Islamic movements are softening their tone to avoid scaring off potential voters, with many pointing to Turkey and PM Erdoğan’s ‘neo-
Emerging into the open following the overthrow of authoritarian regimes throughout the Arab world, Islamic movements are now wrestling with the idea of how to apply Islamic precepts to societies that are demanding democracy as one of the fruits of the Arab Spring.
Many such movements, such as the Tunisian Islamist Ennahda Party, are preaching a moderate line in an effort to avoid scaring off parts of society that are wary of parties with Muslim roots.
“We are not cut off from our environment … All the values of democracy and modernity are respected by Ennahda. We are a party that can find a balance between modernity and Islam,” Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of the Ennahda Party, said in a recent interview with Reuters.
Western powers and governments in other Arab states are watching Tunisia’s election closely, worried that democratically elected Islamists might impose strict Islamic law and turn their back on Western allies. But Ghannouchi, who returned to Tunisia from exile in Britain after Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s fall, said Western countries and Tunisian liberals had nothing to fear from a victory for his Ennahda party.
Two issues in particular, women’s equality and liberal moral attitudes, are seen by many Tunisians as a litmus test of how tolerant Ennahda will be if it gains power.
Ghannouchi’s remarks offering a more mild form of Islam came on the same day that the former leader of the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood said he wanted a “democratic” Syria, not an Islamic state to replace the regime of embattled President Bashar al-Assad, Agence France-Presse reported.
“We support the establishment of a modern, civil, democratic state,” Ali al-Bayanouni told a conference organized by the Brookings Doha center in the Qatari capital.
Before the Arab Spring hit countries such as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, their strongman leaders defended themselves for years as the bulwark preventing their countries from sliding into Islamist hands – an approach which helped them secure baking from Washington and other Western powers wary that their countries could turn into another Iran.
Western powers, however, soon began to support the uprisings and the emergence of a new Arab world. The topic is now dominating talk in Western capitals so much that the European Council’s Parliamentarian Assembly put the Arab Spring at the top of its agenda Monday.
NATO, too, is planning to devote greater attention to the subject, announcing a special summit on the spring on May 21-22 in Chicago.
Indeed, amid growing indications that some in the West are ready to work with the Islamists, one U.S. governmental source said Washington had had limited but direct talks with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and was open to working with them.
Turkey an inspiration
Many in the region are pointing toward Turkey as a model for the Islamist parties in the region. Last month, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, whose Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party, or AKP, is seen as a trailblazer by many Islamists in the region, staged a tour of the three North African Arab Spring states. Striking a moderate chord, Erdoğan emphasized the concept of “neo-laicism,” noting that while individuals could be religious, states should remain secular.
The comments were controversial among some older members of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, but his comments were well-received elsewhere by a new generation of pious Muslims who are eager to pursue religious-based politics within a democratic, tolerant and secularist framework.
Ultimately, Islamist leaders in the region are keen to stress the varieties of Islam that could be used as a political model.
“If the Islamic spectrum goes from [assassinated al-Qaeda leader Osama] bin Laden to Erdoğan, which of them is Islam?” Ghannouchi asked in a recent debate with a secular critic. “Why are we put in the same place as a model that is far from our thought, like the Taliban or the Saudi model, while there are other successful Islamic models that are close to us, like the Turkish, the Malaysian and the Indonesian models, models that combine Islam and modernity?”
In the end, even the hard-line Saudi model appears to be bending under the weight of the Arab Spring. Last week, King Abdullah decreed that women would be able to participate for the first time in the next local elections in 2015, a measure likely aimed at heading off Arab dissent in the kingdom. The same week he has also overturned a court ruling sentencing a Saudi woman to be lashed 10 times for defying the kingdom’s ban on female drivers.
The meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday constitutes a significant event in the international campaign focused on Syria lately.
It is not a coincidence that as Turkey launches this latest diplomatic attempt, many countries and organizations have also expressed tough criticism of the Assad regime.
The fact that the bloody incidents in Syria have reached the dimensions of a massacre has prompted even those countries which have been silent or cautious up until now to voice their concerns loudly.
Saudi Arabian King Abdullah condemned the incidents in Syria for the first time and called on Assad to end the violence. Like Saudi Arabia, two other Gulf countries, Bahrain and Kuwait, withdrew their ambassadors from Damascus.
Meanwhile, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council issued statements condemning the Assad administration. The chief imam of the al-Azhar Mosque in Egypt came out against Damascus.
It is a significant development that the Arab world for the first time is raising its voice in a chorus against the Assad regime even though some of these countries are lead by authoritarian kings or leaders. The public uprising in Bahrain was crushed by brute force. And besides, with contributions of troops from Saudi Arabia… This is one of the contradictions of the Arab world.
However, this is also a reality that the vice surrounding Syria is tightening and that the Assad regime is gradually becoming isolated.
Nobody says ‘resign’
Including Turkey, an interesting aspect of the attitude of all the countries that are increasing their pressure against Syria is that Assad is still the addressee, and hopes of change are still being pinned on him.
No one from either the West or the East has called on Assad to resign as in the case of Hosni Mubarak and Moammar Gadhafi. This call had an immediate effect in Egypt. In Libya, the process has not been finalized yet.
In fact, incidents in Syria for example are more tragic than Egypt. But the international community still maintains the wish and hope that the transformation in this country can be made without a change of regime.
The primary reason for this is that Syria’s political structure and the strength of its regime is different than other Arab countries. To tell the truth, Assad is not a person who would obey the word “resign.” He relies on his own army, the Baath party, his intelligence organization and support from Iran.
Because of this and other similar reasons, nobody for now has openly asked Assad to resign. Instead of this, they advise him to withdraw his army from cities and end the firing on the public. The demand from Arab countries (for example King Abdullah) is only this. Western countries – and, of course, Turkey – in addition to this call for Assad to make democratic reforms fast, demand that he come to terms with the opposition and organize free elections.
With or without Assad
Will this change and transformation occur with or without Assad?
At this phase – since it is a weak probability that the regime will be toppled – the option of forcing Assad to change his politics is preferred more.
How will this happen? Again at this phase, the method to be applied should be to keep Damascus under political pressure and to force the administration to come to terms with the opposition.
Signs coming from the region and the West also point to the formation of a “coalition of pressure” against Syria.
Will this be enough to bring Assad to reason? If it is, then it is good for everybody. Otherwise, other options could be considered, such as boycotts or economic sanctions – nobody, presumably, is considering the military option. We hope that it will not come to that point.
*Sami Kohen is a columnist for daily Milliyet, in which this piece appeared Wednesday. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.
Turkey’s new constitution will set a model for regional and other countries that seek the “best-ever charter highlighting universal values of democracy, human rights and rule of law,” according to a senior governmental official.
“I believe our new constitution, which will be the newest charter based on universal principles, will make an overwhelming impression on the world. If you make the best (constitution), it will of course draw attention from countries that are seeking the best for them,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ told the Hürriyet Daily News in an interview Wednesday. Bozdağ, however, said their intention was not to become a sample case for regional countries whose citizens have revolted for more democratic regimes.
Almost all political parties, civil society organizations as well as universities agree on the need to rewrite the current charter, which was made by the military junta in 1982, two years after a coup.
“We are not making this constitution to be praised by other countries. That would undermine the whole process. Our motto is to make the best and most modern constitution for our own people by emphasizing democratic requirements, freedoms and human rights,” he said. Recalling that they were also analyzing the constitution of advanced democracies, Bozdağ said, “Those who want to take our new constitution as a sample are free to analyze it, because we believe it’s going to be a model constitution.”
For the deputy prime minister, who will likely play a key role in the constitution-making process, the most important goal is consensus among the political parties as well as civil society and universities. “I hope Turkey will achieve its new constitution with the broadest consensus possible, based on not minimum common points but on maximum common points,” he said.
Bozdağ said he believes there would be a few articles that would cause a debate between the political parties represented in Parliament. “We are ready to discuss everything at the table. Prejudices or pre-conditions would hurt the process, thus we call on all parties to come to the table without conditions,” he said. One of the potential points of discussion in the making of the constitution is the removal of the first three articles, which shape the nature of the republic. Pro-Kurdish politicians have expressed their intention to ask for the three articles to be removed and replaced with items that highlight the status of the Turkish citizens with Kurdish descent. Bozdağ said his party prefers for these articles to remain but said, “We are ready to discuss any proposal regarding these items.”
‘Doves not hawks’
Another important point Bozdağ made was on the composition of the parliamentary commission that will be set after Oct. 1, which will be the main body to draft the charter. “It’s extremely important who the parties nominate for this commission. It would be very useful if the parties would send reconciliatory personalities, figures who are capable of compromise. They would ease the working conditions of the commission and shorten the length of work,” he said.
At the same time, Bozdağ added, the members of this commission should also be able to convince their own party fellows and influence public opinion. “It’s going to be a three-way work.”
Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek is expected to call on parties represented at the Parliament to nominate two people to carry out constitutional work after Oct.1.
Bozdağ also talked about the preparations of his Justice and Development Party, or AKP, for the new charter. “We have to do our homework before sitting at the table. All parties should do it in order to be fully ready for the process,” he said.
They are writing a text indicating the framework of the AKP’s principles that will be sought in the new constitution, Bozdağ said. “For example, we will on the one hand emphasize universal human rights and democratic values and on the other hand we will also seek way to assure the implementation of these rights, unlike the current charter which obstructs accomplishment of the rights.”
The new constitution is an order to us from the people who voted for parties on June 12 elections, Bozdağ said. “That’s why this Parliament has a unique mission to write the new constitution.”
Something extraordinary, albeit not unexpected, is happening in the Persian Gulf region. The United States, lacking a coherent strategy to deal with Iran and too distracted to develop one, is struggling to navigate Iraq’s fractious political landscape in search of a deal that would allow Washington to keep a meaningful military presence in the country beyond the end-of-2011 deadline stipulated by the current Status of Forces Agreement. At the same time, Saudi Arabia, dubious of U.S. capabilities and intentions toward Iran, appears to be inching reluctantly toward an accommodation with its Persian adversary.
Iran clearly stands to gain from this dynamic in the short term as it seeks to reshape the balance of power in the world’s most active energy arteries. But Iranian power is neither deep nor absolute. Instead, Tehran finds itself racing against a timetable that hinges not only on the U.S. ability to shift its attention from its ongoing wars in the Middle East but also on Turkey’s ability to grow into its historic regional role.
The Iranian Position
Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said something last week that caught our attention. Speaking at Iran’s first Strategic Naval Conference in Tehran on July 13, Vahidi said the United States is “making endeavors to drive a wedge between regional countries with the aim of preventing the establishment of an indigenized security arrangement in the region, but those attempts are rooted in misanalyses and will not succeed.” The effect Vahidi spoke of refers to the Iranian redefinition of Persian Gulf power dynamics, one that in Iran’s ideal world ultimately would transform the local political, business, military and religious affairs of the Gulf states to favor the Shia and their patrons in Iran.
From Iran’s point of view, this is a natural evolution, and one worth waiting centuries for. It would see power concentrated among the Shia in Mesopotamia, eastern Arabia and the Levant at the expense of the Sunnis who have dominated this land since the 16th century, when the Safavid Empire lost Iraq to the Ottomans. Ironically, Iran owes its thanks for this historic opportunity to its two main adversaries — the Wahhabi Sunnis of al Qaeda who carried out the 9/11 attacks and the “Great Satan” that brought down Saddam Hussein. Should Iran succeed in filling a major power void in Iraq, a country that touches six Middle Eastern powers and demographically favors the Shia, Iran would theoretically have its western flank secured as well as an oil-rich outlet with which to further project its influence.
So far, Iran’s plan is on track. Unless the United States permanently can station substantial military forces in the region, Iran replaces the United States as the most powerful military force in the Persian Gulf region. In particular, Iran has the military ability to threaten the Strait of Hormuz and has a clandestine network of operatives spread across the region. Through its deep penetration of the Iraqi government, Iran is also in the best position to influence Iraqi decision-making. Washington’s obvious struggle in trying to negotiate an extension of the U.S. deployment in Iraq is perhaps one of the clearest illustrations of Iranian resolve to secure its western flank. The Iranian nuclear issue, as we have long argued, is largely a sideshow; a nuclear deterrent, if actually achieved, would certainly enhance Iranian security, but the most immediate imperative for Iran is to consolidate its position in Iraq. And as this weekend’s Iranian incursion into northern Iraq — ostensibly to fight Kurdish militants — shows, Iran is willing to make measured, periodic shows of force to convey that message.
While Iran already is well on its way to accomplishing its goals in Iraq, it needs two other key pieces to complete Tehran’s picture of a regional “indigenized security arrangement” that Vahidi spoke of. The first is an understanding with its main military challenger in the region, the United States. Such an understanding would entail everything from ensuring Iraqi Sunni military impotence to expanding Iranian energy rights beyond its borders to placing limits on U.S. military activity in the region, all in return for the guaranteed flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz and an Iranian pledge to stay clear of Saudi oil fields.
The second piece is an understanding with its main regional adversary, Saudi Arabia. Iran’s reshaping of Persian Gulf politics entails convincing its Sunni neighbors that resisting Iran is not worth the cost, especially when the United States does not seem to have the time or the resources to come to their aid at present. No matter how much money the Saudis throw at Western defense contractors, any military threat by the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council states against Iran will be hollow without an active U.S. military commitment. Iran’s goal, therefore, is to coerce the major Sunni powers into recognizing an expanded Iranian sphere of influence at a time when U.S. security guarantees in the region are starting to erode.
Of course, there is always a gap between intent and capability, especially in the Iranian case. Both negotiating tracks are charged with distrust, and meaningful progress is by no means guaranteed. That said, a number of signals have surfaced in recent weeks leading us to examine the potential for a Saudi-Iranian accommodation, however brief that may be.
The Saudi Position
Not surprisingly, Saudi Arabia is greatly unnerved by the political evolution in Iraq. The Saudis increasingly will rely on regional powers such as Turkey in trying to maintain a Sunni bulwark against Iran in Iraq, but Riyadh has largely resigned itself to the idea that Iraq, for now, is in Tehran’s hands. This is an uncomfortable reality for the Saudi royals to cope with, but what is amplifying Saudi Arabia’s concerns in the region right now — and apparently nudging Riyadh toward the negotiating table with Tehran — is the current situation in Bahrain.
When Shiite-led protests erupted in Bahrain in the spring, we did not view the demonstrations simply as a natural outgrowth of the so-called Arab Spring. There were certainly overlapping factors, but there was little hiding the fact that Iran had seized an opportunity to pose a nightmare scenario for the Saudi royals: an Iranian-backed Shiite uprising spreading from the isles of Bahrain to the Shiite-concentrated, oil-rich Eastern Province of the Saudi kingdom.
This explains Saudi Arabia’s hasty response to the Bahraini unrest, during which it led a rare military intervention of GCC forces in Bahrain at the invitation of Manama to stymie a broader Iranian destabilization campaign. The demonstrations in Bahrain are far calmer now than they were in mid-March at the peak of the crisis, but the concerns of the GCC states have not subsided, and for good reason. Halfhearted attempts at national dialogues aside, Shiite dissent in this part of the region is likely to endure, and this is a reality that Iran can exploit in the long term through its developing covert capabilities.
When we saw in late June that Saudi Arabia was willingly drawing down its military presence in Bahrain at the same time the Iranians were putting out feelers in the local press on an almost daily basis regarding negotiations with Riyadh, we discovered through our sources that the pieces were beginning to fall into place for Saudi-Iranian negotiations. To understand why, we have to examine the Saudi perception of the current U.S. position in the region.
The Saudis cannot fully trust U.S. intentions at this point. The U.S. position in Iraq is tenuous at best, and Riyadh cannot rule out the possibility of Washington entering its own accommodation with Iran and thus leaving Saudi Arabia in the lurch. The United States has three basic interests: to maintain the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz, to reduce drastically the number of forces it has devoted to fighting wars with Sunni Islamist militants (who are also by definition at war with Iran), and to try to reconstruct a balance of power in the region that ultimately prevents any one state — whether Arab or Persian — from controlling all the oil in the Persian Gulf. The U.S. position in this regard is flexible, and while developing an understanding with Iran is a trying process, nothing fundamentally binds the United States to Saudi Arabia. If the United States comes to the conclusion that it does not have any good options in the near term for dealing with Iran, a U.S.-Iranian accommodation — however jarring on the surface — is not out of the question.
More immediately, the main point of negotiation between the United States and Iran is the status of U.S. forces in Iraq. Iran would prefer to see U.S. troops completely removed from its western flank, but it has already seen dramatic reductions. The question for both sides moving forward concerns not only the size but also the disposition and orientation of those remaining forces and the question of how rapidly they can be reoriented from a more vulnerable residual advisory and assistance role to a blocking force against Iran. It also must take into account how inherently vulnerable a U.S. military presence in Iraq (not to mention the remaining diplomatic presence) is to Iranian conventional and unconventional means.
The United States may be willing to recognize Iranian demands when it comes to Iran’s designs for the Iraqi government or oil concessions in the Shiite south, but it also wants to ensure that Iran does not try to overstep its bounds and threaten Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth. To reinforce a potential accommodation with Iran, the United States needs to maintain a blocking force against Iran, and this is where the U.S.-Iranian negotiation appears to be deadlocked.
The threat of a double-cross is a real one for all sides to this conflict. Iran cannot trust that the United States, once freed up, will not engage in military action against Iran down the line. The Americans cannot trust that the Iranians will not make a bid for Saudi Arabia’s oil wealth (though the military logistics required for such a move are likely beyond Iran’s capabilities at this point). Finally, the Saudis can’t trust that the United States will defend them in a time of need, especially if the United States is preoccupied with other matters and/or has developed a relationship with Iran that it feels the need to maintain.
