Author Topic: Turkey  (Read 82121 times)

Crafty_Dog

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Turkey purges its air force
« Reply #250 on: February 17, 2020, 02:03:48 PM »
Turkey Nearly Killed Off Its Own Air Force
by Michael Peck
The National Interest
February 10, 2020
https://www.meforum.org/60437/turkey-nearly-killed-off-its-own-air-force
           

 Fighter pilots aren't cheap. The U.S. Air Force estimates that training a new pilot to fly a plane like the F-35 costs $11 million. And that doesn't count the priceless experience of a veteran pilot who has been flying for years. That's why the U.S. Air Force is willing to offer half-million-dollar bonuses to retain experienced fighter pilots.

So a nation that throws its fighter pilots in jail is not just wasting money, but also an extremely valuable resource. Yet in the name of politics, Turkey's government has purged its air force so badly that it can barely fly its F-16 fighters.

The trouble began on July 15, 2016, when members of Turkey's military "allegedly" launched a coup to topple the Islamist government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The word allegedly is used for a reason. Despite being pros at overthrowing civilian governments (with four successful coups between 1960 and 1997), the 2016 effort was laughable. Soldiers attempted to isolate Istanbul by erecting roadblocks on the Bosporus Bridge—but only blocked the lanes in one direction. YouTube video showed soldiers with Leopard tanks surrendering to police and civilians. As Erdogan was flying back to Istanbul from vacation, two Turkish Air Force F-16s had his aircraft in their sights—but failed to shoot it down.

And the vaunted Turkish military was supposed to be NATO's Cold War southern bulwark against the Soviets? If so, it's a wonder that the Kremlin never seized the Bosporus.

All of which had skeptics wondering whether the coup was actually a false-flag operation by the Turkish government, aimed at providing (or provoking) an excuse to quash secular Turkish generals and covert followers of exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen. Either way, the coup fizzled in less than an hour, and then Erdogan's government took its revenge.

Numerous senior and field-grade officers were purged. More than 300 F-16 pilots were dismissed. This defanged the Turkish military as a political threat, and strengthened the increasingly authoritarian rule of Erdogan and his neo-Ottoman Justice and Development Party, which has imprisoned many journalists. But it left a gaping question: who would be left to fly Turkey's jet fighters?

With war raging in Syria, and Turkish forces grabbing parts of northern Syria, Turkey's military is keeping busy (including an F-16 that shot down a Russian plane over Syria—the Turkish pilot who did it was one of those purged). It hardly seems a propitious time to decimate your pilot cadre.

The Turkish government has been looking overseas to make up the shortfall. However, Washington has rebuffed a request to send over U.S. flight instructors, though Turkish pilots are receiving basic flight training in the United States. Turkey has also sought assistance from Pakistan—which also flies F-16s—though training Turkish pilots could violate U.S. arms export rules. In a sign of desperation, "the Turkish government has issued a decree that threatens 330 former pilots with the revocation of their civil pilot license, unless they return to Air Force duty for four years," notes an Atlantic Council report.

"It is unclear how the decision to compel a return to service will impact unit morale," the report added.

Now, enter Russia—a traditional enemy of Turkey for centuries, and one of whose jets was shot down by the Turks over Syria. Yet Turkey is seeking to buy Russia's S-400 long-range anti-aircraft missiles, which only ratchets up tensions between Washington and Ankara over Syria and other issues.

Turkey has also signed an agreement with Franco-Italian missile maker Eurosam to develop a long-range anti-aircraft missile. And why is Turkey suddenly so interested in surface-to-air missiles? "In aftermath of 15 July, with the operations against the Turkish Armed Forces, there was a reduction in the number of F-16 pilots, creating a need to develop our air defense," said Turkish analyst Verda Ozer. "This is the reason for the S-400 purchase."

But even the S-400 wouldn't totally solve Turkey's air defense travails. "Since the Russian S-400 system cannot be integrated into NATO infrastructure, it cannot be used to protect against missile defense," Ozer notes. Hence, Turkey needs two systems: the S-400 to shoot down hostile aircraft, and a Eurosam weapon to intercept ballistic missiles.

Perhaps it would have been easier not to get rid of those F-16 pilots.

Michael Peck, a Middle East Forum writing fellow, is a defense and historical writer based in Oregon. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, WarIsBoring, and many other fine publications.

Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Turkey, US, Russia, and Syria
« Reply #251 on: February 19, 2020, 10:39:24 AM »


February 19, 2020   View On Website
Open as PDF



    Erdogan Talks Tough but Proceeds With Caution
By: Hilal Khashan

Shortly after Recep Tayyip Erdogan became prime minister of Turkey in 2003, his minister of foreign affairs, Ahmet Davutoglu, said Turkey would embark on a “zero problems policy” with its neighbors. His remarks came after Turkey had pursued European Union membership for years to no avail.

Even before Erdogan’s Justice and Development party, or AKP, rose to power, Turkish prime ministers in the 1990s realized that Turkey stood no chance of becoming part of the European Community. In 1997, Turkish Prime Minister and leader of the Islamist Welfare Party Necmettin Erbakan founded the Organization for Economic Cooperation, which included eight Muslim countries, after seemingly giving up on EU membership. Even secularist prime ministers like Mesut Yilmaz and Tansu Ciller gave up hope of ever joining the bloc, and their skepticism appears well founded. In 2002, former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing said many European politicians privately believed that “Turkey must never be allowed to join the EU.”
 
