, the specter of either a Nazi or Soviet invasion was ever-present, testing the resolve of Turkey's leaders between 1939 and 1945. But even amid the danger of the Nazis at the gates, Turkey's government avoided war as an option. In 1974, when insurrectionists toppled Cyprus' government with an eye to uniting the island with Greece, Turkey's government took the immediate step of deploying the military to stall such an eventuality. (Later, it breached its mandate by carving out a de facto Turkish state that remains to this day.)

What concerns did the U.S.-Turkish joint patrols in northeastern Syria not address that required Turkey's military incursion?

No similarly dramatic incident or reason for immediacy precipitated last week's Turkish military incursion into northeastern Syria, dubbed Operation Peace Spring. In fact, there were no conditions for hot pursuit, which explains the overwhelming international concern and condemnation. Indeed, it leads to the question: What concerns did the U.S.-Turkish joint patrols not address that required a military incursion? As it is, the incursion began only after an abrupt telephone conversation between U.S. President Donald Trump and Erdogan, in which Trump reportedly gave a green light to the initiative and declared that Turkey, henceforth, would be in charge of keeping Syria — and possibly the region — free of the Islamic State.

In the immediate term, Erdogan looks set to reap the awards of his brazen behavior. For the past 12 months, the Erdogan government has found itself in a corner due to a severely weakened economy and a loss of voter confidence — all of which culminated in widespread losses for the president and the governing Justice and Development Party in local elections on March 31. Erdogan, however, has successively swept debate on such topics to the side, refocusing the nation's attention on the Syria operation. Indeed, a campaign to wipe out the PKK and the YPG is proving popular with the public, as it rallies behind a strong leader who is determined to pursue Turkey's security concerns and defy Western criticism and restrictions. Beyond taking the sting out of domestic criticism of Turkey's perilous economy and the skyrocketing cost of living, the move also silences dissent in general, compelling opposition parties to lend their support due to the popular appeal. Predictably, authorities have already rounded up scores of critics, especially members of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democracy Party — the only major party to oppose Turkey's cross-border operation. In such an atmosphere, Erdogan might even be tempted to call for a fresh round of elections to take advantage of the short-term euphoria over the offensive.
Turkey's Viewpoint Finds Few Takers

That said, Turkey might just be opening up Pandora's box with its incursion. First, journalists in the affected areas are reporting numerous civilian casualties and a humanitarian catastrophe in the making as tens of thousands flee the fighting. How will Turkey uphold humanitarian standards, given that it is now responsible for the plight of the new refugees? Syrian sovereignty, meanwhile, is also at stake. At the outset, Turkey announced that it was launching the operation in full recognition of Syria's independence and sovereignty. That's a nice platitude, but once the military operations are done and dusted, how long and under whose authority will Turkish troops remain?

Erdogan has also intimated that his "liberated" area of about 450 by 30 kilometers (roughly 280 by 19 miles) will become home to the Syrian refugees presently living in Turkey. Where does Turkey's government obtain the authority to resettle the refugees? Will this not infringe upon the area's existing demographics? Turkish authorities have yet to give — and are unlikely to do so in the future — satisfying answers to these questions. And as Turkish artillery pound pre-selected targets, reports are emerging that hundreds of Islamic State detainees are breaking out of camps because the Kurds guarding them are having to flee themselves. If the Islamic State launches a whole new wave of attacks, or even enjoys a political resurgence, how will Turkey address the resulting security concerns from countries the world over?

The YPG has garnered an international reputation for defeating the Islamic State; Turkey, in contrast, has garnered a reputation for striving to destroy the Islamic State's conquerors — if not aid the jihadist group itself.

So far, international condemnation has been swift. The U.S. Congress has initiated the process of promulgating direct sanctions on Turkey; support for bipartisan legislation might be so strong that Trump won't have the means to veto it. The European Union and individual member states have also condemned Ankara's actions and imposed bans on arms sales to Turkey. Others have even called for the suspension of Turkey's NATO membership.

Turkey, which seems to have been surprised by the backlash, has responded with hostility and ill-considered comments that parallel Erdogan's vitriol at global actors. For one, Erdogan has threatened to open Turkey's borders and send Syrian refugees to Europe unless the Europeans begin applauding his actions and lend their support. At this juncture, Erdogan believes the problem rests in not having the right people and mechanisms to help explain Turkey's perspective. The problem, however, is more that Turkey has decisively lost the international public relations campaign, even if it has grabbed the initiative on the military front. The YPG has garnered an international reputation for defeating the Islamic State; Turkey, in contrast, has garnered a reputation for striving to destroy the Islamic State's conquerors — if not aid the jihadist group itself. It appears that Turkish authorities have yet to understand that insisting on their position is not going to change the world's opinion.

In the end, Erdogan has acted with impunity at home for over a decade, subjecting Turkey's population to his brash and unbridled demeanor. He's now trying the same thing on the world stage and expecting the rest of the globe to fall in line. That isn't going to happen, and the longer Turkey continues its military operation, the more it will find itself relegated to the position of an international pariah.

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George Friedman: Visiting Istanbul
« Reply #227 on: November 29, 2019, 11:05:58 AM »
   
    Visiting Istanbul
By: George Friedman

I am writing this from Istanbul, trying not to count how many Thanksgivings I have spent without my children and grandchildren. But as they say, this is the life I chose. Right now I am looking out over the Bosporus from my hotel room and noticing something startling. I have been here many times but I have never seen ship traffic so light. I have seen only a handful of Russian tankers passing through. This is only the second day and it may change, but I have to wonder if the world oil market is topped off and Russia is finding it hard to find customers. This while my wife sees the beauty of the sun sparkling across the water.

Istanbul is for me a city where I make speeches, listen to speeches and have lavish dinners. But it is rare that I roam the city freely, and it was only once in the past decade that I broke loose with a car and map and wandered the eastern half of the country. I recall getting lost on the trip, entirely my wife’s fault, and slowly driving through small and poor villages. As it was obvious we were lost, a car with two men in their 30s drove up beside us, and one of them asked me in excellent English to follow him to my destination. That he was driving a late-model car for this region and speaking English well made it unlikely he was merely a helpful villager. I had insisted to a very senior official that I was going to travel on my own, without any guidance. Thankfully he didn’t listen to me, which was likely part courtesy and part caution.

Courtesy and caution sums it up. I am speaking at a meeting of MUSIAD, a Muslim business organization. It is a vast gathering, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be speaking as well, so it is significant. The dinner with the board of MUSIAD prior to the event was enlightening. The board consisted of sophisticated businessmen eager to find opportunities in the United States. At the same time, they expressed their regrets over ongoing tensions in Turkey’s relations with the West – Turkish politeness for being let down by the U.S. and Europe.

They made two points that must be understood. The first is that the Syrian civil war has caused 3 million Syrian refugees, a staggering number, to enter Turkey. It was explained that these refugees are free to work and live in Turkey, and do. They said the Europeans have failed to honor their commitment to provide aid, which means that Turkey bears the load. To be criticized on human rights by the Europeans when Turkey, not the Europeans, has borne the burden outrages the Turks.

They are also furious at what they regard as misrepresentation of the Kurdish situation. Turkey has a population of about 80 million, 18 million of whom are Kurds. The vast majority are part of Turkish society, and they hold 10 percent of the seats in parliament. According to my hosts and from what I have seen, the Kurds are not in a state of civil war with Turkey. A small fraction, belonging to the PKK, or the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, has carried out terrorist attacks. The PKK was formed in the Soviet era, a Marxist group as its name indicates. The Soviets had supported radical groups in Turkey to destabilize the country, and the PKK was one of the parties they supported. The PKK maintained its struggle after the Soviet Union fell. From my hosts’ point of view, the inability of the U.S. to distinguish between the Kurds and the PKK is outrageous. Therefore, when the Turks moved to disarm the Kurds on their border with Syria, they claimed that they were terrorists linked to the PKK and were furious at several members of the U.S. Congress for talking about the removal of Kurds from the border and hinting at a risk of genocide.
 
(click to enlarge)

The Turks feel that these facts are well known in the U.S. and are twisted in order to weaken Turkey. My counterpoint was, assuming that all this was true, the U.S. Congress was not well versed in the subtleties of Turkish politics, and their ignorance of the Turkish point of view has a great deal to do with Turkey not knowing how to manage the United States. The British, Irish, Israelis and Armenians, to cite a few, have mastered the art of managing the U.S. government. Turkey simply doesn’t know how and doesn’t feel it should have to be the teacher.

This shows in the case of Fethullah Gulen. There was an attempted coup in Turkey in 2016. Such coups are not unknown there, as the Turkish Constitution, left by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, gave the military the role of guaranteeing a secular Turkey. Given that, there is some case to be made that the army was carrying out its constitutional duty by trying to displace Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP. The view of Turkish Muslims was that while this may have been true, this role for the military is antiquated; Turkey is now a democracy and the army should respect the outcomes of elections.

The feud is not really with the army, but with a group called the Gulenists. The Gulenists are hard to define. They are led or guided (depending on who you ask) by Fethullah Gulen, now residing in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. The group combined an idiosyncratic version of Islam with a highly efficient system of recruiting members via schools, clubs and the like, and networking like-minded businessmen together, multiplying their power. Gulen had once been a close friend of Erdogan to complicate the story even more.

Erdogan turned against the Gulenists early in the century. The AKP and Erdogan saw them as having amassed a great deal of murky power that challenged the AKP. After the attempted coup occurred in 2016, while the military was heavily purged, the real target was the Gulenists and Gulen himself. The Turkish government demanded that the United States extradite Gulen for trial in Turkey. This didn’t happen, and now it was the Turks who did not understand the United States.

The U.S. president and Congress do not have the power to extradite a legal resident to a foreign country. In the end, it takes a judge who reviews evidence and decides. This bars all appeals and whatnot inherent in the American legal system. The president and his attorney general have some role, but not a decisive one. This is something that the Turks simply do not understand. Erdogan is president of Turkey, Putin is president of Russia and so on. If they want to extradite someone, he is gone. The idea that a leader with the title of president has little control over a legal process, the Turks dismiss.

At any rate what is clear to me is that there are few substantial issues between the U.S. and Turkey, but a breathtaking array of willful misunderstandings. The Turks want to feel the victim, and the U.S. doesn’t want to take them seriously. But that is a mistake. As I said 10 years ago in “The Next 100 Years,” Turkey is emerging as a major regional power. It deals with the Russians, Germans and Americans as equals. Its gross domestic product, by purchasing power parity, ranks 13th in the world. Its army is large and getting better. It is an important player.

