Mainstream media are still discussing Vladimir Putin’s unwillingness to talk to Recep Erdogan. What did Turkey anticipate from its new strategy towards Russia following the downing of the Russian warplane over Syria?
Russia’s military build up in Syria disrupted all the Syrian plans of Turkey given that since 2011 Turks have been planning to topple the Syrian government jointly with Saudi Arabia and Qatar. This would have enabled them to lay gas and oil pipelines via Syria to Turkey and would have turned Turkey into an actual monopolist of supplies of energy resources from the Greater Middle East to Europe. Russia's presence in the given region immediately made the old Kurdish problem of Turkey topical again. What could Turkey do in such a situation? Naturally, it had to provoke a conflict between Russia and NATO. It should be noted that Turkey managed to do it skillfully. Turkey downed the warplane and Ahmet Davutoglu applied to NATO, however, he did not get the reply he expected. The downing of the Russian Air Force plane was Turkey's foolishness driven by the "cold war" syndrome. Ankara wanted to demonstrate to Russia that NATO is ready to stand up for Turkey. However, NATO suggested that Turks should solve their problems with Moscow all by themselves. This was followed by wreckage of Turkish hopes and, consequently, the Turkish foreign policy. Brussels simply insistently advised Erdogan to talk to Vladimir Putin and Erdogan is trying to do so, but to no avail. Putin has no intention to talk to Erdogan and the reasons are clear.
Is it because the situation inside Syria and outside it is in favor of Moscow now, rather than in favor of Ankara?
Because of that too, but with the help of Russia, the pro-Turkish gangs are gradually being ousted from the Syrian-Turkish border, which will become blocked for Turkey soon. In other words, the Syrian army with the help of the Russian military is very close to the solution of its major problem. In such situation, Turkey can either invade Syria not to let the border be closed before it or observe its own fiasco. This scenario is quite possible considering the latest statement by NATO Secretary General saying that the Alliance does not want another 'cold war' and seeks to restore the format of consultations with Russia. The NATO command has turned to Moscow instead of supporting Turkey. Actually, Ankara has found itself in a trap worse than it had prepared for Russia. It appears that Ankara have finally understood that Russia is not alone in its Syrian campaign and Moscow discusses many issues with U.S. and NATO.
What makes the situation even worse for Turkey is that its stand on the Kurdish problem fundamentally differs from the stands of Russia and U.S. on it.
In other words, do Moscow and Washington seek to increase the Kurdish factor as one of the mechanisms of influence upon Turkey?
Sure, that is why Ankara miscalculated about the downing of the Russian warplane over Syria. At the same time I think that the Moscow-Washington discrepancies about Bashar al-Assad's figure are already left behind on their real negotiation agenda. The recent trip of former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to Moscow and his article have once again convinced me that the range of problems and agreements between Russia and the United States is much broader than the Syrian problem. His thought that the settlement of the Syrian problem may become a universal mechanism for settlement of all similar problems in the world demonstrates that the Assad problem is already in the past.
The problems in the region are not limited with Assad and Syria…
The problem of power disintegration in the Islamic world can be settled with the help of the U.S., Russia and probably China. This problem is topical in the Islamic world, where there is absolutely no legal culture. There are only totalitarian regimes in the Islamic world. The collapse of these regimes results in collapse of entire countries. Even if these processes were not provoked from outside, they would all the same happen. For instance, today Libya has two governments, two armies and two parliaments and the only thing they offer is to come to an agreement. The same is true for Syria - all the objects of the disintegrated power are offered to come to an agreement. But the Islamic consciousness simply lacks the notion of agreement. The need to introduce constitutional culture arises. There is no other alternative to the absolute chaos in these territories.
So far, all this is leading to an absolute chaos. What is the interest of U.S. and those who it sees or wants to see as its allies?
Sure, this process will continue for a long time, as there are more and more territories to embrace. As for the interests of U.S. and its allies, they come from the recent developments in the world that have create a destructive culture. This U.S.-initiated policy is simply called "a fight against terrorism", because terrorism is declared as an abstract threat to the humanity.
It was declared as such yet on September 11 2001, wasn’t it?
This fight is based on the fear of suicide as the method typical to that destructive Islamic culture. As early as 10 years ago, the United States said that the world would be unable to defend itself against the policy of suicide bombers. This may be one of the reasons why the policy towards complete destruction of the suicide bombers' culture was launched. I can say that at present the only way out is to introduce constitutional culture. The need to introduce constitutional culture arises. There is no other alternative to the absolute chaos in these territories.
Do you think this process promising?
I do not know for sure, but it has no alternative now. Before 1945, no one could imagine that Germany would be destroyed by the coalition of U.S., USSR, and European countries. The people could not even imagine that.
