SUPPORT US

The increasing incompatibility of the Turkish-Western alliance

The_increasing_incompatibility_of_the_T_Montages.JPG

OP-ED

by Kyle Matthews

Open Canada
October 12, 2016

It is difficult not to be pessimistic about the direction in which Turkey is headed. The coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July may have failed but the fallout continues, shaking the country’s political system to the core and extending far past the country’s borders.  Turkish-Western relations are at an all-time low.

In a recent interview with French newspaper Le Monde, Erdogan laid bare his frustration with Western countries, the United States in particular. “What more do Americans need? Their strategic ally is facing a coup and it takes them 45 days before sending anyone over? This is shocking,” Erdogan fumed.

In order to soothe Turkish concerns and mend a fractured relationship, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden travelled to Ankara in late August. Discussion topics included the extradition of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the United States and is alleged by Turkey to be the mastermind of the failed coup, the crisis in Syria, and the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Biden’s arrival came just hours after Turkey-backed Syrian rebels captured the Syrian town of Jarablus, which had been occupied by ISIS. While Turkish officials argued that this was being done to clear ISIS from the country’s border as a response to a deadly terrorist attack against a Kurdish wedding in Gaziantep, others have suggested the real aim is to pre-empt Kurdish rebels in Syria from capturing more territory. 

Western countries, including the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Germany, have come to depend on the Kurds as the most reliable partner in fighting ISIS on the ground. Their NATO-member ally Turkey, however, doesn’t show the same enthusiasm. It views the Kurds, not ISIS, as the real threat, and is targeting them within Syria. Ankara has rebuffed the U.S. diplomatically for expressing concern that military action should be focused against ISIS exclusively.

Perhaps the most worrisome sign emerging is Erdogan’s continued push towards authoritarianism and religiosity that is leading to a fundamental clash with Western states. In fact, we are witnessing diverging and incompatible interests between Turkey, the U.S. and a large number of European states in general. These diverging interests apply not only to the Syrian conflict and the fight against ISIS, but remain heavily concentrated on Erdogan’s policies within Turkey itself.

Even before the coup against him, Erdogan displayed authoritarian tendencies and began to go to great lengths to silence his political and ideological opposition. Since becoming president in 2014, Erdogan has brought just under 2000 lawsuits against people who have insulted him, including political opposition leaders. 

His government has waged an overt campaign against the media, imprisoning journalists and shutting down media outlets like no other in modern Turkish history. In May, Ankara bureau chief Erdem Gul and editor-in-chief Can Dundar of opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet were sentenced to five years and five years and 10 months in prison, respectively. Their crimes? They reported on the Turkish intelligence service delivering arms and weaponry to Islamist rebels in northern Syria. 

Turkey’s position on Syria and ISIS then becomes very problematic, given that the jihadist group has targeted European civilians and is committing genocide in areas under its control. Erdogan has long called for a regime change in Damascus and – though this would seem to be in sync with the goals of Western governments – appears to have provided supported for some of the most anti-Western militants fighting in Syria.

Just after the terrorist attack in Nice, France, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault publically questioned Turkey's willingness to fight ISIS. “There are questions that are being asked and we will ask them. [Turkey] is partly viable but there are suspicions as well. Let’s be honest about this.”

In August, Germany’s Ministry of the Interior released a report that confirmed French suspicions. The report noted that "As a result of Ankara's domestic and foreign policy that has been Islamized step-by-step above all since 2011, Turkey has developed into the central platform of action for Islamist groups in the Middle East region” and that furthermore "the numerous statements of solidarity and action of support for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and groups of armed Islamist opposition in Syria by the ruling party AKP and President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan underline their ideological affinity to the Muslim Brothers."

Turkey is at a crossroads. The path Erdogan has chosen could very well lead to the inevitable end of the Turkish-Western alliance. If this happens, he will have no one to blame but himself.

Image: The Telegraph

Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
UPCOMING EVENTS


No events are scheduled at this time.


SEARCH
EXPERTS IN THE MEDIA

Global Times: BRICS summit displays the potential of a new future

by Editorial Staff (feat. Swaran Singh), WSFA 12, June 24, 2022

Oil's Dive Won't Bring Any Immediate Relief on Inflation

by Alex Longley, Elizabeth low, and Barbara Powell (feat. Amrita Sen), BNNBloomberg, June 24, 2022

China To Tout Its Governance Model At BRICS Summit

by Liam Gibson (feat. Stephen Nagy), The Asean Post, June 23, 2022

Soutien aux victimes d’inconduites sexuelles dans l’armée

by Rude Dejardins (feat. Charlotte Duval-Lantoine), ICI Radio Canada, June 23, 2022

Defence: $4.9 billion for radars against Russian bombs

by Editorial Staff (feat. Rob Huebert), Archynews, June 23, 2022

The Hans Island “Peace” Agreement between Canada, Denmark, and Greenland

by Elin Hofverberg (feat. Natalie Loukavecha), Library of Congress, June 22, 2022

What the future holds for western Canadian oil producers

by Gabriel Friedman (feat. Kevin Birn), Beaumont News, June 22, 2022

At BRICS summit, China sets stage to tout its governance model

by Liam Gibson (feat. Stephen Nagy), Aljazeera, June 22, 2022

Crude oil price: there are no changes to the fundamentals

by Faith Maina (feat. Amrita Sen), Invezz, June 22, 2022

Few details as Liberals promise billions to upgrade North American defences

by Lee Berthiaume (feat. Andrea Charron), National Newswatch, June 20, 2022

Defence Minister Anita Anand to make announcement on continental defence

by Steven Chase (feat. Rob Huebert), The Globe and Mail, June 19, 2022

Table pancanadienne des politiques

by Alain Gravel (feat. Jean-Christophe Boucher), ICI Radio Canada, June 18, 2022

Russia Ukraine conflict

by Gloria Macarenko (feat. Colin Robertson), CBC Radio One, June 17, 2022

New privacy Bill to introduce rules for personal data, AI use

by Shaye Ganam (feat. Tom Keenan), 680 CHED, June 17, 2022


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 150–9th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 3H9

 

OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: [email protected]
Web: cgai.ca

 

Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.

 

© 2002-2022 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email