When all this is taken together — the threat illustrated by Shiite unrest in Bahrain, the tenuous U.S. position in Iraq and the potential for Washington to strike its own deal with Tehran — Riyadh may be seeing little choice but to search out a truce with Iran, at least until it can get a clearer sense of U.S. intentions. This does not mean that the Saudis would place more trust in a relationship with their historical rivals, the Persians, than they would in a relationship with the United States. Saudi-Iranian animosity is embedded in a deep history of political, religious and economic competition between the two main powerhouses of the Persian Gulf, and it is not going to vanish with the scratch of a pen and a handshake. Instead, this would be a truce driven by short-term, tactical constraints. Such a truce would primarily aim to arrest Iranian covert activity linked to Shiite dissidents in the GCC states, giving the Sunni monarchist regimes a temporary sense of relief while they continue their efforts to build up an Arab resistance to Iran.
But Iran would view such a preliminary understanding as the path toward a broader accommodation, one that would bestow recognition on Iran as the pre-eminent power of the Persian Gulf. Iran can thus be expected to make a variety of demands, all revolving around the idea of Sunni recognition of an expanded Iranian sphere of influence — a very difficult idea for Saudi Arabia to swallow.
This is where things get especially complicated. The United States theoretically might strike an accommodation with Iran, but it would do so only with the knowledge that it could rely on the traditional Sunni heavyweights in the region eventually to rebuild a relative balance of power. If the major Sunni powers reach their own accommodation with Iran, independent of the United States, the U.S. position in the region becomes all the more questionable. What would be the limits of a Saudi-Iranian negotiation? Could the United States ensure, for example, that Saudi Arabia would not bargain away U.S. military installations in a negotiation with Iran?
The Iranian defense minister broached this very idea during his speech last week when he said, “The United States has failed to establish a sustainable security system in the Persian Gulf region, and it is not possible that many vessels will maintain a permanent presence in the region.” Vahidi was seeking to convey to fellow Iranians and trying to convince the Sunni Arab powers that a U.S. security guarantee in the region does not hold as much weight as it used to, and that with Iran now filling the void, the United States may well face a much more difficult time trying to maintain its existing military installations.
The question that naturally arises from Vahidi’s statement is the future status of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain, and whether Iran can instill just the right amount of fear in the minds of its Arab neighbors to shake the foundations of the U.S. military presence in the region. For now, Iran does not appear to have the military clout to threaten the GCC states to the point of forcing them to negotiate away their U.S. security guarantees in exchange for Iranian restraint. This is a threat, however, that Iran will continue to let slip and even one that Saudi Arabia quietly could use to capture Washington’s attention in the hopes of reinforcing U.S. support for the Sunni Arabs against Iran.
The Long-Term Scenario
The current dynamic places Iran in a prime position. Its political investment is paying off in Iraq, and it is positioning itself for negotiation with both the Saudis and the Americans that it hopes will fill out the contours of Iran’s regional sphere of influence. But Iranian power is not that durable in the long term.
Iran is well endowed with energy resources, but it is populous and mountainous. The cost of internal development means that while Iran can get by economically, it cannot prosper like many of its Arab competitors. Add to that a troubling demographic profile in which ethnic Persians constitute only a little more than half of the country’s population and developing challenges to the clerical establishment, and Iran clearly has a great deal going on internally distracting it from opportunities abroad.
The long-term regional picture also is not in Iran’s favor. Unlike Iran, Turkey is an ascendant country with the deep military, economic and political power to influence events in the Middle East — all under a Sunni banner that fits more naturally with the region’s religious landscape. Turkey also is the historical, indigenous check on Persian power. Though it will take time for Turkey to return to this role, strong hints of this dynamic already are coming to light.
In Iraq, Turkish influence can be felt across the political, business, security and cultural spheres as Ankara is working quietly and fastidiously to maintain a Sunni bulwark in the country and steep Turkish influence in the Arab world. And in Syria, though the Alawite regime led by the al Assads is not at a breakpoint, there is no doubt a confrontation building between Iran and Turkey over the future of the Syrian state. Turkey has an interest in building up a viable Sunni political force in Syria that can eventually displace the Alawites, while Iran has every interest in preserving the current regime so as to maintain a strategic foothold in the Levant.
For now, the Turks are not looking for a confrontation with Iran, nor are they necessarily ready for one. Regional forces are accelerating Turkey’s rise, but it will take experience and additional pressures for Turkey to translate rhetoric into action when it comes to meaningful power projection. This is yet another factor that is likely driving the Saudis to enter their own dialogue with Iran at this time.
The Iranians are thus in a race against time. It may be a matter of a few short years before the United States frees up its attention span and is able to re-examine the power dynamics in the Persian Gulf with fresh vigor. Within that time, we would also expect Turkey to come into its own and assume its role as the region’s natural counterbalance to Iran. By then, the Iranians hope to have the structures and agreements in place to hold their ground against the prevailing regional forces, but that level of long-term security depends on Tehran’s ability to cut its way through two very thorny sets of negotiations with the Saudis and the Americans while it still has the upper hand.
Ukraine is ramping up cooperation with NATO, dealing a blow to Moscow’s hopes that its neighbor would align itself more closely to Russia under President Viktor Yanukovych, a report said Tuesday.
The Kommersant Ukraine daily newspaper, citing a secret document on Ukraine’s program with NATO for 2011, said Yanukovych sought closer ties with the bloc even more earnestly than his openly pro-Western predecessor, Viktor Yushchenko.
The dramatic turnabout in Kiev’s foreign policy comes despite Ukraine last year cementing in law its non-aligned status, and amid disappointment over terms and conditions of rapprochement with the Kremlin, the paper said.
The confidential document approved earlier this year includes a schedule of 64 bilateral events, the newspaper said, adding that the two sides were set to discuss such sensitive issues as Ukraine’s energy security, missile defense, and the future of Russia’s Black Sea fleet based in Crimea.
Two meetings scheduled for this month are set to address basic principles and strategy of Ukraine’s foreign policy.
Asked about the report June 21, Yanukovych said that Ukraine remains a neutral country. The Ukrainian president is visiting Strasbourg, France, the home of the European Parliament.
“Our position remains unchanged: We have been and remain a non-aligned country, just as is dictated by our law,” Yanukovych said in comments released by his office.
He added that Ukraine “has not and does not plan” to take any part in the new NATO missile defense shield for Europe, which Russia fears is aimed at its own defenses.
Yanukovych has worked hard to improve relations between Moscow and Kiev since defeating the leaders of the pro-Western Orange Revolution in presidential elections last year.
Soon afterward, he signed a landmark deal with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to keep Russia’s Black Sea Fleet based in Crimea at least until 2042, in exchange for a 30 percent discount on Russian gas exports to its neighbor.
But over the past few months, Kiev has grown disillusioned with the prospects of closer ties with Moscow, which it says has tried to strong-arm Ukraine into joining a Russian-led customs union and threatened it with sanctions, the newspaper said.
“Moscow wants us to be in its orbit and pay for that, too,” a high-ranking source in the Ukrainian government told Kommersant. “It’s not us who are pulling away from Russia. It is pushing us away.”
Earlier this month, Russia protested the arrival in the Black Sea of a U.S. Navy cruiser equipped with a ballistic missile defense system. The ship will take part in naval exercises with Ukraine, but Russia said it is a threat to its national security.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry shot back, saying the exercises did not present any “real or potential threat” for the countries of the Black Sea region.
This year is the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence. For this reason, the ruling Nur Otan party has held meetings to discuss the past and future of the country. The conference, titled “20 Years of Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan: Freedom, Unity, Stability, Prosperity,” held in the capital city of Astana on May 31, 2011 was part of this series. I presented a paper on this conference on the place and future of Kazakhstan in Turkish foreign policy.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, many expected the partition of Kazakhstan and ethnic and religious conflicts in the country. However, contrary to these expectations, Kazakhstan, under the leadership of founding President Nursultan Nazarbayev, performed successfully in modernization while still relying on its customs and traditions. It managed to remain united without denying different religious and ethnic identities. In this way, it presented a Kazakh model to the world, the success of which was proven.
Turkey is the first country to recognize the independence of Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is the primary partner of Turkey in Central Asia. During Nazarbayev’s visit to Turkey in October 2009, a Strategic Partnership Agreement was accorded between the two countries. The trade volume between the two countries was $3.28 billion in 2010. The total amount of Turkish investment in Kazakhstan is around $2 billion. There are more than 400 active companies with a Kazakh and Turkish partnership in the country. The number of companies with Turkish capital is only 130. The total amount of Kazakh investments in Turkey is $350 million. In terms of the amount of capital, Turkey ranks fourth in the total amount of investments in the country after the US, South Korea and Great Britain. In terms of the number of foreign companies, Turkey ranks first. A total of 31,000 students are registered at the Hoca Ahmet Yesevi International Turk-Kazakh University based in Turkistan and 175 scholarships have been allocated for Kazakh students studying in Turkey for the 2011-2012 academic year. Turkish courses are offered at the Astana Yunus Emre Cultural Center, launched in 2011.
