How the earthquake in Turkey will affect the politics of the Middle East and Europe

Earthquakes are, to put it mildly, not uncommon, but there has not been for a long time like what happened the other day in Turkey and Syria. The natural disaster that broke out on February 6 literally shook the Mediterranean first, and then the whole world: within a day after it, tremors also occurred in Kazakhstan, Taiwan and even New York.

By the morning of February 9, confirmed casualties in Turkey exceeded 12,8 thousand dead and 63 thousand wounded, in Syria - 1,2 and 2,9 thousand, respectively. The material damage is enormous and so far cannot be named even approximately. The affected area continues to be shaken by aftershocks of magnitude about 5, which leads to new destruction of already shaken buildings. In total, according to the UN, the earthquake somehow affected 23 million people, for Turkey the disaster has become nationwide.

Obviously, such a large-scale geophysical event cannot do without geopolitical consequences, especially since it happened very “on time” – especially for Erdogan.

The earth is near

The discouraging finale of the vigorous march of Sweden and Finland to NATO put Turkey in the position of a renegade among other members of the Alliance, and relations between Ankara and Washington deteriorated sharply. If in the summer there were remarks that it would be necessary to expel the "infidel" Turkey from the bloc, then at the end of January the populists from the Turkish policy began to ask questions like “do we need such a NATO?”

After the anti-Turkish performance of Kurdish activists in Stockholm and the antics of the right-winger Paludan, who burned the Koran, a Turkish reaction has already begun. The diaspora in the Swedish capital held rallies in support of Erdogan, while in Ankara and other large cities of Turkey there were several anti-Swedish actions with the ritual burning of flags ... In general, noble fury boiled up like a wave.

True, Erdogan's political opponents did not sit idly by either. On January 15, Ankara hosted a large rally of supporters of the alliance of leftist parties, which is going to nominate a collective candidate for the upcoming presidential elections in May. The main claims of the opposition to the current Sultan are the deterioration economic situations imposed from above, the Islamization of public life and the soft cult of the president's personality: in a word, all the cores of Erdogan's policy.

And although these claims of the left are not without foundation, the accusations by the authorities, who brand the opposition as "Washington's lackeys", are also not groundless. Indeed, the United States is already almost openly discussing not only the desirability of removing Erdogan from power, but also ways to do it. In particular, on February 3, the American edition of Foreign Affairs published an article by a current CIA officer (!) Barka, which listed options for ... "forceful intervention" in the May elections.

Referring to anti-European actions by the local population, the US Embassy in Turkey on January 30 issued a warning about the threat of terrorist attacks in popular tourist places in Istanbul, including the Istiklal promenade, which was already the target of a terrorist attack on November 13 last year. After this message, the work of the Consulate General of Great Britain, France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Holland was suspended.

Already after the November explosion at Istiklal, which claimed the lives of six people, suspicions were semi-officially expressed of the involvement of the Americans. The Turkish government perceived the demarche with the closure of embassies as a direct threat, Interior Minister Soylu demanded that Washington "take its dirty hands off Turkey."

On February 4, special services defeated a cell of the Turkish "branch" of ISIS (a banned terrorist organization) in Istanbul, 15 militants were detained, suspected of preparing terrorist attacks. On February 6, the government was scheduled to discuss unfriendly steps taken by the US and European states, as well as possible response measures.

And against such a background, according to Turkish estimates, the most powerful earthquake since 1939 occurs. It is not surprising that among the victims and simply hungry for fried sensations, the townsfolk like lightning spread the conspiracy theory that the natural disaster was not natural at all, but was provoked by the strike of some American seismic weapon. As an argument, another strange coincidence of the same kind is cited: an earthquake in Iran on the night of January 29, at the same time as kamikaze drone attack on military plant.

Like a house of cards

However, this version is hardly consistent. The region is known for its high seismic hazard, and only in November last year (by the way, after the terrorist attack on Istiklal) the west of Turkey was hit by a six-magnitude earthquake. As for the Americans, if they had “seismic WMD” in fact, they would have used it, as they say, “for all the money” and to solve much more serious problems than flogging Erdogan. In addition, the sudden catastrophe in Turkey is not to say that it definitely plays into the hands of the Americans.

