Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Turkey and Russia: A Remarkable Rapprochement

 Glad to know someone else is paying attention to the remarkable rapprochement of Turkey and Russia. And is paying heed to just how well Turkey and Russia have been working together.  For more years then many are acknowledging or care to be aware of. In Syria. And elsewhere. I've been following their dealings as close as possible and admit to being impressed by both leaders as they cooperate. Together. And with Iran in the Astana partnership.

  We have to understand that it's not just a matter of Putin being a real diplomat. One can't be a diplomat without a partner who is willing to engage in diplomacy. Erdogan and Putin, together, have been able to pull this off. They've been remarkably pragmatic in their dealings. 
This should be applauded. 

After all 'it takes two to tango" certain actions or activities cannot be performed alone - they need two people to participate -  both people involved in a situation are equally responsible for it's actions or communication needs more than one person 

It's far better to see political leadership work out  their differences in this manner then engaging in the wanton destruction of vast swathes of territory, while ethnically cleansing thousands and thousands of people, and stealing much needed resources to boot! Yes, I'm pointing my finger right at US/UK/Israel and the YPG/PKK/SDF Kurds.

The essay below is from Michael Reynolds. Published at War on the Rocks
Michael A. Reynolds is associate professor of Near Eastern Studies and Director of the Program in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies in Princeton University. He is the author of Shattering Empires: The Clash and Collapse of the Ottoman and Russian Empires, 1908-1918 (Cambridge, 2011), a recipient of the American Historical Assocation’s George Louis Beer Prize.
Erdogan and Putin
It's very lengthy so a limited excerpt will be featured below, BUT, you are encouraged to read the ENTIRE article. It's rational, historical and devoid of the usual rhetorical nonsense too many of us have been exposed to.
"Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 missile system from Russia has arrived amidst the most significant crisis in the history of U.S.-Turkish relations. The purchase has not only spurred a further deterioration of these relations but has also changed the fundamental structural dynamics of the crisis so as to make impossible a return to the status quo ante. Despite the fact that the S-400 deal had been in the works for two years, the delivery of the weapon system this past July appears to have caught American policymakers genuinely by surprise, but it should not have. Moments of close and even enthusiastic cooperation between Ankara and Washington over the past decade and a half have acted as so much dust in the eyes, obscuring the reality that, since the end of the Cold War, U.S.-Turkish relations have been on an overall downward slope. Yet, today, incredulous American policymakers cling to the notion that Turkey is akin to a wayward child who, after throwing an emotionally gratifying tantrum, will have no choice but to come to his senses and resume behaving properly, in this case supporting the American-led global order. ( that's the general alt and msm presentation) The inability of those in Washington to grasp the causes of the crisis has prevented them from comprehending its potential consequences for American foreign policy.
The current crisis is not rooted in the whims of an autocratic, anti-Western, and Islamist Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (more of the same alt and msm presentation) To the contrary, the purchase of the S-400s reflects the fulfillment and manifestation of long-standing Turkish foreign policy aspirations and, what is more troubling for Washington, a marked decline in U.S. authority and power around the globe. In 2003, the United States embarked on a project to transform the greater Middle East in its favor. ( this is the remake the region project endlessly discussed here and at Scott's and pretty well no where else) That project has not only failed to secure a more liberal, prosperous, and stable Middle East, it has also alienated Turkey, a lynchpin of America’s Middle East, Eastern European, and Eurasian policies. The larger meaning of the S-400 crisis is that Washington has to reconsider all these policies, not just its relationship with Ankara.
Turkey’s Relationship with Russia
A source of American disbelief about Turkey’s readiness to buy arms from Russia has been the assumption that Turkey and Russia are fated by geography, history, and culture to be adversaries. The idea that the two countries could be partners or even allies seemed unthinkable. It is true that a long-running and bloody rivalry between the Ottoman and Russian empires — the two have fought some 12 wars with each other — left indelible marks on the cultural and historical memories of both. Yet, there have been significant episodes of cooperation. Russia backed Istanbul in 1832–33, when Mehmed Ali of Egypt began advancing on Anatolia. Acting at the behest of the sultan, the tsar deployed Russian soldiers near Istanbul to deter any attack on the Ottoman capital, and thereby helped preserve the empire. The tsar subsequently converted that deployment into a treaty alliance that lasted almost a decade. Even on the eve of the most epic Ottoman-Russian conflict, World War I, the Ottomans established a Turkish-Russian Friendship Committee in March 1914, and in May 1914 pitched the idea of an alliance to the Russians. Historical grievances did not define Ottoman foreign policy toward Russia.

