This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How The World Turns

"Everyone is keen to develop relations with Turkey, but the diplomatic channels are not operating as desired. They all think something has to be done, hence the Moscow meeting. A second such gathering will be in Turkey. In this framework we signed a cooperation agreement in Moscow and conveyed our suggestions to President Erdogan."
"Russians submitted their report to Putin. They believe that the shooting down of their plane was a provocation by the West, and Turkey did not do it intentionally. But Ankara’s owning up to the incident, its declaration that it would do it again and the killing of a live pilot caused serious reactions. This is how Russians see it. If the crisis had been managed wisely and not exploited to impress the public opinion, the situation would not have come to this point. But we were all aware Turk-Russian relations are fragile, hence the need to reassess them."
Barbaros Binicioglu, Istanbul's representative of the Ankara Policy Center
Representatives of the Ankara Policy Center attend a meeting at the Russian Institute for Strategic Relations (RISS) to discuss the normalization of Russian-Turkish relations, June 2, 2016. (photo by Barbaros Binicioglu)
Turkey finds itself in a most uneasy position. Its belligerence toward Israel, Egypt, and its relations with Saudi Arabia as opposed to Iran, have set it apart in hostile isolation. Turkey's Justice and Development Party under its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has seen fit to make common cause with both Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Turkey's support of Hamas and its declaration of the terrorist group as a legitimate, respected administration for Gaza has seen it giving haven to elite members of Hamas.

Turkey's reaction to Egypt outlawing the Muslim Brotherhood, declaring it an enemy of the state and a terrorist group was to defend Mohammad Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, creating a rift between the two countries. Turkey's wild hostility toward its own Kurdish citizens and its military war against the militant wing of the Kurds in both Turkey and Syria also sets it apart from NATO of which it is a member, and which is depending on the Kurds to help fight the Islamic State, a terrorist group which Turkey had in the past supported.

Turkey's run-in with Russia resulted from Erdogan's rage over Vladimir Putin's decision to militarily weigh into the five-year-old civil war in Syria which has seen the Alawite Shiite Syrian regime pitting its military against the Sunni Syrians who have rebelled against the oppression they suffer under  the Baathist regime of Bashar al-Assad. Russia had been bombing Turkomen rebels living in border territory just inside Syria that Turkey had traditionally considered its heritage properties.

But the rebel groups that Turkey has been supporting have now lost their positions on northern Syria's Turkmen Mountain and elsewhere that Turkey has considered an "Ottoman-era legacy".  Erdogan's rage over Russia's aerial bombing campaign, particularly those air raids that targeted Turkmen led him to state: "Turkmens are being massacred", justifying the shooting down of a Russian warplane, charging it had violated Turkish airspace. That Turks on the ground shot and killed the Russian pilot who had bailed out of his plane, consolidated Russia's cold fury. 

Now however, that Erdogan sees himself on the edge of a solitary precipice he is making an effort to mend fences and improving relations with Moscow has a high priority. He has made overtures to President Putin and attempted conciliatory gestures to defuse Moscow's anger. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has stated that Russia is still demanding an apology and compensation for the downed jet.

The loss to Turkey of strategic and historical areas within Syrian borders that are close to the Turkish border, anguishes Erdogan. The loss of Turkmen Mountain and other areas bombed by Russian jets despite the Turkomen defences is analogous in his mind to the blockade by the Israel Defense Forces of Gaza, to ensure that weaponry does not reach Hamas, the terrorist group that rules Gaza and whose charter is committed to the destruction of the State of Israel.

When a flotilla led by the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara with its crew, international volunteer blockade-busters and Turkish thugs belonging to the Turkish 'charity' IHH set about to deliver 'humanitarian aid' to Hamas in Gaza, in 2010, it was intercepted by Israeli navy commandos whose sailors rappelled down to the Marmora's upper deck and were met by violence leading to the death of ten Turks linked to the Islamist group, Erdogan was beside himself with rage.

He cut off already frayed ties with Israel, a country with which Turkey had long had amicable political, tourism and trade relations. His fury was incandescent. An abject apology was required. He demanded that the commandos involved be punished as war criminals. He demanded financial compensation to the families of the dead Turks. And even when U.S. President Barack Obama convinced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to issue an undeserved apology, Erdogan fumed.

Now Russia awaits an apology and compensation. And Turkey and Erdogan, despite making efforts to placate Russia in other ways in an attempt to bring relations back to a normalized condition, Turkey has up until now refused to apologize for ordering that the Russian warplane be shot down, that its pilot be shot and killed, let alone that compensation be issued. It is incontestable that both Messrs. Putin and Erdogan are intransigent and autocratically demanding. They deserve one another.

The Turks and the Russians, however, deserve better.

Turkey insists that Israel lift its blockade of Gaza. Effectively demanding that Israel accept Turkey's wish that it become even more vulnerable to Hamas attacks than it now is. Turkey dare not insist that Russia stop bombing their cousins, the Turkomen, and restore traditional Turkish autonomy over those areas on the border Turkey was accustomed to viewing as its own. 

A massive crowd gathers outside Fatih Mosque in Istanbul to commemorate the martyrs of the #FreedomFlotilla attack. May 31, 2015 -- IHH foundation, Turkey

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