Turkey caught in a vicious Syrian circle bringing terror and war at home

Bilateral meeting European Union-Turkey at the G20 Summit in China. From left to right: Jean-Claude Junker, President of the European Commission, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish President. Shoot location: Hangzhou – China. Shoot date: 04/09/2016. Copyright: European Union.

Bilateral meeting European Union-Turkey at the G20 Summit in China. From left to right: Jean-Claude Junker, President of the European Commission, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish President. Shoot location: Hangzhou – China. Shoot date: 04/09/2016. Copyright: European Union.

The Turkish government, under the iron hand of the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, felt obliged to further challenge the Americans in the troubled region of the Middle East this past week. Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak and Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin questioned the presence of the US led coalition forces at the key air base of Incirlik, in southern Turkey. This facility constitutes the backbone of the American military presence in this part of Middle East and offers indispensable back up for the US targets in Syria.

It must be taken into account though, that Ankara hopes Donald Trump, after he takes his place in the Oval Office of the White House on 20 January, will amend the US’s stance vis-à-vis both Turkey and Russia. Kalin said it plainly. He stressed he believes the US President – elect will be more sensitive to Turkey’s considerations. Ankara, by also putting on the table  the US, and why not the NATO, presence at Incirlik, is very possibly preparing to negotiate with the new US Administration from a better position.

Ankara prepares for Trump

This is one more step forward by Erdogan in the direction of a full strategy u-turn, choosing to side with Russia and questioning Turkey’s traditional alliance with the US and NATO. Actually, Incirlik is a NATO base. Ankara, together with Moscow, have now drafted a common agenda in relation to their Syrian, and not only interests, despite the fact that they have been so far supporting opposing warring factions all along the deadly Syrian civil war. Russia backed the Syrian President Bashar al Assad, while Turkey supported the rebels fighting to oust him. It seems that the two powers have now found a conciliation of their strategic targets, after both of them were kicked out of the US led western strategy in the wider region.

The Ankara – Moscow rapprochement has already produced tangible results. This was evident some weeks ago with the conquest of Eastern Aleppo by the Assad forces, after Turkey actually deserted the rebels (plus some close to ISIS groups), who had been occupying half the ancient city for years, with Ankara’s until recently relentless support. However, Erdogan’s full policy change in the Syrian inferno had dangerous and divisive internal repercussions.

Sunni Turkey opposed Assad on a religious basis as well. The two sides belong to the opposing Muslim dogmas of the Sunni and Shia respectively. The murder of the Russian envoy in Ankara and the deadly attack in the Istanbul nightclub on New Year’s Eve must be related to the fact that Turkey let down the Sunni fighters of Aleppo and sided with the Russians and the Shia Iranians. Let’s see how the new backdrop is now reshaped for Turkey.

The cost of changing course

Unquestionably, Turkey is deeply perplexed in Syria, after being now forced to truly fight ISIS. Here is why: until recently, Ankara secretly helped ISIS fight the Kurds, just to prevent the latter from vanquishing the butcher jihadists and thus expand the Kurdish gains on the ground. Presently though, Turkey suffers heavy losses in trying to uproot ISIS by herself  from their stronghold in Al Bab and expand her territorial clout. As for the Kurds, the secure establishment of the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) military forces and their political constituent the Democratic Union Party (DYP) in the north of Syria have created a deadly threat even for Turkey’s territorial integrity.

Evidently, the close cooperation, if not common military and political organization and targets, of the Syrian Kurds and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Turkey proper (PKK), present an existential threat for Ankara. As a result, Ankara is now obliged to conduct a double fronted war against the Kurds primarily and  ISIS secondly. Turkey couldn’t sit back and watch the Kurds exterminating ISIS and seizing the territory which the butchers held.