The U.S. and Turkey have common interests. The Turks are vehemently opposed to the Bashar Assad regime, as is the U.S. The Russians saved Assad and are protecting him. The Iranians make the Turks extremely uneasy as they operate in Syria and Iraq. These are common interests. But when I point these out on Wednesday and step off the podium, I know that the first question from the Turks will be, what about Gulen? And the nice fellow from the U.S. Embassy assigned to listen to speeches will ask why I didn’t raise the S-400 and F-35. I can go through American law ad infinitum and it won’t help. And the Turks’ having the S-400 will give the U.S. an opportunity to look at it up close and personal, which will be dismissed by the Americans.

In the end, the Turks have fought too many wars with Russia and Iran to trust either and need the Americans. The U.S. wants to stabilize the region without using U.S. troops. But that is geopolitics and that in the short run is too simple. So we will debate far less important but still very complex issues that don’t matter nearly as much in the long run.   




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D1: Various entries on Turkey and NATO
« Reply #228 on: November 29, 2019, 11:22:47 AM »
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November 27, 2019       



 
 

If Russia invades the Baltics, Turkey warns it won't help unless NATO members formally say the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria is a terrorist group. That's according to four alliance officials who spoke to Reuters on Tuesday.

Quick review: "Ankara views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists for their links to a Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey," the Associated Press writes us in a separate development today. "The fighters had however partnered with the U.S. against the Islamic State group." But "U.S. troops pulled back from the border with Turkey to avoid clashes with a NATO ally, opening the way for the Turkey-backed invasion," in what AP calls "a major shift in the power balance in oil-rich northeastern Syria."
Why Turkey's Baltic stance is in the news now: Very likely because NATO heads of state are scheduled to converge in London next week for a 70th anniversary summit. Reuters has a preview of that summit, here.

Bigger picture: "The plan for the Baltic states and Poland, drawn up at their request after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, has no direct bearing on Turkey's strategy in Syria, but it raises issues about security on all of NATO's frontiers," Reuters writes.

We asked a few experts about this back in mid-October, just days after Turkey launched its unilateral invasion of northern Syria. At the time, it seemed slightly absurd to doubt a NATO ally's commitment to collective defense. We appear to have been wrong in that assessment.
Said one of those experts, Aurel Sari of the University of Exeter's Law School: "Assuming that an armed attack has occurred and the victim requests assistance, the North Atlantic Treaty favours and seems to foresee a collective, united response. However, nothing precludes nations that share the victim State's assessment that it has suffered an armed attack, and which therefore consider Article 5 to be engaged, to provide assistance bilaterally or plurilaterally, without all nations sharing that view and considering Article 5 as triggered." (Read Sari's analysis of the topic and related issues, "The Mutual Assistance Clauses of the North Atlantic and EU Treaties: The Challenge of Hybrid Threats." See also his Oct. 15 op-ed in Just Security: "Can Turkey be Expelled from NATO? It's Legally Possible, Whether or Not Politically Prudent.")

Said Chris Skaluba of the Atlantic Council: "In practical terms, Turkey couldn't stop alliance members from responding. That's because when it comes to NATO, there are largely four capitals that matter: London, Paris, Berlin and Washington. Even if [Turkish President Recep Erdogan] were to say, 'I'm going to put my stick in the ground and resist this,' the Turkish delegation would have a very hard time holding out over time."

Such a position "may limit how [Turkey] could use NATO command or NATO intelligence. But in most cases, politically the Turks would be under enormous pressure. Even in 2003 during the Iraq invasion, the four capitals were misaligned and NATO wound up being involved and having a role."

It's worth noting in our current era of apparent norm-breaking, said David Auerswald of the National War College, that generating "consensus" among alliance members for Article 5 action "is not so much a rule as a norm. The key is to keep alliance members from vetoing alliance action.  During Kosovo, for example, we did that by essentially buying off the Greeks with a series of actions that protected their interests, such that they abstained rather than vetoing the operation."

However, some alliance officials see some room for negotiation with Turkey since, as one diplomatic source explained to Reuters, "Ankara also needs leaders to approve a separate, upgraded military plan detailing how NATO would defend Turkey in the event of an attack." A bit more from Reuters, here.

Meanwhile in northeastern Syria, a car bomb killed at least 17 people "in the village of Tal Half, near the city of Ras al-Ayn," AP reports. Turkey's defense ministry says Syrian Kurdish fighters are responsible; however officials provided no proof to back up their claim. A bit more, here.



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Re: D1: Various entries on Turkey and NATO
« Reply #229 on: November 29, 2019, 11:37:47 AM »
The fact that Turkey is still a member of NATO demonstrates exactly what a joke NATO has become.


second post

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November 27, 2019       



 
 

If Russia invades the Baltics, Turkey warns it won't help unless NATO members formally say the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria is a terrorist group. That's according to four alliance officials who spoke to Reuters on Tuesday.

Quick review: "Ankara views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists for their links to a Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey," the Associated Press writes us in a separate development today. "The fighters had however partnered with the U.S. against the Islamic State group." But "U.S. troops pulled back from the border with Turkey to avoid clashes with a NATO ally, opening the way for the Turkey-backed invasion," in what AP calls "a major shift in the power balance in oil-rich northeastern Syria."
Why Turkey's Baltic stance is in the news now: Very likely because NATO heads of state are scheduled to converge in London next week for a 70th anniversary summit. Reuters has a preview of that summit, here.

Bigger picture: "The plan for the Baltic states and Poland, drawn up at their request after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, has no direct bearing on Turkey's strategy in Syria, but it raises issues about security on all of NATO's frontiers," Reuters writes.

We asked a few experts about this back in mid-October, just days after Turkey launched its unilateral invasion of northern Syria. At the time, it seemed slightly absurd to doubt a NATO ally's commitment to collective defense. We appear to have been wrong in that assessment.
Said one of those experts, Aurel Sari of the University of Exeter's Law School: "Assuming that an armed attack has occurred and the victim requests assistance, the North Atlantic Treaty favours and seems to foresee a collective, united response. However, nothing precludes nations that share the victim State's assessment that it has suffered an armed attack, and which therefore consider Article 5 to be engaged, to provide assistance bilaterally or plurilaterally, without all nations sharing that view and considering Article 5 as triggered." (Read Sari's analysis of the topic and related issues, "The Mutual Assistance Clauses of the North Atlantic and EU Treaties: The Challenge of Hybrid Threats." See also his Oct. 15 op-ed in Just Security: "Can Turkey be Expelled from NATO? It's Legally Possible, Whether or Not Politically Prudent.")

Said Chris Skaluba of the Atlantic Council: "In practical terms, Turkey couldn't stop alliance members from responding. That's because when it comes to NATO, there are largely four capitals that matter: London, Paris, Berlin and Washington. Even if [Turkish President Recep Erdogan] were to say, 'I'm going to put my stick in the ground and resist this,' the Turkish delegation would have a very hard time holding out over time."

Such a position "may limit how [Turkey] could use NATO command or NATO intelligence. But in most cases, politically the Turks would be under enormous pressure. Even in 2003 during the Iraq invasion, the four capitals were misaligned and NATO wound up being involved and having a role."

It's worth noting in our current era of apparent norm-breaking, said David Auerswald of the National War College, that generating "consensus" among alliance members for Article 5 action "is not so much a rule as a norm. The key is to keep alliance members from vetoing alliance action.  During Kosovo, for example, we did that by essentially buying off the Greeks with a series of actions that protected their interests, such that they abstained rather than vetoing the operation."

However, some alliance officials see some room for negotiation with Turkey since, as one diplomatic source explained to Reuters, "Ankara also needs leaders to approve a separate, upgraded military plan detailing how NATO would defend Turkey in the event of an attack." A bit more from Reuters, here.

Meanwhile in northeastern Syria, a car bomb killed at least 17 people "in the village of Tal Half, near the city of Ras al-Ayn," AP reports. Turkey's defense ministry says Syrian Kurdish fighters are responsible; however officials provided no proof to back up their claim. A bit more, here.

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GPF: Turkey, the NATO Summit Spoiler
« Reply #230 on: December 02, 2019, 08:20:25 AM »
December 2, 2019   Open as PDF



    Turkey, the NATO Summit Spoiler
By: Caroline Rose

Turkey is an emerging geopolitical power, and it’s no longer shy about it. To its south it has augmented its presence in northeast Syria, redefining its place in the Middle East; to its north it has intensified its power projection in the Black Sea; and to its immediate west it has increased its gas extraction activities, even in the exclusive economic zones of other states, challenging the status quo in the Mediterranean. Now, Turkey is reaching out even further and redefining its relationship with the West, a step toward a more independent foreign policy and great power status. Ankara’s next act will take place on the stage of the NATO summit in London on Tuesday and Wednesday, where it will pressure the United States and Europe for support on one of its greatest geopolitical priorities: securing a long-term, Turkish-controlled buffer zone in northeast Syria.
Like other recent alliance meetings, this NATO summit will be defined by fundamental questions about NATO’s relevance, cohesion and role in Europe’s security in an environment where few members meet the alliance’s defense spending targets and where there is disagreement on the scale of the threat from Russia (especially from French President Emmanuel Macron, whose reference to NATO’s “brain death” in an October interview is now infamous). Turkey, like many of its NATO counterparts, has begun to challenge the scope of the 70-year-old alliance, which Turkey asserts is too confined to Eastern Europe and should begin to confront threats in Central Asia. The Turkish economy has surged over the past decade and a half or so, during which time the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the wave of protests known as the Arab Spring created power vacuums in the Middle East. And in recent years, particularly since the failed coup attempt in 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has solidified his control over the country, enabling Turkey to more actively pursue its foreign policy priorities. Ankara perceives the London summit not as an opportunity to confront some of the most fundamental issues in Western defense, but as a means to Turkish ends. This highlights what has been blatantly obvious as of late: that Turkish priorities and interests and those of NATO members are not always aligned. Turkey plans to use the summit as a platform to garner Western support and financial patronage for the “safe zone” Turkish armed forces established along the Turkish border in Syria in Operation Peace Spring in October.

