Russia Is Using Economic Leverage to Turn Turkey into an Ally

Aug. 10 2018

While the Turkish-Russian rivalry goes back at least to the 18th century, and has flared up recently over tensions in Syria, there have been signs in recent years of a possible alliance between the two countries. As Recep Tayyip Erdogan leads his country in an increasingly anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-Israel direction, a realignment with Vladimir Putin seems more and more likely. Aykan Erdemir and John Lechner explain how a recent scandal involving the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, a joint Russian-Turkish venture, sheds light on Moscow’s plan to use private enterprise to bring Ankara to its side:

[O]n July 8, the U.S. ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison stated that Russia is trying to “flip” Turkey through the sale of the S-400 air-defense system and energy deals. While these state-to-state deals are certainly significant, they tend to overshadow a quieter, but equally important, Russian campaign to “flip” Turkey’s influential business community, . . . in what appears to be a gradual building of hybrid-warfare capacity against a key NATO member.

The term hybrid warfare has become a catch-all for Russia’s exploitation of economic, political, financial, covert, and military resources to achieve desired foreign-policy outcomes in the former Soviet Union and the West. Moscow utilizes economic resources and Russian companies to exert influence on key power-brokers in the target country, often lobbying to maintain or increase the country’s dependence on Russian energy at the state level. In the Kremlin’s playbook, Russian firms co-opt local businesspeople and decision makers via lucrative business deals and high-profile board positions—all via non-transparent, frequently corrupt processes. . . .

Akkuyu is one of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s pet megaprojects and . . . a key confidence builder in Turco-Russian relations. The $20-billion project will be Turkey’s first nuclear reactor, expected to supply the country with 10 percent of its energy needs. [The] Russian nuclear-energy company Rosatom provided the financing for Akkuyu in exchange for 51-percent ownership. . . . Russia is already the largest supplier of natural gas and the third-largest supplier of oil to Turkey. . . .

[The Russian government has recently arranged to place on Akkuyu’s board] Erdogan’s confidant, former senior adviser, and all-around fixer Hasan Cuneyd Zapsu. [He offers] Moscow effective channels of access to Turkey’s autocratic ruler. More importantly, it is likely that, given the sums and contracts at stake, the involvement of Erdogan’s inner circle in energy projects with Russia might [aid] Russia’s hybrid-warfare strategy. . . . And against a backdrop of growing calls in Washington for potential sanctions on Turkey for the procurement of the Russian-built S-400 air-defense system, such leverage might be worth more than ever.

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Read more at National Interest

More about: Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, Turkey, U.S. Foreign policy

Hamas’s Plan to Take Over the West Bank

Dec. 17 2018

Last week, terrorists from the West Bank—at the apparent direction of Hamas—carried out multiple attacks that left at least three Israelis dead. These attacks follow on the heels of an Egypt-brokered cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Hamas government in Gaza, as part of which the terrorist group received millions of dollars from Qatar. Khaled Abu Toameh comments:

Hamas and its allies are openly encouraging the eruption of a new anti-Israel uprising in the West Bank; [furthermore], Hamas and its friends have been emboldened by the recent failure of the UN General Assembly to adopt a U.S.-sponsored resolution condemning Hamas and other Palestinian groups for firing rockets at Israel and inciting violence. . . .

Every dollar and every concession made to Hamas will only increase its appetite to . . . extend its control beyond the Gaza Strip. From Hamas’s point of view, its plan has won legitimacy from the UN and important players in the region such as Qatar and Egypt. So long as Hamas feels that it is marching in the right direction, we are likely to see an increase in armed attacks and other forms of violence in the West Bank.

Now that Hamas is getting what it wants in the Gaza Strip—millions of dollars and no war with Israel—it is seeking to shift its attention to the West Bank, all with the help of its friends in Tehran. This [policy] has a threefold goal: to undermine or overthrow Abbas’s Palestinian Authority, inflict heavy casualties on Israel, and thwart any peace plan brought forward by the U.S. administration. In other words, Hamas and Iran now have their sights set on the West Bank, and this is reason not only for Israel to worry, but for Abbas to worry as well.

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror, Qatar, West Bank