World View: Russia and Turkey Increasingly on War Footing

The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Russia and Turkey exchange vitriolic accusations about ISIS oil sales
  • Russia cancels Turkey gas pipeline, prepares for Bosporus closure
  • Turkey’s grievances against Russia, and the road to war
  • San Bernardino mass shootings

Russia and Turkey exchange vitriolic accusations about ISIS oil sales

Turkey's evidence that Bashar al-Assad is supporting ISIS by buying ISIS oil (Anadolu)
Turkey’s evidence that Bashar al-Assad is supporting ISIS by buying ISIS oil (Anadolu)

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, who is not Muslim, invoked the name of Allah to push up the threat level at Turkey even farther on Thursday for shooting down a Russian warplane last week:

Only Allah knows why they did it. And I guess Allah decided to punish the ruling clique in Turkey by stripping it of its sanity. […]

We will not saber-rattle or take dangerous, hysterical actions. But those who hope we will be content to [stop trade in] tomatoes or constrain some construction work after they committed a war crime by killing our men, are wrong — we will remind them time and again and they will regret it, time and again.

In his “state of the nation” speech on Thursday, he also repeated the vitriolic personal accusations directed at Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying that Erdogan’s son Necmettin Bilal Erdogan is a terrorist sponsor supporting the so-called Islamic State (IS or ISIS or ISIL or Daesh) by arranging for the purchase of large quantities of oil from ISIS, on behalf of Turkey.

Unfortunately, nothing that comes from Putin or the Russians can be believed. Russia lied about its invasion of Crimea, Russia lied about invading east Ukraine, Russia lied after shooting down a passenger plane over Ukraine, Russia lied about Syria’s president al-Bashar Assad’s use of Sarin gas on his own people, Russia lied about the purpose of its military intervention into Syria as being to attack ISIS. So any “evidence” produced by the Russians that Turkey is buying oil from ISIS is worthless.

In other words, Putin could swear on a stack of Orthodox Christian bibles that the proof Russia is showing as evidence was not Photoshopped, but he still cannot be believed, and any evidence that the Russians present about anything can be assumed to be worthless dross.

Beyond that, accusations are flying.

Russia says that Turkey is supporting terrorism by buying oil from ISIS. Turkey says that Russia is supporting terrorism by buying oil from ISIS. Last week, the US and Germany both said that the al-Assad regime is supporting terrorism by buying oil from ISIS. Also, Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is being quoted as saying that the ISIS trucks in the photos that Russia is producing as “evidence” are not ISIS trucks at all, but are KRG trucks, transporting oil legally.

So maybe ISIS is selling oil to Turkey and/or to Russia and/or to al-Assad, and eventually we will know which of those (if any) is true, but for now the important thing is the accusations themselves, the growing, vitriolic war of words between these centuries-old mutually hated enemies, and the possibility that these words could lead to actual war. Breitbart and Daily Sabah (Ankara) and Independent (London) and Daily Sabah (London) and Anadolu (Ankara) and Jamestown

Russia cancels Turkey gas pipeline, prepares for Bosporus closure

Many analysts have pointed out that all the sanctions that Russia imposed on Turkey – food imports/exports, tourism restrictions, etc. – would hurt both economies, but were not sufficiently serious to be significant. What would be REALLY significant, according to several analysts, would be the cancellation of joint projects to build gas pipelines that would carry Russian gas from the Caspian Sea to Turkey and to the European Union. That would mean that Putin REALLY wanted to hurt Turkey as much as possible.

Well, Russia on Thursday announced that further plans for the TurkStream gas pipeline project have been canceled indefinitely. Russia had begun work on the pipeline in May. In addition, Russia’s Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant project in southern Turkey was canceled.

Gas shipments from Russia to Turkey through the existing Blue Stream trans-Black Sea gas pipeline will continue, for the time being. However, Turkey is preparing to survive without any Russian gas, if necessary.

Russia, meanwhile, is doing its own preparing to survive if Turkey takes a much more drastic step in retaliation – closing the Turkish straits (Bosporus and Dardanelles channels), the waterways that connect the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.

