Sep 03 2018

Turkey’s meeting in Tabriz could signal turn towards Eurasia - scholar

Turkey, Russia and Iran are set to meet in the northwest Iranian city of Tabriz on Sep. 7, and the United States will have to sit on the side lines as three of the most influential states in the Syrian conflict hold critical discussions, scholar John C. K. Daly wrote in an op-ed for the Arab Weekly.

These countries have more than the Syrian conflict in common, however, and the meeting of three targets of U.S. sanctions could lead to a Turkey-Iran-Russia axis, Daly said.

“While no agenda for the Tabriz meeting has been published, it is likely that the economic damage inflicted by unilateral US sanctions will be a priority,” wrote the scholar.

Moreover, Iran and Russia have long held a shared interest in curtailing the U.S. military presence, with Iran particularly focussed on the Persian Gulf and Russia on the Black Sea.

The meeting comes during a severe diplomatic rift between Turkey the United States, which has sanctioned its long-term NATO allies for imprisoning U.S. citizens and employees.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has recently made his own view of U.S. policy clear in an op-ed published by the New York Times, and warned that Turkey could seek “alternatives” if the United States did not change these.

These alternatives could mean a decreased involvement in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or even a clean break from it to join instead the Russian and Chinese-dominated Shanghai Cooperation Organisation security alliance, said Daly.

Similarly, after Turkey’s long-running accession bid to the European Union was frozen over human rights concerns in 2016, it could “seek affiliation with either the Eurasian Economic Union or BRICS — the grouping of the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa,” he said.

“The stakes for the US regional presence are substantial as Turkey, Iran and Russia confer,” Daly concluded.