Sweden Won’t Meet Türkiye Demands to Win Its Vote on NATO Membership

Ooh, things are getting to be fun! Nothing like watching geopolitical jousting out in the open. Here, we have the US (and NATO) attempting to push around Türkiye, a country that holds far too many cards to meekly accept Western dictates. The immediate contratemps that has just heated up is Türkiye’s threat to block Sweden’s bid to join NATO, which any NATO member can bar. Türkiye demanded that Sweden stop supporting what Türkiye deems to be Kurdish terrorists and made specific requests, including extraditions. It seemed highly unlikely that Sweden would be willing to accede to all of Türkiye’s demands, and Sweden just said so:

Conventional wisdom is that Türkiye will eventually knuckle under and will waive Finland and Sweden in. It would be too monstrously embarrassing and would worsen rifts in the bloc otherwise. But Türkiye will need some sort of bribe to go along. And is has to be visible for the sake of Erdogan depicting that he go something in return for his partial climbdown on his Kurdish terrorist position. But what might that sweetener be?

If you were to read only, say, the likes of the Economist, you’d have the strong impression that Türkiye was a vassal state that doesn’t know its place.

For those of you new to this plot line, NATO offered super duper expedited membership to Sweden and Finland. NATO acted as if the two Nordic states would be voted in quickly. Türkiye almost as quickly said it would refuse to accept their application, but backed right before an end-of-June NATO meeting. From the Guardian:

After a period of intensive negotiations, Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary general, said on Tuesday evening: “I am pleased to announce that we now have an agreement that paves the way for Finland and Sweden to join Nato.”

“Turkey, Finland and Sweden have signed a memorandum that addresses Turkey’s concerns, including around arms exports and the fight against terrorism,” he added….

[Swedish Prime Minister Magdelena] Andersson said she had shown the Turkish leader changes in Sweden’s terrorism legislation set to come into force next month.

“And of course, we will continue our fight against terrorism and as Nato members also do so with closer cooperation with Turkey,” the Swedish premier said.

NATO and EU leaders acted as if everything was settled. But voting on accepting the application and voting to approve membership are two different matters. Türkiye and Hungary have not yet approved the Sweden/Finland ascension (Hungary’s is allegedly because its Parliament hasn’t gotten to it yet, but some commentators contend pro-Russian officials are throwing sand in the gears).

Erdogan held back Türkiye’s approval for Sweden because he wanted to see performance on Sweden’s commitments. One of Edogan’s asks that Sweden agreed to, which at the time struck me as something Sweden either would or could not deliver on, was the extradition of specific individuals. From EUObserver:

Turkey has demanded Sweden extradite 33 Kurdish separatists and people linked to “FETÖ” — Ankara’s name for followers of Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Muslim leader, whom Erdoğan blames for organising a failed coup in 2016.

Sweden has so far extradited two.

In fact, Sweden had signaled that it was unlikely to comply much if at all with the extradition part of the deal. Again from EUObserver:

“The Swedish government must comply with Swedish and international law in extradition matters, which is also made clear in the trilateral agreement,” Sweden said, referring to a three-way accord on Nato enlargement with Finland and Turkey.

The agreement to secure Türkiye’s vote for Sweden blew up over the attempt to extradite a publisher who is part of Fethullah Gülen and Erdogan sees as an important figure in the coup attempt against him. From Associated Press:

Sweden’s top court on Monday rejected an extradition request for a man wanted by Turkey, saying the Scandinavian country does not criminalize the act he is accused of committing.

In a statement, the Swedish Supreme Court said there were “obstacles to extradition because it is a matter of so-called political crimes, i.e. crimes that are directed against the state and that are political in nature.”

The court in Stockholm said there was “a risk of persecution based on the person’s political views” if he were returned to Turkey.

The court did not name the man who was the subject of Turkey’s request. Swedish news agency TT identified him as Bulent Kenes and said the Turkish government wants him in connection with a 2016 coup attempt.

