Things continue to be heating up in Turkey as you may have heard (Turkey has now entered the Syrian war for the first time), and much of it, I think, is explainable by way of the recent one-day meeting that Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had with Russia's president Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg on August 9th, the first foreign visit Erdoğan had made since the failed Turkish coup on July 15th. The stated purpose of the talks was to return to pre-crisis relations, that being before Turkey had one of Russia's fighter jets shot down in November of 2015. This rapprochement included all the niceties of Russia allowing charter flights and tourists to resume their trips to Turkey, Russia allowing Turkish construction companies access to Russia, and Turkey lifting its firewall against Russia's online news portal Sputnik. But those were by no means cover for the meat of the meeting, of which Putin and Erdoğan made no efforts of hiding from. According to Putin, "The most important point here will be our joint energy projects." And according to Erdoğan, "I must say at the beginning that Turkey will grant a strategic investment status to the Akkuyu nuclear power plant."
Said nuclear power plant in Akkuyu was planned as the first of four 1,200 MW reactors under a $20 billion agreement made between the parties in May of 2010, but whose construction was shelved by Russia after last year's jet crisis. However, it should go without saying that Turkey needs its "juice" if it wants to extend its ultimately futile grasp on industrial civilization just a little bit longer, and if doing so means it has to reluctantly capitulate (apologize) to mother Russia (for downing its fighter jet), it capitulates.
So where did I leave off in part 1? Oh yeah. Erdoğan and Putin are now BFF-FAW (Best Friends Forever For A While), Erdoğan's Turkey has quite possibly been helping ISIS unload its oil, the United States / Europe / NATO has purportedly been turning a blind eye to it all, and Turkey is trying to avoid joining its western neighbour for as long as it can before embarking on its journey to the endarkenment. But before I continue from where I left off and address whether or not a local supply of fossil fuels from the north could be enough to sway Erdoğan "from the bad guys to the bad guys," a little bit of Turkish history is in order. And fortunately, having introduced my Turkish confidant to the Turkish (falafel) joint I frequent, in return I was introduced by him to the work of Turkish writer Efe Aydal, whose writings went a long way in clearing things up for me.
As Aydal explained it in May of 2016, when the AKP first came into power "The American media was calling Erdoğan 'second Atatürk.'" Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in case you aren't aware, is sometimes described as Turkey's George Washington. In the 1920s he became the first president of the country, and upon putting through various political, economic and cultural reforms meant to transform Turkey's religiously-oriented Ottoman caliphate into a secular, democratic, and modern nation-state, he also went out of his way to make sure that the military would not be answerable to the government. The purpose behind the latter move was to ensure that above all else the military would uphold its mandate of protecting Turkey's new constitutional principles of secularism. This is why Turkey has had six coups/attempted coups since 1960, the military moving in when it believes that civilian governments are violating its secular principles (although it's possible that outside interests played some roles in those coups).
On top of that, Atatürk had thousands of new schools built, primary education was made free, taxation on peasants was reduced, the use of Western attire was promoted, and women were given equal civil and political rights. And contrary to what I initially thought, none of this is to say that Atatürk was some kind of Western stooge. Unbeknownst to me, and as my Turkish confidant filled me in, the ANZAC holiday which many Australians and Kiwis celebrate every year was originally in reference to Australia's and New Zealand's failed invasion of Constantinople (in what is now Turkey) back in World War I – and which Kiwi mates of mine see as a ridiculous thing to celebrate since ANZAC Day is essentially about glorifying the (attempted) invasion of another country and of sending our young men to needlessly fight and die in a banker's war. But regardless of all that, it just so happens that the commander of the Turkish army that held back the Aussie and Kiwi minions of British bankers was none other than Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
So following the three weeks of "who was it that tried to steal the cookie from the cookie jar" showdown in Turkey, it turns out that the first head of state that Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will be meeting post-coup is occurring today in St. Petersburg, and with none other than his newest BFF-FAW (Best Friend Forever For A While), Vladimir Putin. This might come as a bit of a surprise to some, seeing how in November of 2015 Turkey shot down one of Russia's warplanes, Putin describing it as a "stab in the back." However, a slightly underreported fact is that in late-June, a mere two and a half weeks before the attempted coup, Erdoğan issued an apology to Russia/Putin for downing its aircraft and professed that Russia is Turkey's "friend and strategic partner." A couple of days later the ban on flights to Turkey via Russian airline Aeroflot was lifted, and the two leaders set aside August the 9th for a meeting in which they could discuss "normalization." Two and a half weeks after that, an attempt was made to overthrow the government in Turkey.
The timing of all that may be coincidental, but a look at what Erdoğan and Putin may be chatting about suggests there may be more to this than meets the eye. As The Guardianput it,
Putin is likely to show up at his meeting with Erdoğan with a goody basket, such as promises of boosting tourism, trade, construction and pipeline deals.
Pipeline deals? Now we're talking. But I've gotten way ahead of myself, so let me back up a bit.