There are two countries enjoying membership in the Council of Europe whose territories are partially outside Europe: Turkey and the Russian Federation. The territories of the South Caucasus member countries of the Council of Europe (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan) are completely outside of the European continent. The third country whose territories are partly outside Europe is Kazakhstan. A total of 10 percent of its territories, larger than France, is part of the European continent. For this reason, Kazakhstan should be involved in European affairs and European institutions, including the Council of Europe. During this process, Turkey should share its EU experiences with Kazakhstan.
Bilateral relations between Turkey and Kazakhstan should have a different dimension than the one in bilateral relations between any two other countries. The existing linguistic, religious, ethnic, historical and cultural ties between the two countries constitute the infrastructure for rapprochement. To do this, cooperation based on legal institutions should be maintained instead of creating new institutions. Legal cooperation should be initiated between Turkey and Kazakhstan without being influenced by the EU. Measures should be taken to facilitate citizenship affairs, procurement, company creation and working permits as well as tourism. To achieve this, the legal ground should be prepared. Passports should be granted to the citizens of both countries if they will work in a given job for one year. To make sure that economic, cultural and political rapprochement between the two countries is permanent transportation of commodities as well as human should be made less expensive.
The launch of the first two operational satellites of the EU’s global navigation satellite system will take place on 20th October, the European Commission announced today.
This is just the first of a series of launches due to take off from Europe’s Space Port in Kourou, French Guiana. The launch of the Galileo satellites at an altitude of 23.600km will lead to the provision of initial satellite navigation services in 2014. Successive launches will complete the constellation by 2019.
Antonio Tajani, European Commission Vice-President in charge of Industry and Entrepreneurship, said: “This launch is of historical importance. Europe is demonstrating that it has the capability to be at the forefront of technological innovation. Thousands of SMEs and innovators across Europe will be able to spot business opportunities and to create and develop their products based on the future Galileo infrastructure. Citizen will benefits from its services. Galileo is value for money and I count on Members States’ cooperation to find a solution for its financing.”
The Galileo programme is the EU’s initiative for a state-of-the-art global satellite navigation system, providing a highly accurate, guaranteed global positioning service under civilian control. The decision to fix the date of the first launch follows a detailed assessment review under the chairmanship of the European Space Agency. It concluded that the space and ground segment components as well as operational preparedness are progressing according to schedule.
Galileo will underpin many sectors of the European economy through its services: electricity grids, fleet management companies, financial transactions, shipping industry, rescue operations, peace-keeping missions, all depend heavily on satellite navigation technology.
In addition, Galileo will make Europe independent in a technology that is becoming critical, including for strategic areas such as electricity distribution and telecommunication networks. Galileo is expected to deliver €60 billion to the European economy over a period of 20 years in terms of additional revenues for the industry and in terms of public and social benefits, not counting the benefit of independence.
Galileo will provide three early services in 2014/2015 based on an initial constellation of 18 satellites: an initial Open Service, an initial Public Regulated Service and an initial Search-and-Rescue Service.
The Full Operational Capability phase of the Galileo programme is managed and fully funded by the European Union. The Commission and ESA have signed a delegation agreement by which ESA acts as design and procurement agent on behalf of the Commission.
EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) is Europe’s regional augmentation system for GPS signals. It is the precursor to Galileo. The EGNOS open service is operational since October 2009, and the Commission recently launched the EGNOS “Safety-of-Life” service for aviation.
With the Palestinians demonstrating and the International Monetary Fund in turmoil, it would seem odd to focus this week on something called the Visegrad Group. But this is not a frivolous choice. What the Visegrad Group decided to do last week will, I think, resonate for years, long after the alleged attempted rape by Dominique Strauss-Kahn is forgotten and long before the Israeli-Palestinian issue is resolved. The obscurity of the decision to most people outside the region should not be allowed to obscure its importance.
The region is Europe — more precisely, the states that had been dominated by the Soviet Union. The Visegrad Group, or V4, consists of four countries — Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary — and is named after two 14th century meetings held in Visegrad Castle in present-day Hungary of leaders of the medieval kingdoms of Poland, Hungary and Bohemia. The group was reconstituted in 1991 in post-Cold War Europe as the Visegrad Three (at that time, Slovakia and the Czech Republic were one). The goal was to create a regional framework after the fall of communism. This week the group took an interesting new turn.
On May 12, the Visegrad Group announced the formation of a “battlegroup” under the command of Poland. The battlegroup would be in place by 2016 as an independent force and would not be part of NATO command. In addition, starting in 2013, the four countries would begin military exercises together under the auspices of the NATO Response Force.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the primary focus of all of the Visegrad nations had been membership in the European Union and NATO. Their evaluation of their strategic position was threefold. First, they felt that the Russian threat had declined if not dissipated following the fall of the Soviet Union. Second, they felt that their economic future was with the European Union. Third, they believed that membership in NATO, with strong U.S. involvement, would protect their strategic interests. Of late, their analysis has clearly been shifting.
First, Russia has changed dramatically since the Yeltsin years. It has increased its power in the former Soviet sphere of influence substantially, and in 2008 it carried out an effective campaign against Georgia. Since then it has also extended its influence in other former Soviet states. The Visegrad members’ underlying fear of Russia, built on powerful historical recollection, has become more intense. They are both the front line to the former Soviet Union and the countries that have the least confidence that the Cold War is simply an old memory.
Second, the infatuation with Europe, while not gone, has frayed. The ongoing economic crisis, now focused again on Greece, has raised two questions: whether Europe as an entity is viable and whether the reforms proposed to stabilize Europe represent a solution for them or primarily for the Germans. It is not, by any means, that they have given up the desire to be Europeans, nor that they have completely lost faith in the European Union as an institution and an idea. Nevertheless, it would be unreasonable to expect that these countries would not be uneasy about the direction that Europe was taking. If one wants evidence, look no further than the unease with which Warsaw and Prague are deflecting questions about the eventual date of their entry into the eurozone. Both are the strongest economies in Central Europe, and neither is enthusiastic about the euro.
Finally, there are severe questions as to whether NATO provides a genuine umbrella of security to the region and its members. The NATO Strategic Concept, which was drawn up in November 2010, generated substantial concern on two scores. First, there was the question of the degree of American commitment to the region, considering that the document sought to expand the alliance’s role in non-European theaters of operation. For example, the Americans pledged a total of one brigade to the defense of Poland in the event of a conflict, far below what Poland thought necessary to protect the North European Plain. Second, the general weakness of European militaries meant that, willingness aside, the ability of the Europeans to participate in defending the region was questionable. Certainly, events in Libya, where NATO had neither a singular political will nor the military participation of most of its members, had to raise doubts. It was not so much the wisdom of going to war but the inability to create a coherent strategy and deploy adequate resources that raised questions of whether NATO would be any more effective in protecting the Visegrad nations.
There is another consideration. Germany’s commitment to both NATO and the EU has been fraying. The Germans and the French split on the Libya question, with Germany finally conceding politically but unwilling to send forces. Libya might well be remembered less for the fate of Moammar Gadhafi than for the fact that this was the first significant strategic break between Germany and France in decades. German national strategy has been to remain closely aligned with France in order to create European solidarity and to avoid Franco-German tensions that had roiled Europe since 1871. This had been a centerpiece of German foreign policy, and it was suspended, at least temporarily.
The Germans obviously are struggling to shore up the European Union and questioning precisely how far they are prepared to go in doing so. There are strong political forces in Germany questioning the value of the EU to Germany, and with every new wave of financial crises requiring German money, that sentiment becomes stronger. In the meantime, German relations with Russia have become more important to Germany. Apart from German dependence on Russian energy, Germany has investment opportunities in Russia. The relationship with Russia is becoming more attractive to Germany at the same time that the relationship to NATO and the EU has become more problematic.
For all of the Visegrad countries, any sense of a growing German alienation from Europe and of a growing German-Russian economic relationship generates warning bells. Before the Belarusian elections there was hope in Poland that pro-Western elements would defeat the least unreformed regime in the former Soviet Union. This didn’t happen. Moreover, pro-Western elements have done nothing to solidify in Moldova or break the now pro-Russian government in Ukraine. Uncertainty about European institutions and NATO, coupled with uncertainty about Germany’s attention, has caused a strategic reconsideration — not to abandon NATO or the EU, of course, nor to confront the Russians, but to prepare for all eventualities.
It is in this context that the decision to form a Visegradian battlegroup must be viewed. Such an independent force, a concept generated by the European Union as a European defense plan, has not generated much enthusiasm or been widely implemented. The only truly robust example of an effective battlegroup is the Nordic Battlegroup, but then that is not surprising. The Nordic countries share the same concerns as the Visegrad countries — the future course of Russian power, the cohesiveness of Europe and the commitment of the United States.
