Five reasons why Turkey should be expelled from NATO
- This proxy civil war between Saudi Arabia and Iran has caused sectarian tension throughout the Middle East
- The priority seems to be to funnel Sunni extremism in the region that will combat Iranian influence
- NATO must realize that Turkey is much more of a foe to their mission than an actual reliable ally
The Syrian Civil War has led to one of the worst international crises in modern day history. This proxy civil war between Saudi Arabia and Iran has caused sectarian tension throughout the Middle East and has triggered the formation of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. NATO now finds itself with one of the biggest challenges in the Middle East. As a NATO ally, Turkey has made it clear that they see Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a greater threat to their national security than the Islamic State. Turkey’s actions have proven that NATO’s priorities do not fit in line with Turkey’s national interest. NATO should reevaluate its alliance with Turkey, and should expel Ankara from its institution for its reckless behavior.
1. INFLUX OF FOREIGN FIGHTERS
Turkey shares an approximate 800-kilometer border with Syria. At the start of the Syrian Civil War, President Erdogan was adamant that Assad must go. The Turkish border became the focal point of all foreign fighters to migrate to and enter Syria. Thousands and thousands of foreign fighters from the United States, Europe, Middle East, and Africa have traveled to Turkey to enter Syria and join various radical Islamist groups. These groups include Al-Nusra and Islamic State. NATO’s mission has been to cut the supply routes of the Islamic State, and stop the influx of foreign fighters, but Turkey seems to use this border to fuel and further inflame the civil war. Turkey would much rather see an unstable Syria, than a Syria controlled by Assad with the Iranian influence in the region.
2. SIX-MONTH SIEGE OF KOBANI
The six-month siege of Kobani from September 2014 to June 2015 put Turkey in the international spotlight for all the wrong reasons. ISIS launched an assault on the predominately Kurdish town of Kobani and ransacked the city. The assault came from the Turkish border, and the Turks refused to put a stop to the influx of foreign fighters, and also did not allow NATO and the United States to use the strategic Incrilik airbase. Turkey saw the People Protection Unit (YPG), the armed Kurdish faction in Syria, as a greater threat than ISIS. NATO’s mission involved supporting the YPG through airstrikes, yet Turkey did everything in its power to choke any type of Kurdish support, and ridiculed NATO for supporting the Kurds.
3. BOMBARDMENT OF KURDISH FORCES
After the six-month siege ended in June 2015, Kurdish forces were victorious against the Islamic State. Turkey decided to allow the use of its Incrilik airbase to the United States, but it came with a price. Turkey declared that it would engage in the coalition campaign of bombing ISIS targets in Syria. The problem was that about 90% of Turkish aerial campaign was geared towards Kurdish YPG and PKK forces. This was in direct contradiction with NATO’s mission. NATO believes that the Kurds are a viable moderate force in the fight against ISIS. Turkey’s actions and rhetoric prove that they feel Kurdish autonomy is the greatest threat in the region, and is doing everything in its power to break Kurdish influence in the region.
4. DOWNING OF RUSSIAN AIRCRAFT
The downing of the Russian aircraft by Turkey created an international crisis amongst the two powerful nations. The NATO doctrine states that an attack on one is an attack on all. This action by Turkey has created more tension in the world, and has escalated the Syrian Civil War. It has become more apparent that Turkey does not want a political solution in Syria that would allow Assad a place at the table, nor any sort of Kurdish autonomy. The priority seems to be to funnel Sunni extremism in the region that will combat Iranian influence. Erdogan’s government sees the Syrian Civil War as an opportunity to be the dominant force in the Middle East, and want to ensure Sunni dominance in the region.
5. PLAYING ON SECTARARIAN TENSION
Turkey is contributing to a Sunni vs. Shia narrative in the Middle East.
Their policies and actions are in direct contrast with NATO, whose main objective is to ease the sectarian tension in the region. Erdogan’s government has adopted an aggressive policy that is in line with the Saudi narrative that continues to put money and arms into extremist groups that will continue to destabilize the region. The porous Turkish border has also led to a successful black market oil sale by ISIS, and has caused public outcry that the Turkish government is actually benefiting from the trade. This type of behavior is unacceptable and NATO must realize that Turkey is much more of a foe to their mission than an actual reliable ally.