(click to enlarge)

Turkish leaders have instead chosen to pursue stronger relations with Turkey’s Middle East neighbors. In 2009, Bashar Assad said he considered Turkey Syria’s best friend; Erdogan responded by recognizing Assad as a brother. In 2010, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi awarded Erdogan his international prize for human rights. After the 2011 Arab uprisings, Erdogan believed that Turkey’s moment had arrived with the rise of Islamists, especially the Muslim Brotherhood, in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria. He believed his country was on a path to economic success in the Middle East. When things didn’t go as he planned, however, Erdogan refused to adapt his policy toward the region.

He continued to behave as if Turkey had regained its Ottoman grandeur. In 2014, he built a $615 million presidential palace, and in 2018, he acquired a $500 million presidential plane as a donation from Qatar. Former friends turned into adversaries, save for a couple of exceptions like blockaded Qatar and Libya’s beleaguered Government of National Accord in Tripoli.

Erdogan’s neo-Ottomanism alienated him from Egypt after the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohammed Morsi in 2013. Turkey’s ambitious objectives also alarmed United Arab Emirates leaders, who feared the rise of political Islam, and Saudi leaders, who did not forget the destruction of the first and second Saudi states in the 19th century at the hands of the Ottomans and their allies.

But perhaps the most significant challenge to Turkey’s plan to boost its position in the Middle East came from Russia, a major economic partner for Turkey. The two countries support opposing sides in the conflicts in Syria and Libya, though their engagement in these conflicts is driven by very different goals.

Russia’s Libya policy is pragmatic and driven by economic interest. After Gadhafi’s regime collapsed in 2011, Russia lost contracts worth $10 billion. Western support for the GNA fell well short of what the UAE, Egypt and the Saudis were giving to Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the opposition Libyan National Army – and Russian President Vladimir Putin seized on the potential opportunity to win lucrative post-conflict contracts by offering Haftar much-needed support. Mercenaries from the Kremlin-associated Wagner Group played a decisive role in pushing GNA forces to the gates of Tripoli. However, had the GNA prevailed against Haftar and promised Russia significant reconstruction deals, Putin could have switched alliances and instead supported the GNA. After all, unlike Greece, Cyprus and Egypt, Russia does not have a real issue with the GNA’s maritime deal with Turkey, which revamped existing economic zones in the Mediterranean. So even though the Turkish SADAT security group has sent some 2,400 members of the pro-Ankara Syrian National Army to fight alongside the GNA, the divide between Russia and Turkey is not over Libya. Rather, it’s over Syria.

In Syria, Turkey’s vital national interests do not sit well with either Russia or the United States. The lingering issue between the U.S. and Turkey pertains to the fate of Syrian Kurds. In October 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump warned Erdogan against pushing the Kurds too hard. In a letter addressed to Erdogan, Trump said he did not “want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy” should Turkey refuse to protect the Kurds during an offensive in northern Syria. Erdogan understands geopolitics and knows he cannot go far in challenging U.S. regional policy without compromising Turkey’s national interest, which vehemently opposes cross-border linkages between Kurds in Turkey and Syria. The U.S. seems to have come to terms with Turkey on this sensitive issue.

Similarly, Erdogan understands Turkey’s history with Russia and is wary about military escalation. After all, the Ottoman Empire’s decline in the Balkans and North Africa was ushered in by the Russian Empire’s victory at the Battle of Stavuchany in 1739 and the subsequent Russo-Turkish wars in the 19th century. In 1853, Russian Czar Nicholas I named the Ottoman Empire the “sick man of Europe.”
 
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Erdogan does not want a military confrontation with Russia or the Russian-backed Syrian army. Rather, he wants a political deal with Russia, even though he does not trust Putin. Turkey’s involvement in Syria is not popular at home, even within the AKP. And Erdogan also knows that Russia does not want to get bogged down in another drawn-out war, as it did in Afghanistan during the 1980s, which is why Moscow’s participation in the Syrian conflict has been limited to providing air support to the Assad regime.

But Turkey lacks real options to stop the fighting in Idlib. Erdogan will fight in Idlib only to the extent that Putin allows him. He realizes that he has to settle for the establishment of a demilitarized zone along the border to accommodate refugees fleeing Idlib, and he is not willing to jeopardize Turkish interests elsewhere for the sake of victory in northern Syria. Turkey’s economic prosperity is not contingent on seizing Idlib, but it is reliant on cooperation with Russia. More than 7 million Russian tourists visit Turkey every year. Turkey’s nuclear energy program depends heavily on Russian technical expertise and support. The TurkStream natural gas pipeline, which runs from Russia to Turkey, is vital for the country’s economic development. Erdogan wouldn’t allow his anger over Russia’s violation of the Sochi and Astana agreements, which called for de-escalation in Idlib, to obstruct his vision for Turkey. The Syrian regime’s territorial gains following its offensive in Idlib that started in April 2019 and resumed in December are irreversible. The Turkish army can still control the border area, allowing Syrian Arabs to form a buffer zone between themselves and the Kurds. Assad is amenable to such a move because Idlib’s population is not central to his model for a post-conflict Syria.

Putin did not launch Russia’s intervention in Syria to try to end the conflict. Instead, he wanted to make Russia the dominant military power and decisive political player in Syria – and he has succeeded in doing so. Just like in Libya, Russia has economic interests in Syria. In 2018 and 2019, Russian rail transport, agriculture, heavy equipment, hydrocarbons and construction companies were key participants in the Damascus International Fair. And Turkey likewise has economic interests there. It has an opportunity to join in Syria’s reconstruction if it can come to an accommodation with the Syrian regime, which is only a matter of time.

Turkey’s opposition to the Syrian government has therefore become counterproductive. Turkey is an ascending regional power that needs to make peace with its neighbors and focus on economic development instead of aggrandizing power. Russia, however, aspires to play a leading role in the construction of a new security order in the Middle East. Nostalgic about its Soviet past, Russia refuses to accept its status as a regional power and wants to engage the U.S. as its equal. So while Erdogan uses a lot of rhetoric about trying to restore Turkey's former glory, his approach to the Middle East will be more pragmatic.   




Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Turkey, Russia, and Syria 2.0
« Reply #252 on: February 20, 2020, 11:10:10 AM »
   
Daily Memo: Turkish Operations in Syria
By: GPF Staff

A Turkish offensive? Reports of clashes between pro-Turkey rebels and Syrian government forces in Nayreb, located south of the city of Idlib, have raised concerns that a Turkish offensive in Syria has begun. After Turkish soldiers and allied militias exchanged fire with Syrian regime forces, airstrikes – possibly Russian – killed two Turkish soldiers and forced the others to withdraw. Syrian commanders and several Turkish news agencies have already confirmed that an “operation” is underway. For weeks, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned that Turkey would launch an operation by the end of February unless Russian and Syrian forces withdrew to lines outlined in the 2018 Sochi agreement, and that it would attack anything it considered a threat. After Turkey rejected Russia’s offer to create a humanitarian corridor along the Turkish-Syrian border in Idlib, Ankara had been exploring its options before it makes a decisive next step. There are unconfirmed rumors, for example, that it asked NATO to conduct “preventative flights” over Idlib to stave off more Russian air operations.

Even so, discussions over Idlib continue. Ankara and Moscow are still debating the possibility of continuing limited cooperation through joint patrols in the northwest. And hosts of the Astana talks – Turkey, Iran and Russia – plan to meet in Tehran in March to discuss a solution.

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Turkey unleashes migrants at Greece
« Reply #255 on: March 01, 2020, 08:02:37 PM »
I have been underlining the issue of the 3.5+M Arab refugees in Turkey for a while now.  As related in the FUBAR thread, Turkey now has reason to unleash some of them as a form of practical extortion to get help against the Russians.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8061905/EU-high-alert-30-000-migrants-Turkeys-border-Greece-Bulgaria.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490

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D1: Turkey-Greece
« Reply #256 on: March 04, 2020, 09:22:09 AM »
Two more Turkish soldiers died in Syria today and right before Turkish President Erdogan departs for new ceasefire talks with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Moscow, AP reports today from the Turkish capital.

To date, Turkish-Syrian fighting in NW Syria has killed 58 Turkish troops over the past month," AP writes, "including 33 soldiers killed Thursday in a single airstrike."

And on Europe's doorstep, "Greek authorities fired tear gas and stun grenades Wednesday morning to repulse a push by migrants to cross its land border from Turkey," AP reports separately today from Turkey's far northwestern border, near Bulgaria.

Bigger picture: "More than 10,000 migrants have been trying to breach the border since Turkey said last Thursday it would no longer abide by a 2016 deal with the European Union to halt illegal migration flows to Europe in return for billions of euros in aid," Reuters reports from the Greek island of Lesbos. "EU leaders on Tuesday pledged 700 million euros to help Greece handle the migrant crisis and urged Turkey to hold up its end of the 2016 accord. They fear a repeat of the 2015-16 migrant crisis, when more than a million migrants came to western Europe via Turkey and the Balkans, straining European security and welfare services and boosting support for far-right parties."

And by the way: "Greece's sea border with Turkey has also come under pressure," AP adds. "In the past few days, hundreds of people have headed to Greek islands from the nearby Turkish coast in dinghies… Greece sent a navy ship to the island of Lesbos Wednesday to house more than 400 of the new arrivals. Tension has mounted with some local residents on the island, where the main migrant camp is massively overcrowded." More here. And The Wall Street Journal's Ahmed Deeb has some arresting images of the migrant journey across Turkey, here.





Crafty_Dog

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Stratfor: Cease fire with Russia weakens Turkey's influence in Syria
« Reply #257 on: March 06, 2020, 06:34:12 AM »


A Cease-Fire With Russia Appears to Shrink Turkey's Influence in Syria
4 MINS READ
Mar 5, 2020 | 21:00 GMT
The Big Picture

Turkey and Russia have different strategies in Syria, and they've come up against each other in Idlib province in the country's northwest. Turkey has now faced a serious Russian-backed campaign to retake the province and is scrambling for options to preserve its influence there — and keep its entire Syria strategy from unraveling.

See The Syrian Civil War

By agreeing with Russia to enact a cease-fire in northwestern Syria starting at 12 a.m. March 6, Turkey appears willing to sacrifice significant territory held by the rebel forces it supports to ensure that violence stops as soon as possible. In doing so, Turkey is setting up Russia and Syria for their next offensive in Idlib province with no real solution in sight for refugees in the area. The deal is designed to allow the de-escalation process between Turkey on the one side and Russia, Syria and Iran on the other to begin in earnest and to reduce tensions between Turkey and Russia in Idlib.

The initial details of the cease-fire announced March 5 by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin indicate that Turkey will accept a reduced sphere of influence in Syria, as the current front lines will become the new demarcation zones between the two sides and a demilitarized "security corridor" will cut through a significant portion of the rebel-held territory along the M4 highway. Joint patrols by Turkish and Russian troops are to guarantee the M4 highway corridor's de-escalation, which is set to be 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) deep to the highway's north and south.

From a military perspective, the security corridor along the M4 highway drastically affects the ability of rebel forces supported by Turkey to defend the city of Idlib and areas to the south of it. The rebel-held city of Jisr al-Shughour even falls entirely within the corridor. Rebel forces will no longer be able to build out defensive positions in-depth, something that has helped them to slow and even push back against the most recent Syrian government offensive. If and when fighting were to resume in Idlib, government forces will be able to rapidly advance into this demilitarized security zone, as well as areas to the south of it that will become untenable because of this agreement. As such, the cease-fire has allowed Turkey to protect a portion of rebel-controlled Idlib temporarily, but at a cost to its future sustainability.

