FIRST BIG THING. I don’t know what Washington’s involvement in the coup attempt was but, in one respect, the reality doesn’t matter because Erdoğan & Co are blaming it. And more and more directly too: “The US tried to kill Erdoğan” says a connected newspaper editor. Erdoğan has specifically blamed Fethullah Gulen and has demanded his extradition from the USA – quite rudely. I am inclined to think that Ankara has gone through a cost-benefit analysis. Turkey is never going to be admitted into the EU (not that that is so attractive these days); the US lead in the Middle East has brought it nothing but disaster and, rightly or wrongly, Ankara doesn’t trust Washington. Therefore the Western orientation is mostly on the cost side. On the other hand, Ankara has just learned, in the most dramatic possible way, how much Russia’s enmity can cost it (and what its friendship can give if it’s true that Moscow tipped it off to the coup). Then there are the future benefits: tangible in the shape of becoming Russia’s gas spigot to Europe and the potential enormous gain from China’s “One Belt, One Road” strategy. It begins to look as if Erdoğan is going to turn Turkey towards Eurasia. And, if it’s true that the US did try to overthrow him, then his decision will only be strengthened. Another indication “Today, we are determined more than ever before to contribute to the solution of regional problems hand in hand with Iran and Russia and in cooperation with them” so we can probably expect changes affecting Syria too since it’s pretty clear what side Russia and Iran are on. The official line is that the Russian aircraft was shot down by people associated with the coup plotters; again, whether that’s true or not is less important than the fact that it is being said. We will learn more when Erdoğan and Putin meet next month. A turn by Turkey to the Eurasian side would be a geostrategic event of no small significance that would effectively take Turkey out of NATO (even if it never quite formally leaves). I am reminded again of bin Laden’s strong horse and weak horse. The USA is looking more and more like the weak horse – its immense power is so incompetently wielded that it becomes weaker with every blow that it strikes. I suspect more and more capitals are making cost-benefit analyses to calculate the winners.
SECOND BIG THING. The UK has a new government and the new PM says Brexit means Brexit. I remember that the USSR was one of the first federations to develop a procedure for getting out but the thing fell apart before anyone even initiated the first step. I wonder if the EU will hang together long enough for the procedure of Article 50 to get well under way. In what presumably was a response, the EU and NATO have just (8 July 2016 – did your MSM outlet report it?) merged their operations making plain what was formerly concealed. “In light of the common challenges we are now confronting, we have to step-up our efforts: we need new ways of working together and a new level of ambition; because our security is interconnected; because together we can mobilize a broad range of tools…” Et cetera. “Boost our ability to counter hybrid threats”. Since Moscow doesn’t actually practise “hybrid war” but NATO & Co do, expect more restrictions of liberty.
RUSSIAN SPORTS DOPING. Here we go again: we have all the information on MH17 but we won’t show it; Putin “probably” had Litvinenko killed. Why bother to talk to the Russians — they would just deny it. Mercouris discusses it. Who’s who in the scandal – it hangs on a rather small number of people.
PUTIN DERANGEMENT SYNDROME. “Is Donald Trump Working for Russia?” “It’s Official: Hillary Clinton Is Running Against Vladimir Putin“. Both writers are mainstream.
NATO COMMUNIQUE. I discuss it here. After years of trying to interest new members in interminable wars in dusty places where the people hate you and big money weapons are irrelevant, NATO has returned to the old days. Russia is to blame for everything. Hard to pick a favourite line but these three stand out: Russia carries out “provocative military activities near NATO borders” (never mind that NATO keeps moving its borders closer to Russia) , “[Russia’s] long-standing non-implementation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty” (Russia actually ratified the Treaty, nobody in NATO did), and delusional complacency on past catastrophes: “These efforts mark an important step to strengthen Libya’s democratic transition” (!!!!). The unicorns have completely taken over in NATOland. Here’s the whole 16,000 words. I’m told that at the summit actually all they talked about was Brexit. 2016 is looking more and more like the year the race for the exits begins.
TRUMP. “Trump campaign guts GOP’s anti-Russia stance on Ukraine” – ie his minions took out the bit about supplying Ukraine with “lethal weapons”.
© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Canada Russia Observer