In the wake of Reina terror attack: geo-political and new security risks

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Baku, 16 January 2017 –

The terror attack that happened in Istanbul on the New Year eve provoked different reaction. Politicians and experts believe this will have serious geo-political repercussions, including elevation of superpowers` struggle for influence in the Middle East to a new level. Emergence of new geo-political configurations is not ruled out, which is evidenced by Russia-Turkey collaboration on the Syrian issue. But that`s not all. The United States, Israel, EU member states as well as several countries in the Middle East are likely to get more active. Experts predict that the wave of terror may spread to the regions in the vicinity of the Middle East and have serious implications for regional and global security.

Istanbul blast: where will be the continuation?

The terror attack at Reina night club in the Turkish city of Istanbul is one of the factors that have had serious repercussions for the geo-political situation in the Middle East. Politicians and experts deemed it part of geo-political plans of certain forces, rather than a regular act of murder. In this context, it is interesting what the implications of this incident will be for the whole geo-political dynamics of the region.

After the Reina terror attack official Ankara reiterated its commitment to continuing its fight against terrorism. This was taken as a concrete message to those who make plans against Turkey. It has been widely recognized that Turkey is already a major influence in the Middle East. Despite the scale of a terror attack Ankara always behaves in a manner typical of a superpower. The fight against terrorism both inside the country, on its borders and in the Middle East lies at the heart of Turkey`s political strategy. And Ankara is powerful enough to do it, which has clearly been evidenced by what is happening in Syria.

Turkey and Russia are close to solving a problem that the world`s superpowers have failed to address for many years. Moscow and Ankara have put in place a ceasefire mechanism in Syria. Some local clashes aside, the truce appears to be holding. According to some reports, if provocations of certain groups are prevented, the ceasefire regime can be sustainable. The United Nations` welcoming the Russian-Turkish initiative is yielding fruits. According to official sources, the United States also accepted the move without serious protest. However, Washington has doubts about sustainability of the initiative, and has already brought this to Moscow`s and Ankara`s notice.

Experts cannot give unambiguous explanation to how Tehran will be involved in this process. They suppose that Iran may be jealous of Ankara, but do not believe that this will be the case. The reason is that Russia is very much interested in Iran`s observing the agreement.

Moscow is trying to take the geo-political initiative in the Middle East. Turkey can be of greatest help in this. The recent developments demonstrated that Ankara has serious influence over groups in Syria. Moscow has repeatedly thanked Turkey for support. However, this does not mean that Russia and Turkey share common views on all geo-political aspects in the region. There is a difference of opinion between the two countries as to Syria, Iraq, Georgian issue in the Caucasus and Ukrainian problem in Eastern Europe.

At a meeting with foreign ambassadors, Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reiterated official Ankara`s support for territorial integrity of Georgia and Ukraine. Turkey considers Crimea a Ukrainian territory, he said. There is a general consensus on the political future of Syria. But who and how will be engaged in the ensuing processes still remains a question. Moscow has a different stance on the issue of the political status of Iraqi Kurds. So Russia and Turkey cooperate under a certain framework in the Middle East, and the future of this collaboration is uncertain. However, helped by Ankara, Moscow has become a major influence in the Middle East. On the bilateral format, Turkey and Russia enjoy rapidly developing relationship, which satisfies both countries.

New cooperation formulas and security: risks remain

There is little possibility that Tehran will try to impede the development of Turkey-Russia relations. But Iran will acts in its own interests. This is natural because Iran is one of the regional powers, which managed to have preserved its geo-political influence. So geo-political cooperation configuration involving Russia, Turkey and Iran may emerge in the Middle East.

In this context, the West`s Middle East policy draws much attention. It has been widely reported that the new US administration plans to make certain changes to foreign policy. However nothing is said about the essence of possible changes. There is a difference of opinion as to what America`s position on the Middle East will be. Some experts believe Donald Trump will be more supportive of Israel than Barack Obama was. This will eventually raise the issue of how the Palestinian issue will be resolved. The other side of the story is related to Iran. Tel Aviv has openly expressed its discontent at the West`s cooperation with Tehran, so uncertainty still exists about Israel-West relationship.

The future of Israel`s relations with Muslim countries is also unclear. Experts believe that a recent terror attack in Al Quds signalled the possible deterioration of confrontation. ISIS is under attack, therefore the organization is taking any opportunity to commit a terror attack. This may drag the region deeper into chaos.

Interestingly, despite a highly volatile situation Turkey reaffirmed commitment to its strategy of joining the European Union. Ankara still wants to join the organization despite EU member states` unfriendly position on Turkey`s fight against terrorism. Experts deem it a strong message. They believe Turkey`s attitude towards Europe remains unchanged, with Ankara being eager to defend its own interests. With this end in view Turkey is likely to elevate its relationship with Russia, Iran and China to a new level.

The aforementioned is indicative of the fact that a geo-political factor plays a key role in Turkey`s fight against terrorism. So it is ruled out that any terrorist organization is seeking revenge. It`s about great geo-political and information warfare. Political leaders acknowledge that the geo-political picture of the Middle East is being re-established, with superpowers struggling for a greater role.

Will this struggle affect neighboring regions? It should be admitted that experts have been analyzing this for a long time, and they fear that the wave of terror may spread to the Caucasus and Central Asia. ISIS is supposed to be a major threat. This seems thought-provoking against a background of superpowers` vows to destroy ISIS.

But if there is the possibility that ISIS may spread to the regions in the vicinity of the Middle East, this means that the fight against this terrorist organization is only in words. In addition, there are growing assumptions about who founded ISIS and who controls it.

This confirms fears that terror attacks committed in Turkey may spread to other countries. The struggle of superpowers in the Middle East may deteriorate in a broader geographical context. This is likely to put regional conflicts on the back burner and give birth to the factors that would endanger global security.

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