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The Istanbul Canal as an Instrument of Erdogan’s Multipolarity

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The Istanbul Canal as an Instrument of Erdogan’s Multipolarity

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Written by J.Hawk exclusively for SouthFront

From Father of Turks to Father of Ottomans

Turkey’s president Erdogan will no doubt go down in history as the leader who overturned the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and ended the country’s experiment as a secular nation-state. Perhaps that experiment was doomed to fail from the start—Turkish leaders over the decades have never found a workable formula for including the Kurds in the larger Turkish body politic, except through policies of forcible assimilation. Erdogan, however, was the first to decide to put an end to it and instead reorganize Turkey around principles of neo-Ottomanism and pan-Turkism, in which the economically powerful, politically viable, and culturally proximate Turkish state would no longer seek to join the European Union. Instead it would become a source of international governance, development, and security assistance to the polities which emerged from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, and even to those which were not part of the empire.

As this policy was guaranteed to provoke a negative reaction from every other power player in the region, including Turkey’s ostensible allies in NATO, Erdogan ended up pursuing a policy of “equidistance” with every politically relevant player in his neighborhood. NATO, yes, but also S-400 from Russia. Allowing Russian military flights to use Turkish airspace, yes, but also sales of Bayraktar attack drones and other military equipment to Ukraine. Turkish Stream, yes, but also the Instanbul Canal.

Ending Montreaux

The 1936 Montreaux Convention Regarding the Regime of the Straits is but one of many Ataturk’s legacies. Signed in 1936 in the Montreaux Palace in Switzerland, it is arguably the only arms control treaty of the interwar era still extant. At the time, it represented an effort to put an end to the centuries of conflict over the control of the Black Sea Straits by giving Turkey control while at the same time limiting other powers’ ability to project naval military power in or out of the Black Sea. In some respects the restrictions on the passage of warships are very real. For example, the Convention allows no more than nine warships with a total displacement of 15 thousand tons to pass through the Straits at any one time. In practice it means a single US AEGIS cruiser or destroyer, and while nothing prevents additional ships from passing later, the total tonnage of foreign warships belonging to powers that do not have Black Sea coastlines of their own cannot exceed 30 thousand tons (45 thousand in exceptional cases), which, again, limits the US Navy to no more than 2-3 AEGIS ships. Combined with a ban on capital ships, which includes aircraft carriers, from foreign navies, it means NATO would be hard-pressed to mount a serious aeronaval operation against any target on the Black Sea. While Montreaux was not greatly tested during World War 2, and the Warsaw Pact aerial and naval preponderance meant challenging it would be a futile exercise in the first place, it has proven its worth in the last decade, particularly after the reunification of Crimea with the Russian Federation. Had it not been in place, NATO’s demonstrations of force in the Black Sea might have been considerably more muscular, to the point of accidentally triggering an armed confrontation. While Russia has always been a supporter of the Montreaux Convention, its current relative military weakness in the Black Sea, where it faces the navies of three NATO member states and currently also that of Ukraine, means the Convention is all the more important to its security.

However, the proposed Istanbul Canal is not covered by the Montreaux Convention, as it specifically pertains to regulating military traffic through the Straits. To be sure, interested parties are bound to argue the intent of the Convention was to cover the passage of naval warships in and out of the Black Sea, and establish a certain level of collective security there. With that in mind, it should not matter whether foreign warships enter the Black Sea via the Straits or through the new Istanbul Canal. Moreover, even when the Canal is functioning any warship entering the Black Sea will have to have passed through one of the two straits—the Dardanelles, since the Istanbul Canal, if completed, will bypass only one of the two straits. The Montreaux Convention specifically refers to the “regime of the Straits”, not a regime of the Bosphorus. Nevertheless, one can be equally certain that some interested parties will make the legalistic argument that that the Montreaux Convention only regulates the passage of warships that pass through both of the straits. Ships may, after all, gain access to the Sea of Marmara that separates the two straits without restrictions placed on ships passing into the Black Sea. Turkish officials have been ambiguous on the future status of the Montreaux Convention, should Istanbul Canal enter into operation.

