At this point Sweden's accession into NATO is looking certain, after Erdogan's dramatic about-face following months of prior complaints about Sweden being soft on 'terrorists' (or rather, Kurdish groups and individuals which the Turkish state doesn't like).
Despite Stockholm making concession after concession for much of the past year, even beginning extraditions for wanted dissidents accused of crimes back to Turkey, it was never enough. And then came Quran-burning incidents outside the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, which intensified Ankara's rejection of the Scandinavian country's membership bid further.
But then, only in the last weeks, something big changed. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed this past Wednesday that his country's parliament is set to approved Sweden's NATO bid. But this will take some time given it will not be back in session until October.
Erdogan suddenly being on board with the Brussels consensus immediately gave fellow holdout country Hungary the nudge it needed, with Hungary now saying it too is ready to approve Sweden's NATO bid. Hungary's parliament is expected to begin formally taking up the matter in mid-September.
Erdogan's 180-turn was announced just before NATO's summit in Vilnius which ran this past week, on Tuesday and Wednesday. Ostensibly, Sweden's efforts at 'reform' under pressure by Turkey, which included passing new anti-terror laws, lifting an EU arms embargo on Turkey, and cooperating on extradition requests - are what changed Erdogan's mind. Many observers suspected something more to the story.
What was the real driving factor in the sudden Turkish "change of heart"? Legendary investigative journalist Seymour Hersh explains below based on his investigations [emphasis ZH]...
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Let’s start with a silly fear but one that does signal the Democratic Party’s growing sense of panic about the 2024 Presidential election. It was expressed to me by someone with excellent party credentials: that Trump could be the Republican nominee and will select Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as his running mate. The strange duo will then sweep to a huge victory over a stumbling Joe Biden, and also take down many of the party’s House and Senate candidates.
As for real signs of acute Democratic anxiety: Joe Biden got what he needed before the NATO summit this week by somehow turning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan inside out and getting him to rebuff Vladimir Putin by announcing that he would support NATO membership for Sweden. The public story for Biden’s face-saving coup was talk about agreeing to sell American F-16 fighter bombers to Turkey.
I have been told a different, secret story about Erdogan’s turnabout: Biden promised that a much-needed $11-13 billion line of credit would be extended to Turkey by the International Monetary Fund.
"Biden had to have a victory and Turkey is in acute financial stress," an official with direct knowledge of the transaction told me. Turkey lost 100,000 people in the earthquake last February, and has four million buildings to rebuild. "What could be better than Erdogan”—under Biden's tutelage, the official asked, "finally having seen the light and realizing he is better off with NATO and Western Europe?" Reporters were told, according to the New York Times, that Biden called Erdogan while flying to Europe on Sunday. Biden’s coup, the Times reported, would enable him to say that Putin got "exactly what he did not want: an expanded, more direct NATO alliance." There was no mention of bribery.
A June analysis by Brad W. Setser of the Council on Foreign Relations, "Turkey’s Increasing Balance Sheet Risks," said it all in the first two sentences—Erdogan won re-election and "now has to find a way to avoid what appears to be an imminent financial crisis." The critical fact, Setser writes, is that Turkey "is on the edge of truly running out of usable foreign exchange reserves—and facing a choice between selling its gold, an avoidable default, or swallowing the bitter pill of a complete policy reversal and possibly an IMF program."
Another key element of the complicated economic issues facing Turkey is that Turkey’s banks have lent so much money to the nation’s central bank that "they cannot honor their domestic dollar deposits, should Turks ever ask for the funds back." The irony for Russia, and a reason for much anger in the Kremlin, Setser notes, is the rumor that Putin has been providing Russian gas to Erdogan on credit, and not demanding that the state gas importer pay up. Putin’s largesse has been flowing as Ergodan has been selling drones to Ukraine for use in its war against Russia. Turkey has also permitted Ukraine to ship its crops through the Black Sea.
All of this European political and economic double dealing was done openly and in plain sight. Duplicity comes much differently in the United States.
Read the full Seymour Hersh report at his Substack