Erdogan has made clear that Kenes was a priority. Again from Associated Press:

Erdogan singled Kenes out last month during a joint news conference with the Swedish prime minister in Ankara.

“There is one member of the (Gulen) terrorist organization in Sweden, whose name I will give: Bulent Kenes,” Erdogan said. “For example, the deportation of this terrorist to Turkey is of great importance to us, and we of course want Sweden to act with more sensitivity (on the issue).”

And in a development that doesn’t seem to have gotten much notice in the press, Erdogan raised his demands after the Kenes ruling. From the Stockholm Center for Freedom, four days after the Supreme Court ruling:

Turkish authorities have expanded the list of people, the majority of them political dissidents, whose extradition is demanded from Sweden, increasing the number from 33 to 42, Turkish Minute reported, citing Radio Sweden.

Sweden and Finland broke with decades of military non-alignment and applied to join NATO in response to Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine. Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO members yet to ratify the Nordic neighbors’ applications.

Turkey has accused Finland and Sweden, in particular, of providing a safe haven for outlawed Kurdish groups it deems “terrorists” as well as some political dissidents and has refrained from ratifying their NATO bids despite an agreement in Madrid in June.

According to Radio Sweden, the Turkish government’s list of people whose extradition is demanded from Sweden includes 16 alleged members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), 12 people with alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement and seven people from leftist groups in addition to seven people who are accused of such crimes as smuggling.

Oddly, the article does not point out that the PKK is a recognized terrorist organization; the US put PKK on its list the same day it added Hezbollah and Shining Path. One would assume extraditing them plus the accused smugglers would be viable.1

However, Sweden said it is done with catering to Türkiye to get its NATO vote. From the Financial Times:

Sweden has said Turkey is demanding concessions that Stockholm cannot give to approve its application to join Nato as the prime minister insisted the country had done all it could to meet Ankara’s concerns.

Ulf Kristersson, the new centre-right leader, on Sunday threw down the gauntlet to Turkey in the clearest indication yet from Stockholm that it could do no more to help persuade Turkey to drop its opposition to Sweden and neighbouring Finland joining the western military alliance.

“Turkey confirms that we have done what we said we would do. But they also say that they want things that we can’t and won’t give them. So the decision is now with Turkey,” Kristersson told a Swedish defence conference.

Sweden is rubbing salt in Türkiye’s wound by misrepresenting what its Foreign Minister said. From Reuters in Turkey calls for more action from Sweden on extradition for NATO backing, three days after the Supreme Court ruling that blocked Kenes’ extradition:

[Foreign Minister Mevlut] Cavusoglu said Turkey appreciated Sweden’s steps so far. “However, there is no concrete development regarding the extradition of terrorism-related criminals and the freezing of their assets,” he said….

“If Sweden wants to be a NATO ally, we have to see concrete cooperation. The negotiations are carried out in a positive atmosphere, but the denial of extradition of Kenes has intoxicated this atmosphere,” Cavusoglu said at the press meet.

In other words, Türkiye clearly reminded Sweden that it had not delivered on its commitments. Türkiye reminded Sweden that it needed to follow through to get Türkiye’s NATO vote. But Sweden is now trying to present Türkiye as somehow having come around to Sweden’s position.

Where is the counter-offer? At a minimum, it sure looks like 23 people were good candidates for extradition. Using a high-profile single case as a basis for dropping the entire matter looks like bad faith. After all, 2/3 of the attempts so far had succeeded.

This is a very long winded introduction to a key point, that Türkiye has tons of leverage and therefore has and will continue to play the Collective West off against the rest of the world. The only way that stops would be if NATO manages to do an own goal on the order of the anti-Russia economic sanctions and gets Türkiye to hike out of NATO. There’s no process for removing a NATO member2 Türkiye very very much likes the advantage it gets against Russia by being in NATO, so it is extremely unlikely that Türkiye would depart of its own accord.

