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Putin Saves Erdogan from Himself
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At the start of their discussion marathon in Moscow on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with arguably the most extraordinary diplomatic gambit of the young 21st century.

Putin said: “At the beginning of our meeting, I would like to once again express my sincere condolences over the death of your servicemen in Syria. Unfortunately, as I have already told you during our phone call, nobody, including Syrian troops, had known their whereabouts.”

This is how a true world leader tells a regional leader, to his face, to please refrain from positioning his forces as jihadi supporters – incognito, in the middle of an explosive theater of war.

The Putin-Erdogan face-to-face discussion, with only interpreters allowed in the room, lasted three hours, before another hour with the respective delegations. In the end, it all came down to Putin selling an elegant way for Erdogan to save face – in the form of, what else, yet another ceasefire in Idlib, which started at midnight on Thursday, signed in Turkish, Russian and English – “all texts having equal legal force.”

Additionally, on March 15, joint Turkish-Russian patrolling will start along the M4 highway – implying endless mutating strands of al-Qaeda in Syria won’t be allowed to retake it.

If this all looks like déjà vu, that’s because it is. Quite a few official photos of the Moscow meeting prominently feature Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu – the other two heavyweights in the room apart from both Presidents. In the wake of Putin, Lavrov and Shoigu must have read the riot act to Erdogan in no uncertain terms. That’s enough: now behave, please – or else face dire consequences.

The second Ataturk

A predictable feature of the new ceasefire is that both Moscow and Ankara – part of the Astana peace process, alongside Tehran – remain committed to maintaining the “territorial integrity and sovereignty” of Syria. Once again, there’s no guarantee that Erdogan will abide.

It’s crucial to recap the basics. Turkey is deep in financial crisis. Ankara needs cash – badly. The lira is collapsing. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is losing elections. Former prime minister and party leader Ahmet Davutoglu – who conceptualized neo-Ottomanism – has left the party and is carving his own political niche. The AKP is mired in an internal crisis.

Erdogan’s response has been to go on the offensive. That’s how he re-establishes his aura. Combine Idlib with his maritime pretensions around Cyprus and blackmail pressure on the EU via the inundation of Lesbos in Greece with refugees, and we have Erdogan’s trademark modus operandi in full swing.

In theory, the new ceasefire will force Erdogan to finally abandon all those myriad al Nusra/ISIS metastases – what the West calls “moderate rebels,” duly weaponized by Ankara. This is an absolute red line for Moscow – and also for Damascus. There will be no territory left behind for jihadis. Iraq is another story: ISIS is still lurking around Kirkuk and Mosul.

ORDER IT NOW

No NATO fanatic will ever admit it, but once again it was Russia that just prevented the threatened “Muslim invasion” of Europe advertised by Erdogan. Yet there was never any invasion in the first place, only a few thousand economic migrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Sahel, not Syrians. There are no “one million” Syrian refugees on the verge of entering the EU.

The EU, proverbially, will keep blabbering. Brussels and most capitals still have not understood that Bashar al-Assad has been fighting al Nusra/ISIS all along. They simply don’t understand the correlation of forces on the ground. Their fallback position is always the scratched CD of “European values.” No wonder the EU is a secondary actor in the whole Syrian tragedy.

I received excellent feedback from progressive Turkish analysts as I attempted to connect Erdogan Khan’s motivations with Turkey’s history and the empires of he steppes.

Their argument, essentially, is that Erdogan is an internationalist, but in Islamic terms only. Since 2000 he has managed to create a climate of denying ancient Turkish nationalist motives. He does use Turkishness, but as one analyst stresses, “he has nothing to do with ancient Turks. He’s an Ikhwani. He doesn’t care about Kurds either, as long as they are his ‘good Islamists.’”

Another analyst points out that, “in modern Turkey, being ‘Turkish’ is not related to race, because most Turkish people are Anatolian, a mixed population.”

So, in a nutshell, what Erdogan cares about is Idlib, Aleppo, Damascus, Mecca and not Southwest Asia or Central Asia. He wants to be “the second Ataturk.” Yet nobody except Islamists sees him this way – and “sometimes he shows his anger because of this. His only aim is to beat Ataturk and create an Islamic opposite of Ataturk.” And creating that anti-Ataturk would be via neo-Ottomanism.

Crack independent historian Dr Can Erimtan, whom I had the pleasure to meet when he still lived in Istanbul (he’s now in self-exile), offers a sweeping Eurasianist background to Erdogan’s dreams. Well, Vladimir Putin has just offered the second Ataturk some breathing room. All bets are off on whether the new ceasefire will metastasize into a funeral pyre.

(Republished from Asia Times by permission of author or representative)
 
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  1. Barr says:

    https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/dutch-fm-calls-for-no-fly-zone-over-idlib-on-top-of-ceasefire/

    Dutch PM seeks no-fly-zone offering false hope to Turkey and terrorists . Turkey’s Erdogan despite his criminal mind has got one thing right- he has to fight domestic 5 the columnist and domestic and foreign Zionist agents as but has to show this superficial patriotism by condemning Syria and Russia.

    EU with USA under direction of Israel is trying to get Turkey engulf in civil war and become a lily pad for forward actions against ME and (including Saudi Arab ) and Russia. But that is understandable given the nature of the psychopaths . But where is that Dutch anti immigrant ,basically anti muslim thug ,Breitbert -educated , Bannon kind of politician? Why is he or his ilk not denouncing this attempt from Dutch gov? I guess his pro war and anti immigration temperament were shoved down his wind pipe in the same Kibbutz where the rest of the zionist devils were raised.