The safe zone, what the government dubs a “peace corridor,” is intended to accomplish two short-term goals for Ankara: mass repatriation of Syrian refugees whom Turkey wishes to expel and curbing the influence of the Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Units, or YPG, an organization Ankara asserts is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, in Turkey, a group that is widely recognized as a terrorist organization. But beyond the short term, the safe zone offers greater strategic depth for Turkey. A Turkish bastion in northeast Syria can contain Syrian instability, limit Turkish Kurds’ engagement with potential allies in the Levant, and serve as a wellspring of geopolitical influence against Turkey’s rivals in the Middle East – Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The Turkish military has already effectively achieved military control of the buffer, but to establish long-term control, Turkey needs legitimization, institutional support and, of course, money – over $27 billion, to be exact, according to Ankara’s estimates. To enliven NATO’s birthday party, Turkey intends to propose a donors’ conference to secure funds for the construction of hospitals, football pitches, 6,000 homes, 11 mosques, nine schools and other facilities to help with the planned repatriation of over half of the 3.6 million refugees in Turkey. While Ankara has already secured Qatari funds for the buffer zone, Western backing remains integral to its political justification – and to its defense. While NATO plans to increase its defensive presence in the Intermarium, Turkey believes that northern Syria should be an area of significant concern to the alliance. To Ankara, northeast Syria is a significant flashpoint with great potential for NATO’s easternmost member to clash with Russian forces, fertile grounds for triggering Article 5. Turkey has also lobbied for NATO members to acknowledge terrorist attacks – primarily, from Kurdish organizations – on Turkey within the framework of collective defense, akin to America’s invocation of Article 5 after 9/11, and has been disgruntled by NATO members’ refusal to do so. Yet, the European Union and the U.S. Congress have objected to Turkish attacks on Syrian Democratic Forces units and even have accused Turkey of trying to alter the composition of northeast Syria’s (majority-Kurdish) population via demographic engineering.

The reality is that Europe will be skeptical of support for a Turkish-controlled buffer zone. Acknowledging likely European disinterest, Ankara is prepared to draw – and capable of drawing – a hard line with Europe, exploiting NATO and EU institutional weaknesses to achieve what it wants in northeast Syria. The government’s strategy in pressuring Europe reflects an ever-more unfettered, independent Turkish foreign policy; Ankara will issue a series of threats in exchange for Western recognition of the YPG as a terrorist organization and funds for Turkish-Qatari repatriation projects along the Syrian “peace corridor.” The government plans to carry out this coercive strategy through two methods. First, Turkey intends to threaten non-participation in major NATO missions in the Baltics and Poland. Such a decision would disrupt one of NATO’s most basic decision-making processes: rule by consensus. Turkey’s threat to backlog NATO’s decision-making may not make or break the NATO agenda in Eastern Europe, but it is an indication of the defense organization’s slow-motion implosion and Turkey’s willingness to facilitate it, demonstrating new Turkish priorities that no longer align with those of NATO (or at least the U.S.-Eastern Europe contingency that sees Baltic security against Russia as essential). This move alone strikes at the very core of NATO’s current identity crisis and brings into question the unified action of the group regardless of follow-through.

Second, Turkey will continue to threaten to unleash a major migrant crisis, warning that it will dispatch its nearly 6 million refugees into the southern corridors of Europe. It’s unclear to what extent Turkey can actually follow through on such a threat; opening the “flood gates” to Europe would be perceived by Europe as a deliberate attack on European political stability, amounting to a nuclear option – a risk that Ankara is likely hesitant to take. Nonetheless, Europe may be unwilling to take the risk of calling Turkey’s bluff. Mass migration from the Middle East, South Asia and Africa has been a controversial reality in Europe, contributing to the rise of far-right, anti-immigration and Islamophobic movements, and further fragmenting EU unity. The mass influx of migrants has been a direct challenge to the EU’s strategy, forcing Europe to confront its institutional principles – open-border policies, liberalization and humanitarian assistance.

While Ankara’s obstructiveness may be surprising for some, its deviation from traditional counterparts is not irrational. Turkey has incrementally unbound itself from Western efforts, pursuing its own interests at the expense of greater cooperation with Europe and the United States. Simply put, Turkey and its Western partners are not, inevitably, going to be on the same page given their myriad diverging interests. Turkey has confronted an increasingly hostile situation on its border with Syria, simultaneously confronting its Russian, Syrian, Kurdish and Iranian rivals. After characterizing Operation Peace Spring as a humanitarian and anti-terrorist operation (and getting the green light for the operation from U.S. President Donald Trump), Turkey sought limited support from its NATO allies, something along the lines of operational consultation under Article 4 of the NATO treaty – which Turkey has invoked three times before – but received widespread criticism instead. Exacerbating Turkish resentment toward the West, Ankara has been aggravated by U.S. and European condemnation and proposed sanctions over gas drilling activities in the Greek Cypriot exclusive economic zone, condemnation and proposed U.S. sanctions over its purchasing of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, U.S. tariffs on Turkish steel exports and U.S. scrutiny of a Turkish state-owned bank accused of helping Iran skirt sanctions. Turkish moves in the Eastern Mediterranean and defense acquisitions are in keeping with its aims to capitalize on its growing influence and power in the region.

Turkey’s blackmail campaign is unlikely to succeed – at least not fully – but ultimately that’s unimportant. The implications of Turkey’s obstructionism over the Baltic and Polish defense plan are largely political, and the threat to formally stop enforcing the migrant deal with the EU is an old one that’s best left as a threat. What is notable is Turkey’s decision to experiment with its emerging power within the NATO forum, against the backdrop of the organization’s dysfunction. As more countries begin to question and challenge the NATO framework, Turkey will no doubt continue to be emboldened to achieve independent geopolitical objectives. Turkey no longer perceives a great need to fall in line with European and American expectations, as it has amassed enough muscle against a weakened EU and pushed NATO to carry its own weight.   




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GPF: Turkey tests the waters in the East Mediterranean
« Reply #231 on: December 06, 2019, 04:03:59 PM »
Turkey Tests the Waters in the Eastern Mediterranean
With its maritime deal with Libya, Ankara is harkening back to the peak of the Ottoman Empire’s influence.

By Caroline Rose -December 6, 2019Open as PDF
Turkey is seeking to rewrite the rules in the Eastern Mediterranean. Last week, the Turkish government signed a maritime agreement with one of Libya’s two aspiring governments that strengthens Turkey’s position in the region. While legally ambiguous and fraught with logistical challenges, the deal represents Turkey’s latest effort to assert its dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean, to capitalize on the region’s energy resources and to restore the regional influence it lost over a century ago when the Ottoman Empire fell.

Catching Up in the Energy Race

We wrote earlier this week about how Ankara was trying to create a buffer for itself to the south, with Operation Peace Spring in northeastern Syria. Turkey’s efforts in the waters to its west have some related motivations, but they’re also about cashing in on the Eastern Mediterranean’s natural resources. For decades, Turkey has been excluded from benefiting from the oil and gas boom in the Eastern Mediterranean, which has an estimated 3.5 trillion cubic meters of natural gas and 1.7 billion barrels of crude oil. Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel have been quicker and more successful than Turkey in identifying oil and gas fields along their coasts. After Israel identified two natural gas fields in 1999, for example, its government, alongside those in Greece, Cyprus and Egypt, was quick in the early 2000s to reach agreements delineating exclusive economic zones and to launch hydrocarbon exploratory patrols with multinational companies. This enables those countries not only to benefit financially from the discoveries but also to improve their energy independence.

Turkey has struggled to match its Mediterranean peers. Its seismic surveying vessels and deep-sea drills have cost Ankara over $1 billion in the past decade, and yet they have not yielded any oil or gas discoveries. Apparently devoid of such resources along its 994-mile (1,600-kilometer) Mediterranean coastline and with growing demand for and dependence on imported oil and gas, Turkey has been compelled to drill in waters that neighboring governments, namely Greece and Greek Cyprus, argue are part of their sovereign EEZs.

Of course, this isn’t just about fossil fuels. The rivalries in this region are long-standing, and countries like Greece are unenthused by the prospect of an old foe reemerging. Ankara’s historical claims in the Aegean Sea and on Cyprus and certain Greek islands have alarmed its Mediterranean neighbors. Moreover, Turkey is not party to major international maritime legal agreements, such as the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, giving it leeway in redefining economic zones and territorial waters in the region. Greece and other Mediterranean powers have forged a regional strategy to box Turkey out of their economic projects and regional collaborative frameworks. Take, for example, the EastMed Pipeline, a $7.36 billion underwater natural gas pipeline that will ship gas from Israeli and Cypriot fields across Cyprus and Greece to interconnector terminals in Italy. EastMed will attract lucrative gas export agreements in Europe, where the demand for energy is rising. Despite Turkish interests in the pipeline and the fact that the project intersects with Turkish waters, Mediterranean governments have shut Ankara out, perceiving it as an unwelcome rival – even after Turkey offered to offset the pipeline’s underwater costs by having it run overland through Turkish territory (which would, admittedly, increase Turkey’s leverage over gas transmission). Additionally, Israel, Egypt, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Greece and Cyprus excluded Turkey from the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, a cooperative platform for dialogue on natural resources. Turkey has therefore devised a counterstrategy to get on its rivals’ level as a Mediterranean power, becoming increasingly assertive in what it sees as its historical and legitimate territory.

The Turkey-Libya Agreement

On Nov. 27, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met for two hours with the head of the U.N.-backed Libyan Government of National Accord, Fayez Sarraj. They emerged with two memorandums of understanding, one on security and military cooperation and another called the “Restriction of Maritime Jurisdictions.” Turkey has backed the GNA for years, partly because of its interest in Libya’s oil reserves – estimated to be the largest in Africa and the 10th-largest globally – and partly to counter its Arab and other adversaries (including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Russia), which back the opposite side in the Libyan conflict, the Libyan National Army. In this respect, the Turkey-GNA defense agreement is no surprise; Ankara has a history of providing Sarraj’s forces with drones, military equipment and financial resources to counter Khalifa Haftar’s LNA in eastern Libya. However, it is the maritime agreement that demands special attention. The agreement demarcates new, “equitable” maritime zones, on which both sides exercise sovereignty. The Turkish government hinted that the maritime deal would lead to lucrative oil and gas contracts off the Libyan coast, hydrocarbon exploration activities that would also support Libya’s economic recovery after its civil war, and even a Turkish base in western Libya to increase security cooperation.

