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Erdogan battles on multiple fronts in risky regional power bid

Homajon

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Erdogan battles on multiple fronts in risky regional power bid

By Dr. James M. Dorsey

February 13, 2020



The optics seem evident: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is at odds with just about everybody.

Mr. Erdogan is on opposite sides of Russia in Syria, with Turkish and Syrian troops poised for an all-out fight in the north of the war-torn country, as well as in Libya and didn’t do himself any favours by coming out swinging against his supposed Russian ally during a visit to Ukraine earlier this month.

On all three flashpoints, Turkey and Russia are testing the limits of what was always at best an opportunistic, fragile partnership aimed at capitalizing on a seemingly diminishing US interest in the Middle East, evident already under President Barak Obama, and in Donald J. Trump’s haphazard redefinition of what he sees as America’s national interests.

If that were not already a plate full, Mr. Erdogan’s relations with his US and European allies are strained over unilateral Turkish moves in the eastern Mediterranean, Turkey’s acquisition of a Russian S-400 anti-missile system and/or Turkey’s military intervention in Syria as well as refugees and much more.

Turkey has threatened to close Incirlik Air Base and a critical radar station in Kurecik if the United States and the European Union fail to recognize what Turkey views as its national interests.

At the same time, Mr. Erdogan frets about his alliance with Qatar in the wake of suggestions that the Gulf state and Saudi Arabia are searching for a way to end a Saudi-led 2.5-year-old economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar.

Reports that the talks between the kingdom and Qatar have failed may not put Mr. Erdogan’s concerns to bed with the United Arab Emirates, Qatar’s most hardline detractor, restoring postal services with the Gulf state.

The restoration, mediated by the United Nation’s Universal Postal Union, was the first time that a third-party succeeded in negotiating any easing of the boycott.

Piling it on, Mr. Erdogan’s powerful navy, imitating Chinese tactics in the South China Sea, has significantly raised tensions in the eastern Mediterranean by sending naval forces to escort Turkish drill ships into contested waters and to block Greek and Cypriot petrochemical exploration vessels in waters recognized as theirs under international law.

Turkey has warned Israel that it needs Turkish approval to build together with Greece and Turkey an undersea natural gas pipeline to Europe.

As he battles on multiple regional fronts, Mr. Erdogan is walking a finely calibrated tightrope, rather than hitting out blindly at everyone, in the assumption that neither Russia nor the United States or, for that matter, Qatar, can afford to lose Turkey. By the same token, neither can Turkey risk jeopardizing its relationships.

As a result, Mr. Erdogan’s confrontational moves constitute a high stakes gamble, particularly with Turkey’s military build-up in northern Syria, an area in which Mr. Erdogan does not enjoy air superiority.

The Turkish leader is betting on Russia blinking first by reigning in Syrian forces and pressing for a negotiated resolution of the crisis.

Mr. Erdogan’s provocative visit to Kiev and backing for Ukraine in its conflict with Russia was about far more than differences over the Russian-backed Syrian assault in Idlib, the last rebel outpost in the country.

Concerned that Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 has put a halt to Turkey’s maritime dominance of the Black Sea and turned it into a Russian lake, Mr. Erdogan sought in Kyiv to play both sides against the middle.

The International Crisis Group has warned that in the Black Sea “Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea has enabled it to expand its naval capability, project power south and shift the strategic balance in its favour.”

Russia’s de facto coastline grew from 475 to 1,200 kilometres or about 25 per cent of the sea’s total shorefront since the annexation.

Add to that 300 kilometres of coastline belonging to Abkhazia, a Russian-backed breakaway region of Georgia.

In a bid to counter Russian advances, Mr. Erdogan’s gamble also constitutes a bid to persuade NATO to back Turkey in the Black Sea, reversing a decades-old policy of keeping the alliance out of the region.

With 13 Turkish soldiers having died in the last week in two Syrian attacks on Turkish targets and Turkey claiming to have killed more than 100 Syrian soldiers in retaliation, Mr. Erdogan’s gambit appears to have produced initial dividends with the Trump administration backing the Turkish leader in his high-stakes Syrian bid.

One key joker is the degree to which Mr. Erdogan may feel that he has no choice but to escalate further than he would like to in response to far-right nationalists who resonate with part of his voter base and are pressuring him to go for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s jugular.

“What are you waiting for? Don’t beat around the bush while Turkish soldiers are being martyred in attacks carried out by soldiers of another state,” said Meral Aksener, leader of the Iyi or Good Party.

Added Devlet Bahceli, head of Mr. Erdogan’s coalition partner, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP): “Assad is a murderer, a criminal and the source of hostility. There will be no peace in Turkey until Assad is brought down from his throne. Turkey must start plans to enter Damascus now, and annihilate the cruel ones.”


Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title, Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and three forthcoming books, Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africaas well as Creating Frankenstein: The Saudi Export of Ultra-conservatism and China and the Middle East: Venturing into the Maelstrom.

https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2020/02/...-multiple-fronts-in-risky-regional-power-bid/
 

damm1t

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Turkey would succeed once it establishes a no fly zone over idlib.
Turkey asks the USA/Nato to do it to counter Russia's presence in Syria. Syria for sure is no match for us but they are backed by Russia. That's why we need to balance it with the West. Usa already sent Patriots to back our position.

