Russia, Turkey and NATO


The failure of the pro-American coup attempt in Turkey and Erdogan’s domestic response will have broadly negative implications for the US-Turkish relationship and for Ankara’s ties with NATO. It’s highly unlikely that either of these will be formally affected owing to the heightened sensitivity surrounding them, but in practice, one can expect a deterioration of relations between the two. This is because the US controls NATO, so if American-Turkish ties decline, then NATO-Turkish ones will accordingly do so as well. Turkish government officials and pro-government media have already accused the US of orchestrating the failed coup attempt, with there being a general consensus that it was enacted in order to sabotage the surprise Russian-Turkish détente that’s poised to become a geopolitical game-changer in the Mideast. This theory also explains why the coup failed, namely because it was rushed and the conspirators did not have enough time to set their plans into order like they had originally envisioned.

Erdogan’s responsive measures in ‘cleaning out’ state institutions (or ‘purging’ them, as the international media commonly describes it) already amounts to an egregious violation of perceptively understood “Western democratic norms”, and thus he’s already in poor standing with his Western “partners” because of this.

If the government reintroduces the death penalty for some of the coup plotters during the three-month-long state of emergency, then it would definitely stop all forms of enhanced Western institutional integration with Turkey, particularly as it relates to the EU. Pertaining to NATO, Erdogan’s rapprochement with Russia will likely take on a military dimension, as the Turkish side just publicly said that they will be discussing joint military cooperation with their Russian counterparts against Daesh and Al-Nusra. It’s unclear whether this will lead to the Turkish authorities ordering NATO- and GCC-member states to scale down their aerial operations out of Incirlik, but it can be safely assumed that Ankara will not allow them in any case to interfere with the country’s prospective anti-terrorist military cooperation with Russia.

If they do (or are perceived or convincingly accused of doing so), then Erdogan will undoubtedly restrict their use of the strategic facility and perhaps order the accused party to full withdrawal their forces from the base.