How Turkey, Iran, Russia and India are playing the New Silk Roads

November 22, 2017

by Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times (cross-posted by special agreement with the author)

Syria war, Sochi peaceA pacified Syria is key to the economic integration of Eurasia through energy and transportation connections

Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani will hold a summit this Wednesday in Sochi to discuss Syria. Russia, Turkey and Iran are the three power players at the Astana negotiations – where multiple cease-fires, as hard to implement as they are, at least evolve, slowly but surely, towards the ultimate target – a political settlement.

A stable Syria is crucial to all parties involved in Eurasia integration. As Asia Times reported, China has made it clear that a pacified Syria will eventually become a hub of the New Silk Roads, known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – building on the previous business bonanza of legions of small traders commuting between Yiwu and the Levant.

Away from intractable war and peace issues, it’s even more enlightening to observe how Turkey, Iran and Russia are playing their overlapping versions of Eurasia economic integration and/or BRI-related business.

Much has to do with the energy/transportation connectivity between railway networks – and, further on the down the road, high-speed rail – and what I have described, since the early 2000s, as Pipelineistan.

map2

The Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, a deal brokered in person in Baku by the late Dr Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski, was a major energy/geopolitical coup by the Clinton administration, laying out an umbilical steel cord between Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

Now comes the Baku-Tblisi-Kars (BTK) railway – inaugurated with great fanfare by Erdogan alongside Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, but also crucially Kazakh Prime Minister Bakhytzhan Sagintayev and Uzbek Prime Minister Abdulla Aripov. After all, this is about the integration of the Caucasus with Central Asia.

Erdogan actually went further: BTK is “an important chain in the New Silk Road, which aims to connect Asia, Africa, and Europe.” The new transportation corridor is configured as an important Eurasian hub linking not only the Caucasus with Central Asia but also, in the Big Picture, the EU with Western China.

BTK is just the beginning, considering the long-term strategy of Chinese-built high-speed rail from Xinjiang across Central Asia all the way to Iran, Turkey, and of course, the dream destination: the EU. Erdogan can clearly see how Turkey is strategically positioned to profit from it.

map1

Of course, BTK is not a panacea. Other connectivity points between Iran and Turkey will spring up, and other key BRI interconnectors will pick up speed in the next few years, such as the Eurasian Land Bridge across the revamped Trans-Siberian and an icy version of the Maritime Silk Road: the Northern Sea Route across the Arctic.

What’s particularly interesting in the BTK case is the Pipelineistan interconnection with the Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline (TANAP), bringing natural gas from the massive Azeri gas field Shah Deniz-2 to Turkey and eventually the EU.

Turkish analyst Cemil Ertem stresses, “just like TANAP, the BTK Railway not only connects three countries, but also is one of the main trade and transport routes in Asia and Europe, and particularly Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan ports. It connects Central Asia to Turkey with the Marmaray project in Istanbul and via the Caspian region. Along with the Southern Gas Corridor, which constitutes TANAP’s backbone, it will also connect ports on the South China Sea to Europe via Turkey.”

It’s no wonder BTK has been met with ecstatic reception across Turkey – or, should we say, what used to be known as Asia Minor. It does spell out, graphically, Ankara’s pivoting to the East (as in increasing trade with China) as well as a new step in the extremely complex strategic interdependence between Ankara and Moscow; the Central Asian “stans”, after all, fall into Russia’s historical sphere of influence.

Add to it the (pending) Russian sale of the S-400 missile defense system to Ankara, and the Russian and Chinese interest in having Turkey as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

From IPI to IP and then II

Now compare the BTK coup with one of Pipelineistan’s trademark cliff-hanging soap operas; the IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India), previously dubbed “the peace pipeline”.

IPI originally was supposed to link southeastern Iran with northern India across Balochistan, via the Pakistani port of Gwadar (now a key hub of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, CPEC). The Bush and Obama administrations did everything to prevent IPI from ever being built, betting instead on the rival TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) – which would actually traverse a war zone east of Herat, Afghanistan.

TAPI might eventually be built – even with the Taliban being denied their cut (that was exactly the contention 20 years ago with the first Clinton administration: transit rights). Lately, Russia stepped up its game, with Gazprom seducing India into becoming a partner in TAPI’s construction.

But then came the recent announcement by Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak: Moscow and Tehran will sign a memorandum of understanding to build a 1,200km gas pipeline from Iran to India; call it II. And Gazprom, in parallel, will invest in unexplored Iranian gas fields along the route.

Apart from the fact of a major win for Gazprom – expanding its reach towards South Asia – the clincher is the project won’t be the original IPI (actually IP), where Iran already built the stretch up to the border and offered help for Islamabad to build its own stretch; a move that would be plagued by US sanctions. The Gazprom project will be an underwater pipeline from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean.

From New Delhi’s point of view, this is the ultimate win-win. TAPI remains a nightmarish proposition, and India needs all the gas it can get, fast. Assuming the new Trump administration “Indo-Pacific” rhetoric holds, New Delhi is confident it won’t be slapped with sanctions because it’s doing business with both Iran and Russia.

And then there was another key development coming out of Putin’s recent visit to Tehran: the idea – straight out of BRI – of building a rail link between St. Petersburg (on the Baltic) and Chabahar port close to the Persian Gulf. Chabahar happens to be the key hub of India’s answer to BRI: a maritime trade link to Afghanistan and Central Asia bypassing Pakistan, and connected to the North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), of which Iran, India and Russia are key members alongside Caucasus and Central Asian nations.

You don’t need a weatherman to see which way the wind blows across Eurasia; integration, all the way.

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Russia’s Iranian Energy Deal Killed Four Birds with One Stone

Russia’s gargantuan $30 billion energy deal with Iran simultaneously accomplished four objectives that are central to the grand strategic goals behind Moscow’s “Ummah Pivot”.