Natural Gas Cooperation in the Eastern Med
(click to enlarge)

A Turkish diplomat released a map on Twitter shortly after the deal was forged, outlining Turkey’s revised EEZ and continental coastline (augmented by 30 percent). The new EEZ links up with Libya’s EEZ, which was a strategic maneuver. On paper, the revised zone bifurcates Greece’s EEZ by cutting across Crete’s EEZ, and if enforced, it would effectively undercut any Greek attempt to forge its own delimitation agreements with Egypt, Israel and Cyprus. The deal also attempts to undermine the EastMed Pipeline, which marginalizes Turkey’s regional strategy by cutting through its territorial waters and excluding it from export sales. The maritime deal enables Turkey to augment its maritime control in zones where the underwater pipeline is planned, threatening the pipeline’s construction and operation. But more significantly, the maritime deal offers Turkey greater strategic depth, from North Africa to the Aegean Sea to the Gulf of Antalya, and it challenges Turkey’s adversaries to respond to its reinterpretation of its sovereign maritime boundaries.

Turkey’s strategy in the Mediterranean rests on two approaches. First, the Turkish government knows that it cannot match its adversaries and break out of its isolation alone, so it has sought out and found two partners in the region: the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Libyan GNA. These allies are feeble, but that makes them exploitable, and for Turkey that’s part of the appeal. The TRNC quite literally depends on Turkish support for its existence. The GNA’s enemy has the support of Saudi Arabia, Russia and Egypt – some of Turkey’s greatest rivals. Despite stepping up oil production and making progress toward resolving the country’s liquidity crisis, the GNA has struggled to maintain control over key economic sectors and militia groups, which are rampant in the country. Furthermore, wavering American support for the GNA and indications of support for Haftar have left Sarraj’s government insecure. Turkey deliberately accompanied the maritime deal with a series of security promises that gave Turkey rights to coastal Libyan drilling fields and authorized an enlarged Turkish naval presence at Libyan ports. It is important to note, however, that the revised EEZ was demarcated along coastal areas outside of the GNA’s control, which will be a logistical challenge for Turkey. This situation could exacerbate the civil war and prove to be a significant flashpoint, where Turkey will seek to strong-arm the GNA and Egypt, and Eastern Mediterranean allies will be more motivated to support LNA forces.

The second element of Turkey’s Mediterranean strategy relies on the use of a historical narrative to assert Turkish rights in the region. Turkish officials have begun to reference the “Blue Homeland,” the concept that the eastern coast of Crete and half of the Aegean Sea – nearly 18,000 square miles – belong to Turkey. The Blue Homeland is popular among neo-Ottomanists in Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, as it harkens back to the peak of the empire’s geopolitical power. Erdogan even posed in front of a map of the Blue Homeland when presenting at the National Defense University. Of course, Ankara is aware that such concepts violate Greek sovereignty and that any attempt at military consolidation could spark an international crisis. But legality is beside the point – Turkey’s ultimate objective is psychological: imposing permanent Turkish influence in the region and notifying its Mediterranean peers that it is here to stay.

Turkey’s agreement with Libya has sparked outrage among its Mediterranean rivals, who accuse Ankara of violating the Convention on the Law of the Sea and the jurisprudence of existing EEZs. Regional governments have been quick to dismiss the deal as legally invalid and “ridiculous,” and questions have been raised about whether the GNA was even empowered to make the deal in the first place, since Sarraj does not have the legal authority to sign any accord outside the scope and purview of the U.N.-brokered Skhirat Agreement that established the government. But Greece and Cyprus have expressed deep concern about the possible ramifications of the maritime deal. Cyprus has appealed to the International Court of Justice to help it defend its claims to its offshore natural resources. Greece has launched a campaign to garner support from the West, making appeals to both the European Union and NATO, as well as accelerating negotiations with Egypt on their own EEZ delimitation agreement.

Turkey’s strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean is about shifting the balance with regional powers and asserting a new psychological reality regarding Turkish influence and sovereign rights in the region. It fits well into Turkey’s broader ambition to develop a bolder, more visible, self-sufficient foreign policy. This policy has Ankara probing in the Balkans, Central Asia, the Levant and the Caucasus, but the Eastern Mediterranean will continue to be where Turkey is playing its most high-stakes game.



ccp

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nothing to see here
« Reply #234 on: December 12, 2019, 04:50:49 PM »

G M

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Re: nothing to see here
« Reply #235 on: December 12, 2019, 05:44:24 PM »

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Turkey
« Reply #236 on: December 12, 2019, 07:21:15 PM »
OTOH

America wins again!

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/…/actually-the-nato-summ…

First off, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan backed away from a previous threat to block improved NATO support for the Baltic states and Poland. Until Wednesday, Erdogan had been holding out on this unless the alliance recognized the Kurdish YPG group in Syria — an ad hoc ally against the Islamic State in the recent war — as a terrorist organization. Instead, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda observed that the Baltic states and Poland had met with Erdogan and received his support. This is a positive development which suggests that Turkey might reconsider its increasing deference to Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader, after all, will be unhappy with Erdogan for backing NATO's Baltic security strategy.

Moreover, agreement on that security strategy is a big deal in and of itself. The primary threat to NATO's security envelope is a potential Russian blitzkrieg combined arms offensive into the Baltics or through Belarus into Poland. With the 29-member alliance now unified in upgrading its support to those nations — all of which responsibly meet the NATO defense spending target of 2% of GDP — Russia faces a new deterrent. This is not to say a Russian attack is likely, simply that its possibility demands a commensurate counterforce.

Another success is the continued agreement from allies to increase defense spending. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg served as Trump's allies here, pushing other members to meet that 2% target sooner. And in a noteworthy development, the Trump administration took a more conciliatory tone here. The Washington Post reports that Trump "did not threaten other countries in the same way he had done in previous NATO meetings, according to five NATO diplomats and policymakers ..."

This is good news. While Trump is absolutely right to publicly pressure allies to spend more on defense, and has won significant spending increases as a result of this pressure, only Russia benefits where the United States is seen to question NATO's Article Five mutual defense clause. By avoiding that, Trump can leave this summit fairly claiming that he has advanced the need for greater burden sharing, but he has done so in the context of strengthening NATO's unity, not of making threats against allies.

G M

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Re: Turkey
« Reply #237 on: December 12, 2019, 08:11:27 PM »
Having Turkey in NATO is almost as smart as having Iran in NATO.


OTOH

America wins again!

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/…/actually-the-nato-summ…

First off, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan backed away from a previous threat to block improved NATO support for the Baltic states and Poland. Until Wednesday, Erdogan had been holding out on this unless the alliance recognized the Kurdish YPG group in Syria — an ad hoc ally against the Islamic State in the recent war — as a terrorist organization. Instead, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda observed that the Baltic states and Poland had met with Erdogan and received his support. This is a positive development which suggests that Turkey might reconsider its increasing deference to Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader, after all, will be unhappy with Erdogan for backing NATO's Baltic security strategy.

Moreover, agreement on that security strategy is a big deal in and of itself. The primary threat to NATO's security envelope is a potential Russian blitzkrieg combined arms offensive into the Baltics or through Belarus into Poland. With the 29-member alliance now unified in upgrading its support to those nations — all of which responsibly meet the NATO defense spending target of 2% of GDP — Russia faces a new deterrent. This is not to say a Russian attack is likely, simply that its possibility demands a commensurate counterforce.

Another success is the continued agreement from allies to increase defense spending. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg served as Trump's allies here, pushing other members to meet that 2% target sooner. And in a noteworthy development, the Trump administration took a more conciliatory tone here. The Washington Post reports that Trump "did not threaten other countries in the same way he had done in previous NATO meetings, according to five NATO diplomats and policymakers ..."

This is good news. While Trump is absolutely right to publicly pressure allies to spend more on defense, and has won significant spending increases as a result of this pressure, only Russia benefits where the United States is seen to question NATO's Article Five mutual defense clause. By avoiding that, Trump can leave this summit fairly claiming that he has advanced the need for greater burden sharing, but he has done so in the context of strengthening NATO's unity, not of making threats against allies.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Turkey-Russia contradictions manifesting
« Reply #238 on: December 14, 2019, 08:00:21 AM »
Maybe Trump was right after all?

==========================

December 13, 2019   Open as PDF



    Cracks Appear in the Turkey-Russia Partnership
By: Allison Fedirka

The contradictions in the Turkish-Russian relationship, which seemed on the surface to be blossoming in recent months, are beginning to show themselves. Any one of these signs of trouble on its own may not be important. However, when grouped together, they paint a gloomy picture of what may lie ahead for this bilateral relationship. As Turkey gains confidence and asserts itself more aggressively, countries will inevitably be forced to react. In the case of Russia, Turkey’s expansionary efforts make it evident that its days of pragmatic collaboration with Russia, particularly when it comes to security and foreign influence, will eventually reach an end. In Syria, Libya and Central Asia, the makings are underway for Turkey and Russia to be competitors more than collaborators.

Syria

Though the civil war in Syria forced Turkey and Russia to work together politically and on military operations, the two ultimately have different endgames. The nearer Syria’s civil war comes to its conclusion, the less compatible the agreed framework will be. Which regional powers gain influence over the different parts of post-war Syria will directly affect their ability to exert influence. The problem for Russia and Turkey is that they both want the same slice of the pie: northern Syria. Russia’s approach in Syria has been to increase its influence in the region by propping up the Assad government against its enemies, which include Turkey to Syria’s north. Turkey, meanwhile, recognizes that Russia and President Bashar Assad are not going away, but that northern Syria can be a buffer between them and itself.

Russia’s interest in supporting the Assad regime is twofold: to stabilize the region so that the volatility doesn’t spread to Central Asia and the Caucasus, and to maintain a relatively low-cost footprint in Syria (including a naval base at Tartus and a growing number of other military installations) such that it does not fall solidly under the influence of Turkey or Iran. Moscow does not seek direct control over Syria; it wants to be able to check any expansionary movements or migration of Syrians (especially former fighters and opposition members) to the Caucasus and other Russian territories. Turkey, however, has a more ambitious endgame, which includes direct power projection and territorial expansion into Syria. Ankara’s current buffer zone in Syria and its efforts to prevent Kurdish settlement in the area feed into Turkey’s long-term strategy to build a more permanent political influence and military presence to counter Russia, Iran and Assad.

Russia and Turkey’s relationships with two closely related militias – the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which falls under the YPG’s umbrella – are evidence of their competing interests over the fate of northern Syria. So far, Russia has been modestly successful in containing Turkey by limiting Ankara’s border corridor to the areas around the cities of Ras al Ayn and Tel Abyad (as opposed to the desired area totaling 112 square miles) and halving the number of repatriated refugees to 1 million. With the U.S. pulling out, Russia, in tandem with the Assad regime, has courted YPG/SDF fighters to join Assad’s ranks in support of the regime and against Turkey’s advance.

