The breaking apart of NATO continues at full speed. Erdogan’s invasion of Syrian Kurdistan otherwise known as Rojava in northern Syria has been met with the full force of the American trained SDF. Although the Turkish Armed Forces (TOF) are gaining ground in Afrin, it is coming at a cost and it is a grind. Turkey’s lack of real forward movement due to the Trump administration’s full support of the Kurds in northern Syria has sparked a potential direct confrontation between the USA and Turkey, two suppoosed NATO allies.
With frustration mounting in Turkey’s military echelon on the lack of sweeping success with their Afrin operation, they have begun to lash out at the USA and NATO.
Turkey’s latest threat is to close the key NATO Incirlik air base. This has been an important part of NATO’s ability to launch missions if needed in the Middle East.
“If Turkey’s medium and long-term interests require to take a step [to close the base] Turkey certainly would not refrain from taking this step,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Fikri Işık said during a press conference, according to the Türkiye newspaper.
Russia is Setting Up a Break Up of NATO
By paving the way for Turkey to invade Afrin, eventhough in other parts of Syria, Russia has pushed back against a break up of Syrian territory, Putin is setting up Turkey to face the USA. The strategy is to force a direct conflict between two NATO members, thus fast tracking the alliance’s potential disintegration. For Putin, this is essential as NATO has put more and more military personel into Eastern Europe in order to isolate Russia.
But is Turkey’s presence in NATO necessary?
Does Trump Care About Turkey Being in NATO?
President Trump started his foray into the politics of NATO by declaring it was now obsolete during the campaign trail. As a reminder here is his statement:
“I think NATO’s obsolete. NATO was done at a time you had the Soviet Union, which was obviously larger, much larger than Russia is today. I’m not saying Russia’s not a threat. But we have other threats. We have the threat of terrorism and NATO doesn’t discuss terrorism, NATO’s not meant for terrorism. NATO doesn’t have the right countries in it for terrorism. And what I’m saying is that we pay, number one, a totally disproportionate share of NATO. We’re spending the biggest, the lion share’s paid for by us, disproportionate to other countries. … NATO is obsolete and it’s extremely expensive to the United States, disproportionately so. And we should readjust NATO. And it’s going to have to be either readjusted to take care of terrorism or we’re going to have to set up a new — a new coalition, a new group of countries to handle terrorism because terrorism is out of control.”
After he became president he changed his opinion and now insists he believes that NATO is not obsolete. Yet, one line stands out in the above statement: “NATO doesn’t have the right countries in it for terrorism.” This line appears to be a reference to Turkey. Afterall, it has been proven and reported in countless publications that it was in fact Turkey that fostered and helped grow what became to be known as ISIS.
So Putin may be trying to play both Turkey and the USA off eachother, in a bid to cause chaos in NATO, but what if Trump doesn’t care? Also what if France and Germany don’t care either?
Perhaps Turkey leaving NATO is part of the equation in suporting a much more stable Middle East without the meddling of would be neo-Ottoman upstarts. As the battle rages on in Afrin Turkey may opt to leave NATO, but it may ultimately backfire on those attempting to force the alliance’s disintegration.