With the downing of a Russian fighter plane that crossed into Turkish airspace, the Cold War is back between Russia and the West with Turkey, once again, playing a pivotal role in the conflict. However, this incident, I believe, marks the beginning of the end of Turkey as we know it. The key to this understanding is looking at this from the broader perspective of where Turkey fits in the Islamic spectrum.
Brief History of Turkey
This video does it much better than I could.
But to pull a major threat alluded to in the video and elaborated on in the classic book by the esteemed Middle East historian, Bernard Lewis, What Went Wrong?, Turkey shifted towards Europe and the West. Ataturk switched the script from right-to-left to left-to-right and in so doing began the alignment of Turkey towards Europe instead of the Middle East. This alignment was complete with Turkey’s ascension into NATO.
Turkey’s Involvement in NATO
Turkey joined NATO alongside Greece in 1952. There were two strategic goals to both of these inclusions. For Greece, the country was recovering from what some call the first clash between Capitalism and Communism as Greek communists were attempting to take over the country. Including Greece into NATO legitimized the ruling government, provided stability for the people and—most importantly—provided a strong signal to the Soviet Union their intervention would be met with force.
Turkey’s inclusion into the union had two important geopolitical ramifications. First, NATO was concerned about communist activity in the Middle East, specifically Iran, and Turkey’s entrance provided NATO engagement and basing opportunities should communism creep up their “southern flank.” Second, the Soviet Union does not have a warm water port. This is a source of anxiety for any Soviet/Russian leader. The only way for Russian ships to transit from the Black Sea are through two natural straits connecting the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea: the Bosphorus and Dardanelles.
According to the Wikipedia article, the Bosphorus Straits are the narrowest, internationally navigable water channel in the world. They are so narrow that only a chain is needed to impeed ships from crossing them.
Yet, it is these two channels that provide Russia her easiest access to warm water.
Turkey’s inclusion into NATO meant that these two straits would be continuously monitored for Soviet ship movement and provide NATO easy access to block Soviet ship movement in the event of hostilities.
Ergodan’s Turkey and Turkey’s Demise
A BBC article highlights the importance of Ergodan’s rule in Turkey as
harbouring a secret agenda to turn Turkey into a fundamentally conservative Muslim society.
And here is a Guardian posting providing more details on Ergodan’s rise in power with some caveats.
However, the point is that under Ergodan, Turkey is enjoying immense staying power, even if his calls for Assad to step down have been rebuffed by the world and Russia as well. Russia has actively begun supporting his Syrian ally against Turkey, NATO and the U.S. who are supporting rebels who have been fighting to remove Assad from power for over two years.
On the heels of the shoot-down Russia releases a report and various news articles pick it up, claiming that the Ergodan family supports ISIS, primarily through purchasing their oil. I’m not making claims on this one-way-or-the-other, because the Russian press certainly is used as a mouth piece for the Kremlim’s talking points, but as Ergodan wants to increase his Muslim stature and given ISIS’ popularity, from an Islamic point-of-view, supporting ISIS could be seen as a good strategic move. One has to wonder why ISIS hasn’t gone into Turkey? It could be that Turkey is secretly supporting them or it could simply be that ISIS can read. Article V of the NATO Treaty makes clear that an attack on one is an attack on all member-states and they are obliged to contribute either money or forces to the organizations defense. Ironic that France is looking to invoke the clause after not participating in military matters for much of the organizations history.
Should Turkey be taking the side of Islam it could mean the end of Turkey as we know it, with Ergodan leading the way.