Turkey’s alliance with the West has expired

“America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests.” Henry Kissinger’s observation about United States foreign policy can, indeed, be applied to most countries. It comes to no surprise to any, that leaders of every country are expected to do everything in their power to expand the interests of their nation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is no exception to this rule. While enjoying the popular support of an immensely Islamized Turkish citizenry, he has realized that the interests of his country greatly differ from those of the West.  It is now very clear that Turkey’s alliance with America and the West has expired.

{mosads}One would assume that, after a failed coup, the leader of a nation would undertake reforms that alleviate internal pressures, guaranteeing the safety and stability of the state. A president may also remove subversive elements in the nation itself, that is not what Erdogan has done. Instead, the autocrat has had a whopping 110,000 people detained, fired, or suspended.

Aside from military personnel and police who may have taken part in the coup, this number includes firing or revoking the licenses of 21,000 of teachers, forcing the resignation of 1577 deans, dozens of journalists, and 2,745 judges.

The speed at which these individuals were rounded up has led many to believe the lists of targets were compiled earlier, and that the coup provided the perfect cover to go political opposition. Some analysts have gone further and compared Erdogan’s purge to the Nazi’s purges after the Reichstag fire. 

The mass arrests of alleged putschists compelled Secretary of State John Kerry to issue an official statement to remind Turkey that NATO expects the government to respect its own democratic institutions. Unfortunately, Kerry’s message comes far too late.

The truth is, Turkey uses its NATO membership to make a mockery of democracy and has done so for decades, one may need to look no further than Turkey’s illegal occupation of Cyprus in 1974. Adding insult to injury, Turkey has begun to flagrantly jeopardize the international order the West -its “strategic partner”- has strived to create after the Second World War. The uncertainty of having Turkey as a strategic partner has gone so far as to call into question the security of the U.S. nuclear arsenal in that country

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Turkey has used NATO protection to push into overdrive its own military aspirations in the region. A brazen example of the volatility of having Turkey as a “partner” was illustrated in 2013 when Turkey agreed to buy its first long range missile defense system from the state owned, China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation. Turkey, of course, could not follow through with such a dramatic departure from NATO weapons systems, but that does not stop it from trying to be the tail that wags the dog with NATO; now announcing, it is in talks with Russia to buy their S-400 air defense system. Turkey gets away with this barefaced behavior because of the important geographic space it commands. A space too important to be controlled by one nation.

Turkey’s gall goes even further in its attempts to affect European policy, accusing Germany of cultural racism after the country’s EU commissioner said Turkey will not join the EU as long as Erdogan is President. Most countries would not call their “partners” racists -Turkey is not most countries.

Movses Ter-Oganesyan is a fellow at the Eurasian Research and Analysis – ERA Institute. His research interests include the wider Caucasus as well as American Foreign Policy.

The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

Tags John Kerry

More Foreign Policy News

See All
See all Hill.TV See all Video