Tuesday, November 24, 2015 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Turkey is a problematic ally of NATO, everyone else

For centuries, the Ottoman Empire was the key power attempting to Islamize Europe. It was the regime that our ancestors had to fight against to protect the "European" values on our continent.

The Austrians, Hungarians, and others had to sacrifice their lives. Meanwhile, the interaction has led to a partial convergence of the Ottoman Empire and the European countries. We (at least in Bosnia, Czechia, and Greece) have learned to drink the Turkish coffee that almost no one drinks in Turkey. At the same moment, Turkey has imported tons of European civilization advances.

It seems obvious to me that the know-how that Turkey has gotten was far more valuable than the know-how that we have obtained from them. So when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the father of Turks, became the prime minister of Turkey in 1920 and the president in 1923, Turkey could reinvent itself as a modern secular state. The Western drift has stopped at some point and since those times, Turkey has been a country "in between" Europe and the Muslim World.

The Turks' dominant and official opinions about various religiously dependent issues may look more moderate than those we hear in the "Muslim World proper". On the other hand, the degree of submission of the Turks to the values of Islam is vastly higher than in any European nations. In many contexts, Turkey looks indistinguishable from the rest of the Muslim World.

On top of that, Turkey is a normal country with some special interests and particular arguments with various groups. It is one of the countries that overlaps with the Kurdistan, a country that doesn't exist but arguably should exist, and it is vigorously fighting against the Kurds. Turkey hates the Kurdish warriors so much that in their confrontations with Daesh, Turkey pretty unambiguously prefers Daesh.

Turkey has ordered its hospitals to serve the terrorists from the Islamic State and it has been demonstrably buying stolen oil from the Islamic State, too. Turkey may even have other reasons to help the ISIS. These facts are a problem for me – and I am sure that many people in the West see it as a problem as well. Our NATO ally is de facto siding with the terrorist group that has organized the recent Friday 13th attacks in France, among other things. Isn't it weird?

The relationships in the Middle East are extremely complex – or messy – and prevent you from dividing the military and political forces to two simple, well-defined, competing alliances. The Shiite/Sunni division isn't always a useful theory, especially if there are other forces such as Israel that are outside these sectarian battles. To make things really complicated, Turkey has often counted itself as an ally of Russia, even very recently. But Turkey has harshly criticized Russia's entry to the Syrian war on Daesh. Turkey hates the Kurds – but it may also prefer the Syrian "opposition" even though Erdogan has been often cited as a close ally of Assad.

As this 2010 Latma TV song by Ahmadinejad, Erdogan, and Assad shows, the idea that these three people and their regimes have been close allies of each other is the preferred perspective believed by the Israeli patriots. But does this friendship actually exist?

In all these relationships and plans, it's very hard to figure out which of them is actually more important. At any rate, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane (Su-24) today (by F-16s). According to a Turkish map, the Russian airplane has visited the Turkish airspace. The Russians tend to say "No". But even if the answer were "Yes", it was just by a mile or so – literally just a few seconds of the flight (don't forget that the speeds are comparable to 1,000 kilometers per hour). Obviously, the airplane wasn't planning to become any threat for the Turkish territory.

It seems almost certain that the airplane was shot down when it was above the territory of Syria – and that's where it fell down. You may check the ISIS map and verify that it is a part of Syria that is mostly controlled by the Syrian "opposition" forces (which are neither ISIS nor Al-Qaeda). The two pilots have parachuted and could have been safe except that at least one of them was quickly caught by the (ethnic Turkmen) Syrian "opposition" forces and murdered.

The Obama administration etc. may count these people – if they should be called the people at all – as allies but you know, I would have no ethical problems with nuking this territory occupied by people who happily scream "Allahu Akbar" (it's not even in their language!) 10 times when they see a falling aircraft. They're just scum and the idea that they're official allies of the current White House is absolutely terrifying for me. Death to them and Go Polar Bears.

Most likely, the other pilot has been killed, too. Russia sent a helicopter to rescue the pilots and the helicopter was shot down by the Free Syrian Army whose members screamed "Allahu Akbar", too. Holy cow. I, for one, want everyone who fights against Assad over there to be killed because all of it seems to be hardcore jihadist scum.

This is obviously a serious enough event and the "friendship" between Russia and Turkey is likely to suffer. In fact, it's obvious that Russia will feel to "have the right" to respond to the Turkish act militarily. I admit that I think it would be good if Russia helped the Kurds to peel off a piece of the Turkish territory as a part of the future Kurdistan which could become a Russian protectorate. Russia has been supporting the Kurds in the past.

If Russia decided to launch a larger military operation against Turkey, should NATO fight against Russia? I don't know what the lawyers would say. But as far as my sentiments and common sense goes, it is obvious that Turkey has just attacked Russia by shooting down the warplane. Even if it has been in Turkey for a few seconds, it just shouldn't have been shot down. So I think Russia has the natural right to respond and attack its Turkish friend – and NATO which is a "defense" organization has no duty to help Turkey. I certainly find it unacceptable for the lives of Czech troops to be put at risk because of this aggressiveness of Turkey.

We will see what will happen. But Turkey's policies seem way too "independent". If there is an emergent conflict between the West and the violent Islam – or at least the ISIS – Turkey apparently wants to act as if it were a whole, big, third side of this conflict. If that's the case, I think that Turkey is punching above its weight and it could soon be reminded about its weight.

I increasingly find the attitude of Russia to be the most reasonable one. It's genuinely fighting Daesh – while the U.S. have only pretended so. It supports the Kurds, Assad, but is ready to talk to the Free Syrian Army, too. Be sure that I am not quite thrilled by the fact that Russia seems the most sensible power in those conflicts. One reason of my discomfort is that, after all, Russia also has an alliance with Iran which – I believe – is exporting lots of havoc and terror across the Middle East, too.

But if we only consider powers that have a reasonably strong ability to shape the Middle East, I think that Russia has the greatest potential of actually improving what's going on in that region. Turkey could have defended its double-faced, seemingly incoherent policies in the peaceful times but I think that their idiosyncratic position will become increasingly indefensible if the conflict near its border intensifies further.

P.S.: Czech president Miloš Zeman said that given Russia's role as a force fighting ISIS and the widespread accusations that Turkey cooperates with the ISIS, Turkey's move was a "too radical move that will only worsen the atmosphere". Other Czech top politicians say that it was a result of "poor coordination".

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