So Türkiye in NATO looks increasingly like those old pre-nup marriages, where both parties really would like to be done with each other but can’t afford to get divorced.3 Türkiye’s assets include:

The Dardanelles

Second biggest NATO army, and the biggest in the European theater:

Incirlik Air Base. This is the airbase the US uses for Middle Eastern operations. And reflecting Türkiye’s position, it’s not run on normal US-as-occupier airbase lines. From MilitaryBases.com:

The base is in Turkey, which means that it is operated by both the US and the Turkish governments, unlike other co-bases. Most other military installations are operated by the US government, but under the regulation of the hosting government.

Incirlik has held (as of 2016) and may still hold as many as 50 hydrogen warheads.

Things started to go very pear shaped with the US after the 2016 coup attempt. Aljazeera gives a very good overview. Erdogan is very unhappy that the US has refused to extradite Fethullah Gulen. While Türkiye apparently has not come up with strong enough evidence of Gulen’s personal involvement, it’s not hard to see that a Muslim cleric in the normally not very Muslim-friendly US having a very lavish compound would generate suspicion back home.

This is far from a complete list of dust-ups since then:

Calls in 2016 for Türkiye to be expelled from NATO due to its ouster of Gulen allies (mind you, the purge had started in 2013 but intensified greatly after the coup attempt)

Türkiye ordering Russian S-400 air-defense systems, now twice, leading the US to cancel F-35 sales to Türkiye.4 That might seem like a gift except Türkiye is listed as a funder of the program, which at a minimum means having invested in factories to make some parts. Note that Türkiye signed the deal in 2017. The US cut Türkiye out of the F-35 program the month after Türkiye accepted the first delivery, in 2019. The Trump Administration imposed additional sanctions on Türkiye in December 2020.

The afore-alluded-to 2019 fury when Türkiye launched Operation Spring, against Kurdish (as in American-backed) forces in Syria. Erdogan poured gas on the fire by threatening to stop barring Syrian refugees from entering Europe if he wasn’t allowed to have his way.

Türkiye making some of the right noises about Russia’s conflict in Ukraine but still maintaining and even expanding relations with Russia. Ankara has been explicit: Ukraine and Russia are neighbors and it intends to stay on good terms with both. Türkiye did supply Ukraine with much-touted Bayrakter drones….that wound up big time underperforming. And as we’ll flesh out a bit more below, the Collective West regards Türkiye as not doing its part to support the war against Russia.

However, Türkiye entered into a big economic deal with Russia. The West has tried to block some elements, such as Türkiye banks accepting the Mir card. Türkiye and Russia expect to have work-arounds in place by summer 2023.

The West also can’t be happy at the prospect of Syria and Türkiye teaming up, with Russia helping to broker the deal, to go against “terrorists” which will include pretty much all of the US cat’s paws.

On the Türkiye side, I suspect but can’t prove that one of the reasons for its tart opposition to the Sweden/Finland membership offers was that it was not consulted in advance.

Today, Conor Gallagher provides an important, long-form treatment of a development that Türkiye regards in and of itself as a huge betrayal: the US working with Greece to place missiles on Aegean islands that by treaty were pledged to stay unarmed. The US rationale is that Türkiye has not been an aggressive enough NATO operative, for instance, in its refusal to let warships enter the Black Sea, and more generally, declining to operate as a US/NATO hub in the war, so it is using Greece to get at Moscow. But Türkiye has repeatedly complained that it is also in Greek crosshairs, and Conor and other analysts believe the US moves are meant to punish pressure Türkiye.

Erdogan has reacted in his typical very impolitic manner, leading to further harrumphing that his words prove he’s not a fit member of civilized society. From the Express in mid-December:

Speaking during a town hall meeting with youths in the northern Turkish city of Samsun on Saturday, Erdogan said Turkey had begun making its own short-range ballistic missiles called Tayfun, which, he said, was “frightening the Greeks.”

”(The Greeks) say ‘It can hit Athens’,” said Erdogan, whose comments were aired late Sunday.