Global Research, November 08, 2017
Oriental Review 4 November 2017

Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin announced that his company signed a roadmap to invest the mind-numbingly large sum of $30 billion in the Iranian energy sector following his and President Putin’s visit to the Islamic Republic to hold three-way talks with Azerbaijan. This masterstroke of energy diplomacy wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for Trump scaring Western investors away from Iran and pushing the country closer towards Russia as a result, which totally reversed the intended dynamic of the Obama Administration that sought to reorient Iran in the opposite direction through the multiple concessions that it offered up through the summer 2015 nuclear deal. Russia’s foreign policy “progressives” are indeed making rapid progress in advancing their 21st-century grand strategic goal of positioning Moscow as the supreme balancing force in the Eurasian supercontinent, and this is in turn accelerating the global transition to a Multipolar World Order.

In order to appreciate just how profoundly significant of a geostrategic move Moscow made this week, one needs to look no further than the four objectives that were immediately advanced through the Russian-Iranian energy roadmap:

Unveiling A Trans-Azeri Pipeline

Russia intends to build a trans-Azeri pipeline to Iran, which will not only strengthen bilateral Russian-Iranian relations and their trilateral expansion with Azerbaijan, but also importantly demonstrates the success of the recent Russian-Azeri rapprochement over the past year. Moscow views Baku as an integrationist in the sense that it’s facilitating Russia and China’s supercontinental goal of linking the landmass closer together, while traditional Russian “ally” Armenia is seen as a Western-leaning obstructionist that’s suddenly become a wayward partner.

It shouldn’t be interpreted as coincidental that this new energy-driven milestone in Russian-Azeri relations occurred just weeks before the planned signing of Armenia’s “Comprehensive And Enhanced New Agreement” with the EU. The dichotomy of Azerbaijan moving closer to Russia at precisely the same moment that Armenia drifts towards the West is expected to have serious implications for the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process because it suggests that Moscow might more solidly support Baku’s preferred solution to this conflict in line with international law while the West (influenced to a strong degree by the powerful US-based Armenian lobby) might back Yerevan’s continued occupation of the region.

Starting The South Asian Stream

The other important outcome of this trilateral summit is that Russia also announced that it intends to build a tristate pipeline between Iran, Pakistan, and India, which the author recently remarked might signify that Russia has been successful in getting India to downscale its support for Baloch terrorism against Pakistan due to New Delhi’s newfound self-interest in this transnational region’s stability because of “South Asian Stream”. If successful with this strategy, then Moscow could prove that it’s indeed the only balancing force capable of sustaining stability in the Mideast-South Asian pivot region because of the influence that Russia is still capable of wielding in “moderating” the pro-Western pivot that India’s embarked on in recent years.

Trilateral meeting of Vladimir Putin, President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.

Trilateral meeting of Vladimir Putin, President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev in Tehran, Nov 1, 2017 (PHOTO: KREMLIN.RU)

Neutralizing Iran As A European Competitor

In line with the abovementioned strategy that the Obama Administration had for gently co-opting Iran and its “moderate”-led government into the Western fold, a large part of the vision had to do with using Western investments to eventually transform the country into a formidable competitor to Russia in the European marketplace. That entire blueprint has now been neutralized because of Trump’s aggression against the Islamic Republic and the “rescue mission” that Russian energy investments are now engaged in to “save” the Iranian economy from the US’ anti-Iranian bullying of its Western partners (despite the President’s public denial thereof) and what appear to be impending sectoral sanctions against its resource sector. Under these circumstances, which are setting into motion reformatted years-long strategies by all sides, it’s all but impossible for the US to ever “guide” Iran in the direction of becoming a serious competitor to Russia’s marketplace position in Europe, thereby averting this scenario.

Reassuring Tehran About The Russian-Saudi Rapprochement

Finally, Iran had every reason to be concerned about the Russian-Saudi rapprochement if its decision makers viewed it from a “zero-sum” Neo-Realist angle, even though Moscow’s intent behind it had always been about forging a win-win solution for retaining state-to-state peace in the Mideast, but all of those fears were put to rest after the announcement about Rosneft’s $30 billion energy investment plans in the Islamic Republic. Tehran can now rest assured that Moscow isn’t “selling out” to the Saudis, but is indeed truly trying to balance the complex interstate relations of the Mideast, hence the very successful outcome of President Putin’s visit to Iran in proving just how successful Russia’s “Ummah Pivot” is shaping out to be.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare.

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Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan: Emerging Alliance

Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan: Emerging Alliance

ALEX GORKA | 08.11.2017 | WORLD

Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan: Emerging Alliance

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Iran was covered as the top story worldwide. On November 1, the president was in Tehran to attend the tripartite summit of Iran, Russia and Azerbaijan. The event was held against the background of additional sanctions imposed against Russia and Iran on October 31 by the US Treasury Department. It’s only natural for the nations under sanctions to get closer to each other. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Vladimir Putin that Tehran and Moscow must step up cooperation to isolate the United States and help stabilize the Middle East.

At the end of the summit, the presidents of Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan signed the Tehran Declaration. The leaders announced joint plans to expand collaboration in the oil and gas sector as well as on electricity exchange plans and the formation of a single market. It is planned to use national currencies in trade transactions instead of US dollar.

The plans include the participation of Russian investors and private sectors in joining Iran’s infrastructural projects, including industry and energy, and rail networks. Russia holds the largest amount of natural gas reserves in the world. Iran holds the world’s second biggest natural gas reserves. Together the two nations account for around 50% of world reserves of hydrocarbons. By joining together they can significantly influence the world markets.

The Tehran Declaration declares the intent to develop three-way cooperation, including the long-awaited International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC), a 7,200km road, rail, and sea route to connect the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea via Iran, and is then to be connected to North Europe via Russia. The project includes ten other countries, connecting Azerbaijan and Armenia in the Caucasus, then moving north and west to Turkey, Belarus, Syria, and Bulgaria, to Oman in the Middle East, as well as north and east to reach Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Iran also plans to build a railroad to the Mediterranean Sea through Iraq and Syria. Russia could take part in the implementation of the project.

