Since Erdogan’s assumption of power in Turkey in 2003 and his party’s control of state institutions. He practices a repressive, authoritarian policy hostile and inconsistent with the liberal, democratic values of NATO. The gray policy increased ferocity and gravity when the coup occurred in 2016, Erdogan involved in violations of human rights and the suppression of freedoms, and he alliances with authoritarian regimes such as Iran and Russia.
Moreover, his involvement in supporting terrorism in the region, creating chaos and wars. In addition, he is challenging NATO, the United States security strategy and their geopolitical interests. This policy has grave consequences for NATO countries and their allies and poses a great challenge for them that Turkey’s transition to a policy with practices that are contrary to international law and democracy. It is an authoritarian approach that needs to be addressed and dealt with quickly.
Analyzing, Problem and Risks
Erdogan has great aspirations to be the Sultan of Turkey and Muslims in the world to restore the glories of his Ottoman grandparents in controlling the Middle East and Europe. So, he changed the Turkish constitution to control the country and under the pretext of attempting a coup against him, he pursued a fierce policy against opponents, civil organizations, and the suppression of freedom of expression and the press and practiced killings and arrests of Kurds. This is a regression of democracy and an escalation of the authoritarian model. It also interfered in Syria militarily, against the NATO – US ally (Kurdish Forces) who were fighting ISIS. Erdogan has also resorted to supporting Islamic extremists by converting a crossing for them to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. He supported the jihadists to go Syria to join ISIS, Alnusrra and Al Qaeda and fight the Syrian regime and the Kurds.
Moreover, interfered in Egypt and Libya with the support of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as its threat to Greece, Cyprus and NATO countries through refugees and sending Islamic extremists. Turkey also explores oil and gas in the Mediterranean, ignoring the European Union’s protests. This contributed to instability in the region, and constituted a great tension in relations between Turkey, the United States, and NATO. Because of that Erdogan policy, which is hostile to NATO’s goals based on democratic values, achieving stability and peace, fighting terrorism and the rule of law. Erdogan is taking advantage of his country’s membership in NATO and dragging it to wars in the region. He is seeking to impose what he wants on them, and his threat to close NATO military bases in Turkey.
In addition, He considers Russia an ally, despite it being a threat to NATO. Despite warnings from NATO and America, he obtained the Russian missiles. So, this is a dangerous development that will allow Russia to spy on the defense and security strategy of NATO and sabotage it and know the ability of American combat aircraft. Russia will seek to fulfill the desire of Erdogan to acquire a nuclear reactor, which will be the greatest threat to NATO and its security. All this produced a relationship that became hostile everywhere. Turkey has turned its system into a dictatorship and radical Islamic fundamentalism., day after day, Erdogan has turned into authoritarianism without shame, and has become a threat to democracy and the interests of NATO countries.
NATO Policy to Turkey
Protecting Europe from any further expansion of the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence and interference was the main argument for expanding NATO membership, to include Turkey in 1952. Turkey, in turn, sought to be part of the European club and approached the West. That is why the US military presence in Turkey with conventional and nuclear forces was against the Soviet threat as well as against the potential effects of instability and conflicts in the Middle East. Where the strategic interests of the allies always dominate relations between Turkey and NATO, during and after the Cold War. That is why Turkey was under the protection of NATO and its supply of advanced weapons.
Turkey is an important member of NATO because of its strategic location between East and West, and its control of the Bosporus and Dardanelles to prevent Russia from reaching the Mediterranean Sea. Also hosting the Turkish Incirlik base for the American forces and the Patriot missiles, Turkey’s contribution to NATO with its soldiers in Kosovo and Afghanistan and supporting NATO’s military and financial tasks. That is why Erdogan takes advantage of all this to use him in his despotic policies and practices that are angering NATO countries and increasing their division. The preamble to the 1949 NATO Treaty states that NATO members are “determined to protect the freedom, shared heritage, and civilization of their people, based on the principles of democracy, individual freedom, and the rule of law.” That is why the member states of NATO are very concerned about the changes taking place in Turkey, but nonetheless NATO seeks to preserve the relationship with Turkey and not leave the alliance.
This policy towards Turkey tarnishes the alliance’s image and mission, weakens democracy and the rule of law, and further weakens the alliance. It contributes to encouraging Erdogan to escalate his influence by supporting extremist Islamic movements, ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra Movement, and thus the terrorism industry in the Middle East, and its export to Europe. So, they should deal Turkey practices as a “frenemy” and adopt the term that has been applied to Pakistan.
As a result, if NATO remains silent toward Erdogan’s authoritarian policies, which are hostile to liberal and democratic values, and his cooperation with Iran and Russia, we will find NATO implicated and responsible for Turkey’s crimes, where war crimes inside Syria and ethnic cleansing of the Kurds, as well as its interference in Libya. This will send NATO into wars to defend a member of the alliance. This will bring disaster, instability and the possibility of Iran and Russia affecting NATO’s security and military affairs through their relations and strategic cooperation with Turkey.
- Imposing economic and military sanctions.
- Stop the negotiations on Turkey joining the European Union permanently.
- NATO should announce to Turkey its refusal to obtain nuclear weapons.
- Transfer nuclear weapons of the United States and the NATO military presence from Incirlik Base, to Jordan, Iraqi Kurdistan.
- Forming an investigation committee on war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and demographic change against the Kurds committed by Turkey and extremist Syrian militias.
- Amend and review NATO laws to expel and punish Turkey.
- It is important for NATO allies to cooperate together in the UN Security Council to put pressure on Turkey and stop its authoritarian policies.
- Investigate crimes against humanity committed by Turkey and the Syrian National Army militia in Syria against Kurdish civilians, and their role in supporting terrorism and extremism.