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World View: Hard Issues Prevent Full Reconciliation Between Turkey and Russia

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia
  • Turkey’s reconciliation with Egypt appears to be unlikely

Hard issues prevent full reconciliation between Turkey and Russia

Erdogan addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Sept 24, 2014
Erdogan addresses the United Nations General Assembly on Sept 24, 2014

In May, Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that Turkey would “increase the number of friends we have and decrease the number of enemies.” That was the precursor to a flurry of diplomatic activity in June, where Turkey effected a reconciliation with both Israel and Russia.

Russia imposed sanctions on Turkey after Turkish warplanes unexpectedly shot down a Russian warplane near the border with Syria, after the Russian aircraft had been warned several times that it was violating Turkish airspace. ( “25-Nov-15 World View — Turkey shoots down Russian warplane, evoking memories of many Crimean wars”)

The sanctions have been harsh. Turkey was a major vacation for Russian tourists, and tourism was cut off, resulting in $3.5 billion in losses. Russia’s exports to Turkey decreased by 43%, and imports from Turkey decreased by 85%.

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin had repeatedly demanded that Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologize for shooting down Russia’s warplane, and also financially compensate the Russian pilot who was killed. Erdogan has repeatedly used highly nationalistic language to refuse to apologize.

On June 27, it was announced that Erdogan had sent a “letter of apology” to Putin. It turned out that the apology was something of a finesse — Erdogan did not apologize for shooting down a Russian warplane in Turkey’s airspace, but he did apologize to the family of the dead Russian pilot. Separately, Erdogan has also agreed to pay compensation to the family.

In response, Russia lifted the restrictions on tourists visiting Turkey, and there is talk of removing the sanctions on trade. However, economic factors are only a partial explanation for the reconciliation.

Although the shooting down of the Russian warplane triggered the fierce split in relations, tensions had been building over the war in Syria. Turkey was finding Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad increasingly intolerable because of his continuing genocidal massacres of innocent Sunni civilians in Syria. Russia, on the other hand, considered al-Assad to be a vital ally. Turkey had helped to fund some moderate “rebel” opposition groups fighting against al-Assad, while Russian warplanes targeted and bombed the groups that Turkey supported, and avoided bombing militias from the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh).

An even more serious problem is the role of the Kurds. The Kurds in Turkey have been fighting an insurrection for decades, and Turkey considers all the Kurds in the region to be working with the terrorist group Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Both the United States and Russia have supported the Kurds in Syria and Iraq in their roles fighting ISIS.

Turkey has suffered a series of devastating terror attacks in the last year, the worst of which was the attack on the Ataturk National Airport in Istanbul on June 28. These attacks were perpetrated by both ISIS and the PKK, but Turkey has become increasingly isolated internationally, and has received little sympathy for these terror attacks.

It was this situation that led to the promise by Turkey’s prime minister to “increase the number of friends we have and decrease the number of enemies.”

As long-time readers are aware, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the coming Clash of Civilizations world war, Russia, India and Iran will be allied with the West, while Turkey and the Sunni Arabs will be allied with the Pakistan and China. ( “15-Jul-2015 World View — Arab views of Iran nuclear deal”)

So from the point of view of Generational Dynamics, a complete reconciliation between Turkey and Russia is very strongly counter-trend, and so is unlikely to last long. This should not be surprising in view of the generation crisis wars the two have fought over the centuries. And it also should not be surprising in view of the numerous issues that still deeply divide the two countries, in both Syria and in the Caucasus. Jamestown and Tass (Moscow 27-June) and Hurriyet (Ankara 27-June) and CS Monitor

Turkey’s reconciliation with Egypt appears to be unlikely

After reconciling with Russia and Israel, many are suggesting that Turkey should now reconcile with Egypt, possibly even using Israel as a mediator. Saudi Arabia, a staunch Turkish ally and a main backer of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is interested in seeing the two countries reconcile.

Turkey broke relations with Egypt as a result of the 2013 military coup led by the current president, Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi, against the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood (MB) government led by Mohammed Morsi, putting Morsi and thousands of MB members in jail.

Once again, it was Turkey’s prime minister Binali Yildirim who set the tone:

From Russia to Israel, Egypt to Syria, Iraq to Iran, EU countries to the U.S., we are determined to develop peaceful, friendly and practical ties with everyone. We will keep doing this.

Burhanettin Duran, a Turkish official, announced that a working group would go to Egypt to discuss a plan to normalize relations.

However, the Muslim Brotherhood has close relations with Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan suggested earlier this week that reconciliation with Egypt might not be possible while al-Sisi is in power:

The problem with Egypt is an issue with its administration, especially with its ruler. It is not possible for us to say ‘yes’ to who tyrannizes the Morsi administration.

The context with Egypt is different from the approaches undertaken with Russia and Israel. … Sentences handed down to Morsi and his friends have been based on fabrications.

We do not approve of these decisions… All of these people in Egypt are our brothers and approving the stance taken against Morsi and his friends would put us in an awkward position as Muslims, as humans and as people who believe in democracy.

However, AKP deputy leader Saban DiSli said that after the reconciliation with Israel and Russia, “God willing ties with Egypt will also ease.” Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Egyptian Streets and Al Bawaba (Palestine)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Turkey, Russia, Israel, Istanbul, Ataturk National Airport, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Binali Yildirim, Vladimir Putin, Kurds, Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Morsi, Burhanettin Duran, Justice and Development Party, AKP, Saban DiSli
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