This puts Turkey in a difficult position. In the event Russia and the Assad regime are successful, the YPG/SDF alignment with Assad’s forces would essentially disband much of Turkey's “peace corridor” and thwart Turkey’s all-out attempt to destroy the YPG and its Turkish affiliate, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Based on a presentation by former U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien at the Halifax International Security Forum, Turkey’s countermove to Russia’s efforts has been to support the sale of Syrian oil from the SDF-controlled oil fields, thereby enabling the SDF to pay the salaries of its fighters and undercutting Russia’s efforts to convince the SDF to swing over and support Assad.

Eastern Mediterranean

Turkey’s latest forays in the Eastern Mediterranean pose another point of competition with Russia, this time over offshore energy resources. Turkey recently asserted its influence over the Eastern Mediterranean by signing two agreements with the U.N.-backed Libyan Government of National Accord; one calls for military cooperation and the other demarcates maritime zones in which both parties exercise sovereignty. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has even gone so far as to float the possibility of Turkey sending troops to Libya to support the GNA as it battles for control of the country (and the latest agreement with Libya allows for this).
 
(click to enlarge)

Prior to the start of its civil war, the country was a major producer of oil. Libya’s land and sea holds an estimated 48 billion barrels of oil deposits, the most in Africa and 9th-most in the world. Right now, the GNA has control of oil revenues, while its opponent, the Libyan National Army led by Khalifa Haftar, controls most of the oil fields. The race to take advantage of postwar oil production has already begun, and foreign allies on each side are jostling for position. Russia certainly had as much in mind this year as it sent more soldiers and mercenaries to Libya to back Haftar’s forces. In a scenario where Libya is stable, European companies will want to increase their presence in Libya's oil industry, since it will be viewed as a reliable source of energy and an alternative to Russian oil. Russia’s presence in the country aims to ensure it gets a piece of the pie on the business end and will still have a hand in energy supplies to Europe even if they don’t directly come from Russia. A strong Russian presence also helps lay the groundwork for greater port access for Russian naval forces that pass through the Mediterranean.

While the idea of Turkish troops in Libya remains suspect – the Turkish military has its hands full in Syria – Turkey and Russia are clearly on opposing sides in Libya. The two countries will likely be able to sort out their differences in the immediate future. Russia does not want to escalate its foreign military ventures, and Turkey faces additional opposition to greater involvement in Libya from well-established rivals such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which will make Turkey think twice before acting.

Central Asia

While Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean are currently the two most active areas of growing competition between Russia and Turkey, there is the potential for Central Asia to join the list as well. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia managed to keep close economic and military ties with the region. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are both members of the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union. Russia ranks among the top four export destinations for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and serves as the first or second leading importer for those countries as well as Tajikistan. In addition, Russia’s prominence in the energy sector has allowed it to join many hydrocarbon production projects and related infrastructure in these countries. In terms of security and defense, Russia serves as the cornerstone for military hardware, training and organization for Central Asia. Russia maintains military bases in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and Russian troops and equipment have reinforced Tajik forces along the latter’s border with Afghanistan.

Turkey’s footprint in Central Asia pales in comparison to that of Russia and even China, whose increasing economic prowess has eroded Russia’s monopoly on the region. Nevertheless, Ankara’s growing interest and economic initiatives in the region do not go unnoticed and should not be underestimated. In the past, Turkey has contemplated the grand venture to revive the dream of a pan-Turkic project in which better ties with Central Asia would open to Turkey new opportunities for gas pipelines, military partnerships and even a buffer zone with Russia. Given the initial success in Syria and advancements in the Eastern Mediterranean, the thought of being able to act on such a project in Central Asia is not completely out of the realm of possibility. For now, however, Turkish involvement in the region is primarily economic in nature.
 
(click to enlarge)

Turkish companies have substantially increased their participation in the region. For example, as recently as 2016, Turkish companies had a negligible presence in Uzbekistan, but now there are more than 750 Turkish enterprises in the country. In Kazakhstan there are now roughly 2,200 Turkish enterprises, compared to 1,616 in 2013. Bilateral trade has also been on the rise. In January-October 2019, the volume of bilateral trade with Uzbekistan increased by 26.9 percent compared to the same period of 2018, up to $1.97 billion. Trade between Kazakhstan and Turkey from January-August 2019 increased by 63 percent ($782 million) compared to 2018, and totaled $2.01 billion. Also notable are Turkey’s gains in the Turkmen market, where Russia holds a smaller share than other countries in the region. Based on the limited statistics available, Turkey is Turkmenistan’s lead import partner, accounting for 30 percent of Turkmen imports compared to 10 percent from Russia. (Turkey also outranks Russia in exports). Security cooperation is fairly nonexistent, though Turkey and Kazakhstan did sign a military agreement that calls
for the exchange of officers at national defense universities for study. Right now, Turkey’s influence in Central Asia is still limited, but what’s notable is the speed with which Turkish economic engagement with this region is growing. While Russia likely remains fixated on Chinese encroachment, Turkey is now also creeping into its Central Asian backyard.

Black Sea and S-400s

And of course, no conversation on Russian-Turkish spheres of competition would be complete without addressing the Black Sea and Russia’s sale to Turkey of the S-400 air defense missile system. The Black Sea remains a historic battleground between Russia and Turkey. Turkish control of the Bosporus and Dardanelles, which serve as a gateway for Russian grains and goods to the wider world, makes Russia permanently uneasy of its vulnerability. Erdogan recently poked the bear over this issue by suggesting that Turkey’s offshore hydrocarbon ambitions may not be limited to the Eastern Mediterranean but could also include the Black Sea. Such rhetoric is mostly political posturing given that both Russian and Turkish hydrocarbon exploration efforts in the Black Sea have not been commercially successful. While Turkey and Russia are permanently at odds over the Black Sea, the chances for confrontation remain negligible at this point. NATO has a strong interest – and accompanying naval presence – to contain Russia in the Black Sea. Any conflict there would risk drawing in the U.S. and European heavyweights, which is not something Russia wants to deal with. Turkey, meanwhile, benefits from the status quo.
 
(click to enlarge)

As for Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 system from Russia, despite all the hype, the S-400 is far from a linchpin securing long-term Turkish-Russian ties. Since the 1980s, Turkey has made a concerted effort to develop its domestic military industry. This effort has grown in recent years, and it remains a greater priority for Turkey than stronger ties with Russia. However, Russia is more likely to freely share technology than the United States. Turkey’s agreement with Russia on the purchase of S-400s does include a partial transfer of production technologies to the customer. The U.S., on the other hand, resists technology transfers and often requires other conditional agreements for a major military purchase. Furthermore, Turkey has yet to conduct trial runs on the new system, and it is unclear how effectively it will operate in the Turkish climate (similar Russian systems experienced failures when used in Syria). There is also the fact that this system, and talks to acquire more from Russia, gives Turkey leverage in talks with the U.S., which is far more valuable to Turkey in the here and now than the S-400 itself. The same is true for the possible sale of Russian S-35 fighter jets in the event the U.S. definitively refuses to sell the F-35 to Turkey.

The signs of an eventual fallout in the Turkey-Russia relationship are already apparent. As Turkey continues to push its influence further abroad, it will naturally start to butt up against other countries that seek to preserve their own interests, especially if they run counter to Turkey’s agenda. For Moscow and Ankara, this means their ability to cooperate will grow increasingly constrained, and both countries will need to pursue their own paths, which will likely clash with the other.   




Crafty_Dog

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George Friedman: A Speech in Instanbul, Turkey
« Reply #239 on: January 02, 2020, 10:11:56 AM »
January 2, 2020   Open as PDF



    George Friedman's Thoughts: A Speech in Istanbul
By: George Friedman

Turkey's decision to move its economic zone in the Eastern Mediterranean to abut Libya’s and then to announce that it was planning to send troops to support the embattled government in Libya has changed the shape of the Middle East. The Libyan government is under attack by a faction with strong Russian support and troops. If the troops are sent, Turkey will have broken with the Russians by having troops on the ground in Libya.

Russian and Iranian troops began fighting against Turkish supporters in Syria. The United States carried out airstrikes against Iranian targets in Iraq. With Turkey facing the Russians in Libya and Syria, along with Russia’s current ally, Iran, where this leaves Israel is for the moment unclear. Put simply, it seems as though the U.S.-Turkey alliance logically is about to reemerge. This could of course all reverse itself or change shape, but at the moment Turkey has assumed its historic role as a major regional power.

I was invited to speak in late November in Istanbul to update my predictions for Turkey from my book “The Next 100 Years.” I spoke, as I had a decade before, about the inevitable reemergence of Turkey as a great power. I had reached that conclusion using my then-evolving forecasting method. Two things convinced me of this. The first was history. Asia Minor has historically generated empires. The eastern remnant of the Roman Empire was based in Constantinople, named for the great Christian emperor Constantine and later changed to Istanbul. The Muslim Ottomans later seized Asia minor and created an empire that lasted 500 years.

The last 100 years had been freakish. Modern Istanbul had been the seat of an empire ever since the third century, but after World War I, the empire left Istanbul in the hands of the secularists. Turkey, a small and impoverished nation, was all that remained. From my point of view, the last 100 years was a minor disruption in Turkish power. As the British and French left, and the Americans reconsidered their presence, only Turkey was in the geopolitical position to stabilize the region. If Asia Minor was the historic seat of empire, then Turkey was inherently more powerful than its neighbors.

I made the speech based on my model, which I believed, and that I’m sure was the speech my hosts expected I would make. Turkey would extend its power northwest into the Balkans, north into the Black Sea, into the Caucasus and into the Arab world. In addition, I said Turkey would emerge as the dominant power in the Eastern Mediterranean, as it had before. After the establishment of the Ottoman Empire, the Turks made an alliance with the Christian city of Venice to dominate the Mediterranean. These were the rough boundaries of the Ottoman Empire, and before that of the Eastern Roman Empire.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave the keynote address after my speech. Obviously he made no mention of his intentions in the Mediterranean, but he was strong and passionate in what he said. I had pleasant dinners and meetings with many people, some of whom had to know that Erdogan had already decided on a Mediterranean strategy. Quite reasonably no one mentioned it to me. I had not at all thought that he would begin with a leap into Libya, confronting the Russians and attempting to take control of Libyan oil and the deposits around Cyprus.

My speech was just a speech with my forecast, of no consequence beyond possibly letting senior officials start to think in terms of what was coming. But what it made me see is how much clearer the necessary course of history is from a distance. I could not know Erdogan’s next move. I could know that in due time a Turkish ruler would begin the process of expanding Turkish power. I also knew that the growth of power is not intended but develops from necessity. The United States did not intend in 1938 to occupy Western Europe. It came of small steps toward war, and small steps through the war. Empire falls to those who take care of their next step, and not to those who have dreams of greatness. The dreams come after the achievement.

