How is Turkey getting away with it?David Goldman explains.
The Saudis, who continue to paper over Turkey's enormous current account deficit, have many small reasons to wish ill on Mr Erdogan. He is keeping their adversary Iran in business; he is promoting the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria as an alternative to the al-Assad regime (and the Saudis hate and fear the Muslim Brotherhood, with good reason); and Erdogan harbors neo-Ottoman ambitions that offend the Saudis, who consider themselves the moral leader of the Sunni world.What could go wrong?
Nonetheless, the Saudis have one big reason to continue supporting Turkey. There are only three big Sunni armies in the world that can stand up to Iran. One belongs to a failed state, namely Pakistan; a second is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; and the third, and most powerful is Turkey's. Whatever side games Turkey might play with Iran, it does not want Iran to become a regional hegemon. That is why Saudi Arabia is paying protection to Erdogan.
Russia, which has enormous leverage over Turkey through its position as the country's main energy supplier, finds itself on the opposite side from Ankara in Syria's civil war. The Patriot missiles that Erdogan has requested from NATO are likely to shoot down aircraft that Russia is supplying to the Syrian regime.
Nonetheless, Russia has good reason to hope for Turkey's stability. During the past three months, Russia claims to have killed over 300 Muslim terrorists in the Caucasus. Note that Russia has not announced the capture or imprisonment of any terrorists, only kills. Despite its suspicions of the Turkish regime, Russia continues to hope that Turkey will help stabilize its southern border. And with more than 10 million guest workers from Turkey or the Turkic republics now working in Russia, Moscow has a stake in Turkey stability.
The Obama administration continues to view Erdogan as America's key ally in the region, despite Erdogan's annoying support for Hamas. Despite minor differences, Obama and Erdogan agree on a fundamental point of strategy, namely that the Muslim Brotherhood represents the future of the Arab world.
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