Why Erdogan mistrust the US

It is even more infuriating for Erdogan that the Americans are stuck in their alliance with the Kurds of Syria. This association came naturally after the long and close US relationship with the Iraqi Kurds, and the undeniable fact that the US found no other reliable force on Syrian soil to support Washington’s wider interests in the region. The Kurds proved to be not only highly effective on the military front during the long and devastating Syrian war, but managed to wed their own ‘national’ interests with the not always clear military and political targets of the US.

It was inevitable then, that Ankara accused the US of materially and politically backing the Syrian Kurds, the deadly enemy of Turkey. In this way, the US has virtually heightened, if not intentionally aimed at jeopardizing, the territorial and national security of Turkey. On top of that, Turkey accuses the US of having protected, if not cooperated with Fethullah Gulen, a long time mentor but now deadly enemy of Erdogan. Gulen is a powerful Turkish cleric operating a strong network of high ranking bureaucrats, military, judges, academics, religious schools, businesses and media in Turkey, who has reportedly cooperated with CIA in last July’s failed coup. Despite Ankara’s cleansing operation, in which tens of thousands of Gulen’s followers were imprisoned or just kicked out from the armed forces, the judiciary, the police and the state machine, the cleric is still thought to  possess a strong leverage in what is going on in the country. In short, Erdogan has a lot to blame the Americans for.

What can Trump do?

As for Washington, it will be very difficult for Donald Trump to alienate the US from the Kurds. Already the Turkey-Russia conciliation has prescribed them. Moscow happily agreed to that, since the Kurds constitute the US strong card on Syrian soil. If Washington abandons them, it will be practically impossible to find another proxy force to back the wider American interests in this part of the Middle East.

Trump or not then, Washington can’t change her strategy in Syria, unless primarily Russia and to a lesser extent Turkey, have something else, equally important to trade with the Americans. But this is a very improbable prospect and the war against ISIS and its eventual defeat doesn’t come under this heading. The US wages as much warfare as it needs against the butcher jihadists in both Iraq and Syria.

Turkey’s enemies

If one puts all that together, Erdogan personally, and Turkey in general, have created a new series of powerful enemies. For one thing, Washington even under Trump and, to a certain degree, Western Europe including Paris, London and Berlin cannot find a new understanding with Ankara. It’s not only the Kurds. Nobody in the West can trust Erdogan anymore. The Europeans are horrified with the Erdogan-Putin rapprochement. The EU is also dismayed with the millions of refugees stationed in Turkey, with Erdogan menacing to start sending them by the thousands to the Greek islands again .

Then come the Gulenists who have escaped the pogroms. Erdogan knows that there are many still left around. If the information about the close relation between Gulen and the CIA is true, then Turkey has fashioned a new and fearsome foe. However, the worst new enemy that Erdogan recently made are… some millions of Turks. A large part of the population had been very happy with their country’s affiliation with the Sunni insurgents in Syria, including ISIS. Now they are let down by Erdogan’s full u-turn, associating the country with Russia, who bombards the Sunni fighters. Not to say anything about the new affiliation with the Shia Iran. In reality, Turkey has gained nothing out of all that, with the war and the terror now reaching her heart.

Hostile US and EU

On top of that, neither the Turks nor the Russians, even supported by the Iranians, aren’t able to shake the US and the entire West off from Syria. Last week’s joint effort by Ankara, Moscow and Tehran to impose their own ceasefire and then supposedly strike a political solution of their own in the war-torn country, even if it succeeds, doesn’t mean that the US and the West is chased from the table. The territory which the Kurds hold –effectively supported by the West – is almost half of Syria. On top of that, the West can very effectively corner Turkey in the economic and financial fronts.

In conclusion, as far as Turkey is concerned, her policy zigzag in Syria has certainly arose splintering internal divisions and will cost her dearly in the economic and financial facets too.  The West has already blocked the country’s heavy industry, tourism.

 

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN ‘determined to lead by example’ on disability rights: Guterres

Uzbekistan wins its long fight against malaria, as global rates continue to rise

The European Sting @ Mobile World Congress 2014, Creating What’s Next for the World. Can EU Policy follow?