Even as its military benefits are questionable, the deal is a diplomatic success for Turkey, albeit a limited one.

Even as its military benefits are questionable, the deal is a diplomatic success for Turkey, albeit a limited one. Turkey increasingly was finding itself having to take greater and greater military risks to deter Syrian advances, including a drone campaign against Syrian government forces. With this cease-fire, Turkey can begin to return its relationship with Russia to a more stable level, and Turkey's working ties with Russia in Syria's northeast, as well as over other defense matters, appear to be uninterrupted, at the moment at least.

As for Turkey's future relationship with Europe, there may be little change in Ankara's current refugee strategy. Turkey is under domestic pressure to ease its refugee share, and with no military reversals in Idlib, some Idlib refugees will continue to push into Turkey for fear that this cease-fire delays rather than prevents future advances by Damascus. Turkey is likely to continue to use Syrian refugees as leverage against Europe to gain new support in the face of this ongoing challenge.

Finally, Turkey's relationship with the United States appears unaltered, with little direct U.S. support for Turkey expected in Idlib. Rhetorical support was forthcoming, but even as Ankara called for no-fly zones and military equipment (specifically U.S. Patriot missile systems), Washington showed little inclination to involve itself in Syria further, setting up Russia as the more valuable partner for Turkey.

Crafty_Dog

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Don't expect a Turkey-Russia War in Syria
« Reply #258 on: March 06, 2020, 12:31:57 PM »
Don't Expect a Turkey-Russia War in Syria
by Jonathan Spyer
The Jerusalem Post
March 6, 2020
https://www.meforum.org/60536/turkish-syrian-conflict

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Stratfor: Turkey provoking another Migrant Crisis?
« Reply #259 on: March 07, 2020, 07:39:28 AM »
Is Europe on the Cusp of Another Migration Crisis?
Adriano Bosoni
Senior Europe Analyst, Stratfor
Emily Hawthorne
Middle East and North Africa Analyst, Stratfor
9 MINS READ

Mar 6, 2020 | 19:28 GMT

A photo of refugees and migrants waiting in line to receive blankets and food near the Greek border in Edirne, Turkey, on March 5, 2020.

Refugees and migrants wait in line to receive blankets and food near the Greek border in Edirne, Turkey, on March 5, 2020. Thousands have flocked to the border since the Turkish government announced it would allow migrants to cross into Europe on March 1.

HIGHLIGHTS

There is a high chance that a migration crisis in 2020 results in a situation similar to the one that unfolded in 2015, with Greece again bearing most of the weight of the migration influx.

But unlike five years ago, Germany will be more willing to protect the European Union's external border and less interested in accepting a large number of migrants.

Turkey will also be more willing to weaponize the country's landmark migrant agreement with the European Union to secure additional diplomatic and financial help from the bloc.

On March 1, Turkey announced it would no longer enforce an agreement with the European Union to prevent migrants from entering the Continental bloc. Since then, tens of thousands of migrants have been trying to enter Greece from Turkey, fueling fears of another looming migration crisis in Europe. In response, the Greek government has increased security at its borders and announced that no asylum requests would be accepted for a month — though it's far from certain whether Greece will be able to contain a continued flood of migrants at its doorstep. Unless Turkey changes its position in the coming weeks, there's a good chance Greece's sea and land borders will once again become the hottest access point for Europe-bound migrants. But unlike the crisis in 2015, Athens will find even fewer EU countries willing to help lift the load this time around.

The Big Picture

Because of its weak economy, Greece is not the final destination for most migrants. But in 2015, many migrants either ran out of resources to keep moving north to wealthier countries in Europe or they found that other transit countries, such as Serbia and Hungary, had closed their borders. While a new migration crisis will likely repeat some of these patterns, several new developments over the past five years will also play a significant role in shaping how a new crisis could unfold in the coming weeks.

Turkey Lights the Fuse

At the heart of the unfolding new migrant crisis is Turkey's willingness to gamble its landmark migrant agreement with the European Union. Turkey's struggling economy is having a direct political impact on the popularity of its government, and Ankara knows it might ultimately prove unable to ward off a Syrian and Russian incursion into Syria's Idlib province. The popularity of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) also risks waning amid increasingly angry and cash-strapped Turks, who see the country's large refugee population as partially to blame for their grievances. This was made clear by the country's 2019 local elections, in which the AKP suffered sizable losses among urban voters living in closest proximity to refugees. This, combined with the economic headwinds Turkey has experienced since 2015, has created an even more hostile environment in Turkey for refugees. And in 2019, Ankara imposed tighter residency restrictions on refugees.


Against the backdrop of these mounting economic and political threats, an increasingly desperate Ankara has shown that it's willing to breach its migration agreement with the European Union to secure more support from the bloc. Specifically, Turkey wants more money to help provide for the refugees and migrants it is currently hosting, and more EU diplomatic support in its offensive against Syrian and Russian forces, including support for a no-fly zone and long-term refugee resettlement in northern Syria (which Germany has already given support for, but cannot provide alone). Ankara knows that threatening to scrap the existing migrant agreement can help force Brussels to fall in line. And should the March 5 cease-fire between Turkey and Russia fall through, Ankara will be even less likely to remove this lever of migrants as leverage in its EU negotiations.

Similarities to the 2015 Crisis

A new migration crisis would likely repeat some of the patterns of the previous crisis, including:

Greece's lack of capacity. Greece has very limited room to deal with new migrants and is likely already nearing its capacity.

