Eyes on Europe and The Middle East notes:
After the bloody elections won by islamist or “Sultan” Erdogan in Turkey, Erdogan seems to have felt strong enough again to cause the Russian policy on Syria, not necessarily with the approval of USA officials. There will be also the first time that Turkey is moving independently outside NATO frameworks, regarding the Syrian Civil War. Unfortunately the Turkish actions have been tolerated since now by its NATO allies.
The shooting down of Russian fighter was not an accidental one. Two days ago Turkey had complained to Russia that Russia is bombing its Turkish “brothers”, Turkmen of Syria, a Turkish minority population in Syria, which is fighting against Assad, equipped by Turkey.
Ordered by Erdogan a meeting was held in Ankara , under Prime Minister Davutoglu in the presence of the Head of Turkish armed forces , the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Interior and the head of MIT .
Talking about geopolitics in the Middle East, the main objective Ankara has is to prevent a West -Russia approach which seemed imminent after the deadly terrorist attack that took place in Paris.
So we arrived at yesterday’s highly important event , which threatens to blow up the Eastern Mediterranean, therefore the Turks rushed to seek NATO support, by requesting an extraordinary session.
Strong Image: Please don't click if under 18 : 18+: In this rare footage you can see the Russian pilot of Su-24M jet that was shot down by Turkey, he seem to have been tortured and killed, he is surrounded by Turks, Arabs and Turkmen members of ISIS (Islamic State). One of the fighters in the background can be heard saying in Turkish "Let us burn him".
Alparslan Çelik is a citizen of Turkey, born in Turkey, Elazığ province, Keban district.
He is a member of the Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and its associated paramilitary organization, the Grey Wolves (Bozkurt). The MHP and Grey Wolves are both Turkish nationalist and Islamist. Their ideology is a synthesis of Turkish ultra-nationalist fascism and Islamism. They massacred Kurdish and Alevi civilians numerous times in the 1970’s-1990s because they were non-Turkish and non-Sunni.
His father is also a member of the MHP and a former mayor of Keban. He is a relative of Ramazan Çelik who went to fight in Iraq.
He went to Syria to take command of a Turkmen Islamist rebel group and is the person in videos currently circulating around showing off the handles from the Russian navigator’s parachute. He boasted that he and his men were the ones who fired at and killed the Russian navigator Maj. Rumyantsev Aleksadorvich and the other Russian pilot as they ejected and parachuted from their bomber jet which was shot down by the Turkish airforce.
He claimed to have the bodies of the two Russians, the navigator Maj. Rumyantsev Aleksadorvich is known to have been killed and his body was seen in the hands of the Turkmen in a terrific video of the so-called “moderate Syrian opposition” which is financed by Turkey and US-led coalition , while the other pilot was able to rescue himself and return to the Russian base in Syria.
This is his twitter account and an image of him.
As you can see he tweeted a picture of MHP and Grey Wolves leader Alparslan Türkeş.
Here he and his men in the Syrian Turkmen unit he is leading, make the hand gesture of the Grey Wolves while in Syria.
He retweeted someone else’s tweet showing this image of the Grey Wolves making their infamous hand gesture.
This is the Grey Wolves hand gesture.
- Russia is currently in talks with Turkey about building a natural gas pipeline, called Turkish Stream, to ship Russian gas underneath the Black Sea to Turkey, and potentially further on to Southeastern Europe.
— Bloomberg Business (@business) 25 Novembre 2015
“[In] this new context it is well possible to expect a further delay, if not even a cancellation, of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline project,” said Simone Tagliapietra, an energy fellow at the Brussels-based Bruegel think tank.
Turkey is also the second-largest gas export market after Germany for Russia’s Gazprom, and Russia is Turkey’s largest gas supplier. Last year, Gazprom Export sold 27.33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas to Turkey.
“[If] Russia, as an extreme act of retaliation, uses its natural gas ties with Turkey as a geopolitical weapon, the situation would certainly get difficult for [Turkey],” Tagliapietro said.
