1 thought on “Shifting sands and a surprise Turkish move”

  1. If the GCC did indeed not anticipate Mr Erdoğan dropping his blocking to Sweden’s joining Nato, which may well be the case, it was, in my view, very naïve. First, it is very likely that in blocking Swedish accession the Turkish president was motivated in significant part by electoral considerations, now no longer relevant. Second, although some experts are claiming that this was not a “u-turn” it certainly looks rather like one to me – and Mr Erdoğan does, of course, have quite a track record for such when it comes to Turkey’s foreign policy. Third, the new-ish right-of-centre government in Sweden has, as was always likely, made some concessions relative to Turkey’s demands. Fourth, for all Joe Biden’s talk about defending democracy there is no question other than that realpolitik is back in fashion in the US Administration, as was made clear in Jake Sullivan’s launch of the so called ‘new Washington consensus’ a couple of months ago; thus the Administration at least (let’s not prejudge where Congress may come down yet!) was always likely to concede ground on the longstanding issue of F16s as a quid pro quo. Fifth, although Sweden’s support for EU membership for Turkey (as stated publicly this week) is of no real account as far as the ‘letter’ is concerned, it is consistent in spirit at least with the likelihood that the EU, in its own version of realpolitik, will agree more favourable trade terms with Turkey in the not too distant future now that the veto of Sweden has been lifted. All of this was, in my opinion, foreseeable – as was the timing of Turkey’s announcement.

    As for Turkey/Russia relations, I have to agree with Aslı Aydıntaşbaş – and by way of some mitigation as far as the GCC is concerned – that Mr Erdoğan must continue to tread carefully. Coincidentally, I was reading just yesterday about the 1806-12 Russo-Turkish war and how Russia retaliated for Turkey’s blockade of the Black Sea fleet by having its Baltic Fleet blockade the Dardanelles at the Aegean end in 1807, which ultimately led to a major Russian naval victory over the Ottoman fleet. This, in turn, caused Turkey to renew its treaty with Britain – the equivalent in its day of mending fences with the US today, albeit in very different circumstances as summarised in the final paragraph of today’s Newsletter.

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