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

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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.
Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deali
X
July 07, 2015 12:02 PM
If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs