Military Review

New realities in the Middle East threaten Erdogan with the loss of major trump cards in the midst of the election campaign

New realities in the Middle East threaten Erdogan with the loss of major trump cards in the midst of the election campaign

China factor

While the United States is actively discussing the strategy after the normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran, especially after the official invitation to the Iranian president to visit Riyadh, while we have all the attention paid to the decision of the ICC in The Hague and the visit of the Chinese leader to Turkey with the announcement of K. Kilychdaroglu as the sole leader from The opposition was in full swing in the election campaign.

From the point of view of Russia's interests, the elections to be held in Turkey on May 14 are extremely important. At the same time, the attitude that we have developed in terms of presenting information in this area can rather be called superficial. It is possible that due to a certain expert consensus, according to which economic problems, combined with the consequences of the earthquake in the year of key elections, will a priori prevent Ankara from pursuing an active foreign policy.

Things have once again come to the point that Mr. S. Bagdasarov, on our air, called for returning Istanbul “to his native harbor”, hoisting a cross over Sofia, which earned him incredible popularity in all the major media in Turkey. God be with him, but even more balanced observers say that Turkey's foreign policy pressure will weaken. In the author's opinion, analyzing this direction (and it is actually one of the key ones for us), it is necessary to talk not about "strength" or "weakness", but about the very vector of our complex neighbor's foreign policy.

And one of the key factors for this is just the emergence of China in an active position and the normalization of relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. And it is not in vain that R. Erdogan's office was somewhat distracted from the Ukrainian direction. There is still more than one brainstorming to develop their attitude towards this new configuration of forces, especially since it is foreign policy that is an integral part of the electoral position of the forces represented by R. Erdogan and which stand behind the Turkish president.

The balance of power

As before the last major elections, Turkey's political field is consolidating into two associations or alliances. The first alliance is Cumhur ("Cumhur") or "People's Alliance", where the forces of the Justice and Development Party of R. Erdogan, the National Action Party and the Great Unity Party merge - centrists under the banner of "political Islam", conservatives, nationalists, including quite radical versions. This is not just a "right", but a religiously oriented right. However, the Turkish political system is much more complex than just the opposition of "left" and "right", which, in fact, we will see when we consider the oppositional alliance of forces.

The second alliance Millet ("Millet") or "National Alliance" represents the so-called. "Cabinet of six chairs", where from the "classical Kemalists" one can single out the People's Republican Party, the strongest in this tactical association, which is just headed by the leader from the united opposition K. Kylychdaroglu, as well as the Democratic Party, etc. "Good Party", formed in 2017.

The rest of the forces come from the political alliances of the center and the right wing, which for various reasons did not agree with the policy of R. Erdogan. This is the "Party of Happiness", which exists on the basis of the ideological predecessor of R. Erdogan himself - N. Erbakan (Millî Görüş), and these are Eurosceptics and national conservatives, as well as the "Party of the Future" (former Prime Minister of Turkey A Davutoglu, who, by the way, was once blamed for the attack on a Russian plane) and Democracy and Progress (DEVA), headed by former Deputy Prime Minister A. Babajan. The latter are, again, “moderate right-wingers”, and A. Davutoglu can not be called a Kemalist at all.

Such an alliance at first glance seems to be something unnatural, but here it is necessary to look at it as a whole, since the main goal of such associations for a long time has been to counter the “Erdogan factor” itself. And this is expressed in the fact that every year the positions of the Turkish leader are increasingly shifting to the right. If we consider these opposition alliances in dynamics, we will see how R. Erdogan is gradually being squeezed out of the conservative center to the right side of the road “into the mountains” (even in the literal sense). Among the Turkish opposition, it is believed that if R. Erdogan receives a real rating of 30–32%, he will not overcome the threshold of 42% when voting, and in the Turkish electoral system, the one who receives more than 50% of all votes wins. This is the goal the opposition is striving for, "eating off" R. Erdogan's conservative centrists.

