After the downed plane... - SÜLEYMAN SEYFI ÖĞÜN

After the downed plane...

The Russian plane downed by the Turkish Armed Forces has legal and diplomatic dimensions on an international scale. We can say that Turkey has the upper hand in terms of legality in this sense. In other words, no international center has the right to accuse Turkey's action and impose sanctions. In this respect, Russia's “whining” and complaints do not have any significance. We already know that when international relations are mentioned, Russia relies on its power rather than law, and this power is a power based on the military power of the Cold War. The important thing is, from now onward what kind of problems will arise from Turkish-Russian relations? In this respect, we should take a look at Russia's position in its relations with the world.

Russia could not distinct itself as an economic power despite Putin's (described as New Peter the Great) efforts. Putin tried to use force on the Russian mafia he brought into line, just as Peter the Great did with the lazy boyars once upon a time. Russia struggled greatly to transform the Russian mafia into businessmen and entrepreneurs. However, the desired result was not achieved. We can clearly see that there are many demographic and cultural obstacles preventing Russia from becoming an economic power. A social culture that is hungry for consumption and a life without labor is dominant in Russia. There is serious imbalance between the male and female population. Alcoholism is a national issue for Russia. Russia is trying to cover up for all its chronic shortcomings with its gas and petrol revenues.

On the other hand, Russia has a sturdy collection system and bureaucracy that it took over from the Tsarist Russia and the Soviet era. Although not as spectacular as before, Russia's military power is not too far behind world standards.

As a result, Russia is a country that is not impressive in terms of its economy, yet is one of the world's strongest in terms of its bureaucracy and military.

We can say that Russia is trying to develop policies to reinforce its position by prioritizing its advantages on the comparative advantage bases.

Putting aside Russia's starting to follow an expansionist policy in its old rulership fields, the convergence it has established with China, a dynamic power, is one of its dominant steps. This convergence has started to take the central role for the West's threat perception from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Although we do not currently know the consequences as yet, tension has started to arise between the Atlantic world and the China-Russia duo, by way of the Caucasus and Ukraine. The strange thing here is that the Atlantic bloc is not acting like a bloc. The US, led by the Obama administration, has not yet developed a policy against Russia. On the other hand, Europe, especially Germany, who are dependent on Russian gas, have not yet developed a policy against Russia, despite all their hesitations. They are making do with applying embargos on Russia and deflating them by lowering petrol and gas prices. Thus, this is pushing Russia to develop pro-active politics.

Russia appearing in the Middle East, has filled in the gap, expected to continue until 2016, that the ambiguous politics of the Atlantic bloc has created. Russia has used its Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) card well on its own behalf. By revealing this card, Russia has taken advantage of the Atlantic bloc's dead water, and deployed itself in the Middle East. By screening itself behind ISIL, it is easily striking anti-Assad forces. Its most remarkable ally is Iran. In my opinion, one of the minds that determine what Russia can do on the map of the Middle East, is Iran. This is an influence that will cause many problems for Russia soon. Iran is making Russia do everything that will weaken Turkey.

The deepening of the Iran-Syria and Russia axis in the Middle East, accepting the currently crippled Atlantic politics as far-reaching, and to top it, for it to make progress enough to take Turkey out of the picture, does not seem possible. Besides a picture like this one, would mean that the fate of the Middle East will be consigned to the Russia-Iran axis; neither Saudi, nor the Gulf countries or even a superior mind, Israel and the Atlantic, will stomach this.

I perceive 2016 to be a threshold in which important transformations will take place. However, we should accept that Turkey will experience very difficult times from next year onward. As I specified in my previous column, Russia and Iran will go into an effective propaganda campaign to strike Turkey through ISIL, and will use the PKK-Democratic Union Party (PYD) cards. And Turkey will resolutely resist this. Turkey downing Russia's plane is an indicator of this determination. The effect will determine where Turkey stands in this equation.

To get to the most important issue, Russia coming down to the Middle East, might be on a terrestrial scale instead of a transoceanic scale. We should not be surprised if Armenia and Azerbaijan (the Caucasus), are included in this equation soon. This might turn into a picture in which the Atlantic world will be included into the Middle East in 2016, yet they might have problems feeling as effective as before, and the Caucasus might be joined to the Middle East. Everyone should be cautious.


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