Turkey and Russia pushed to the margins of the European mainstream, in part because of their idiosyncratic leaders, Turkey and Russia have found support in each other, building burgeoning trade ties.
Those ties were under scrutiny on Wednesday after Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev accused Turkey of a “criminal act” in shooting down a Russian Su-24 jet. Ankara said it encroached into Turkish airspace, while Moscow said it did not.
“The direct consequences could lead to our refusal to take part in a whole raft of important joint projects and Turkish companies losing their positions on the Russian market,” Medvedev said in a statement.
Energy exports from Russia to Turkey are the biggest part of the trade relationship. After Germany, Turkey is the second-largest buyer of Russian natural gas. Russia’s Gazprom supplies about 27 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas a year, or almost 70 percent of the total gas Turkey consumes.
Asked if there was any threat to its supplies to Turkey, a spokesman for Russian state-run gas giant Gazprom declined to comment.
Limiting supplies would have risks for Russia: it would send a message to other customers that deliveries are at the mercy of political considerations, and with global demand low, Moscow would struggle to find alternative customers.
There appeared to be no appetite for any steps that would heap serious pain on either Turkey or Russia, both of which are already struggling economically.
Russia’s economy will shrink around 4 percent this year from the combined effects of the low oil price, and sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine.
Meanwhile Turkey’s economy will grow only under 3 percent this year, below the government’s target, weighed down by political uncertainty at home and conflict in the Middle East.
“Erdogan is a tough character, and quite emotional, and if Russia pushes too far in terms of retaliatory action, I think there will inevitably be a counter reaction from Turkey (like) tit-for-tat trade sanctions,” Nomura strategist Timothy Ash wrote in a note.
“But I think there is also a clear understanding that any such action is damaging for both sides, and unwelcome.”
But even if Ankara and Moscow avoid inflicting deep economic damage on each other, there was still a whole range of deals, investments and commercial relationships that could be threatened in the fallout from the downing of the Russian jet.
Russia’s state Atomic Energy Corporation, known as Rosatom, is due to build Turkey’s first nuclear power station, a $20 billion project. Rosatom said it has no comment on the issue.
Shares in Turkish firm Enka Insaat, which has construction projects in Russia and two power plants in Turkey using Russian gas, fell for a second day on Wednesday.
Turkish brewer Anadolu Efes, which has six breweries in Russia and controls around 14 percent of the market, also saw its shares fall on Tuesday.
Tourism is already being hit. After Russian officials on Tuesday advised holidaymakers against travelling to Turkish resorts, at least two large Russian tour operators said they would stop selling packages to Turkey.
Russians are second only to Germans in terms of the numbers visiting Turkey, bringing in an estimated $4 billion a year in tourism revenues.
Retaliatory measures could suck in the trade in food.
Turkey, alongside Egypt, is the equal biggest buyer of Russian wheat. It bought 4.1 million tonnes in the marketing year which ended on June 30.
Traders and Russian officials said no restrictions had been imposed on the export of grain to Turkey, but some traders said they anticipated there could be informal measures soon to limit the volumes reaching Turkey.
In the other direction, Russia is a major importer of Turkish food products.
During past diplomatic spats with other countries, Russia’s food safety watchdog has imposed bans on imports of certain products, though it always says it is for public health reasons only and not linked to politics.
The watchdog, Rosselkhoznadzor, announced on Wednesday that it was suspending imports of poultry from one Turkish company, citing tests that showed the presence of dangerous bacteria.
By Jacques Sapir, Note kindly translated by Anne-Marie de Grazia
The destruction of a Russian airplane,with one pilot killed, by Turkish fighter jets constitutes an extremely serious incident, the consequences of which could be incalculable. The Turkish government’s attitude appears here deeply irresponsible and provocative. The fact that the Turkish government has asked for a meeting of NATO, as if it were the aggressed power, is another reason to worry.
