The president of Turkey has many problems, created by him.
Parliamentary elections in Turkey are approaching. After them, the internal political situation in this country can change in the most unpredictable way, which is extremely important for Russia, given its role in the Middle East geopolitical scenario.
Ankara is not only one of the largest economic partners of Moscow. Our relations are influenced by projects aimed at increasing Turkey’s influence in the Turkic world (which includes Central Asia, Azerbaijan and much of Russia itself), the role of a hydrocarbon transit in the EU, processes in the Black Sea region and the Caucasus.
Green Corridor for terrorists
At the same time, roughness in Turkish-Russian relations does not play a significant role for bilateral relations. Even the crisis in Syria, having aggravated the rhetoric of the Turkish leadership towards Moscow after the appearance of the Russian Space Forces there, did not lead to their cooling down in practice. It should be noted here that confrontational statements by Turkish President R. T. Erdogan are common for his relations with any partners, including Germany and the United States. At the same time, the unprecedented development of Russian-Turkish relations is associated precisely with the period in which the Justice and Development Party (AKP) is in power, headed by Erdogan. It is not excluded that after losing her monopoly on power, these relations can enter a period of stagnation.
The Turkish leadership in the promotion of his plans brings immoderate ambitions and obvious voluntarism, manifested in the reassessment of Turkey's capabilities in the "Arab spring", including in an attempt to dislodge Assad in Syria, and in domestic policy. Erdogan, consistently entering into conflict with the army generals, veterans of the special services, the judiciary, Kurds, party opponents, followers of his closest ally F. Gulen, supporters of Kemal Atatürk’s traditions, left and right nationalists, secular circles, and anyone else whose views for the future of Turkey, it was contrary to its current, rapidly changing mood, with its own hands deprived itself of freedom of maneuver.
Indisputable achievements in the economy are worthless by failures in politics, many of which are difficult to explain. Intolerance to any obstacles, uncompromising in conflict situations, which Erdogan himself often creates, a change in attitudes towards allies and partners, who in his eyes instantly turn into enemies (as was the case with Gaddafi, Asad, and after the recent break in negotiations, replaced by air attacks, with the Kurds) prevented him from securing the regime of personal power within a presidential republic with an amended constitution. Conduct this course, he less defiantly, it is possible that he would have succeeded.
HistoryHowever, he does not know the subjunctive mood, and the situation in Turkey is developing as it is. The current Russian leadership is carrying out an indicative non-confrontational policy towards Ankara and personally Erdogan, adhering to Syria’s policy of preserving its statehood in opposition to terrorist organizations, along with the government army, local ethno-confessional militias and Iran. Turkey, on the contrary, along with Qatar and Saudi Arabia is one of the main customers and organizers of the Syrian civil war. Terrorists, including the Islamic State (IG), receive basic financial and logistical support through Turkey. It is also the main transit route for jihadists arriving in Syria and Iraq from around the world.
Close contacts with the latest Turkish special services make it more than cautious about their possible consequences for Russia if an appropriate decision is made in Ankara. The "reverse" of terrorists through Turkey with its visa-free regime is possible. Judging by the tense relations of the Turkish security forces with China, due to their support of the Uyghur terrorist underground, including in Afghanistan and Thailand, anything can be expected from them. Pre-election domestic political instability in Turkey, including possible personnel changes in the power bloc, contributes to this.
It is not by chance that a stable version emerged in the analytical community, stating that the only one who benefited from the terrorist attacks in Suruc and Ankara for domestic political combinations is Erdogan himself. The first terrorist attack, the organization of which was officially blamed by the IG, was the reason for the attack on the Kurdish Peoples Democracy Party (PDN) and its leader S. Demirtas, as well as a blow to the positions of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). The “capital” of IG - Rakka, this Turkish attack to the rear of the Kurds, who were advancing on it, was actually saved. The second was accused of the PKK, the IG, the Front of the Revolutionary National Liberation and the “parallel state” of Gulen.
The theory of the “cocktail act of terrorism” put forward by the AKP was clearly designed for domestic consumption during the pre-election period: from the list of suspects, all but the IG soon disappeared. On October 16, the Turkish People’s Republican People’s Party (RPF) issued a statement that the alleged suicide bombers who carried out the terrorist attack in Ankara had been in sight of the Turkish security services for several years regarding their contacts with radical Islamic groups, including the IG and Al-Qaida ".
We state that the Turkish direction is one of the most important for Russia in the Middle East, if only because of the breadth of Ankara’s own interests. Ensuring security in the face of a terrorist threat, the situation in the Turkic world, Syria and Iraq, the Black Sea region, the South Caucasus and Central Asia, Russia's relations with the EU and NATO are linked with Turkey. Let us consider in more detail the processes occurring in this country, relying on the materials of Yu. B. Shcheglovina and V. I. Kovalev, prepared for IBI.
The current situation in Turkey is characterized by:
The loss of the position of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the informal leader of which is Turkish President Erdogan, as a result of the general parliamentary elections 7 of June and the unsuccessful attempts of the AKP to adopt the new Constitution with the transition to presidential form of government.