Gas Warfare

The second dimension of the proposed canal is economic. While the Montreaux Convention does not regulate the passage of cargo ships through the straits, the Bosphorus in particular remains a relatively narrow and convoluted passageway. When one also considers the high population density on both banks of the Bosphorus, the use of this strait by oil tankers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers raises particular safety concerns. Indeed, up to about 2015 the Turkish government prohibited LNG carriers from traversing the Bosphorus. While this changed during Erdogan’s rule, the ever-present danger of a serious incident means it is only a temporary solution.

Thus even if Turkey opts to apply Montreaux Convention rules on passage of warships remain unaffected, Istanbul Canal will have the potential to considerably increase tanker traffic in and out of the Black Sea. In view of Erdogan’s interest in building up relations with Ukraine, and Ukraine’s search for alternative sources of natural gas, the Canal would have the effect of increasing Turkey’s sphere of influence over the Black Sea. At the moment, there is not a single LNG terminal anywhere on the Black Sea. However, that could change once the construction of the canal moves forward. The most likely candidates are Ukraine, with a proposed site in Odessa, and Romania, with the natural location being Konstanta. US interest in promoting its own interests and expanding political control through oil and gas exports means that either or both projects would be met with enthusiastic US support.

The Mentally Sick Man of Europe

While even the most optimistic estimates do not predict the canal could be built in less than a decade, at a cost approaching $100 billion. Turkey’s own financial situation is not such that it can allow itself such a luxury without undermining other projects, and Erdogan’s ability to alienate other leaders means outside funding might be difficult to come by, particularly if outside funding means outside control over the canal. Yet the whole idea behind the canal is that it should serve the sovereign needs of Turkey. In such circumstances, who would be willing to bankroll Erdogan’s unpredictable whims? No amount of refugee crises is liable to extract that kind of a contribution from the European Union, and US funding would naturally come with US control. So it is no surprise the project’s initial construction start date of 2013 has slipped rather dramatically. Even right now, in 2020, the Turkish government is only talking about launching a tender to select firms that would be engaged in its construction.

Therefore at the moment Istanbul Canal is confined to the realm of pipe dreams. In order for it to be completed, it would have to become the biggest state priority in Turkish politics, and would require international financial and possibly also technological support. While there is no doubting Erdogan’s determination to transform Turkey into a power player capable of dictating its will to its geopolitical neighbors and rivals, the country he governs lacks the capacity for transforming his dreams into reality.

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  • AlexanderAmproz

    Montreaux wrong writing is Montreux !
    =============================

    Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was a racist For chosen Dönmeh
    manipulating the Turks for the Armenian Genocides,
    a Bolsheviks Ashkenazi Gulags Culture….

    Since Mustafa Turkey is run by Young Turks,

    Unsurprisingly CIA/Mossad profiled Erdogan for power accession,
    alike all US Colonial Empire narcissist Dictators always condemned to failed
    to insure the US Empire Jews deep power supremacy !

    The Dönmeh: The Middle East’s Most Whispered Secret (Part I)

    https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2011/10/25/the-doenmeh-the-middle-easts-most-whispered-secret-part-i/

    Wayne Madsen

    October 25, 2011

    There is a historical “eight hundred pound gorilla” lurking in the background of almost every serious military and diplomatic incident involving Israel, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Greece, Armenia, the Kurds, the Assyrians, and some other players in the Middle East and southeastern Europe. It is a factor that is generally only whispered about at diplomatic receptions, news conferences, and think tank sessions due to the explosiveness and controversial nature of the subject. And it is the secretiveness attached to the subject that has been the reason for so much misunderstanding about the current breakdown in relations between Israel and Turkey, a growing warming of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and increasing enmity between Saudi Arabia and Iran…

