Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 02, 2019

Turkey's Problems Will Change The Dynamics On The Idlib Front

In Sunday's the local elections in Turkey the opposition parties won in the three biggest cities, Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. They managed to do that by concentrating their forces. The Kurdish aligned HDP made no nominations in cities where the main opposition party, the Kemalist CHP, already had a strong standing. HDP voters voted for the CHP candidates which brought them over the line. The CHP likewise held back in HDP strongholds which allowed the HDP candidate to win in Diyarbakir.

The elections show that Turkey is not a dictatorship (yet) and that voters still can change the political picture. The opposition parties also showed some unusual flexibility and presented candidates that were acceptable by a wider electorate than previous ones:

The winners of Istanbul and Ankara, Ekrem Imamoglu and Mansur Yavas, are not the typical hardcore Kemalists who despise the women in headscarves and anything that is visibly religious, always alienating the average Turk. Quite the contrary. Yavas is a politician from the nationalist right, and Imamoglu (whose surname literally means, “Son of Imam”) is an unusual figure in his camp who can recite the Quran. During his campaign, Imamoglu recited the Quran in a mosque, to honor the victims of the massacre in Christchurch. Such actions have capitalized on the “religion card” that Erdogan has exploited for too long.

The loss of Istanbul, at a very small margin, is seen as a personal loss for President Erdogan, who started his national political career some 25 years ago as mayor of that city. It is no wonder then that the Erdogan's party, the AKP, is now demanding recounts.

The CHP win in the big cities and in the liberal tourist centers along the Mediterranean coast does not mean that Erdogan is defeated or his power diminished. In total his AKP and its allied parties won 51.63% of the nationwide votes. The municipalities in Turkey depend on handouts from the national government. As Erdogan controls the central purse he can easily squeeze the cities the opposition won. The next nationwide elections will only be in 2022 which gives him time to take on other problems and to recuperate the losses.

There are plenty of problems that demand his attention. Turkey's credit bubble, which helped Erdogan to win the presidency, is bursting:

Turkey's interest rates remained at record low levels from 2009 to 2018, which caused the country's credit bubble to go into overdrive. Turkey's low interest rate era ended in 2018, when the central bank hiked rates from 8% to 24%. Rapid interest rate hikes cause credit bubbles to burst, which then lead to credit busts and recessions.

Over the last two quarters Turkey's GDP declined. The country is in a recession. Inflation is near to 20% which leaves no room to lower interest rates. Before Sunday's election the central bank of Turkey propped up the Lira. It will have to end that or will otherwise diminish Turkey's foreign currency reserves. After the long build up of the credit bubble it will take years for the economy to return to a steady state. There is little room for the government to turn the economy around.

Erdogan's decision to become more independent of NATO is also taking its toll. Buying the Russian made S-400 air defense system secures Turkey from a potential U.S. attack but also means that its access to 'western' weapons ends. Germany stopped cooperation for the production of a new Turkish tank even before the S-400 issue came up. Today the U.S. halted all F-35 fighter plane deliveries and training for Turkey. This will be a loss for both sides but add to Turkey's economic problems:

“Because Turkey is not just an F-35 purchaser, but an industrial partner, blocking delivery of these systems represents a major escalation by the United States as it threatens to impose serious costs on both sides,” Hunter said.

Reuters reported last week that Washington was exploring whether it could remove Turkey from production of the F-35. Turkey makes parts of the fuselage, landing gear and cockpit displays. Sources familiar with the F-35’s intricate worldwide production process and U.S. thinking on the issue last week said Turkey’s role can be replaced.

Russia will be happy to supply Turkey with Su-35 fighter planes. They are arguable better than the F-35 and will likely be cheaper. But they will come with a political price.

Turkish supported Jihadis still hold Syria's Idleb provinces and need to be removed. Erdogan tried to turn them into 'moderate rebels' but failed. Russia has for some time pressed Turkey to become more active in Idleb and to do more common Turkish/Russian patrols. These alienate the Jihadis, some of whom start to see Turkey as an enemy. Russia intends to do everything possible to intensify that feeling, while urging Turkey to finally solve the problem.

