| Turkey, Washington’s geopolitical pivot |
By F. William Engdahl
Apr 17, 2009,
The recent visit of US President Obama to Turkey was far more significant than the president’s speech would suggest. For Washington, Turkey today has become a geopolitical “pivot state” which is in the position to tilt the Eurasian power equation towards Washington or significantly away from it, depending on how Turkey develops its ties with Moscow and its role regarding key energy pipelines.
If Ankara decides to collaborate more closely with Russia, Georgia’s position is precarious and Azerbaijan’s natural gas pipeline route to Europe, the so-called Nabucco Pipeline, is blocked. If it cooperates with the
For Washington, the key to bringing Germany into closer cooperation with the US is to weaken German dependence on Russian energy flows. Twice in the past three winters Washington has covertly incited its hand-picked president in Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, to arrange an arbitrary cut-off of Russian gas flows to Germany and other EU destinations. The only purpose of the actions was to convince EU governments that
The Turkish-EU problem
However willing Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan might be to accommodate Obama, the question of Turkish relations with the EU is inextricably linked with the troublesome issue of Turkish membership to the EU, a move vehemently opposed by France and also less openly by Germany.
Turkey is one of the only routes energy from new sources can cross to
Turkey and the
It is becoming clear that Obama and Washington are playing a deeper game. A few weeks before the meetings, when it had become obvious that the Europeans were not going to bend on the issues, such as troops for Afghanistan or more economic stimulus, that concerned the United States, Obama scheduled the trip to Turkey.
During the recent EU meetings in Prague, Obama actively backed Turkey’s application for EU membership knowing well that that put especially France and Germany in a difficult position, as EU membership would allow free migration which many EU countries fear. Obama deliberately confronted EU states with this knowing he was playing with geopolitical fire, especially as the
During the NATO meeting, a key item on the agenda was the selection of a new alliance secretary-general. The favorite was former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
Turkey, thereby, boosted its standing in NATO and got Obama to vigorously defend the Turkish application for membership in the European Union, which of course the United States does not belong to. Obama then went to
The Russian dimension
During US-Russian talks, there had been no fundamental shift by Obama from the earlier position of the Bush administration. Russia rejects Washington’s idea of pressuring Iran on its nuclear program in return for a bargain of an undefined nature with Washington over US planned missile and radar bases in Poland and the Czech Republic. The
Germany will clearly not join Obama in blocking Russia. Not only does
At the same time, an extremely important event between Turkey and Armenia is shaping up. Armenians had long held
A Turkish opening to
Turkey is the key link in this complex game of geopolitical balance of power between
Therefore, having sat through fruitless meetings with the Europeans, Obama chose not to cause a pointless confrontation with a Europe that is out of options. Instead, Obama completed his trip by going to
The most important Obama speech in his European tour came after
Moscow is not sitting passively by as Washington woos Turkey. Turkish President Abdullah Gul paid a four-day visit to the
On March 27, a memorandum was signed between the Azerbaijani oil company SOCAR and Russia’s Gazprom. The memorandum includes a statement of deliveries, beginning in January 2010, of Azerbaijani natural gas to
Gazprom was particularly interested in signing such an agreement with Azerbaijan, not the least because Azerbaijan is the only state outside Iran or Turkmenistan, both of which are problematic, that could supply gas to the planned EU Nabucco pipeline, for transporting natural gas from Azerbaijan and the Central Asia states through Turkey to southeastern Europe. In reality, gas may come only from