After the Turkish parliamentary elections, the situation in the Near East has not become easier.
Originally appeared at VPK, translated by Monna Lita exclusively for SouthFront
Parliamentary elections are happening in Turkey on the same day as an article is currently being written, and their results will be drawn after the article will be given over for edition. Meanwhile, if the intermediate calculations that are being announced by mass media sources are correct, then R. T. Erdogan’s efforts to change the political reality that developed after an extremely unsuccessful for him summer elections, bore fruit. His ruling Party of Justice and Development (PJD) has a chance to keep the monopoly on power, and not worry anymore about forming a coalition with his rivals, which judging by everything, the Turkish president is not capable of due to the nature of his character, which is noted even by his supporters.
Whether there were any falsifications, how fair was the fight, which influential politicians and clan leaders “in places” of SRP managed to be bought, is the internal opposition of F. Gulen supporters completely crushed, was the war that Erdogan unfolded against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (KWP) affected by the People’s Democracy Party, how was the pressure on Erdogan’s opponents and voters organized, was it worth it for him to try so openly and offhandedly to suppress the change in the Constitution in order to change the country from a Parliamentary republic to a presidential one, were terror acts with mass casualties in Suruci and Ankara really a provocation of Turkish special forces that were aimed at worsening the situation before elections and was the beginning of a massive “witch hunt” – all those things are absolutely not important, if he won.
An election After Elections
The resurrection of corruption problems of the ruling party “after the fight” or oppositions with the left and Kemalists because of Gezi Park and Taksim Square seem especially meaningless. We are not even talking about accusing Erdogan in dictatorial ambitions and violating laws while building a presidential palace. He would never become president if it weren’t for his ambitions. If not for his leadership and organizational skills, he would not be able to do what he did, including when it comes to the economy. And if he manages to win in the elections with the burst that he needs, he will carry any decisions through to the Parliament, including those that are burying the role of this institution as the main crutch of the Turkish democracy. This, btw, happened more than once in other countries that had presidents with same will and ambitions as Erdogan has, and ended after them, since a strong leader is not ready to have near him another strong leader. This is the eternal law of politics – Chinese, American, or Turkish politics, doesn’t matter.
The actions of the Russian Air Force and Syrian forces led the number of jihadist groups to fall by a third due to losses and mass desertion.
So, the question is not whether Erdogan’s SRP can collect 400 votes (not likely) that will turn him into a sultan of the new Ottoman Porte, but in what he will be doing after elections. For example, he may try to continue to blackmail Moscow because of Syria on energy supply issue and the construction of “Akkuyu” Nuclear Power Plant. Or he will strike the Syrian Kurds one more time, which will finally end in a falling out with the U.S., who like it or not, by trying to demonstrate that in Syria, it isn’t only Russia, Iran and Assad who are fighting the “Islamic State” (IS), are forced to cooperate with them, since there are no U.S. partners who will any longer go on the offensive of the IS capital Al-Raqqah. Will he be developing an announced military support of the Syrian Turkomans. Not to mention, will he stop provoking the refuge crisis in Europe, or it is not a tactic but Erdogan’s strategy, so that Germany and other EU countries should expect to see millions of migrants.
After the elections, will Erdogan rush into a venture of creating a no fly or at least a buffer zone on the Syrian territory, risking direct conflict with Iran and RF, despite the fact that his NATO partners are not ready to support him in this, starting with the U.S. Will he try to play out a “big Turkish game” in Aleppo, which, due to convincing of the politicians in his camp, is rejected from their country part of Turkey in the 20s by the Europeans. It isn’t as disingenuous as it was with North Cyprus – times have changed. Will he stop supporting Uighur separatists, who caused a quarrel with China. How will he act in Central Asia in a partnership with Qatar, while sponsoring forces in Afghanistan, who “straddled” the borderline of the former USSR and the pipeline TAP route in order to open stream of Turkmen gas to the EU through trans Caspian TKG (with Azerbaijan having a very cool attitude about the project).