He added: “Of course it will. If you don’t stay calm, if you try to buy things from the United States and other places (to arm) the islands, a country like Turkey … has to do something.”

Let’s return to the headline issue: will this Türkiye threat over Sweden just prove to be a show of bluster, as most of the press has been treating it (as well as NATO itself, which has been inviting Sweden and Finland to meetings and extending other privileges normally afforded only to members)? In light of all of the above, that may not be such a safe bet.

Türkiye, interestingly like India, has been trying to navigated a geopolitically independent, self-interested course. But India is not a key member of a US dominated security alliance.

It is hard to calibrate Türkiye messaging compared to its intent. If Türkiye regards the arming of Greece as a serious security threat, which seems likely, it is logical to assume that Türkiye will continue to withhold its approval of Sweden and Finland until the US winds that program back at least to a degree. It’s a clear leverage point on a matter to which the West has hopelessly committed itself.5

However, the US has likely convinced itself that using Greece to mount a joint threat against Russia and Türkiye is strategically necessary. And since it is becoming hard to paper over that the Ukraine war is not going well (witness, for instance the recent Washington Post op-ed by Condoleeza Rice and Robert Gates, Time is not on Ukraine’s side), the US is likely to engage in displacement: since it isn’t getting what it wants in Ukraine, it is going to make damned sure it gets what it wants elsewhere. That means NATO expansion among other things. The odds appear high that the US would regard Türkiye as intransigent and at a time when it feels it can’t afford even an optical setback, as in further delay in getting the Nordic nations in NATO. But instead of giving Türkiye a sweetener, the US and NATO have been big on sticks. So I would expect things to get worse before they get better on this front. And they may not get better.

_____

1 Remember, at the 50,000 foot level, someone who is to be extradited does not have to have been found guilty but is instead typically being sought to be brought to trial. One of the typical provisions in extradition treaties is the crime for which they are being charged in the home country is also a crime in the country that is being petitioned to extradite the accused.

As an aside, Erdogan escalating when his earlier deal was blocked is Mafia-like. From the movie version of The Godfather:

Michael: Well, when Johnny was first starting out, he was signed to a personal services contract with this big-band leader. And as his career got better and better, he wanted to get out of it. But the band leader wouldn’t let him. Now, Johnny is my father’s godson. So my father went to see this bandleader and offered him $10,000 to let Johnny go, but the bandleader said no. So the next day, my father went back, only this time with Luca Brasi. Within an hour, he had a signed release for a certified check of $1,000.

Kay Adams: How did he do that?

Michael: My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Kay Adams: What was that?

Michael: Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.

2 There is no provision in the NATO governing agreements for expelling a member state. Theoretically, NATO could try invoking Article 60 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, as described long from in a 2019 Just Security article. The posturing about NATO values is painful to read, particularly in light of the Nord Stream pipeline sabotage and the Minsk accord duplicity. Remember also that Erdogan believes that the US played a role in the 2016 coup attempt.

3 In the interest of reader convenience, that same Just Security article in 2019 describes how Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and various Congressional hawks fulminated about expelling Türkiye from NATO and other punishments for planning to attack Kurdish forces in Syria.

4 The excuse, that the S-400 system might spy on the F-35s and send info back to Mother Russia, sounds nonsensical. The security risk would seem to by HUMINT, not SIGINT, like Russian techs sent to help wit the S-400 getting a bit too much in the way of a look or even gossip from Türkiye personnel.

5 I am not sure who played whom. Sweden no doubt thinks it was oh so clever to get weasel wording in its deal with Türkiye. But Erdogan has dealt enough with extradition that he should have recognized the risk of that carveout. Did he go with the agreement assuming he could play it his way either way, that Sweden would either comply well enough to call it a win, or if not, he could demand new concessions?

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33 comments

  1. Patrick M P Donnelly

    The International pariah, with ‘allies’ everywhere, is being stymied by two of its satraps, Sweden being new to that status.