Such is the case with Turkey. Caught between the Russian intervention in Syria and the long-running U.S. intervention in Iraq, Turkey sought to avoid being dragged into its ally’s war and did not attempt to block Russia when it knew it couldn’t. Turkey pursued an extremely cautious course, not allowing its forces to cross its borders in any significant way. Over time the region became more complex. Iran created an area of control to the Mediterranean, the Israelis attacked it, and the U.S. crippled its economy. The Russians engaged in some adventurism such as in Libya, where its presence was noted, although the weakness of this presence was generally ignored. The Americans railed about the S-400s but not to the extent of rupturing ties with Turkey or of giving up Incirlik air base. The Turks criticized the U.S. for supporting the Kurds in northern Syria. The regional system did not become peaceful but moved into gridlock.

Turkey needs oil that it can control. The Mediterranean would yield some in time, but Libya has it now. The gridlock in the region opened the door, and its need for energy compelled Turkey through the door in a move that should not have surprised me. It would not have surprised me in 10 years, but it did now. It was a move that tended toward reclaiming the Ottomans' sea, and which opens the door to North Africa. Erdogan undoubtedly sensed the significance of what he was doing, but like any founder of an empire, his focus was on the next small move.

He may not ultimately succeed. The Russians do not want their proxies defeated. But the Russians also cannot afford to alienate Turkey, because Turkey can hurt Russia in the Caucasus, the Black Sea and even the Balkans. Plus, treaties or not, Russia needs the Bosporus. Is Libya worth a Russian rupture with Turkey? The United States is focused on undermining Iran in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and creating an internal crisis in Iran through successful sanctions. Turkey is hostile to the Syrian government and may be prepared to engage the Iranians. Greek and Israeli interests in the Mediterranean have to be secondary to dealing with Libya. Whatever the Russians or Americans say, the Turkish move does not threaten fundamental interests, and both want to be allied with Turkey.

The complexity can go on and on. I haven’t begun to talk about Israel and the Saudis, the Albanians and the Serbs, or Turkey and Azerbaijan. The Turkish move touches on all of these, some heavily, but for the most part, the cost of reversing the Turkish move seems higher than they are likely to play. There is also the question of actually getting troops to Libya and finding them bogged down in an endless war.

Turkey has announced its intentions, and it is likely going to carry them out. But then the complexity of being a great power will start to strike. For every successful move it will encounter complexity upon complexity. But I regarded Turkey as an emerging power precisely because the culture it inherited takes complexity for granted on the smallest things, as well as on great acts of statecraft. I have seen Turks analyze something I have said, extracting meanings I never had and relationships I never heard of. A good discussion with a Turk allows you to be surprised at yourself and left in complete doubt about him. From where I sit, the Turkish move was carefully planned, and while I hope our own intelligence agencies knew what was coming, I certainly didn’t, even though I spoke on it.

My job (self-appointed) is to create a method that allows you to sketch out the future. It is a hard job, and the pay is poor. The most difficult part of the job is getting listeners to distinguish between what you believe will happen and what you want to happen. Many times I have been viewed as an advocate rather than as a disinterested bystander. The danger is that I will be seduced not by a country but rather by my hunger to be right in my forecast. If I did that I would falsify my core thesis about history moving on its own. I am saved from this conundrum by the fact that I have no influence anywhere. But I do sometimes wind up close to an event that confirms my forecast, but to which I am blind at the moment.   




Crafty_Dog

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Why Turkey is getting involved in Libya
« Reply #240 on: January 08, 2020, 06:31:36 AM »
The Regional Ambitions Impelling Turkey to Send Troops to Libya
7 MINS READ
Jan 3, 2020 | 10:30 GMT
Members of Turkey's parliament pass legislation approving a deployment of Turkish troops to Libya on Jan. 2, 2020.
Members of Turkey's parliament vote to send Turkish troops to Libya on Jan. 2. Turkey's strategy of advancing its economic and foreign policy interests via greater involvement in Libya carries a risk of mission creep.

(ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images)
HIGHLIGHTS
Turkey's strategy of advancing its economic and foreign policy interests via greater involvement in Libya carries a significant risk of mission creep....

Editor's Note: This assessment is part of a series of analyses supporting Stratfor's 2020 Annual Forecast. These assessments are designed to provide more context and in-depth analysis of key developments over the next quarter and throughout the year.

Turkey faces the risk of mission creep as it increases its involvement and investment in Libya. For the second time in four months, Turkey is planning a controversial military deployment in an Arab country now that Libya's internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) has requested air, land and sea support from Ankara to help defend Tripoli.

Increased military support from Turkey would certainly help the GNA and the militias trying to turn back an offensive on Tripoli by Khalifa Hifter's self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) backed by Russian mercenaries and Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, though why Turkey would even consider deploying forces to Tripoli to protect the feeble GNA might perplex some outsiders. The answer is that Ankara must protect the government in Tripoli if it wants to fulfill its regional ambitions.

The Big Picture
Turkey's parliament approved President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's request to send military support, including combat troops, to Libya to prop up the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is facing an existential threat from an offensive by Khalifa Hifter and his self-styled Libyan National Army. The potential installation of a Hifter-led government in Tripoli backed by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates threatens Erdogan's regional ambitions for Turkey, prompting Turkey to deem deployments necessary — at the risk of mission creep.

See Turkey's Resurgence
But increased involvement in Libya comes at great risk: An increased Turkish presence will not win the war for the GNA, and Hifter's foreign backers will undoubtedly increase their support for him. Turkey risks becoming the GNA's only lifeline, and if it does not increase its support, the GNA could well fall — giving rise to a significant risk that Turkey could be drawn into a quagmire.

A Turkish Foreign Policy Shift
Over the past decade, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) have sought to shift Ankara's foreign policy from deepening ties with the European Union (and even NATO) toward a larger role in the Middle East and North Africa, and the larger Muslim world.

The fall of autocratic governments like that of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya during the 2011 Arab Spring presented Ankara with an opportunity to pursue this foreign policy shift. Erdogan and the AKP wasted little time in doing so, supporting Islamist political groups — like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Justice and Construction Party in Libya — closely aligned ideologically with the AKP's populist and grassroots-driven brand of Sunni Islam.

Turkish efforts to restore its historic status in the Muslim world plus the rise of Islamist political groups, however, greatly perturbed Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which see Turkey as encroaching on their traditional sphere of influence. Turkish economic, political and military might could effectively curb Emirati and Saudi influence in the region, and Islamist groups that Turkey supports and the democracy it promotes pose an existential threat to Gulf monarchies. A collision course between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh on one side and Ankara on the other thus became inevitable when Turkey decided to become more active in the Arab world.

A Map Showing the Balance of Power Between Turkey and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.
Despite Turkish support, Islamist governments in the region have faltered. In Egypt, Mohammed Morsi lasted barely a year as president, and his Muslim Brotherhood is now banned. Under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Cairo is now firmly in the Saudi and Emirati-led camp against Turkey. In Tunisia, the Islamist Ennahda party has seen its share of votes decline by nearly 50 percent since 2011 and has been forced to become more moderate to participate in coalition governments. Turkish efforts to support Ennahda triggered intense blowback from Tunisia's liberal and secular political parties and media. To the south in traditionally more Islamist-friendly Sudan, the Islamist government of Omar al Bashir fell in 2019, and the country is now closely aligning itself with Abu Dhabi and Riyadh. Meanwhile, in Libya, although the Muslim Brotherhood clings to power in Tripoli via the GNA despite being routed in 2014 parliamentary elections, the Islamists still play only a minor role in the GNA's overall support base.

Protecting Turkish Interests in Libya
Turkey's ability to project influence through Islamist groups in North Africa is waning, with Libya perhaps its last opportunity to do so. It will struggle to do so, however, given the seemingly bottomless financial, arms, equipment and air support enjoyed by the LNA. The GNA has not received anything like the support the LNA has, prompting Erdogan to step in lest the GNA collapse.

A map showing which factions control what territory in Libya.
Were the GNA to collapse and Hifter to install his own government, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would enjoy yet another strong ideological and military partner. For its part, Turkey would almost certainly lose all its economic ties to Libya, given that the pro-Hifter House of Representatives in Tobruk has banned Turkish contractors from working in Tripoli.

Turkey has significant economic and cultural ties to Libya. It's estimated that Turkish businesses are owed more than $15 billion in unpaid debts in Libya. They are also eyeing Libya's potentially lucrative eventual reconstruction once the civil war ends. Unlike in Syria, Libya has vast oil and natural gas wealth plus roughly $67 billion in assets currently frozen by the Libyan Investment Authority with which to finance its reconstruction. In addition, more than half the population of the powerful merchant city of Misrata — including many prominent figures involved in the current Libyan civil war — have Ottoman ancestry and maintain significant economic ties to Turkey.

Turkey's increased involvement in Libya may be the only way for it to keep its regional strategy alive.

Moreover, as a part of a November defense agreement, Turkey and the GNA signed a second deal delineating a maritime border between the two countries, giving Turkey a rare ally in the eastern Mediterranean. Although the maritime border agreement runs counter to international maritime law, which states that two countries cannot negotiate a maritime border that infringes on another country's claims without involving the third country, this deal purports to give Turkey expanded claims near the Greek island of Crete.

Turkey can cite the agreement as justification for oil and gas exploration projects in the area and exploit increased legal ambiguity to stymie the proposed eastern Mediterranean pipeline project. The pipeline project, backed by Cyprus, Egypt, Greece and Israel, aims to take natural gas produced in Cyprus, Egypt and Israel and export it to Europe via Greece.

The eastern Mediterranean pipeline increases Turkey's incentive to keep the GNA alive. Turkey argues that any energy exploration in Cypriot-claimed waters must be done in cooperation with the Turkish-recognized government of northern Cyprus. At least on paper, its maritime deal with Libya essentially would block a pipeline directly between Greek- and Egyptian- and/or Cypriot-claimed waters, since the pipeline would pass through waters claimed by either Libya or Turkey. This added legal complication could give Turkey de facto veto power over any eastern Mediterranean pipeline to Europe. Were the GNA to fall, however, Hifter and his allies would reverse the decision. Risks aside, Turkey's increased involvement in Libya may be the only way for it to keep its regional strategy alive.

ccp

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renew empire
« Reply #241 on: January 08, 2020, 08:34:17 AM »
erdogan

should be nicknamed the Ottoman

erdogen the ottoman

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Turkey
« Reply #242 on: January 08, 2020, 12:24:24 PM »
Indeed.  George Friedman (formerly Stratfor, now GPF) call this clearly years ago.

