Can Turkey be reeled back in as a trusted NATO partner? A growing chorus of policy-makers and foreign-policy analysts fear it can’t.
The threat this week by Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to launch a military incursion into Kurdish-majority areas in northern Syria is setting the stage for yet another fierce dispute between Ankara and the rest of NATO — including the U.S., which partnered with Syrian Kurds to rout the Islamic State terror group.
Erdogan’s warming ties with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and his purchase of an advanced Russian air-defense system — as well as his pursuit of strategies in Syria that conflict with those of other NATO partners and his support for Islamist causes— are straining Turkey’s ties with the West to the point of rupture, say analysts.
Pentagon officials also have expressed frustration with signs of an Erdogan rapprochement with Iran.
Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Vladimir Putin of Russia hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Ankara, Turkey, April 4, 2018.
The crisis in Turkish-NATO relations is now as grave as in 1974, when Turkey invaded the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. There’s no formal mechanism for a NATO member to be expelled from the defense organization. Nonetheless, in Washington and European capitals, talk is mounting among policy-makers and influential foreign-policy analysts about whether Turkey has any future in NATO and whether the time is coming for it to leave or for its membership to be suspended.
“It's time to throw Turkey out of NATO,” opined British newspaper columnist Con Coughlin, a commentator who often reflects the views of Britain’s intelligence establishment.
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