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The Coup in Turkey Has Thrown a Wrench in Uncle Sam’s “Pivot” Plan
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A failed coup in Turkey has changed the geopolitical landscape overnight realigning Ankara with Moscow while shattering Washington’s plan to redraw the map of the Middle East. Whether Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan staged the coup or not is of little importance in the bigger scheme of things. The fact is, the incident has consolidated his power domestically while derailing Washington’s plan to control critical resources and pipeline corridors from Qatar to Europe. The Obama administrations disregard for the national security interests of its allies, has pushed the Turkish president into Moscow’s camp, removing the crucial landbridge between Europe and Asia that Washington needs to maintain its global hegemony into the new century. Washington’s plan to pivot to Asia, surround and break up Russia, control China’s growth and maintain its iron grip on global power is now in a shambles. The events of the last few days have changed everything.

This is from the Daily Sahbah:

“Turkey’s changing rhetoric toward Russia is also a direct consequence of Ankara’s unmet expectations regarding the Syria conflict. Turkey’s disappointment with the United States’ policy in Syria has increased with time, especially considering Washington’s continued support for the Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria. Ankara sees this group as an affiliate of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist organization (Daily Sabah, 12 June).
(A Change in Turkish-Russian Relations: What Sort of Rapprochement?, The Jamestown Foundation)

Obama can only blame himself for the debacle that is now unfolding. Erdogan was completely clear about Turkey’s red lines, the most important of which is preventing the Kurdish militias from moving west of the Euphrates and creating a contiguous state along the Syrian side of Turkeys southern border. Here’s Erdogan commenting on developments a few months ago:

“Right now, there is a serious project, plan being implemented in northern Syria. And on this project and plan lay the insidious aims of those who appear as ‘friends’. This is very clear, so I need to make clear statements.”

Instead of addressing Erdogan’s security concerns, Obama brushed him aside in order to pursue the US goal of establishing bases and seizing territory in East Syria that will eventually be used as pipeline routes from Qatar to the EU. Naturally, Erdogan responded in kind, forming alliances with former enemies (Russia, Syria, Israel) in order to reset Turkish foreign policy and address the growing threat of an emerging Kurdish state on his southern flank. Keep in mind, Turkey believes that America’s new proxies in Syria–the Kurdish YPG– are linked to the PKK, which is listed as a terror organization by the U.S. and EU. Had Obama committed US troops to the fight, (instead of using the YPG) Erdogan would not have reacted at all. But the fact that Obama was deliberately strengthening Turkey’s traditional rivals in their westward move, was more than Erdogan could bear.

Erdogan Apologizes

At the end of June, Erdogan apologized to President Vladimir Putin for the death of a Russian pilot who was killed when Turkey downed a bomber flying over Syrian territory last November. The shootdown prompted Putin to break off relations with Ankara ending all communication between the two countries. Then, in the last week of June, Erdogan sent a letter to Putin “expressing his deep sympathy and condolences to the relatives of the deceased Russian pilot.” He added that Russia was “a friend and a strategic partner” with whom the Turkish authorities would not want to spoil relations.” (The Turkish pilots who shot down the Russian Su-24 have since been arrested and charged as members of the Gulenist coup.)

The White House inexplicably never commented on this thawing of relations which posed obvious risks to US ambitions in the region.


Then, just two weeks ago, reports began to emerge that Erdogan was making an effort to normalize relations with Syrian President Bashar al Assad. The news wasn’t reported in most of the western media, but the Guardian ran an article titled “Syrian rebels stunned as Turkey signals normalisation of Damascus relations”. Here’s an excerpt:

“More than five years into Syria’s civil war, Turkey, the country that has most helped the rebellion against the rule of Bashar al-Assad, has hinted it may move to normalise relations with Damascus.
The suggestion made by the Turkish prime minister, Binali Yıldırım, on Wednesday, stunned the Syrian opposition leadership, which Ankara hosts, as well as regional leaders, who had allied with Turkey in their push to oust Assad over a long, unforgiving war.

“I am sure that we will return [our] ties with Syria to normal,” he said, straying far from an official script that has persistently called for immediate regime change. “We need it. We normalised our relations with Israel and Russia. I’m sure we will go back to normal relations with Syria as well.”
(Syrian rebels stunned as Turkey signals normalisation of Damascus relations, Guardian)

You’d think that would set off alarms at the White House, after all, if Turkey wanted to normalize relations with Damascus, then clearly it had abandoned the war it had supported (through its proxy militants and jihadists) for more than five years signaling a fundamental shift in policy that could have broader implications for the US effort. But did the Obama team show any interest in the announcement or make any attempt to keep Erdogan in the fold?

Of course not. Washington gives orders and everyone else is expected to click their heels and stand at attention. Obama and Co don’t bother with the incidentals like the fear of the nascent Kurdish state that could pose a direct threat to Turkey’s national security. Why would they bother with something as trivial as that? They have an empire to run.