    That could continue for a long time, ensuring no Russian countering.

    It’s almost as if countries no longer respect enormous armies spread all over the world, sucking oil out of the ground and protecting pirate corporations.

    Expect more zugswang in the future?

    Reply
  2. JohnA

    In the meantime, the Swedish Defence Minister Pål Jonson has announced Sweden has entered into negotiations for a Defence Cooperation Agreement with USA. He claimed this would enable faster and more effective American support in the event of a crisis and war.
    “The Agreement will affect a large number of areas and make it easier for American forces to act in Sweden. this can concern their legal status in Sweden, advance storage of materiel, plus investments in infrastructure to facilitate support,” Jonson said.
    In other words, paving the way for American bases in Sweden whether or not Turkey rubber stamps Nato membership. Successive Social Democrat and Conservative governments have totally bought into the neoliberal ideology and US vassalhood. A sad end to what was once a proud, happy, relatively equal and neutral country.

    https://www.svt.se/nyheter/forsvarssamarbete-med-usa-fordjupas

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  3. The Rev Kev

    It should be mentioned how Finland has bolted it’s fate to Sweden here. Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters on Sunday that ‘Finland is not in such a rush to join NATO that we can’t wait until Sweden gets the green light.’ But it sounds like Sweden is trying to renege on the initial agreements that they made with Erdogan. But if there is one thing that you can count on, it will be that Erdogan will drive a very hard bargain in return for his votes. And no doubt he will try to humiliate Sweden for trying to pretend that they are fulfilling Erdogan’s demands. It would be interesting if at the end of the day that Sweden did not get into NATO. Not only will it leave them twisting in the wind but it might serve to give a cold splash or reality into their politics. It may be that both countries will become de-facto NATO members as JohnA above suggests. So have the NATO ‘enduring’ bases, NATO troop rotations. NATO training & war games. In short, everything that would make them a NATO country but without that last signature on a piece of paper. The only other alternative for NATO is for that organization change the rules so that only a majority of countries have to agree with a collective decision. Sort of like the EU wants to do. But my thought is that both Sweden and Finland are right now sailing down Excrement Creek – and Erdogan has the paddles.

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    1. Skip Intro

      I saw that about Finland too and thought both nations might be getting cold feet. The surprise announcement seemed, at the time, like a PR stunt, and sticking on some extraditions seems like an easy way out.

      Also, some recent terror attacks in Turkey have been attributed to US-backed actors, recall when they refused condolences from the US? And then there’s Turkey’s lucky but humiliating miss on the EU membership thing. I don’t expect them to be taking orders from NATO.

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  4. Lex

    Thank you for the overview. I guess I still expect Turkiye to allow Sweden into NATO because the alternative likely sees NATO try to eject Turkiye and that’s a point of leverage Erdogan won’t want to lose. But now the whole situation is complex enough that it gets difficult to offer reasonable predictions. Erdogan will stand on top of the fence for as long as he can, and it makes sense to do so in his position. Both sides need Turkiye, and if recent history holds it will be the US that misplays its hand. It now has two major complications within NATO; the Sweden issue pales in comparison to essentially provoking an intra-NATO conflict in the Aegean.

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      1. Lex

        I didn’t. No provision doesn’t mean it won’t/can’t happen. I also said “try” but so long as Erdogan is in power and wants to remain in NATO doing so will be very difficult.

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      2. Altandmain

        As Putin has noted, the US is agreement incapable.

        So the US will do something to retaliate against Turkiye whe it is convenient to do so.

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  5. Matthew G. Saroff

    Given the record of the US military on criminal prosecutions of its personnel, particularly officers, one would wonder how the Swedish electorate would react to the standard Status of Forces agreement insisted upon by the US. (It’s an agreement that any criminal charges against US forces be adjudicated by the dysfunctional and corrupt US military justice system)

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    1. JustTheFacts

      Thanks…

      Another reminder of how incredibly deluded the “experts” in Washington DC can be, or how incredibly dense they think we are.

