NATO – to the Middle East, Russia – to the Mediterranean. Where is Turkey?

Turkey so far has not been able to understand the ongoing game and determine priorities. After all, Turkey and its leadership have different priorities and policies

Source: Sergei Chirikov / Reuters

The original article has been published in Inosmi.ru. Translation and editing by Defenseweek’s team.


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Now there is a painful process of changing the world order that has developed since the Cold War, when the United States became the only world power. Usually, a new world order is formed on the basis of the interests and policies of the victorious countries after major world wars.

The unipolar world order led by the United States was not the end of a world war. But, as I often write in my articles, in the world after the September 11, 2001 attacks, there is actually a low-intensity war called the “global war on terrorism.” In recent years, this struggle has been taking place in the form of mini-world wars at certain borders in different parts of the globe: Syria, Libya, Iraq.

In the course of this struggle from time to time events occur that entail a certain turning point and transition to a new stage of the struggle. One of these events, for example, is the beginning of Russia’s military operation in Syria in 2015.

The murder of Suleymani is the last such example. As a result of this event, fault lines diverged in the region. It led to the formation of new alliances, the rearrangement of players active in the region, and even the emergence of new actors.

More important is Trump’s statement on Iran. This speech was full of warnings, calls and signals addressed to Iran, but I think that the main message of the speech was in one sentence: “I am going to ask NATO to be more involved in what is happening in the Middle East.”

So, immediately after this statement, Trump spoke on the phone with the NATO Secretary General. It is reported that during these negotiations the role of NATO in the Middle East was discussed. Trump demanded that NATO play a more active role in the region, both sides agreed that the alliance could make a more significant contribution to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism.

Does this Trump move, which NATO calls “a burden,” say its role is over is not really part of the policy of the American state?

In other words, NATO is heading to the Middle East, directly to our southern borders. As you recall, when there was a debate about a safe zone in northern Syria, Germany proposed sending international forces led by NATO to the region and received support from NATO.

It becomes clear that this project is being revised, and NATO is likely to come to Syria and at the same time to Iraq as a new conflict zone. NATO will, on the one hand, conduct stabilization operations, and on the other, how to deal with the new version of ISIS (banned in the Russian Federation – approx. Ed.) That will arise.

Here you can object: “And so what? Turkey is a member of NATO. Did Erdogan himself not exclaim: “Why is NATO not in Syria?”

Yes, but, given the actual situation in the region (the accelerated process of disintegration of Iraq, the US strengthening its military presence in northern and western Iraq, eastern Syria, the creation of an autonomous structure of the Self-Defense Forces (YPG) in north-eastern Syria, coordinated by the United States and Russia), the arrival of NATO in the region under the pretext of stabilization operations will only strengthen the structures that actually emerged and clear the way for them to acquire a legal basis. This will mean the collapse of Iraq and Syria. The collapse that will begin in these countries, according to the domino principle, will also cover Turkey.

In addition, the United States expects to hide behind the scenes and, by highlighting NATO, at least slightly reduce its critical reaction. And the Iran-US crisis could turn into an Iran-NATO crisis. In the most negative way, this will affect Turkey.

While the United States is bringing NATO to the Middle East, Russia is not idle either. Russia, having introduced troops into Syria, settled near the southern borders of Turkey and surrounded NATO from the southeastern flank. In Syria, Russia gained the right to use an air and sea base for an indefinitely long period of time and maintain a constant military presence in the warm seas, that is, in the Mediterranean Sea.

Now Russia is making a new move and is preparing to take another strategic position in Libya, namely in the center of the Mediterranean.

Arriving in Turkey on the occasion of the launch of the Turkish Stream, Vladimir Putin, in a joint statement with Recep Erdogan, essentially announced who is the main player in Libya. Judging by the part of the joint statement that is dedicated to Libya, it seems that they want to project the Idlib model on Libya.

Russia will not openly oppose the sending of troops or Syrian fighters to Libya by Turkey and at the moment it will allow the Government of National Accord to maintain control of the zones, and will also assume the role of patron of the forces of Haftar. Turkey, as in Syria, will be able to establish influence in Libya only in small areas.

In fact, the agreements on Idlib did not work on the battlefield, but Russia managed to keep Turkey on its side and alienate it from the West. The initiative was with Russia. Now Russia is doing the same in Libya. Using Turkey, Russia is expanding its role and initiative. Russia plans to get a base in Libya. That would be a huge success. So Russia will be in the center of the Mediterranean. Russia surrounds Europe from the south. Imagine if she places the S-400 there or something like that.

Further steps will be a movement deep into Africa.

While Trump is directing NATO to the Middle East, his friend Putin surrounds Europe from the south, which NATO must defend in the first place.

The Arab spring turned into an Arab winter, with the aggravation of the war in Libya, everything essentially returned to where it started. Morocco, the westernmost point on the map of the US project “The Middle East,” may become Russia’s next stop. Thus, the coasts of North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean will be dominated by Russia. You must ask: “Whose project is the Big Middle East being implemented?”

Did the US lose? You can’t say that either. The United States in the shoes of NATO will thoroughly settle in the Middle East. Turkey so far has not been able to understand the ongoing game and determine priorities. After all, Turkey and its leadership have different priorities and policies.

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