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Vigen Akopyan: The Turkish transit

Barack Obama and Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Photo: samsonblinded.org

Today, we are witnessing substantial changes in the Middle East mosaic. The West is making it up with Iran and by doing this, is providing that country a chance to get more active in the region. In the meantime, NATO is giving Turkey the green light to bomb Iraqi and Syrian territories, where the Turks see some threats to their security. The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is no less complicated. All this is like a boiling pot, and nobody knows when it will blow up.

Turkey has long had designs on Syria. Its first pretext for invading that country was to protect the relic of all Turks – the tomb of Suleyman Shah, the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, Osman I. Now all covers have been thrown away, and Turkey’s goal is to occupy a 50-km deep buffer zone, allegedly, for defending itself from the ISIL. Those lands are populated mostly by Kurds. So, many experts are sure that they are the real target of Turkey’s campaign.

The point is that for the Turks, a strong Kurdish army and Kurdish sovereignty are as unacceptable as the advance of the ISIL. This is why they are fighting not the ISIL but the Kurds, who, in their turn, are fighting the ISIL.

Today, Erdogan is playing a double or even triple game on the thin ice. “Turkey’s policy is aimed against al Assad and the ISIL’s attacks are also aimed against al Assad. At first, Turkey even encouraged the ISIL, but gradually the Islamic State began spreading its influence in Turkey and posing a threat to Erdogan’s rule. Kurds are also a threat for Turkey. So, the Turks have decided to attack Kurds as well – even though they are also fighting the ISIL,” says senior expert at the Center for Military and Political Studies Mikhail Alexandrov.

Today, Turkey is facing a political crisis. The ruling Justice and Development Party has failed to get a majority in the parliament and is considering a reelection. And things will get even worse if Turkey is involved in a war. If the conflict grows, the ISIL may reach the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan, and this is already the CIS and a zone of Russia’s influence.

Azerbaijan and Turkey are connecting vessels, with Turkey having even bigger influence on Nakhichevan. In recent years, Aliyev and Erdogan have spent huge money to strengthen Nakhichevan’s army. They are doing it to be ready for possible instability in Nagorno-Karabakh. Over the last few days, Nagorno-Karabakh has faced growing number of attacks and raids. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have sensed the threat of a new war here and have urged the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents to meet by the end of this year. According to Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has become “overripe” and needs an urgent solution.

It is quite clear why the co-chairs are in such a hurry. The wave of violence in the Middle East is rising and is covering more and more countries. The ISIL is actively hiring people in the South and North Caucasus. Turkey’s decision to join this war will become the decisive point.

No less decisive will be Iran’s attitude. Its political activity will certainly be growing – especially now that it has become clear that the Taliban leader Mullah Omar died several years ago and that Afghanistan is no longer the key threat to Iran.

Well, what about Russia? With the US and the EU interested in growing instability along the Russian border, much here will depend on how efficient the Kremlin’s relations with its southern neighbors will be. It is not a secret that Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan are trying to cooperate in economy and energy, but Erdogan’s internal instability is growing as is the Unite States’ influence on Turkey. In the meantime, the Americans are using “democratic rhetoric” to pressure Azerbaijan and are hiring more agents in Armenia. This may well be a preparation for the “Turkish transit” of the war from Syria and Iraq to the Caucasus. In contrast, Russia is interested in stable peace in the CIS. For this, it needs Iran and Turkey, but the problem is that those countries care more for their own interests and are, therefore, more or less dependent on the US and the EU...

Vigen Akopyan, Chief Editor of EADaily for Kultura newspaper

Permalink: eadaily.com/en/news/2015/07/30/vigen-hakobyan-the-turkish-transit
Published on July 30th, 2015 09:32 PM
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