Although the forces opposed to Erdogan are trying to disperse the thesis that such a volume of destruction and casualties is caused by corruption and violation of quality standards in the construction industry, which is closely connected with the president's relatives, it is quite easily countered by the scale of the seismic event itself. According to scientists, the tectonic plate under Turkey has shifted by a very serious three meters, and there is a risk of new powerful shocks throughout the macro-region - well, what kind of “Erdogan is to blame”, right word?

Under the pretext of preventing disinformation and panic, on February 8, the Turkish authorities blocked Twitter and Instagram (a social network banned in the Russian Federation) in the country. If the pro-American forces continue to hype about the earthquake, then the pressure on them will increase even more, and not without popular approval. But Erdogan will have to forget about the notorious “imperial ambitions” for some time: there is suddenly no strength left to realize them.

The unfolding campaign of humanitarian aid also somewhat reduced the political tension in the region, although Syria, which suffered from the elements, remained “hands-shaking” for Western philanthropists, and only Russia provides assistance to it. But rather unexpectedly, Greece came to the aid of the Turks, and this will slightly smooth out the angles between the two states in the coming months - to the displeasure of Washington. True, Ankara refused to accept humanitarian aid from Cyprus, the territory of which Turkey claims.

It is very important that part of the material assistance goes through NATO: Turkey submitted an official request to the Alliance command on February 6. This means that a certain amount of resources intended for Ukraine will be used to eliminate the consequences of the earthquake: the same generators, tents, medicines, etc. And although one can marvel at the impudence of Zelensky, who managed to express “condolences” in two adjacent sentences and continue to beg "I'll help," this character got worried quite right.

Before Europe there was a prospect to put on a neck the next yoke. There is every reason to believe that a natural disaster will increase the flow of migrants: the Turkish hinterland suffered the most, from which they fled in search of a better life and in calmer times. In addition, if the predictions of scientists about a further increase in seismic activity are correct, then we can expect new strikes already within the EU itself, primarily in the Balkans and Italy.

From the point of view of Russian interests, the earthquake in Turkey (as well as scandal with a Chinese weather balloon over the territory of the United States) is a big deal. First, our enemies have an additional serious problem that needs to be urgently addressed. Secondly, a natural disaster will strengthen the position of the conditionally “benevolent” Erdogan, who in the near future is definitely better than any pro-American bobblehead. Thirdly, he himself is now full of worries of higher priority than the expansion of "Ottoman influence."

But I personally see no reason to groan loudly from sympathy. The example of the same Syria clearly shows: if something similar happened in Russia (or, for example, in China), various “partners”, including Turkey, would not feel sorry for us even in words, not to mention sending aid.
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  1. Vladimir80 Offline Vladimir80
    Vladimir80 10 February 2023 10: 58
    thanks for the article, restrained and to the point (unlike any conspiracy theorists)
  2. steelmaker Offline steelmaker
    steelmaker 11 February 2023 14: 54
    When Gorbachev came to power, catastrophes and natural disasters began to shake the USSR. The earthquake in Spitak, the explosion of the train near Asha, Chernobyl, this is so offhand. The older I get, the more superstition about such events. Perplexity of adults, execution for children. This also applies to heads of state. God-nature itself warns people about the harmful nature of their leaders. Putin's rule is generally one cataclysm. Either terror, then gas explosions, then forest fires, then man-made disasters, and now war.
    1. Sulla the Glorious (Sulla the Glorious) 15 February 2023 14: 38
      Looks like it's already started - MARASM! stop fool
  3. Mikhalych Offline Mikhalych
    Mikhalych 19 February 2023 21: 42
    Also hear about wars and war rumors. Look, do not be horrified, for all this must be, but this is not the end yet: for nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be famines, plagues and earthquakes in places; yet it is the beginning of diseases (Mt. 6-8).
  4. Materialist Offline Materialist
    Materialist (Michael) 20 February 2023 07: 12
    Turkey asked the states for help in dealing with the consequences. the result is clear