- The destruction of a Russian fighter-bomber of the type SU-24 at the Syrian-Turkish border is an incident of utter gravity. The Turkish government states that the airplane had violated the borders of Turkey. Given the configuration of the terrain, it is indeed possible that the airplane may have flown over a small strip of Turkish territory. But this fly-over, if it did take place, would have been of a very short duration, around ten seconds at most. But the Turkish government claims that its fighter jets had warned the Russian plane about its so-called intrusion at least five minutes before opening fire (with a missile). This does not jibe with what can be know about the local situation. At the cruising speed of a SU-24 (about 15 km/min), this would imply that the plane would have penetrated 30 to 37 km inside Turkish territory. However, this is contradicted by the radar chart published by the Turkish authorities to bolster their claims.
Map provided by the Turkish government
But there is another possible explanation. It would imply, if this information is true, that Turkey is aiming at implementing a ‘flight exclusion zone” above Syria, without a mandate or a delegation from the United Nations. The Turkish airplanes would then have shot from an legally illegal position.
- The Russian government claims that the airplane neverpenetrated Turkish airspace. It is a fact that it crashed in Syrian territory. This implies, at minima, that it was flying towards Syria at the moment when it was hit by a missile (probably air-air shot from an F-16 of the Turkish air force). One cannot exclude, in view of the zone where the plane crashed, that it was hit while it was flying over Syrian territory. Should this be the case, we are facing a second illegalitycommitted by Turkey.
- The Turkish airforce is known to have been violating regularly for years the Greek airspace, as well as the one of Cyprus. One can therefore wonder at this sudden sensitivity of Turkey to the defence of its borders, when it displays such insouciance when it comes the borders of others. To the illegality of this action is then added the arrogance of a power who sees itself, in this border area, as in conquered territory.
- Beyond this situation, the attitude of the Turkish government concerning the Syrian crisis and DAESH raises many questions:
- The Turkish government, under the pretext of intervening against the Islamist forces is in reality bombing Kurdish combatants who, as far as they are concerned, are indeed fighting against DAESH. We have had other examples of this hypocritical attitude during the siege of Kobané.
- The Turkish government tolerates, to say the least, the oil smuggling which is one of the sources of financing of DAESH. It is known also that if the Turkish government closed its borders with Syria, DAESH would be rapidly throttled financially . We also know that the Russian (and American) airplanes were systematically attacking this traffic by bombing columns of DAESH trucks transporting oil to the Turkish border.
- Independent journalists investigating about possible collusions between the Turkish state apparatus and DAESH, particularly about weapon deliveries, have been imprisoned or killed.
- As for the refugee crisis which Europe is experiencing since the summer of 2015, it appears to be strongly linked to the will of the Turkish government to put pressure onto the European Union. It had actually received a form of recognition for the sweep of its action in the management of this crisis.
- Under these conditions, when Vladimir Putin is talking of a « stabbing in the back, » he is entirely right . This stab in the back is not only aimed at Russia but at all the international forces which are fighting against DAESH. But if Turkey was able to indulge in this backstabbing, it is also because it is a member-country of NATO and because it knows that Russia will not exert military reprisals against it. So that one must wonder about the political game being played by Turkey as well as the United States, who after all are both supposedly fighting against DAESH. We are waiting with interest to see what the American reactions to this incident will be, and if the United States will exert the necessary pressures to bring back the Erdogan government to better intentions.
- Yet, economic relations between Russia and Turkey are narrow, beginning with the gas pipe-line linking Russia with Turkey through the Black Sea, to the many Turkish companies working in Russia, to the many Russian tourists who spend their holidays in Turkey. So that one can only wonder about the attitude of the Turkish government. Is it estimating that, protected by NATO but also by its many economic links with Russia it can do anything it pleases? Are we witnessing a struggle among clans in the Turkish high bourgeoisie, and is the clan supporting Erdogan settling accounts in this way with other factions which might be linked to trade with Russia? Finally has Erdogan, whose political position remains fragile despite his victory at the recent elections, decided to play the nationalist card in waking up the old hostility between Russia and Turkey?
- One lesson is coming out of these events. More than ever, the French government must take its distances both with Turkey but also with the military organization of NATO, which we see today could be used as a screen by an irresponsible government.
Courtesy of @ Carnet Russeurope