      To summarize their logic: Russia can’t afford to give in (no shit Sherlock, even Obama — not a foreign affairs expert — recognized that), so we must quickly send more weapons immediately… to achieve what? to ensure things escalate further? Even a child would see through this so-called “expertise”.

      I also like the need to maintain the illusion that Putin is the only reason Russians care about their own sovereignty… They truly think us unable to think.

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  6. David

    This looks like it will come down to a legal/political question. Extradition is a complex issue, and in general states don’t extradite foreigners for crimes that they consider “political”, nor for acts that are not criminal under their own laws. And there needs to be an existing extradition treaty in place between the two countries, because there is no international treaty on the subject (though there is a UNDOC model). In the case of Sweden, the government will also be bound by EU law.

    Interestingly, the ECHR recently blocked the extradition of a Taiwanese national from Poland to China, because of fears that he would be tortured and deprived of a fair trial once he arrived back. Now Turkey is itself actually party to the ECHR, and I don’t know therefore if the China decision could be taken as a precedent, but it certainly doesn’t make things any easier for the Swedes. At a minimum, the Kurds will make use of any possibility of involving the European institutions, even if they get nowhere. This could go on for a while yet.

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    1. Yves Smith Post author

      As indicated in the post, Sweden has washed its hands of the entire matter, when some of the people on Türkiye’s extradition list look like they could be extradited, if nothing else the smugglers. So this is a real slap at Erdogan.

      As further indicated, the normal remedy would be some other US or NATO bribe to Erdogan. But the US has had a run of bullying, domineering Presidents, with too many in their Administrations reflecting those tendencies. And the US seems to be taking the view that Türkiye does not know its place and must be brought to heel. If this reading is correct, we have another game of chicken coming.

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      1. David

        Oh, indeed as to your last point. I read Sweden’s “concessions it cannot give” less as a statement of political position than of a mixture, on the one hand of national and European legal constraints, and on the other a disinclination to get involved in endless court cases and appeals, which will certainly be brought, even if, as you say, some of the cases relate to common criminals. Bear in mind that there are a lot of grounds other than political for refusing extradition, including fear of ill-treatment as a member of a persecuted minority, insufficiency of evidence, risk of the death penalty being applied etc.

        That said, it is a slap at Erdogan, because the Swedes could have taken a more helpful approach if they had wanted to especially as they promised last June in the tripartite memorandum to

        “address Turkiye’s pending deportation or extradition requests of terror suspects expeditiously and thoroughly, taking into account information, evidence and intelligence provided by Turkiye, and establish necessary bilateral legal frameworks to facilitate extradition and security cooperation with Turkiye, in accordance with the European Convention on Extradition.” (Note the reference to EU law.)

        So I suspect this will go on, that Sweden will give way on some of the easier cases, but that even those will become mired in the court system. In most countries, it can take months for a court to consider an extradition appeal, even if they then immediately throw it out.

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      2. Richard

        “Bullying and dominating.” Yes.

        There are several videos available online of Biden, campaigning, poking his finger into voters’ chests and telling them to vote for someone else because they questioned him about something or other. He is very belligerent; always has to have the last word. In one he calls a young woman a “dog faced pony soldier” (which I believe apologists claim has some movie reference.)

        The first four lines of the chorus in Kenny Rogers The Gambler are this:

        “You got to know when to hold ’em,
        Know when to fold ’em,
        Know when to walk away,
        And know when to run.”

        Biden only knows how to raise.

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  7. russell1200

    Maybe its in there, I had to read it fast.

    But I am not seeing anything about Turkey threatening to go to war with Greece over Cypress issues – which are related to recent oil finds in the area.

    I am also not seeing the issue of the Armenian corridor which is important to Russia-Iran (and I think India).

    Finally, there is the Southern Route pipeline to supply Europe (which involve Azerbaijan) that Russia and Germany/France were at one time opposed to.