The U.S. still wants to 'regime change' Syria and will keep the northeast under its control. Trump's idea to led Erdogan establish a security zone along the norther border was buried by the hawks in his administration. While that may comfort the Syrian Kurds with whom the U.S. is allied, it will further alienate Turkey. The removal of U.S. troops from northeast Syria is quickly becoming a common Turkish, Russian and Syrian aim.

A country that gets rejected by its NATO allies, is angered by U.S. moves to its south and under economic pressure will be easier to convince to follow Russia's advice with regards to Syria. We can therefore expect that the dynamics at the Idleb front will soon start to change.

Posted by b on April 2, 2019 at 18:06 UTC | Permalink

« previous page

JR - I do see China and Russia coupling, politically and economically, but the latter binding comes constraints. I'm sure both would would prefer much greater economic ties but it's a big world out there.

I see China and Russia coupling with each other, coupling with others, everybody coupling and uncoupling with many others as their needs dictate.

You may say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only juan.

Posted by: donkeytale | Apr 4 2019 4:05 utc | 101

The U.S. still wants to 'regime change' Syria and will keep the northeast under its control. Trump's idea to led Erdogan establish a security zone along the norther border was buried by the hawks in his administration.

Baawh! Who can trust Trump, and who can trust that he ever said: It's all yours; we're done. when less than 3 weeks later he was threatening to break Turkey economically if Erdo went after the Kurds?

Trump cannot be trusted except on staying true to his ego. I wrote here a while back that the U.S. will not give up on regime change in Syria despite Russian presence or Trump's supposed phone conversation with Erdo last December. Trump is with Zionists all the way and they will ensure U.S. presence in Syria.

Before everyone imagines Erdo quitting NATO think again. Erdogan is in an uncomfortable position as leader and ambivalent about who he considers an ally and who's a foe. Sure he's taking out insurance with Russia after the coup, but despite pissing off NATO and the U.S. in various ways, he's still straddling that fence. It's very convenient for him to have options and not burn any bridges just yet. He's not in a secure position politically and neither is Turkey economically. He'll continue to play one side and the other. He needs to secure his position and Russia could help him with that. Turkey's location is strategic for the U.S., Israel and NATO. So they'll do everything in their power to try to influence regime change in Turkey, because they'll never trust Erdogan. If another coup is not attempted then then there will be serious meddling in the next elections if there wasn't already this time. Who can say where the strategies of cooperating alignments and uncharacteristic flexibility of the opposition candidates were sourced? I don't see Erdogan making drastic moves. Right now Russia has the best hand it will ever be dealt with Turkey. The opposition and the Kurds will always favor the AZEmpire over Russia so Erdogan and Russia have a mutual interest they should develop but this is not a card Erdogan is in any position to seriously play against the Empire at least for now.

Posted by: Circe | Apr 4 2019 11:38 utc | 102

JR - I want to add that I think bevin is correct when he says the first steps towards socialism must take place politically within one nation at a time. I didn't mean to say you could have movements succeed simultaneously across borders, although there would hopefully also be some coordination or at least cross pollination across borders such as we saw with Bannon and Trump backing/extolling Brexit recognizing its similar nationalist retrograde nostalgic xenophobic racism to what they pushed in the 2016 election.

Both worked electorally, barely.

How is it all working out now?

Smuks - by globalism I mean the economic and financial market ties (market making, buying and selling), currency trading, commodity trading, cross border real estate and other asset purchases, including dark money tax havens, wherein all manner of capital assets both personal and governmental move with ease across the world facilitated by accommodating legal structures and information systems.

Pointedly, I separate most domestic political chatter from this definition, and consider this propaganda. However I do also recognize there are political frictions and disputes occurring along and within this package of elite tools to control the rest of us.

