Erdoğan should think carefully before ditching the U.S. for Russia – analyst

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s increasing dissatisfaction with Europe and his on-off relationship with the U.S. President Donald Trump administration can only benefit Russia, which for centuries has craved influence over Turkey, director of the London-based Council for Arab-British Understanding Chris Doyle said.

Tightening relations between Ankara and Moscow in recent years have sparked fears in the West that Erdoğan is ready to shift his country away from its NATO allies. Critics maintain the delivery of Russian S-400 missile defence systems to Turkey this year in spite of Washington’s protests is a turning point for the alliance.

Putin is surely pleased with the developments in this new Russia-Turkey axis, which is bolstered by his personal relationship with Erdoğan, Doyle wrote in an article for the Arab News.

Through the Astana process, Russia, Turkey and Iran devised a mechanism regarding war-torn Syria that excluded the United States and EU powers, allowing them to carve up Syria according to their interests alone, Doyle said.

The Turkish offensive in northeast Syria targeting Kurdish forces led to another deal with Moscow, which effectively left the United States with nothing, he said.

Tensions with the EU are another factor pushing Erdoğan closer to Putin, Doyle wrote, as the EU instigated sanctions against drilling in the eastern Mediterranean and Turkey responded by saying it would release or attempt to repatriate about 1,200 Islamic State (ISIS) prisoners into the EU.

The latest developments are a historic achievement for Russia, whose crown glory would be uncoupling Turkey from NATO and into a military alliance with Russia, the article said.

Doyle warned however that the narrow lens through which Erdoğan and Putin see the region, may not pay off in the long run and Turkey should carefully consider the future before ditching Washington for Putin’s Moscow.