Latest developments in Turkey: Qui prodest?

Photo: Latest developments in Turkey: Qui prodest?                / Politics

Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan. 8

Trend analytical center expert Azer Ahmadbayli

As far as one can see, Prime Minister Erdogan pursues a too independent policy that is often not coordinated with the interests of the world's first nation, sometimes even contradicting them.

Rapprochement with Russia

There is much more cooperation between Moscow and Ankara than apparent, and Prime Minister Erdogan has been one of the real initiators of substantial improvement in relations between the two countries over the past few years. Here are some examples. Since 2003, i.e. since Erdogan came to power, trade turnover with Russia grew almost six times. At the end of 2012, Turkey gave the okay for the laying of the offshore section of the Russian "South Stream" pipeline through its economic zone, a matter that does not meet the U.S. geopolitical interests in Eastern Europe but has never been better for the interests of Russia. In late November 2013 in St. Petersburg, Erdogan announced intention to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). If Turkey joins SCO, it will have to coordinate positions on many international issues with two geopolitical rivals of the United States in the world arena - Russia and China, which could become a source of controversy in allied commitments with Washington. Also it is worth notice that Russia signed a $20 billion contract with Turkey for the construction of Turkey's first nuclear power plant. So, the future development of nuclear power engineering in Turkey will in any event be connected with Russian nuclear technologies.

Souring of ties with Israel

Over three years have passed since the tragic events offshore Israel, whose Prime Minister nevertheless made his apologies to Erdogan in connection with loss of lives, but relations between Turkey and Israel - the most important U.S. ally in the Middle East - are evidently not like they were before, and it is Erdogan who played a decisive role in this. Events when Israeli commandos seized the "Gaza Freedom Flotilla" and which may be considered as culmination of deteriorating relations between the two countries were preceded by a protracted and ferocious criticism of Israel's Palestine policy by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, a step too incautious and self-dependent in such thing as the Palestinian question.

Purchasing Chinese air defense systems

In October 2013, Turkey announced the results of a tender for the purchase of long-range air defense systems. The winner was the Chinese CPMIEC with its HQ- 9 surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems. Apart from the Chinese, US consortium Raytheon / Lockheed Martin, European Eurosam, and the Russian Rosoboronexport bid on the supply. The U.S. and NATO tried to block the participation of the Chinese corporation due to U.S. sanctions imposed against it for the supply of arms to Iran, but the deal for several billion dollars however went to the Chinese. NATO also expressed discontent with the fact that Chinese SAM are not compatible with the unified air defense system of NATO.

However, a contract with CPMIEC is not yet signed. Besides, Turkey even agreed to extend the tender to the end of January this year to let the other two participants (earlier Rosoboronexport has been out of the contest) make any final changes to the offered prices. At the same time Turkish highly ranked representative said the cooperation with CPMIEC still remains a priority.

As well, the Turks at the early stage of the tender set a stringent condition, which made the U.S. and NATO, to say the least, not happy - that is not simply purchasing long-range missile systems, but their joint production, which suggests access to missile technology and the possibility of having their own systems in future.

Refusal to open borders with Armenia

For many years the Obama administration has been trying to persuade Turkey to initiate the process of Armenian-Turkish reconciliation with the opening of borders without preconditions. This is the U.S. policy and their vision of how the problem should be sorted out. What prevails here? A sense of guilt for the unfulfilled promise to voice the word "genocide" or attempts to tear Armenia out of Russia's iron grip or maybe the pressure of a group of senators, whose financial interests overlap with activities of the rich Armenian Diaspora in the U.S.? Here it makes no difference. What is important is that Erdogan has his own vision that runs counter to the will of the U.S. leadership.

Support for Iran during the period of sanctions

Turkey voted against with regard to sanctions imposed on Iran in the UN Security Council in 2010 and then refused to support sanctions banning the purchase of Iranian oil in 2012. Prime Minister Erdogan expressed his support for the head of the National Intelligence Service of Turkey, who was blamed by U.S. media for disclosing information about Israel's intelligence network to Iranian intelligence services. Finally, the scheme, by which the Turkish Halk Bank paid gold for Iranian oil and delivered it later to the UAE, where the Iranians could take it or get convertible currency, has helped Tehran sustain the financial burden of the sanctions.

Control over northern Iraqi oil

Turkish Genel Energy is currently the major investor in development of oil and gas fields in the Kurdish autonomy of Iraq. Moreover, in November 2013, Ankara and Erbil made preliminary agreement on the construction of an export pipeline directly from northern Iraqi fields to Turkey. Such hydrocarbon rush displeases official Washington. On the one hand, newly developed oil and gas fields are a new source of multi-billion profits. On the other hand, further economic independence of Erbil from the central government of Iraq is fraught with geopolitical reshaping of the Middle East. May be Washington has no clear plan of action because of standby mode in Syrian crisis and intermediate agreements with Iran, and this is why they prefer to keep status-quo in the whole region,...or maybe they are making changes in their action plan as the events progress. It is unknown. But it is obvious that the Turkish oil export initiative does not fit in with the US plans, at least for the moment.

Maybe somebody will comment that the facts mentioned above have nothing to do with the matter. Then let him or her just recall the Turkish 15 or 20 years' policy and compare it with today's. For me the conclusion is quite definite: Turkish Prime Minister is going to become an awkward political figure for Washington.

Not justifying corruption in the Turkish highest quarters it can be argued that the events taking place today in Turkey are the result of a "dirty jacket" skillfully thrown into heterogeneous Turkish society, and in the presence of numerous domestic opponents of Prime Minister Erdogan it will make tensions grow and allow stripping him of power. By the way, Erdogan himself considers that the scenario that was written overseas.

Knowing about the uncompromising nature of the Turkish prime minister, there is no doubt that he took a dare and will fight back to the ropes.

edited by CN

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