Schiff shifts his hated from Russia and Putin to Turkey and Erdogan
American Congressman Adam Schiff of the Democratic Party is among the leading proponents of the so-called Russiagate conspiracy theory which claims that meddling from the Russian government played a role in manipulating the result of the 2016 US Presidential election. Now, Schiff has pivoted his ire from his typical Russian target to Turkey.
Schiff took to Twitter to challenge the veracity of the recent Turkish Presidential and Parliamentary elections which saw President Erodgan winning re-election in the first round while the People’s Alliance Parliamentary bloc which is headed by Erdogan’s AK Party came on top in the parallel elections.
According to Schiff, “Erdogan ‘won’ reelection in Turkey this weekend only by decimating the opposition through arrests, violence and squashing freedom of the press. Turkey’s descent into autocracy is another reminder that democracy is under assault worldwide. Do not congratulate”.
Erdogan “won” reelection in Turkey this weekend only by decimating the opposition through arrests, violence and squashing freedom of the press.
Turkey's descent into autocracy is another reminder that democracy is under assault worldwide.
DO NOT CONGRATULATE.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) June 26, 2018
This statement comes in spite of the fact that the opposition party conceded defeat and no credible international observers have reported any electoral irregularities. Furthermore, with a turnout of 87%, Turkey’s elections brought many more people to the polls the last most recent US elections or most European elections.
Turkey’s Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin responded to Schiff’s provocative and insulting remarks, stating, “President Erdoğan certainly does not need YOUR @RepAdamSchiff congratulations. Turkish people have spoken up. You need to shut up“.
— Ibrahim Kalin (@ikalin1) June 26, 2018
Liberalism defeated across the globe
There are two aspects to Schiff’s deeply undiplomatic statement. First of all, his insulting of Turkishness is symptomatic of an increasingly common trend wherein liberal politicians throughout the world struggle to cope with the rising popularity of non-liberal forces whether secular populism, a renewed interest in socialism, the new generation of conservative politics, and most importantly, the hybrid model of populism, conservatism, radical economic reformism and religious characteristics, such as those that Erdogan and the AK party advocate for in Turkey.
A new dynamic for Turkey, “Israel”, Greece and Cyprus
But there is also a more complex and in the long term more important meaning underlying Schiff’s motivation in publicly insulting the just re-elected Turkish President and his millions of supporters. As the geopolitical alignments of the eastern Mediterranean undergo a profound shift in multiple directions, American politicians in both major parties who once had positive to neutral/healthy views on Turkey have begun engaging in an intensified campaign of Turkophobic rhetoric. The country that Americans once portrayed as a functional democracy, a close ally and a civilised culture is now being portrayed in the same way that American politicians portray countries which they unambiguously hate, including Russia, China and increasingly also Pakistan.
The issue stems from the fact that “Israel” has becomes ever more distant with Turkey in terms of diplomatic relations which have been soured due to Turkey’s refusal to remain silent regarding the plight of Palestine. Both prior to this development and increasingly because of this development, the region’s security alliances and energy partnerships are changing at an accelerated pace.
While Turkey was the first Muslim majority nation to recognise “Israel” and prior to recent decades, Ankara and Tel Aviv have had a generally healthy relationship, this dramatically changed in 2010 when “Israeli” commandos illegally boarded the MV Mavi Marmara in international waters. The MV Mavi Marmara was a privately chartered Turkish flagged ship carrying mostly Turkish activists on their way to Gaza in order to deliver much needed humanitarian supplies to besieged Palestinians. The gruesome raid killed ten Turks and resulted in the lowest ebb in Ankara-Tel Aviv relations until now.
Pipeline politics no more
The MV Mavi Marmara attack resulted in the expulsion of Tel Aviv’s ambassador to Ankara and a formal downgrading in relations. In 2016, the two sides reconciled, primarily out of pragmatic motives. At the time, both “Israel” and Turkey hoped to jointly participate in a pipeline that would transport gas from northern Iraq through Turkey and into “Israel”.
However, since then, the plans for such Turkey to “Israel” East Mediterranean pipeline have stalled. Instead, Tel Aviv has pivoted closer to Turkey’s regional rival Egypt (which has said next to nothing about Palestine in recent weeks), while most importantly there is now talk of an EU sponsored East Mediterranean pipeline between “Israel”, Cyprus, Greece and Italy.
According to the pro-Brussels New Europe,
“The EastMed gas pipeline would circumvent Turkey, which has increased tensions with Cyprus, Greece and Israel recently, providing a way to transport newly discovered gas supplies from the East Mediterranean to Europe. The talks in Nicosia in May follow a memorandum of understanding regarding the EastMed pipeline, which was signed in December.
According to the Public Gas Corporation of Greece (DEPA), the EastMed will connect the recently discovered gas fields in the Levantine Basin, in the southeast Mediterranean, with mainland Greece and is projected to carry 8-14 billion cubic meters per year of natural gas to Greece and Europe.
According to DEPA, the approximately 1900 kilometer long pipeline (700 kilometers on-shore, 1200 off-shore) consists of the three following main sections, as well as compressor stations located in Cyprus and Crete: a pipeline from the fields to Cyprus, a pipeline connecting Cyprus to Crete, and a pipeline from Crete crossing mainland Greece up to the Ionian coast.
From there the EastMed can link up with the offshore Poseidon pipeline enabling the delivery of additional diversified sources from the Levantine to Italy and beyond. The EastMed pipeline is preliminarily designed to have exit points in Cyprus, Crete, and mainland Greece as well as the connection point with the Poseidon pipeline”.
