How rogue can Turkey go?

Ankara’s estrangement from the West could have violent consequences.

Fasten your seatbelts for more trouble with Turkey in 2020.

In the last 12 months, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has:

— Launched a unilateral military offensive into northeast Syria against Kurdish forces allied with the West to counter ISIS;
— Threatened to send millions of Syrian refugees to Europe if the European Union objects to his plan to resettle them in a buffer zone inside Syria;
— Begun installing Russian air defense missiles in defiance of NATO partners and the United States, prompting Washington to shut Turkey out of the F-35 advance fighter program;
— Shipped arms to Libya in breach of a U.N. embargo and offered to send troops to support the embattled government in Tripoli;
— Agreed with Libya on new sea borders in the eastern Mediterranean, claiming waters that Greece and Cyprus consider their own;
— Threatened to veto NATO defense plans for the Baltic states and Poland unless the alliance branded Syrian Kurdish forces “terrorists,” before backing down at the NATO summit in London in early December;
— Stepped up drilling for gas, guarded by Turkish warships, in Cyprus” exclusive economic zone;
— and intercepted an Israeli research vessel and forced it to leave Cypriot waters.

Erdoğan’s confrontation course has left officials in Brussels and Washington wondering just how far he might take strategic estrangement from the West and rapprochement with Russia.

The religious nationalist leader is steadily reversing Ankara’s Western orientation that began almost a century ago under Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern, secular Turkish Republic. That direction was anchored after World War II by the country’s membership of the Council of Europe and NATO and its candidacy to join the European Union.

Some fear Erdoğan could withdraw from NATO’s military command in a gesture of nationalist grandeur, as France did in 1966 under General Charles de Gaulle, and perhaps even expel Western forces from Turkish soil. NATO has its land forces command and a forward base for its airborne warning, surveillance and control (AWACS) planes in Turkey.

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Πηγή: www.politico.eu

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