In the past, the Visegrad countries would have been loath to undertake anything that felt like a unilateral defense policy. Therefore, the decision to do this is significant in and of itself. It represents a sense of how these countries evaluate the status of NATO, the U.S. attention span, European coherence and Russian power. It is not the battlegroup itself that is significant but the strategic decision of these powers to form a sub-alliance, if you will, and begin taking responsibility for their own national security. It is not what they expected or wanted to do, but it is significant that they felt compelled to begin moving in this direction.
Just as significant is the willingness of Poland to lead this military formation and to take the lead in the grouping as a whole. Poland is the largest of these countries by far and in the least advantageous geographical position. The Poles are trapped between the Germans and the Russians. Historically, when Germany gets close to Russia, Poland tends to suffer. It is not at that extreme point yet, but the Poles do understand the possibilities. In July, the Poles will be assuming the EU presidency in one of the union’s six-month rotations. The Poles have made clear that one of their main priorities will be Europe’s military power. Obviously, little can happen in Europe in six months, but this clearly indicates where Poland’s focus is.
The militarization of the V4 runs counter to its original intent but is in keeping with the geopolitical trends in the region. Some will say this is over-reading on my part or an overreaction on the part of the V4, but it is neither. For the V4, the battlegroup is a modest response to emerging patterns in the region, which STRATFOR had outlined in its 2011 Annual Forecast. As for my reading, I regard the new patterns not as a minor diversion from the main pattern but as a definitive break in the patterns of the post-Cold War world. In my view, the post-Cold War world ended in 2008, with the financial crisis and the Russo-Georgian war. We are in a new era, as yet unnamed, and we are seeing the first breaks in the post-Cold War pattern.
I have argued in previous articles and books that there is a divergent interest between the European countries on the periphery of Russia and those farther west, particularly Germany. For the countries on the periphery, there is a perpetual sense of insecurity, generated not only by Russian power compared to their own but also by uncertainty as to whether the rest of Europe would be prepared to defend them in the event of Russian actions. The V4 and the other countries south of them are not as sanguine about Russian intentions as others farther away are. Perhaps they should be, but geopolitical realities drive consciousness and insecurity and distrust defines this region.
I had also argued that an alliance only of the four northernmost countries is insufficient. I used the concept “Intermarium,” which had first been raised after World War I by a Polish leader, Joseph Pilsudski, who understood that Germany and the Soviet Union would not be permanently weak and that Poland and the countries liberated from the Hapsburg Empire would have to be able to defend themselves and not have to rely on France or Britain.
Pilsudski proposed an alliance stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea and encompassing the countries to the west of the Carpathians — Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. In some formulations, this would include Yugoslavia, Finland and the Baltics. The point was that Poland had to have allies, that no one could predict German and Soviet strength and intentions, and that the French and English were too far away to help. The only help Poland could have would be an alliance of geography — countries with no choice.
It follows from this that the logical evolution here is the extension of the Visegrad coalition. At the May 12 defense ministers’ meeting, there was discussion of inviting Ukraine to join in. Twenty or even 10 years ago, that would have been a viable option. Ukraine had room to maneuver. But the very thing that makes the V4 battlegroup necessary — Russian power — limits what Ukraine can do. The Russians are prepared to give Ukraine substantial freedom to maneuver, but that does not include a military alliance with the Visegrad countries.
An alliance with Ukraine would provide significant strategic depth. It is unlikely to happen. That means that the alliance must stretch south, to include Romania and Bulgaria. The low-level tension between Hungary and Romania over the status of Hungarians in Romania makes that difficult, but if the Hungarians can live with the Slovaks, they can live with the Romanians. Ultimately, the interesting question is whether Turkey can be persuaded to participate in this, but that is a question far removed from Turkish thinking now. History will have to evolve quite a bit for this to take place. For now, the question is Romania and Bulgaria.
But the decision of the V4 to even propose a battlegroup commanded by Poles is one of those small events that I think will be regarded as a significant turning point. However we might try to trivialize it and place it in a familiar context, it doesn’t fit. It represents a new level of concern over an evolving reality — the power of Russia, the weakness of Europe and the fragmentation of NATO. This is the last thing the Visegrad countries wanted to do, but they have now done the last thing they wanted to do. That is what is significant.
Events in the Middle East and Europe’s economy are significant and of immediate importance. However, sometimes it is necessary to recognize things that are not significant yet but will be in 10 years. I believe this is one of those events. It is a punctuation mark in European history.
The Turkish defence sector has followed a path of steady but significant growth since 1985, the year of the foundation of the Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM), Turkey’s defence procurement agency. Established with the aim of modernising the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and nurturing the growth of a national defence sector, the SSM has successfully developed policies and carried out programmes to this end since its foundation.
Prior to the 1990s Turkey’s defence procurement model was based mainly on direct procurement (off-the-shelf purchases), however as a result of the SSM’s efforts and policies in support of local industries, the procurement model of Turkey underwent a gradual but significant change throughout the 1990s to co-production, and finally during the last decade to local production (i.e., developing its own designs) and system integration. Thanks to policies in support of local industries the number of Turkish companies operating in the defence sector has also witnessed a marked increase, especially since 2000.
In parallel to the development of the defence sector, the workforce of in Turkey’s defence companies is also increasing steadily, and every year more and more young and talented people are joining the pool. According to Defence Industrial Manufacturers Association (SaSaD) figures, as of November 2010 there were 718 (+ around 1,000 sub-industry companies) public corporations (military factories and government controlled companies), private companies and foreign partnerships in the country, employing some 41,000 staff (including 10,978 engineers and 6,689 technicians).
SaSaD’s Defence Industry Sector Report Figures
According to the Defence Industry Sector Report prepared by SaSaD through the evaluation of figures obtained from its member companies (SaSaD currently has 120 defence companies under its umbrella) and issued in April 2011, the Turkish defence sector achieved a US$2.7 Billion (TL4.1 Billion) turnover in 2010 (representing a 18% increase from 2009 in US$ figures). This figure covers only direct sales to TAF and other armed forces around the world, and does not include indirect sales by contractors. In 2009, revenue from the Turkish defence sector was US$2.3 Billion (TL 3.6 Billion), of which some 27% has been realised in the defence electronics sector; the aerospace sector and the weapons, ammunition, rocket and missile sector realising 18% each; 13% in the naval platforms sector, 12% in the land platforms sector and 12% from other defence-related activities.
Although the Turkish defence sector saw an 18% increase in revenues in US$ figures due to global financial crises, defence sales have decreased by 5% from 2009 (US$669 Million down to US$634 Million). However, since civil aviation exports achieved a 35% increase in 2010 and reached US$219 Million (US$169 Million in 2009) Turkey’s defence and aerospace sales in total witnessed a 16% increase in 2010 (US$732 Million in 2009). Breaking down the export figures, 31% was realised by the aerospace sector, 19% by the weapons, ammunition, rocket and missile sector, 19% by the land platforms sector, 13% by the defence electronics sector, 6% by the naval platforms sector, and 11% from other defence-related exports. According to SaSaD’s survey, the United States is the recipient of the majority (36%) of Turkish defence exports, followed by the Europe (26%), Middle East (19%), Far East (13%), Africa (4%) and South America (1%). According to the Ministry of National Defence (MoND), the share of domestic procurements has increased from 45.7% (in 2009) to an average of 52.1% in 2010. As indicated in the 2007–2011 Strategic Plan prepared by the SSM, defence and aviation exports should increased to US$1 Billion in 2011. The SSM has also targeted an increase in turnover per employee in the defence sector to US$250,000. All estimates show that the Turkish defence sector has grown further in 2010 and should achieve 2011 targets without any problem. In its 2011–2016 Strategic Plan the SSM has a target of increasing the existing defence export figure to US$2 billion by 2016.
Importance of R&D in the Expansion of the Indigenous Defence Product Portfolio
As a result of the efforts and policies implemented by the SSM, the last decade witnessed a dramatic transformation in Turkey’s approach to the modernisation of its armed forces and its domestic defence industrial capabilities, with R&D projects playing a crucial role in the rapid growth of the Turkish defence sector. The Turkish defence industry product portfolio currently contains over 250 different products and systems, mostly designed, developed and produced by Turkish companies through R&D programmes, and mainly funded by the MoND/SSM and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TüBiTAK). In order to reduce the defence sector’s external dependence on critical subsystems, components and technologies determined in line with the requirements of TAF, the SSM and MoND have allocated considerable financial resources (about US$50 million annually) for technology-intensive R&D activities to improve the country’s technological infrastructure. For this purpose the SSM has prepared and issued a Defence R&D Road Map for the optimisation of allocated resources and has determined and prioritised R&D projects in line with the needs and objectives of the main system projects that will involve collaborations among industries, universities and research organisations.
