U.K––The meeting on Tuesday, August 9th between Vladimir Putin and Recep Erdogan in Moscow sent shock waves to white power leaders and centers in the so-called West.
What could be the reasons that led to this meeting and what could be the expected outcomes?
Most people still remember the high tension created between the Russian and Turkish government on the November 24, 2015 when Turkey shot down the Russian fighter jet, whose pilot was captured and killed by an ally of Turkey in Syria.
RT.com showed videos of Turkey’s implicit support of ISIL by allowing them to move a fleet of lorries carrying Syrian oil to Turkey, which were bombed by Russian planes. Turkey was diplomatically put on the defensive, and the recent waves of bombing in Turkey may have unsettled Ankara’s regime.
There is no doubt that first the successful Russian military intervention in Syria convinced Erdogan that Assad was not going out soon and, secondly, the U.S.-sponsored failed July 15th coup against the regime of Erdogan precipitated this move between the two countries.
Russia needs Turkey as much as Turkeys needs Russia.
Erdogan’s June 27th letter of apology helped smoothed the way, and Putin’s government’s swift support for Erdogan’s government when the coup was under way, in opposition to calculated silence of the U.S. government and the Erdogan’s accusation of the U.S. government as the force beyond the coup created the favorable environment for this rapprochement.
The immediate paramount reasons, however, must have been the economic ties between the two countries.
Russia’s sanctions on Turkey, in retaliation for killing its pilot, hit Turkish economy sharply. Russians estimate Turkish loss to be at $11 billion, while Turkish estimates their own loss to be at $9 billion.
According to CNN, “The Turkish economy will take a direct hit. Analysts estimate Moscow’s sanctions could cut 0.5 percent off annual growth, which was already slowing sharply. The Turkish lira has lost nearly 20 percent of its value against the dollar this year.
“Turkey accounts for around a quarter of Russia’s total food imports, Russian visitors are crucial for Turkey’s tourism industry. Around 4.5 million Russians visited the country in 2014, and official Turkish data show that more than 12 percent of all visitors were Russian, making them the second biggest group after Germans.” (Ivana Kottasova, CNN.com)
Russia’s economy also needs Turkey since Turkey is the second largest buyer of Russian gas after Germany. One key outcome of that meeting was the revival of the $22 billion Akkuyu nuclear power plant that will provide 10 percent of Turkey’s energy requirements. (dailysabah.com)
For Russia engaged in permanent struggle to defend its currency, the rouble, against the combined effect of falling oil prices and the U.S. and EU economic sanctions, any trade expansion is good news.
The Turkish ambition to become the gas hub for Europe is one of the material reasons Erdogan has renewed relations with Russia, at present Russia and Turkey are directly connected through South Stream gas pipeline.
“Russia’s Gazprom delivered 26.9 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Turkey in 2015, accounting for 55 percent of its needs”. (in.rbth.com)
The rapprochement between the two countries opens up the possibility to bring back the $12 billion Turkish Stream project to replace the South Stream Project to carry 63 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year through Turkey to Europe.
This project, if it goes ahead, will be in direct competition with the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), an EU effort to reduce their dependence on Russian gas as the TAP would flow Azeri gas to Turkey from where it would be distributed to Southern Europe.
Russia constituted nearly 10 percent of Turkey’s export, particularly for food and vegetables. “Turkey is the main foreign market for Sberbank, a Russian bank which still accounts for around 9 percent of the Russian bank’s assets.” (in.rbth.com)
Turkey in pursuit of its own interest exposes U.S. decline
It is clear that Turkey wants to become the main transit point of gas distribution throughout Europe for Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran and, possibly other countries too.
This is Turkish selfish economic interests. In terms of Turkish security selfish interests, Erdogan has been reluctant to endorse U.S. plans that required Turkey to smash ISIL, since Turkey‘s attitude towards ISIS is dictated by its own interests.
The London’s ft.com stated on January 18, 2016 that Turkish rulers’ security concerns in the Middle East consisted of:
“The Iran-backed Shia axis that stretches from Baghdad to Beirut; Syrian Kurdish insurgents allied to the Kurdistan Workers party (PKK) that has waged a 30-year struggle against Ankara; and the Assads”.