The deal to create such a pipeline was sealed in December of 2017 while glowing reports from pro-EU media touted the deal as a means of allowing Europe to decrease its dependence on Russian gas while also offering “Israel” a chance to swap Turkey for EU partners. As Turkey’s long paralytic bid to join the EU is now de-facto over, both Europe and “Israel’s” cooperation over a new East Mediterranean gas pipeline has the effect of drawing Russia and Turkey into an even closer partnership than the one they are currently in.
At the moment the Turkstream pipeline designed to bring Russian gas into Europe via Turkey is a major joint project between Moscow and Ankara. Now, both the EU and “Israel” are looking to challenge this route with a pipeline of their own in a similar region. In reality, there is enough demand for gas in Europe and “Israel” to mean that both pipelines can coexist, but the geopolitical optics are clear enough. Tel Aviv has joined forces with the most anti-Ankara states in the EU in order to cut Turkey out of “Israel’s” future.
The importance of Turkey’s Soft Power in the Sunni Muslim world
President Erdogan has already proved himself to be the ‘Sultan of Soft Power’ in the wider Sunni Muslim world. Without clear leadership from Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Qatar and with Saddam’s always controversial Iraqi government long out of power, Erdogan has positioned himself as a champion for Palestine not only in Turkey and the Sunni Arab world but beyond. Because of this, one should never underestimate how far Turkey will take its support of Palestine vis-a-vis Tel Aviv, not least because the more Erdogan voices his opinions in support of Palestine, the more he is respected and supported both in Turkey and far beyond.
“Israel” supporting Turkey’s main rivals
Because “Israel” has taken clear moves away from Turkey and towards its hated Hellenic rivals, officials in Ankara who in the past may have been hesitant to sever ties with Tel Aviv because of economic considerations may now be much closer to doing so. “Israel’s” intensifying military cooperation with both Greece and Cyprus are a further sign that when it comes to Turkey, Tel Aviv is doing everything in its power to replace its once healthy Turkish partnership with that of countries with notoriously poor and always heated relations with Ankara.
Then there is the issue of Kurdish ethno-nationalism in both Syria and Iraq. Uniquely in the world, the United States and “Israel” are supporters of Kurdish separatism both in northern Syria and northern Iraq. President Erdogan has already made it clear that this is one of several red lines that “Israel” can cross in respect of maintaining even semi-normal relations. During the attempted illegal Kurdish succession from Iraq in the autumn of 2017, Erdogan posed the following rhetorical statements to Kurdish secessionists in Iraq,
“Who will recognize your independence? Israel. The world is not about Israel?…
…“You should know that the waving of Israeli flags there will not save you!”
Traditional Anti-Turkish lobbies in the US team up with the American Jewish lobby
Finally, it is not only in the Middle East and Mediterranean where “Israel” has taken up common positions with Turkey’s adversaries. In the United States, the powerful Jewish lobby has joined forceswith the comparatively smaller but still influential US based Hellenic and Armenian lobbies to protest the sale of US made F-35 jets to Ankara. While the move ultimately failed, it demonstrated that unlike in the past where the US Jewish lobby did not try to antagonise Turkey, in 2018, it is willing to team up with lobbies whose primary objective is to promote grievances against Turkey.
Against this background, it is perhaps not surprising that Gilad Erdan, a member of Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud faction has called for Tel Aviv to recognise the events of 1915 as an “Armenian Genocide”. If “Israel” were to officially to do this, it would represent a clear break between Tel Aviv and Ankara and quite possibly a point of no return. The more Turkey stands up for Palestine, the more voices like those of Erdan will become amplified in arguing for a move that is less about Armenia (a traditionally anti-Zionist nation) than about sending a clear message to Turkey that the partnership has run its course.
While Congressman Schiff’s words are both vulgar and crude, they are instructive insofar as they reveal the new foreign policy dynamic which unilaterally pits Athens, Nicosia, Tel Aviv and Cairo against Ankara with the added element of this new wider anti-Turkey alliance being pushed by Washington thanks to a domestic alliance within the US by pressure groups claiming to represent Hellenic and Zionist interests with the added element of the US based Armenian lobby joining in. While Yerevan itself struggles with its geopolitical identity in the wake of a recent bloodless regime change, the US based Armenian lobby has taken it upon itself to ally increasingly with Zionist lobbies in a clear push to give some indecisive politicians in Tel Aviv the signal that the US would now back a would-be”Israeli” recognition of the events of 2015 as genocide.
The reality of a Tel Aviv/Athens/Nicosia (and to a degree Cairo) security alliance combined with the fact that these same nations are conspiring to engage in joint energy projects with the aim of cutting Turkey out of the east Mediterranean gas loop, makes it clear that these states which each have attached to them (with the exception of Egypt) powerful lobby groups in the US, are helping to end Washington’s traditionally good relations with Turkey in the most dramatic way possible.
When these realities are combined with the fact that the US continues to covertly and sometimes not so covertly aid the Fethullah Terror Organisation and YPG/PKK, while the State Department has just renewed the threat of sanctions against Turkey if Ankara completes its S-400 missile defence system deal with Russia – it all adds up to an atmosphere where the most important elements of the US political apparatus are openly conspiring against the prospect of a meaningful or realistic rapprochement between Washington and Ankara.
While James “Mad Dog” Mattis and the wider military-industrial complex have shown a moderate and even pro-Ankara line when it comes to issues such as the full delivery of the F-35 jets Turkey has ordered and Turkey’s legitimate security concerns regarding the US alliance with the YPG/PKK in Syria – other more radical elements of the wider American deep state including intelligence agencies, the State Department, Treasury, Wall Street and ethno-religious lobby groups are all aligned against Turkey.
As a self-appointed blabber-mouth for the most worrisome elements of the wider American deep state, Adam Schiff has done the world a favour in communicating hateful sentiments shared by many powerful forces in the US which are far more powerful and influential than he ever was or likely ever will be.