In line with a decision of the Supreme Council of Science and Technology to gradually increase the R&D/GNP ratio to the EU level of 2% by the end of 2013, significant funds from the national budget have been allocated to R&D activities, starting in 2005, to be used in coordination with TüBiTAK. R&D projects being realised with the aid of these funds help in the production and accumulation of technology, and consequently increasing the ratio of locally produced equipment to satisfy TAF’s needs. According to Undersecretary Murad BAYAR, as of June 2010 the total value of ongoing TüBiTAK-funded Defence and Aerospace R&D projects is US$ 242 million, and the total value of the 19 TüBiTAK R&D projects that have already been funded is US$157 million. The total value of DISF-funded defence R&D projects is US$ 85 million. MoND M. Vecdi GÖNÜLhas disclosed that during last two years 15 defence related R&D projects have been completed and currently a total of 77 R&D projects are being carried out. According to SaSaD’s 2010 Defence Industry Sector Report, in 2010 Turkish defence industries allocated a total of US$666 Million for their R&D programmes, US$113 Million of which was met from their own resources. Prof. Mehmet AYDIN, Turkish Minister of State in charge of Science, Technology and Information (also covering TüBiTAK), says that the Security Technologies Research Group (SAVTAG) of TüBiTAK had so far provided a total of TL561 million (around US$370 million) to support 47 R&D projects in the field of defence, and that 16 of them had already been completed, with the products entering into the service of TAF.
SSM Runs Defence Projects Valued at US$54 Billion
Accepted by many authorities as an emerging force in the global defence sector, Turkish defence industries have developed with remarkable progress in many areas over last decade, and Turkey is steadily increasing its efforts to become a self-reliant power when it comes to meeting the defence systems requirements of TAF. Today, Turkish defence industries are aiming to increase the existing defence export figure to US$ 1 billion in 2011 and US$ 2 billion by 2016, and are mature enough to meet most of the requirements of TAF, as well as those of its allies and friendly nations. Alongside R&D projects, the SSM is currently working on over 250 defence projects in the land, air, sea, electronic and rocket/missile areas. According to MoND M. Vecdi GÖNÜL the total value of defence projects that have already been contracted, most of which are about to be completed, is US$28 billion, while the total value of SSM projects, including those launched in recent months and the F-35 Lightning II JSF stands at over US$52 billion. Undersecretary Murad BAYAR has stated that 24% of the ongoing contracted defence projects are being realised domestically, 57% under joint production, 10% under direct procurement and 9% under consortium project models.
The Role of Offsets in Turkish Defence and Aerospace Exports
Two decades ago Turkey relied heavily on imports to satisfy its defence procurement needs, but over the last decade the Turkish defence sector has rapidly developed local capabilities to become a prime exporter as well. Turkish defence sector companies are now in a position to compete in international defence markets and have an impressive track record in orders from abroad for their state-of-the-art, NATO-standard and cost-effective products. The SSM has been able to sell internationally many of the Turkish defence sector developed and produced to meet TAF’s requirements.
Within the scope of defence projects, the transactions that will be executed to use the production potential and capabilities of local industry, to increase the competitiveness of the local industry in the international markets and to provide technological cooperation, investment and R&D opportunities, are defined as Industrial Participation/Offset. According to SSM documents, in 2009 58.4% of civil aviation exports and 41.3% of defence exports were generated under the offset obligations of foreign contractors. The share of offsets in civil aviation exports has been decreasing gradually since 2006, from 94.7% in 2006, 93.8% in 2007 and 60.7% in 2008, according to SSM figures. On the other hand, the share of offsets has been increasing in defence exports, up from 37% in 2006 to 45% in 2007 and 38.8% in 2008. According to the SSM figures (disclosed in October 2010) the total value of defence and aerospace exports so far generated under offset obligations is US$ 3 billion.
The recently announced figures show that foreign contractors have undertaken a total of US$13.3 Billion in offset commitments (covering both direct and indirect offsets) in projects executed between 1985 and 2010, of which US$5.3 Billion had been realised by the end of 2010. Further, there have been around US$8 billion-worth of offset credits for use only in the defence and aerospace fields. Offsets are one of the instruments used by the SSM to establish long-term and permanent cooperations between Turkish and foreign defence industry companies.
The Role of DISF in Turkish Defence Procurement
The majority of the SSM budget is being met from sources transferred from the Defence Industry Support Fund (DISF), which is totally independent from the MoND budget and is one of the most important financial resources for TAF projects. The DISF figures for 2010 have been recently disclosed by MoND M. Vecdi GÖNÜL, who states that during 2010, for the funding of defence projects carried out by the SSM, a total of US$1.8 Billion had been transferred from the DISF and over US$674 Million from the MoND budget. According to GÖNÜL, the DISF achieved US$138 Million in revenues in 2010 and has a total of US$3.96 Billion worth of assets from the Treasury.
New Export Strategy and Defence Industry Cooperation Offices
Since its foundation, one of the SSM’s goals has been to increase the levels of Turkey’s arms exports so as to raise its arms industrial base to a higher level. For the last four years, Turkey’s defence and aerospace exports have shown a continuous increase. According to SSM figures, the Turkish defence sector’s defence and aerospace exports totalled US$ 486.9 million in 2006, US$ 615.4 million in 2007, US$ 783.9 million in 2008 and US$ 830.8 Million in 2009. In parallel to the development of the Turkish defence sector and the expansion of the exportable indigenous product portfolio, starting from 2008 the SSM has revised its export strategy and taken new steps to boost exports and the performance of the local companies in international tenders. As part of its new export strategy the SSM has decided to open Defence Industry Cooperation Offices in the Middle East, North Africa, the Far East, Central Asia, Eastern Europe and South America, which have been selected as priority target areas for the export of Turkish defence products, to follow ongoing local defence tenders and inform relevant Turkish defence companies, and to act as a liaison office, arranging contacts between local authorities and Turkish companies. The SSM opened the first Defence Industry Cooperation Office in the United States in October 2010 inWashington DC; while the second office opened on 1 March, 2011 in the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. During a Turkey-Saudi Arabia Industry Day event, held March 1–4, the official opening ceremony was attended by MoND Vecdi GÖNÜL, Undersecretary Murad BAYAR, Turkish Armed Forces Foundation (TAFF) General Manager Lt. Gen. (Ret) Hayrettin UZUN and representatives from Turkish defence companies. The SSM has a plan to open similar offices also in Qatar (to follow the Middle East market), Malaysia/Indonesia (to follow the Far East market), Azerbaijan/Kazakhstan (to follow the Caucasian and Central Asian markets) and Brussels (to follow European and NATO-related projects) in the coming months.
The SSM attaches great importance to international cooperation and supports the participation of Turkish companies in joint or international procurement programmes. As a specialised department of the SSM, the International Cooperation Department (ICD) acts on behalf of the Undersecretariat in to boost collaborations in defence procurement programmes and industrial networking activities. As part of its strategy to encourage the Turkish defence sector to establish joint ventures and partnerships with foreign companies, the ICD has been organising numerous company visits for foreign delegations at all levels from many nations, and arranging government-to-government workshops to look at opportunities for cooperation between Turkish and foreign industries.
In this context, in cooperation with the UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation (UKTI DSO), SSM ICD organised a Turkish Naval Industry Inward Mission on 7–11 February, 2011 to explore opportunities for cooperation in the naval sector between Turkey and the United Kingdom. With attendance by representatives of companies located in Portsmouth, Bristol and London, the Turkish Naval Inward Mission event was attended by the SSM, Turkish Naval Forces Command, MoND and 17 representatives of Turkish defence and naval companies. On 10 February, UKTI DSO hosted a conference in London attended by 38 UK companies, including 23 SMEs. During Prime Minister David CAMERON’s visit to Ankara in July last year a Strategic Partnership Agreement, aiming to boost bilateral trade and defence was signed between the UK and Turkey. On March 1–4, in cooperation with SaSaD, the ICD organised a “Turkey-Saudi Arabia Industry Day” event at the Riyadh Radisson Hotel with the participation ofMoND GÖNÜL, Saudi Arabia’s Commerce and Industry Minister Dr. Abdullah Ahmed Zainal RIZA, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defence Minister Prince Khaled Bin SULTAN, Undersecretary BAYAR and other high ranking officials from MoND and the SSM, as well as 58 representatives from 34 Turkish defence sector companies. In the course of the event, the capabilities and solutions of the Turkish defence companies were displayed in an exhibition hall at the Riyadh Radisson Hotel Convention Centre. During bilateral meetings, the parties expressed their willingness to go beyond the sale of of-the-shelf products and to establish joint ventures, and to cooperate in co-production and co-design programmes.