Then came the coup which, by the way, Erdogan may have been tipped off to by Russian intelligence agents who have a strong presence in Turkey. By informing Erdogan of the coup, Putin might have hoped that Erdogan would return the favor and block NATOs plan to deploy permanent fleet to the Black Sea that will further encircle and threaten Russia. (And, yes, Putin knows that Erdogan is a ruthless autocrat and a backer of terrorist organizations, but he also knows he can’t be “too picky” when NATO is making every effort to surround and destroy Russia. Putin must take his friends as he finds them. Besides, some analysts have suggested that Putin will require Erdogan to abandon his support for jihadists in Syria as a condition of their new alliance.)

In any event, Putin and Erdogan have settled their differences and scheduled a meeting for the beginning of August. In other words, the first world leader Erdogan plans to meet after the coup, is his new friend, Vladimir Putin. Is Erdogan trying to make a statement? It certainly looks like it. Here’s the story from the Turkish Daily Hurriyet:

“Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin may meet in a face-to-face meeting in August as part of mutual efforts to normalize bilateral ties following months of tension due to the downing of a Russian warplane by the Turkish Air Forces in November…

With the normalization of ties, Russia removed some sanctions on trade and restrictions on Russian tourists, though it will continue to impose visa regime to Turkish nationals. A deeper conversation between the two countries over a number of international issues like Syria and Crimea will follow soon between the two foreign ministers before the Putin-Erdoğan meeting.” (Putin, Erdoğan to meet soon in bid to start new era in Turkey-Russia ties, Hurriyet)

Is it starting to sound like Turkey may have slipped out of Washington’s orbit and moved on to more reliable friends that will respect their interests?

Indeed. And this sudden rapprochement could have catastrophic implications for US Middle East policy. Consider, for example, that the US not only depends on Turkey’s Incirlik Airbase to conduct its air campaign in Syria, but also, that that same facility houses “roughly 90 US tactical nuclear weapons.” What if Erdogan suddenly decides that it’s no longer in Turkey’s interest to provide the US with access to the base or that he would rather allow Russian bombers and fighters to use the base? (According to some reports, this is already in the works.) More importantly, what happens to US plans to pivot to Asia if the crucial landbridge (Turkey) that connects Europe and Asia breaks with Washington and joins the coalition of Central Asian states that are building a new free trade zone beyond Uncle Sam’s suffocating grip?

One last thing: There was an important one-paragraph article in Moscow Reuters on Monday that didn’t appear in the western press so we’ll reprint it here:

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s joint projects with Turkey, including the TurkStream undersea natural gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey, are still on the agenda and have a future, RIA news agency quoted Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich as saying on Monday.” (Russian Dep PM says joint projects with Turkey still on agenda, Reuters)

This is big. Erdogan is now reopening the door the Obama team tried so hard to shut. This is a major blow to Washington’s plan to control the vital resources flowing into Europe from Asia and to make sure they remain denominated in US dollars. If the agreement pans out, Putin will have access to the thriving EU market through the southern corridor which will strengthen ties between the two continents, expand the use of the ruble and euro for energy transactions, and create a free trade zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok. And Uncle Sam will be watching from the sidelines.

All of a sudden, Washington’s “pivot” plan looks to be in serious trouble.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

(Republished from Counterpunch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Russia, Turkey 
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  1. All of a sudden, Washington’s “pivot” plan looks to be in serious trouble.

    And you, Whitney, along with many others, look as if you can barely contain your enthusiasm; and I can understand your reasons very well.

    Things have come to this. No-one with an independent mind can feel our country as something ours.

  2. Putin has idiots like you eating out of his hand. No one in the west is trying to destroy Russia. Putin, on the other hand, is doing a great job of it. His provocations, and the economic turmoil caused by his invasion of Ukraine, and threats against other neighbors, are causing heightened concern about Putin’s intentions, and they have caused the west to attempt 6to isolate him and his regime.

    Russia can not afford Putin, or his mafia state.

  3. @Quartermaster

    Russia can not afford Putin, or his mafia state.

    Ummm, “mafia state” is, in practice, redundant.

    In any case, I can think of a couple others that are likely much worse than Russia’s, and we can’t afford them either, don’t you agree?.

    • Replies: @Talha
  4. mikh says:

    Ah, so maybe Mullah Erdogan will ditch NATO and shoot down a US plane on their way out for a change?

    Certainly looks so.

    • Replies: @Talha
  5. mikh says:

    You certainly seems to have a problem with Russia, Schlomo.

    You guy´s always had but the Russians took it back from your terror reign and the oligarch rats had to flee to “israel”, London or the US. Cant say im sorry for you, neither does the Russians you robbed blind. Live with it.