As we reported a few days ago in “1-Dec-15 World View — Putin’s Syria intervention hobbled by weak Russian economy,” Turkey is bound by the 1936 Montreux Convention to allow Russian commerce ships to pass freely through the straits; only warships may be regulated. I wrote that if Turkey closes the straits to Russia, that may be the trigger that launches a war, and that is true. Nonetheless, Russia is making plans to bypass the Bosporus if necessary.

Currently 32-35 million tonnes of Russian oil pass through the straits each year. 8 million tonnes per year could be transported by rail. It could also transport 13-15 million tonnes through the Baku Azerbaijan – Tbilisi Georgia – Ceyhan Turkey – Odessa Ukraine – Brody Ukraine pipeline. However, Russia does not have too many friends along that pipeline’s path, so there may be problems.

A potentially more serious problem for Russia is that essential supplies of armaments and munitions are transiting through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles to Russian troops and Russian allies in Syria; this supply mission could be seriously affected if Turkey curtails sea transit trough the Straits. BBC and Jamestown and Tass (Moscow) (Trans)

Turkey’s grievances against Russia, and the road to war

Vladimir Putin has claimed that Russia “did not threaten Turkey in any way,” prior to shooting down Russia’s Su-24 bomber. But from Turkey’s point of view, that’s far from true, and it is worthwhile listing some of Turkey’s grievances against Russia, prior to the shootdown:

  • As soon as Russia started massive military intervention into Syria, Russia claimed that they were targeting ISIS. In fact they were often targeting ethnic Turkmens, who are Syrians of Turkish descent, descended from groups who began moving from Central Asia into present-day Syria in the tenth century. Recall that Russia invaded and occupied Ukraine, annexing Crimea, using the excuse that they were protecting ethnic Russians, so by Russia’s own logic, Turkey is fully justified in protecting Turkmens.
  • Russian troops in Crimea treated ethnic Tatars brutally, and continue to do so. Once again, Tatars are Turkish relations from Central Asia, and by Russia’s own logic, Turkey is fully justified in protecting them.
  • According to Turkey, Russian bombers in Syria have violated Turkish airspace many times, and have ignored repeated warnings and demands to stop doing so.

I have seen and heard several analysts refer to Russia and Turkey as “friends” who are now at a temporary impasse. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As I wrote in “25-Nov-15 World View — Turkey shoots down Russian warplane, evoking memories of many Crimean wars”, the Russian population and Turkish population have a deep mutual hatred of each other that goes back many centuries, through many bloody generational crisis wars.

Sometimes countries that fight generational crisis wars are able to move past the hatreds that led to previous war and become friends. For example, this appears to have happened to America and Japan after World War II, although deep hatreds still exist between the Japanese and Chinese.

Russia and Turkey were never going to become friends. As I have been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major, bloody sectarian crisis war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, and that America would be allied with Russia, Iran and the Shias. Russia and Turkey have appeared to be friends, but that would have to change.

It is truly amazing how quickly things have changed. In less that a month, any veneer of friendship between the two countries has been wiped away, and we are seeing a trend of bitter, vitriolic words, backed by punitive actions that worsen almost every day. A week ago, I wrote “26-Nov-15 World View — Russia and Turkey move closer to the brink of war,” and that is even more true today. It is not a question of “if”; it is a question of “how soon?”

In this generational Crisis era, these two countries are only going to become even more nationalistic and xenophobic than they already are. This is clear a path to war — not a new war, but a revival of an old war that has already been going on for centuries. Generational Dynamics: History of Islam versus Orthodox Christianity (2003)

San Bernardino mass shootings

With regard to the San Bernardino mass shootings: Until we get climate change under control, these things are going to keep happening. The Federalist

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, Turkey, Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Islamic State / of Iraq and Syria/Sham/the Levant, IS, ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Turkmens, Black Sea, Crimea, TurkStream pipeline, Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, the Turkish straits, Bosporus and Dardanelles channels, San Bernardino
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