Is Turkey the new geostrategic center of gravity?

Turkey’s Geostrategic significance has increased exponentially- For better and for worse

Harlan Ullman, Ph.D, is senior adviser at Washington, D.C.’s Atlantic Council

The United States and China are the two largest global economies. The U.S. and Russia are the only two global nuclear superpowers. Yet Turkey, because of geography and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s hat trick of stupendously disastrous decisions, may be more influential than all three for the time being.

But Turkey must agree to the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO as required by the Washington Treaty’s stipulation of unanimity. So far, Turkey has raised strong objections to both entrants based on alleged support or recognition of the PKK — the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which Turkey has designated a terrorist organization.

Turkey is not alone in it’s designation of the PKK as a terrorist organization. “The PKK is designated as a terrorist organization by Turkey,[26] the United States,[27] the EU[28] and some other countries”

The 1936 Montreux Convention limits Black Sea access of non-riparian warships (that is, warships not belonging to states bordering on this body of water) to duration, tonnage and armaments. If a humanitarian sealift through the Dardanelles is assembled to transport vitally needed agricultural products in Odessa for global distribution to quell potential starvation and requires naval escorts, the sole enforcer is Turkey to allow or deny transit of warships.

While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is prickly, failing to agree to the new entrants would strike a devastating blow to NATO, more so than France’s withdrawal from the military side of the alliance in 1966 under Charles de Gaulle. Putin is well aware of this situation. Doubtlessly, he will be doing his utmost to convince Erdogan to deny entry. (Turkey will do what serves Turkey in this regard)

About some form of naval transport to ferry wheat and other agricultural products from Odessa, the obstacles are immense. Russia would only agree with a quid pro quo, such as lifting sanctions.(?) The approaches to Odessa are mined. Ukraine would have to agree to sweeping a safe route in and out of port. And a United Nations resolution would necessarily come from the General Assembly as Russia would veto any motion in the Security Council.

We’ll have more info on the Ukrainian mines..

Others have argued that NATO warships may be required if forcible entry were needed. But that would confront Russian naval, air and missile forces and could lead to escalation and even a war at sea. Most of Russia’s Black Sea surface fleet is old. But its Kilo class diesel submarines are formidable. Given the nature of acoustics in the Black Sea, detection would be difficult. And Russian Kalibr and other missiles have proven effective. NATO would need air cover that, because of basing, requires substantial air tanking support.

Should Turkey’s position harden about admitting Finland and Sweden or allowing NATO or third-party warships entry to the Black Sea, few good options exist. Could an abstention, as opposed to a negative vote, on NATO expansion be stretched to allow a 29-0 vote to suffice as unanimous? Probably not. And Turkey would still have to approve treaty changes.

The Montreux Convention is a historical artifact long past its sell-by date. Interestingly, of the four original signatories to the convention, including Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania, the USSR no longer exists. And newer states Georgia and Ukraine didn’t exist then. But the convention remains in force. Altering it is very unlikely as Turkey has a commanding role given the geography with the Bosporus and Dardanelles dividing the country.

About the food shortage, this could be a powerful diplomatic tool to be used against Russia. Consigning hundreds of millions to starvation is indeed a war crime. But Russia will blame Ukraine and the West for the shortages, shedding any responsibility. Whether that allegation, however outrageous, will be accepted or not by the affected regions and populations remains to be seen. In large part, U.S. and NATO diplomacy and messaging will be vital to exerting further leverage on Russia to end the war.

Another important conclusion is likely to be dismissed. The world remains interdependent, interconnected and thus hugely vulnerable to the new MAD of massive attacks of disruption. Ironically, the war in Ukraine reinforces these vulnerabilities.

In addition to the inexcusable human costs imposed by the war in Ukraine, devastating that country and killing many tens of thousands so far, NATO’s cohesion is potentially at risk. Worse, starvation looms for a significant slice of humanity. These scenarios are not new. What is new is that they are more numerous and possibly more destructive in a MAD age. (Mutual Assured Destruction)

7 replies on “Is Turkey the new geostrategic center of gravity?”

Hi Penny:

Due to being the controller of the Bosporus Strait, Turkey has since ancient times…always been the geopolitical centre of gravity [or one of them] for the world. How quickly the sheeple forget how Putin literally saved Erdogan’s life from a NATO assassination attempt back in the days of the Syrian conflict.

Erdogan will never allow Finland or Sweden into NATO. Have you noticed all the “Demand to Appear” propaganda disinformation reports about Putin “dying of cancer” and/or Parkinson’s? The West is once again desperate for an assassination of one of their enemies at least.

It has always been their go-to when they can’t win on the battlefield or in the court of public opinion.

In the meanwhile it seems that Russia is also doing some housecleaning. Reports of oligarchs dying and leaving a note.

Kaz: I had not seen any of those reports.
(russia doing housecleaning)

I did see a news article in Israeli media about one Russian oligarch finding safe haven in Israel

GC; I’ve seen a number of those types of reports ‘demand to appear’
Best ignored because I’ve seen those reports repeatedly
about Putin, Erdogan, and other leaders.
perception management 101

It looks to me like the geopolitical maneuvering behind the Ukrainian war is a partly simulated reality, partly the different blocs of billionaire stakeholders, with their respective states championing them, embroiled in a “Scramble for Africa”-type scenario. They want to see who gets the lion’s share of the financial and use values under the 4th Industrial Revolution. Five Eyes, European Union, Chinese, Russian, Indian, Japanese, Brazilian, Saudi and Israeli institutions are all run for the billionaires and centimillionaires by facilitating the economic exploitation of farmers, workers, soldiers and professionals on the lower rungs, in addition to the subtle application of eugenics. Remember that except for the Brazilian government, all of the BRICS members applied very draconian coronavirus measures, comparable easily to Canada’s, Germany’s and Israel’s. A good percentage of Shanghai’s population risks starvation with the Communist Party hampering supply chains to supposedly “control the pandemic”, and now they’ve even been held inside quarantine camps. This looks to me like a worldwide siege by the biggest owners of property and industries against the rest of Earth’s peoples. The narratives about “American Greatness”, “European Values” and “Russian/Chinese multipolarity” seem like nothing more than journalistic-academic spectacle. I believe the American state as we know it, may be discarded by the end of this decade, and 2024 may be the last presidential election there, ever.

Hi Martin

“I believe the American state as we know it, may be discarded by the end of this decade, and 2024 may be the last presidential election there, ever.”

wow! that’s quite a concept

Generally, yes it’s always a scramble for resources, power between factions

“with their respective states championing them, embroiled in a “Scramble for Africa”-type scenario. They want to see who gets the lion’s share of the financial and use values ”

I think that is what your alluding to?

btw: long time no see but good to know you’re still out and about

regarding draconian covid measures

we’re still under them here in Canada- with the unvaxxed travel ban still firmly in place- in fact extended. While other nations drop theirs- Canada continues upholding the insanity

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