    Etc., etc…
    https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2011/10/25/the-doenmeh-the-middle-easts-most-whispered-secret-part-i/
    =============================================
    89% of our Senators and Congress hold dual citizenship citizenship with Israel
    https://www.investmentwatchblog.com/89-of-our-senators-and-congress-hold-dual-citizenship-citizenship-with-israel/
    ==============================================
    https://russia-insider.com/en/history/bolshevism-was-basically-jewish-movement-historical-facts-lenin-andropov/ri22603?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    Bolshevism Was Basically a Jewish Movement – The Historical Facts from Lenin to Andropov

    “Stalin had three wives, all of them Jewesses … Svetlana Stalin had a total of four husbands, three of them Jewish. Various authorities allege that (Lenin’s) wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya was a Jewess and that her family spoke Yiddish in the home.”

    • El Mashi

      There would be no Russia without Jews.

      • Shia man

        Your right it would have still been the Soviet Union.

      • AlexanderAmproz

        Do 70 Millions Christians elites and intellectuals Genocide
        supported by UK/US competitors Empire manipulation were Progress
        for the Great Russian Empire ?

        Without CIA/Mossad Jews none atrocious Iran-Irak war

        The same could be said for WW2 with Hitler UK profiled instead of Khomeini !
        ==============================================
        https://www.voltairenet.org/article187508.html

        Anglo-American Money Owners Organized World War II

        by Valentin Katasonov

        To mark the 70th anniversary of the Victory against Nazism, we publish a study of Valentin Katasonov on financing of the NSDAP and the rearmament of the Third Reich. The author deals with new documents that confirm the organization of the Second World War by US and UK Bankers, covered by President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, in the hope of destroying the USSR. This study raises new questions that will be addressed in a future article.

      • rightiswrong rightiswrong

        What about Miami then?

        More Jews than Israel ffs.

  • Saif Imam

    It’s his country, let him fuck it up or do good. Their people will either kiss him or bitch slap him. My only point is get the fuck out of Syria , You invading piece of shit cunt.

  • wimroffel

    Can anyone explain to me what benefit the Istanbul canal would have – except for possibly evading a treaty?

  • Peter Jennings

    For the moment the canal is more of a back passage.
    Western shysters won’t be exercising their colons when the current world market crash has them sitting on their asses clenching their cheeks.

    Erdogan might dream of his back passage but it ain’t going to happen anytime soon.

  • Daniel Martin

    Russia has effectively killed the U.S shale industry when they said NO to MBS decresing of oil production. I guess all those sanctions games between the SA and U.S to hurt the Russian industry has come down on both their neck’s like the swords on the Saudi flag.
    There’s a saying, ” Be ware the revenge of a patient man”

  • Duc Palatine

    I love Turkey and I like the Turkish people, every time I have visited Turkey my hosts have been extremely generous and kind, diplomatic and honest.
    It’s such a shame that this Erdogan fellow has become such a menace.
    Please Turkey get rid of him before he destroys your country and your reputation (what’s left of it)

  • AM Hants

    Isn’t the US establishing a military base, in Ukraine, and no doubt would be seriously supportive to Erdogan’s ambitions, to build the canal. Whilst Erdogan ignores history and why the Montreaux Converntion was required in the first place.

  • AM Hants

    Who would benefit from the Istanbul Canal? I would be surprised if it did not happen, considering all the money invested in the Greater Israel Project and how they are losing at the moment.

    ………………

    I remember reading Richard Cottrel’s ‘Gladio, Nato’s Dagger at the Heart of Europe – THE PENTAGON-NAZI-MAFIA TERROR AXIS’, together with the BBC Timewatch Documentary, back in the 90s, when you could still watch some decent current affairs documentaries, the BBC used to provide, ‘Operation Gladio’.

    Operation Gladio – Full 1992 documentary BBC… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGHXjO8wHsA

    ………………..