A temporary agreement on establishing a free trade zone between the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and Iran is expected to be signed till the end of the year. A draft agreement between Iran and EEU was signed in Yerevan, Armenia, on July 5 after more than a year of negotiations for levying preferential export tariffs on 350 Iranian industrial products in return for 180 commodities from EEU. The negotiations on a free trade deal with the Eurasian Economic Union make it clear that other nations will not follow the US if it backs out of the nuclear accord with Iran. With global economic interest in Iran, and international commitment to the deal, Tehran looks set to continue its reintegration into the global economy.

Iran has joined Russia in taking control of the Syrian peace process, becoming a party to the Astana peace process. Russian arms supplies, including an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system delivered last year, help Tehran maintain the capability to defend itself, especially in view of potential US intervention.

Azerbaijan is a very important regional actor – a secular state obstructing the spread of religious extremism.

Baku would gain a lot by joining a free trade zone between the EEU and Tehran. The logic and the economic benefits of a free trade area are obvious. It would bring together highly compatible economies and consolidate economic and trade links in Central Asia and in southern Eurasia. It would also allow Azerbaijan to resume trade links with Armenia, a member of the EEU, facilitating a settlement of the currently frozen Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Moscow-Tehran-Baku format could be much more efficient than the OSCE in finding a peaceful solution to the problem.

The construction of a railroad from Iran to Russia through Azerbaijan was an issue on the agenda. Azerbaijan is ready to allocate 500 million euros to modernize its section of the railway corridor.

President Putin said Russia is ready to deliver gas to the northern part of Iran via Azerbaijan. According to him, Moscow and Baku should not compete when it comes to energy projects. This is a matter of special importance for Baku in view of obstructions created on the way of transporting Azeri gas to Europe. This summer, a group of influential NGOs, including Greenpeace, Bankwatch Network, Friends of the Earth Europe и Climate Action Network Europe, called on the European Commission to withdraw support for the 878-kilometer-long Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) stretching from Azerbaijan. The pretext used is possible damage to climate and increasing energy dependence on oppressive political regimes (meaning Azerbaijan).

Azerbaijan has good reasons to doubt the West’s reliability as an ally. Baku is routinely criticized in the West for being a “dictatorship”. Western NGOs in Azerbaijan have often openly backed anti-government opposition leaders in ways that must make Azerbaijan’s government wonder whether it is a target for a West-backed color revolution.

The burgeoning cooperation between the three powers is just one if the trends shaping the regional landscape. There is also an emerging alliance to involve Turkey-Iran-Qatar – all of them closely cooperating with Moscow.

The process of rapprochement between Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan will continue. The next trilateral meeting will be held in Moscow in 2018. If the plans agreed at the Tehran summit will go through, the landscape of the Middle East and South Asia will change with many countries of the regions united by economic interests. The influence of the United States will greatly diminish. China’s One Belt One Road initiative and the Russia-Azerbaijan-Iran energy bridge will create the conditions for a multipolar world.

350 Azerbaijani Diplomatic Flights Carry Weapons For Terrorists

350 Azerbaijani Diplomatic Flights Carry Weapons For Terrorists

see also https://trud.bg/350-diplomatic-flights-carry-weapons-for-terrorists/

In December, Trud reporter Dilyana Gaytandzhieva found and filmed 9 underground warehouses fullof heavy weapons with Bulgaria as their country of origin in Eastern Aleppo.

In December, Trud reporter Dilyana Gaytandzhieva found and filmed 9 underground warehouses full of heavy weapons with Bulgaria as their country of origin in Eastern Aleppo.

According to an extensive investigative report published by the Bulgarian Trud newspaper, during the last three years, at least 350 diplomatic flights on board Silk Way Airlines—an Azerbaijani state-run company—have transported weapons for war conflicts across the world.

Reported by Dilyana Gaytandzhieva who received a trove of documents from an anonymous Twitter account—Annonymous Bulgaria—the article says that Silk Way Airlines has carried tens of tons of heavy weapons and ammunition headed to terrorists under the cover of diplomatic flights.

The leaked files include correspondence between the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Azerbaijan to Bulgaria with attached documents for weapons deals and diplomatic clearance for overflight and/or landing in Bulgaria and many other European countries, USA, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Turkey, to name a few.

According to the documents, Silk Way Airlines offered diplomatic flights to private companies and arms manufacturers from the US, Balkans, and Israel, as well as to the militaries of Saudi Arabia, UAE, and the military forces of Germany and Denmark in Afghanistan and of Sweden in Iraq.

Diplomatic flights are exempt of checks, air bills, and taxes, meaning that Silk Way airplanes freely transported hundreds of tons of weapons to different locations around the world without regulation. They made technical landings with stays varying from a few hours to up to a day in intermediary locations without any logical reasons such as needing to refuel the planes.

According to the documents, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry has sent instructions to its embassies in Bulgaria and many other European countries to request diplomatic clearance for Silk Way Airlines flights.

“Some of the weapons that Azerbaijan carried on diplomatic flights were used by its military in Nagorno-Karabakh against Armenia. In 2016, Azerbaijan accused Armenia of using white phosphorus. Armenia denied the allegations and in turn accused Azerbaijan of fabrication, as the only piece of evidence was based on a single unexploded grenade found by Azerbaijan’s soldiers. According to the documents from the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Sofia, white phosphorus munitions were carried on a diplomatic flight via Baku the previous year,” the report reads.

U.S. sends $1 billion worth of weapons
“Among the main customers of the “diplomatic flights for weapons” service provided by Silk Way Airlines are American companies, which supply weapons to the US army and US Special Operations Command. The common element in these cases is that they all supply non-US standard weapons; hence, the weapons are not used by the US forces,” said the report.

“According to the register of federal contracts, over the last 3 years American companies were awarded $1 billion contracts in total under a special US government program for non-US standard weapon supplies. All of them used Silk Way Airlines for the transport of weapons. In some cases when Silk Way was short of aircraft due to a busy schedule, Azerbaijan Air Force aircraft transported the military cargo, although the weapons never reached Azerbaijan,” reported Gaytandzhieva.

