Dec 06 (2/3): Turkey Abroad

So, when we last checked in with Turkey on the international scene, recall that everyone went home pretending to be mad while staying a course of business as usual.

Well, except for maybe Macron who seems as distressed as Lindsey Graham has looked recently.

But yes: Business as usual.

And so, given his rather ambitious goals and his need for at least tacit consent of NATO and the West, that can be viewed as a kind of victory for Erdogan.

Ahval: Turkey is profiting from NATO

Turkey’s behaviour at NATO is revealing on a number of levels. Picking public quarrels with Western powers is now the staple of Turkish foreign policy. Erdoğan does not mince his words, but neither do his counterparts, many of whom are fed up with the Turkish president’s tactics. Macron’s response was symptomatic, and fights of this kind will doubtless recur in the future.

The summit also showed that, for all the talk about Turkey leaving NATO and aligning itself with Russia, such a scenario is not on the cards. Erdoğan believes he can have his cake and eat it, benefiting from the alliance’s collective defence guarantee while cosying up to Putin.

Who can blame him?  He is certainly getting away with it so far. Trump has been doing his best to shield the Turkish president from pushback in Washington. Macron, who is advocating for a reset between the EU and Russia, is in no position to criticise the Turks for the special relationship they are developing with Moscow. Germany cannot afford to be too sanctimonious either. The TurkStream pipeline, which Putin will inaugurate during a visit to Turkey in a couple of weeks, has one-third of the capacity of the Nordstream pipelines carrying Russian gas to Germany.

Ahval: Turkey and Europe are stuck with each other — Dimitar Bechev

Just before NATO leaders gathered for their dinner reception on Wednesday, Dimitar Bechev, research fellow at the Atlantic Council, spoke with Ahval editor David Lepeska about how much Russian President Vladimir Putin is enjoying the Turkey-NATO rift and why Turkey’s ties to Europe are considerably stronger than its links to the United States.

Fissures appeared quickly, however—basically immediately with respect to Turkey’s plans for the eastern Mediterranean.

Ahval: Cyprus applies to international court in minerals dispute with Turkey

Cyprus sought recourse at the International Court of Justice at The Hague to safeguard its offshore mineral rights.

Cyprus is determined to use every legal means possible to protects its sovereign territory, President Nicos Anastasiades said, as a dispute with Turkey over oil and gas exploration around the island showed no signs of abating.

“Our recourse to The Hague has that very purpose,” Anastasiades told journalists in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia on Thursday, according to news outlets including Reuters and the Associated Press.

Turkey is embroiled in a dispute with Cyprus and Greece over rights to mineral exploration. Cyprus has approved licenses to several multinational companies to search for oil and natural gas, while Turkey and Turkish-controlled north Cyprus reject the Greek Cypriot claims and Ankara has sent its own drilling ships to the area.

And while Greece was making nice kabuki theater with Erdogan at the NATO Summit, they promptly threw the ambassador of the other party to Turkey’s deal, Libya, out of their country.

TimeBalkan: Libyan Foreign Minister: “Greece’s decision to deport our ambassador is unacceptable” (Google Translate)

Libyan Foreign Minister Mohammad Tahir Seyyale, Greece’s decision to deport Libya’s Ambassador to Athens is unacceptable, he said.

“Libya al-Ahrar” in a statement to the television Seyyal, Greece, maritime jurisdiction areas in the eastern Mediterranean and Turkey signed an agreement on the delimitation reacted to the decision to expel the Libyan ambassador in Athens.

Y Greece’s decision to deport our ambassador to Athens is unacceptable. Greece has no diplomatic representation in Libya. If so, we would deport their ambassador in retaliation. ”

The expulsion of Ambassador Greece is concerned and that the rights to negotiate with the country they want Libya kept hidden they are voicing Seyyal said, “Greece, Limitation of Marine Jurisdiction in the Mediterranean we signed with Turkey if appealing to the Consensus have the right to appeal to the international court.” He said.

The translation is a bit rough, but yeah, Libya’s outraged that Greece would break off relations with them just because they signed a deal with Turkey to screw them over oil in the region.

So remember that crap reporting from the first day of the NATO summit that had schlock like this?

Yeah, well, to extend their patronizing language: Mommy may have not just thrown Daddy out of the house, but he may be sleeping on the couch.

Almost like more was going on underneath the superficial crap than was generally reported. You’d think papers would know this after . . .

Eons? I think it’s been eons.

Still, Erdogan did get some positive post-summit news .

AXIOS: Scoop: Sen. Cramer blocks Armenian genocide bill at request of White House

The big picture: Trump clashed with France’s Emmanuel Macron at a NATO summit in London this week over Turkey’s role in the military alliance. Macron criticized Turkey for its assault on U.S.- and French-allied Kurdish forces in northern Syria, as well as its purchase of a Russian S-400 missile system over the objections of its NATO allies.

  • Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) both called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to sanction Turkey over the S-400 purchase.
  • Trump said at the NATO summit that he has a “very good relationship” with Erdoğan, dodging a question over whether he’d approve the sanctions.

Sen. Cramer’s office and the White House did not provide a comment.

AP: GOP senator bows to White House on Armenian genocide measure

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bowing to pressure from the White House, a Republican senator blocked a resolution Thursday that would recognize the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago as genocide.

North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer said he thwarted the measure after White House officials called the timing inappropriate. President Donald Trump just returned from a NATO summit in London, where Turkey’s role in the mass killing was discussed by NATO leaders. Turkey is a NATO member.

Cramer, who co-sponsored similar legislation in 2017 when he was in the House, said he agreed to the White House request because the vote was set so close to the NATO summit.

