It’s like the spinach in your colleague’s teeth: You don’t want to admit to yourself it’s visible, because then you’d be compelled to address the issue. But it has to be done. So, America, here it is: Turkey is not an ally.
A couple of years back, the Obama administration was effusive. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would strengthen Turkey’s democratic system, open the mythical “bridge to Asia” and place the formidable Turkish military cheek to jowl with NATO. Erdogan’s Turkey, it was claimed, would be a beacon of governance for more autocratic Islamic nations. Turkey, would span the divide between Christian and Islamic cultures.
Well…it looked good on paper.
Obama’s frantic quest for Turkish approval and sanguinity was as predictable as Mel Gibson’s Lethal Weapon 4. The starkest difference? Rather than two lovably roguish Los Angeles cops taking on evil drug lords, we find a Turkish fundamentalist autocrat and his wisecracking Russian sidekick taunting and mocking the United States and NATO. The plot is kind of tired.
The Turkish regime has openly sustained oppressive, authoritarian Islamist regimes, such as Iran and Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, with money, weapons and jihadists. Erdogan’s “Justice and Development Party” has vocally supported the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and directly sponsors the Islamic State.
Turkish objectives have long been laid bare. Regrettably, the dictatorship’s continued membership of NATO provides tacit approval of their unacceptable behavior. There is a Trojan horse inside the alliance gates, and Erdogan has his hand on the trap door. Keeping Turkey inside erodes our moral and ethical credibility in the eyes of our allies and, more importantly, our adversaries.
President Erdoğan’s fundamentalist grip on Turkey was cemented via a brutal purge of opponents. Empowered by 2016’s failed “coup,” tens of thousands of military personnel, civil servants, judges and business leaders were rounded up. Reliable estimates suggest approximately 250,000 were swept up. News media critical of Erdogan was closed and the regime began eradicating the Kurdish minority.
As Erdoğan inflicts his fundamentalist, cult-driven version of Islam on the Turkish people, he has Islamized Turkey’s foreign policy. Erdoğan banned the U.S. using Incirlik airbase for operations against ISIS and has sided with the terrorist group Hamas against Israel. The Turkish military is fighting in Syria’s Afrin region in an attempt to destroy the American armed and supported Kurdish YPG as they battle ISIS. Far from contributing to a peaceful solution to the tragic situation in Syria, Ankara is deliberately and systematically intensifying it.
Turkey has cozied up to U.S. foes Russia and Iran, in direct opposition to NATO allies. Turkey demands access to U.S. and NATO intelligence, yet has an intimate working relationship with Moscow’s SVR and the Ayatollah’s MOIS.
The Turkish dictatorship expects to purchase and deploy more than 100 U.S made, state of the art F35 stealth jets, yet purchased the S‑400, an advanced Russian surface-to-air missile system, despite incompatibility and heated protests from NATO. The deals not only benefit NATO’s chief strategic competitor, but threaten to undermine the interoperability on which NATO’s military success depends. This action alone should trigger Ankara’s expulsion from NATO.
Turkey was admitted to NATO as a bulwark to Soviet Union’s southwestern sphere of influence. Its geography on the Bosporus Strait allowed NATO to bottle up Soviet naval assets in the Black Sea. Turkey was a welcome and willing partner to NATO. No longer. Turkey is not the partner NATO bought to the dance.
Turkey is classified “not free” by the respected Freedom in the World report. Turkey ranks 101st out of 113 countries in the 2017-18 Rule of Law Index. The report cites Erdogan’s “growing contempt for political rights and civil liberties in recent years”. Turkey’s deepening authoritarianism is enough to disqualify it from NATO. Its alliances with Iran, Russia, Syria, Hamas and Islamic Extremists writ large dictate it must.
Greg Keeley is a retired Lt Commander with service in both the United States Navy and the Royal Australian Navy. He is a veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan and the Pacific. LCDR Keeley also served as senior adviser to the vice chairman of the House Armed Service Committee and the Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.