Did Turkey tell the US base, 'Get out of here?' - NEDRET ERSANEL

Did Turkey tell the US base, 'Get out of here?'

Turkey's Qatar military base has led to geopolitical and strategic ripples in all “related” regions…

The Turkish Armed Forces' (TSK) 3,000-strong ground force including air, marine and special operation elements is going to be deployed at this base.

Ankara's “diplomatic explanation” is: Turkey's military presence will help both countries in fighting security threats; Turkish troops' deployment here has no intention of unsettling anybody or conducting a special operation; it will contribute solely to maintaining stability.

We can say that Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu's statement, “Qatar's security and stability means Turkey's security and stability. What we want is a secure and stable Gulf. We share the same destiny. We become subject to the same threats,” on this agreement that was signed in 2014 is read carefully outside the country.

Everybody is aware that this base move has a highly symbolic meaning. Since the period is one in which century-old accounts have been closed, the timing of Ottoman troops leaving Qatar in 1915 is of course also remembered.

This chronology should also be noted: The Turkish fleet is entering the Indian Ocean for the first time since the 1550s, when the Ottoman Empire was repelled by the Portuguese in its fight for control over the sea route to India.

So, a 500-year union – not only a 100-year one – is in question.

A geo-policy at the region's base

Of course there is a strategic aspect to Turkey's establishing a military base in the Persian Gulf.

This is because there is a US Central Command in Qatar. The US air base in Al Udeid is not an ordinary military compound. With its 10,000 personnel, it is the largest US deployment in the Middle East. Now if you bring the Turkish base next to this, it can have two meanings/messages only. First, “You are good for nothing, so leave,” and second, “We made it easier for you. You can use this force somewhere else you may have more need.”

The first seems more appealing in terms of Gulf countries.

Qatar is not a country that has military deterrence. The threats faced by the Persian Gulf through Iran, also who knows, even if not felt in the current conjuncture, maybe even concerns related to Saudi Arabia, may settle down with the presence of Turkish troops. Because this has historical/cultural/psychological depth. (“Turkey, Qatar enhance military cooperation,” April 28, AA.) Yet it is obvious the US's Central Command no longer has a calming reliability.

Of course there is a common synergy between Qatar and Turkey in recent Middle East developments (Syria, Iran, Egypt, Russia, etc.) and in fields such as energy. However, the base's strategic value cannot be merely explained with these and is more than their total.

There is no need to elaborate how Tehran approaches this development and how it understands it. It seems Iran has no other chance but to watch the construction of the base from the sidelines.

Certain experts who analyze the Turkish base from the region are saying that the scene may disturb some members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. But Ankara long took related measures and for instance, it refreshed relations with the United Arab Emirates.

Why are Kemalists angered by the return to the Middle East?

Let us repeat, Turkey is building its first military base abroad, in the Middle East. On this occasion, Kemalists have re-started the discourse that the Republic of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's line in relation to Turks' never again becoming involved in the “Muslim Middle East” is being overstepped and that the West is being excluded.

This is a matter of focus. This is as far as their angle goes.

The Turkish base is also at a critical strategic junction point where Russia, China and India are present as the lead actors. This is the real issue.

Russia is strengthening its bases and military presence in Syria. China is reinforcing its presence at Gwadar Port and Djibouti. We wrote many times what these coordinates mean. Iran is continuing to increase its assertive role in the Persian Gulf.

This brings us to the second aforementioned point. This is where the surprise is…

Turkey's move to shoulder responsibility in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean issues seems to have US and NATO support.

The defense here is right on the geopolitical and strategic fault line that starts from the Baltics and extends all the way to the South China Sea. They are all included, if Russia, Iran, China and even the US's advice are not heeded, India…

I do not know how much NATO would approve of this defense line, but the US does. This is a NATO/West line. Let us remember, France had built a base in the United Arab Emirates and in the more recent history, the UK in Bahrain. Let alone, the fact that the US is building a missile defense system in the region also explains the dimension of the umbrella.

Hence, the US took position in terms of protecting the Turkish base both politically and even militarily.

US President Barack Obama's – joking but strong – Hilary Clinton reference, during the annual dinner for White House journalists, aimed at the future US president being a woman, shows once again that the next chamber of the global destiny will open to China.

It appears that Turkey is taking a position but not a side.

Consider this a door stopped by Turkey on both sides…

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