The "alliance of six" adjoins the Kurdish People's Democratic Party, which traditionally gains the votes of ethnic Kurds in the southern and southeastern provinces. While not playing a significant role in normal times, the positions of the NDP increase many times over at times when the struggle is for additional percentages of votes.

Now the mood in the Turkish oppositional segment of the Internet is quite optimistic, even bravura and, following exactly the logic described above, there are actively untwisted public opinion polls, where the rating of the Turkish leader does not exceed those same 30%, and the rating of K. Kılıçdaroglu is consistently above 60%. If until March the opposition almost insisted that the elections should be postponed to a later date, today, on the contrary, there are statements from there that the postponement of the election date will mean almost a coup d'état.

In terms of foreign policy, which for a long time was one of the strongest trump cards in R. Erdogan's deck, the opposition occupied and occupies a very comfortable position "everything will be as it was, and even better." Thus, with regard to Russia, K. Kılıçdaroğlu says: “I believe that the existing positions will be further strengthened”, with regard to sanctions, he suggests focusing on the consolidated position of the UN Security Council; to all sides.

At the same time, the leader of the Turkish opposition sent a separate letter to Damascus expressing condolences in the common tragedy. In general, his interview on foreign policy for Medya Günlüğü looks very, very balanced, if you do not take into account the fact that other representatives of the Republican People's Party are widely in favor of the maximum activation of Turkey's work within the NATO partnership. In our country, it is clear that they are very sharply criticizing R. Erdogan's recent decision to send a positive decision on Finland's membership in NATO to the parliament for approval, but they take little into account the context of this step.

The Turkish president's assets include quite effective work to eliminate the consequences of the earthquake. The opposition frankly did not expect that R. Erdogan's cabinet would act quite clearly and harmoniously in this direction, even extinguishing the wave of indignation caused by violations in the construction industry.

Traditionally, the opposition disperses rumors that the Turkish leader intends to fully use the factor of naturalized Syrian refugees in the elections, whom R. Erdogan has been trying to resettle back to Syria to the territories controlled by his formations for years. As a result, it is R. Erdogan's cabinet that does not intensify work on the admission of new citizens, of whom, in reality, no more than 200 thousand out of almost 4 million migrants were naturalized over the entire period.

Without taking into account the internal context of Turkish politics, it is difficult to adequately analyze the steps of the current Ankara, which we traditionally take in the media in a deliberately anti-Russian vein. But the problem is precisely that R. Erdogan's opposition year after year bites off the conservative center - the same “squeezing as far as possible to the right” described above. We just had a flurry of criticism on the topic of “parallel import” restrictions, but here we should rather be surprised not by the fact that Ankara introduced the restrictions, but by the fact that it introduced them in that form only today.

According to the WTO norms and the TRIPS agreement, right holders can easily impose restrictions on their products, and Turkey is generally a member of the common customs area of ​​the EU. It has long been necessary to understand that simple re-export is a very unreliable road, and fictitious transit is doubly unreliable, and it was necessary to form in advance more complex, three-, even four-part schemes of work, opening joint ventures in Turkey, and even better - in Iran. Well, the current cabinet of R. Erdogan with such opposition cannot simply take and defiantly not comply with the norms of agreements in the EU.

This is only half the trouble

All this would be half the trouble if R. Erdogan could continue to rely on his past foreign policy achievements and backlogs in the struggle for the seat, and the opposition would be forced to follow in the laid direction. But the configuration that began to take shape in the Middle East behind the agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia plays against R. Erdogan and, oddly enough, plays into the hands of his political opponents. The Eastern strategy of R. Erdogan, like a good stool, had several strong legs: the fight against terrorism in the face of the Kurdistan Workers' Party in Syria and Iraq, the protection of the interests of the Turkomans in Syria and Iraq, as well as assistance to the opposition to Damascus, assistance to Azerbaijan in the Karabakh issue and protecting the interests of Palestinians in Israel and Jerusalem's shrines.