This explains the Turkish support for ISIL and other Islamist forces in Syria against the Assad regime. To the dismay of the Turkish State, they U.S. does not consider the People’s Protection Units (YPG) nor the Democratic Union party (YPD)––the political wing of the People’s Protection Units of which the Kurdistan Workers party is closely affiliated––as a terrorist organization.
It is well known that the YPG and the PKK are the most committed opponents of the Jihadist forces in Syria. During his visit in Russia, the Turkish president has called for a military cooperation against ISIL. If this comes to fruition, it will contribute to boosting a Russian solution in the Syria crisis, which must include collaboration between Assad and Erdogan governments.
The question is, would closer economic ties between Turkey and Russia make Turkey, a NATO member, less willing to side with the U.S. in its effort to force Russia to submission?
In any case, this move by Erdogan undermines the authority of the United States imperialism in the region.
The U.S. arms and fights alongside the People’s Protection Units against the ISIL and other Islamist forces in Syria.
The People’s Protection Units has been able to secure and rule over large areas of Syria. This is a security concern for Turkey, which understands that the strength and gains of the afore mentioned party must mean gains for the Kurdistan Worker’s party too.
In concrete terms, it means an assault on Turkey’s territorial integrity. To avoid this eventuality, Erdogan would have to reopen serious peace negotiation with the Kurdish liberation forces.
Can the Russian leaders’ reign in the Kurdistan Worker’s party and Turkish government resume a peace process that will satisfy Turkey and the Kurds in Turkey?
The U.S. failed coup accelerates power struggle and undermines U.S authority in the region
This is “An Uneasy Equilibrium” that Chairman Omali Yeshitela of The African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) talks about. Everyone is challenging or taking aim at the U.S. contributing to its decline.
Turkey is trying to align itself with whoever can facilitate Turkish drive for regional power.
Erdogan called onto Obama’s government to extradite to Turkey alleged the coup leader, Fetullah Gulen, the “self exiled Turkish” in Pennsylvania, in the U.S.
The white House replies that there is no evidence from the Turkish government to incriminate Fetullah Gulen.
Erdogan used the Incirlik air base in Turkey that houses NATO’s nuclear weapons to show his strength. The Turkish police went in search of coup plotters who used this NATO’s military facility base to refuel their planes against Erdogan.
According to Kurt Volker, former U.S. ambassador to NATO, who told CNN that “Turkey surrounded and shut down the base’s power initially in an effort to root out coup-plotters but that the continued power cut could have been an attempt by Turkey to “show the U.S. that they have leverage if they needed.”
It is also from this basis that the U.S. lead its alleged military operations against ISIL.
Turkey is the second-largest NATO’s army after the U.S; which is in fact, the largest army in the region.
NATO reflects the power of the U.S. and of the Western world. Turkey wants to be a regional power despite the U.S. just as Iran has done despite the obstacles from the U.S. An unreliable Turkey undermines the cohesiveness of NATO.
To become a regional power, one has to become a regional economic and military power.
Despite 54.3 percent of Turkey exports go to Europe, while 78 percent of Turkey’s overall Foreign Direct Investment comes from the EU, Turkey has been made to wait forever in its quest to join the EU.
This rapprochement with Russia in this period of matured crisis of imperialism has a profound signification, and there is also the possibility of Turkey joining the Shanghai Organization Treaty, which unnerves not just the U.S., but the EU too.
Erdogan infuriated U.S. and EU leaders as he seized this failed coup as an opportunity to strengthen his grip on power over Turkey’s State and society by targeting would be Fetullah Gulen’s supporters.
There is nothing the U.S. can do about it.
According to The Guardian on Saturday, July 16, 2016, “More than 1,500 members of the armed forces have been arrested, among them twenty-nine colonels and five generals.
“Over 2,745 judges have been removed from duty.”
The July 19th issue of Telegraph writes: “The licences of 21,000 staff working in private schools were revoked, more than 15,000 employees at the education ministry were sacked, and the state-run higher education council demanded the resignation of 1,577 university deans.”
This move by Erdogan shakes the U.S. influence in Turkey. But the more decisive act against the U.S. would be the closure of NATO military base in Turkey.
We are well aware that Erdogan’s government is not a revolutionary one. That is why we call on African people to join the struggle for African self-determination as the most strategic way to undermine the U.S. imperialist rule
End foreign parasitic domination of Middle East
End foreign parasitic domination of our Africa and African people.