    And there is the base in Libya that the Turks seem to have kind-of-sort-of brokered for themselves.

    And of course there is whatever part of Syria/Kurdistan that Turkey is trying to conquer at the moment.

    I bring these up, not because they directly effect Sweden. But as a way to note that Turkey has an awful lot going on, beyond feuding with Sweden. It is very true that Turkey is important to NATO. But the flip side is that Turkey has an awful lot going on which makes the NATO umbrella sort of nice.

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  8. ComradePuff

    On the surface the Turkiye / Sweden diplomatic standoff is a perfect example of sleep inducing political theatre. What is presented to the public as a pedantic power struggle over principles and international law, is really a case where weak bowled-over DC vassal state Sweden is harboring a network of operatives whose sole purpose is to overthrow the government Turkiye. The US Is not just going to hand over it’s assets to Turkiye when it’s (ridiculous) objective is full spectrum dominance. It seems that in this situation, the empire is only temporarily hoisted on its own petard because it’s own imperialist bait and switch strategy (the voting structure of NATO) has come back to bite it, in that the only true integrating force in Europe is in the population’s own haughtiness. Turkiye recognizes this gap in the armor, so presses harder here and seems to me to be a stalling tactic. They’re not going to be extradited because they’re are worth far more to the US than Turkiye. International law is a fig leaf.

    I also don’t see Turkiye as a self-interested opponent of Russia at all, quite the opposite. The primary issue for Turkiye is that it’s under a defacto military half-occupation by the US, and on many matters its hands are tied. It resists where it can, his is partially why Turkiye has so much friction with virtually all it’s neighbors. I mean if you want to see what stability in a sea of chaos looks like, check out Jordan, a glorified US military parking lot with a “king” for an attendant.

    Notice how quickly Iran and Russia allied after Russia finally threw off the ideological yoke of the West. North Korea is out of the corner too. Russia itself spent a long time digesting and integrating DC’s version of political reality, and one of those key points was to generate academic material to support the theory of competing national interests between independent counties, which was self fulfilling so long as governments were weak and squabbling/rotating themselves out every few years.

    Now that the US has overextended itself, these naturally allying countries (Syria, Russia, North Korea, Serbia, Turkiye, Iran, China and to some extent India) are blocing up quite nicely, and this will prove to be a far greater disaster for DC than a defeat in Ukraine, which is easy enough to paper over with propaganda.

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    1. Karl

      Excellent post. Could you elaborate on one point you make:

      They’re not going to be extradited because they’re are worth far more to the US than Turkiye.

      Maybe Yves addressed this and I missed it, but you imply that the U.S. is pulling the strings here. Why are these people, so sought after by Turkey, so important to the U.S. as to be a sticking point on NATO membership, which the U.S. also wants? Do they know something about the coup attempt that the U.S. doesn’t want Turkey to know? Or is there another issue?

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    2. Yves Smith Post author

      It’s not a point I tracked down, but one of the people on Erdogan’s original extradition list was a Swedish MP. It looks as if he dropped her, but that likely set Sweden’s teeth against the exercise.

      However, Sweden could have a better job of fake complying, like still filing all 33 cases and letting the courts dispose. Sweden could have put its finger on the dial of political cases by making weak filings for them and assuring judicial rejection.

      But it also looks like Türkiye wanted the process to be pretty far along before it gave its NATO approval. Erdogan was going to get some receipts in hand before giving his leverage away.

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      1. Matthew G. Saroff

        While the Russo-Ukraine war may have created a groundswell of support for joining NATO, I am beginning to think that the political establishment in Sweden may very well have gotten cold feet about this.

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    3. Yves Smith Post author

      Please do not straw man the post. We clearly indicated the US/NATO are upset with Turkiye for buying S-400s, for not letting warships through the Dardanelles, and for entering into a massive economic deal with Russia. You misrepresenting what we wrote is a violation of house rules, and we do enforce them, as in moderate and ban violators. I suggest you read our Policies before commenting again.

