Turkey Accelerates Drift Towards Russia

Russia still has to square the circle of Turkey's competition with Iran in order to include both of them in its axis. If it does, it can reshape the northern Middle East as it likes.

BY CounterJihad · @CounterjihadUS | November 21, 2016

For months, we here at CounterJihad have been warning that Russia has been seeking to incorporate Turkey into its alliance with Iran.  Turkey has descended into an Islamist terror since a failed coup enabled President Recep Erdogan to purge his enemies within the government.  The President of Turkey has responded warmly to Russia’s outreach, taking steps that range from the very serious — such as the new energy deal that links Russian and Turkish economic interests — to the symbolic.  One symbolic step was moving Turkey into the same time zone as Moscow.  Though Erdogan has also challenged Russian interests in his attacks on the United Nations Security Council, where Russia has a veto, the destabilization of international security arrangements frees Russia’s hand in its own expansionist efforts.

Two new moves by the Turks fall into the potentially serious category.  The first is the opening of negotiations on a possible Turkish purchase of Russian S-400 missiles.  These missiles would mark a significant shift away from NATO, as the weapons are Russian made and would require parts and technical support from Russia.  The anti-aircraft missiles are also purpose-designed to shoot down Western warplanes and missiles.  An earlier deal with China to deploy these missiles may have rendered the F-35, America’s newest fighter aircraft, functionally obsolete in that theater.  If Turkey decided to close its airspace to American planes, it would have the wherewithal to do so.  These negotiations follow an earlier move by the Russians to sell the S-300 system, an older version of the S-400, to Iran for the same purpose.  Iran stationed its new weapons right around one of the Iran Deal sites, giving the lie to the claim that they were going to abandon their nuclear weapons program.

The second potentially serious shift comes from a threat by Erdogan to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization instead of the European Union.  The SCO is a security organization as well as an economic partnership, and Turkey has already linked up with it as a “dialogue partner” because several Central Asian States with Turkmen populations are formal members.  Turkey could easily imagine its destiny with those who share its language, culture, and faith more easily than it could belong within the European Union.  The European Union sees Turkey as a human rights abuser, so much so that the members may vote soon to formally block Turkey from continuing its movement towards eventually joining the Union.

Should the Turks join the SCO, they would become security partners as well as economic partners with American strategic competitors Russia and China.  That would create an intense interest for Turkey to veto NATO efforts against Russian or Chinese interests.  As the NATO charter requires unanimity, Turkey’s defection would effectively defang America’s chief military alliance.

Moves such as these make sense given that Turkey has made some new territorial claims, especially on Kurdish territory, claims that it seems to be attempting to back up by creating a new reality on the ground.

Arab and Kurdish factions of the Syrian Defense Forces, the umbrella coalition of militia groups in the country picked by Washington to spearhead the assault on Raqqa, have begun peeling off from the main force as they inch closer to the city, U.S. defense officials said.

Meanwhile, Turkey continues its own thinly veiled drive toward the Islamic State’s capital, pressing into the Syrian city of al-Bab, 100 miles west of Raqqa.  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to acknowledge the Raqqa operation, led by the Kurdish-Arab joint force.

Turkey’s invasion of Kurdish regions within Iraq, and its apparent intent to hold on to those areas, is now matched with an expansion into Syria.  The Turks have also imprisoned a key Kurdish leader within Turkey itself.  A delegation of members of the European parliament were refused access to this prisoner, as were national leaders who wished to visit him in a show of support.

Russia is in a kingmaker position in the northern Middle East given its highly successful partnership with Iran.  If it could find a negotiable settlement that would allow Iran and Turkey to divide up the contested regions of Syria and Iraq, Russia would establish a new military alliance that would have a free hand to redefine the whole northern Middle East.  It would have also obtained a partnership with Turkey that would destabilize the NATO alliance, clearing the decks for further Russian expansion into Eastern Europe.

Turkey’s moves towards Russia are thus worrisome.  It remains to be seen what, if anything, will be done to forestall a loss of Turkey to the Russian sphere of influence.




5 Reasons Why Donald Trump Should Implement the Jerusalem Embassy Act, and Move the US Embassy to Israel’s Capital City

Since 1995, three successive administrations have used a presidential waiver to stall moving the U.S. embassy to Israel’s capital city. Not anymore.


Pakistan Playing with Fire in Joust with India

Pakistan's winking at jihadist incursions into India, as a means of forwarding its claim on the disputed Kashmir territory, has sparked a dangerous escalation between two nuclear-armed powers. Pakistan has asked Donald Trump to step in and mediate, potentially the president-elect's first foreign policy challenge.


BREXIT Update: Exit Poses Security Challenges including ISIS

The reclaiming of its independence is a bold and worthy step, but the United Kingdom must find ways to enter into new intelligence-sharing agreements with other Western powers.