Finally, how much will the “post-elected” Turkish president support the “Muslim Brotherhood” throughout the whole Arab world – from Egypt to Gaza with its HAMAS, which besides Qatar, complicates relations with Cairo and Arabian monarchies. And of course, the extent to which he will save the officially negative relations with IS, including financial ones. Of course, how the Turkish politics will be built in relation to Israel, republics of Middle Asia and South Caucasus, Turkic regions of the Russian Federation, and those subjects of the Federation that cause Ankara to increase their interest in, such as Crimea, not to mention Turkey’s neighbors in the Balkans, is not necessary to speak of. However, it is not excluded that Erdogan will “sweep the field” from former rivals and rebuild the economy, which has suffered considerable damage because of his political experiments.
The Kurds Are Only Out for Themselves
In the end, all this depends on the final election results in Turkey. While the results are unknown, let us direct the reader’s attention to some important moments of the current state of affairs in the Middle East that were prepared for the Middle East Institute, based on materials prepared by S. Babkin, A. Bistrov and Y. Sheglovin. The events taking place in Syria and Iraq, in Libya and Egypt, in states of Sahara and Sahel, in the Horn of Africa and Yemen, in Iran and Israel, Pakistan and Afghanistan are of great interest for the “Great Powers”, the situation in the circle of which Russia has significantly strengthened, after the beginning of operation of Russian Military Intervention in Syria, and at the same time provoked their reaction to their own actions. That is how the arrival of 50 fighters of the U.S. Special Forces to Northern Syria “to help the local self-defense forces” was announced.
A Pentagon representative has announced this development as “the beginning of a large scale advisory mission that does not intend to support the local fighters during the operation against IS”, underlining, that the U.S. does not intend to supply ammunition directly to the Syrian Kurdistan self defense forces that are fighting with extremists, but will continue to support them. The hearings in the U.S. congress on the situation in the region, judging by everything, became a breaking point for the Obama administration in deciding on the tactic in Syria and Iraq. Russia is acting in Syria, and she obviously pushed the U.S. President to change his position. It is clear, that the White House is simply trying to seize the initiative.
In Syria, Washington could not identify with the power that was positioned as Assad regime’s main counterweight. Having given that direction, which is now at the mercy of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, who propelled the armed struggle with Assad, the U.S. condemned the Syrian resistance to Islamization. It became financed by Riyadh and Doh: in the first stages, the Islamists were the minority, but the Saudi and Qatari financial influx predetermined their dominion, as foreign Jihadists saturated opposition forces. According to Russia’s National Antiterrorist Committee, the proportion of these volunteers is reaching 40% of IS members in Syria and Iraq. In the first case, the number of foreigners in Islamic State and pro-Saudi “Jabhat al_Nusra” is up to 60%.
The U.S.A. could stop this if they supported the Free Syrian Army, which was taking care of Ankara. Its authority in Syria was small, but the main thing that stopped its support by Washington was a personal dislike of Obama and Erdogan. As a result, a vacuum was created. Today, the Pentagon and the CIA can offer the White House a very limited set of options, and the Kurds don’t have any alternatives among those options. So in any case, the U.S. is forced to keep a balance between supplying them with material and technical assistance and maintaining stability with Ankara. That type of help is already being offered. Recently, Americans parachuted down 50 tons of military cargo to the Kurds. To deny it is pointless, and the U.S.’s official denial can only be referred to as a “smoke screen”.
The U.S. Special Forces in Syria must point their planes on targets during a planned attack on Raqqa. Despite being assured of the opposite, the Forces will need to act in the advanced ranks of the incoming Kurds. Otherwise, there is no point in commandos being there. With that, the Kurds won’t go any further that Raqqa. They want to create their own autonomy and are not ready to perform tasks. And if Damascus announces the granting of this autonomy, the Kurds will fight with the Islamists in alliance with Assad, which was understood from their representatives’ visit to Moscow, Russia. Judging by results of a military operation that was conducted by the Russian Military Forces, the authority of the Russian army as a serious force is growing. Why this is happening, is explained in the UK-based, human rights NPO report “Syrian Human Rights Watch” with results on the actions of Russian pilots.