The strengthening of Turkey's positions in each of these areas, one way or another, was based on systemic contradictions between the Gulf countries and Iran. Turkey acted in each case as a third force, and often a military force. Now, no matter what knot you take, you need to make adjustments everywhere.

What will happen if Saudi Arabia takes a course towards reconciliation with Damascus, as the UAE and Oman did, especially after a personal meeting between the President of Iran and Prince M. bin Salman? Activate in Iraq? But this is how Iraq deserved gratitude from both sides for their help in the negotiation process.

Turkey can stand up for the rights of the Palestinians, but the real military force that directly affects the process is the pro-Iranian forces, and the movement alone will only result in words. Block with the Americans? But what to do with US support for paramilitaries affiliated with the same Workers' Party - Ankara's main and permanent opponent? It is not for nothing that Kazakhstan de facto left the framework of the so-called. The "Astana format" of settlement in Syria has simply outlived its usefulness.

Turkey may increase pressure in terms of assistance to Azerbaijan. But, again, this is a tension with Iran, and here it is not necessary to wait for approval from the Arab countries. All these questions are spinning one after the other and at the same time so out of time for the Turkish leader.

But his political opponents are spared such problems, because, on the one hand, they support a certain general line of R. Erdogan's past foreign policy achievements, on the other hand, they are generally spared from the need for reflection, since, signing approval of the achievements of the past with one hand, they can write with the other new configuration from scratch. At least no one is stopping them from saying so.

R. Erdogan has not found himself in such an uncomfortable position, probably, since the ever-memorable 2016, and in this respect it is even somewhat surprising that the so-called. "grain deal", where Turkey is only the third beneficiary after the EU and China, and the extension itself is probably a concession to Ankara during the election campaign - unpleasant as a fact, but not so critical against the general background of the past year, as well as against the backdrop of already exported 25 million tons, when it comes to the export of residues. The fact that the deal would be extended was, in general, obviously, the issue was more in the information presentation and specific deadlines, and traditionally everything is different with us.

Can R. Erdogan in such difficult pre-election conditions simply “reduce foreign policy activity”, which is one of his pillars? After all, even the question of mediation in the Ukrainian issue today is firmly tied to the position of Beijing. A victory on any of the international platforms for R. Erdogan's cabinet is not a whim, but a matter of the presidency. Therefore, it is not that we should not expect a decrease in activity, but, on the contrary, its activation in one of the specific areas.

For Russia

For Russia during this period, despite the whole range of acute systemic problems, it is still important to decide which Turkey is preferable to us - an understandable Erdogan or a patchwork quilt of the current Turkish opposition, which is sewn together with a thread of opposition to the Turkish leader. The answer to this question is complicated by the fact that now two large nuclei - Chinese and American - are gradually drawing the nearest centrifugal economies into their orbit. Iran, Russia, Central Asia are moving into the Chinese cluster, but what about the Turkish economy?

And the Turkish economy is one way or another part of the European system. If the Arab countries still have a set of different options, then Turkey's vector is much more defined. And although, paradoxically, it is the Turkish diaspora in Europe that votes for R. Erdogan, it is the arrival of his opponents that will firmly return Turkey economically and politically to the “European rails”. At the beginning of this path, we will most likely get something like a “Greater Hungary” in terms of the sanctions line, but it’s hard to say further, given that half of the Turkish opposition in the past has been supporters of the toughest strategy regarding our policy in Syria. If the Turkish leader remains for a new term, our southern neighbor will literally be torn apart between these two monstrous economic clusters, while we will have to spend resources on foreign policy exacerbations with enviable constancy.

The arrival of the opposition will give a tactical bonus, but it strategically threatens us with a sanctions wall from the Baltic to the Mediterranean Sea, the continuation of R. Erdogan's line is costly, both in terms of tactical costs and resource support for this regime, and it is also associated with the perception of such a position as a policy of "eternal concessions Moscow". How much it costs in exchange for Ankara's weak involvement in NATO's anti-Russian policy and certain "holes" in the policy of European and American sanctions should be considered with a minimum of emotions, including directly in money. Moreover, a number of large energy projects have already been implemented or are under implementation. It is desirable to do this as soon as possible, because in the very near future, even our television talk shows will fluctuate the percentage of voting in May, when R. Erdogan and the opposition will literally breathe into each other's necks.

