Sweden was enticed into a military agreement with the US.
NATO and the US and NATO believed that it would be simple to persuade Turkey to allow Sweden to be a member of NATO. But, Erdogan kept shifting the goalpost and was constantly adjusting his demands.
It seems that the Biden administration’s effort to the Swedish accession process on track to the ranks of a NATO member failed as Turkey refused to sign the agreement and exercised its right to deny approval until its terms regarding the past tense relationship between Stockholm and Kurdish separatists are fully taken care of.
President Biden was adamant and claimed the Swedish’s NATO acceptance was a predetermined conclusion. Biden was in denial of the tenacity of President Recep Tayyip Turkey and omitted the geopolitical implications.
Biden as well as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assumed that all needed was a face-saving strategy to please Erdogan’s vanity which is. Some Kurdish militants from Sweden were extradited to Sweden in exchange for Ankara and Stockholm were then able to take a kiss and get married.
As time went by, Erdogan kept shifting the goals and was able to refine his demands to include things like Sweden lifting its embargo on arms against Turkey as well as joining Ankara’s struggle against prohibited Kurdish militants and the extradition of individuals who are linked to the American-based Muslim religious leader Fethullah Gulen, who the Turkish government claims was the mastermind behind the failed coup attempt of 2016 which was reportedly carried out using US backing.
The Swedes were not aware that Turkey was so well-aware about the activities that were secretly carried out by their intelligence.
In a nutshell, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson has finally opted to leave the country declaring on Sunday of “Turkey confirms that we’ve completed what we had said that we’d do; however it also states that it would like things we aren’t able to, or do not want to accept.”
“We believe that Turkey will come to a conclusion but we don’t know what time,” he said, saying that it would depend on the internal politics within Turkey and “Sweden’s ability to demonstrate its seriousness.”
Stoltenberg is tense by saying “I believe that Sweden will be an official member in NATO. I don’t want to provide a specific timeframe for when this will happen. As of now, it’s been a unique, unheard of and quick process to join. Normally it takes a few years.”
In the meantime, Sweden’s Defense Ministry announced on Monday that negotiations are underway for a bilateral security agreement with Washington called the Defense Cooperation Agreement — which allows US troops to deploy in Sweden.
The Defense Minister Pal Jonson said, “It could entail storage of military equipment, investment in infrastructure to facilitate assistance and legally-valid status for American troops stationed in Sweden. The talks have begun because Sweden is in the process towards becoming an ally to an ally of the United States, through NATO membership.”
Sweden’s NATO membership is not really about the war in Ukraine but is about containing the Russian presence and strategy in the Arctic and North Pole. There is a massive economic dimension to it, too. https://t.co/0ZTDrYptIq
— M. K. Bhadrakumar (@BhadraPunchline) January 10, 2023
In other words, the US will no longer wait for Sweden’s formal acceptance as a NATO member, but it will instead take it as in fact a NATO ally!
A press release released on Monday from the US State Department said the bilateral security agreement will “deepen our strong security partnership, increase cooperation between us in multilateral security operations and, in turn, improve the security of transatlantic relations.”
The release referred to the US pledge to “strengthen and revive America’s alliances to tackle common security issues while preserving the common interests and values.”
The essence is security. It will provide the basis to allow the US the deployment of troops to Sweden on a rapid basis that isn’t possible without Stockholm officially renouncing its long-standing policy of non-alignment with the military.
This clever approach signifies an enormous change for Sweden with a long-time neutrality in wartime. In other words, Russia strongly opposes Sweden’s NATO membership, yet Washington is achieving its goal regardless.
However, Finland has also put its name in the NATO arena in response to US pressure, and does not appear to be in any rush to sign a deal with Washington even though it shares 1340 km of border with Russia. Finland’s position is that they will be joining NATO as well as Sweden.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto spoke to reporters on Sunday “Finland isn’t so eager to be a member of NATO that we’re unable to wait until Sweden is given the green signal.”
The former Finnish president Tarja Halonen has said the two countries Finland as well as Sweden have the same characteristics of “sisters, but they’re no, they are not twins.” They share a lot in common however their motives differ.
In contrast to Sweden which was within an Western orbit and was able to provide secret information to Western powers during the Cold War, both bilaterally and through NATO, Finland had a distinct relationship with Russia and was due to its past.
Finland was positioned as a neutral state in the Cold War maintaining good relations with the Soviet Union and was in awe of the principles enshrined in the Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance (1948) with Moscow which was used as the principal instrument for relations between Finland and Russia from 1948 until 1992, when the Soviet Union was disbanded.
Sure, the 1948 agreement gave Finland enough liberty to grow into an economically prosperous democracy. It was a different story in that, despite Sweden’s public stance of neutrality throughout its time in the Cold War, behind closed doors, it was an essential ally in NATO within Northern Europe.
Perhaps neutrality could be a viable option for Finland. Of course, it’s an entirely different issue when the power balance in the region is drastically altered during the course of an enormous conflict in Europe.
The Swedish (or Finnish) NATO membership isn’t exactly in the near future. Sweden is either not able or unwilling to meet Turkey’s requirements. In addition, there are many other factors at play here.
In particular, the course of the ongoing Russian-brokered rapprochement among Ankara and Damascus could profoundly affect the fate of Kurdish groups within the region as well as the Kurdish-American axis in Syria. Washington has cautioned Erdogan against seeking to re-engage with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
Further complicating matters is the fact that presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for Turkey in June, and Erdogan’s political compass is already set. Any shift in his thinking is likely to occur during the second half of 2023.
Six months now is a long period of time to be in West Asian politics. In the meantime, the Ukraine conflict will change dramatically by summer.
Finland is willing to wait for summer to come. The Finns are waiting for summer to come, however, Sweden (and Sweden and the US) aren’t able to.
The main issue is the reality that Sweden’s NATO membership is not primarily related to the war in Ukraine but rather about limiting Russia. Russian presence and strategies on Russia’s strategy in the Arctic as well as the North Pole. There is an enormous economic aspect to it as well.
Due to climate changes The Arctic is becoming increasingly navigable by sea. Experts believe that countries that border the Arctic (eg., Sweden) will have a huge stake in who is granted access to and control over the resources from this energy and mineral-rich region and the new ocean routes that global commerce melting off is creating.
It is believed that 43 of the more than 60 massive natural-gas and oil fields found throughout the Arctic are located in Russian territory, and 11 are located in Canada and six are in Alaska [US and one located in Norway. The terror that has been haunting those in the US can be described as: “The Arctic is Russian.”
Take a look at the image above. Sweden could add a significant amount into the mix to help secure an Arctic by joining NATO. Finland has a robust shipbuilding industry that builds icebreakers, however, Sweden’s highly efficient submarine fleet will prove vital in the defense of the polar region and to block Russia’s access into the oceans of the world.