Turkey as been a pain in the ass for NATO for decades. But, is it more than that? Are they batting for the other team?
— Reuters (@Reuters) May 19, 2022
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FNC: “The authoritarian, Islamist leader of the Republic of Turkey delivered a shot in the arm to embattled Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin this week, by threatening to block the accession of Finland and Sweden to the NATO military alliance.
Some observers believe Russian influence with Ankara could be one of the factors behind Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s declaration regarding the two Nordic nations, and not just Turkish complaints against them being a kind of haven for Kurdish refugees, which it views as terrorists.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine Turkey has not sanctioned Russia, unlike most NATO members who have. It has reportedly become a safe haven for Russian oligarch money and it has already thumbed its nose up to the U.S. when it purchased Russia S-400 air missile defense system which led to U.S. sanctions in 2020.”
Marshall Billingslea, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a former assistant Secretary General of NATO, told media, “It is important to understand that Turkey is playing the same game today that it is always has played in the region with respect to Turkey taking stances that benefits its own interests and run counter to NATO’s.”
Theodore Karasik, a fellow on Russian and Middle Eastern Affairs at the Jamestown Foundation comments that Turkey wants to “avoid being on Russia’s target list later…The Turkish and Russian struggle over shipping issues could be an additional worry for Erdogan,” said Karasik. “If the Western powers sanction Russian vessels, Ankara could be confronted with demands to close the vital Dardanelles shipping route to Russia’s maritime industry…Erdogan is using the Finnish and Swedish applications to garner favors from other countries so Turkey benefits in the end.”
Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Mehmet Yalinalp, a former Turkish officer stationed with NATO opines, “As the historical purge of thousands of military personnel takes a faster speed, I and my Turkish colleagues observe a considerable rise of ultra-nationalist, anti-western sentiments within our military and throughout our state departments.”
He sees that Turkish military personnel in NATO “have a radical mindset, some question the values of NATO and even hate Western organizations, while holding pro-Russia/China/Iran sentiments.”
Burak Bekdil, a Turkish political columnist who wrote for Hurriyet Daily News for 29 years, and is now a fellow for the Middle East Forum, told press: “I called Erdogan Putin’s man in NATO though there are nuances to my more ideological assessment. Erdogan feels at home comfort when he deals with authoritarian leaders like himself, instead of liberal democrats who remind him of Turkey’s widening democratic deficit.”
Bekdil concluded, “There is also a transactional Erdogan who is programmed to use the West and its institutions, including NATO, where it’s useful and confronting them when that is useful. Despite the transaction-himself, Erdogan has been Putin’s man in NATO, too, for ideological reasons as well: His ideological raison d’etre is pillared on a rigid anti-West thinking.”