LAND PLATFORMS SECTOR
Turkish defence companies are prominent in the manufacture of wheeled and tracked armoured vehicles, and are seeking new businesses that will double their current export figures, with the Middle East, Far East, Africa and Central Asia identified as privileged markets for locally produced armoured vehicles. The land platforms sector is the most successful in the Turkish defence market in terms of exports. Realising 12% of the turnover and 19% of the total defence exports in 2010. Turkey has traditionally looked to domestic suppliers to meet TAF’s land platforms requirements, enabling the sector to develop a comprehensive range of products that includes tactical wheeled vehicles (4×4, 6×6 and 6×4), tactical wheeled armoured vehicles (4×4, 6×6 and 8×8), armoured reconnaissance vehicles (tracked and wheeled), armoured internal security vehicles, mine-protected vehicles, a mobile floating assault bridge, riot control vehicles, an amphibious armoured combat earthmover, armoured combat vehicles and the ALTAY Main Battle Tank (MBT), as well as modernisation and upgrade solutions for APCs, ACVs and MBTs.
The backbone of the Turkish land platforms sector is formed by private companies such as Otokar, BMC, Nurol Makina and Hema Industries, as well as FNSS (a private company with a foreign partner), which also undertakes the lion’s share in turnover and exports. Military factories operated by the Turkish Land Forces, such as 1st Main Maintenance Centre in Adapazarı and the 2nd Main Maintenance Centre Command in Kayseri, are mainly taking a role in Main Battle Tank Modernisation projects such as the Leopard 1T and M60T programmes, and providing maintenance services for the tracked and wheeled vehicles in the service of the Turkish Land Forces (TLF).
The total value of the export contracts secured by leading companies FNSS and Otokar during last 6 months are valued at around US$ 1 billion, including a US$324 million M113 modernisation contract (to upgrade aging M113 vehicles into the M113A4/ACV350 APC configuration) signed between FNSS and Saudi Arabia in November 2010, and a US$600 million contract signed on February 22, 2011 between FNSS and DEFTECH of Malaysia at the FNSS facilities in Ankara for the design, development, production and logistical support of 257 wheeled armoured combat vehicles, to be based on the PARS 8×8 configuration, for the Malaysian Land Forces. Otokar, on the other hand, received a US$10.6 million contract from an undisclosed Gulf country in December 2010 for the delivery of an undisclosed number of ARMA 6×6 tactical armoured vehicles, to be armed with a 20mm cannon. Otokar also finalised its export sale negotiations with Azerbaijan in December and signed a US$30 million contract for the delivery of an undisclosed number of Cobra 4×4 wheeled armoured vehicles in four different configurations, includingWeapon Platform Vehicles, 4×4 Armoured Patrol Vehicles (APV) in ambulance and personnel carrier configurations and tactical vehicles in various configurations, including field workshop vehicles. The company has also secured a new export contract valued at US$9.3 million from an undisclosed country in early April 2011 for the delivery of an undisclosed number of 4×4 Armoured Patrol Vehicles (APV).
NAVAL PLATFORMS SECTOR
Having a strong heritage of ship building back in the days of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey has been moving ahead with ambitious plans to develop its domestic naval industrial capabilities. The country has already built up a capability for naval construction in the state-owned naval shipyards, starting in the 1970s, and the Turkish military shipbuilding sector is now offering diverse solutions at system and subsystem levels to meet the operational requirements of the Turkish Navy and Coast Guard. Over the last decade the Turkish naval ship building sector has achieved considerable success and is now ready to compete in the international markets with its indigenous solutions such as MilGem, New Type Patrol Boat, LCT and MRTP Series Fast Intervention Boats. As a significant example of the successful cooperation and interaction between the Turkish Navy and Turkish defence industries, the MilGem (National Ship) Project represents a milestone in the development of Turkey’s indigenous capability to design, build and integrate naval vessels.
In parallel with the SSM’s efforts to restructure the Turkish naval sector by combining the existing know-how and expertise of the naval shipyards and the Turkish Navy with the capabilities and competency of the commercial private ship building sector, the country’s private shipyards are becoming more and more prominent. During the last couple of years the total value of contracts awarded to local private sector shipyards is about US$ 2 billion. Dearsan Shipyard, for example, received a Euro402 million contract for the construction of 16 New Type Patrol Boats (NTPBs) for the Turkish Navy; ADIK Shipyard secured a Euro 99.7 million contract to deliver eight Landing Craft Tank (LCT) vessels; RMK Marine Shipyard received a Euro352.5 million contract for the delivery of four corvette-size Coast Guard Search and Rescue (SAR)/Patrol vessels; Istanbul Shipyard received a Euro18.52 Million contract for the modernisation of four SAR-35 Class Coast Guard boats; and Yonca Onuk was awarded a Euro8.67 million contract to construct two (+two optional) SAT Boats for the Turkish Navy. Private sector shipyards will also take part in the ongoing multi-billion dollar major surface warship programmes, including those for the Landing Ship Tank (LST) (for the construction of two 7.125 tonne displacement vessels ADIK Shipyard has been selected, and contract negotiations are ongoing);, Landing Platform Dock (LPD), Mo-Ship/RaTShip (Istanbul Shipyard has been selected, and contract negotiations are ongoing), Fleet Replenishment Ship, Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC), TF-2000 Air Defence Destroyer, TF-100 Multi-role Frigate, Turkish Type Assault Boats and Mine Hunting Vessels. Golcuk Naval Shipyard is and will remain as Turkey’s only shipyard with submarine construction capabilities, as the SSM does not envisage the transition of that particular expertise into private sector shipyards.
Starting in 2012, Golcuk Naval Shipyard will construct six Type 214TN Class AIP submarines and to carry out the modernisation of two Type 209 Class diesel-electric submarines (TCG Doğanay [S-351] and TCG Dolunay [S-352]) in TNF service. According to Serdar DEMIREL, Head of the Naval Platforms Department of the SSM, the Turkish naval sector amassed close to US$ 500 Million during the last period and the total contract volume of the 14 ongoing platform programmes soon with the signing of a formal contract. The total value of the sale is expected to be in the region of US$ 120 million.
The first vessels in the MilGem, NTPB, LCT and CG SAR/Patrol Vessel programmes, namely TCG Heybeliada (F-511), P1200 Tuzla, Ç-151 and TCSG Dost (701), have made their first appearance at the IDEF‘11 Exhibition in May.
Realizing 18% of the revenue and 31% of the total defence exports in 2010, the aerospace sector is the second largest contributor in the Turkish defence sector, having realized US$219 Million worth of civil aviation exports in 2010. Taking into consideration the global economic contraction in 2009 due to the financial crisis, it is impressive that the sector has seen renewed growth in 2010. Civil aviation sales and exports in the Turkish aerospace sector are expected to increase in 2011. The backbone of the Turkish Aerospace Sector is formed by state-owned (TAFF) companies TAI and TEI, which also contribute the lion’s share in turnover and export figures. According to figures disclosed by the companies, in 2010 TAI realised US$572 million revenues (with US$90 million operating profit) and US$ 220 million export sales, whereas TEI realised US$275 million worth of sales, of which US$155 million was from exports. However, opportunities are also emerging for private companies such as Alp Aviation (a joint venture between the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and the Alpata Group of Turkey), KaleKalıp/Kale Aero, Baykar Makina and Vestel Defence Industry. Military factories of the Turkish Air Force (TuAF), such as 1st Air Supply and Maintenance Centre Command in Eskisehir, and 2nd Air Supply and Maintenance Centre Command in Kayseri are mainly taking roles in modernisation projects such as the F-16C/D, F-4E 2020, F-5 2000, F-4E/TM (SIMSEK), RF-4E/TM (ISIK), T-38M (ARI) and C-130B/E (ERCIYES) programmes, and is providing maintenance/overhaul services to the fighter/bomber and transport aircraft. On the other hand, 3rd Air Supply and Maintenance Command, located in Ankara, provides maintenance, repair and overhaul services to avionics and the land-based radar and missile systems in TuAF’s service.
