USA vs. Turkey: «Energy Wars» Battlefront News (II)

USA vs. Turkey: «Energy Wars» Battlefront News (II)

Part I

As «energy wars» are in full swing, the United States is pursuing its own goals. Exerting pressure on Turkey is part of this policy. Washington wants Ankara to abandon the cooperation with Russia and dance to the tune of Euro-Atlantic Alliance instead. The US-Turkey differences go far beyond the energy agenda. Actually, the United States and NATO put into doubt the right of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to define the national internal and external policies. The Turkey’s contemporary diplomacy is based on Neo-Ottomanism, a Turkish political ideology that promotes greater political engagement within regions formerly under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. The country is becoming more independent as an important actor using its clout to influence the situation in the «Greater Middle East.» In many aspects, the policy is unacceptable for those who advocate the «new world order». 

The parliamentary election in Turkey is to take place on June 7. As the date approaches, Western media, experts and politicians make Erdogan and his team come under harsh criticism. Lambasting authorities is normally part of «orange revolutions» scenarios. Until now the West has abstained from putting forward demands to overthrow the Turkish government, though that what is implied by the propaganda efforts. The New York Times, an outlet supporting Euro-Atlanticism, shed light on how the United States and the European Union viewed in general terms the situation in Turkey before the vote. On May 22, it published an editorial entitled «Dark Clouds over Turkey» that was deeply critical of Erdogan’s rule accusing him of a crackdown ahead of the polls. [1] It says Erdogan resorts to political repressions. He is pursuing political opponents and media and plunging the country into obscurity. The newspaper called on Barack Obama and other Western leaders to do what they can to improve the situation. [1]

In June 2013 the Turkish government was strongly reprimanded for using force against the protesters in Istanbul. Those days US media and research institutions led the way, especially the American Interest, which directly accused Erdogan of intent to turn the country into a Sultanate. [2]

The criticism grew as Turkey developed its ties with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and improved the relations with Russia. This policy evoked a response. At the end of 2013, or in the wake of Ankara’s crackdown on mass demonstrations in Taksim Square, the EU accession talks with Turkey were blocked. But the campaign against Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party led to unexpected results. The party held a sweeping victory at municipal elections. Erdogan easily won the presidential election in the summer of 2014. Ex-Foreign Minister Ahmet Dovutoglu, the main ideologist of neo-Ottomanism and the President’s associate, became Prime Minister. Yeni Safak, a leading Turkish media outlet, gave a precise definition of US policy towards Turkey. According to it, the United States denies the fact that the world faces a struggle for control over energy resources and global hegemony, the same way it did in XVIII century. Turkey, like any other country, wants to avoid falling prey to geographic determinism. [3] Besides, from US point of view, Turkey has done something more dangerous and challenging than just cracking down on protesters at Taksim Square, or even cooperating with Iran – it has signed an agreement with Russia on Turkish Stream. 

The West wants to weaken the position of the Justice and Development Party which is a likely winner at the election. Early polls put the Islamist Justice and Development party ahead with 44%-46% of vote, with main opposition (the Republican People's Party" – CHP led by its president Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu) trailing behind with 23%-28%. [4] By and large, the correlation of forces is the same as it was at the municipal election in the spring of 2014. Back then the Justice and Development Party got around 45 % of votes against 28% gathered by the Republican People's Party. 

As normally, it can be expected that the destabilization scenario will be implemented by opponents inside and outside the country right after the outcome of election is announced. The results will not be recognized. The experience of organizing protests in Yugoslavia (2000) and Ukraine (2004) will come in handy. The organizers will use up-to-date technology. But the society in general, or, at least, its socially active part, should be offered a program, something unrealizable under the circumstances as the contradictions between Ankara and Brussels are getting sharper, the instability in the Middle East is growing and the gap between the United States and Turkey is getting wider, especially when it comes to energy issues. The very nature of social and political development contradicts the plans of «orange revolutions» organizers. As far back as the 1960s, James Chowning Davies, a leading US sociologist who wrote the famous book "Toward a Theory of Revolution", came up with «J curve» (economic development followed by a depression would be modeled as an upside down and slightly skewed J) theory of political upheavals explaining the rise of revolutionary movements in terms of rising individual expectations and falling levels of perceived well-being. Davies asserts that revolutions are a subjective response to a sudden reversal in fortunes after a long period of economic growth. The theory is often applied to explain social unrest and efforts by governments to contain this unrest. [5] The situation in Turkey is quite different and it reduces the effectiveness of attempts to control social unrest by staging «orange revolutions». [6]

According to Bloomberg, «The West, however, has a habit of failing to extend its support to reformers much beyond the day of regime change. The result is that countries slide back into their corrupt ways. That's what happened in Ukraine after 2005, and, in recent years, in Georgia.» [7] That is something Turkey understands well.

Keeping cool Recep Tayyip Erdoğan meets the criticism from overseas with response. In a televised speech in Istanbul he blasted the New York Times saying, «You are meddling in Turkey’s affairs by writing something like this. By publishing this editorial, you are overstepping the limits of freedom,» he said. 

«The United States and Turkey’s other NATO allies should be urging [Erdogan] to turn away from this destructive path,» the New York Times editorial said. Erdogan spat back «Who are you? Could you say something like this to the US administration?» [8]

The answer is clear as much as it is clear that the contradictions between Washington and Ankara continue to exacerbate. 

[5] Davies J. Toward a Theory of Revolution // American Sociological Review. Vol.27. 1962. P.5.
[6] E. Shultz, The Control over Social Protests as Technology and Substance of Arab Spring, Mezhdunarodny Processi.2015.January-March. P.89. 
Author: Peotr Iskenderov, PH.D., senior research fellow at the Institute of Slavic Studies, the Russian Academy of Sciences, international news reporter, Rossiya Segodnya news agency.