  6. Talha says:
    @Jacques Sheete

    LOL! “Ummm, ‘mafia state’ is, in practice, redundant.” Right on!

  7. Talha says:

    Or maybe he’ll shoot one down while part of NATO and then the US will ask all its allies for help repel aggression and Turkey will have to attack itself and then US will do the same and the whole thing will dissolve in a legally murky mess…

  8. Turkey casts it’s lot with Russia, China and the new silk roads. Is Germany far behind? When will Japan finally decide to make a deal with China? What of Washington itself? Mr. Trump wants to negotiate with Mr. Putin instead of merely threatening and demonizing him. I am in process of relocating to Texas. Were Texas to hold a referendum on secession guess which way I would vote. NOBODY wants to be ruled by Washington.

  9. Uncle Sam has plans?

    Who knew?

  10. @Quartermaster

    Russia can not afford Putin, or his mafia state.

    And Rome could not afford the Julians or the Claudians, or the Flavians …

    Sorry, Quartermaster, most of your posts make sense but this will not pass muster.

    I understand, time will swallow Putin and his mafia state, but they may easily outlast the rest of us.

    /minor quibble 😉

  11. bluedog says:

    Of course we are trying to destroy Russia for we always try to destroy what we don’t understand,my god you sound more like a troll every time you post with you utter non-sense that its all Russia’s fault,you ramble on about the Crimea but never make a mention that it was our state department who engineered the coup that overthrew an elected president while we mealy mouth the term democracy you my friend are a fool of the highest order with your foolish propaganda.!!!

  12. @Quartermaster

    “No one in the west is trying to destroy Russia. Putin, on the other hand, is doing a great job of it.”

    Nope, nothing to see here. No fomenting of coups by Russo-phobic groups in countries that border Russia, no marching of military forces directly on the border of Russia, no stationing of “defensive” missiles that can be readily used for first-strike counter-force targetting near the Russian borders, no freezing out of Russian institutional assets and leadership assets from the global clearing and payment systems, no attempts at blanket punishments of Russian athletics teams (BTW, talk about the erosion of Western Values).

    Nope, none of that to see here, and if it were to be seen, it would never have been intended to actually destroy the country, merely to punish it into obeisance.

  13. Priss Factor [AKA "Anonymny"] says: • Website

    Nerdogan has no one to blame but himself.

    He’s been an erratic, petulant, and wild-eyed degenerate gambler with a huge ego problem.

    The fool should see Kurosawa’s KAGEMUSHA. One must maintain the core, the ‘mountain’, before making ventures outside the zone. Never do anything that threatens the core. Don’t go for empire-building if it threatens the center. Japan chose imperialism over nationalism and LOST BOTH. It lost all its empire, and despite economic success, it is still a bitch-whore of the US.

    Turkey is a major nation in its own right, and much could be done with it. But Nerdogan decided to play the role of grand neo-sultan and poobah, a major player in both Europe and Middle East and etc. He ended up alienating everyone. He ended up creating restless conditions in Turkey.

    Will the dumbass ever learn?

    He needs to watch LOST IN AMERICA. Turkey is the nest-egg. You don’t threaten the nest-egg. By looking far beyond Turkey with his out-of-control ambitions, Erdogan came close to losing everything. This coup is a godsend for him. But I wonder if he has learned the lesson. I wonder if he will pay more attention to Turkey than messing with other nations.

    He aided ISIS and really should be tried and hanged for crimes against humanity.

  14. Krollchem says:

    Why don’t you provide references to back up your viewpoint? Vitriolic rants such as yours add nothing to the Unz site learning experience!

    • Replies: @anonymous
  15. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Unz site learning experience

    Quartermaster(bater/baiter) is paid to undermine the experience.

    • Replies: @Krollchem
  16. Krollchem says:

    Agreed. As one of my friends said you cannot fix stupid. Somehow I have moments of weakness and try anyway.

  17. bunga says:

    Empire ends in whimper. America is finding it difficult to keep every member of the Harem to be happy . Chances are one will see more IS attack on Turkey . Greece and Armenia will be feeling pulls from USA-Israel. Very soon Erdogan will be labeled as little Putin or Big Kim Dung Jo ( N .Korea) May be its a good move on his part to show some love for Israel.

    BTW hopefully now Erdogan will publish the names behind ISIS and Al Nusra Front.

  18. anon • Disclaimer says:

    Would an independent Kurdish state really be a threat to Turkey? Is Ireland a threat to Britain? (left in 1922). Is Norway a threat to Sweden? (left in 1905). Why would the Turkish government want to control millions of resentful Kurds who would naturally desire their own ethnic nation-state? Isn’t it more dangerous to have millions of reluctant, if not openly hostile citizens who are ethnically different?

  19. Brohemius says:

    You must be very angry to call Mr. Pink an idiot.

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