Click to read Gaytandzhieva’s entire article.

Artsakh Presidential Spokesman Responds
After the publication of the Truda report, Artsakh Presidential spokesperson David Babayan told Public Radio of Armenia that the “Azerbaijan established ties with terrorism at the time it gained independence.”

“This is a well-known fact to everyone, especially the special services of the countries, which immediately deal with the Islamic State and the threat of terrorism,” Babayan told Public Radio of Armenia.
“Chechen militants were getting treated in Azerbaijan during the first and second Chechen wars. It was also providing medical services to Mujahideen during the Afghan war and the Grey Wolves Turkish extremist group, as well as other groupings, which were fighting against Artsakh during the first Artsakh war and the four-day war in April,” said Babayan.

He stressed however that merely reporting the facts was not enough and concrete actions should be taken based on the revelations.

“The international community has a lot to do here. The international community should take measures,” he told Public Radio of Armenia, adding that “we often see adverse developments instead.” “They entrust Baku to host first European Games, the Formula 1, a number of forums and conferences instead of taking anti-terrorist measures against the country.”

“These developments are the logical outcome of the world’s silence in response to Aliyev’s statement on the intention to down civilian planes flying between Stepanakert and Yerevan,” said Babayan, adding that “an evil grows into an epidemics if not uprooted at the beginning. Azerbaijan is one of the countries spreading the epidemics, one of the cradles of international terrorism.”

Turkey’s New Role: From Islamist NATO Lapdog to SCO?

Note: 

Here, we have to remember Erbakan’s project for to lift the global capitalist domination of his country and turn Turkey into a major industrial nation.

Erbakan believes that there is a close alliance between Zionism and global capitalism responsible for corrupting the world through wars and Hollywood and the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

After the parliamentary elections in 1996, he embraced the idea of the establishment of the Islamic Group of Eight (Turkey – Egypt – Iran – Nigeria – Pakistan – Indonesia – Bangladesh – Malaysia), to be the nucleus of a bigger gathering for the sixty Islamic States in one organization (United Nations Organization of Islamic countries) and the idea of founding of a joint defense cooperation between Islamic countries and an Islamic common market an (Islamic Dinar) instead of dealing in dollars.

The army overthrew the government of Erbakan, banned his party from political action, and the next governments cancelled all agreement he signed especially the Islamic Group of Eight.

The military coup against Erbakan, triggered a division in the Turkish Islamic movement where questions arises such as:

  • Do we stay on Erbakan’s project that caused the coup?
  • Or follow Sadat’s steps and start  an understanding with the US and Western powers, (holding all the cards) ?

The founding of the Justice and Development Party by Erdogan and Abdullah Gul was an internal coup backed by American International “Muslim” Brotherhood network  a sharp contrast to the Turkish Mother Islamic movement project. Just before the party gets the legal status the new pragmatic leaders too off the cloak of the Islamic movement.

Turkey which, since the Cold War, has been used as a tool against Russia, .

The so-called New Ottoman “Emerging Empire” have been crashed on the rock of Syria’s steadfastness and resistance axis. Syria, was the gate for founding the Ottoman’s old Empire, and the Grave Yard for the myth of neo-ottoman Empire. Moreover, Partitioned Syria ,welcomed  by the Anglo-Zionist Empire is a red line for Turkey, because is will pave the way for partitioned Turkey.

The US backed coup was a “gift from God” to Erdogan crush  Gulen’s deep state and avoid a coming stab in his back similar his stab in the back of  Erbakan.

I fully agree with the author:

The U.S. support for the Kurds is part of the creation of  the New Middle East “to carve out a Kurdistan in the region, which would become a client-state of Israel; thus providing the Zionist regime with an effective proxy army against its Arab enemies” 

If Turkey is to emerge as a strong regional power, not EMPIRE , Turkey have to leave “the Zionist axis and find a solution to the Kurdish question in conjunction with Syria and Russia” 

 

Turkey’s New Role: From NATO Lapdog to Emerging Empire?

Global Research, September 03, 2016
Gearóid Ó Colmáin 31 August 2016
nato-turkey

The recent Turkish coup attempt marks a turning point in NATO’s war on Syria. An emerging empire and portal to the orient, Turkey has always played a key role in NATO’s ‘Drang Nach Osten’- the drive to encircle Russia, destroy its client-states Syria and Ukraine, and serve as a bulwark against other emerging powers such as Iran. But now it seems Turkey may no longer be carrying out its designated role.

That the United States was behind the coup attempt there is little doubt, though some prominent analysts such as Thierry Meyssan disagree that the coup was orchestrated by Gülenists. Fethullah Gülen is known to be close to the CIA and the U.S. obmutescence during the coup was typical of standard procedure during U.S. covert regime change operations. While Erdoğan is unquestionably a war criminal who is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents in Syria and Libya and heavy repression at home, nonetheless, as in the case of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the Turkish leader seems to have fallen out of favour in the West.

The media have already begun the predictable, clichéd demonisation process –  publishing pictures of the Turkish incumbent’s opulent palaces etc. Turkey desperately needs a new, progressive regime, which would contribute to peace in the Middle East. But if the choice is between a monster the CIA wants out and a monster the CIA wants in, the latter is the best option as it weakens U.S. imperialism.

Thanks to Ming-yen Hsu - https://www.flickr.com/photos/myhsu/. Used under Creative Commons. No modifications have been made.

Turkey’s strategic imperatives

Stratfor director George Friedman claims Turkey is now a world power whose military is more powerful than the French or British. The U.S. strategy for Europe was to force Turkish entry into the EU – most recently through weapons of mass migration. The policy worked in Turkey’s favour. But the British decision to exit the European Union changed the balance of power. Moscow took the opportunity to extend the hand of friendship once more to Ankara. Just before the July 19th  coup attempt, there were reports of a possible détente between Turkey and Syria.

