News / Middle East

Analysts: Turkish-Russian Tensions Could Spread to Middle East

Dorian Jones
Russia pressed ahead with an angry flow of rhetoric Friday, demanding that Turkish authorities reveal exactly what type of munitions they claim to have found aboard a Syrian airliner forced down over Turkey on Wednesday.  The incident comes as Russian-Turkish relations grow increasingly tense.  

The Kremlin strongly denies Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's claim that Russian-made munitions were aboard a Syrian plane intercepted by Turkish jets.

Soli Ozel, who teaches international relations at Istanbul's Kadir Has University, warns that the dispute could escalate.

"The Russians are obviously blistering and the Turkish government has the obligation to provide evidence that there was ammunition on the plane.  And if they can't, I am sure the Russians are going to be even more bitter. I am sure they are going to respond to this,"  Ozel said.

Relations are already strained, with Moscow strongly supporting the Syrian government and Ankara backing the rebels.  But political scientist Cengiz Aktar of Bahcesehir University says powerful commercial interests will contain the latest dispute.

"The two countries are heavily trading.  They have become important trading partners over the years. I don't think the disagreements regarding Syria will affect this trade partnership between the two countries," Aktar said.

Last year, a Russian company won $1 billion contract to build a nuclear reactor in Turkey.

Ankara, one of the biggest consumers of Russian energy, is lobbying to become an energy hub to distribute Russian energy to the region.

Despite these commercial ventures, Erdogan has recently stepped up his rhetoric against Moscow over its support of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
 
Political scientist Aktar says Ankara underestimates the importance of Moscow in the region.

"So far Ankara does not take Russia seriously but maybe it should. Russia is a full partner in the Eastern Mediterranean game and therefore Turkey needs to take Russia seriously," Aktar said.

While Turkey deals with its frayed relationship with Moscow, it also faces rising tensions and home and with its other neighbors.

More than 100,000 mostly Sunni Muslim Syrians have taken refuge in Turkey, fleeing persecution by Mr. Assad and his Alawite militias.  Alawite Arabs in southern Turkey resent the refugees, mirroring Syria's Alawite-Sunni split.  Political analysts say this problem could spread in the region if Syria descends into sectarian warfare.

Iran, Assad's biggest backer, has become embittered by Turkey's position on Syria.

Semih Idiz is the diplomatic correspondent for the newspaper Milliyet.  He says Ankara's interception of the Syrian plane and the Iraqi prime minister's recent visit to Moscow are signs of a growing rivalry between Sunni and Shia Muslims that threatens to revive rivalries in the region.

"This situation will drive Ankara and Washington much closer. We've already seen Washington backing Turkey's decision to force landing this plane.  If you look at Russia, it's clearly reasserting itself in the region and the Shia element in the region is playing to Russia.  (Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri) Maliki was in Moscow, signed this major arms deal and said angry words at Turkey implying indirectly part of the reason why they are arming is because of Turkey.  So we have a new Cold War chess play developing and this is all coming out of Syria," Idiz said.

Many regional analysts agree that Turkey has one thing in its favor: It is the only member of the NATO military alliance bordering Syria.  The missiles that make up Syria's air defense and offensive capacities are now under NATO surveillance, which may help prevent further escalation in the region.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mert from: Sydney
October 12, 2012 8:42 PM
After 24 hours and dozens of RT propaganda pieces Lavrov finally admitted that "radar pieces" were on board. It's like "um yeah we do have some non civilian/illegal under the circumstances stuff on the Syrian jet" LOL

Also for those of you who believe Turkey is somehow heating up tensions and on a war footing remember that some 19 months ago there was no uprising rather protests that turned into massacres when Assad's troops starting sniping protesters, the international press was allowed into that country at the time!

For Greeks who use VOA to bash Turkey just remember that Turkey warned and pleaded with the international community throughout the 60s to the ongoing ethnic violence in Cyprus & just like now it is warning the international community that it will not tolerate such violence in it's geographical proximity.

Unlike Syria Turkey intervened in 1974 and since then there has been no ethnic flare up, if you Greeks want peace your going to have to own up to your crimes and come clean & maybe try electing someone who is not utterly clueless to running a country?
In Response

by: Idris from: NY
October 14, 2012 8:46 PM
truth!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs