Ankara Hasn’t Seen ‘a Single Advantage’ to NATO Membership, Should Cut Ties, Turkish Media Says

© AFP 2023 / ADEM ALTANTroops parade with Turkish flags in Ankara during celebrations for the 91st anniversary of Victory Day. File photo.
Troops parade with Turkish flags in Ankara during celebrations for the 91st anniversary of Victory Day. File photo. - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.06.2022
NATO ‘enfant terrible’ Turkey put a crimp on the bloc’s Nordic expansion plans last month, threatening to block Finland and Sweden’s membership bids over the countries’ support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a Turkish Kurdish political movement and militia which Ankara designates as a terrorist organization.
Turkey has not enjoyed a single advantage to its membership in NATO, with the only real argument in favor of remaining in the bloc being the right to veto, but even that benefit has its limits, Cumhuriyet contributor Mehmet Ali Guller believes.
In a piece on Monday entitled ‘The US Will Not Cut the NATO Bond, Turkey Should’, Guller argued that through its 70-year membership in the Western bloc, “there is no single satisfactory answer to what advantage we have seen.”
The columnist dismissed fears that the US could kick Turkey out of the alliance, despite recent calls to that effect in the US media, arguing that a “new NATO border” without Turkey along the Greece-Aegean Sea-Crete-Cyprus-Israel line would turn US plans to turn the Black Sea into a ‘NATO Lake’ into “rubbish.”
Furthermore, Guller believes, “NATO without Turkey means the disintegration of US plans for the Caucasus and, as a continuation of that line, the collapse of plans for its Central Asian targets.”
Turkey outside NATO would result in the institutionalization of Russian-Turkish-Iranian cooperation, possible Turkish membership in the Greater Eurasian Partnership initiative proposed by Moscow, and an opportunity for Ankara to help “forge a new world” together with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS group of nations.
Finally, “a NATO without Turkey means the USA loses its ability to force Turkey to implement policies Washington wants with the threat of dismemberment. Because a Turkey in Eurasia will have the opportunity to have a strong defense,” Guller stressed.
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Given the above reasons, the columnist noted, the US does not want a Turkey outside NATO, and will in fact do everything in its power to keep Ankara tethered to the bloc.
Last year, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the US and NATO have a “strong interest in trying to keep Turkey anchored to the West and aligned on other critical issues.”
“This is why the US does is not thinking of a NATO without Turkey. It wants to keep Turkey in the West through the bonds of NATO and to control Ankara with ‘Super-NATO’-type organizations,” the Cumhuriyet contributor noted.
Accordingly, he suggested, Ankara should itself “hold the scissors” to free itself from bondage.
“Turkey should close the Black Sea, the Caucasus and the western gates to Central Asia to the USA, and be a part of the Greater Eurasian Partnership and the new world. The way to do this is for Turkey to cut its ties with NATO,” Guller concluded.
Turkey’s strategic relationship with the US has been tested by a range of problems, including Washington’s decision to boot Ankara out of the F-35 fighter program over its purchase of a Russian-made air defense system, US support for Kurdish militias in Syria, and America’s refusal to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric whom President Erdogan has accused of responsibility for the 2016 coup attempt.
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Last month, relations were strained further by Turkish resistance to the speedy approval of Finland and Sweden’s bids to join NATO, with Ankara citing the two countries’ alleged support for Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “terrorists.”
Turkey joined NATO in 1952, and has grown into one of its most powerful members, boasting the second-largest army in the alliance after the US. The bloc uses Turkey to host its Allied Land Command headquarters, and the Incirlik and Konya air bases have been used by alliance members extensively during operations in the First Gulf War, the Iraq War, the 2015 operations in Iraq, and US efforts in support of anti-government rebels in Syria. Incirlik is also home to approximately fifty US B61 nuclear bombs. In 2019, Erdogan threatened to cut off the US’s access to the base if it imposed sanctions on Ankara over its Russian S-400 purchase. Washington moved forward with the sanctions, targeting the Turkish Presidency of Defense Industries, in late 2020, banning US weapons export licenses and insituting visa and asset freeze on the office's officials. Turkey blasted the decision and demanded that it be revoked.
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