U.S./Turkish relations have soured considerably since 2013 when U.S.-based billionaire Fethullah Gülen fomented the Gezi Park protest movement against the Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regime. Though there was certainly popular discontent in the country with Erdoğan’s Islamisation policies and his support for terrorism in Syria, the Gezi Park protests were really about pushing Gülen’s attempt to destabilise the regime and take over. Fethullah Gülen is the founder of a vast empire of private prep schools throughout the world. He promotes an extremist form of Islam.

Though originally close to Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), Gülen’s movement Hizmat (service) is less nationalist and therefore more amenable to U.S./Zionist interests. The Gülenist network operates as a fifth column in Turkey, a para-state operating at the highest levels of the military, intelligence and judicial apparatuses. I was asked by Russian state media RT to comment on the Turkish shooting down of a Russian jet in November 2015. I said then that the Turkish government was acting against the national interest. It has since transpired that the attack was carried out by Gülenist military personnel who have been prosecuted for the crime. President Erdoğan recently apologised to Russian President Vladimir Putin for the attack. In fact, Turkey had indicated on July 13ththat it intended to normalise relations with Syria, thus ending the war against Assad.  Contacts between Ankara and Damascus have been growing in recent months and it now looks like Russia and Turkey may have begun to mend relations. Southstream, Russia’s plan to pipe oil to Europe through Turkey, had to be abandoned last year due to U.S. pressure on Ankara. There is now a possibility of renegotiation recommencing between Moscow and Ankara. Recent Turkish/Iranian contacts also indicate that the Kurdish question is forcing Ankara to re-calibrate its foreign policy.

Although secret talks have reportedly been taking place between Ankara and Damascus, the two countries remain at war in Syria and there is no change yet in the official position of either state.

The geopolitical theories of Greek turkologist Dmitiry Kitsikis have had a major influence on Turkish foreign policy. Kitsikis is famous for promoting the notion of Turkey as a civilisation-state which naturally encompasses the region stretching from North Africa, through the Balkans and Eastern Europe; Kitsikis refers to this as the ‘Intermediate Region’. Turkey’s previous ‘good neighbourly’ policy seemed to be in accordance with  Kitsikian geopolitics but was sabotaged by Ankara’s treacherous collaboration with U.S. chaos strategy in the Middle East since the U.S.- fomented ‘Arab Spring’ in 2011.

U.S. policy towards Turkey has always been to support the regime as a strong regional power to wield against Russia while at the same time supporting the Kurdish YPG (people’s defense units) in Syria. U.S. support for the Kurds is part of the long-term geopolitical remodeling of the region – the creation of what former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice at the start of the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings in 2011 referred to as the “New Middle East”. The U.S. and Israel want to carve out a Kurdistan in the region, which would become a client-state of Israel; thus providing the Zionist regime with an effective proxy army against its Arab enemies –  once the Da’esh-fomented genocide has created the requisite Lebensraum.

Erdoğan’s ambitions of reviving the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East ultimately threaten U.S. hegemony. The United States Navy rules the waves. The U.S. will not allow another major maritime power to threaten its global control. Rapid economic growth and the paying off of its IMF debt in 2013 have seen Turkey emerge more and more as a strategic regional power with increasing independence and political assertiveness. Turkish investment in Africa has increased more than ten-fold since 2000. The Turks  have opened embassies all over Africa. Ankara is selling the notion of ‘virtuous power’ in Africa with infrastructural development projects and investments designed to compete with China and the United States. Turkish involvement in Somalia has turned the East African nation into a veritable client-state of the emerging Turkish Empire. In 2015 Turkey opened a military base in Somalia. Turkey will henceforth have a strategic reach in the Gulf of Aden, one of the most important oil choke-points in the world. Ankara also has plans to establish military bases in Azerbaijan, Qatar and Georgia.

The Turkish regime has been attempting to oust the presence of the Gülenist movement in many African countries by offering to supply  state funds for education programmes. A recent statement by a Turkish government spokesman alluded to Ankara’s desire to counter Western ‘neo-colonial’ interests in Africa. The statement clearly shows that Turkey intends to join the new ‘scramble for Africa’ as part of neo-ottoman imperialism.

Turkey in Central Asia and China

Turkey has considerable power and influence in Central Asia where many Turkic-speaking people reside. In 2009, Turkey helped found the Cooperation Council of Turkic Speaking States.  Turkish investment has been increasing in Central Asia. Ankara has also been training military personnel in Central Asian states.  The oil-rich Turkmenistan is one nation which has received visits in recent years from the ‘Sublime Porte’. During its spat with Moscow, Ankara sought to deepen ties with Turkmenistan in hopes of enticing that state to participate in the Trans-Caspian Pipeline – a project to pipe gas from the Caspian Sea through Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Turkey to Europe, thereby bypassing Russia. Turkey also has considerable influence in Turkic speaking regions of the Russian Federation such as Tartarstan. Though relations with Moscow have now improved, Ankara’s links in Central Asia remain key strategic levers in the renaissance of Turkish imperialism.

Turkey’s links with Uighur terrorists in China’s troubled Xinjiang (East Turkestan) province has led to diplomatic rows with Beijing. Many of the Uighur terrorists operating against China have been trained and facilitated by Turkey in Syria. Although Turkey’s support for Uighur terrorists in Xinjiang complies with NATO policy towards China, it shows once again the potential reach of Turkish power.

Turkey’s drive for world power status, together with the decline of Europe as a political entity, means that Ankara will continue to flex its muscles in the international arena. The French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has said that Turkey is no longer a reliable partner in NATO’s fight against the Islamic State. Of course, Ankara was never a partner in the war against the Islamic State as the Turkish regime has been arming and training the Islamic State terrorists along with its NATO partners and has been caught in flagrante delicto on several occasions. But what the French Foreign Minister’s remarks mean is that Turkey may no longer be as sanguine in its support for terrorism in Syria, due to the West’s support for the Kurds; rapprochement with Moscow and Damascus, and now more than ever after the failed U.S.-backed coup attempt.

