EDITOR’S NOTE: Helleniscope has been cautious in analyzing what happened in the NATO synod in Vilnius, as no schedule was initially clear. A few days later, it is now evident that the two sides exchanged promises with October as the horizon: Neither Turkey agreed to any schedule and deadline for approving Sweden’s accession to NATO, nor the US agreed to give the F-16s to Turkey on a specific date. Both sides are very untrusting of each other, and in a climate like that, no agreement is possible.
Further, between now and October, we have three major events: a) President Putin’s visit to Ankara with a heavy agenda, b) The BRICKs summit in South Africa, and c) the possible Russian advances in Ukraine that would likely end this conflict. Under these circumstances, Turkey is likely to hold any decisions for later: What is the use of ordering F-16s if it becomes clear that the S-400 missiles it already bought from Russia can down these (Greece’s) F-16s easily?
Let me reiterate that President Erdogan’s three closest advisers (particularly Hakan Fidan) are all oriented toward Iran and the East. They are Islamists, and they have already decided that Turkey is not turning back toward the West. Under these conditions, Greece and Cyprus may have other opportunities to take advantage of. For example, it is not publicized widely that Cypriot troops are in Israel training in Israeli tanks, soon to be bought by Cyprus.
Let me close this note by repeating what has been said before – in almost every “black anniversary” of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus: that the Turkish troops will leave Cyprus when the geopolitical conditions that created the 1974 invasion are reversed. Well, my friends, we are very close to this reversal, as Israel’s security needs that created the Turkish invasion will dictate that the only trustworthy corridor of Israel with the West (Cyprus and Greece) needs to be preserved and be available without any doubts. The Turkish troops create doubts in this “umbilical cord” for Israel and will soon have to leave Cyprus.
BELOW AN EXCELLENT ANALYSIS FROM ZEROHEDGE
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave NATO the public relations boost it so desperately wanted during the Vilnius summit.
First, he released the neo-Nazi Azov commanders back to Ukraine in violation of the agreement with Russia. Then, he agreed to some sort of deal for Sweden’s entry into NATO.
The contents of that deal still aren’t entirely clear, but now that the PR euphoria has subsided and the summit has ended, it looks like the details still need to be ironed out as the same old stumbling blocks remain for Sweden’s accession.
Stockholm says it will meet Turkiye’s demands after Ankara gives the final go-ahead to NATO accession while Erdogan wants that order reversed and has now pushed off a vote in Turkiye’s parliament until October.
After Sweden’s prime minister, Ulf Kristersson, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with Erdogan, Sweden declared that it will “actively support efforts to rejuvenate Turkiye’s EU accession process, including modernizing the EU-Turkiye Customs Union and visa liberalization.”
But there still appears to be disagreements over Turkiye’s demand that Stockholm must deport individuals Turkiye accuses of involvement in terrorism, including followers of US-based Sunni cleric Fethullah Gulen, as well as groups and individuals allegedly linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party.
Erdogan said “a bilateral security mechanism will be established at the ministerial level and we will increase our cooperation and collaboration in our fight against the terrorist organizations.” That could already be running into trouble. From Turkish Minute:
Sweden’s top court has blocked the extradition of two people wanted by Turkiye for involvement in the faith-based Gülen movement, saying their actions are not considered a crime in the Scandinavian country, Agence France-Presse reported. The ruling comes just days after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced he was ready to allow Sweden to join the military alliance.
However on Wednesday, Erdoğan said Turkiye would not be able to ratify Sweden’s NATO candidacy until at least October, when the Turkish parliament is due to re-open after its summer break. In Sweden, the government makes the final decision on extradition requests but cannot grant a request to another state if the Supreme Court rules against it.
There are also questions about the US holding up its end of the bargain. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez said he is in talks with the Biden administration about the hold he has on future U.S. sales of F-16 fighter jets to Ankara.
According to the Associated Press, “in order to get Menendez on board, the U.S. offered to provide Greece with unspecified tactical weaponry to defend from any future Turkish incursion, according to a Democratic senator, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.” So should the deals go through, the US weapons industry clearly comes out a winner.
So Erdogan is putting off the vote in the Turkish parliament (he could extend the parliament’s session if he really wanted the vote to happen now) until he sees the movement he wants on the deals with Sweden and Washington. And the F-16 sales might not be all that Biden offered. According to Seymour Hersh:
The public story for Biden’s face-saving coup was talk about agreeing to sell American F-16 fighter bombers to Turkiye.
I have been told a different, secret story about Erdogan’s turnabout: Biden promised that a much-needed $11-13 billion line of credit would be extended to Turkiye by the International Monetary Fund. “Biden had to have a victory and Turkiye is in acute financial stress,” an official with direct knowledge of the transaction told me. Turkiye lost 100,000 people in the earthquake last February, and has four million buildings to rebuild. “What could be better than Erdogan”—under Biden’s tutelage, the official asked, “finally having seen the light and realizing he is better off with NATO and Western Europe?” Reporters were told, according to the New York Times, that Biden called Erdogan while flying to Europe on Sunday. Biden’s coup, the Times reported, would enable him to say that Putin got “exactly what he did not want: an expanded, more direct NATO alliance.” There was no mention of bribery.
The IMF deal would be quite the shift for Erdogan who attacked his election opponent for wanting to cut deals with Western financial institutions. On the other hand, Turkiye certainly needs economic help, as it has been struggling with runaway inflation, a growing budget deficit, and dwindling reserves. While Erdogan won reelection, if he and his AKP ruling party can’t return to their old ways of delivering economic growth and rising living standards, they face the prospects of internal upheaval and a rude awakening in future elections.
The government-run Turkish Statistical Institute reported last week that the annual inflation rate was 38 percent in June (the independent inflation group ENAG put the figure at 109 percent). Erdogan and his ruling party a receiving criticism for increasing taxes 2 percent on a range of goods and services, including basics like toilet paper, detergents, and diapers
The government also hiked the tax collected from lending institutions on consumer loans. The moves are part of an effort to reduce the country’s ballooning budget deficit.
According to Reuters, Turkiye “recorded a deficit of 263.6 billion lira ($10.21 billion) in the first five months of the year, compared to 124.6 billion lira a year ago due to increased spending ahead of May elections and the impact of February’s devastating earthquakes in southern Turkiye.”
There has been some triumphant speculation from organizations like CNN and the Atlantic Council that Erdogan is now taking Turkiye fully into the Western camp and turning his back on Russia. This is inaccurate and misses the fact that Erdogan continually plays this game of trying to extract as many concessions as possible from each side.