Erdogan gave a deadline for Assad to fallback behind earlier decided observation posts by the end of February. We will see then, what will happen.
 

Dexon

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Turkey asks the USA/Nato to do it to counter Russia's presence in Syria. Syria for sure is no match for us but they are backed by Russia. That's why we need to balance it with the West. Usa already sent Patriots to back our position.

Erdogan gave a deadline for Assad to fallback behind earlier decided observation posts by the end of February. We will see then, what will happen.
erdogan must be careful with these back up guys . to don't set up the new coup vs him:)...
 

PakAlp

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Turkey can become a bigger player by improving its decision making skills and need long term strategy to increase their influence. They need to mend their relations with Syria and become on the same side as Russia and Iran. This will deal with the kurd problem, as for Syria Sunnis I am sure Assad would be willing to share power as long as it's not the terrorist MB and HTS.
At the moment they have Syria as enemy even though Syria and Turkey had good relation, being friends with Syria countered the Kurds so it was win for Turkey. Saudi, Bahrain, Uae as rivals and this is something that cant change because these people destroyed the Ottomans and would always stand against Turkey rise. Iran as a rival in Syria and Iran is not really a threat to Tukey, Nato camp and USA relations are not so good. They became close to Russia but are having issues in Syria and Libya.

I can clearly see Saudi, Uae, USA, Israel alliance v Iran, Syria, Russia alliance but which allies does Turkey have? A small tiny opposition in Syria and Libya? Qatar is a new ally and tomorrow they can change side to become allies with the GCC.

Nations like Pakistan, Malaysia etc are irrelevant in the middle east power play.

I wish well for Turkey and want to see it as a global power but powerful alliances are needed for this to become a reality. They need Iran, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon as friendly nations, they also need to have friendly relations with Nato and balance relations with Russia, USA and the rising power China.
 
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himate

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Turkey can become a bigger player by improving its decision making skills and need long term strategy to increase their influence. They need to mend their relations with Syria and become on the same side as Russia and Iran. This will deal with the kurd problem, as for Syria Sunnis I am sure Assad would be willing to share power as long as it's not the terrorist MB and HTS.
At the moment they have Syria as enemy even though Syria and Turkey had good relation, being friends with Syria countered the Kurds so it was win for Turkey. Saudi, Bahrain, Uae as rivals and this is something that cant change because these people destroyed the Ottomans and would always stand against Turkey rise. Iran as a rival in Syria and Iran is not really a threat to Tukey, Nato camp and USA relations are not so good. They became close to Russia but are having issues in Syria and Libya.

I can clearly see Saudi, Uae, USA, Israel alliance v Iran, Syria, Russia alliance but which allies does Turkey have? A small tiny opposition in Syria and Libya? Qatar is a new ally and tomorrow they can change side to become allies with the GCC.

Nations like Pakistan, Malaysia etc are irrelevant in the middle east power play.

I wish well for Turkey and want to see it as a global power but powerful alliances are needed for this to become a reality. They need Iran, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon as friendly nations, they also need to have friendly relations with Nato and balance relations with Russia, USA and the rising power China.
Sorry mate. The russian just proved to be worse people to make deal with. They had the chance of a great friendship as turkey wanted to be neutral and independent in this west v east game. As for sectarian iran lets not even go there.. both of them are great clumsy enemies
 

Elvin

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Basically every move Tr makes puts the entire world at unease. It's obvious that the world powers want to contain Tr and will partner against it in every situation Tr does something in it's interest. If everyone is against you, then you're doing something right (as they say).
 

zectech

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Basically every move Tr makes puts the entire world at unease. It's obvious that the world powers want to contain Tr and will partner against it in every situation Tr does something in it's interest. If everyone is against you, then you're doing something right (as they say).
If everybody is against you... then you are a warmongering clown like buffoon Erdo is.

Erdo supports making the civil wars in Libya and Syria worse. And is for causing trouble for the Chinese. Wants to steal half of Cyprus, and sees no similarity when the Kurds want to breakaway from Turkey.

Turks in Cyprus: "We are different than the Greeks, we want our own country"
Erdo in reply: "We are going to fight for your independence"
Kurds in Turkey: "We are different than the Turks, we want our own country"
Erdo in reply: "Oy vey, we are being persecuted by these Kurds, its anoder shoah"

Erdo is trump's mini-me.

Even the Aussies hate Washington foreign policy.

Which country is the greatest threat to world peace:



If everybody hates US foreign policy, then they are warmongering clowns. Turkey is in this warmongering clownry.

Turkey went from Freedom in the world camp... to causing civil wars and supporting zionist wars camp under Erdo.

"But you all hate warmongering, everybody is against us. The anti-Turk is strong with the anti-Erdo camp"
 
Nov 18, 2014
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Erdogan is facing a tall order... he is geographically surrounded, primarily by Turkiye's Ottoman legacy in the eyes of it's previous subjects... while Ottomans are an inspiration for Turks, they are a liability in it's projection. If Turkiye is to find its place at the top table ... it will have move on from Neo-Ottomanism and into a newer and more inclusive approach. Which, though will not help with Greeks and Armenians but it will help in Middle East and beyond.
 

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