Türkiye faces double-sided pressures from Russia, West - SÜLEYMAN SEYFI ÖĞÜN

Türkiye faces double-sided pressures from Russia, West

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a long meeting in Sochi following the Astana-format trilateral summit in Iran. These meetings drove the West bloc, primarily the U.S., to react. 

Convergence between Turks, Russians, and Persians in this region is a great concern for the West and Israel. In the event these convergences intensify, they will take immediate action to disturb it and make it dysfunctional. We have to accept that they don’t have much trouble achieving this, as they utilize various fragilities. 

The Astana trio is not a strategic partnership. There are serious differences of interest between these three states. These differences reflect very strongly on the ground, to the extent that it can drive them to the point of conflict at times. What makes Astana so valuable is the three states’ common will to keep open all channels of communication and negotiation despite everything. 

The Astana process is a dynamic process. It transforms and changes through time. The picture that was valid when it was first founded no longer applies. This can be easily seen by looking at the foundation of the process. The most typical ground between the Astana trio seems to be their state of exclusion by the West. Iran has been strictly ostracized, turned into the enemy, and even demonized by the West for about half a century. The state of exclusion is data for Iran. Persians take this as data when shaping their foreign policy, developing their strategies, and taking a proactive approach, giving rise to chaos. There was a time when Russia previously deepened relations with the West, which intensified during former U.S. President Donald Trump’s term in office. Yet, this changed for the worse after President Joe Biden came to power. After the Ukraine war, we saw Russia rapidly fall to the same position as Iran. We already knew that Russia and Iran are cooperating in Syria, particularly in the western Euphrates. But, in order to maintain its relations with Israel, it would allow Israeli aircraft to strike Iran’s extensions in Syria every so often. Iran considered this to be a realpolitik necessity, and never criticized Russia. Meanwhile, Russia busy trying to join the West back then, saw its cooperation with Iran as a drawback that harmed this process and ruined its prestige. Yet, it needed Iran’s impact on the ground, and therefore had no choice but to continue relations. On the other hand, Türkiye and Iran, the other two legs of the Astana trio, were carrying on a balanced policy as much as possible. We know that Russia made room for Türkiye at times, regardless of Iran’s complaints, and at times, the complete opposite. Iran is likely to be upset with Russia for giving the green light to Türkiye’s operations in the western Euphrates, for not taking adequate initiative in the Azerbaijan-Armenia war in the Caucasus, and for tolerating the alliance between Türkiye and Azerbaijan. But we need to accept that after Russia’s state of exclusion following the Ukraine war, Russia and Iran’s cooperation is gaining strategic depth, and getting stronger. It is clear that this will produce serious outcomes in terms of Türkiye. 

We know that Türkiye was also ostracized. But the strangeness here is that the process is carried on not openly but covertly. Türkiye is still a partner of various West bloc organizations and institutions, including NATO. But the West is determined to expel Türkiye from this bloc. The West’s actual border ends at Evros. Türkiye is literally left outside it. As if that’s not enough, Greece is armed against Türkiye – which was debilitated by being removed from the F-35 program and did not have its F-16s renewed – in order to intimidate it. In the Anglo-American bloc, if it was in the hands of the Neocons, they would certainly expel it. Yet, the U.K. intends to use the Türkiye-Azerbaijan alliance, and include Türkiye in the alternative Europe group, as part of its efforts to develop its siege of Russia. The U.K. theory is currently active. But as Türkiye continues to further converge with Russia, U.K. intelligence operations in the region will be inevitable. 

Türkiye is under pressure from both sides. The West is pressuring it on one side, while Russia and Iran continue to pressure it from the other side. Surely Russia will not risk losing Türkiye. As Türkiye followed an impartial policy, it gained more value and importance for Russia. Thus, from now on Russia will take steps that will make Türkiye – a country currently experiencing economic hardship – more dependent on itself, and take advantage of it. In other words, we can foresee that similar to the early days of Astana, Russia, with Iran’s support, will try to pressure and manage its detachment from the West bloc, instead of establishing a balance between Türkiye and Iran. It should be noted that Putin inviting Erdogan at the Astana Summit and the Sochi meeting that followed to meet with Syria's Bashar Assad, and more importantly to the Shanghai meeting, which will take place in the near future, is extremely meaningful in this respect. 

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