Sri Lanka PM: This is how I will make my country rich by 2025

UK: Crawley group wins European Citizens’ Prize

Why is black plastic packaging so hard to recycle?

These 4 leaders are working to improve integration in Southeast Asia

EU4FairWork: Commission launches campaign to tackle undeclared work

New EU energy labels applicable from 1 March 2021

How to harness the energy of social innovators for an inclusive recovery

Brexit: No deal without marginalizing the hard Tory Eurosceptic MPs

EU Covid-19 Certificate: a European solution for free testing is needed

Outbreak of COVID-19: The third wave and the people

Drinking water: new plans to improve tap water quality and cut plastic litter

A better answer to the ventilator shortage as the pandemic rages on

New Mozambique storm rips off roofs, brings lashing rain as aid response kicks in

The hidden downside to ocean data and how to make it more sustainable

Two rhythms and a sharpened pencil: how art can help us heal and make sense of the world

Parliament supports European Green Deal and pushes for even higher ambitions

The European Union’s Balkan Double Standard

GSMA Reveals Global Partners for MWC21 Barelona

5 ways to be a better humanitarian

Further reforms needed for a stronger and more integrated Europe

Universal access to energy is a major challenge for the Arab world. Here’s why

Commission and Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU underline importance of the European Health Data Space

Energy of African youth ‘propelling’ new development era as UN ties bear fruit

Work Together to Build a New Type of International Relations and a Community with a Shared Future for Humanity

Deal agreed to protect consumers against misleading and unfair practices

Security Council urged to help spare Syrians from ‘devastation’

MWC 2016 LIVE: Getty chief says one in four new images from phones

Link between conflict and hunger worldwide, ‘all too persistent and deadly’, says new UN report

How a ‘fourth-sector economic strategy’ can help us build a better future for all

Amidst ‘high political tension’, UN chief appeals to G20 leaders for stronger commitment to climate action, economic cooperation

‘Think beyond farm jobs’ to reach sustainable development, UN agriculture chief advises African youth

UN rights experts call on Russia to release Ukrainian film-maker whose life is in ‘imminent danger’

Use “blockchain” model to cut small firms’ costs and empower citizens, urge MEPs

Antitrust: Commission provides guidance on allowing limited cooperation among businesses, especially for critical hospital medicines during the coronavirus outbreak

Gender Disparity in Medicine: Why and How Do We Close the Gap?

More than 100,000 people have recovered from COVID-19

Why is Merkel’s Germany so liberal with the refugees? Did the last elections change that?

Why cities hold the key to safe, orderly migration

How India will consume in 2030: 10 mega trends

Europe led by Germany seems vulnerable to Trump’s threats

Sustainable finance: Commission welcomes deal on an EU-wide classification system for sustainable investments (Taxonomy)

These are the 4 most likely scenarios for the future of energy

How do we go about improving mental health in the community and reducing suicide rates in the 15-29 age group?

Reception conditions for asylum-seekers agreed between MEPs and Council

Heart attacks and strokes are more common on high pollution days, data shows

Protecting migratory species in a rapidly changing world

China’s New Normal and Its Relevance to the EU

6 ways China and the United States could jumpstart trade reforms

GSMA Announces New Speakers for Mobile 360 Series – MENA, in association with The European Sting

Employers hold too much power over information. Workers must claim their data rights

New citizenship law in India ‘fundamentally discriminatory’: UN human rights office

Quality Education on the table at the European Parliament

The fight for female medical leadership

EU-China relations under investigation?

Thought AIs could never replace human imagination? Think again

Anti-Semitism ‘toxic to democracy’, UN expert warns, calling for better education

Beating cancer: Better protection of workers against cancer-causing chemicals

More Stings?

Trackbacks

  1. […] Turkey caught in a vicious Syrian circle bringing terror and war at home […]

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s