Israel’s double game

The situation is further complicated by Israel’s stance towards the Turkish coup attempt and its aftermath. The Turkish regime thanked Israel for its help quashing the coup. Relations between Tel Aviv and Ankara have improved, in spite of the current dispute with Washington. One should not overlook the fact that, although the Israeli Lobby exerts considerable control over U.S. foreign policy, Israel often adopts a friendlier attitude to many of America’s so-called enemies. Israel’s relationship with Belarus has always been generally good, in spite of repeated U.S. aggression. Israel’s relationship with Azerbaijan  has been good, in spite of major diplomatic rows with the U.S..

Israeli/Russian relations are far better than Moscow’s relationship with Washington. Israel has always had a more nuanced oriental policy than the U.S. The Israelis are masters at playing both sides off each other in international conflicts. During the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, the U.S. supported Saddam Hussein’s regime while Israel eventually provided Israel covert supplies of weapons to  Iran with on U.S. approval. The Israelis had established ties with Iranian fifth columnists Mir-Hossein Moussavi and Hachemi Rafsanjani. The aforementioned Stratfor director George Friedman has said that the Iran/Iraq war would be a template for dealing with the rise of Turkey as a world power.

A rising maritime power in trouble?

Turkey will pay dearly for the folly of abandoning its ‘good neighbourly’ regional policy, which showed some promise until 2011. It had a glorious opportunity then to exercise ‘virtuous power’. Now the country could be facing civil war. The purge of Gülenists in the Turkish regime has already led to hundreds of arrests of top military and government personnel. If Turkey is to emerge as a regional empire, it will have to leave the Zionist axis and find a solution to the Kurdish question in conjunction with Syria and Russia. It is currently beginning to appear that  previous secret plans agreed upon by Ankara and Paris to carve out a Kurdish state in Northern Syria may have to be abandoned. As the French escalate bombing of Raqqa in Syria in the wake of the Nice terrorist psyops, Turkey could be facing an acute state of emergency.

The United States cannot tolerate the emergence of a major maritime power like Turkey which, since the Cold War, has been used as a tool against Russia. Turkey’s Incirlik Airbase holds up to 80 percent of Washington’s nuclear arsenal in Europe. A significant oriental shift in Ankara’s  foreign policy would signal the end of America’s prospects of ‘full spectrum dominance’, creating the conditions for a new imperial division of the world- a geopolitical reconfiguration some might imagine as falling in with conjectures of a Moscow/Constantinople axis or, in mytho-historical terms, a ‘Third Rome’.

It is possible that the U.S. already sees that a reconfiguration of imperialist alliances is necessary with the influential former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski advocating a détente in U.S. relations with Russia and China. What is clear from recent events in Turkey is that the world imperialist system is going through seismic changes, with old military alliances breaking down and new configurations of imperial power emerging.  What prospect exist for global,working-class liberation in a period of deepening capitalist crisis and war remain to be seen.

Erdogan’s Neo-Ottomanism Shift: What Makes It So Dangerous?

Part 1

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Turkey’s neo-Ottomanism is a dangerous phenomenon making the country’s foreign policy confusing, provocative and fraught with dangerous implications.

Moscow believes that «neo-Ottoman» mindset influences Turkey’s foreign policy. Lavrov was referring to the country’s historical predecessor – the Ottoman Empire. Turkey continues to talk about «safe zones» and a «Plan B» for Syria, which reveals its «expansionist aspirations», Lavrov noted. He said it was not Syria only. Ankara still maintains a military presence in Iraq despite the fact that the Iraqi government never authorized Turkish forces to cross the country’s border and has repeatedly demanded that they leave. Turkey appears motivated to «extend its influence and expand its territory», the Minister explained. For instance, the Turkish Air Force had violated Greek airspace 1,800 times last year while NATO was remaining tight-lipped. «This kind of explicitly expansionist behavior can bring no positive results», the Russian FM stressed.

The West prefers to turn a blind eye on Turkey’s risky foreign policy ventures. It views Turkey as an ally. Western leaders say the country’s political system has checks and balances to prevent radicalization and islamization of the country. In reality, the things are quite different.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has been removed from power. Now there is no counterweight to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan anymore. The division of powers has become a thing of the past. The situation is fraught with escalation of tensions in Crimea, the Caucasus, the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

Erdogan and his inner circle are aggressive and unpredictable. The foreign policy is influenced by neo-Ottomanism and the foreign policy doctrine outlined in Ahmet Davutoglu’s several writings, most important of which is his book «Strategic Depth». He argues that Turkey possesses «strategic depth» due to its history and geographic position and lists Turkey among a small group of countries which he calls «central powers». Turkey should not be content with a regional role in the Balkans or the Middle East, because it is not a regional but a central power. Hence, it should aspire to play a leading role in several regions, which could award it with global strategic significance. There are several factors that make this policy doomed.

First – Turkey’s influence in the Muslim world has been considerably reduced while Russia’s clout in the region has grown. Turkish Birgün writes that Erdogan may still believe that he is the political leader of the Muslim world. Meanwhile, the threats to national security have made Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia sign multi-billion contracts to purchase Russian arms. Emboldened by Russia’s support of Syria, the leaders of these countries have become frequent visitors to Moscow. Birgün editors believe that Moscow is turning into a centre of gravity. It can offer more than the United States or the West in general. With rich experience accumulated, Russia knows well how to counter the jihadist threat and exchange information on terrorists with the states involved in the fight against it. Despite all the predictions, Russia’s participation in the fight against Syrian Salafi groups has not sparked the feeling of indignation among the Muslim states of the Middle East and North Africa. Russia has become a global power. Threatened from outside, Muslim countries are inclined to develop military cooperation with it.

Second – Turkey’s plans in Syria have been stymied. The adopted concept of «zero problems with neighbors» showed opposite results than expected. Turkey has failed to make Syrian President Bashar Assad step down. The Kurdish formations are gaining ground in the northern part of Syria. The Russian Aerospace Forces have delivered a severe blow to illegal oil shipments and the groups involved in this criminal business.

