Ottoman Insulation

Turkey’s recent (and seemingly inexplicable) foray into the spotlight of middle-eastern affairs has baffled many international observers. Turkey’s provocations against Syria, Russia, and now Iraq, and their alleged support of terror groups in support of their energy industry appear to have angered Washington (and NATO,) have puzzled Kazakhstan, irked China, and have put Europe in a difficult situation. Nobody seems to know what Erdogan is up to.

Resources are the default excuse, but cultural ties to the region’s other local actors play an important part. Is Turkey creating a buffer zone between Russia and the middle-east in order to inflate its importance? How many of the ‘-stans’ are on his side?

“In concrete terms, the only achievement was the announced agreement to launch the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP). «Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline – TANAP can be launched sooner than it was initially scheduled», said Mr Ahmet Davutoglu at a joint press conference with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.

Some 6 billion cubic meters of gas of 16 billion cubic meters will go to Turkey, while some 10 billion cubic meters of gas will go to Europe. TANAP will connect the giant Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan to Europe through the South Caucasus Pipeline (SCP), TANAP and the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).”

Is Turkey using Azerbaijan to further its goal of regional dominance or is Turcic concern for its neighbours genuine? The move north and east puts several other states, especially Georgia, into harm’s way. No wonder Putin included Yunus-Bek Yevkurov in its meeting with the Saudi defense minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud. This aggrandization of the empire would serve as a bonding agent solidifying Turkey’s plan for regional dominance. Turkey already controls all the land-based pipelines into Europe from the middle-east and seems to have no qualms about using less legitimate groups to help further its agenda. The term ‘deep-state’ was coined in reference to Turkey, after all. (Note the black Turkish flag in the above image.)

“The rulers of re-emerged Ottoman Empire are trying to rekindle the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. The fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces has escalated recently. The Paris Armenia-Azerbaijan summit slated for December 1 was indefinitely postponed.”

Turkey has many battle-fronts now; they look to start conflict with everybody it would seem. A war forces states to take sides, and with Turkey controlling a great deal of European energy, as well as the water from the Euphrates river, perhaps Erdogan is trying to force his ally’s hands. He thought he had NATO support, but that is as yet uncertain; Turkey did fight a war against Poland in the 17th century. He seems to have Washington’s, in any case. But will Russia and the US both fall for the ploy, or will the two super-powers turn against him? He may well take Assad’s place as the next Gadaffi. Turkey’s role is at least as important as Ukraine’s, and they just got about the same amount of money from Europe as the IMF gave the Ukraine. Will we see increased terror attacks across the Caucasus as Putin has feared since the Sochi games? Time will tell.

*Update*

Just to push the point of Caucasus-ISIS young men with no better options than to make war with each other… The trickle-down is military, minute, and manipulative. War is a job; it comes with training, decent pay, glory and valour, and it leaves more women for the surviving (or conquering) men. The nomadic mercenaries are the Highlanders of the middle-east.

Russia says rebel killed in Caucasus was trained in Syria

“Turkey, the US, Russia, Syria – all these countries, the Kurds are all involved in the struggle against ISIS in Syria and in Iraq.

Yes, yes they are – and maybe that’s part of the reason why Erdogan despises them more now than ever.”

– Tyler Durden

St. Lambert – In the Cross-Hairs

While you may never have heard of St. Lambert, there is something you should know about it. The city of St. Lambert is a small one, merely 150 years old, counting a population of just over twenty thousand. With an area of only three square miles, it is disproportionately affluent, anglophone, aged, and religious. It is also, arguably the most important city in North America; or it could turn out to be.

“In the 1950s, the development of Saint-Lambert was enhanced with the building of the St. Lambert Locks in the St. Lawrence Seaway, to bypass the smaller Lachine Canal, and this became the most easterly lock in the Seaway.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Lawrence_Seaway

St. Lambert is also an important rail hub.

“Via Rail serves Saint-Lambert railway station with its daily Montreal-Quebec City, Montreal-Gaspé and Montreal-Halifax trains.

Amtrak, the U.S. national passenger rail system, also provides daily service to Saint-Lambert railway station, operating its Adirondack in both directions between Montreal and New York City, using the Victoria Bridge.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint-Lambert,_Quebec

A great many cities in the interior of the continent depend upon the seaway for the transport of goods and commodities. Toronto, Buffalo, Detroit, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Chicago are all dependant on imports being shipped through the seaway to the Great Lakes. Being the easternmost point in the seaway, St. Lambert is the entry point and the most important link in the supply chain to the interior of the continent.

“The Great Lakes region receives special attention because the provinces and states in it constitute the fourth largest economy in the world…” http://www.canadiansailings.ca/?p=8857

Starkly, one well-positioned nuclear bomb could put a crater where St. Lambert is and severely hinder the north american supply line to the heartland. The Russians know it, but do the residents of St. Lambert know it? The safe zone for an ICBM strike is about twenty kilometers which means that Montreal and most of the South Shore would become nothing more than a fond memory. Knowing this, one wonders how many of the residents there would endorse antagonizing the Russians over the crisis in the Ukraine.

Update – This permalink will simulate the effects of a 1 megaton nuclear device exploding on the ground at the locks in St. Lambert.