Suspending Turkey's membership in NATO would not hurt Erdogan

Suspending Turkey's membership in NATO would not hurt Erdogan.
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When a Turkish F-16 jet shut down a Russian warplane on its border with Syria on 24 November 2015, the -then- Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had proudly said that he gave the orders. After President Vladimir Putin has condemned Turkey, Russian Federation started a very aggressive campaign against Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey claiming that Turkey has been supporting ISIS and other radical groups in Syria against Assad forces.

Russian Federation has even gone further and brought these allegations to the agenda of United Nations Security Council in early 2016.

If President Erdogan wouldn’t apologize to Russian Federation on June 27, 2016, Russia was going to broadcast a documentary to demonstrate further details about these allegations on July 13, 2016, -just two days before the failed coup attempt in Turkey- at the United Nations Headquarters in NY.

On July 14, Russian Eurasianist Alexander Dugin, visited the Mayor of Ankara, Melih Gokcek, allegedly to inform the Turkish Government about the approaching coup attempt.

Dr. Tugce Varol, an expert on Turkey-Russia relations, believes that Erdogan miscalculated Turkey's resistance against Russian aggressiveness and sent an apology letter in June 2016 to repair the relations between the two countries. However, Russia asserted conditions at least to start the process of normalization of relations but not to turn back to pre-November 2015. ‘The rise of critics in west and quiet embargo such as weapons motivated Erdogan to ask for Russian support as well as Israeli. I think Erdogan also scared the acceleration of Russian claims of Turkey supporting ISIS at UN and the consequences of these allegations regarding international law.’

A Foreign Policy article titled ‘Turkey’s post-coup purge and Erdogan’s private Army’ last week concludes that the purges in the Turkish Military after the failed coup attempt, Turkish military today is not what it used to be. ‘Turkey has lost some of its brightest and best generals. An estimated 400 Turkish military envoys to NATO were dismissed in the months after the botched coup, according to an October 2016 Reuters report.’

It’s not a secret that the “Eurasianist clique” provided the lists of the generals and officers in the Turkish Military for the Turkish Government to start the purge they wanted.

Here is how the Foreign Policy article describes the “Eurasianist clique” in the Turkish Military.

“Eurasianist clique” is not a familiar term outside Turkish military circles, but it’s not a new one. An April 2003 cable, released by WikiLeaks, from the U.S. Embassy in Ankara describes the Eurasianists as a group of officers within the Turkish military “who, without understanding the Russia-dominated nature of the ‘Eurasia’ concept, have long sought an alternative to the U.S. and are considering closer relations with Russia.” The cable went on to detail how a rival group dubbed the “Atlanticists” — who believe Turkey’s strategic interests lie in its U.S. and NATO ties — was losing influence within the Turkish General Staff.

The collapse of the Soviet Russia has never led an absolute predominance of the USA in many regions even in the early post-Cold War era. Turkey, as a NATO ally is an important example of this. Russia had always some sort of influence in Turkish politics.

‘Eurasianism’, as professed by Alexander Dugin and similar minded intellectuals in Turkey assert that the ideological framework for this attempt by Turkey and Russia or at least by some segments of their elites to move closer to each other. However, in reality this particular frame work aims to create anti-Americanism and help Russian domination.

There are even some allegations suggesting that Russia might have meddled in Turkish election last year in favor of Erdogan. However, Dr. Tugce Varol believes that it is not very likely.

‘It is unlikely that Russia meddled in Turkish election because Erdogan and his party made all the necessary preparations to manipulate the 2017 referendum. Putin needs an outcasted Erdogan by the Western world to contribute Russian national interest in the way of abusing Erdogan's stranded position. I am sure that Russian intelligence and strategists reported that Erdogan is playing the game unfair to win the referendum at any cost. I think Russian announcement of recognizing Turkey's referendum is clear support for Erdogan and his regime while the western world acknowledged the malpractices of the latest election.’

While Turkey was getting prepared to purchase the advanced S-400 anti-missile system from Russia, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford confidently said, dismissing reports of the purchase as “incorrect.”

“There was a media report that was incorrect. They have not bought the S-400 air defense system from Russia. That would be a concern, were they to do that, but they have not done that,” General Dunford said Saturday at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

President Erdogan, however, refuted General Dunford and declared that they are extremely committed to S-400 agreement with Russia.

Even though, it is a crystal clear fact that the Eurasianist camp in the Turkish military helped Erdogan to initiate the extensive purge in the entire state establishment, the question whether Erdogan would want to share his power with them or not still remains as an important question. While the Eurasianists would want to keep their men in top military positions and ask Erdogan make further purges in the Military, Erdogan would prefer to keep their own Confidants- like General Akar and his team- in the Military and even may want to purge the Eurasianist camp very soon. Therefore, while a deal has been agreed in principle for Russia to sell Turkey its potent S-400 long-range air-defense system, a price has yet to be agreed. This means that everything is still on the table and there will be a huge power struggle between Erdogan and Eurasianist clique until the end of the next month.

Might Erdogan have promised to pull out of NATO in order to provide Russian support to remain in power?

Dr. Varol points out that Putin never promised Erdogan a membership in any Russian led organization.

‘I do not think Erdogan promised Putin to pull out of NATO because Putin never promised Erdogan a membership in any Russian-led international organizations such as CSTO, Eurasian Union, or SCO. Putin is aware of the fact that Erdogan regime is temporary in Turkish history and for that reason Kremlin aims to seize the opportunity to accomplish Russian national strategies towards Turkey such as Turkish Stream. Nevertheless, Russia is attentively following a policy towards Turkey to proceed stable relations after Erdogan and his regime. Turkey's discourse of SCO is just a dream but nothing else. On the other hand, Erdogan is moving Turkey from West to the Middle East. In this sense, if Turkey buys S-400, it would not be surprised suspending Turkey's membership in NATO which would not hurt Erdogan.’

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