The growing tension between Turkey and its Western allies, which was further heightened during the Obama administration, is narrowing the space for cooperation between the two sides and in fact is progressively worsening. Erdogan’s hope that he and President Trump would improve their ties as members of NATO has dramatically diminished. Washington and the EU still deeply disagree with Ankara on a host of issues, which are unlikely to be resolved on a mutually gainful basis any time in the foreseeable future.
Turkey’s growing retreat from Western values may have already reached a point of no return. Erdogan has removed Turkey from the Western orbit and set the alliance on a collision course. The falling-out is attributed to the following troubling developments over the past several years.
The most daunting disagreement between the US/EU and Turkey is Erdogan’s systematic destruction of every democratic pillar in his country, including gross human rights violations, closing major media outlets, jailing scores of journalists, and forcefully quelling peaceful demonstrations. In particular, Erdogan exploited the July 2016 attempted military coup to incarcerate tens of thousands of educators, judges, military personnel, lawyers, and anyone else he chose to accuse of plotting against the government. Sadly, the West’s public reaction to Erdogan’s onslaught on human rights was largely underplayed out of concerns that Turkey is still an ally and actively involved in the fight against ISIS.
During the past six years Erdogan began to publicly, with the support of his Islamist AK Party, embrace a religious narrative, and has taken many practical and symbolic steps to Islamize Turkey. He embarked on building thousands of new mosques including 80 in various universities, introduced Islamic studies in school curricula, and legalized the wearing of headscarves for women. In addition, he made Islamic credentials the litmus test for any government post. Erdogan made no secret of his ambition to become the leader of the Sunni Muslim world. Many in the West believe that he is determined to create an Islamic Sunni state fashioned after Shiite Iran, which runs contrary to the Western principle of separation of church and state.
Erdogan’s propensity to bully his Western allies has lately reached a tipping point. In recent months, he escalated his criticism of the EU and threatened to annul the agreement over the readmission of refugees who have crossed over illegally into Europe if the EU does not permit visa-free entry for Turkish citizens, as the agreement stipulated. Erdogan’s habitual bullying of his Western allies raises serious doubts about his reliability as a trusted partner and uncertainty about the future of their bilateral relations, especially in connection with issues of national security.
Even more disconcerting is the fact that it is no longer a secret that Turkey’s viability and importance as a NATO member is being discussed not only because of Erdogan’s unruly behavior, but also because Turkey under his stewardship is in violation of the NATO charter. The charter specifically stipulates that the signatories “are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law”—all of which are being grossly violated by Erdogan.
Source: Global Research. Read the whole article here.