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

Pakistan Among Developing Counties Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs