A very interesting article for the rapprochement between Russia and Turkey from the great American think tank Washington Institute. See “Will the PKK and the Islamic State Bring Turkey and Russia Closer Together”? July 2016.
First of all the article says that the Arabs and the Turks gave the Sunni rebels of Syria advanced anti-aircraft equipment, and the rebels downed Assad’s aircrafts on March 13th, April 5th, and April 23rd of 2016. Then the Russians threatened they would provide the Kurds with equally advanced anti-aircaft equipment, and they actually did so. As a result the Kurds downed a Turkish helicopter on May 13 2016 . For the downing of the Turkish helicopter by the Kurds see “Kurds Downing Turkish Helicopter”
According to the Washington Institute the Turks need the Russians if they want to stop the Kurds, who have crossed Euphrates with Washington’s blessings. The Kurds threaten to close the Manbij Pocket, which is the region between the Kurdish (yellow) regions, and which allows Turkey to communicate with the Sunnis of Syria.
Note that if the Kurds were to take the Manbij Pocket they would reach the Kurds near the Mediterranean Sea, and they would be very close to open a Kurdish corridor to the Mediterranean Sea. That would be very bad for both Russia and Turkey, because one more oil and natural gas corridor would be created. This corridor would start at Northern Iraq and end at the Mediterranean Sea, and only the Americans would see it positively. But the priority of the Americans is to stabilize Syria and not to help their ally Kurds to reach the Mediterranean Sea.
Therefore if the Turks reach an agreement with the Russians, the Turks will be able control the Syrian Kurds and safeguard the Manbij Pocket, because the Russians are Syrian allies.
Moreover, now that the Turks are cooperating with the Americans against ISIS, the Americans will not have to provide their Kurds allies with so many arms to fight ISIS, because ISIS will be significantly weakened with Turkey against it. And the Russians will stop supplying arms to the Kurds of Turkey (PKK). There is also Iran of course, but Russia is a much stronger military power than Iran.
Moreover, now that Turkey decided to cooperate with the US against ISIS, ISIS will start a terror war in Turkey, and Turkey will need to use the Sunni corridor of Syria to attack ISIS. And according to the Washington Institute Turkey needs Russia’s permission if she wants to use the Syrian Sunni corridor.
Also remember that the top men of ISIS are the ex-people of Saddam Hussein i.e. the Iraqi dictator, and these people were cooperating with the Turks, because they were selling their oil to Turkey, and together with the Turks they hunting the Kurds of Turkey and Iraq.
But at the same time Saddam Hussein was a close Soviet ally, and his top men were trained by the Russian secret services KGB, so these people have strong connections with Russia. Remember that for most of the time Russia was not attacking ISIS in Syria, but the Sunni rebels who were supported by NATO i.e. the Free Syria Army. See “Towards an Alliance Between Russia and ISIS”?
Therefore the Russians can indirectly attack the Turks by supporting the Kurds, but now that the Turks together with the United States are fighting ISIS, the Russians could indirectly attack Turkey by supporting ISIS.
Therefore if Turkey wants to fight ISIS, and stop the Syrian Kurds at the southern borders of Turkey, she needs Russia.
The article wonders what are the benefits of the Turkis-Russian détente for Russia, and even though it does not give an answer, it is quite obvious what it is. The Turks could accept Gazprom in the Israeli and Egyptian gas fields of Eat Mediterranean Sea, and they could allow the Russians to export this gas to Turkey. A Turkish company could join the project.
Turkey would be happy to get cheap natural gas for Southern Turkey, and Russia would get something out of it, and Israel and Egypt would export their gas and also have Russia’s protection.
Remember that on June 2016 Turkey and Israel established again their diplomatic relations that collapsed in 2010 after the Mavi Marmara incident. See Huffington Post “Turkey Moves To Restore Relations With Russia And Israel On The Same Day”, June 2016.
Moreover the Turks are starting to reduce their support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, in order to improve their relations with the Egyptian socialists. See The Times “Deadly terror campaign forces Erdogan to rip up foreign policy”, July 2016.
