40 years from now when you read a modern history book, you will most likely read about the events currently unfolding in the Middle East right now. I am not talking about the Iraq or Afghanistan Wars, I am referring specifically to Turkey and the events which have transpired since the failed military coup of July 15, 2016.
A fact you might not realize about Turkey is that outside of the United States, Turkey has the second largest military in NATO. and part of the reason Turkey has to maintain such a large military is directly to its geo-strategic position on the globe. As you can see in the cover photo above, Turkey literally separates Europe from The Middle East.
The Middle East of course as been in a constant state of War for thousands of years while Europe, by comparison, has remained relatively peaceful. The history of the land bridge (Turkey) between the two these two regions, as you might expect, is checkered.
Turkey is also unique in the fact that it is the the only Islamic country within NATO and considering NATO’s relationship with the European Union, Turkey has – ipso facto – had a close relationship with much of Europe at the same time.
This all changed, however, on 7/15/2016, when a rogue branch of Turkey’s military attempted to impose martial law and overthrow President Erdogan – President of Turkey.
The entire event started and finished within hours, had zero effect on the lives of US citizens, but has literally changed the course of world history. This is because President Erdogan of Turkey has come believe that the coup to overthrow him was planned and executed “by the West” – The United States.
As reported by The New York Times 8/2/2016, “A Turkish newspaper reported that an American academic and former State Department official had helped orchestrate a violent conspiracy to topple the Turkish government from a fancy hotel on an island in the Sea of Marmara, near Istanbul. The same newspaper, in a front-page headline, flat-out said the United States had tried to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the night of the failed coup.”
This is fundamental to the issue as we now observe it today, nearly 6 weeks later – 9/13/2016. Since the failed coup in July, Turkey has gone through a complete reversal of policy in regards to their military and economic transactions – all the while freezing out US consideration while pursuing their own national interests.
For example, prior to the coup Russia and Turkey were all but at War with one another. Turkey had shot down a Russian jet and helicopter flying in their airspace and Russia banned all of their citizens from the traveling to the country.
However, less than ten days after the failed coup, on 7/26/2016, Erdogan met with President Putin to discuss future economic/military partnerships – in light of the fallout with the West- and by 8/8/2016 the two countries established full economic relations.
All the while anti-American sentiment has been growing in the country and as reported in the same New York Times above, the “anti-American sentiment is largely being pushed by pro-Government newspapers.” This is also very important to realize because Turkey does not have a free press, journalists can be arrested for speaking out against the government and Turkey has banned social media outlets – Twitter, Facebook, Youtube – on a regular basis.
By 8/24/2016 Turkey had officially entered itself into the Syrian National Civil War, by 8/31/2016 had already re-captured 400 square miles of territory and by 9/3/2016 had moved in 20 tanks to re-enforce “its borders from separatist Kurdish militias” and assist the Syrian government in regaining more territory.
If you don’t understand why this is significant, allow me to explain.
On 9/4/2016, at the international G20 summit, President Obama met with President Erdogan to discuss foreign policy, the state of their current relationship and the Syrian War. We will get back to this in a moment.
Since the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, the United States/Saudi Arabia have backed both Kurdish and Syrian rebel forces with billions of dollars in weapons/military aid in their quest to overthrow Bashar al-Assad – President of Syria.
On the other side of the War, Russia/Iran have moved their military presence into Syria to protect Assad from being thrown out of power and also have back the Syrian Government with billions in weapons/aid.
Getting back to the point I was originally making, remember, a day before the G20 summit on 9/3/2016, Turkey launched an attack coordinated with and directly benefiting Russia and Syrian government forces. As you can imagine, this most likely made Obama and Erdogan’s talks the day after seem even more… :awkward turtle:
The problem you have to see and understand here is that Turkey has the 2nd largest military in NATO. By the fact of being involved in NATO, every member country of NATO are close allies and the organization as a whole operates under the philosophy that any attack on any country belonging to NATO is a direct attack on all NATO countries – they will all respond and come to the aid of one another.
Prior to the coup on July 15th, Turkey, NATO and the United States all had great working relationships. However, almost two month later now, the two largest military’s in NATO are directly fighting for opposing sides in the same civil war.
See the potential complication?
As previously reported by Middle East Eye, on 9/4/2016, Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama also privately met at the G20 met to discuss the Syrian Civil War. It was reported that a ceasefire agreement was not met between the two sides, but that an agreement was “immanent.”
On 9/10/2016, less than a week after this report, as previously covered by Alternative Medi4, Russia and the US did indeed end up negotiating a ceasefire agreement – a week long cease fire which began 9/13/2016.
What I want my readers to notice how all all of the headlines about the ceasefire agreement read – “US and Russia reach agreement“. That is curious is it not? I thought the US and Russia are not at War with one another, why don’t all the headlines read “Syrian Government and Syrian Rebels reach agreement“?
I think we all know the answer to that question, without the presence of either Russia or the US there wouldn’t be much of a Civil War in Syria – at least not to the scope we have seen it grow into today.
The US and Russia have been –ipso facto – at War with one another for quite some time now, even though neither one of them want to admit it publicly. Everyone knows this and make no mistake, all of these headlines are no accident.
The only change to the status quo in Syria has been the allegiances and foreign policy of Turkey. I do not believe it is too bold to say that without the presence/emergence of Turkey into the Syrian Civil War on 8/24/2016, no one would be writing a story about a Syrian ceasefire today – 9/13/2016.
Continuing this logic outward, Turkey has literally changed the course of history in Syria and perhaps the entire Middle East at the same time. We are living in a moment in time when paradigms are starting to shift and it is interesting to watch unfold.
As we move forward through history, if ceasefires and peace agreements become the lasting legacy of Turkeys recent reversal on foreign policy and we can produce more headlines like these in the future, then good for them. Even it is not in “America’s best interests,” it may be in the best interest of the world in general.
I wrote this article today after reading an article published by Middle East Eye. The article details how Turkey is demanding the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish native who defected from the country in 1999 after being accused of attempting to overthrow the government.
Turkey believes Gulen, possibly with the help of the Central Intelligence Agency, attempted to overthrow the Turkish government once again in 2016. Turkey has presented evidence to the United States that they believe indicates him in this matter. It is a matter of international courtesy that the US hand him over, especially if you consider the two countries are allegedly still close allies.
While the United States government has not necessarily protected Gulen from being extradited, John Kerry has stated that Gulen is protected – given the laws that protect asylum seekers. At the same time, Kerry went on to add how the US would cooperate with Turkey if they presented factual evidence conclusively showing how Gulen was behind the coup.
Depending on the evidence, if the US government wants to prove to Turkey that they, nor their CIA, was involved in the coup, the US is going to have to turn over Gulen.
Read more from Middle East Eye: http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/turkey-formally-requests-us-arrest-gulen-over-failed-coup-948404369
This article (As The Syrian Ceasefire Takes Effect for The First Time Today, Here Is How Turkey May Have Changed The Course of World History) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article using a creative commons license with attribution to Brian Dunn and Alternative Medi4