Orhan Bursalı in Cumhuriyet writes that Turkey is not making headway in the Middle East, which means that AKP’s strategy to swallow MHP is endangered. Turkey’s “arrows” are not only missing their targets, they are also provoking a backlash. The Sunni Turcoman areas in Syria are now under the control of the forces of Assad. The military incursion into the Mosul region backfired. The downing of the Russian plane has backfired even more dramatically, with Russia deploying strong military, economic and political pressures in response. And now, after Putin has deployed S-300 and S-400 missile defenses in Syria, Turkey cannot even send up an airplane against Syria. Ankara is left without a single political card to play in the Middle East. It is left alone at the chess table. The political meaning of the command of the U.S. to Turkey to leave Mosul is “You are not going to have any influence on the drawing of new maps in the Middle East.” Thus, it is becoming impossible to achieve the kind of results in the Middle East that would satisfy the Turkish nationalism of the MHP voters. Nonetheless, the single most important internal political tool that will help AKP detach voters from MHP is the operation against PKK.
By Gareth H. Jenkins
December 21st, 2015, The Turkey Analyst
In theory, the restoration of the parliamentary majority of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the general election of November 1 should have been an opportunity to address Turkey’s many pressing problems, not least its international isolation and the cleavages in Turkish society. Instead, in the weeks since its election victory, the AKP has continued with the policies that it was pursuing before, not only exacerbating existing crises but creating new ones.
Murat Belge in Taraf writes that Turkey’s downing of the Russian plane is going to have repercussions for its Western allies. The question now is, did we warn our allies before taking an action that could have forced all the members of the NATO to go to war against Russia? For instance, were the people of Norway, or Denmark, Italy or Canada aware that they could have found themselves at war with Russia before the month of November was over? How probable is it that a Dane would approve of his state declaring war against Russia just because a Russian war plane flew over Turkish air space for seventeen seconds? Isn’t he or she going to think that one ought to reconsider being allied to a country that can behave so irresponsibly?
Ali Bayramoğlu in Yeni Şafak notes that Russia is giving air support to the Kurdish PYD forces in Syria, helping them to cross to the west of the Euphrates. Do you think that the U.S. would mind if the Kurds were to succeed in their advance? It would not at all be surprising if the U.S. prefers that the Kurds – rather than the Sunni opposition that the Russians are hitting – acquire control over the area. In that case, Turkey will have only one counter-measure that it has often said it will deploy: To hit the PYD. You can imagine what the consequences of such an extreme and bad scenario – a probable fight between PYD and the Turkish army – would have on relations with the U.S., with Russia and how societal tensions in the southeast would escalate. Since Russia joined the game, everything has been turned upside down. This has also been a strike against Turkey that supports the Sunni opposition and it has turned into an endeavor to push out Turkey from the area.
Orhan Bursalı in Cumhuriyet writes that the Russian planes are hitting the armed groups in Syria that Ankara support, and that the Russian offensive risks paving the way for a Kurdish advance, connecting the three Kurdish cantons. Ankara relies on the armed groups that Russia is hitting to defend the 98 kilometer long corridor that separates the Kurdish areas. Russia is in all probability aiming to create the conditions for the capture of this corridor by Syrian government forces. This is the main reason why Ankara shot down the Russian plane in this area. The loss of the forces that Turkey has built up during all these years means that its whole Syria policy is crumbling. The question is if this area might come under the control of PKK? Russia’s operation in the area creates the possibility that the corridor of 98 kilometers might be taken over by PKK/PYD. What happens if the U.S. and Russia were to come to an agreement on this? Would they do it? Let us here remind that Ankara has declared that it will certainly intervene if that were to come to pass. However, if the area comes under the control of the Assad forces that might perhaps prevent the realization of what Turkey fears – the establishment of a contiguous Kurdish corridor that reaches to the Mediterranean. Ankara ought to keep this in mind and make its plans accordingly. Otherwise it will lose everything. Peace with Assad is the solution!
The Turkey Analyst is a publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Joint Center, designed to bring authoritative analysis and news on the rapidly developing domestic and foreign policy issues in Turkey. It includes topical analysis, as well as a summary of the Turkish media debate.