      Reply
  9. Maxwell Johnston

    Whether or not Sweden and Finland actually join NATO is not so important. Both countries are tightly integrated into the Atlanticist culture and both their militaries have been training aside NATO for many years. They are already de facto NATO members, which is what really matters (as opposed to de jure). They have relatively small populations and militaries spread over rather large territories (by European standards) and pose no threat to RU.

    The interesting question is whither Turkey, which is a serious military power with a population greater than any EU country and with a key strategic location. Turkey is de jure in NATO, but de facto….. I’m not so sure anymore. My bet is that within the next 10 years, Turkey will leave NATO. The only doubt I have is whether Turkey will be expelled by NATO or whether it will leave on its own. Either way will be messier than Brexit, as it will be the first time that a nation quits NATO. And last time I checked, the USA still had nukes stored at Incirlik airbase.

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    1. hk

      Are US nukes at Incirlik necessarily an asset in this scenario? They can’t actually be used, so they become very expensive (and vulnerable) potential hostages if US-Turk relationship gets worse.)

      Reply
  10. Valerie from Australia

    When the the Swedish prosecution authority wanted to extradite Julian Assange to Sweden to face possible (trumped up) criminal charges – which many assumed was so Sweden could hand him over to the U.S. – Sweden didn’t seem worried about the persecution Assange would face at the hands of the American justice system. I don’t recall the Swedish government making statements like, “We don’t recognise publishing embarrassing videos of the U.S. as a crime,” or that there was “a risk of persecution based on the person’s political views.” Yet, here they are, sticking their neck out for 33 Kurdish separatists. Now, I don’t know enough to have an opinion as to whether the Kurdish separatists are worthy of protection or extradition, but this really comes across as a double standard. Doesn’t any politician or government worry about looking hypocritical any more?

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      That’s an excellent point that, Valerie. The Swedes were all ready to bend and twist their laws all out of shape so that they could help ship off Assange to the US. But now they do not want to ship off those dissidents off to Erdogan because of principals or something. And they are trying to tell the Turks to just trust them and it will all happen – just as soon as they vote for them to go into NATO. But all the while they complain that Erdogan is asking too much. I think that they are hoping that the US and the rest of NATO makes Erdogan give them his vote – but it’s not happening.

      Reply
      1. JustTheFacts

        Sorry to be pedantic, but this particular misspelling drives me up the wall, probably because the meanings are so different, and I have to reread the sentence.

        principal : the main thing (adj) / person (noun)

        principle : (noun) a rule by which you live your life (ends in ‘le’ like ‘rule’)

        Thanks for your indulgence.

        Reply
  11. Frank

    NATO is increasingly looking like a defunct and meaningless organization. There’s probably a lot more realization than we recognize among its member that it eventually will have to be disbanded in favor of other treaties that better reflect current alignments. Countries like Ukraine, Sweden, Finland and Austria are much more NATO in spirit than Turkey, which is NATO by law.

    As someone else already mentioned, it’s entirely possible that both Finland and Sweden are secretly content with Erdogan’s efforts to forestall their official memberships. Their political leadership would look silly joining an organization right before it ceases to exist, and better to wait and see where the chips fall anyway. Turkey, for its part, doesn’t really need NATO and is clearly just using it for its own ends as opposed to being committed to a common defense pact.

    Reply
  12. dean 1000

    It wouldn’t be nice if the federal government interfered in the market to buy oil to refill the SPR, thereby increasing gasoline and oil prices on the public. I’m sure the freedom caucus patriots and the deficit hawks don’t want to increase the deficit cause the government is paying high prices to refill the SPR.
    The Administration should hire drilling companies to bring oil the the surface on federal land. It then hires private enterprise to truck or pipe the crude straight to the SPR. No red tape or rigamarole with leases. They can start drilling in the morning. No increase in gas or oil prices due to government interference in the market. Problem solved. The free market crowd will love it.

    Reply

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