Crafty_Dog

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Turkey, Russia, Natural Gas
« Reply #243 on: January 10, 2020, 01:34:29 PM »
January 10, 2020   Open as PDF

TurkStream: A New Route to Europe for Russian Gas
By: GPF Staff
 
(click to enlarge)

Earlier this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched the TurkStream gas pipeline at a ceremony in Istanbul also attended by Serbian President Aleksander Vucic and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov. TurkStream's two strings will deliver Russian gas to two different markets: the Turkish domestic market and countries in southeastern Europe. It will also enable Russia to reduce gas exports through Ukraine and compete with other projects like the Trans-Anatolian pipeline, which will bring Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe through Turkey. Kyiv has said that it has already felt the impact of TurkStream; Russian gas exports destined for Bulgaria, for example, are now bypassing Ukraine and being delivered through Turkey.

According to Ukrainian estimates, the pipeline will decrease gas transit through Ukraine by 15 billion cubic meters in 2020.

Still, Russia’s Gazprom won’t be able to fully realize the benefits of the new pipeline just yet. Exports through the first string will depend on Turkish demand, which may be limited by energy supplies from other sources like Azerbaijan. And construction of some parts of the second string has been delayed. In addition, the project may be subject to U.S. sanctions, according to the 2020 defense budget passed by Congress last month.   




Crafty_Dog

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Turkey and the road to proliferation
« Reply #244 on: January 21, 2020, 10:53:54 AM »
In Turkey, the Road to Proliferation Goes Through a Military Base
6 MINS READ
Jan 21, 2020 | 09:30 GMT
Aircraft prepare to take off from Turkey's Incirlik Air Base, home of Turkey's 10th Tanker Base Command, on Oct. 17, 2019.
For the United States, the military fallout of having to leave Incirlik Air Base might not be too severe -- unlike the political ramifications.

(IBRAHIM ERIKAN/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
HIGHLIGHTS
Turkey has threatened to expel the United States from key bases in Turkey if their bilateral ties deteriorate further amid possible U.S. sanctions against Ankara.
While the loss of the Incirlik and Kurecik facilities in Turkey would be disruptive to Washington, it could find alternative locations elsewhere in the region.
The biggest ramification of such an expulsion could be that it prompts Turkey to pursue a nuclear weapons program.
The United States has troops scattered at bases throughout the Middle East, but few are as significant today as its facilities in Turkey — at least in terms of their political significance, if not their military function. Last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to retaliate against any U.S. sanctions on Turkey by, among other measures, expelling the United States from Incirlik Air Base and closing down the Kurecik radar base. From an American military standpoint, losing Incirlik and Kurecik wouldn't be the end of the world, as Washington could easily find alternative locations elsewhere in the Middle East. However an explusion, if it happens, could have far-reaching consequences, potentially even precipitating a Turkish nuclear arms program — which could touch off a race for atomic weapons around the region.

The Big Picture
A potential fissure between Turkey, a powerful member of NATO, and the United States could pave the way for a complete transformation of the geopolitical map in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean — particularly in the event of one of the most radical potential outcomes: Turkey's pursuit of a nuclear weapon.

See Turkey's Resurgence
A Base With a Long History
Incirlik has been synonymous with the U.S. military presence in Turkey since the start of the Cold War. The United States initially used the air base, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built near the Mediterranean coast in the early 1950s, to conduct strategic reconnaissance missions and other intelligence operations against the Soviet Union and its allies before turning the facility into a key air transportation and training site. More recently, Incirlik provided a base for aerial refueling during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and a stopover for U.S. troops rotating home from the Iraq war. Today, Incirlik is the main U.S. base for air missions against the Islamic State. Kurecik, meanwhile, was established in 2012 in eastern Anatolia, deploying the AN/TPY-2 radar as part of NATO's early-warning system against potential Iranian ballistic missile attacks on Europe.

Given the importance of Incirlik and Kurecik, the United States would be loath to lose the bases — especially as the country is struggling to continue its fight against the Islamic State at a time when it is facing potential expulsion from Iraq, which would complicate any efforts to maintain its presence in Syria. What's more, tensions with Iran are hardly subsiding, raising the importance of the wider ballistic missile defense network protecting Europe.


Even so, Incirlik and Kurecik are not irreplaceable. The United States has numerous allies in the Middle East that would be happy to offer up air bases as alternatives, including Jordan, from which U.S. aircraft would be only marginally farther from the areas in Syria that are within the immediate proximity of Incirlik. Washington also has alternatives in Europe, such as Greece, which is already negotiating with the United States to expand the U.S. Air Force presence there. As for Kurecik, the United States could mitigate its loss by conducting additional patrols with destroyers armed with ballistic missile defenses in the eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea until another replacement site is built in Eastern Europe.

Nuclear Fallout
The fallout of the loss of the bases, instead, would be more political. If Turkey kicks the United States out, for instance, the countries' fissure would almost certainly widen. More pertinent, however, is the nuclear question. Throughout the Cold War and since, Washington has managed to kill two birds with one stone. It has both extended nuclear deterrence to NATO allies like Turkey by protecting it with the B61 U.S. nuclear bombs stationed at Incirlik and, in the process, countered nuclear proliferation by dissuading partners like Turkey from pursuing their own nuclear weapons programs.

Ankara might well calculate that, in the event of a de facto divorce from the United States and the potential emergence of more nuclear powers in the neighborhood, the pros of atomic weapons outweigh the cons.

While there is some doubt as to how up to date Turkey's fighter pilots are with their training and ability to deploy these weapons (the United States could allow Turkish fighter jets to arm themselves with some of the approximately 50 nuclear bombs currently at Incirlik if an outside power ever seriously threatened the country with atomic weapons), there is little doubt that the presence of the weapons in Turkey gives Ankara strong reassurance about its wider security. By taking away the nuclear umbrella, however, Washington could spur Ankara to pursue its own atomic weapons, especially at a time when Turkey is at loggerheads with Israel (a nuclear power), Iran could restart its own nuclear program and Saudi Arabia has floated the idea of developing its own bomb too. As it is, Erdogan has long criticized the notion that nuclear-armed states would deign to forbid Turkey from obtaining its own nuclear weapons.

Without question, Turkey would come under significant economic and political pressure if it were to push ahead with any plans to develop its own nuclear deterrent, but Ankara might well calculate that, in the event of a de facto divorce from the United States and the potential emergence of more nuclear powers in the neighborhood, the pros of an atomic weapons program outweigh the cons. Naturally, such a decision would have other severe ramifications; for one, NATO could expel Turkey from the alliance, while it could also galvanize other countries, such as Greece, to pursue their own programs, thereby further destabilizing the region's fragile balance.

More broadly, the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Incirlik during a messy, U.S.-Turkish breakup could drive other U.S. allies under the American nuclear umbrella to question the long-term viability of their own special arrangements with Washington. The circumstances of the U.S. withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Incirlik might not stain the United States' reliability, but it could feed into increasing calls for nuclear self-autonomy in places like South Korea that are facing a growing nuclear threat amid worries about the future of the American military presence in their country. What this all suggests is that what happens at Incirlik isn't likely to stay at Incirlik. 

Crafty_Dog

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Make Turkey more Islamic?
« Reply #245 on: January 21, 2020, 10:55:46 AM »
second post

Erdoğan's 'Make-Turkey-More-Islamic' Campaign Is a Failure
by Burak Bekdil
The Gatestone Institute
January 15, 2020
https://www.meforum.org/60310/erdogans-make-turkey-more-islamic-campaign

Crafty_Dog

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Another crack in the Turkey-Russia alliance
« Reply #246 on: February 04, 2020, 10:56:16 AM »
By: GPF Staff
Another crack in the Turkey-Russia alliance. Speaking alongside Ukraine’s president, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasized Turkey’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and denounced Russia's annexation of Crimea. Though Ankara’s position on the matter has long been clear, the statement itself is measuredly provocative in that it comes at the heels of a falling out between the two over the fight for Syria’s Idlib province. Meanwhile, the United States expressed its support for Turkey there as it fights the Syrian government. As tensions between Russia and Turkey rise, there is more opportunity for the U.S. to stand in solidarity with Ankara, which Washington still needs as an ally in the region

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Russia, Turkey, and Syria 3.0
« Reply #247 on: February 11, 2020, 12:28:23 PM »


Idlib attacks and counterattacks. After a Syrian bombardment on Monday that killed five Turkish soldiers and wounded five more in Idlib province, Syria, Turkey vowed retaliation. Later that day, Turkish forces shelled 115 targets in Idlib, and Ankara said it had killed 101 Syrian soldiers while destroying three tanks and two artillery pieces. Turkey on Tuesday shot down a Syrian helicopter in Nayrab, killing the two pilots and compelling Bashar Assad’s forces to withdraw from the township. However, the Assad regime has been making moves as well. Regime forces took over the M5 highway linking Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Hama to Idlib city, a strategic roadway that had been under rebel control since 2012. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed that Syria will pay “a heavy price” for its advance in Idlib and has warned Iran and Russia to end their support for the Assad regime. Russia, meanwhile, has called for all attacks on Syrian and Russian forces to stop at once, urging Turkey to implement the Sochi and Astana peace agreements. While Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a phone call to discuss de-escalation on Tuesday, talks between diplomatic and military delegations have been fruitless. NATO has condemned the attack on Turkish troops but has mostly concentrated its statements on Russian and Syrian airstrikes on civilian areas, withholding direct mention or words of support for NATO member Turkey. The United States has dispatched a midlevel diplomat and a delegation to Ankara.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Turkey and Ukraine (and Russia) Serious Read
« Reply #248 on: February 14, 2020, 01:24:46 PM »
Some really important maps in the original, too bad they do not print here!


Ukraine and Turkey: The Foundations of a Strategic Partnership
By: Ridvan Bari Urcosta

Last week, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky met with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Kyiv. During the visit, Erdogan promised to strengthen military and economic cooperation with Ukraine and emphasized his support for the Crimean Tatars. After all, Crimea has long been central to Turkey’s relationship with Ukraine.

