Around the world attention was focused on Saturday 16 July 2016 upon what first appeared to be an attempted coup by a dissident group within the Turkish military. In a 22 July 2016 update, Alexander Mercouris wrote: “It is simply not true – as many still say – that only a small number of junior officers were involved. On the contrary senior generals were involved both in Istanbul and Ankara, with the senior commanders of the troops located near both cities ordering their troops onto their streets.” News agencies reported later in the day of the coup that it failed, and it appeared there was quite a lot going on beneath the surface of this story.
Alexander Mercouris also wrote: “apart from one report of an F16 fighter shooting down a rebel helicopter, there is no evidence that any part of the Turkish military rallied to the government’s support or that a single military unit came to the government’s defence during the coup. The coup was not actively opposed or suppressed by the military. All the military units caught on film during the coup – including the tanks in the streets, the air forces jets flying over Istanbul and Ankara, the troops blocking the Bosphorus bridges and occupying Takshim Square, and the helicopter gunships which attacked the parliament building – supported the coup. The coup failed because confronted by angry crowds of civilians, the troops in many of the units involved in the coup eventually refused to obey the orders of the coup plotters and abandoned the coup.
Geopolitical analyst Andrew Korybko believes the coup was US-directed, so he expects the aftermath of the coup to be American-improvised Hybrid War challenges – a renewed Kurdish insurgency, left-wing terrorism, a Color Revolution, Daesh attacks, maritime proxy hostility via Greece, engineered provocations with Turkey’s other neighbors, a civil war, and/or another feeble coup attempt — in order to throw the progressively Islamifying and Muslim Brotherhood-inspired state into such chaos that it becomes impossible for its new multipolar partners (Russia, China and Iran) to make any substantial use of its territory in their joint quest to dismantle the unipolar world order.
If these mutipolar partners were to achieve their economic and security plans for the Eurasian heartland, namely China’s “One Belt One Road” and the intention of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to promote cooperation between long-time rivals like India and Pakistan, Russia and China, Russia and Turkey, then Israel and Palestine would find themselves Janus-like facing West and East at the same time.
Russia and Israel have many reasons to clash on foreign policy. They differ considerably on Syria, not only regarding the conflict there. Russia’s support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad disturbs Israel in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, firstly because Israel annexed the Golan Heights which is internationally recognised as Syrian territory; secondly Russia has delivered S-300 air-defense systems to Israel’s number-one enemy Iran, and thirdly Israel staunchly opposes the nuclear deal and the lifting of sanctions from Iran, to which Moscow has contributed considerably.
However, as Maria Dubovikova writes, Russia has a record of establishing stable relations with counterparts from conflicting camps. This makes Moscow a negotiator whose assistance is significant in Israeli-Palestinian talks. Netanyahu’s visit on 7 June 2016 was followed by that of the Palestinian and Jordanian foreign ministers (source). Israeli diplomats and geopolitical strategists have not contradicted the growing belief amongst Saudi and Turkish geopolitical strategists that the United States cannot be relied upon for unquestioning support for their governments.
For Russia, its relationship with Israel is important for precautions against accidental clashes of military assets, as well as to maintain a back-channel link with military chiefs in the West. Israel has a significant concentration of former Russian compatriots and Russian-speaking citizens. Given that Russia is now using these as a form of soft power, Israel fills a role as a back channel for communication with Washington policy makers who have been demonizing Russia.
Israel’s growing friendship with Russia enables it to force concessions and preferential treatment from its Western allies, as a form of blackmail. Netanyahu’s statement in Moscow that Russia is a global power, while Israel is a regional one, reflects Israel’s desire to use its close ties with Moscow to pursue its geopolitical goals in the region. This includes an Israeli delusion that it can get Russia to agree to US-Israeli exploitation of Golan Heights oil and gas despite Syrian and Iranian antagonism towards Zionist Israel.
ONE BELT ONE ROAD
Israel is yet a long way from accepting that it would have to become like Syria, a secular state ruling over a religiously diverse population, or to successfully negotiate a peace with Syria in order to succeed in joint regional projects like exploitation of Mediterranean gas and oil fields on the Golan Heights. Over five years into the NATO-jihadist war to smash apart Syria according to Israel’s Yinon Plan and Syria still stands, now with the backing of Russia as well as Iran.
Even when NATO and the Gulf states finally give up on regime change in Syria, and even when Israel finally gives up attempting to balkanize the surrounding Arab states, direct Israeli-Syrian negotiations would never happen without Israel first coming to an arrangement with Palestine along the lines of the Arab Peace Initiative that would also have the endorsement of Iran, because Iran and Syria, like Russia, put values before interests.
China and Iran intend to extend the Yiwu-Tehran rail component of the overland “One Belt One Road” initiative. Iran, for its part, is intent on becoming a regional rail hub, seeing Chinese trains continue on to Europe via its territory. Tehran also has the potential to link up with the trans-Caspian transit route being touted by Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine as another way to Europe. With these new developments Israel may well have to reassess whether its present ideology is in its own interests.
