The West will jeopardize its security by appeasing Ankara
The West continues to appease the Turkish government out of fear of losing Turkey to Russia, but the more NATO closes its eyes to Ankara’s anti-NATO and anti-Western behavior in order to keep Turkey on its team, the more it jeopardizes its security, said Cengiz Aktar, a political scientist in the University of Athens.
In an article titled “Escaping NATO’s Turkey Paradox,” in The National Interest, Aktar said that “some of the security threats described in NATO’s newly-ratified Strategic Concept are drafted as though to designate Turkey, without naming it.”
Aktar gave several examples of Turkey’s bellicose rhetoric and actions to support his argument, especially concerning Ankara’s association with ISIS.
During 2022, U.S. forces and anti ISIS-coalition eliminated three ISIS leaders in the areas of Turkish occupation, he said.
He continued: “The West’s complaisance towards Ankara’s overt and covert support to ISIS and other UN-listed terrorist groups such as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) is not new. Back in 2013, international observers had coined the “jihadi highway” to describe Turkey’s facilitation of ISIS fighters who were exploiting the country’s 877 km-long border with Syria. That year it was reported that some 30,000 jihadi fighters used Turkey to cross in and out of Syria.”
Secondly, Aktar said that Western tolerance paves the way for Ankara’s belligerence in its own neighborhood. Following its three incursions in northern Syria in 2016, 2018, and 2019, Ankara now holds big chunks of territory in the region under the cover of anti-terrorist actions which actually target Syrian Kurds who are the driving force in the fight against ISIS, Aktar said.
“Today, Ankara is threatening again to invade Syria’s towns of Tal Rifaat and Manbij” he said.
Aktar said that Ankara also flirted with Moscow as the latter seeks to undermine NATO from within, purchased Russia’s S-400 missile systems, refused to join Western sanctions against Belarus and Russia, blocked Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership and allowed stolen Ukrainian grains to reach Turkish ports and called for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria.
“Yet each time, arguments are made that Turkish actions are made for domestic purposes and not intended to separate Turkey from or undermine the West” Aktar said and concluded: “In fact, the more NATO closes its eyes to Ankara’s anti-NATO and anti-Western behavior in order to keep Turkey on its team, the more it jeopardizes its security. … The West must recognize that as long as it continues to appease Turkey, it will reap what it sows.”