According to the data, within a month of the operation nearly 600 people died, mostly militants. Strikes against targets occurred in 10 out of 14 Syrian provinces. Among the dead were 410 militants of different groups, including IS. When it has to do with the coalition let by the U.S., in 13 months 3,649 people were killed in Syria, including 3,276 IS militants, 147 militants of “Jabhat al-Nusra” and other groups, altogether – 3,423 militants died. According to SNPC, which cannot be suspected in having pro Russian sympathies, the Russian Aviation was about twice as effective than the coalition in destroying the Jihadists. The actions of the Russian Aviation and Syrian forces led to the number of Jihadist formations in Syria to decrease by a third, due to losses and mass desertion.
In separate areas, the Islamists are reaching local success. IS holds positions in a number of places, since for several years they were converted to secured areas with an extensive network of underground tunnels and shelters. At the same time, a marked orderly withdrawal of IS militants from the most threatening areas is noted, as well as their call abroad by the troops led by commanders; in Libya and Yemen. To that last one, more than 500 people arrived on three planes. In this case, the Qatar Emirate is throwing Assad armies, Iranians and local militia from Syria to other fronts as shelled “valuable” footage, where the militants are facing serious threats in the face of the Russian Air Force
Libya: From Dawn to Disorder
An author describes in detail the current situation in Yemen (“Strikes off “target”, “Fight on a quilt”). Before Libya, the most significant event there happened on October 27th as the death of 12 leading warlords of an Islamic coalition “the Dawn of Libya” in the helicopter attacks. They were all members of a close circle of a former member of “Libyan Fighting Group” A. Belhadj and his substitute H. Al-Sharif. Colonels H. Budayya, S.S. Saks and Commander of artillery brigade Z. C. Al-Rahman, who played the most important role in the fight against government units in Tobruk who were advancing on Tripoli. Also, set against the background of consultations that were held in Morocco on the peaceful solution to the Libyan conflict and an agreement on the establishment of the national unity government, there were serious contradictions among Tripolitans who rallied around Belhadj and Misuratans.
Not a single group took the responsibility for the attack. More than likely, in this case, a special operation to liquidate Islamists was conducted, which was most likely a raid of Egyptian helicopters that made up the bulk of the Tobruk Air Force. A range of Musorats fear that this will provoke renewed fighting and will disrupt a peace settlement. This wing headed by F. Bashashgha and A. R. Al-Swail, is in favor of implementing the Moroccan agreements. According to the plan of a UN Special Representative on Libya B. Leon, F. Bashashgha is supposed to be the head of the National Security Council and A. R. Al-Swail heads the State Council, both bodies being the key power architectures in the estimated future.
Belhadj, who supports Qatar and Algier, was against it. He was in Turkey these last days, trying to secure Ankara’s support and minimize the threat of personal financial EU sanctions. H. Al-Sharif remained the Head in Tripoli, answering security questions. Specifically, he was the one who provided the security for the main airport in the Tripoli surroundings of Al-Mitiga, from which in the end of September regular flights to Tunisia began. The people of Tripoli receive weapons and fighters aid from Qatar through this airport. They also control the “Al-Naba” television studio, which is organized with a financial and technical Qatari assistance. The capital prison of Khaba is also in their zone of responsibility, where prominent members of an ousted regime like A. Sennusi, A. R. Dobra, Al-Baghdadi, Al-Mahmudhi and S. Gaddafi are being held.
The clan leaders of Tripoli in the face of H. Al-Sharif carried out the strikes from helicopters. The instigators could have also been Misuratans, and General H. Haftar. On October 20th in Cairo, Speaker of the House of Representatives A. S. Issa discussed with the president of Egypt A. F. el-Sisi the details of a coup in Tobruk, calling to replace Prime Minister A. al-Tani, who created Military Council headed by H. Haftar, who would have taken control of the functions based on Gaddafi model. The dissolution of Tripoli leadership and the capture of the capital by H. Haftar were in that plan, which initially did not work, but can provoke a failure of Moroccan agreements and a begin a new round of warfare. The main reason for this is that B. Leon’s plan was not received well by the main foreign sponsors of warring parties in Libya in the face of Egypt and Qatar.