The inaccessibility in the current conditions of a long-term alliance between the AKP and one of the country's three main opposition forces, as well as between the latter, which led to the failure of negotiations on the formation of a coalition government and re-elections scheduled for November 1.
The economic instability of the transition period with the suspension of the implementation of key projects for the country in the infrastructure sector and capital outflows. The fall of the national currency and inflation in the course of the current year.
The increasing flow of immigrants and refugees from Syria, settling in Turkey (officially their number is about two million people, unofficially - more than three million) in the absence of significant support, including financial, from the United States and the European Union.
Polarization of society.
Difficult relations with neighbors in the region, as well as the US and the EU, because of which Ankara lost its strategically beneficial status of neutrality in resolving regional disputes.
Complicated relations with Russia - the main market for Turkish products and services in accordance with the “Export Strategy”, a key energy supplier and an important investor in the economy (the largest project is Akkuyu NPP).
The growing criticism of the president, prime minister A. Davutoglu and the AKP with regard to internal political and economic instability, with the disappointment of a significant part of the population with foreign policy, especially with the position addressed to official Damascus.
The likelihood of the 7 June scenario being repeated in elections with the inability of the AKP to form a one-party government and, as a consequence, the need to negotiate with opponents is high.
At the heart of the AKP's electoral strategy is the curtailment of a peaceful settlement with the PKK and an unsuccessful attempt to oust the pro-Kurdish PDN from politics with a subsequent shift of focus to other competitors, the NPF and the Nationalist Movement Party (IPA). Until the main issue, which for the JDP is to ensure a simple majority in parliament (Majlis) in the November 1 elections, is resolved, Turkey will not be able to activate or change its policy in Syria. The situation for the Turks is complicated by the fact that the United States regards the Syrian Kurds as one of the main candidates for an alliance in the fight against IS, and President Assad looks like an increasingly legitimate dialogue partner for Europeans.
Between extremists and investors
The unilateral commencement by Turkey of a land operation in Syria (“to protect the Turkomans”) without the support of the US / NATO in the current situation is unlikely, although special operations by the Turkish Armed Forces in Syrian territory cannot be ruled out by analogy with their raids in northern Iraq. At the same time, Turkey continues its attempts to convince the US / NATO of the need to organize a no-fly security zone on the Turkish-Syrian border, citing the humanitarian crisis and the need to protect the civilian, including Turkish Turkoman population of Syria, harshly criticizing the beginning of US military assistance to the Syrian Kurds. The clash of Turkey with the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is extremely undesirable for Ankara.
Its currently observed desire to intensify the material and technical support of the Syrian opposition can have a negative impact on the economic stability of the country. The war against the PKK did not justify itself. The Turkish army suffers small but permanent losses. To solve the problem of the combat activity of the Kurds, it can not. Initially, it was implied that the president, arguing his actions by the antiterrorist campaign, would be able to transfer the polling stations from the Kurdish regions, reducing the electoral base of the PDN. But the Turkish Supreme Court failed this initiative, which indicates that Erdogan did not succeed in completely liquidating the opposition circles in the judicial corps.
Turkish leadership miscalculated in the Syrian direction. The military operation of the Russian Federation in Syria violated the plans of Erdogan, who, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, planned to finish off Assad’s army for parliamentary elections or to demonstrate that its position is hopeless. For this, he had to make a humiliating compromise with the United States regarding the Incirlik base. Now Turkey is facing the prospect of becoming the main springboard of subversive activity against Damascus, the consequences of which are difficult to calculate. Camps for the preparation of Syrian opposition members will be located on Turkish territory, most of whom adhere to extremely radical Salafi views. This potential destabilizing factor will be taken into account by any potential investors.
The main negative consequence of personal sympathies and antipathies rather than political and economic expediency of the Turkish president’s policy was the failure of Ankara’s energy strategy. The war in the Kurdish areas of Turkey jeopardizes the functioning of pipelines from Iran, along which Azerbaijani and Iranian gas flows. Erdogan’s harsh statements regarding the “Turkish Stream”, pushing the country's transformation into an energy hub, were badly received by the AKP and the national economic elite. The Minister of Energy and the Deputy Prime Minister, who oversees this area, explained that there are no problems in relations with Moscow on energy issues. But the investors have already heard the signal, as well as the fact that instead of building four branches of the “Turkish Stream” we are talking about one. SHELL and BP made it clear that the Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline, worth 10 billions of dollars and the carrying capacity of 16 billion cubic meters per year, is under threat.
In this regard, Erdogan is playing the "European card", blackmailing the EU with a migrant crisis. The result is the visit of German Chancellor A. Merkel to Ankara and her words about intentions "to promote Turkey's accession to the EU." True, Merkel had said before that she did not see Turkey as a member of the EU in the near future. As a result, Brussels will pay for the arrangement of camps in Turkish territory in exchange for changing the practice of Ankara to release anyone to Europe. But Europe will not provide military support for plans to create a no-fly zone in Syria, because it does not want the clashes of millions of Turks living in the EU and Kurds on the streets of European cities.