  2. Nations so often hark back to a golden age of power – real power – but gone: lost the glory and the prestige. They can have legitimate national interests. But the path they take can only lead to the very war they seek to avoid – self-destruction.
    https://www.ghostsofhistory.wordpress.com/

    • Replies: @Digital Samizdat
  3. Erdogan is a woman scorned. Rejected by the EU he decides he is “bad as I wanna be”. It doesn’t help that he sees Israel get the Golan and Washington get the oil. “Idlib is mine” he says.

    Putin was also rejected by The West. But he took it in stride and looked east instead.

    • Replies: @Digital Samizdat
  4. TG says:

    “There are no “one million” Syrian refugees on the verge of entering the EU” – quite possibly, wrong.

    Remember what set the current crisis in Syria off: the Syrian government propagandized that it was every woman’s patriotic duty to have seven kids each, they criminalized the sale and possession of contraceptives, they got the population to double in just 18 years from 5 million to 10 million, then double again from 10 million to 20 million, then… oops! The water ran out and things fell apart.

    So what really is the population of Syria and the Syrian diaspora in Turkey? I don’t know, likely the fertility rate of Syrian women has declined due to societal collapse, but even if the fertility rate has declined to replacement, demographic momentum would mean that the population of Syrians would double or triple before stabilizing.

    And so: potentially there are indeed many many millions of excess Syrians in Turkey, with no place for them back home. And that doesn’t count the Afghanis, or Pakistanis, etc.

    Bottom line: yes indeed, there is very likely a literal army of refugees waiting to move to the EU.

  5. The Scalpel says: • Website

    No wonder the EU is a secondary actor in the whole Syrian tragedy.

    That comes from constantly prostrating oneself to others such as the US

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  6. Anonymous[131] • Disclaimer says:
    @The Scalpel

    Come on. The EU, most of it and all the Western EU at any rate, is, in a politely tacit way, militarily occupied by the USA.
    It’s not like they have alternatives to obedience. And the same is true of Japan.

    I am saying this as someone who’d very much like and will this to change. But still, it is as it is. The military occupation stays polite and tacit due to obedience. If obedience ended, politeness and tacitness would end as well.

    • Agree: The Scalpel
    • Replies: @Herald
  7. @WorkingClass

    I actually get the impression that Erdogan never really wanted Turkey in the EU at all. He just used Turkey’s membership application to get himself elected president twenty years ago, so that he could then get rid of the old Kemalist régime for good. It was always the Kemalists who really wanted into the EU badly. Since the EU required them to first prove that they were democratic, they had to let Erdogan win the election–and that was their fatal mistake.

  8. In the end, it all came down to Putin selling an elegant way for Erdogan to save face – in the form of, what else, yet another ceasefire in Idlib, which started at midnight on Thursday, signed in Turkish, Russian and English – “all texts having equal legal force.”

    Yet another ceasefire with Erdogan. How long will this one last? A week? Two? I’m sure Putin has his Plan B lined up, though. Being a Russian ruler, he’s used to dealing with shifty, Asiatic warlords.

    It’s crucial to recap the basics. Turkey is deep in financial crisis. Ankara needs cash – badly. The lira is collapsing. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) is losing elections.

    That’s not a big problem for Erdogan. He just forces people to vote over and over until he eventually wins. Come to think of it, Turkey might actually be a great match for the EU.

    Former prime minister and party leader Ahmet Davutoglu – who conceptualized neo-Ottomanism – has left the party and is carving his own political niche. The AKP is mired in an internal crisis.

    Really? Now that’s news! I think a lot of people once considered Davutoglu to be the brains behind Erdogan’s foreign policy. I wonder what he’ll be doing now? Forming a party of his own, maybe?

    Another analyst points out that, “in modern Turkey, being ‘Turkish’ is not related to race, because most Turkish people are Anatolian, a mixed population.”

    Modern Turks are basically just an ethno-linguistic group, not a race. If you’ve ever been to Turkey, you can tell: some look Oriental (Mongolic), some Semitic (Arabic), and some White (Anatolian Greek).

    • Replies: @Digital Samizdat
  9. @Digital Samizdat

    Yet another ceasefire with Erdogan. How long will this one last? A week? Two? I’m sure Putin has his Plan B lined up, though. Being a Russian ruler, he’s used to dealing with shifty, Asiatic warlords.

    Well, well! That didn’t take long at all:

    “Al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has officially rejected the recent Russian-Turkish agreement on Greater Idlib, vowing to keep on fighting.”

    Via Col. Lang’s blog: https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2020/03/httpssouthfrontorgsurprise-al-qaedas-hts-rejects-russian-turkish-agreement-on-greater-idlib-vows-to-fight-on.html

  10. Herald says:
    @Anonymous

    It’s not like they have alternatives to obedience. And the same is true of Japan.

    There are always alternatives, but first there has to be the will to change things. The problem lies with the fat cats politicians and the oligarchs of these subservient countries. These people are doing very nicely as titular heads of their occupied countries etc and they will do everything they can to maintain the occupied status quo.

    The long and perhaps now hastening decline of the US coupled with the rise of Russia/China will inevitably present these occupied countries with opportunities for greater independence, but whether they will seize the opportunity is anyone’s guess.

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