Turkey has been a headache for NATO for some time. Today, it’s even worse. The authoritarian Islamist government, the purchase of advanced Russian anti-aircraft systems, age old problems with reliable ally Greece, playing both sides of the diplomatic fence with Russia, its possible veto over NATO expansion to include Finland and Sweden in the alliance, and now new problems with Greece all mitigate towards reassessment of Turkey’s place in NATO or outright kicking her to the curb. These are the details of the bill of indictment.
The old Greek problems stem from a Turkish claim that Greece stole some islands after WWII. “The subject of 12 islands is our wound that has not yet healed. They have been unjustly usurped from Turkey by foot tricks,” a Turkish spox said Tuesday. “The stolen property must be returned to its owner.” The Greeks deny this charge. The Greeks are right.
The Erdogan government has by word and deed supported radical Islamist groups in the region, sometimes to the detriment of US national security. It has no intention of stopping.
Their military has established bilateral contacts with Russia and has purchased sophisticated Russian weapons systems, thus possibly compromising NATO opsec and weapons security.
Turkey has posed as an objective party that could mediate over the Ukraine war, but has generally tilted towards the Russians. Granted, Turkey has sold Ukraine effective drone systems. Republicans on the Hill are suspicious. “They are not an honest broker and they are not behaving like a NATO ally should,” a staffer said. “They are acting very aggressively in their own interests…There are reservoirs of skepticism across the board,” the source added.
A spokesperson for Senator Bob Menendez, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, told press Menendez has “serious concerns with the anti-democratic trajectory of Turkey under Erdogan – including its unbridled aggression outside of its borders, its stoking division in the eastern Mediterranean, the South Caucasus and NATO.”
Recently Turkey has held NATO expansion hostage to other issues having nothing to do with alliance expansion. She is blackmailing NATO. The Biden administration is trying to downplay the issue.
“Finland and Sweden are working directly with Turkey to address Ankara’s stated concerns,” a spox for the National Security Council told media. “We are confident Turkey’s concerns will be addressed and that we will reach consensus as an alliance on the entry process for Finland and Sweden.” Not bloody likely.
“The United States and Turkey have longstanding and deep bilateral defense ties, and Turkey’s continued NATO interoperability remains a priority,” the spox added. Yes and maybe.
And finally, this week a high Turkish official referred to US bases in Greece that have been there for several decades as “a direct threat” to Turkey. Oh c’mon. Does that sound like a reliable ally?
It seems that Turkey is either taking provocative steps to get herself thrown out of NATO, though there currently isn’t a NATO expulsion process, or seeing how far it can go to push its own anti-NATO agenda while inside the alliance. Either one makes a good case to separate Turkey from NATO and thus bring reality and operational security to the NATO southern flank.