Ramifications Of Russian-Turkey Realignment For US Policy – OpEd
Possibly something bad has happened to US policy makers and the CIA-Pentagon duo as their strategy to further divide and complicate relations between Russia and Turkey has misfired. The US game plan misfired thanks to the timely crushing action by Turkish government against the plotters and coup leaders who seem to have worked under US-EU (Germany) directions.
Of course, Washington never expected the coup to fail and sought President Erdogan and his ruling Muslim Brotherhood party to perish in tandem and a puppet regime under a US stooge would assume office to support Israel and USA.
Interestingly as it does happen in international politics, rather quite often, the countries that were targeted by USA, namely Russia and Turkey, got together comprehending the hidden agenda behind the presumed Pentagon instructions to Turkish military bosses to fire down a Russian war plan that trespassed the airspace territory of the erstwhile Ottoman Empire, resumed their ties. This is something that tarnished the image of USA as being the top intelligence nation with high precision information networks.
In August, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan traveled to St. Petersburg to meet his “dear friend” Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin. Their relations had fallen to a low point when the Turks shot down a Russian warplane over northern Syria. Unlike Western leaders, however, Putin had personally called Erdogan to congratulate him on aborting an attempted military coup in July.
The Moscow-Washington agreement of September 10th on Syria, reached after 10 months of hard bargaining and now in shambles after another broken truce, had one crucial if little noted aspect. For the first time since the Soviet Union imploded, Russia managed to put itself on the same diplomatic footing as the USA. Russian strive for equal status from USA, however, is still elusive
In August 2015, by all accounts, President Assad was on the ropes and the morale of his dwindling army at rock bottom. Even the backing of Iran and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah had proven insufficient to reverse his faltering hold on power. To save his falling regime from collapse, the Kremlin’s military planners decided to fill the gaping hole left by Syria’s collapsing air force, shore up its air defenses, and boost its depleted arsenal of tanks and armored vehicles. The number of Russian military personnel dispatched was estimated at 4,000 to 5,000. Although none of them were ground troops, this was an unprecedented step in recent Russian history. The last time the Kremlin had deployed significant forces outside its territory — in December 1979 in Afghanistan — proved an ill-judged venture, ending a decade later in their withdrawal, followed by the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991.
The Pentagon soon signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kremlin over safety procedures for their aircraft, now sharing Syrian air space, and established a ground communications link for any problems that should arise. The morale of the Assad regime had improved, it was no longer in danger of being overthrown and its hand was strengthened at any future negotiating table.
Obviously, USA has lost its prestige on world stage even as Moscow is gaining importance in world eyes. .
Meeting in Istanbul on October 10, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin signed a historic agreement to launch the Turkish Stream, a natural gas pipeline that will deliver Russian gas to Europe via Turkey. Just a few months ago, the project was considered dead in the water: Turks had downed a Russian jet over airspace violations and the Kremlin was trying to hurt the tourism industry in Turkey. There was even talk of a violent escalation between Ankara and Moscow.
Turkey and Russia kissed and made up
A year ago, they were shaking hands, then relations cooled to icy temperatures, but now it seems Russia and Turkey could be on the road to restoring ties. President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have said they want to hold a face-to-face meeting as they agreed to resume cooperation in trade, tourism and the fight against terrorism. Relations took a turn for the worse in November last year when Turkish forces shot down a Russian plane involved in the military campaign in Syria. Ankara said the jet had strayed into its airspace. Erdogan wrote to Putin to reportedly express regret for the incident. The Russian leader said the letter created the conditions necessary to close “this crisis chapter” in bilateral ties. The thawing of relations comes in the same week as a deadly terror attack in Istanbul’s busiest airport, in which more than 40 people were killed.
The high level of economic relations between Turkey and Russia has become the most important component of our bilateral multidimensional relations. Trade volume between our countries exceeded 25.2 billion Dollars, as of the first 11 month of 2007, making Russia, Turkey’s second trading partner after Germany.
Russia is now the main import source for the Turkish economy. Imports from Russia account for about 13% of overall imports. Turkey’s share in Russia’s foreign trade also reached significant levels. As of 2007, Turkey, with a share of about 5%, is Russia’s 4th export country. Russia’s imports from Turkey are also increasing and reached 4,3 billion Dollars in the first 11 month of 2007. N The total value of projects undertaken by Turkish contractors in Russia surpassed 26 billion Dollars, making Russia by far the most important market for Turkish construction services.