Posted by: donkeytale | Apr 4 2019 12:58 utc | 103

If a post disappears down the memory hole, was there ever a post to begin with?

Posted by: SlapHappy | Apr 4 2019 13:05 utc | 104

There was juicy interview on PBS Newshour today. Judy Woodruff interviewed Turkish FM Cavasoglu for 9+ minutes, asked some very direct questions about S-400, F35 and Syria, and got some very direct answers.
According to Cavasoglu, Turkey was willing to buy the Patriot system from the US, or a similar system from a US ally, but US was being uncooperative leaving Turkey with no choice but to fulfill its 'urgent need' for an AD system by purchasing the S-400. There's lots of other good stuff in the interview.

Cavasoglu comes across as a real diplomat and is definitely NOT a fool. It's therefore no surprise that Turkey finds it much easier to talk with Russia on a diplomatic level, than the frauds, freaks and fruitcakes masquerading as US diplomats.

The interview reveals that the US has a tendency to treat allies such as Turkey with the same contempt/ disdain as its enemies.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Apr 4 2019 14:14 utc | 105

Sputnik continues to publish multiple articles about the Turkish/Outlaw US Empire impasse. "US Must Choose":

"Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay has issued a stark warning to the United States after his American counterpart, Mike Pence, gave Ankara an ultimatum regarding the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-missile systems."

Recap of Turkey's importance to NATO.

Several other articles are linked within both. That the CIA thought it could get away with ousting Erdogan before Obama's reign ended did much to provoke the current crisis. For what ought to be obvious reasons, the Outlaw US Empire cannot afford to lose Turkey as even a reluctant ally. As I mentioned earlier, Turk Stream will begin operating during the 4th Q of 2019 thus providing a very big boost to its economy. Ziad at SyrPers opines in his latest that little will happen in Idlib until the S-400s are delivered. The PBS interview noted by Hoarsewhisperer @106 shows Turkey will not be cowed by Neocon threats and will keep its current independent policy. And we should recall the threats leveled at Germany and EU over Nord Stream 2 since they were also used in the Outlaw US Empire's attempt to keep Turk Stream from becoming reality.

Posted by: karlof1 | Apr 4 2019 16:14 utc | 106

Karlofi @ 106

I'm not sure what the threats to Germany were but if Turkey does not back down and the US threat to kick them out of NATO does not materialize then that will look like another loss for the empire. More and more countries will start to call their bluffs.

Posted by: arby | Apr 4 2019 17:51 utc | 107

Zachary Smith | Apr 3, 2019 11:06:19 PM | 97

Posting from occupied Ath ens which soon will start resembling a huge is raeli baracks territory.
Isr aeli regime press in Tel A viv "revealed" that they bribed Gr eece in to delivering S-300 systems operational secrets.

Posted by: VLF-networks | Apr 4 2019 21:51 utc | 108

arby @107--

Over decades, Germany's been the main opponent to Turkey becoming an EU member despite the ever growing Turk diaspora residing there. You'll recall that Erdogan's threats to release even more refugees into Europe were directed at Merkel. Historically, Ottoman/Turkic/Islamic culture has always been demeaned, Orientalized, by European elites and is rooted in the centuries-long Reconquista Crusade that mostly ended with WW1.

As mentioned elsewhere, the Outlaw US Empire lacks the power to evict any NATO member state, thus rendering Pence's threat meaningless although indicative. History shows Turks almost always having enemies on two fronts, although it's Russia that has the much deeper understanding. Even more interesting regarding internal NATO relations is the traditional Greek-Turk antipathy that's threatened NATO integrity on several occasions, and is always edgy. I predict that escalating economic and cultural interaction and integration within Eurasia will eventually cause NATO's demise since it's an Outlaw US Empire tool, not European.

Posted by: karlof1 | Apr 4 2019 22:34 utc | 109

Potential political problems with another neighbor of Turkey - Bulgaria

Posted by: Steven | Apr 8 2019 2:31 utc | 110

« previous page

The comments to this entry are closed.