There’s some fun discussion in there about how it’s been over 100 years, so when, exactly, is the right time.

And, well, stuff like this.

Instead, Turkey has instead called for a joint committee of historians to investigate the slayings.

And this.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a co-sponsor of the resolution, said that while Turkey is a NATO ally, ”’allies can speak the truth to each other. We should never be afraid to tell the truth, and alliances grounded in lies are themselves unsustainable.″

But for the good stuff on what it means, once again, gotta go abroad.

Ahval: Republican senators block vote on Armenian genocide for third time

“Given Senator Cramer’s stated support for Holocaust Education legislation that passed the Senate last month and his past co-sponsorship of the Armenian Genocide legislation in the last Congress, his objection is more than ironic as it contradicts the stated purpose of S.Res.150 and undermines the important need for genocide and human rights education,” Armenian Assembly of America Executive Director Bryan Ardouny told Ahval.

“The Armenian Genocide resolution calls for education to prevent genocide, and reminds us of the proud chapter in U.S. history when America’s diplomatic corps and humanitarian intervention helped save countless lives. This proud chapter should be highlighted, not obscured at the behest of a foreign government,” Ardouny said.

Ah yeah. That’s the stuff.

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I guess it would be unbecoming for the United States to impede a one hundred year long investigation. I guess.

Beyond Sen. Cramer’s big picture view of history or whatever he tells himself at night, Erdogan also found an ally in Boris Johnson.

AMNNews: British PM says PKK terrorism is a ‘real thing’, supports Turkey’s operation in Syria

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:15 P.M.) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated on Wednesday that the terrorist threat Turkey faces from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is a “real thing”, further pointing out to that the Turkish authorities have a right to defend their country.

Speaking at a press conference following the NATO summit in London, Johnson said he met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a “good” meeting on the sidelines of the summit on Tuesday.

“We discussed the great complexity of the situation in northern Syria,” Johnson said.

Johnson said they “clearly recognized the huge pressure Turkey faces” from 4 million refugees it is accommodating and “the terrorist threat from the PKK.”

“That must be acknowledged a real threat that Turkey faces,” the premier urged.

Johnson said Turkey’s plans in northern Syria must be understood and “we must avoid any misunderstandings between allies within NATO.”

“We have agreed to continue to those talks,” he added.

So we’ve got a Syrian regime sympathetic paper reporting on Boris Johnson completely conflating the identities of some of the most important players in the war.

Erdogan wants to establish a historical relationship between the PKK and the YPG in ROjava. He then in turn wans to use that label control the definition of the Kurdish people today.

And then for all intents and purposes define the Kurds as terrorists.

And then he gets to kill them. Legally, I mean.

From my own point of view, the only thing I’ve learned about the PKK is that they put out a fair number of Kurdish singing and dancing videos, and sometimes people fighting.

But that’s probably the accounts I follow, because this is pretty much all I’ve found that I seemed like I needed to know.

So Boris Johnson is following Erdogan’s lead over a set of facts that can be looked up and seen to be false on Google.

Imagine what he might learn if he went on the Twitters.

They are literally trying to tell him.

It should probably go without saying by now that the people on the ground generally know what’s actually going on, and what is important to understand.

Anyway, there has been push-back against Erdogan in other quarters as well.

And not just from my man Enes Kanter.

The vital academic importance of Turkey’s historical investigation into the genocide of the Armenian people notwithstanding, other members of Congress have thoughts of their own too.

CNN: Powerful Senate chairman moves toward sanctions crackdown on Turkey as talks over weapons purchase falter

(CNN)Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch was willing to give Turkey space to consider a US proposal to address its purchases of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

That window is now closed.

Risch, in an interview with CNN, said he not only will mark up a bipartisan sanctions bill targeting the country in his committee next week, but he will also press Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring it to the floor.

“I was willing to let the people talk,” Risch said. “Very shortly thereafter it changed, and it has gotten worse instead of better.”

That’s not going to help Erdogan’s problems at home, eh?

Anyway, part of what Erdogan wants out of the whole “business as usual” thing is that he be allowed to go on with his war and ethnic cleansing of the Kurds.

That’s just what he does.

And in that vein, NATO still sorta blinked on, well, his challenge to NATO to do anything about it even under indictment of being just another racist imperial power.

Or something.

And Russia’s got his back there, right?

As per Russian state media:

Plus, he managed to maintain his position that, despite his continuing claim that Turkey is the super-bestest ISIS terrorist fighter in the world, they aren’t even really responsible for any of it.

Ahval: Turkey forces Europe to confront its ISIS problem

Many foreign governments and policymakers see Turkey’s operation as an intervention that can only favour ISIS. A good number – playing into longstanding conspiracy theories popular in the West – whisper that this is either the inevitable result of Turkish carelessness, or the consequence of a Turkish policy of covertly aiding ISIS against the SDF and the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Kurdish militia that is its biggest component.

Turkish authorities see the YPG and SDF as a national security threat due to what it says is their links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for self-rule in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast since 1984. Both the YPG and SDF deny any organisational links to the PKK and say they have never threatened Turkey.

Burak Bilgehan Özpek, assistant professor in the department of international relations at the TOBB University of Economics and Technology said: “Turkey’s operation has apparently weakened YPG’s capacity, which is supposed to be used to control ISIS-held areas. ISIS is not an artificial phenomenon and it has roots in the society as well.

So that’s a strong position Turke is staking out.

It would seem especially secure since Erdogan has the support of super-power and all around cool helper state, Russia.

Or does he?



When are you going to get it? That’s Vladimir Putin.

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