Surrounded by fire from all sides
We were integrated, but we became polarized. We were separated into different camps. However, right now, we are in the middle of a circle surrounded by fire.
We are surrounded in a geography sprouting hot risks from Ukraine to Russia, from Armenia to Azerbaijan, from Iraq to Syria.
The process that started with the fall of pro-Russian Viktor Yanokovich in February is continuing to climb dangerously. Despite all the West’s sanctions, Moscow does not look as if it will give in. As a matter of fact, U.S. President Barack Obama, in an interview with the New York Times, said despite the sanctions, it is a possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin will enter Ukraine. Moreover, there are warnings that an uncontrolled small spark in the region might confront countries that have nuclear power.
Likewise, the Azeri-Armenian border: Clashes have taken dozens of lives from both armies since July 26. The region has been tense for years because of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, which is under Armenian occupation. However, tension has never been so high in recent years.
Well, why is the environment so stirred right now? There are various views on this. The first is that Baku, inspired by the Russia-Ukraine dispute, is in an effort to find a military solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, which hasn’t been able to be solved politically for 20 years. The second view is that Armenia is escalating the tension upon orders from Russia. Moscow wants to hamper the energy sector of the West and is giving the message that another energy exporting country Azerbaijan may be stirred soon. The third assumption is that the United States is stirring the region. The U.S. is playing the Caucasus card to distract Russia, which has been deploying troops to the Ukrainian borders and which has been supporting the separatists who have occupied the east of the country.
The Iraqi-Syrian border is known to everybody. Once upon a time, Syria was our neighbor with the longest land border with exactly 877 kilometers. But now, the majority of this border is controlled by the terror organization the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), other jihadist groups and armed forces of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Syria.
The situation in Iraq is no different. ISIL which has taken, after Syria, Mosul, Sinjar, Karakus, and which has forced thousands of Turkmens, Yazidis and Christians and is currently threatening Arbil, the capital of the Iraqi Kurdish Administration, the U.S.’ most important ally in Iraq.
For this reason, the U.S. had to come back to Iraq militarily, the country it had withdrawn from in 2011. Obama made it recognizable that they were there to save the Yazidis, to protect the American personnel in Iraq and to support Arbil. However the U.S. still has red lines. Air operations will continue, but the land force will never be redeployed.
Obama also made a confession about ISIL, who now refer to themselves as the Islamic State (IS). He said ISIL had advanced toward Arbil faster than their intelligence estimated.
ISIL is not a formation that could be underestimated by saying “a bunch of a few 1,000 looters.” It is also not a regular army. It fights asymmetrically and collapses all scenarios. It seizes the people psychologically first and when an authority vacancy forms, it takes control without any difficulty and without any resistance. And they do all of this along the border of Turkey.
On the other hand, while Greece and Bulgaria stand out as relatively stable neighbors, the probability of experiencing tension with the Greek Cyprus administration over energy beds still exists. A bit further, the Israel-Gaza crisis continues.
On Aug. 10, Turkey once again elected Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. It is an important title to be the first president elected by popular vote.
It should be right now when Erdoğan acts according to the slogan in his poster “the man of the nation” and that he stands at equidistant to all segments.
We are living in such a difficult geography and we have so many potential clashes around us that we cannot take in any more domestic losses or one extra domestic clash.