On the day of critical U.S. election, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advisor and the leading Russian geo-strategist was an honorary guest during a parliamentary meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara, a presence that proves deepening of cordial relations between Turkey and Russia.
The timing could not be more perfect. The visit sent a crystal clear message to Washington about Ankara’s increasing overtures to Russia in a move to form a new strategic alignment if the U.S. fails to concede to Turkey’s demands for Syria and extradition of a cleric living in the U.S.
Alexander Dugin, an avowed anti-American international relations expert who defends a bold, aggressive Russia projecting its power in the region and beyond, met with Prime Minister Binali Yildirim. He took a seat during Yildirim’s speech in his party’s parliamentary meeting on Tuesday, the day when U.S. voters went to ballot boxes to elect their next president.
In a historic victory that shattered expectations and upset political establishment of both parties in Washington, Donald Trump was elected to be the 45th president of the United States, an outcome lauded and cheered both by Russia and Turkey.
After attending AKP meeting, Dugin visited Parliament damaged during July 15 coup attempt that killed 241 people and wounded more than 2,000 citizens. In a brazen attack, the rebel F-16 jets targeted Turkey’s oldest political institution, Parliament, in Ankara and air strikes shattered several parts of the parliament building. The Russian expert is known for his strong support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration.
He even was believed to inform Turkish authorities in leading up to the abortive coup, giving information about extraordinary military activity in Ankara a day before the coup attempt.
During his visit, Dugin spoke to Turkish reporters, took on the deepening ties between Turkey and Russia. “This is a way of thinking against the U.S. hegemony and sovereignty, new Eurasianism. Whenever Russia and Turkey get closer, the U.S. and the Western world are immediately disturbed by this; they are doing their best to destroy it,” Dugin told a group of journalists.
He went on to say that Russian side displayed all available efforts during the jet crisis and coup attempt to mend ties, and Turkey and Russia now moved toward a strategic partnership. Turkish-Russian relations were gravely strained last year when the Turkish fighter jets downed a Russian warplane over the Turkish-Syrian border after a brief violation of Turkish airspace.
They repaired ties this summer after Erdogan sent a letter of apology to Russian President Vladimir Putin who positively returned to the Turkish gesture. Then both leaders met three times and talked on the phone four times in a sign of rapidly improving ties as Turkey’s relations with the U.S. have been seriously strained over a number of issues.
America’s half-hearted expression of support for Erdogan following the attempted coup, and the U.S. criticism of political crackdown against opponents, especially purge of NATO-ally generals in the army, represented the tipping point for the breakdown of trust between two allies.
What Dugin said afterwards revealed how much Russia involved in Turkey’s domestic affairs on behalf of the AKP government, even adopting its labeling of Fethullah Gulen movement as FETO (Fethullahist Terrorist Organization).
“As a result of our efforts, Erdogan stoutly talked to Mr. Putin on the phone. After efforts on the issue of ‘apology,’ which played crucial role in mending ties, we forecast that FETO would take an action on behalf of the U.S.,” Dugin elaborated on the process that led to the uprising.
He stunningly struck a pro-Erdogan tone and slammed the West for its intervention in Turkey. He portrayed the Gulen movement as a group guided and led by the West against Turkey’s interests. “There is a policy dictated by the U.S. and the West [on Turkey]. As long as Erdogan carried independent policies and takes steps for a stronger Turkey, the structure in Turkey and pro-Americanism will sharply derail those steps, and will oppose Turkey-Russia relations.”
Dugin even said there could be provocations in Syria and Iraq targeting Russia-Turkey relations.
The Russian expert claimed that Turkey has not eliminated “FETO” threat yet. He said Russia, as a friend of Turkey, will always be against such attempts. “There could be lots of provocative actions, they are preparing for it now. It is not just the FETO, but also those who are behind it are preparing [for provocations],” he said.
He argued that the primary objective of “FETO”s coup attempt was not just to bring the regime change, but to divide the country by creating internal strife. “The [external] support provided to internal actors in Turkey during July 15 coup reveals that the goal was to disintegrate Turkey, to divide Turkey through creating internal strife and remove it from the map,” he concluded his comments.
His consistent efforts to help Erdogan’s cause in his crackdown on opponents, his disregard of the West is a testimony to an emergence of a deeper engagement between Russia and Turkey. Dugin’s presence in Turkish Parliament is more than a simple visit and tells a lot about Ankara’s feelings toward Moscow.
It also comes a week after Turkish military chief and intelligence agency head visited Moscow to hold high-level talks to overcome Russia’s objection to expand the scope of Turkish military endeavor in Syria. Ankara presses to take over al-Bab, north of Aleppo, and needs green light from Moscow before making a move.