We note the looming crisis in the relations of the president and the special services of Turkey. We are talking about counter-terrorism units and the MIT intelligence service. The main reason is the cleansing of their personnel in recent years in order to get rid of the “fifth column” of Imam Gülen. The command and leadership of the highest and middle levels of the General Directorate of Security of the Police and the special body for conducting special operations Ozel Tim were particularly affected. The departure of experienced operatives and managers led to a rapid loss of the combat potential and competence of these special services. Moreover, Erdogan, offended by the Iranian leadership because of Syria, has banned working contacts with Iranian counter-terrorism units that specialized in the Kurdish issue. Among the “old cadres” of the siloviki, there is still serious skepticism regarding Erdogan and his henchmen in the special services.
The Turkish security system is in a deep organizational and personnel crisis, hardly responding to the current level of terrorist threats. Under the leadership of the closest associate of President Hakan Fidan, MIT is engaged in minimizing the “Kurdish threat” to the detriment of operations against jihadists and extreme nationalists, who are attributed by its leadership to “second-tier priorities”. At present, H. Fidan and MIT senior officers are negotiating with the Kurds to ensure that the AKP has beneficial voting results in their districts. Thus, the "clan" Buskas in the city of Sanliurfa is "processed." The AKP will also be supported by the Kurdish party Huba Par, the political wing of Hezbollah Kurdistan, created by MIT to work among the Kurds.
November 1 may become a swan song for the head of MIT. Rumors about his resignation are being discussed by the political and economic elite of Turkey. Dissatisfaction with Fidan’s activities is due to the unsatisfactory results of the implementation of its projects in the Kurdish sector. Thus, the truce with the PKK, which Fidan personally oversaw and lobbied at the highest level, ended in failure. His attempt to enter politics before the first parliamentary elections of 7 June was foiled by Erdogan. Fidan was persuaded to remain in his previous post with a promise to create a “superspecial service” for him, including in order to neutralize him as a potentially dangerous competitor to the current Turkish president. However, this promise was broken.
Currently, Erdogan plans not to strengthen Fidan, but to create a new special service and a power structure that would be completely loyal and personally subordinate to him, on the basis of the AKP youth wing, with Ismail Osaklari at the head. Its backbone should be the Ottoman Club association headed by him. Replace the existing special services in all areas of their activity, the new special services will not be able, but this task is not facing it. She is likely to deal with Erdogan’s competitors in order to stop the leadership of the AKP, which recalls the relevant steps of Mao Zedong and Omar al-Bashir in similar situations. This means that after the election of November 1, regardless of their outcome, the AKP and the government will expect resonant resignations.
Among other things, trying to solve problems related to the situation in Syria, Erdogan stepped up pressure on the United States on the issue of the no-fly zone. Currently, the White House is once again considering scenarios of participation in the creation of such zones in Syria on the border with Jordan and Turkey. They were discussed at a meeting with representatives of the State Department, the presidential administration and the security forces. From Brussels, Erdogan did not receive a clear answer to this initiative. The United States has officially announced that they will not participate in the creation of no-fly zones. The Pentagon and the CIA are staunch opponents of this idea, but the meeting itself says that B. Obama's entourage in the person of S. Rice is trying to force it. It is clear that in addition to the repeated strengthening of the American air group, the creation of zones will require ground participation of US troops, which is unacceptable for the American president.
The Americans are wary of giving the entire security zone under the control of the Turkish army. Talking about the strategic US-Turkish cooperation on Syria is not necessary, as evidenced by the evidence provided at the aforementioned meeting of the CIA, regarding the fact that "the relationship of the Turkish special services with the igilovtsy" cause them questions. The situation in Syria and Turkey is comparable to the Pakistani-Afghan junction, where Pakistani Interdepartmental Intelligence supervised both the Taliban and Al-Qaida. Ankara needs a security zone to house camps there for training militants, providing channels for trade in smuggled oil and supplying patronized groups, including the IG, and the Americans are fully aware of this.
As far as can be judged, Washington will by all means avoid confrontation over Syria with Moscow and Tehran, good, the “weak link” in the system of American interests in the Middle East, among other things, is Baghdad, ready to look for support in Russia at any moment, as already found it in Iran. About Egypt and Algeria, warring with the Islamists, do not even have to say. Jordan and Morocco have strong friendly relations with Moscow. The UAE is ready to fight along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar in Yemen, but not in Syria. Kuwait is equally afraid of Iran and Iraq, Shiite and Salafi militants. Oman is in friendly relations with Iran and, like the Ibadi state, is not interested in Sunni and especially Salafi radicals defeating Syria in Syria, which will inevitably lead to the Alawite genocide.
As a result, Turkey in the political combinations of its president, associated with the crisis in Syria, can only rely on Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Moreover, neither one nor the other is going to give up the convenient status of external players, observers and sponsors of terrorist groups, giving Ankara the opportunity to bear the burden of the front-line state alone. Not the best starting position before the parliamentary elections ...