As sources report, the defeat suffered by Turkey and the Islamic State in Syria was the decisive factor to make Prime Minister Davutoglu step down. President Erdogan blamed him for the foreign policy failures.

French Slate.fr believes that Turkey is nearing a civil war while President Erdogan continues to implement its aggressive adventurist foreign policy.

Bayram Balci, an independent researcher affiliated with the Paris Institute of Political Studies (CERI Sciences Po), says, Turkey’s regional policy is in doldrums. The very complexity of the situation in the region and the Syrian crisis have clearly demonstrated Erdogan’s propensity for hubris and authoritarianism, something he had displayed before but to a lesser extent. Mr Balci believes Erdogan has failed in his fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Islamic State, the «parallel state» – a transnational religious and social movement led by Turkish New York-based Islamic scholar and preacher Fethullah Gülen. Erdogan cannot contain Russia’s influence in the region, no matter how hard he tries.

Third – The tensions are rising in the Caucasus, especially in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan lacks power to win. Russia and Armenia get closer collaborating within the framework of Collective Security Treaty Organization and on bilateral basis. Yerevan’s readiness to recognize under certain conditions Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state makes Ankara face a «Karabakh dead-end». There is no way out looming at the horizon.

Fourth – There are no breakthroughs Turkey could brag about when it comes to the Turkic-speaking states of Central Asia. These countries continue to interact with Russia. They want to boost relations with China. Despite all the attempts to increase Turkish investments into energy and telecommunications sectors of Kazakhstan, Turkey accounts for only 1-2 percent of the country’s foreign trade. The country is only the fourth largest foreign trade partner of Uzbekistan. In case of Kyrgyzstan’s exports, Turkey lags behind even the war-torn Afghanistan.

Fifth factor – Turkey’s relationship with the West, especially with the United States, is going through a crisis. For a long time, Turkey has been viewed as a reliable partner and a mediator in the Middle East. Ankara’s foreign policy has exacerbated the relationship with Muslim states. They started to look at Turkey as an instrument of US Greater Middle East policy. Balancing between Washington, Arab states and Israel cannot continue forever. The Guardian believes that the Turkish plans have gone up in smoke with the Syrian crisis capping the climax.

Erdogan, penned in on all sides, has directed his wrath at the US for its support of Syrian Kurds.

All these factors, as well as Erdogan’s desire to get rid of rivals on the Turkish political landscape, could make the Turkish leadership raise the stakes. It will affect all directions of his foreign policy to destabilize the situation in the eastern part of the Mediterranean, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle and Near East.

(To be continued)

Part2

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) holds an extraordinary congress on May 22 where Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu doesn’t seek a new mandate as party chairman. The event takes place against the background of chaos and internal strife. Some scenarios predicted by experts and politicians look quite realistic.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan founded the party. He and Davutoglu are old comrades-in-arms. Now the President may be inclined to form a technical government till the next snap election. The goal is to get a clear majority of votes to push through a constitutional reform granting vast powers to the President. To facilitate the desired outcome, Erdogan may envisage several scenarios to destabilize situation in the regions that Ankara believes to be vital for its geopolitical aims.

First scenario – the destabilization of Nagorno-Karabakh to make Russia leave the negotiation process or even withdraw from the OSCE Minsk group. The Azerbaijani military will stage a provocation to make Armenia recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state with ensuing involvement of Yerevan into the conflict as a warring party. This scenario will make Russia follow the Collective Security Treaty Organization commitment to help Armenia and defend the Russian military base stationed in Gyumri. This development of events will stymie the economic and political relations between Moscow and Baku, including the energy sector. The scenario presupposes deterioration of internal situation in Armenia with some people staging protests under anti-Russian slogans. In an interview with Azerbaijani outlet Haqqin.az, Paruir Airikyan, an opposition leader, made a tentative step. According to him, the April skirmishes were initiated and provoked by Russia pursuing its aims. Airikyan said, Azerbaijan and Armenia should say «Goodbye, Russia!» as a preliminary condition for peaceful settlement. The politician believes that no solution to the problem could be found till Russia had a say in the process. Such initiatives fully dovetail with policy goals of Ankara.

Second scenario – provoking exacerbation of tensions in the areas close to the Turkey-Syria border to create a pretext for getting the Saudi Arabia-led Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf or the Gulf Cooperation Council entangled into the conflict. This could be done but Turkey will have to shoulder a heavy burden. It may also lead to its political isolation. Today Turkey has the image of a country spreading instability beyond its national borders.

According to Dr Barış Doster, Marmara University, Turkey, Ankara’s reliance on strategic partnership with Washington is erroneous. He believes the situation has changed. The United States is losing its strength. Russia’s influence in the Middle East is growing. Assad is winning in Syria. With the nuclear deal reached, Iran is emerging as a regional actor with growing influence in Syria and Iraq. Masoud Barzani, the President of the Iraqi Kurdistan, the Egyptian Muslim Brothers, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are the only remaining Turkey’s allies.

The Radical, puts it even more bluntly. The outlet writes that the policy implemented by Turkey during the recent seven years has created serious problems in its relationship with Israel, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Iran, Russia and the United States. Turkish sources report that Erdogan strives to prevent any possibility of crisis management in Syria. He realizes that sooner or later the conflict will be solved. The Turkish President does each and everything he can to preclude a peaceful settlement. Erdogan believes that peace in Syria does not meet Turkey’s interests. Someday there will be changes in Syria, Radical writes. Could the relations between Turkey and a new Syria get back to the 2010 standards becoming predictable and stable again? Especially when the world community is expressing readiness to work with the government elected by Syrian people. «Where will the staunch refusal to recognize reality lead Turkey to?» asks Radical.

Haydar Çakmak of Turkish Yeni Çağ believes Erdogan wants Turkey to be deeply entangled in the Syrian conflict.