    The book, when it came to the part about Kissinger and the Turkish Occupation of Cyprus, it was interesting, especially when you look at events at the moment. I remember visiting Cyprus, and on my first visit, I was taken to a lovely Christian Orthodox Cathedral, in Larnaca, where one of the Saint’s was buried, I believe. Despite not being religious, the Cathedral was so calm and those visiting were so respectful, plus the artwork on view, it seriously impressed me. I was then taken to a Mosque, again in Larnaca, which the Christian Orthodox members had looked after, respecting it for what it was.

    Meanwhile, the town where the Turkish invaded Cyprus, Famagusta, was still a ghost town and I was told what the invaders had done to the Christian Orthodox places of worship, on arrival. When you compared the actions of the invaders, against the Christian Orthodox faith and how the people who were of Christian Orthodox Faith, treated the Mosques, it was quite an eye opener.

    https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fen.protothema.gr%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2018%2F11%2Fnc-church-780×418.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

    Turkey wipes out the Christian culture of occupied Cyprus
    Author: Thema Newsroom | Published: November 28, 2018
    61K549
    More than 550 Greek Orthodox churches, chapels & monasteries located in towns & villages of the occupied areas, have been pillaged, deliberately vandalized & demolished

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    Salvini: “EU is sanctioning Russia while taking no action over Turkey’s occupation of a European country”!

    Henry Kissinger backed Turkish tactics in 1974 Cyprus invasion (documents)

    Grigoris Afxentiou: 63 years since the Greek Hero’s death (videos)

    “We’re not Muslim enough” fear Turkish-Cypriots as poll looms

    Turkish-Cypriots split over Islam’s rise in occupied northern Cyprus…
    http://en.protothema.gr/turkey-wipes-out-the-christian-culture-of-occupied-cyprus/

    ………………

    ‘…Speaking to a closed seminar under Chatham House rules, Mr. Kissinger justified his policy by saying that whoever rules Cyprus, Crete and Malta “rules the world”. Given that he had already lost Malta, he could not afford also to lose Cyprus, ruled by this “red priest”, the “Mediterranean Castro”…’

    Obama, Kissinger and Nuland: Cyprus 1974 – Cyprus 2017…
    http://www.defenddemocracy.press/obama-kissinger-and-nuland-cyprus-1974-cyprus-2017/

    ‘…In November 1974 Kissinger met Denktash and explained to him what kind of solution he should demand for Cyprus. Later, US undersecretary of State Clifford explained to Makarios what kind of solution was fit for the island.

    On the basis of a solution of this type, decades later, the “Annan Plan for the solution of the Cyprus conflict” was developed and presented to the Cypriot people in a 2004 referendum. Cypriots rejected the proposal…’

    …………………

    Who came up with the Greater Israel Project, bearing in mind Israel turned up in the Middle East, back in 1947. The same year that the CIA were launched. Operation Paperclip, being their first exercise? Providing the Nazi and Bolshevik elite safe passage, following the end of WWII. How important was Turkey to the Nazi Elite?

    World War II: Turkish-German Friendship Treaty
    (June 18, 1941)… https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/turkish-german-friendship-treaty-june-1941

    ……………

    Where did the Khazarians and AshkeNAZIs originate from? Were they not Nomadic Turkic Tribes, who adopted Christianity, Judea and Islam, whilst learning Hebrew? Did the Kurds also originate from the Nomadic Turkic Tribes of the day?

    …………………

    Why are the refugees, fleeing Syria, who are not Syrian, never Christian?

    Why are those that Turkey have sent to Greece, a Christian Orthodox nation, not Christians, let alone of the Christian Orthodox Faith? Why do they flock to Turkey from Pakistan, Afghanistan and the nations bordering the Middle East, together with Africa? Why do they serve a term or a few terms, working for the White Helmets/Al Qaeda/ISIS/Daesh, or whatever they are called today?

    Why is the first priority of the Greater Israel Project and those that support it, to erase the Christian Orthodox and Christian faith in the Middle East and surrounding areas?

    ……………

    Is Erdogan the Trojan Horse, or is he Turkey’s version of Joe Biden?

    Who is pulling his strings and what exactly does he want?