See also Haaretz Haaretz “In Change of Direction, Russia Welcomes Israel-Turkey Reconciliation Talks”, June 2016..
Another benefit for the Russians could be fresh talks for a big (60 billion cub meters) or small (30 billion cub meters) Turk Stream pipeline. Or maybe the Turks, the Russians, the Israelis and the Egyptians could send natural gas to India and Pakistan. See “Is the Reconciliation Between Israel and Turkey Viable”?
What is very interesting is that according to Washington Institute the Americans are very pleased with the Russian-Turkish rapprochement in Syria. Even though it sounds a bit strange, it makes perfect sense. The Americans will greatly benefit from a Russian-Turkish rapprochement in Syria, because Syria is not important for the Americans. Things could be different in Ukraine though. But Syria is not very important for the Americans and the Chinese. The rich in oil and gas Iraq is important for the United States and China. The poor in oil and gas Syria is only important for Turkey, Russia, Iran and Qatar.
If the Americans do not support the Qatar-Turkey pipeline everybody can be happy. Well the Turks and the Qataris might not like it, but Syria has been a traditional ally of Russia and it cannot be used to hurt so vital Russian interest in Europe. Or at least that should happen gradually, in order for the Russians to find alternative markets for their exports i.e. Japan, China, India, Pakistan etc.
What the Americans want in Syria is to protect the Syrian Kurds and fight ISIS, because ISIS commanders are the ex-Saddam people who were overturned by the Americans in 2003, and they really hate the United States. If the Americans want to fight ISIS with Turkey, they will be very happy if Russia does not supply ISIS with arms.
In addition, if Russia stops using the Kurds of Syria to attack Turkey, the Americans will stop being embarrassed. Because the Americans have designated the Kurds of Turkey (PKK) as a terrorist organization, but they are allies of the Syrian Kurds (YPG), and they know very well that the two groups have a close cooperation.
Therefore the arms the Americans provide to the Kurds of Syria, in order for them to fight ISIS, find their way to the Kurds of Turkey, and they might be used in terrorist attacks in Turkey. But if Russia calms down the Kurds against Turkey, and if Turkey and the United States jointly fight ISIS, the Americans will not need to provide the Kurds of Syria with arms in order to fight ISIS. The Americans will be able to protect their Kurds allies but they will give them a lot less weapons if they are not threatened by ISIS.
In other words the Russians could greatly help the Americans to solve their problems with ISIS, and they could greatly help Turkey to solve her problems with the Kurds. But obviously Russia would want something in return.
Finally, if the Turks and the Russians reach a détente, the Russians will allow the Israelis to reach an agreement with Turkey, and it will be very convenient for the United States to see two of their allies i.e. Turkey and Israel, stop fighting each other.
Summary: The benefits of a Russian-Turkish détente will be that Turkey will be able to control the Kurds, the United States will be able to fight ISIS, Turkey and Israel might become friends again, or at least they might stop being enemies, Egypt and Israel might export gas to Turkey, and Russia might get some energy deals in return for her support to all the above players. In such a scenario Qatar and Iran might be the losers.
“Will the PKK and the Islamic State Bring Turkey and Russia Closer Together”? , July 2016
“Deadly terror campaign forces Erdogan to rip up foreign policy”, July 2016
1st, 2nd Paragraph
Turkey is moving to mend its relations with Egypt in the latest sign that Ankara is scaling back its support for the Muslim Brotherhood in response to the terrorist threat it faces at home.
The country increasingly finds itself dealing with the fallout from the civil war in Syria. The attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport last night, which killed up to 31 people, was the latest in a growing number of attacks by Isis and Kurdish nationalist groups that have battered Turkey’s image as a home for investment and tourism.
“Turkey Moves To Restore Relations With Russia And Israel On The Same Day”, June 2016
“In Change of Direction, Russia Welcomes Israel-Turkey Reconciliation Talks”, June 2016