Around 74,600 asylum seekers reached Greece last year, the highest number in the European Union. Some 42,000 of them are trapped in migrant camps in the islands, as Athens does not allow them to move to the mainland until their legal situation is cleared. Reports from the ground say that most migrants are crammed in facilities that are being used well beyond their capacity. In recent months, migrants have protested in some of the islands, particularly in Lesbos, which is home to some 25,000 asylum seekers.

Closed borders along the Balkan migration route. In 2015, many migrants found that countries along the so-called Balkan migration route to Northern Europe, including Serbia and Hungary, had closed their borders. Should another crisis unfold in the coming months, countries like Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia (which are not in the European Union) are likely to again close their borders in an attempt to block the migration route. Hungary, which is an EU member, may also do the same if migratory pressure increases significantly.

More money, less action out of Brussels. Under the European Union's current migration rules, migrants have to apply for asylum in the country where they first enter the bloc, which Greece has long argued unfairly places the burden on them. But a systematic, blocwide effort to distribute migrants across the European Union remains unlikely, as countries in Northern and Eastern Europe will reject any move to alter these rules. If the crisis worsens, and if the number of arrivals in Greece and other countries on the bloc's external border increases, we are instead more likely to see bilateral agreements, under which countries like Germany would accept small groups of migrants in an attempt to ease the pressure on Greece. Brussels, meanwhile, will likely continue to throw money at the problem as it has done in similar situations in the past. And indeed, we've already seen a bit of this, with the European Commission announcing it was sending Greece 700 million euros ($791 million) to help maintain the recent influx of migrants, as well as extra personnel from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (also known as Frontex) to help protect Greece's borders.

Differences From the 2015 Crisis

In addition to these similarities, there are also some important differences that will shape how a potential migration crisis would unfold in 2020 compared with the crisis in 2015:

Stricter EU asylum policies. Some migrants will now have a harder time requesting asylum in 2020 than they did in 2015, especially those who have been in Turkey for years and cannot really claim to be running away from extreme hardship. While this could weigh negatively on some migrants' cost-benefit analysis of whether to attempt crossing into EU territory, the flow of attempted crossings in recent days shows that for thousands of migrants the risk is still worth taking.

If there is an influx of "new" asylum seekers, that is, people who are currently in Syria and have been displaced because of recent events in Idlib, they may have a better chance of successfully obtaining the refugee status, but it will still be hard. In January, Greece introduced new asylum rules that make the application process faster, which also has the goal of making deportations faster — though Athens will probably continue to struggle to enforce deportations, and many of the migrants whose asylum requests are rejected will probably remain in Greece and live in legal limbo.

If Turkey continues allowing migrants to flood its border, Greece could again become the epicenter of Europe's next migration crisis.

Germany's skepticism around asylum seekers. While Germany may accept a few migrants from Greece, it probably will not open its borders as it did five years ago. Germany reacted to the 2015 migration crisis by welcoming around a million asylum seekers into the country, which, in the long run, has weakened the popularity of Chancellor Angela Merkel and contributed to her decision not to seek reelection in 2021. Germany's open-door policy in 2015 also contributed to the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany party, which has become the main opposition party since the country's 2018 general election. Germany's reaction to a new immigration crisis would, therefore, probably be different this time around. In fact, the German government has been posting tweets in Arabic, Farsi, English and German saying that Berlin supports Athens' recent efforts to protect the bloc's external borders, which is basically meant to discourage migrants from trying to enter the European Union.

Instead of taking in migrants, Germany is likely to support granting additional resources, money and assistance to Greece to help protect the border with Turkey. Berlin will also reach out to Ankara to try to keep the migration agreement in place, and even propose cooperation on issues such as establishing a no-fly zone in northwestern Syria. Finally, Germany will increase pressure on Russia to de-escalate the conflict in Syria. In this, the problem for Germany is that it has very limited influence on Moscow, a key actor in the war, and has little to offer to Turkey other than EU funds and diplomatic support.

Impact on Italy

At least during an early phase of a new migration crisis, Italy is unlikely to be significantly affected, as its weak economy will make it a less attractive final destination for migrants entering the European Union from Turkey compared with more financially secure countries such as Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. Instead, the main threat for Italy is events in Turkey encouraging migrants in other parts of the world to try to reach the European Union. If this happens, migration routes that have been relatively calm in recent years could be reactivated, such as the Libya-Italy route.

In mid-2017, Italy reached a deal with the Libyan government to have the Libyan coast guard begin intercepting migrant boats in exchange for money, resources and training. But this deal is fragile for two key reasons:

Human trafficking organizations who transport migrants from sub-Saharan Africa to Libya, and then to Italy, may decide that the conditions are ripe again to resume their operations, which could overwhelm Libya's weak and fragile government.
The current Libyan government may also decide that a new migration crisis in Europe is a good opportunity to ask Italy for more money and resources in exchange for keeping their agreement in place.

A significant surge in the arrival of migrants would happen at a very difficult time for Italy. The country is expected to have very low economic growth in 2020, and the impact of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak could put it in a recession. Authorities in Rome recently announced a stimulus package to deal with the economic impact of the outbreak, but an immigration crisis would create additional problems for Rome's already strained coffers. At the same time, the Italian coalition government is fragile, and the opposition League party, which has a strong anti-immigration stance, is polling strongly. An early election in Italy within the context of a recession and immigration crisis would certainly increase the chances of the League winning the vote and accessing power — an outcome that would further spook financial markets and investors' already shaky confidence, given that some League members have pushed for Italy to leave the eurozone.