In the disproportionate conflict where Israel remains an occupying force that controls Palestinian lives against their will, Israel has never felt sufficient pressure to negotiate a solution of mutual benefit with Palestinians. There has been a greater lure to keep the the illegally annexed ancient city of Jerusalem under exclusive “Jewish” sovereignty (actually “Zionist” sovereignty, but Israel does not distinguish the political ideology from the religion), and maintain a brutal unsustainable occupation on the rest of the occupied territories.
But pragmatic self-interest might end up trumping present Anglo-Zionist ideology and change the whole Middle East from being a US-Europe resource quarry and part of the NATO military bulwark isolating Russia and China from Europe into a link to the rising economy of China.
According to the Bank of Russia, new Chinese loans to the non-financial sector and households in Russia in 2014 totaled almost four times as much as Russia’s next biggest lender. China and Russia have been sharing political interests ever since the NATO intervention in Libya in 2011, as noted by professor Goldstein, citing Chinese geostrategists. And then the Arab Spring as well as the Ukrainian crisis have accelerated the rapprochement process. The combination of economic rebalance towards China due to Western sanctions, together with the West’s intensifying military threat on Russia’s borders and in Korea and the South China Sea, may yet prove sufficient to solidify a geopolitically significant Eurasian counterpoise.
India and Pakistan signed a Memorandum of Obligations on June 24, formally joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The SCO is a political, economic and military alliance composed of six member states, including Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The decision to commence the process of inclusion of India and Pakistan as member states in the organization was made during the July 2016 SCO summit in the Russian city of Ufa. Eurasia is getting integrated as the EU is falling apart!
The SCO is not an alliance or a union, as its members feel that the time for ‘unions’ has passed (what is happening with the EU or NATO is very obvious today). The SCO an attempt to build a new, modern model of relations between countries, which are united by geography, but divided by a number of distinct features which these countries wish to maintain, rather than be leveled by some strict rules and standards.
An enterprising extension of the Yiwu-Tehran rail link into a hub will catapult the SCO right into the Middle East. It’s a model that can contain and relate historical adversaries like China and Russia, India and Pakistan; and why not Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Turkey, if they all gain mutual benefit in the One Belt One Road?
The New Middle East: Exit America Enter Russia, 18 July 2016, by Ghassan Kadi
The dust has not even began to settle yet, but there are markers that indicate that we are about to see a huge shift in Middle Eastern politics, conflicts and alliances.
We are now hearing formal Turkish statements accusing the USA of plotting the recent failed coup attempt. Turkey has even imposed a lockdown on Incirlik airbase, a NATO airbase, in which America stock piles nuclear weapons, and has even cut off power supplies to the base. This is tantamount to declaring mutiny on NATO. When Erdogan said that the coup was a “gift from God” to cleanse the army, he might as well have also said that it was a gift from God for him to show his resentment to the USA.
We also hear of counter-rumours that Erdogan has staged the failed coup in order to cleanse the military from elements that are not loyal to him. Whilst this scenario cannot either be confirmed or discounted, Erdogan is not mincing either his words or his actions with his NATO boss the USA.
It is important to note here that in the last few weeks, Erdogan and Netanyahu made up, and furthermore, the Turkish-Russian relationship was normalized. Erdogan has been seen to be making a turn, and perhaps a U-turn in regard to his policies in Syria, but for what ends?
For anyone to make a decisive win in Syria, the city of Aleppo holds the key. Whoever takes full control of Aleppo will win the war. The Syrian-Russian coalition has the upper hand to win the battle of Aleppo, but at what civilian cost? The other way to win it is to bring Erdogan down to his knees; and this seems to be what has happened. If Erdogan seals Turkey’s borders, the terrorists will be doomed.
If we were to connect the above main dots, ignoring many other minor dots which do not need to be discussed individually, we can only see a Middle Eastern Russian-brokered masterplan coming to fruition.
What puts Russia in the position to be able to muster such a plan is the fact that Russia is highly respected and is on fairly good terms with all major players. After mending relationships with Turkey, Russia is now on very good terms not only with Turkey, but also with Syria, Israel and Iran. The foolhardy foreign American policies in the Middle East have turned America into a force that cannot be trusted even by its own allies.
Putin is adamant on fighting terrorism. Whether he is able to do this or not is another story, but strategically speaking, he knows well that the military fight against terrorism cannot be won, let alone properly conducted, if other players in the region are in a state of conflict.
According to this analysis, we are on the verge of seeing a Russian plan unfolding, a plan that will not only form a foundation for ending the “War On Syria”, but also one that will seek an Arab/Israeli settlement.
The plan will have to be based on a win-win situation for all parties involved. The Saudis (and Qataris) will be the only losers. They will probably be left out in the cold and hung to dry. No one really wants to or needs to appease them any longer. Their clout is shrinking, and so are their resources. If anything, the war on terror, if it takes form under a Russian umbrella, may need to confront Al-Saud’s sponsorship to the spread of religious radicalism.
The avalanche of events has started, and as the USA is being shown the exit door by its closest allies, Russia is coming in as the only power that has the ability of resolving long standing niggling issues and cleaning up America’s mess.
By Ray Bergmann, firstname.lastname@example.org (This article was started on the morning of 16th July 2016, but was added to over several days as events developed. The final editing was on 24th July 2016)