Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Turkey, NATO, and Russian Fencers

Quickly, in light of the Turkish downing of the Russian Su-24, consider:

Turkey has been a lukewarm NATO "ally" against the Islamic State. It has spent more of its efforts attacking and checking the Kurds and its border remains porous. Turkey is still the entry route for foreigners intent on joining IS and the exit route for many refugees and defectors from IS.

Turkey's internal politics have recently seen Erdogan consolidate power.

The US, Iran, Russia, Assad's Syria, and others have just taken great strides toward a unified front against IS.

The question is whether Turkey sees this arrangement as being in its interest.

If it doesn't, would it attempt a plausibly deniable attempt to scuttle it?

Because I think that's what we have just seen.


UU4077 said...

There is a “buffer zone” in Northern Syria around 10km deep, which Turkey declared that it belongs to it in Turkey the past and considers it its own soil. It contains many Turkmen (ie. Al Nusra allies) villages, which . When you hear that a Russian fighter was downed inside Turkey, it was more likely 4km’s from the official border, inside this zone in Syria. So no mystery there. Turkey downed the fighter inside Syria with a missile fired from an F16 in this area, while the Su24M was attacking Al Nusra – and possibly a Turkish paramilitary Grey Wolves battalion – on the ground.

Also, the son of Erdogan is the likely buyer of ISIL/ISIS/Daesh oil - oil shipped via tankers that the US has been avoiding attacking until confronted by Putin last week.

Anonymous said...

Russia may have been attacking Daesh, but it is also attacking Syrian rebel forces in order to support the Assad regime. As UU above said, it was probably indulging in one of the sorties against Assad's enemies when it got its nose punched. This quote
"Russia always viewed Turkey as a friendly state, though “instead of immediately making the necessary contact with us, the Turkish side turned to their partners in NATO for talks on this incident,” Putin said. “It’s as if we shot down the Turkish plane and not they ours. Do they want to put NATO at the service of Islamic State?"
Is so reminiscent of Toews' "you are either with us or with the child pornographers" and reeks of passive aggressive BS, that it is obvious Putin knows he went too far.

Sixth Estate said...

Since I returned to blogging, the geopolitical pickle we walked into in Syria has been my main focus and, like you, I anticipated trouble. I think you are correct: at the very least, Turkey comes out of this having smacked Russia for something that the West was impotently complaining about for weeks (namely, accidentally on purpose bombing non-ISIS enemies of the Syrian regime) while also accidentally-on-purpose made cooperation between Russia and the West all but impossible for the foreseeable future.

Exactly what that changes I'm not sure. Our position that we should simultaneously pursue regime change AND the defeat of ISIS was absurd to begin with. Now it's absurd with the faintly increased chance of confrontation between nuclear powers added to the mix.

Boris said...

I actually think Putin has something of a point here. http://www.juancole.com/2015/11/turkey-russian-plane.html

There's so many dimensions to the way this is shaking out. Turkey's internal and external politics and goals seem to be what's at play. Turkey can shoot down a Russian plane, perhaps technically justifiable in terms of an air space violation, but wise in the bigger picture? No. It does allow Turkey to scare the Russians off, disrupt negotiations for a unified front and objective against the Islamists, but still hide under NATO's Art 5 should Russia attempt to retaliate. I imagine some angry words have been said in Brussells and some of the major NATO powers have having quiet conversations whither Turkey. I also wonder about Canadian troops in this given that we're apparently involved in helping some of the Kurdish militias pace Turkey.

Russia will now fly fighter cover over its operations (which it won't stop) against Turkmen or whomever they are supporting Assad against, and has just announced it is deploying S-400 SAM systems to Syria. Remember a while back everyone's knickers were in a twist because Russia was thinking about sending the S-300 systems to Assad because these are capable of knocking down western jets? I don't know air defence systems, but I think, from Latakia, the S-400 radar and missiles can range into Turkey. If Russia manages to hit a Turkish fighter or two, and Turkey runs to NATO, what will NATO do?

Good grief. Canada (NATO? EU?) policy on ISIS? Get out. Get out now. Leave it to the Russians and the Turks and Iran and whomever else wants to fight a new war over the current war against the crazies, instead of talk and make alliances.