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Can Turkey defeat Russia in Syria?
« Reply #262 on: March 11, 2020, 09:03:37 AM »
Can Turkey Defeat Russia's Army in Syria?
by Michael Peck
The National Interest
March 10, 2020
https://www.meforum.org/60553/can-turkey-defeat-russias-army-in-syria

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GPF: Turkey further unleashes Arab refugees on Greece
« Reply #263 on: March 11, 2020, 09:11:32 PM »
Turkey stands pat. Amid mounting pressure from Europe, Turkey is remaining firm on its refusal to close its border to refugees headed to Europe, a move that the EU said violated the 2016 migrant agreement between Ankara and Brussels. Turkey said that until the EU updates the agreement to meet its expectations on visa-free travel, increased financial assistance and an improved customs union, it will leave its border with Greece open to migrants and refugees. And it appears Turkey may be escalating the border dispute with Athens. A video posted on social media by a correspondent for Germany’s Bild newspaper showed a Turkish Coast Guard vessel ramming a Greek Coast Guard ship off the coast of the Greek island of Kos. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly defended the move, saying that Turkey has taken the moral high ground in defending refugees’ rights and saying, “They will run away and we will chase them. That’s how it will be from now on.” In two other incidents on Wednesday, Turkish special forces reportedly fired across the border over a Greek military vehicle and two Turkish F-16s flew at low altitude over the Evros land border.

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Re: GPF: Turkey further unleashes Arab refugees on Greece
« Reply #264 on: March 11, 2020, 09:33:27 PM »
Why is Turkey still in NATO?


Turkey stands pat. Amid mounting pressure from Europe, Turkey is remaining firm on its refusal to close its border to refugees headed to Europe, a move that the EU said violated the 2016 migrant agreement between Ankara and Brussels. Turkey said that until the EU updates the agreement to meet its expectations on visa-free travel, increased financial assistance and an improved customs union, it will leave its border with Greece open to migrants and refugees. And it appears Turkey may be escalating the border dispute with Athens. A video posted on social media by a correspondent for Germany’s Bild newspaper showed a Turkish Coast Guard vessel ramming a Greek Coast Guard ship off the coast of the Greek island of Kos. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly defended the move, saying that Turkey has taken the moral high ground in defending refugees’ rights and saying, “They will run away and we will chase them. That’s how it will be from now on.” In two other incidents on Wednesday, Turkish special forces reportedly fired across the border over a Greek military vehicle and two Turkish F-16s flew at low altitude over the Evros land border.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Turkey
« Reply #265 on: March 12, 2020, 12:34:46 AM »
Guessing here-- off the top of my head:

* to keep them from throwing in completely with the Russians;
* because they work well with the Ukrainians
* because three is an uneven number (Turkey, Russia, Iran)
* because they have serious blackmail leverage with 3.7 million Arab refugees


Crafty_Dog

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Turkey: Get out and stay out!
« Reply #267 on: March 15, 2020, 09:36:55 AM »

Crafty_Dog

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Greek view of Turkey's Migrant Assault into Europe
« Reply #268 on: March 17, 2020, 12:00:17 AM »
Interview: A Greek Perspective on Turkey's Migrant Assault into Europe
by Marilyn Stern
Middle East Forum Radio
March 16, 2020
https://www.meforum.org/60578/turkey-instrumentalizes-migrants-to-blackmail-eu

Crafty_Dog

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Turkey & Russia not friends after all
« Reply #269 on: March 27, 2020, 03:16:29 PM »
Turkey and Russia: Not Friends After All
by Burak Bekdil
BESA Center Perspectives
March 26, 2020
https://www.meforum.org/60622/turkey-and-russia-not-friends-after-all


DougMacG

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Re: Turks cover up Iranian dissident kill
« Reply #271 on: April 02, 2020, 06:13:41 AM »
https://www.meforum.org/60630/turks-cover-up-murder-of-iranian-dissident?utm_source=Middle+East+Forum&utm_campaign=d2e99afb48-Frantzman_2020_04_01_10_33&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_086cfd423c-d2e99afb48-33691909&goal=0_086cfd423c-d2e99afb48-33691909&mc_cid=d2e99afb48

Working on the not so simple math and logic in front of us:  If Turkey is a co-conspirator ally with Iran, helping in this case to cover the murder of this dissident, and Iran is an enemy of the US, actively and currently attacking and killing Americans,,, how is it that we are allies with Turkey??

Crafty_Dog

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Re: Turkey
« Reply #272 on: April 02, 2020, 08:01:42 AM »
As best as I understand the logic at present (the previous logic not really applying any more) and in no particular order:

a) Turkey can unleash the better part of four million Arab refugees into Europe;
b) Turkey has good relations with Ukraine;
c) Turkey is geopolitical counterweight to Iran, Russia
d) We haven't a clue as to how to undo the NATO relationship




DougMacG

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Re: Turkey
« Reply #273 on: April 02, 2020, 11:10:22 AM »
As best as I understand the logic at present (the previous logic not really applying any more) and in no particular order:

a) Turkey can unleash the better part of four million Arab refugees into Europe;
b) Turkey has good relations with Ukraine;
c) Turkey is geopolitical counterweight to Iran, Russia
d) We haven't a clue as to how to undo the NATO relationship

All true, especially the part where we have no idea how to undo the NATO commitment.  Giving them the boot from NATO and friendship would drive them even closer to Russia and Iran.   Also, the threat of getting the boot from NATO is a better lever before we do it than after.  On the other side of the ledger are the dozen, at least, top reasons they are not our ally.  Denying us access to a northern front into Saddam's Iraq was one.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2020, 11:17:17 AM by DougMacG »


Crafty_Dog

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Re: Turkey
« Reply #275 on: May 25, 2020, 11:03:03 AM »


Turkey's President Erdoğan Underwent Surgery for Cancer, Suffers from Epilepsy
by Abdullah Bozkurt
Nordic Monitor
May 24, 2020
https://www.meforum.org/60978/erdogan-had-cancer-suffers-from-epilepsy


