Friday, November 1, 2013

What's Going on in Turkey?

There was revelation about two weeks ago that in early 2012, Turkey outed Israeli spies to Iran in a very disturbing breach of trust for a NATO member and ally of the United States.  Turkey denies that it betrayed the agents, but the U. S. Congress thought that the relationship between Turkish intelligence and Iranian intelligence was to close and killed a deal to sell drones to Turkey in June of 2012 according to an article in the Jerusalem Post.

Although Turkey and Iran appear to have an openly hostile relationship over their differences in the Syrian civil war, Turkey has continued purchasing natural gas and oil from Iran.  In 2012 it was revealed that Turkey was sending gold to Iran in exchange for gas.  This loophole in the sanctions has since closed, however Turkey continues trading with Iran for gas and oil and say that they would buy more if they could according to Hurriyet Daily News.

Turkey, for their part has always claimed that Iran has a right to develop nuclear power.  They make this claim because they would like to have nuclear power plants of their own.  In fact they have a four unit nuke in the works.  According to, they expect the environmental impact report to be completed by 2014 and to have the units up and online by 2023.  A subsidiary of Rosatom Nuclear Energy a state corporation of Russia will build own and operate the nuclear power plant.  The Turks have serious differences with the Russians.  But here again, the Turks are able to overlook their moral outrage over the actions of the Assad regime in Syria when it serves their interest.

It was also announced that Turkey will be doing business with another Assad ally, China.  They have announced that they will be looking to the Chinese for a new missile defence system.  The United States and more broadly, NATO are concerned about NATO member Turkey buying non-compatible weapons system.

There are many reports that Turkey aided Israel in its latest attack on Syria.  It is being widely reported that Turkey supplied Israel with intelligence for the attack.  A Lebanese news source, however, is saying that Israel was used by Turkey as a proxy to attack Syria in revenge for their jet that was shot down in June of 2012.  Whatever the truth, it was a win-win for Israel and Turkey to destroy these weapons which were being delivered to Hezbollah.

The government of Turkey is a reflection of its leader, Prime Minister Erdoğan.  He is a master of manipulating situations to his own benefit and that is what we see happening in Turkey.  They will always do what is in their own best interest.  Sometimes, however, these decisions have proven to be rather short sighted and Mr. Erdoğan is not as popular as he once was.  Next year there will be elections in Turkey.  Erdoğan is probably running for president since a constitutional change has made the Turkish presidency a powerful position.  A few years ago, Erdoğan would have been a shoe-in.  But now his popularity has slipped and he may not win.