High stakes chess as Turkish markets rebound

Published 02.08.2016 00:46
Updated 02.08.2016 01:56

Following the failed coup on July 15, Turkey's financial markets have continued to rally, bringing them within range of pre-coup levels. Both the debt and equity markets are well-off their lows and as the Turkish economy bounces back, investors who had sold-off in anticipation of further escalation, are buying back in. As the high-stakes game of chess between the world's two major powers, the United States and Russia, continues, Turkey is doing its best not to get caught up in the turmoil while weeding out elements within its state apparatus that try to take advantage of global uncertainty.

The U.S., weary of over 15 years of war in Afghanistan and nearly that long in Iraq, has had under President Barack Obama, instituted a policy of military disengagement. While peace is always the best answer, military disengagement hasn't translated into peace for the Obama administration. The failed policies of the Bush administration in Iraq resulted in the complete destruction and fragmentation of that country, giving rise to DAESH. While the threat of DAESH was initially dismissed by the U.S., the later acceptance of its ability to cause chaos was not coupled with the resolve to do anything about it. Even after DAESH took over large swaths of land in Iraq and Syria, the United States refused to deploy troops to fight it. Instead, the U.S. relied on militia groups within Syria, including terror groups it once fought, to fight DAESH. It also looked to Turkey to provide logistical support and use of its air bases to carry out an air war against the terror group.

Despite Turkey's cooperation, DAESH continues to terrorize Iraq and Syria and has resorted to terror attacks around the world. The U.S. realizes the need for a new strategy, but implementing such a strategy so late in Obama's presidency would mar a legacy already tainted with a meltdown of the Middle East. Beginning to fight a new ground war or even implementing a much needed no-fly zone over Syria would not only be an admission of Obama's failed policies but would also hurt the political aspirations of his fellow Democrat, Hillary Clinton. Sadly, playing politics with the lives of millions is what this war has come down to.

Russian involvement in Syria has come at a time when Russia feels ever constricted by growing American involvement on its borders. The coup in Ukraine was a wake-up call for the Russians, and invading Crimea and becoming more involved in Syria were the first of many steps it has taken to fight back against what it sees as diminishing Russian global influence. The acceptance of the Baltic countries into NATO in 2004 followed by the recent deployment of four battalions on the Russian border by NATO has only further enraged Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Amids all this turmoil, the U.S. is said to be pressuring its NATO-ally, Turkey, in taking on Putin and Assad in Syria. While engaging in a ground war against Russia in Syria would be devastating for all parties involved, the U.S. has implied that it is willing to risk Turkish lives. This policy is near-sighted at best and in bad faith at worst. The recent coup in Turkey is seen by many Turks as interference by its NATO allies in trying to replace the president, who is unwilling to allow Turkey to be dragged into a ground war. While these suspicions are most-likely unfounded, it is possible that rogue elements within the governments of NATO countries did back this coup.

NBC News in the United States, reported during the early hours of the coup, for example, that a U.S. military official confirmed that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had requested asylum in Germany. Such a news report was not only damaging to the reputation of the president of the Turkish Republic but can only be viewed as an attempt to help those that tried to overthrow the government. Is it possible that NBC News fabricated the news story and that there was no U.S. military official? Sure, anything is possible, but this sounds unlikely. Is it possible that a faction within the U.S. military, tried to do its best to help the putschists without the knowledge or approval of the Obama administration? Also possible.

So where are we now? Russia and the U.S. appear to be headed back to the days of the Cold War and Turkey and other Russian neighbors are caught in the middle, desperately trying to stay out of more wars and further bloodshed.

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