From idealism to realism

From idealism to realism

Ankara, June 30, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Manolis Kostidis

“Will Erdogan become the ally of Assad?”

The apology of Netanyahu to Erdogan

The apology of Erdogan to Putin

Within a few days, Erdogan seems to have tossed in the bin the doctrine of the foreign policy he has been building so many years and is forced to approach the countries with which he had chosen to be driven to political and economic conflict.

Political analysts confide in us that Ahmet Davutoglu appear to have been “the scapegoat” to drive Ankara to this change in policy.

“Turkey is trying to reduce the threats in this unstable location which it is located. At the same time, it aims to find alternative solutions to energy needs, increase its commercial activity and to enlarge its economy”, says to the newspaper Sabah, Fahrettin Altun, a political analyst and general director of the SETA political research center.

The effort in recent months for a rapprochement with Israel, under pressure by the USA, was known.

But what came as a surprise was the “sorry” Erdogan to Putin for the shooting down of the Russian warplane in November 2015 by turkish fighter jets near the border with Syria.

Economy and Syria “cornered” the Turkish President

After sending the apology letter to his Russian counterpart on Wednesday, the Turkish president also had a telephone conversation with him. Immediately after their conversation Putin gave the order to lift the sanctions in tourism, effectively ending the ban of Russians who want to visit Turkey.

The question that looms is what led Erdogan to this great shift

A key factor is the economy. The Turkish president is a politician elected by the people, just like the AKP, but he is also based on the votes and the support of business Groups involved in tourism, energy, construction and exports.

The damage caused to the turkish economy by the Russian sanctions exceeded USD 20 billion in just six months! The Turkish construction companies that have a dominant role in Russia were excluded from the competitions, Ankara recorded a fall of 95% in Russian tourist arrivals and vegetables exporters who have benefited from the EU embargo to Moscow, were sustaining devastating damages by this situation. Hundreds of hotels in Antalya remained closed as they are working exclusively with Russian tourists. Four million Russians used to visit that city alone. Businessmen have begun exert to pressure the AKP to soften its policy towards Moscow.

Another factor that led to the “sorry” of Erdogan was the issue of Syria. While once the Turkish government spoke of “prayer in Damascus”, in recent months not only realized that Moscow and the US were working together to keep Assad in power, but there was a greater risk. The creation of a Kurdish state in northern Syria along with the endless battles with the Kurds in southeastern Turkey would create a “de facto” situation so dangerous that it would threaten the unity of the Turkey.

Turkey actually admits and accepts the leading role of Putin in Syria and it seems that there will be a great compromise. Erdogan will accept the stay of Assad in power, will support the fighting against jihadist and in return he doesn’t want the creation of an independent Kurdish state in northern Syria and the support of the unity of Syria as a state entity.

“With Turkey’s rapprochement with Russia and Iran there will be changes in Syrian policy. The US policy to create a Kurdish corridor and the subsequent breaking down of Syria, now brings together countries that want Syria whole. Do not put me in the position to say whether Turkey came on the same side with Assad”, says the seasoned political analyst Abdulkadir Selvi, who has close ties with the AKP.

Putin gives names of Chechens

The telephone conversation between Erdogan Putin coincided with the terrorist attack in the Kemal Ataturk airport in Istanbul. One of the perpetrators appears to be Chechen and the others are either his compatriots or from Central Asia.

Essentially, this revelation brings Putin t a strong position, given that he demanded from Erdogan to fight the Islamic State and accused him that the Turkish government supports the jihadists. Moscow has expertise in the fight against the Islamic jihad and has already promised to provide assistance to Turkey in this area.

What’s the deal with Israel?

Ankara’s contacts with Tel Aviv had begun in 2013. Relations between the two countries had reached its nadir after the boarding of Israeli commandos on the ship Mavi Marmara, which was on its way to Gaza in May 2010, in which nine Turkish citizens lost their lives.

The US had pressed for this partnership, but Erdogan and Davutoglu at the time supported the “Arab Spring” and the “Muslim Brothers” who were the enemies of Israel. Essentially the two sides were in different camps.

But the predominance of the jihad in Iraq and Syria, the murder of the American ambassador in Libya, changed much. The US decided to change their behavior towards the Arab Spring, immediately there was the coup in Egypt and the US began to exert pressure on Turkey and Israel to start their rapprochement.

On the issue of Syria, the two countries have similar interests. Israel does not want the presence of Iran on its borders, Turkey wishes neither a strong presence of Iran in Syria nor the creation of a Kurdish State.

As revealed by Benjamin Netanyahu, the two countries’ agreement paves the way for the discussion on the construction of a pipeline that will transport the Israeli gas from the deposits of Leviathan to Turkey and from there to Europe.

Israel will compensate the families of victims of the Mavi Marmara with USD 20 million, the Israeli PM apologized for the incident and will allow Turkey to send assistance to the Palestinians, albeit only through Israeli ports. The blockade of Gaza will remain as it stands. While Ankara reportedly cuts its ties with Hamas.

“We make the approach to the benefit of the two countries’ peoples”, said Recep Tayyip Erdogan, deleting all he had been uttering for so many years against Netanyahu and Israel.

But the change is so steep that even the extreme Islamist “humanitarian” organization IHH, which had organized the mission of Mavi Marmara with the blessings of Erdogan, reacts to the agreement with Israel and accuses the AKP that it “backs down against the Jews”.