What Erdogan's Russia outreach means for the Middle East

The Turkish strongman is is clearly uneasy about his relations with the US and NATO.

 |  3-minute read |   27-08-2016
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The alleged pro-US coup attempt in Turkey that left nearly 300 dead, has raised fresh questions about Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan's politics and the state of NATO.

Kemal Ataturk's politics and secularism was defeated decades ago by the AKP that Erdogan leads, with the latter serving two terms as prime minister followed by a term as president. But after the "coup" allegedly by a Turk residing in the US, Erdogan made a bold attempt to link with Russia, going to Moscow for a crucial meeting with president Vladimir Putin.

Also read: You believe I convinced the 8th largest army, from 6,000 miles away, to stage Turkey coup?

Putin has roped in the Iranian forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah - the latter who years ago was the first armed force to defeat the formidable Israeli Army (IDF) - to strengthen the anti-ISIS alliance, as well as foil the US and allies "regime change" effort in Syria.

Erdogan has a brazen record as a trader with ISIS, buying stolen Iraqi and Syrian oil from the powerful terrorist force, and shipping it using the BMZ shipping company owned by his family, and run by his son Bilal, to nearby countries all the way to Israel.

How did this Turkish-Russian entente take place?

coupbd_082716092838.jpg The alleged pro-US coup attempt in Turkey that left nearly 300 dead, has raised fresh questions about Recep Tayyip Erdogan's politics.

Recep Erdogan is clearly uneasy about his relations with the US and NATO, whether or not his exiled rival Fethullah Gulen's purported coup attempt actually had covert US support or not.

It is also reported that Putin warned Erdogan the day before the coup, that it was coming. Thus the wily Turk's complete political switch.

Moreover, the US, this year, has been arming and backing the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, who are linked to the Turkish Kurds and their political party, PKK.

Also read: How democracy failed to survive in aftermath of Turkey coup attempt

Erdogan is determined to destroy the PKK after an aborted peace process. He fears that in rewarding the Kurds, arguably the most resolute fighters in this conflict, the US may decide to reward the Kurds with an autonomous or independent "Kurdistan," which may lead to a part of Turkey being included in the new state. According to commentators, this is the main reason for Erdogan jumping from the NATO to the Russian alliance.

It is also clear that the ISIS's momentum is slowing. It's defeat in Fallujah in Iraq recently, and it's encirclement in Raqqa in its self proclaimed capital in Syria, in which the Kurds have played a major role, demonstrates that the uneasy alliance between the US-NATO on one side and the Russian alliance on the other, has changed the course of the Iraq/Syria war. It might not be the endgame yet, but it seems to be getting there.

The Saudi kingdom has been the biggest losers. They funded the ISIS, and their ally Qatar funded Al Nusra, with the latter tying up with the rebel Syrian forces, armed and funded by the US. So now, no more bombing of Syria, and liberation of Iraq and Syria also looks inevitable.

The reconstruction of the earlier occupied Iraq and Syria is another matter. "Regime change" has never led to genuine freedom, complete reconstruction, or the return of millions of disempowered refugees.

Some call this a regime change. Others call it imperialism.

Writer

Kamal Mitra Chenoy Kamal Mitra Chenoy @kamaichenoy

The writer is an academic and activist.

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