Qatar is not the only monarchy of the Arabian Peninsula having its own interests in Africa. There is a characteristic binding of Saudi Arabia and UAE. The Emirates began to actively secure Eritrean ports as transport naval bases. This was preceded by a sharp diplomatic scandal between Djibouti and Riyadh with Abu Dhabi. The reason for this was insults that were inflicted by a commander of the Djibouti Air Force toward an UAE attaché. Djibouti suspended the Emirate companies from signing a contract on the rebuilding of the seaport and the acquisition of the controlling stake shares. The incident led to a mutual withdrawal of Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Djibouti ambassadors. After broken relations, the UAE and KSA refused to build an Air and Naval Base in Djibouti to the benefit of Eritrea.
It is noted, that Djibouti and Ethiopia are resisting any Eritrean attempts to come out of an economic and political blockade, and trying to turn it into a rogue state on the level of an African union. Fortunately, her system is that of war communism with forced mobilization into labor armies. Asmara is currently experiencing a deficit in foreign cash currency, which makes her capable of making a contract for using the maritime and logistics infrastructure of the country. The Israeli submarines were based there, using her territory for replenishing water inventory, repairs and recreation. Near it are routes to deliver weapons contraband from Yemen and Iran. Up until recently, Eritreans were working in this business with the Yemeni Houthis. Also, the main stream of illegal immigration from Africa to the Arabian Peninsula comes through Eritrea.
The attempt of Saudi Arabia and UAE to suck Eritrea into its orbit has several purposes. They are trying to stop Eritreans from having contracts with Iranians and the Houthis as part of the arms deal by offering favorable preferences. This is how the shipment of cheap fuel into Eritrea is established, and an “urgent financial assistance” is provided with hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars. The Asab port is convenient for supplying the Arabian coalition forces in Yemen. Besides that, concluding a union with Asmara, Riyadh receives a tool for destabilizing a situation in Ethiopia, which is conducting anti-Saudi politics by eliminating Islamic structures that are under the Kingdom’s control. The activation of subversion again Addis Ababa is happening through the controlled Oromo and Ogaden tribes.
Riyadh and Abu Dhabi don’t plan to gain a foothold in Eritrea for long. According to some data, the UAE rented the Asab port for 30 yrs. At the same time they are working with the Somaliland leaders on renting a former Berbera Navy Base. In this case, Mogadishu is promised a large financial assistance in exchange for neutrality. There is a plan to create a network of local bases along the entire coast of the Horn of Africa. According to the satellite intelligence, the UAE are mostly using the Asab port, where three of UAE’s military cargo ships are located. They were all acquired in the year 2012. One of those ships became active on October 17th for the transfer of Sudanese troops (450 people) from Port Sudan to Yemen. Eritrea’s participation in the “Arabian Coaltion” in Yemen is not limited to the presenting of the ports. Nearly 400 Aritreans are thrown from Asab to Aden, and this is clearly not the last of the troops who will be used in Yemen in order to minimize the losses of Arabian monarchies.
While summarizing, we ascertain: the Arabian Peninsula monarchies, among which there are Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE, continue the fight for hegemony in the Arab world, the most notable example of which was the “Arab Spring”. They are a combination of the economic and financial pressure, information wars, bribery of the local ruling circles, direct intervention, (like one in Yemen) and “by Proxy war” (in Syria and Libya). These countries are manipulating the U.S., Great Britain, France and other NATO members and the EU for their own purely selfish interests. This also applies to Turkey, who has its own hegemonic goals and interests in the region, but on a smaller scale, to the defense of which Ankara is trying to attract the NATO bloc (mainly the U.S.) but not very successfully. The U.S. is way harder to manipulate it, although Erdogan, who by getting involved in the Syrian war, with his bare hands, created a multitude of problems for himself, which he will doubtfully be able to solve.
President of the Institute of the Middle East