Another key factor in this relationship is a common adversary: Russia. Ankara has sought to use Ukraine and its long-standing connections there to its advantage as it engages with Moscow. Erdogan’s trip to Kyiv happened to coincide with a recent shift in Turkey-Russia relations, particularly in Syria, where the two countries appear to be getting closer to a potential confrontation in Idlib, and in Libya, where they support opposing sides in the civil war. Erdogan knows that Ukraine is an especially sensitive issue for the Kremlin, which sees a partnership between its critical buffer to the west and its historical rival to the south as a threat to its strategic interests in the Black Sea. By building closer ties to Kyiv, Ankara sees an opportunity to block Russian expansion in a strategic region historically known as the Pontic Steppe.
 
(click to enlarge)

Turkey’s Interests in the Pontic Steppe

At its peak, the Ottoman Empire stretched from the Atlas Mountains in the west to the Zagros Mountains and the Persian Gulf in the east, and to the Balkans and the Caucasus in the north. Former Ottoman territories still play a large role in contemporary Turkish foreign policy, particularly in Erdogan’s ambitious agenda to re-establish Turkish influence in the Persian Gulf, Levant, Black Sea, Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. As GPF forecast, Turkey has already begun to expand its presence in some of these areas, but while its involvement in places like Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean has garnered much attention of late, its relationship with Ukraine seems to have been mostly overlooked.
 
 
(click to enlarge)

Crimea is at the heart of Turkey’s engagement with Ukraine. Beginning in 1475, the Crimean Peninsula came under Ottoman rule, though it still had some autonomy. The Crimean Khanate was useful to the Ottomans as a bulwark against the Russians in the Black Sea for three centuries. With the Ottomans’ help, the khanate controlled strategically important chokepoints in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. These chokepoints are still an integral part of modern-day Turkey’s geopolitical strategy and are crucial in understanding Turkey’s quest to expand its influence north. The Ottomans also controlled three regions north of Crimea that now belong to Ukraine: Odessa, Nikolayev and Kherson. When the Ottoman Empire lost the Crimean Khanate in 1783, it was forced to retreat from many other theaters, particularly the Caucasus and the Pontic Steppe. The Russian Empire then took over these areas that had been occupied by the Turkic people for centuries.

Following the Russo-Crimean Wars in the 16th century, competition between the Ottomans and Russia in Crimea expanded. After the Russo-Turkish War of 1768-1774, Crimea was officially handed over to the Russians with the signing of the 1774 Treaty of Kucuk Kaynarca, regarded as a watershed moment marking the beginning of the Ottoman Empire’s protracted decline. After years of revolt against Russian rule, the Russian Empire annexed Crimea in 1783 and began to Slavicize Crimea and the surrounding areas. (Interestingly, Russia’s revival of the Novorossiya, or New Russia, concept in 2014 included claims to the Pontic Steppe. Russia used this concept to justify its incursion into Donbass in eastern Ukraine, though Novorossiya extends beyond Donbass to include Kharkov to the north and Odessa to the west.)

Russia had realized that without destroying the Crimean Khanate, it would have been nearly impossible to carry out military operations deep into the Balkans because the Turks and Crimean Tatars would have been able to sever Russian communications and lines of supply in central Ukraine. With Crimea under Russian control, Russian expansionism was formidable and could be stopped only with the emergence of the Russian Revolution in 1917. The Russian Empire thus expanded in two directions: into the Caucasus and into the Balkans.

For Turkey, the loss of Crimea once again reinforced the geostrategic importance of the Pontic Steppe (present-day Ukraine). Though Russia has failed to regain control of much of this area, it has managed to bring Crimea under its jurisdiction, which Turkey will inevitably see as a threat to its security. Turkey’s strategy in Ukraine, therefore, has been to support not just the Crimean Tatar nation but also Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. So long as the Tatars – who, for the most part, opposed Russian annexation and pledged their support to Kyiv – remain a factor in Crimea, Ankara will have some degree of influence on the peninsula.

Turkey-Ukraine Relations After 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin once called the Soviet Union’s collapse “a major geopolitical disaster.” And it’s not hard to see why. Russia had lost access to Crimea’s strategic ports, controlled just a small portion of the Black Sea coast and required access to the Turkish-controlled Bosporus just to be able to conduct maritime trade beyond the Black Sea. Turkey, on the other hand, had superior naval forces, control over strategic waterways (namely, the Turkish Straits), and more sovereignty over a larger portion of the Black Sea coast than any other country in the region. Suffice it to say, Turkey was satisfied with this state of affairs.
 
(click to enlarge)

That is, until 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea. Since then, Moscow’s position in the Black Sea has strengthened, and the possibility of confrontation between Turkey and Russia in the Black Sea has intensified. Indeed, without control of Crimea, Russia likely would not have been able to conduct military and naval operations in its Syrian campaign through the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey was alarmed over the rapid geopolitical developments in the region and expressed its support for Ukrainian territorial integrity from the very beginning of the Ukraine crisis, even sending then-Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to Kyiv for talks in early 2014. To this day, it has not recognized Crimea as part of Russia and maintains close relations with the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, a body that represents Crimean Tatars and was banned by Russia in 2016. Turkey and Ukraine have also expanded military cooperation; they held joint naval exercises in the Black Sea in March 2016, just a few months after Turkey’s downing of a Russian military jet near the Syrian border. For Ankara, showing that it has a presence in Russia’s critical buffer is a way of increasing pressure on Moscow.

However, military cooperation between the two countries goes back further than 2014. In fact, Turkey has some of the closest ties to Ukraine’s defense industry of any NATO member. Ukraine’s state-owned defense firm Ukroboronprom has collaborated with Turkish companies Hevelsan, ASELSAN and Roketsan, among others. Last year, the two countries set up a joint venture focused on precision weapons and aerospace technologies. They also participated in joint projects to create An-188 and An-178 military transport aircraft, active defense systems for armored vehicles and radar systems. In 2019, Ukraine acquired Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones, armed with high-precision MAM-L bombs purchased from Roketsan. Ukrainian experts are expected to help Turkey develop a new, indigenously built battle tank. They even discussed collaborating on corvettes and surface-to-air missiles. One could argue that Turkey is using Ukraine to sidestep collaborating with Russian defense companies and also to bolster its own defense industry to reduce its dependence on NATO. In the process, the Ukrainian defense sector, which was hurt by the complete disengagement with the Russians, is also benefiting from collaborating with a NATO member, bringing its industry into line with NATO standards.

Economic cooperation has also been growing. During last week’s meeting, Erdogan and Zelensky agreed to complete talks on a free trade agreement, negotiations for which began under former President Petro Poroshenko. Zelensky appears ready to sign a trade deal, even though the benefits to Ukraine, as the weaker of the two economies, are still uncertain. With a deal in place, the two countries hope to bring trade turnover to $10 billion. Turkey also promised to give Ukraine $36 million in military support. Zelensky, in return, promised to help Erdogan on security issues, instructing Ukraine’s Security Service to look into Ukrainian educational centers linked to Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Erdogan has accused of orchestrating a coup attempt against him.

In an effort to attract more foreign capital, Zelensky has said he wants to lift a moratorium on farmland sales, raising the issue last year during a speech in Istanbul. (The Ukrainian parliament has since passed a bill that would allow the sale of land to foreigners, except Russian citizens and corporations, beginning in 2024.) Ukraine has also welcomed the Trans-Anatolian pipeline project, which could bring natural gas from Azerbaijan via Turkey to Ukraine, as well as other parts of Europe. Alternative sources of energy are becoming increasingly important as Russia becomes more reluctant to deliver energy to Turkey and Europe via pipelines that pass through Ukraine, such as the Trans-Balkan pipeline.

In addition, Crimea has continued to play a key role in Ukraine-Turkey relations. As part of Turkey’s quest to promote the concept of Neo-Ottomanism, Turkish officials have emphasized the historical and ancestral links between Turkey and the Crimean Tatars. Former Foreign Minister Davutoglu even regularly met with leaders from the Crimean Tatar community. Before 2014, this may have irritated Kyiv, but since the Russian annexation, Crimean Tatar representatives have been included in delegations on official visits. As Davutoglu once put it, Crimea is now considered “a bridge of friendship” between the two countries.

Turkey is also the top trade partner for the three regions of Ukraine north of Crimea: Odessa, Nikolayev and Kherson (all part of the Pontic Steppe). And Turkish ally Qatar recently won a bid to develop Olvia port in Nikolayev region, which will be the biggest foreign investment in a Ukrainian port in history.

Immediately after Crimea’s annexation, Turkey and the Crimean Tatars asked Kyiv for permission to build ethnic settlements in Kherson (once part of the Crimean Khanate) for Tatars who had fled Crimea. Poroshenko avoided making a decision on the issue, but Zelensky has pledged his support. Russia will likely stir up anti-Tatar sentiments among locals there to try to convince them to oppose it.

There are between 1 million and 3 million Crimean Tatars in Turkey, most of whom tend to be pro-Ukraine. Erdogan, therefore, has a political incentive to woo the region. In 2017, he spoke with Putin on behalf of two Crimean Tatar leaders who were jailed for opposing the annexation. And recently, Zelensky asked Erdogan to intervene in a case over Crimean Tatars convicted on extremism charges after Russian authorities accused them of being followers of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group that has been banned in Russia.

In addition to political, economic and military links, the two countries have religious connections. In 2019, the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople approved the official decree splitting the Orthodox Church of Ukraine from Russia. Erdogan has declined to comment on religious issues in Ukraine but has met with Bartholomew I of Constantinople, who signed the decree.

It’s worth noting, however, that within the Ukrainian political elite, there is some concern over Turkey’s true intentions and loyalties, especially considering that Ankara has not joined the West in applying sanctions against Russia over Crimea. Ukraine has viewed with suspicion the budding relationship between Putin and Erdogan, which continues despite their countries' disagreements. When Ukraine hoped to import liquefied natural gas through the Black Sea to reduce its reliance on Russian energy, Turkey refused passage of LNG tankers through the Turkish Straits. Turkey has meanwhile kept the straits open to Russian warships that could be used to threaten Ukraine. However, Kyiv hopes the proposed new Istanbul Canal may be blocked for Russian naval ships since, according to Ukraine, it won’t be governed by the Montreux Convention, which regulates transit through the Turkish Straits.

Both countries have benefited from military cooperation and continue to pursue economic ties, including the proposed free trade deal. Turkey sees Ukraine as a key part of its goal to restore its once overwhelmingly dominant position in the Black Sea, and Ukraine sees Turkey as a counterbalance to Russian influence and leverage in the Black Sea. Their relationship is driven by their own strategic interests. So long as they need allies in the Black Sea, they will look to each other as strategic partners.   



« Last Edit: February 14, 2020, 01:38:33 PM by Crafty_Dog »