As for Turkish direct investments in Russia, they are estimated to have reached 5,6 billion Dollars. At the same time, there is a growing interest by the Russian firms, especially in the telecommunications, energy and tourism sectors, in investment in Turkey. ,Tourism is yet another economic area where our bilateral relations have grown at a very rapid pace. Where in 1999 the number of Russian tourists visiting our country was bellow 500 thousand, this figure reached 2,4 billion in 2007. Turkey has become the most preferred holiday destination for Russians. The number of Turkish tourist visiting Russia is also rapidly growing and reached about 200 thousand.
The Turkish-Russian rapprochement has been largely limited to energy and economic cooperation. Since Erdoğan’s visit to St. Petersburg, Russian tourists have come back to the Turkish riviera, as import restrictions on Turkish agricultural produce were largely lifted.
Top US officials have not gone to great lengths to hide their dissatisfaction with Turkey’s rekindled friendship with Russia either. For many Turks, the irony is that it was the same spokespeople in Washington who urged the Turkish leadership to reach out to the Kremlin – which, Secretary of State John Kerry thought, would play ball. To make matters worse, Washington ignored repeated warnings that steps taken by the US regime would place Turkey’s vital interests at risk. In the end, the Turks turned to other partners to protect their interests. And Russia is a good friend now.
What the USA and European allies are worried about, however, isn’t Turkish tomatoes. It’s that improving ties between Ankara and Moscow could translate into closer cooperation on political challenges including the Syrian crisis. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton announced that she would provide weapons and ammunition to YPG, the PKK’s Syrian franchise, as part of the anti-Daish campaign. Russia could use Turkey against Europe.
Turkey and Russia view Syrian issue differently. While the Turks maintain that there can be no lasting peace in Syria unless Assad is removed from power, the Kremlin recently doubled down by joining the regime in bombing Aleppo, where airstrikes have resulted in large casualties. Likewise, the Turkish leadership has major differences of opinion with the Russians also on Crimea and Egypt. Speaking at the World Energy Congress recently, the Turkish President called for an end to indiscriminate attacks on Aleppo – with Putin just 10 feet away. It was a symbolic gesture to make it clear that Turkey was not backtracking on Syria. It remains unlikely Turkey and Russia will reach an agreement over Syria and the future of Bashar Assad anytime soon.
In recent years, US allies around the world – Turkey, Japan and Israel, among others – felt that Washington was no longer a reliable friend. In the Middle East, Obama rewarded “rogue” Iran for breaking every rule in the book, while taking shots at regional allies in front of the cameras. In Asia-Pacific, Obama failed to support Japan against China and last month congress voted for an act that permits families of the victims of 9/11 attacks to sue Saudi Arabia.
Turkey pursued a policy of diversification in the international arena to learn to work with a large number of partners to address pressing problems and pursue its goals. Instead of relying on Washington, the Turks reached the conclusion that the most effective way to address regional challenges was to promote regional cooperation. Keeping in mind that Turkey isn’t alone, the USA will presumably pay the price of Obama’s ambitions and disloyalty by facing growing isolation in the region.
US-Turkey relations have not, however, affected badly as it should because of regular NATO meetings and other secret conclaves. Turkey is the only Muslim nation from Europe in NATO. After roughly nine months of disagreement, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to revive their stalled bilateral relationship in their first direct contact on June 29, fueling hopes about restoring economic and trade ties Turkish Chief of Military Staff General Hulusi Akar departed for the USA to attend the meeting of anti-Daish coalition military chiefs. The meeting is taking place ahead of the crucial operation to liberate Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul from Daish. According to the statement released by the Turkish General Staff, the last meeting of the coalition military chiefs had taken place six months ago.
Meanwhile, the Turks made it clear that they have absolutely no intention to waste precious time with Washington. Obama’s isolationist foreign policy, coupled with his mismanagement of the Syrian crisis, alienated the Turkish leadership and forced Turkey to search for alternative partners. The Obama regime repeatedly urged Ankara to kiss and make up with Moscow when the Russians were still playing ball with US Secretary of State John Kerry – who, at the time, refused to accept that he had deteriorated yet again. Turkey’s policy should only serve as a warning sign of how bad the Obama government hurt US interests around the world.
The next US president might enter the Oval Office only to find out that America has no allies left in the Middle East thanks to Barack Obama’s short-sighted policies. The next president must overhaul foreign policy to win back hearts and minds in Turkey and other frustrated allied nations. Unless Washington corrects its course, Ankara’s cooperation with Moscow will only mark the beginning of a dangerous trend for American interests on the ground. The USA needs to correctly identify its national interests in the Middle East and act accordingly if they would like to be taken seriously by regional actors.
There is absolutely nothing that Washington can do now to disturb the tempo of Russo-Turkish relations growing from strength to strength.