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  1. Vladimir_2U
    Vladimir_2U 23 March 2023 03: 06
    Friends like Erdogan would be nice to have in a museum, but I'm afraid that the rest of the Turkish politicians can even go to the yard without looking at all. So you have to work with him.
    1. nikolaevskiy78
      23 March 2023 03: 20
      Yes, there is one more beautiful than the other, some have simply been forgotten because the Syrian crisis is not in the first places as before. The opposition to Erdogan today on the topic of Russia spreads the sheet smoothly, but only here you can remember how the Meloni team recently entered Italy.
    2. Kok_Ivanov
      Kok_Ivanov 23 March 2023 15: 53
      There are no friends in politics, as you know, there are temporary partners. Are you outraged that the Turks are trying for the Turks? And for this they are on the yard? Do you think they should work for the good of Russia?
      Then, in theory, it is necessary to hang everyone with whom the Russian Foreign Ministry has a relationship.
      For rhea, there are more advanced candidates in Russia itself, sitting in an armchair, who, according to the idea, should work for its good, but due to a strange coincidence, or because of their own self-interest or something else, they do not do this at such a difficult time for the country.
      1. Mikhail Drabkin
        Mikhail Drabkin 23 March 2023 22: 24
        - A familiar devil is better than an unfamiliar one.

        —-The interests of Russia and Turkey intersect in Ukraine, the Black Sea region, the Middle East, Libya and Central Asia, and even in Tatarstan and Bashkiria ... Continuity and predictability (with all the frills and the Bayrakter plant ...) are necessary for Russia.

        -- Erdogan is one of the few whose dialogue reduces the perception of Russia in isolation.
      2. IgorZ
        IgorZ 24 March 2023 13: 54
        "Reveal the entire list, please."
    3. Romanovski
      Romanovski April 2 2023 20: 08
      0 Турция ведет двойную игру с Россией и Западом, извлекая максимум выгоды из их конфликта. Об этом заявил доктор политических наук, декан факультета управления и политики МГИМО МИД России Генри Сардарян.

      Turkey is actively cooperating with Russia in trade and energy, while flirting with the US and NATO. According to Sardaryan, the situation with the entry of Finland and Sweden into the Alliance was clear from the very beginning: Ankara's demands for Kurdish refugees were a public veil behind which the Turks were seriously bargaining with the Western bloc. The political scientist notes that such an approach has always been characteristic of this country.

      “Turkish diplomacy is distinguished by the ability to play on different chessboards. You can, say, create problems for us in Syria in order to later agree on the South Caucasus, or vice versa. It is possible for Europeans to create problems with refugees in order to get concessions from them related to armaments. In this case, if possible, they understand that the West would very much like Sweden and Finland to join NATO. Why not create a problem here, so as not to demand something from the West in order to remove it - for example, concessions on the issue of American fighters? Sardaryan said.

      Russia should not be deceived by Turkey's rhetoric and disposition - the policy of this country is a good manipulation of the contradictions between Moscow and Washington. The political scientist is convinced that Ankara's consent to Finland's entry into NATO is a matter of time. The question of Sweden is more complicated: the expert suspects that the country itself does not want to join the Alliance, therefore it provokes scandals with the burning of the Koran and other steps that leave the Turks no choice.

      “There is no doubt that as soon as Turkey receives some alleged dividends, it will let the Finns into NATO. The Turks will not proceed from the interests of the United States, nor from the interests of Russia - they proceed from their own interests and perfectly manipulate the contradictions between the Russian Federation and the West. In the West, they say: "We will never admit that Crimea is part of Russia." They tell us: "In life we ​​will not allow ourselves to be drawn into confrontation with Russia." Ultimately, Turkey benefits from trade, from acting as a hub, and from many other areas of work. We must understand this,” Sardaryan said on the air of Soloviev LIVE.