Crafty_Dog

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GPF: Turkey and the S-400 continued
« Reply #277 on: July 01, 2020, 05:11:52 PM »
U.S., Turkey and S-400s, cont’d. The future of U.S.-Turkish relations once again features prominently in debates surrounding the National Defense Authorization Act for 2021. On Monday, a U.S. senator proposed an amendment calling for the Army to purchase the S-400 missile defense system that Russia sold to Turkey. Another senator made a counterproposal calling for the government to apply sanctions against Turkey within 30 days of passage of the NDAA. Buying the S-400 would effectively remove one of the bigger impediments to U.S.-Turkish cooperation and clear the way for stronger military ties, including the sale of F-35 fighter jets. Applying sanctions would do the opposite. Washington will need all the allies it can get if it intends to follow through on its commitment to withdraw from the Middle East

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GPF: Turkey and NATO
« Reply #278 on: July 02, 2020, 05:58:35 AM »
France abandoned a NATO mission in the Mediterranean in the wake of an incident with Turkey.
By: Geopolitical Futures

NATO revolves around Turkey. After a seven-month standoff, Turkey finally lifted its veto and allowed the alliance to approve a defense plan for Poland and the Baltic states. Reuters reported in November 2019 that Turkey was blocking the plan in order to pressure its NATO allies to recognize the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, as a terrorist group. (A number of NATO states, including the U.S., have partnered with the YPG in Syria and thus refused to back down.) The operational outline of the defense plan for the bloc’s eastern frontier is classified, but it reportedly includes bulking up air defenses and speeding up the deployment of allied ground forces in the event of conflict with Russia.

But frictions between Turkey and other NATO member states are far from over. The latest disagreement centers on the Mediterranean Sea. According to Turkey’s ambassador to France, the French informed the Turks and NATO that they are suspending their involvement in NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian. France accused Turkey last month of behaving aggressively toward a French warship, the frigate Courbet, as it was participating in the alliance’s maritime security operation. The Turkish ambassador said Paris’ withdrawal came after a NATO investigation into the incident did not support France’s claims. An unnamed French Armed Forces Ministry official said France had temporarily withdrawn from the mission while it waited for NATO to meet demands it had laid out in a letter.

Crafty_Dog

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Turkey tests S-400s against its own f-16s?
« Reply #279 on: July 09, 2020, 11:29:27 PM »
Russia Says Turkey Tested Its S-400s on US F-16 Jets
by Seth Frantzman
The Jerusalem Post
July 8, 2020

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Components of the S-400 missile defense system are unloaded from a Russian plane at Akinci Air Base, near Ankara, Turkey, on July 12, 2019. (Reuters)

Turkey, a member of NATO, tested the Russian-made S-400 air defense system on US-made F-16 jets during a drill in November 2019, Russia's state media TASS has reported. The use of the S-400 against the F-16s was already reported last year, but the new details from Russian media appear to cement the claim and infer that something more was going on in those tests.

Russia has an interest in knowing how well its air defense performs against US warplanes. Russia's S-400 is the top tier of its numerous air defense systems. Some of these systems have been called into question due to mistakes. S-200s used by the Syrian regime shot down a Russian airplane by mistake in 2018. Iranian models of Russian systems have scored big in 2019 with the shoot-down of a US drone, but the Iranians also shot down a civilian jetliner in January.

In Syria there are questions about the radar and reliability of the S-300s and Pantsir and other systems abilities to track modern drones and fifth generational jets. Russia's Pantsirs were also destroyed by Turkish drones in battles in Idlib and Libya this year.

Why would Ankara test the S-400 against its own F-16s, unless at the behest of Moscow?

It is therefore of great importance for Russia to know how the S-400 performed against a NATO member's F-16s. What Turkey got out of this test is less clear now. Why would Ankara test the S-400 it bought from Russia against its own F-16s, unless it was at the behest of Moscow, wanting to see how it performed? The narrative last year was that Turkey merely wanted to test communications between the platforms so it didn't shoot down its own jets.

Russia's TASS media only says that a source close to the Turkish defense industry told TASS that the S-400 was tested on the US-made F-16s. The S-400s are the center a controversy with Washington. By acquiring them for billions of dollars, Turkey has distanced itself from its traditional US ally and become a closer ally of Russia.

The US administration has begged Turkey not to move toward Moscow, with one US senator even suggesting to buy the Russian S-400s from Turkey to please Ankara. What exactly the US would do with S-400s it doesn't need is unclear – and it is unclear if Moscow would let the technology be floated on a barge over to the US to be picked apart by US engineers.

Russia's reasoning for bringing up the November tests this week is also unclear. Turkey got the S-400s in July 2019. It began to test them in November and they were supposed to be operational in April 2020. But they don't seem to be operational yet. This raises questions about what was the overall point of Turkey spending billions on air defense it doesn't need. For Russia, the point seems to be its desire to bring this up as part of an attempt to sink any questions about Turkey and the US working more closely.

Seth Frantzman is a Ginsburg-Milstein Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and senior Middle East correspondent at The Jerusalem Post.


Crafty_Dog

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Re: Turkey
« Reply #281 on: July 13, 2020, 06:10:10 AM »
July 13, 2020   View On Website
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    Turkey's Defense Industry and the Projection of Regional Power
A history of mistrust compels Turkey to fend for itself.
By: Hilal Khashan

Turkey’s relations with the West have never been smooth, not even when it adopted secularism and became a member of NATO. This has had a profound effect on the country’s defense industry. A history of arms embargoes and, alternatively, vast supplies of sophisticated weaponry convinced Ankara that it needed to fend for itself.

