Aug. 2, 2019
- Turkey and NATO – the End? – Zvi Mazel
Turkish President Erdogan’s determination to buy the Russian S-400 antimissile system in spite of American opposition and the subsequent suspension of Turkey’s participation in the F-35 fighter plane program raises the question of Turkey’s continued NATO membership.
Turkey was admitted to NATO in 1952 at the height of the Cold War on the strength of its participation in the Korean War; it had been one of the first countries to answer the UN call and send troops to fight the invading north. Today, the Turkish army is the second largest in NATO after that of America. Its purpose then had been to secure the support of the West against Soviet territorial demands following WWII.
For many years, Turkey was a faithful ally. The huge Incirlik Air Base was put at America’s disposal and tactical nuclear weapons were stocked there. Nevertheless, seeds of discord appeared as early as 1974, when Turkey occupied northern Cyprus, home to a largely Turkish population, forcibly exiling 180,000 ethnic Greeks in a move condemned by the UN Security Council. Great Britain, which maintained military camps in the island, was prevented by the U.S. from launching an attack to dislodge the invaders.
Erdogan’s regime is openly pursuing an agenda based on the greatness of the Ottoman Empire and on the extremist creed of the Muslim Brotherhood. With the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Erdogan let thousands of Muslims transit his country to join the insurgency. He wanted to help ISIS defeat Bashar Assad’s secular regime and establish an Islamic entity friendly to Turkey.
As part of growing Turkish-Russian cooperation, the Turkstream natural gas pipeline from Russia to Turkey was completed last November. A nuclear power plant being built in Akkuyu under the auspices of Russia’s Rosatom is expected to become operational in 2023. The writer, a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is former ambassador of Israel to Romania, Egypt and Sweden. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Can Turkey Be Kicked Out of NATO? – Dr. Ali Demirdas
There is no mechanism in NATO’s constitution that would allow member states to show a “rogue member” the door. By staying in the alliance, Turkey is able to greatly influence NATO policies. Since all NATO decisions require consensus, Ankara could effectively block any decision that it deems against its interests. (Jerusalem Post)