Is Turkey a crucial or corrosive NATO ally?
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is playing both sides in the Russia-West confrontation, but at some point in the future he will relent and agree to ratify Finland and Sweden’s accession into NATO in exchange for Western concessions, but it’s not impossible that he could refuse entirely, an article posted on Friday in the Foreign Policy magazine said.
WHY DOES THE WEST TOLERATE TURKEY?
In the magazine section titled “It’s Debatable,” Emma Ashford, a senior fellow with the Reimagining U.S. Grand Strategy program at the Stimson Center, and Matthew Kroenig, deputy director of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security discussed Turkey’s position inside NATO.
“It’s clear that Turkey plays an important role as a diplomatic middleman between Russia and the West. But it’s far less clear why Western leaders tolerate its veto over issues such as NATO membership,” Emma Ashford asked, to which Matthew Kroenig replied:
TURKS WILL SAY YES TO SWEDEN AND FINLAND AFTER THE ELECTON
“The best Turkey experts I’ve talked to think that we will get to yes after the election. The Turks have a legitimate complaint. Turkey has accused Nordic countries of sheltering groups that Ankara sees as terrorists. Washington would not appreciate it if NATO allies were providing cover for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. This issue also helps Erdogan politically in Turkey. There are elections coming up in June, so he will play this for all that it is worth until then.”
Ashford later said the most logical thing Turkey brings to NATO is geography, “particularly given the country’s strategically important location on the Dardanelles” but she said that was not sufficient.
TURKEY’S GEOGRAPHY ONLY BENEFITS NATO WHEN TURKEY WANTS IT TO
“It was helpful that Turkey invoked the Montreux Convention last year, constraining Russia’s ability to use naval power in Ukraine, but it’s also repeatedly resisted allowing the U.S. military to use Turkish territory or airspace over the last few decades. I’d go as far as to say that Turkey’s geography only benefits NATO when Turkey wants it to,” Ashford said.
But Matthew Kroenig reminded Turkey has one of the largest and most capable militaries in NATO and it hosts U.S. bases and radars.
IS IT WORTH TO KEEP TURKEY IN THE TENT?
“Washington and Ankara mostly share threat assessments related to Russia, Iran, and terrorism. And it has been a good ally in the not-too-distant past” Kroenig said.
Emma Ashford then talked about Turkey’s human rights abuses, extradition requests concerning journalists, and asked “if it’s worth keeping Turkey inside the tent when the country adds such limited value.”
“You have to balance the geostrategic benefits the country brings to the alliance against the fact that Turkey picks and chooses when it wants to be aligned with NATO” she said.