      Turkey's position in world politics is clearly manifested in the country's attitude towards foreigners. In order to keep the maximum possible number of tourists, Ankara suppresses any conflicts and tries to remain a "country of the beach truce." Scandalous foreigners, including Ukrainians, face punishment up to and including deportation under such conditions.
  2. Vladimir80
    Vladimir80 23 March 2023 05: 46
    Finland in NATO - Erdogan missed it, Turkey does not allow sanctions goods - now there is little sense left from Erdogan - only to carry parallel imports ...
    on the other hand, his opposition is 100% rubbish, so even such a cunning two-faced Erdogan is preferable for us
  3. parusnik
    parusnik 23 March 2023 05: 51
    It’s easier, wherever you spit, there’s a wedge everywhere. It’s not sweet with Erdogan, the opposition will come, it won’t get any sweeter.
  4. rotmistr60
    rotmistr60 23 March 2023 06: 56
    regarding Russia, K. Kılıçdaroğlu says: “I believe that the existing positions will be further strengthened”
    During the election period, many people talk about a lot, promise, pound their heels in the chest, but it is worth winning the elections and immediately all the promises evaporate in the atmosphere. At least all the strengths and weaknesses of Erdogan, his manner of conducting foreign policy are known to our leadership and tested by practice, but what to expect from the opposition candidate if he comes to power can only be predicted theoretically. And on the other hand, as they say in Russia: "radish horseradish is not sweeter."
  5. Amateur
    Amateur 23 March 2023 07: 53
    Under no circumstances should Erdogan's foreign policy be considered "pro-Russian". His policy is "pro-Turkish" and anti-American; he himself wants to become the leader of the Turkic countries, and not an American mongrel.
    Absolutely wild inflation and forced Islamization of the country play against Erdogan in internal affairs. Turkey is a secular country and ordinary Turks do not like that they are being forced into Sharia law. Although they are Muslims, they are not fanatics at all.
  6. kor1vet1974
    kor1vet1974 23 March 2023 08: 11
    In any case, they will not reach out to Russia and will not stretch out disinterested gifts, but they will continue to pull from Russia.
  7. Glory1974
    Glory1974 23 March 2023 11: 21
    our problem is that we ourselves do not form anything. We have no levers of influence, "manual" politicians, "soft power" in Turkey. The gas pipeline and nuclear power plant, which we are building for our own money, is a lever of influence on us.
    Under these conditions, the only thing left is to hope that everything will be fine, they will not want to lose money. But experience shows that they are ready to lose money and are ready to impose their will.
  8. far diu
    far diu 23 March 2023 12: 24
    strategically threatens us with a sanctions wall from the Baltic to the Mediterranean

    Turkey is a key trade route not only for Russia in the form of parallel imports/exports, but also for China's trade with the EU. Previously, China had 2 trade route through Russia, but since 2022 it has actually been cut off. The rest are all trade routes only through the sea, which are controlled by the US with the UK.
    Therefore, China is doing everything possible to maintain control in Pakistan and Iran. Pakistan is important as a starting point and stronghold against Afghanistan, and Iran is important for gaining influence in the Middle East and trade with the Middle East.

    These 3 countries are of great importance both for China and for the US and the UK. If the US and UK cut off Turkey and Iran, then China's trade will be completely dependent on the US bloc.
    1. nikolaevskiy78
      23 March 2023 13: 10
      To be honest, if you remove the political component, it is difficult to say what kind of logistical special bonuses Turkey can give China in the framework of European supplies. Land routes need to be strengthened 6 times, if not more, in order to get an alternative to sea supplies to Europe. All these "transport corridors" are still a factor of saturation of the Eurasian markets. For China, this is also beneficial, but if we talk about the fact that it is precisely the path to the EU that is being formed here, then for me, as a logistician, this is precisely geopolitics, and not the flow of goods. This does not mean that it is not necessary to develop the paths, it is necessary, it is simply desirable to realistically assess the scale.