Yet before the September 11 terror attack in U.S., Zbigniew Brzezinski described a wide area of the future destabilization – from Pakistan to Turkey. This at least means that Washington foresaw the scales of the Middle East chaos yet in 1997 and sought to take the lead, doesn’t it?
The global policy is based on the race for leadership. The Soviet Union collapsed so easily, because since 1945 it had been part of the policy, institutions, and roles of the states and international organizations of the cold war period. With cold war ending, the Berlin Wall was removed and the USSR proved needless. As soon as the Soviet Union collapsed, they started creating a new world order and liquidating the remains of the cold war. This process still continues.
When did Russia’s leadership stop thinking with the cold war categories? When did Moscow receive a new role?
Russia has just got that role, and Kissinger said about it in Moscow describing Russia as “an integral element of new balance of forces.” In other words, U.S. hints Russia that it does think it enemy and offers it a fundamental global role that will help to put Russia on its feet again. A similar role of a different scale is offered to Iran.
Why should U.S. want to put Russia on its feet again?
Without Russia U.S. will not manage to make global changes, liquidate the remains of the cold war and create the principles and mechanisms of the new world order.
What about the U.S.-Russia confrontation, “multi-polar world,” “U.S. hegemony,” “Russia’s threat to the world”? Is it just propaganda and idle talks to overshadow the social problems and looting of the national property?
There is no rivalry, in fact, just international policy. Remains of the cold war are organizations, such as NATO, and countries with their specific roles. Turkey had been the vanguard of NATO for long years. It is very hard to explain it now that its services are no longer in demand in the new world order. It is very hard to explain the lawless state Saudi Arabia with its 30-million population, which emerged in dessert 30 years ago on the funds of Europe, that U.S. no longer needs its alliance. However, no one will undertake its destruction, though the policy of Saudi Arabia comes down to funding of suicide bombers.
Saudis with Turks announced their plan to launch a ground operation in Syria with the support of U.S. Is it a new trap?
You have already answered your question. That is why Russia did not want to interfere with Syria for a long time. The first attempt was when U.S. tried to lead Russia to Afghanistan. Moscow comprehended that it may turn into a second Afghan war and refused to go there. After Russia was isolated over Ukraine conflict, it simply had to interfere into the Syrian crisis. It is such policy of U.S. that the situation in Syria has deteriorated so that it makes both Russia and Turkey go on talks. Nevertheless, the Syrian crisis will hardly be managed soon.
Armenia with its Russian military base is not far from the epicenter of all those developments. How to avoid turning into a new epicenter of destabilization?
To prevent Armenia from turning into a new epicenter of instability, it is first and foremost necessary to assess how the Russian military base is turning from a potential defender of Armenia into a potential threat. Our strategic ally Russia has come into conflict with our strategic enemy Turkey. We have relevant agreement with Russia and Armenia may become the territory of that conflict. No one will ask for our permission. So, we should start thinking how to prevent it.
The highest degree of military and political protection is the lack of commitments. Armenia partly did it in Karabakh and no one has been able to touch it for over 20 years. The lack of commitments makes it possible to make decisions independently, without taking others' opinion into consideration. For instance, we have zero military-political relations with Iran and a plenty of such agreements with Russia.
At the same time, Iran is a more powerful security factor for Armenia and Artsakh than Russia is. Iran and Armenia have common interests and Iran is impartially our most powerful ally in terms of security. Armenia does not depend on Iran at all but it depends on Russia in everything. If there were Russian troops in Karabakh the way Russia sought, by the way, the Iran-Armenia relations would be absolutely different.
In this light, I am convinced that Yerevan's role, policy and geopolitical capitalization would be quite different amid the lack of Russian troops in Armenia. When you are independent, 50 hands reach out for you. If 25 of them want to tear you into pieces, the other 25 do not let them do it, thereby maintaining the balance. It all starts with sovereignty but Armenia has always had a poor idea of sovereignty. As a result, it has given out everything. No one has realized that the most important thing has been given out - the rights.
Did it destroy the foundation of Armenia’s sovereignty scarcely has it received it?
Sure, preventing Russian troops from entering Karabakh has been the only way to maintain the sovereignty since 1991. The damaged sovereignty of Armenia is the main foreign and domestic political threat given that the power system is also rotten from within because it is controlled from outside. It is necessary to change the 25-year-old approaches to the same issues, for instance, to sovereignty, which may prove more important than all the other issues. Only the changing attitude towards sovereignty will make it possible to see the numerous flaws in the legal model of the republic. Armenian diplomacy cannot speak to the world because on the international arena it speaks of Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan. It is simply impossible to build a policy under such circumstances. All these issues have always been ignored. Some people keep thinking that they can ensure security by renouncing rights. We ignore the history. We ignore the neighbors' examples. Eventually, the neighbors, superpowers, and first of all Russia, ignore Armenia's rights.