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

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs