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29 August 2016


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Knowing nothing of the subject, this is a thought about Turkey's strategic position that doesn't require any detailed knowledge. Simply put, as a logical matter it would seem that the importance of recent developments will register domestically rather than on Turkey's external relations. The military has counted above all because of its prominent place and influence on national politics - not in regard to any major campaigns it might undertake beyond Turkey's borders. At least since 1991.

In respect to the Army's fighting capabilities per se, it is the counter-insurgency effort against the Kurds that matters. Whether Erdogan decides to move more deeply and directly into Syria,any such action involves so few forces and is so limited a mission that drastic command changes are unlikely to have any bearing whatsoever on performance. The attitude of the sacked officers in regard to the wisdom of such actions is another (political) issue.


Mr. Brenner,

“the importance of recent developments will register domestically rather than on Turkey's external relations”

I disagree. I believe the destruction of the secular backbone of the Turkish state is going to reverberate far and wide. The erstwhile Sultan is going to provide material support for far more than the ISIS branch of the unicorn army currently fighting in Syria. He will also use the blunt tool of “refugee” flows into Europe as a tool to manipulate political positions, especially on the West. He will also, knowingly or not, infiltrate ISIS jihadist into the refugee flow where they will wreak their usual carnage. There is also a very high probability that once the Islamist are done with the army they will commence with the rest of government of the state then move on to the civil society.

“In respect to the Army's fighting capabilities per se, it is the counter-insurgency effort against the Kurds that matters.”

Operations in Syria are not going to be the only war Turkey may face. Active large scale intervention by the TSK may result in direct conflict with Russian Federation armed forces which, unlike Turkey's, are in the country at the request of the recognized national government. Should that happen in the near future I doubt Mr. Putin is going to roll over like Obama. All the more reason to get America's nuclear weapons out of Turkey.



I think the article is correct in respect to the increasing conflict between globalism and nationalism. For example, next door the Globalists have subdued Greece, for now. But, Erdogan’s power comes from his Islamists supporters who took to the streets to save him. He can use the remaining Turkish military forces to support Sunni tribal needs, such as cutting out a safe zone for them in Syria. He will also desperately try to maintain Turkey’s borders. But, since his power comes from his tribal Sunni religious base; not secular nationalists, conflicts with the mountain Kurds and Shiite Alevis are inevitable.

An axiom of the triumph of corporate globalism (The New World Order) over nationalism is that their pillaging of under-people always generates a fundamentalist religious tribal backlash. In the globalist’s world, if nations no longer have consent of the governed, they split into their tribal constituents. Brexit and Donald Trump's nomination are the harbingers in the Atlantic Alliance.

With Russia and China supporting the Syrian government; the Turkish incursion and American proxy forces fighting each other; the corporate military subset has gotten its wish; a world at war.

FB Ali

Col Lang,

You are correct that Turkey is more of an adversary than an ally as far as NATO is concerned. Any doubts about that should have been removed by the US complaints this morning about Turkish military operations in Syria.

As for Russia, I believe that Erdogan came to some kind of agreement with Vladimir Putin during his recent visit to Russia. As Michael Brenner implies above, the critical factor is Turkey's internal situation. After the coup and the subsequent purge, Erdogan cannot afford to risk a serious downturn in Turkey's economy. The key to that lies in Russia's hands, and Putin must have used that leverage to ensure that Turkey did not cause problems for Russia and its ME ally, Iran.

The fact that Erdogan has launched a military operation in Syria so soon after the tumult in Turkey proves that he is not worried about Turkey's internal situation, including its economy. That could only be if he had some assurances from Russia on this score.


Could it be that Erdogan is learning to play the great powers off against each other? It's been some time since someone felt secure enough to try this.

different clue


If Erdogan is able to get armed conflict going between Turkish and Russian forces in Syria, would Erdogan then demand that all NATO join Turkey in fighting against Russia? Is that something the NATO thinker-leaders should be thinking about right now?

And would Trump get a campaign boost if he flatly declared in his campaign real soon now that if Turkey creates armed conflict between itself and Russia in Turkey, that a President Trump will NOT feel compelled by ANY NATO provision to offer Turkey any aid whatsoever? (That would be an experiment I would like to see performed . . . though of course the Trump advisers would quite rightly only advise Trump to do things they know would advance the Trump campaign).

FB Ali


Erdogan is trying to bluff his way past both great powers. It appears that he obtained the consent of both of them to attacking Jarablus and taking it from the IS. However, I doubt very much whether he told them that he wasn't going to stop there but was going on to Manbij (at least!). That is why both the US and Russia are upset (the former quite vocally).

The real limits on Erdogan's actions are what leverage each of the two powers can wield against Turkey. It seems to me that, in this respect, Russia is in a much stronger position than the US (or the EU, for that matter). Turkey's economy (now and in the future) is heavily dependent on Russia. Conversely, the US needs Turkey more than the other way around.

Ishmael Zechariah

General Ali,
In addition to the economy, which is indeed a wreck, the "terrorism" card is also a valid one external and internal powers can play in this game. tayyip is not as strong as he fancied himself to be.
Ishmael Zechariah


Turkey drops support of Qater pipeline plan, gets on board with Iran and Russia plan. Syria saved. Kurds and their Israeli supporters get checked. Israelis and Wahhabis left holding the bag.

Fionn Mc Cool

A further obvious limit on Erdogan's actions is Russia acquiescence. Russia could make things very difficult for Erdo and the Turkish Armed Forces simply by supporting and running guns to the Kurds, especially anti tank weapons and man-pads. Doing so would be a low cost option for Russia.He simply cannot afford to alienate Moscow and Putin.


May be, for various poltical reasons in one way or another major world powers time and again use, and have used the Kurds to pursue their own political interests in the NW of the ME region, for as long as I remember Kurds were played by either side of the world political divide, Soviets, Americans, various Europeans, Israelis, Iran, Saddam, Turks, you name it, anybody with his head in the ME hole has made them Kurds promise and never stood to it. In reality they are easy to be taken advantage of that is because they are so fool and desperate for independence and separation which is not going to happen and if it did would make them even weaker. Nevertheless, regardless of what the major powers think and plan to do with or for them, there are other group of people who IMO have a bigger say in this, that is the major regional powers who “Nationally” and “Traditionally” are against empowering the Kurds, these countries (Iran,Turkey,Syria,Iraq) have bigger say and bigger tools than the major powers to prevent empowering the Kurds further than what they allow.

different clue

FB Ali,

This is why I compared Erdogan to kind of a Hitler-figure many months ago . . . strictly for this propensity to take these "re-occupy the Rhineland" type of gambles.

Also, a year or more ago Kunuri wrote us all that Erdogan might be thought of as a Brooklyn-type low-level Mob Bosslet- tuff guy. Is someone who really knows how wannabe Dons and Godfathers think at an advantage in understanding and predicting Erdogan's actions?


"would Erdogan then demand that all NATO join Turkey in fighting against Russia?"

I think that was settled after the Russian fighter was shot down.



I have read in some places that upwards of 9000 officers have been expelled from the Turkish military. It's not quite the same as the disbanding of the Iraqi army, but could this not be destabilizing and fuel a muscular insurgency?



I would think that if some foreign power wished to take advantage of the opportunity it would be there. I wonder if they have thrown out career enlisted people as well. pl


It depends on how the are "thrown out". During the coup, the Turkish foreign minister was "on phone with Tehran's rep more than any other person" according to himself. If they are practicing what they learnt, the chance of an insurgency is zero. It seems that they know how to mobilize the "popular forces", looking at the blockade of Incirlik. Soon you will (or you might already have) Basij militia in Turkey and probably a parallel army.


FB Ali wrote: "It seems to me that, in this respect, Russia is in a much stronger position than the US (or the EU, for that matter). Turkey's economy (now and in the future) is heavily dependent on Russia."

The EU is by far the largest market for Turkish exports (2015), Russia is not in the top 6 countries.

E.g.: http://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/216105/umfrage/wichtigste-exportlaender-fuer-die-tuerkei/

For imports, Russia is the third largest market after China and Germany (2016), the main Russian export product is NG.

Turkey runs a brutally negative trade balance and depends on money from wetsern countries.



Indeed. I get the impression it could all be over quite quickly now, the Daraya surrender looks like it could precipitate a wave of surrenders/reconciliations.



The latest crisis between Turkey and NATO is over Turkish Vice Adm. Mustafa Zeki Ugurlu, who was posted to NATO's Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Va. Turkey issued an arrest warrant for Ugurlu on charges that he is affiliated with the Gulenist movement's infiltration of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).



US media seems to have pretty sloppy reporting on this subject. This article (http://malisnews.com/en/turquie-149-generaux-amiraux-expulses-de-larmee-45-journaux-fermes-2/) counts 149 Generals, 1099 other officers and 436 NCO's.

There have been previous and subsequent purges, apparently, so the 9000 approximate figure may be correct.

Babak Makkinejad

Yup. And it has been that way for 2 centuries, at least.

The Beaver

To all:

from Elijah Magnier

Ankara committed itself to hunting down “ISIS” along the Syrian border with Turkey, and to preventing the Kurds from establishing themselves along the borders. Russia has accepted a Turkish incursion into Syrian territory due to the Kurds’ declared hostility to the government in Damascus when YPG forces attacked and expelled the Syrian army from al-Hasakah city to the suburbs, with US backing, – a clear intention to initiate the partition of Syria. Russia stands against a Kurdish state ruled by the US in the new Kremlin Mediterranean base, Syria. The Kurds had been enjoying the support of Damascus for the five years of war, and believe that the rebellion was not in vain, rather part of a plan to divide Syria.


FB Ali

That is true. But Erdogan knows that the EU is not going to cut Turkey off, in spite of his transgressions. The Russians, on the other hand, have already shown that they can and will do that if he acts funny with them.


"Soon you will (or you might already have) Basij militia in Turkey and probably a parallel army."

Such Basij militia and parallel army already exists, its the Police forces and the Jandarma.

Jandarma has always been a paramilitary force responsible for security in rural areas where the police forces did not have jurisdiction. It has its own intelligence arma, as well as well trained and equipped Special Forces, however, until 15 July coup it has been part of the Armed forces. By decree, as of late, they are now directly subordinated to the Ministry of Interior, and by implication, to Erdogan. There is your parallel Army.

Police has always been Erdogan's heavy stick, more so now that they are authorized to maintain in their arsenal heavy weapons and armor. Since police is out on the streets any given time, and ideologically subservient to the Ministry of Interior, there is your Basij. If there is a new morality code in Turkey in the near future, police will enforce it. Mass popular descent and demonstrations now, as was during Gezi, is impossible. If there is a civil war in Turkey, we now know at least what the composition of one of the armed sides will be.


Most of the expelled officers were placed within the ranks through stolen text scores, nepotism, and patronage of Gulenists with AKP acquiescence, replacing or preventing the secular, more competent ones, mostly Kemalists. They were dead weight anyway, either through lack of love of service, or numbing religious ideology. It is important to note that Turkish Armed forces have a very deep bench, anyway, it needed younger, more energetic and digitally literal officer corps anyway. This is not unlike the huge purges after the debacle of the Balkan war of 1912, Turkish Army was rebuilt with Prussian help around a very young and western looking officer corps. Mustafa Kemal was one of its beneficiaries. The change paid off during the next ten years of incessant war.

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