The analyst warns that an intervention means losing what has been achieved in the relations with the Arab world during the recent 50 years. «Let Saudis go into Syria if they want to», he writes. According to him, «Turkey could limit its involvement to logistics and political support. The Justice and Development Party has already committed a blunder in Syria being adamant in its insistence that Assad must go. If Turkey crosses the border, it will make another big mistake».

Third scenario – inciting tensions between Russia and NATO to increase Turkey’s role in South-Eastern Europe. The West may make concessions on other issues of importance for Ankara: the relationship with the EU, Northern Cyprus and the Kurds. Turkey may take advantage of the fact that the activated NATO missile defense site in Romania covers its territory, reports Turkish Star gazette. The outlet says, Russia is the target for NATO. It does not mean that the Alliance will attack it. It means that Moscow will exert pressure on Europe. The missile defense site makes NATO take measures to counter the Russian threat. According to some reports, the expansion of NATO was the reason for deterioration of the situation in the Kurdish-populated parts of Turkey, including the skirmishes between Kurdish demonstrators and Turkish police in Sirnak, the capital of Şırnak Province near the border with Syria and Iraq.

These three scenarios could be activated separately of simultaneously. One should closely watch the events unfolding inside Turkey, especially those related to the election of the Justice and Development Party leader and the appointment of Prime Minister. There may be changed in the attitudes towards Turkey among its closest allies.

The Turkish “Hitler”?

 

May 21, 2016
The Turkish “Hitler”?

by Uncle Vania

translated by Vox Populi Evo

On May 22nd, Turkey will have a new Prime Minister instead of the current leader of the Cabinet of Ministers — Ahmet Davutoglu. On May 5, 2016 he was forced to resign his post as a head of the ruling Justice and Development Party under pressure from Recep Tayyip Erdogan. As a result, he steps down as Turkish Prime Minister.

About the reasons for Davutoglu’s resignation, any doubts have disappeared after Erdogan’s words that “Davutoglu should not forget how he got to his post”. It is no secret that Erdogan does not tolerate independent and liberal politicians in his environment such as Davutoglu. Recently, the Prime Minister, who is by the way one of the ideologists of “Turkey’s rebirth as a global power”, has begun to take part in international affairs. That aroused Erdogan’s jealousy who considers geopolitics and international relations his main priorities. Erdogan does not need allies; he needs puppets to use them and to rule with their help.

turchia_14_MGZOOMIn these voluntaristic decisions Erdogan looks like “Ottoman Hitler” – the authoritarian ruler who does not tolerate different opinions, is ruthless to national minorities and very aggressive to external wars.

So, Erdogan‘s attitude towards national minorities, whether the Kurds or the Armenians, leaves much to be desired and looks like genocide. Erdogan does not admit the genocide in the Ottoman Empire against the Armenian people in 1915 (what the whole world already knows), but continues “glorious” traditions of his predecessors.

The active phase of the civil war with the Kurds lasts already about one year. The cities in the east and south of the country are exposed to total mop up. There are recent examples of such clashes and police-military operations in the town of Cizre and other places of compact residence of the Kurds in Turkey. Moreover, this campaign results in an all-out war considering the fact that the number of the Kurds in the country exceeds 20 million people. Thousands of the Kurds die. That is why we observe a lot of terror acts in Turkish cities. The conflict is at its zenith.

Armenian—Turkish relations are developing rather dramatically, despite the fact that Armenia is not a part of the Turkish state. Nagorno – Karabakh is not just one big headache for the OSCE “Minsk group” but also a chance for Turkey to put pressure on their enemy, (the Armenians) and to create problems for Russia. It is no coincidence that Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev regularly take a consultation of his “elder Turkic brother” Erdogan who will get a lot of benefit from a new war on the borders of Russia.

The level of hypocrisy in foreign policy of Ankara is not incomparable to Berlin during Hitler’s reign. So, in the mid-2000s, Erdogan said that Syria and Assad were “close friends” of Turkey and were ready to establish a free trade area. But then, almost overnight, Assad in the eyes of Ankara “has made” outstanding and acrobatic somersault to get access to Syria oil reserves and became “an implacable enemy,” a tyrant and “a fighter with democracy”.

The same thing happened in the relations with Russia. At first, it was a “great economic partner”, and then Turkey began to shoot down Russian gunships, to sponsor radicals of Crimean Tatars for a new war in Donbass.

Not surprisingly, if Erdogan as by the way still acting Prime Minister Davutoglu “predicted” abandon the idea of Alliance with the United States in favor of the revival of a new Ottoman Empire in the Middle East.

But the most hypocritical thing is the fight against “Islamic state” that sells oil to Erdogan and lives on this money. On words, the Turkish President is “the most principled fighter” with Islamism in Syria, he allegedly expended some efforts to kill thousands of militants (it is a pity but nobody can confirm that, especially the Syrian Kurds fighting with the Islamic state in Syria and killed by the Turkish fire).

And the parallels do not stop. Erdogan is merciless to his surroundings. Previously, he jailed almost all the generals suspected of the coup. Two years ago, he started purging security services, police, armed forces and his party to identify real and alleged supporters of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, who is living in the United States. This Turkish “Trotsky” is like a thorn in Erdogan’s flesh. For more than 10 years Erdogan has been unsuccessfully trying to exchange him but the United States needs Islamist to blackmail the President. So, Davutoglu is the last but not the least victim of Erdogan’s purges.

One more important parallel is Erdogan‘s willingness to violate the territorial integrity of former partners in favor of his interests and desire to capture near-by territory. The same thing happened with Iraqi Kurdistan where Turkish troops feel at home. They do not need the approval of Baghdad to invade there to catch some rebels with the PKK.

The same was with Northern Iraq‘s Mosul area, which Erdogan is going to grab first and not to give the Kurds or the Iraqis themselves to establish control over these oil—rich areas (well, is not it the sample of the Czech Sudetenland in 1938!?)

Only Russian troops in Latakia and Tartus that can give more serious resistance than the Syrian Arab Army to prevent Turkey from aggression against Syria.

If the EU and the US do not fathom the severity of the situation in Turkey, the great war in the Middle East cannot be avoided.

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