Cengiz Çandar in Radikal writes that Turkey is seeking a closer relation with the EU because the historical rivalry between it and Russia has been revived, with Turkey being encircled on three fronts by a Russia that has annexed Crimea to the north, has strengthened its military ties with Armenia to the east and has become entrenched to the south by its support to the Kurds in the vicinity of Aleppo and has denied Turkey access to the north Syrian air space. In this context, Ankara (which does not mean exclusively the AKP government) views the PKK as an “asset” that Russia is using or will use against Turkey. The Turkey-EU “refugee bargaining” becomes intelligible by looking at this big picture. Turkey, which is “besieged” by Russia and feels to under “strategic threat” is reorienting in the direction that remains open for it, that is to the West, across the Aegean Sea. At the same time, Ankara is exploring a “common ground” with Iran in countering the Kurds, just like Turkey did back in 1937, when the Saadabad treaty was concluded with Persia. This “political maneuver” by Turkey is also an attempt to break the Russia-Iran entente over Syria.
Murat Yetkin in Radikal writes that there is no sign that chief of the general staff General Hulusi Akar is going to abandon the military’s traditional line, “Peace in the Homeland, Peace in the world.” Akar is a commander who appreciates very well the importance of relations with NATO, and who knows well what kind of initiative would deprive Turkey of the support of NATO. The Turkish General staff knows that it would not be possible to venture into Syrian airspace without being attacked by Russia; would it then be as amateurish as to plan for an offensive that would have to be carried out without air support? Will the army enter Syria? There’s absolute no sign of this, neither politically nor militarily; the authoritative sources with whom we have spoken emphasize that what is being undertaken is not an “attack” operation, but a “defensive” operation against the mounting threat at the borders. The “Fırtına” artillery shells give General Akar and his team of Commanders assymetrical superiority against the initiatives on the other side of the border. In this way, Turkey wants to make clear that an agreement between the U.S. and Russia that does not take its security preoccupations into consideration is unlikely to be effective. Turkey may not be able to impose what it wants, but neither will the U.S. and Russia get to impose their exclusive will.
By Gallia Lindenstrauss
February 4th, 2016, The Turkey Analyst
In view of the challenges Turkey is facing in the Middle East, Ankara is attempting to further solidify its relations with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and specifically with KRG’s president, Massoud Barzani. While this policy may assist Turkey in increasing its influence over the future of Iraq and assist it in diversifying its energy suppliers, it is less likely to help Turkey in its internal struggle with its Kurdish minority, or in countering the Kurdish aspirations in Syria. Yet, as the only still relevant remnant of Turkey’s ‘zero Problems’ policy, Turkey-KRG relations do have the potential to assist Ankara in maintaining and solidifying its influence over the future of Iraq.
By Ipek Velioglu
January 15th, 2016, The Turkey Analyst
Turkey’s decision to shoot down a Russian jet in the Syrian border led to a crisis between the two countries. Although Russia and Turkey always had divergent political agendas, they maintained a good relationship. In the last decade, thanks to the personal relationship of the leaders, Russia and Turkey created a strong economic partnership, especially in the energy field, and kept it separately from the political sphere. But this time is different: the deterioration in political relations will have a strong impact on energy cooperation. Russia slammed economic sanctions on Turkey and big investment projects are at risk. Given its dependency on Russian natural gas, Turkey is concerned about its energy security, making the quest for alternative suppliers and sources highly relevant.
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?
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.