What is the place of Turkey between trump and Putin?

Specialist in geopolitics Gerard Sallian analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the policies of President Erdogan in light of the terrorist attack in Istanbul, his actions in Syria and the new American diplomacy.

Le Figaro: the terrorist Attack in Istanbul is associated with the war in Syria?
Gerard Sallian (Gérard Challiand): the terrorist Attack in Istanbul (and not for the first, that will definitely affect tourism) is not Kurd, as you might expect, and a foreign jihadist. It was the result of a tactical change in the policy of the Turkish state, which initially supported the Islamic state and other extremists, then took a hostile stance towards them.

Is there?

— In Syria, Turkey is trying to seize the town of al-Bab, who was being held ISIS. In addition, unlike in the past it did not support the rebel Islamist movement under the wing “of Fatah al-sham”, the former “Dzhabhat EN Nusra” (banned in Russia — approx.ed.) during the siege of East Aleppo. The main task of Turkey — not to allow Syrian Kurds to take control of the entire border area. Apparently, she managed to achieve a temporary agreement with Moscow that the Kurds do not receive the support of the Russian (and American) forces. So, near Aleppo, Jerablus was occupied by Turkish troops without any reaction from Russia. Islamist rebels from the East of Aleppo are left without the necessary support and were ousted by government forces with Shiite allies and Russia. Ankara has ceased to call the departure of Bashar al-Assad a precondition of the peace process.

In addition, the opinion of Washington now nobody cares about (two weeks before the transition of power from one President to another). Russia and Turkey are trying to put an end to the fighting (even temporarily) in the hope of a reconciliation. Syria is preparing to battle for al-Raqqa, which will be carried out mainly by Kurds (they risk losing valuable reserves). In Mosul the battle rests on the shoulders of the Iraqi elite units, which there are serious losses. Besides, the capture of the city will take months. Anyway, it all becomes a blow to the territory DAYS, but the process is hampered by the “heroic” resistance, which helps to save the remnants of the aura of an Islamic state.

— What is trying to get Erdogan to Turkey?

— 20 years ago, when Erdogan was still a member of the Islamist party of Erbakan, he made absolutely unambiguous public statement that, as a devout Sunni Muslim, in favor of a return to the religious tradition of the Ottoman Empire. Then he was sent to jail standing on guard of the secular state and the military. Subsequently, he became head of the AKP, he led a dynamic policy of economic growth and tried to erase the cultural legacy of Turkey since Mustafa Kemal in the 1920-ies (abolition of the Caliphate, etc.). He presents himself as a champion of religious traditions and celebrates the heritage of Empire, speaking about her former greatness, without thinking about the decline of the last 200 years. After the failed coup (it is said that Russia had warned him about it), Erdogan began a massive purge all hostile towards him circles. In particular, he intends to open officer positions for graduates of religious schools, thus reversing the secularization of the army, where traditionally popular Kemalism.

— Islamization of society is clearly not conducive to the already strained relations between Turkey and Europe…

— In economic terms, Turkey has strong ties with the European market, and in particular with Germany. Now they are particularly important, as the once powerful economic growth fell from previous 7% to a modest 3%. Due to the instability in the country, investment has stalled. In addition, Turkey pledged to keep on its territory, at least 2 million seeking in Europe (Treaty Merkel-Erdogan) for a considerable amount. As a result, she has leverage with which Europe has little to do.

— Can the coming to power of Donald trump’s impact on the rapprochement between Turkey and Russia?

— The arrival of Donald trump suggests that the position of Iran in the middle East will weaken, whereas Turkey is likely to fail to pass. Vladimir Putin, who already enjoys friendly Donald trump will have to use all your strategy skills to simultaneously maintain cooperation with Iran and friendly relations with Turkey.