Indeed, when the West imposed an embargo after Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974, Ankara established the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation, a significant enterprise that coordinates the activities of 14 arms manufacturers. It’s been busy ever since. In 1975, the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation established the Aselsan Corporation to meet the country’s rapidly expanding military electronic needs, such as advanced automated systems, guidance, electro-optics, communication and information technologies. Roketsan, which specializes in missile launchers and sea defense systems, was founded in 1988 and is Turkey’s leading defense contractor. In 2007, Turkish Aerospace Industries, in collaboration with British AgustaWestland, launched the T-129 helicopter project. The government also established the Presidency of Defense Industries in 1985 to oversee the country’s defense needs and ensure national security. It’s now under the Office of the President. Since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan assumed power in 2003, domestically made military equipment rose from 20 percent to 70 percent.

The plan is for Turkey to become self-sufficient in providing for its military hardware needs and independent from external pressure by 2053. And since the country boasts some first-class manufacturers, it may well be able to.

Inherent Fragility

Turkey is the 14th-largest arms exporter in the world and accounts for 1 percent of total global military exports. It exports mainly wheeled armored vehicles, attack helicopters, howitzers, unmanned aerial vehicles and frigates. It has a fixed customer base in majority-Muslim countries like Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Oman. (Poor relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates deny Turkey even more lucrative Muslim markets.) Its sales to Guatemala, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago are insignificant, and except for minor sales to the U.S., Germany and the Netherlands, NATO countries tend to not buy Turkish military hardware. Even so, Turkey believes its military exports will bring in (a very optimistic) $25 billion in 2023.
 
(click to enlarge)

The future of Turkey’s defense industry hinges on the success of its domestic tank and fighter jet projects. The tank is manufactured with technical assistance from South Korean Hyundai Rotem and expected to gradually replace the obsolete Leopard and M-60 tanks. Barring unforeseen technological hurdles, the Otokar company will put the battle tank in service before the end of 2021.

Founded in 1984, TAI specializes in earth observation and surveillance satellites and manufacturing components for the Airbus A350 and Airbus A400M programs. TAI and SSB are involved in a large project to manufacture the TF-X, a fifth-generation fighter that will replace the F-16. The program has gained greater importance for Turkey after the U.S. decided to halt F-35 jet deliveries. Erdogan’s controversial decision to purchase the S-400 surface-to-air missiles angered the U.S. and drove the Trump administration to punish Turkey for turning to Russia for military procurement. The U.S. successfully pressured BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce to withdraw from partnerships with Turkey to build the engines for the TF-X.

Turkey opted instead to manufacture its engine and subcontracted Aselsan and TR Motor to develop an indigenous engine. The United States’ punitive measures will delay the launch of the TF-X maiden flight from 2023 to 2029. Turkish officials tried to market the TF-X project as the first Islamic jet, but their attempts to make the TF-X jet a multi-partied program did not succeed. Ankara invited Malaysia to become a partner, and Kuala Lumpur did not respond. Perceiving the project as a black hole, Pakistan, Indonesia and Kazakhstan chose to stay out of it.

The Turkish defense industry faces serious challenges that include brain drain, currency devaluation, uncertain foreign supplies and regional disputes. The financial crisis in Turkey caused purchasing power for the majority of citizens to plummet. Talented Turkish scientists left the country to pursue lucrative employment offers commensurate with their qualifications. Turkey’s poor relations with most countries in the Middle East dampened the outlook for its arms exports.

Moreover, the defense industry is inherently fragile because it relies heavily on foreign inputs, many of which come from Europe. In the last quarter of 2019, the European Union placed restrictions on the export of raw material and components used in Turkish arms. Frequent sanctions and embargoes hamper its arms production and deny it access to advanced military technology. Its military products are mostly conventional, outdated and poorly made.

Projecting Power

In criticizing the U.S. for excluding Turkey from the F-35 program, Erdogan said Washington awakened a sleeping giant determined to achieve self-sufficiency in fulfilling its military equipment needs. He boasted that Turkey is involved in executing some 700 arms projects. In December 2018, Erdogan signed a decree to privatize the famous Tank and Pallet Factory to be run by a joint Turkish-Qatari firm for 25 years. Many Turkish nationalists have become convinced that involving a foreign country in its operations undermined Turkey's national security interests. Erdogan sees beyond national security in the narrow sense and aspires to establish a greater role for Turkey in regional affairs.

Erdogan believes that a deterrent military capability is essential for achieving regional power status. Already there is evidence to suggest it has. Turkish military support for the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord recently turned the battle against the forces led by Khalifa Haftar, backed by the UAE, Russia and Egypt. A few months ago, Turkish UAVs inflicted heavy casualties on Syrian regime forces and halted their advance on Idlib.

Erdogan does not trust the weapons suppliers in the West and has a political vision that distances him from NATO. He is bitter because eight NATO member states sent troops to Lithuania to deter Russia from intruding into the Baltic states, but none of them expressed interest in sending troops to northern Syria to protect the southern flank of the alliance.

In that sense, Erdogan’s defense industry is part of his larger regional ambitions. He sees himself as a reformer and architect of regional power. To that end, he has reined in the Turkish military, which had previously been seen as the guarantor of secularism and republicanism, and he has dismissed from service all the participants in the 2016 coup attempt, including their supporters in the bureaucracy and academia, jailing about a third of the top brass in the army and air force.

Erdogan’s policies have drawn comparisons to Mahmud II, who became Ottoman sultan in 1808 and endeavored to modernize the ailing empire. The problem is that he is remembered for massacring thousands of Janissary soldiers for dominating the public sphere and corrupting the state machinery.   




Crafty_Dog

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MEF: Greece shuts down Turkey's migrant blackmail
« Reply #282 on: July 13, 2020, 08:52:46 AM »