The initiative to establish an aerospace industry in Turkey is almost as old as the Republic itself, however these initiatives have had limited success in the past. Many authorities accept that the foundation of TAI in May 1984 to manufacture and assemble F-16C/D aircraft in Turkey and TEI in December 1984, to manufacture and assemble General Electric F-110-GE-100/129 jet engines, was an important milestone in the development of Turkey’s indigenous capability to design, build and integrate military aircraft and engines. TAI and TEI have developed their capabilities over the years, and have now begun participating in international military and civilian aerospace projects as well as their respective engine programmes, including F-35 JSF, F136, A400M, TP400, Boeing 747-8, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, GEnx and Airbus A350 XWB. TEI now carries out parts production and the assembly of jet engines for military aircraft operated by TAF and NATO, working in collaboration with the TuAF’s Air Supply and Maintenance Centres. Aiming to be an OEM-approved MRO centre for F110 engines with the support of its partner and shareholder General Electric, TEI is currently focusing on the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) of F110 engines in the regional countries. In this context, the company follows closely the regional F110 engine users and is in negotiation with several of them, including Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
TAI currently performs modernisation, modification and systems integration programmes and after sales support of both the fixed- and rotary-wing military and commercial aircraft in the inventory of Turkey and its friendly countries. In this context, TAI has been selected as the Prime Contractor for the avionic modernisation programmes of the C-130B/E transport aircraft (dubbed ERCIYES) and the T-38M jet training aircraft (dubbed ARI) in the inventory of TuAF. The major modernisation programmes include the Glass Cockpit modification of the Turkish Black Hawk helicopters; the electronic warfare retrofit and structural modifications to TuAF’s F-16s; Falcon Star and Mid-Life Upgrade modifications of the F-16s in the inventory of the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) and the Pakistani Air Force (PAF); the structural modification of CN-235 platforms for MPA/MSA missions for the Turkish Navy and Coast Guard; the structural modification ofATR-72 platforms for the Turkish Navy; as well as structural modification and systems integration activities required for the conversion of B737-700 aircraft into AEW&C aircraft. The company also participates as a partner in the global-scale F-35 andA400M design and development programmes. In this context TAI has been selected by Northrop Grumman as a second source for the manufacture of Air Inlet Ducts and Centre Fuselages for the F-35 Lightning II aircraft. Under the programme TAI will manufacture 400 complete Centre Fuselages in Turkey, while deliveries of the TAI-produced Air Inlet Ducts have been launched in March 2011 and the Centre Fuselages are scheduled to begin in 2013 as part the F-35’s LRIP-5 phase. Aside from TAI and TEI, the Alp Aviation and KaleKalıp/Kale Aero companies are also taking part in F-35 programme, producing parts for both the aircraft and the F135 engine. Being a shareholder in Airbus Military SL as the National Industrial Institution, TAI has been participating in the design and development activities of the A400M with leading European aerospace companies. Under the A400M programme, TAI is delivering the Forward Centre Fuselage of the aircraft and has completed delivery of first of three units, and shipped them to the assembly line in Bremen onboard an Airbus Beluga aircraft in January.
The Turkish aviation sector has achieved remarkable progress, especially in the last decade, and as Turkey’s top decision making body on defence industrial procurement, the Defence Industry Executive Committee (DIEC), believing that the company is mature enough to develop an indigenous fighter and trainer aircraft, tasked the SSM in December 2010 with opening negotiations with TAI for the indigenous development of an new generation fighter/interceptor (T-X) with stealth features and state-of-the-art avionics to replace TuAF’s existing F-4Es and F-16 Block 30 aircraft, and a jet trainer (T-X) to replace the existing T-38 and F-5 2000 aircraft by 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic. Under the T-X and F-X Programmes, TAI will be awarded a contract by SSM in the coming days for the Conceptual Development Phase. TAI has also been tasked by DIEC to develop an indigenous avionic suit solution for the F-16C/D Block 30 aircraft in the inventory of TuAF, which will include locally developed Mission Computers, OFP software and avionics. In this context, TuAF will be sending one F-16 Block 30 aircraft to TAI during next few months, on which TAI will perform the modifications as a prototype. The first flight is scheduled for 2014, and delivery in 2015. If the prototype passes the tests then TAI will perform, in cooperation with 1st ASMC, the modernisation of the remaining 36 Block 30 F-16s by 2019. Along with these recently launched programmes, TAI, as a Prime Contractor, is also developing the Anka (Phoenix) MALE UAV, a Turkish Light Utility Helicopter, the GökTürk II EO Satellite, the Simsek (Lightning) Jet-Powered Target Drone and the Sivrisinek (Mosquito) Rotary Wing UAV. The company is also carrying out the local production and system integration of T129 attack helicopters for the Turkish Land Forces under an AgustaWestland license. TAI will also perform parts manufacturing and assembly of 109 T70 Black Hawk (Sikorsky Aircraft), an 8-tonne, twin-engine medium class utility helicopter, selected under the US$3.5 Billion valued Turkish Utility Helicopter Programme in April 2011. The total number of the helicopters to be manufactured/assembled at TAI facilities are expected to reach 600 during the next 20 years.
According to SSM figures, the Fixed Wing Aircraft Department and the Helicopter Department have been working on 35 projects, including 11 helicopter projects, valued at over US$ 30 billion, covering both domestic and foreign procurements. According to SSM figures, the total value of the currently contracted 31 air platform projects, including large-scale helicopter programmes such as the T129 Attack and Tactical Reconnaissance, CH-47F Chinook Heavy Lift and S-70B SeaHawk Naval Helicopter projects, is around TL 19.3 billion (around US$13 Billion, and excluding TUHP project cost). The SSM is expected to finalise the ongoing multi-billion dollar fixed- and rotary-wing air platform projects in the coming years, including the F-35A Lightning II (expected to cost around US$ 16 Billion) programme.
Ankara’s recent attempt to block the NATO mission in Libya and the 2010 quarrel with NATO over the missile-defense initiative point at a new Turkish stance vis-à-vis NATO. Ever since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) assumed power in Ankara in 2002, Turkey has grown gradually cold toward cooperating with the West in the Middle East. Now, the AKP is increasingly taking issue with NATO. On March 29th, Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the BBC: “As the only Muslim country [in NATO-] for decades, we have certain sensitivities regarding NATO operations in neighboring countries.”
U.S. President Barack Obama called the AKP leadership during the missile defense crisis and over Libya, and this personal plea from the White House persuaded the AKP to lift its objections to NATO taking charge in both cases. However, the two cases are still significant for they provide insight into a new relationship between the AKP and the Transatlantic Alliance. Washington can address this dynamic by studying the following policy suggestions:
Turkey is fast becoming the Alliance’s “optout” member in operations in Muslim countries. The AKP seems to consider itself the defender of a politically defined “Islamic world” and will likely object to NATO missions whose area of responsibility falls in Muslim-majority countries even when such operations target criminal regimes or aim to protect civilians. Along these lines, on February 28, 2011 Erdogan objected to NATO intervention in Libya, asking, “What business does NATO have in Libya?” adding: “Turkey will never and never support pointing weapons at Libya.”
Facing elections at home in June; the AKP will aim to avoid persistent quarrels with the US. This is since public perception of American support for the AKP will help the party at the polls. After coming to power in 2002, the AKP has stayed popular also thanks to economic stability. Until the AKP rose to power, the pattern of the Turkish economy was such that growth would always be followed by a downturn, as it happened in the 1993-1994, 1997, 1999, and the 2000-2001 crisis, creating a sense of perpetual economic instability.
This changed under the AKP as Turkey enjoyed almost a decade of stable growth with no annual downturns. Now, as it prepares for elections, the AKP will be interested in repeating this success.
To this end, the party needs to avoid a public row with Washington over its polices. A major conflict with the United States could weaken the markets’ confidence in the Turkish economy, creating politically damaging economic problems for the AKP in the run-up to the polls.
Therefore, over the next two months, the AKP will continue working with Washington even if it voices strong public objections to NATO-led missions in Libya and other potential theatres in the Middle East –hence, the AKP’s willingness to come on board with Washington after initial footdragging over allowing NATO assume responsibility for the Libya mission.
Polls suggest that the AKP will win the June elections. Then, the AKP’s policy of opting out of NATO would likely consolidate. At this stage, Ankara will emerge as the enfant noir of NATO. In the same way Greece opted out of and blocked NATO operations against criminal regimes in the Western Balkans in the 1990s, citing its “affinity with its Orthodox brothers,” the AKP would use the “we
will not act against Muslims and will not let others do so either” formula to abstain from or hinder NATO operations in Muslim majority countries.
The AKP will, however, remain in NATO. Membership to the Alliance provides Turkey with crucial technology and political clout; it is unlikely that the AKP will act to end Turkey’s NATO membership. But particularly if the elections allow it to cement its rule, the AKP will increasingly use its NATO membership to slow down or block operations in Muslim countries out of sympathy for certain regimes, such as Syria, or in defense of its view of global politics whereby the party feels compelled to keep NATO out of Muslim countries.
U.S. President Obama himself will be a key component of U.S. policy to try to align the AKP with NATO. This is since the AKP government has a rather positive view of President Obama, even if it
takes issue with particular U.S. policies. This perception is rooted, firstly, in Obama’s April 2009 visit to Turkey, his first overseas trip after coming to power. The AKP has come to view this gesture as a sign of appreciation for the party and its policies. Secondly, the U.S. president and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have a good rapport, with President Obama regularly calling Erdogan to exchange views on foreign policy. In recent weeks, for instance, the president has phoned Erdogan at least a dozen times to discuss the events in Libya, Egypt, and elsewhere in Middle East. Finally, the AKP has an emphatic, if factually incorrect, connection with the president. This bond stems from the fact that, as one Washington-based Turkey analyst has stated, “Prominent AKP leaders believe that President Obama is a Muslim.”
Therefore, frequent interventions by the President to relay to the AKP leadership U.S. policy will be needed to ensure AKP alignment with NATO over the coming year even as Ankara’s policies slow
down NATO’s operations and hamper the Alliance’s decision making process.