TLDR Upfront: Contrary to doomsayer predictions of a new WWI between Russia and Turkey based on the assassination of an envoy in Ankara yesterday, pretty much the exact opposite happened. The beginnings of a Red Wedding scenario, a framework of cooperation between Russia, Turkey and Iran – excluding the US, NATO and the United Nations – including “settling” the peace in Syria and normalizing relations with Assad seems to be on the table. (test)
Full Context in the Back: Anyone else tired of highly educated people predicting the apocalypse or World War III every time something sneezes involving Russia in the Middle East? Or then rushing back to find similarities of situations they don’t fully understand to validate them? I sure am.
Case in point. Contrary to the claims of WWI playing out again…Russia, Iran and Turkey didn’t miss a beat continuing to hold joint negotiations session *after* the Russian envoy gets shot in Turkey. And the envoy was a lead negotiator *in* the talks. They didn’t even pause to pour a fifth of vodka.
As an aside – I’m sorry folks. Not to #historynerd here but WWI happened for a lot of reasons. It did *not* “just happen” however because the Archduke Ferdinand was shot. WWI was not some accident that absent the assassination wouldn’t have happened. That war was decades in the making and almost all sides had alliances formed and plans in place related to how they thought they would carry it out. The Archduke’s assassination may have been the pretext used by the central powers of Germany, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and the Ottomans to start the ball rolling against the flank powers of Russia, France, the United Kingdom et.al. But absent that pretext another would’ve been found. The states were pursuing their national interests, or at least the national interests as perceived by mostly autocratic and unanswerable leaders. And they had been for some time.
Likewise it is not in the interests of Russia, Turkey and Iran – conveniently ruled to varying degrees of autocracy and lack of accountability – to go to war at this moment. Therefore it is unlikely they will no matter what a bunch of doomsayers think they will.
What is in their interests is to work together, to reshape the realpolitik equation that has defined the Middle East for ~50 years. And that’s what they’re doing. Announced in the so called “Moscow Declaration” (Karlov didn’t even get a byline) is a framework that looks pretty similar to what I predicted last summer in terms of the Red Wedding Scenario.
In a Yalta-esque conference: Turkey, Russia and Iran – absent participation of the US, NATO, UN, Iraq or even notably Syria have created a framework to work together, establish peace/divide influence in Syria and normalize relations with Assad. This isn’t *quite* as bad as the actual Red Wedding scenario because Turkey hasn’t left NATO or it’s EU off-ramp status. But I hear the opening bars of “Rains of Castamere” playing and the doors are being shut if you get my drift. *
Speaking of doors – Turkey has also opened its doors to Russian investigators – that’s cooperation not conflagration. And if that’s not enough, both Putin and Erdogan have gone on record as saying the death will not effect relations. I’m thinking Lannister and Tully are working together leaving us as the Starks. **
This doesn’t mean the assassination will not be without consequences. I have little doubt that the Turkish investigation team will turn up links between the shooter and Fetullah Gulen – while the Russian investigation team turns up links to moderate rebels in Syria backed by the US. For the former the deportation of Gulen and for the latter either a hedge against too much “DNC-hack” reprisals or as an, ahem, ‘Trump’-card to hold for future incidents.
But WWI is not happening because of this assassination. Sorry. Now…a zombie apocalypse?! That’s a whole different question.See I just saw a report….
*Important, but still not world ending.
** Okay I’m working this GoTR metaphor a bit strong, but there’s still like six months. Forgive me.
InfoMullet: Rains of Moscow – the Red WeddingPosted in Foreign Affairs, InfoMullets, Lightly Sourced Commentary By Timothy Clancy On January 23, 2017