The most relevant instance of Russian-Turkish collaboration came during the Turkish War of National Independence (1919–22), when the Russians provided essential financial and military aid to the Turks. Even before he emerged to claim the mantle of the Turkish National Forces (Kuva-yi Milliye) in May, 1919, Mustafa Kemal engaged representatives of the Bolsheviks to discuss a possible alliance. Upon taking command of the nationalist movement, he promptly followed through to form an alliance with Vladimir Lenin and Bolshevik Russia. Soviet Russia subsequently delivered to Kemal and his forces both arms and funds. Kemal’s outreach to Lenin was a geopolitical masterstroke, but hardly a Machiavellian or even particularly clever one. It was neither a betrayal nor compromise of the Turkish Nationalist program, nor even controversial. Indeed, Kemal’s rivals either made their own overtures to the Bolsheviks or backed his.
The Turkish alliance with Soviet Russia against Britain, France, and the other imperial powers reflected Kemal’s insistence on uncompromised sovereignty and “total independence.” These were the fundamental principles of the nationalists who were determined to erect a self-standing nation-state out of the rubble of an empire. The gold and guns that Soviet Russia supplied enabled the Turks to prevail militarily in Anatolia and defy the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres, by which the victors of World War I agreed to partition Anatolia between Britain, France, Italy, Greece, and Armenia and leave a rump Turkish sultanate in the north of Anatolia and a potential Kurdish state in the southeast.
Kemal’s crowning success was the military victories that rendered the Treaty of Sèvres null and void and made the founding of the Turkish Republic possible. The Turkish Republic would likely not exist had the Soviets not backed him. Kemal had no interest in Bolshevism as a form of social organization, and indeed suppressed the nascent Turkish Communist Party. But he did grasp the Soviets’ potential as geopolitical allies. Soviet aid in the form of money, arms, and ammunition was critical to his success in the War of Independence. Indeed, so important was that aid that, in 1928, Kemal personally ordered that the monument to commemorate the victory of his forces also depict the first Soviet ambassador to Turkey, Sergei Aralov. Known as the Republic Monument, it stands today in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. The new Turkish Republic and the Soviet Union would enjoy sympathetic relations into the 1930s.
Stalin’s territorial and other demands on Turkey at the end of World War II pushed the Turks decisively toward the West and into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which it joined in 1952. For the next five decades, Turkey would maintain a pro-Western orientation. Yet, even during the Cold War, Turkey found a sometimes sympathetic audience in Moscow. A thaw in relations between Turkey and the Soviet Union in the early 1970s, for example, facilitated the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Greece, in response, withdrew from NATO military command. The prospect of NATO members Greece and Turkey coming to blows undoubtedly thrilled the Politburo."

The future of Russo-Turkish ties will depend to a great deal, perhaps decisively, on the future of U.S.-Turkish relations. If the United States and Turkey remain allies — even troubled ones — Ankara is unlikely to deepen its ties with Russia beyond what it is doing now. The same aspirations for independence and uncontested sovereignty that push Turkey to distance itself from the United States will, especially when coupled with a historically informed wariness of Russia, work against Turkey becoming a close and enthusiastic partner of Russia. If, however, U.S.-Turkish relations grow still more confrontational, Ankara may deepen its relationship to Moscow. Moscow will seek to widen and exploit the rift between Washington and, ideally, exploit it so as to disrupt the internal dynamics of NATO. ( It appears the US is moving towards being more confrontational, as I'd expected)
"However foolhardy the downing of the Russian jet may have been, Washington’s cool attitude toward Ankara in its wake signaled that Turkey would be on its own in managing Russia. Similarly, the Obama’s administration’s incoherent diffidence in Syria — blending noisy rhetoric against Assad, massive albeit ineffective covert support for the armed opposition, and an abashed but firm refusal to intervene directly — left Turkey in a lurch. Ankara’s support for anti-Assad rebels, including a motley assortment of jihadists, had been no more successful than Washington’s. And with Russia having demonstrated that it was in the driver’s seat in Syria, Ankara calculated that it had better work with Moscow or face a severe and chronic threat from Syria. Less than a year later, in a stunning turnaround, Erdogan formally apologized for shooting down the jet, and even offered compensation to the family of the Russian pilot who died. Turkey endorsed and began participating in the Russian-sponsored negotiations on Syria in Astana, Kazakhstan. The story of how Putin bent Erdogan to his will is remarkable and would make an excellent case study in coercive diplomacy.
Erdogan’s 180-degree turn from being Putin’s defiant opponent to his supplicant did not come without blowback. Just as the Astana talks were to begin in December 2016, an off-duty Turkish police officer gunned down the Russian ambassador to Turkey in a macabre assassination in an art exhibit in Ankara. The provocation, however, failed to shake either Ankara’s or Moscow’s determination to put aside their past differences"
 "The provocation, however, failed to shake either Ankara’s or Moscow’s determination to put aside their past differences"
Provocation, indeed 

America and the Kurds
"If American irresolution in Syria and the failure of its own misadventures there left Turkey feeling exposed and vulnerable to Russian power, America’s collaboration with the People’s Protection Units caused Ankara to conclude that it had been betrayed and thus might now even need Russian power. The 2014 decision of the Obama administration to train and arm the Kurdish militia in Syria created, in the words of then-deputy assistant secretary of state for Southern European and Eastern Mediterranean Affairs, a “ticking time bomb” in U.S.-Turkish relations. The “strategic contradiction” of arming the greatest enemy of a treaty ally created “foreseeable consequences that are now on painful display.” Foremost among those foreseeable consequences was the alienation of Turkey from the United States and the former’s rapprochement with Russia"
 2014. Yes, 2014 the US began training and arming Kurdish militias. Let's flashback to a multi part post published here in November 2014 that saw my work derided and ridiculed. And garnered multiple on line attacks and smears. Vindication is mine. The foreseeable consequences were easy enough to predict when one understood and accepted the reality that the US was intending to remake the region into a very Usrael friendly space.  While damning all others.
American Support for Fethullah Gülen
"Although it is virtually impossible to think of a more inflammatory act than working with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, America’s curious sympathy for the guru-like Turkish religious figure, Fethullah Gülen, would make an excellent candidate. Gülen, who has a long and demonstrated track record of attempting to subvert the Turkish Republic by helping his followers infiltrate Turkish bureaucracies, in particular, the armed services and police, has been residing in the United States since fleeing arrest in Turkey in 1999. Although in 2008 the Department of Homeland Security rejected Gülen’s application for residence as duplicitous, an appeal on Gülen’s behalf led by American diplomatic and intelligence officials resulted in Gülen being permitted to reside in the United States. Despite the fact that Gülen’s followers in America were subsequently revealed to be engaged in systematic fraud of American taxpayers in multiple states, as well as in a number of far more serious illegal efforts inside Turkey, as attested by credible government critics and supporters alike, Gülen continued not just to reside in the country, but even to retain access to prime media outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post."
There are a number of reports here, written by your's truly about Fethullah Gulen. A few below:
Gulen resides in the "Keystone State" 

 Partial excerpt of last paragraph
"But the inability, or unwillingness, of American policymakers to craft policies that take into account the fundamental security concerns and sensitivities of a country that has, for decades, been a key partner of the United States in the Middle East, the Balkans, the Black Sea, the Caucasus, and Eurasia must be central to any explanation of the current turn in Turkish-Russian relations. The mutual willingness of Washington and Ankara to rebuild their ties will be the key determinant of the future of the Turkish-Russian relationship. Turkey, Russia, and even the United States in the coming years will all be vulnerable to domestic turbulence and each inevitably will encounter crises in their foreign relations. Many things can change. As this piece goes to press and U.S.-Turkish relations continue to deteriorate, however, one can only expect that the trajectory of Turkish-Russian relations will continue in a positive direction." 

 Much, much more to read at the opening link. Worth reading.

 We should understand that while, yes, Turkey and the US could mend fences.. It does NOT seem likely at this time. The US has crossed dozens of red lines. Betrayal after betrayal. Perhaps, they can attempt and succeed with yet another coup. That would change the dynamic.  Presently, Turkish leadership is painfully aware the regional remake includes a vastly smaller, weak Turkey.Which will make heaps of trouble for Russia as we peer into the future, however limited our abilities to do that. For the foreseeable future I'm expecting Russia and Turkey to continue cooperation. As has been stated here for years there is much more going on in the region then meets the eye or is usually acknowledged.


  1. Painful reading about the Bolshevik alliance with Turkey (past). But Erdogan wasn't there then, besides the Turk's used them to their advantage. Bolshevik's = jews and millions upon millions of Russian deaths. Turkey probably didn't have a choice but to 'play' them for their survival. As you Penny, I don't see any union between Turkey and the US now. And as I mentioned before...the best thing Erdogan could ever do (at the right time) is ditch nato the curse of the earth. The less power given them the less power to the axis of evil. Plus he is hosting alarming powerful US nukes that would take many many months if not years to find a new home. Better is to somehow disarm them instead of landing in another tyrants hands. He sure could use them as the upper hand against the axis...and perhaps that could come in the future. How I hate these nukes and the threat of them...their use to subvert, to bribe, to control, to cause others to make never stops. At any rate I thank you for this report as it gives some hope. My biggest hope for Turkey is to mend relations with Syria their brothers, to the point of frequent visits with the same solid handshake as in photo with Putin/Russia. THAT would be the final blow to axis of evil and their occupying theft. I do understand that the bad relations with Turkey and Syria was two sided bad deeds back and forth. But there's always hope for apologies and forgiveness to end it...that would break the threats completely IMO just as it did with Russia/Turkey. It is what breaks the hate/war. Vindication indeed! ...and answers to my prayers too :)

  2. Hi wallflower

    Turkey and Russia are both doing what has to be done. Then as now. Their conflicts grew out of the fact that they were two empires on the same landmass- but could be pragmatic as needed.

    Yes, I am aware of who the Bolshevik's were and what they did. I read. A lot.

    " I don't see any union between Turkey and the US now."

    It's in a really broken state if there is any union left at all. Can't be said for sure, but, what can be said is this union is in tatters. As the author wrote it's really been downhill since the end of the cold war- which makes sense because USSR was gone- weak and un-empowered. Which meant Turkey's role in NATO was LESS vital.

    "ditch the NATO curse"

    one could hope? But then what alliance would fill the void?

    " My biggest hope for Turkey is to mend relations with Syria their brothers, to the point of frequent visits with the same solid handshake as in photo with Putin/Russia. THAT would be the final blow to axis of evil and their occupying theft."

    I hope it happens as well. That's been my hope for years now. For the relations between neighbours to become cooperative, including with Iran. It won't be without difficulties, but, it's got to be better then facing total destruction, right?

    Way back when this began there was a Syrian here from Aleppo and he described good relations between Syrian and Turkish people, including cross border visiting and shopping etc.,
    Which is why many fled to Turkey when the destabilization began- there were ties back and forth already existing.

    "I do understand that the bad relations with Turkey and Syria was two sided bad deeds back and forth."

    Glad you do because that's the fact of it. It was bad deeds back and forth. Harbouring the PKK on Syrian territory was not a 'good neighbour' policy.

    When the destabilization kicked off in southern syria, near Israel/Jordan with the help of Saudi Arabia. Turkey did what one would be expected- supported their own motley crew to ensure influence in however, whatever would remain of Syria.

    Russia is engaged in this same type of action. Whether or not people want to admit it, it's the reality.

    There are so many variables in this situation it hard to predict what might occur. At this point in time I want to see Iran, Syria, Turkey and Russia continue their cooperation. This works against the axis of US/Israel/UK/Saudi Arabia in the struggle for regional superiority.

    1. almost forgot...and thank you for your reply. I read yesterday (will give the link when I find it) how Turkey and Russia has ditched the $ I think completely(?) They are using a type of crypto currency to trade etc. Another blow/indication of severing ties with US.

    2. "one could hope? But then what alliance would fill the void?"
      As I understand it...Europe is slowly going in the direction of Turkey with the $ in alliance with Russia. That will mean the end of nato as others will ultimately follow suit. Fill the void?...nation state more US bases controlling and dictating the rule of the world along with IMF etc. WHAT A WISH to see my nation humbled and minding it's own 'defense' at its own borders. Can't stand to be stateless in my own home!

    3. Penny sorry for so many comments. For whatever its worth (because it remains in the shadows here) regarding the futility of US empire et al, and not to offend anyone's spiritual beliefs, I watched this last night and was dumbfounded to know this existed. This is a movement (rebuking modern Christian perverted paths and calling for repentance) coming from a true Christian pulpit out of MT. Apparently I'm late with this...nevertheless there are many who are listening and acting. As I am hopeful...the fall of this evil here is coinciding with the rise of truth as in coming back to the original path of the original 'persecuted immigrants'coming here to worship God freely from Europe. We can get into the mix mash of the evil that came after them to wipe out the natives; however, they came peacefully and had good relations with the natives. There is always an evil usurper coming in the same clothes as the matter where. In the case of this video of course watch with a critical eye but in the same time what this pastor is saying leaves 99% Christian leaders/flocks kicked to the curb revealing their errors. I believe him when he says "peace will begin when there is truth coming from the church"...because that is what has given this evil axis the power to back lies/israel.

  3. Hi wallflower:
    turkey and russia are trading between themselves using their own currencies (as is Iran)- pretty sure that there is an article here somewhere on that news

    "The three countries agreed that the U.S. dollar should not be used for trade, Hemati said. He added that transactions will be made over designated currency exchange rates. "

  4. Just to make mention, off topic for this report but not for the blog

    snow is in the forecast for November 01/19
    rain showers or flurries- cold is the absence of warmth and right now it's not warm.