Why Should Turkey exit NATO?
The unsuccessful US-backed coup d’état attempted by FETÖ (Fettullahist Terrorist Organization) in Turkey on July 15th not only widened the gap between Turkey and the Atlanticist powers, but also revealed the truth that the inevitable destiny of Turkey lies in Eurasianism.
Thanks to the USA’s intervention, its role in the conspiracy, and its executing and supporting the unsuccessful military coup together with the silence of the EU always ironically advocating democracy, both Turkish politicians and large segments of the nation (including neo-Kemalists, Conservatives, Nationalists and Socialists) have begun to give a louder voice to Eurasianism.
Turkey joined NATO in 1952 due to fear of the communist USSR. But even in the period of Cold War, Turkey and the USSR had fairly normal diplomatic relations and both the Turkish and USSR prime ministers visited each other’s countries. But with the disintegration of USSR and the elimination of the communist threat, compounded by the AK Party government which pursued a more independent and multidimensional foreign policy, crucial confrontations between Turkey and NATO emerged. It must be remembered that in 1974, when Turkey, using its guaranteed rights gained with the 1960 treaty, militarily intervened in Cyprus, which is not a NATO member, the USA applied armament sanctions to Turkey lasting until 1978. Thus, the US showed its level of sincere commitment Turkey even when the foe was no longer the communist Soviets!
After the end of Cold War, when the USA strove to occupy Iraq in 2003 only a year after the beginning of the AK Party government, Turkey declined the US’ request to use Turkish territory. This heightened tensions and, as a result, twelve soldiers serving in Turkish Special Forces in Iraq were arrested by USA occupying forces. Therefore, it is clear that Turkey and the US had sour relations from the beginning of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s governance.
Syria is another obvious case in which the USA once again singled out Turkey as a foe instead of supporting it as a NATO country. Turkey had very good relations with Bashar Assad’s Syria before 2011, including a free trade agreement signed in 2007, joint military exercises in 2009 and 2010, and a high level strategic partnership meeting in 2009. However, with the conniving of pro-American elements in Turkey, relations with Assad’s government deteriorated. Due to the Syrian Civil War, Turkey lost its friendly neighbor, suffered economically due to 3,5 million Syrian refugees, and had to become a party in the civil war to help the Turkomens, close relatives of Turks inhabiting Northern Syria. But the most devastating outcome of the civil war was the empowerment of Kurdish YPG, which is considered by Turkey to be an extension of the PKK with which Turkey has militarily struggled for 30 years.
Although Turkish President Erdoğan clearly stated that US should choose between NATO member Turkey and the YPG, the USA still politically and militarily supported the YPG.
The military coup attempt on July 15th was the direct military attack by the USA on fellow NATO member Turkey via the pro-American FETÖ member soldiers who were serving in the Turkish Armed Forces. Turkey has faced three military coups in the history, but the last one is unique. For the first time, civilians were shot, the National Assembly was bombed, and the coup’s leader lived and received clear support from outside Turkey. Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the FETÖ, fled to Pennsylvania, USA in 1999 by claiming religious pressures was put on him by the government (not the AK party) during that period, and has not returned to Turkey even though the Turkish President personally called him three years ago. Hence why the Turkish nation as a whole has considered this coup not as a “native” or “local” one, but a direct military attack by the USA, and struggled against the coup accordingly. Despite the official demand of the Turkish government to extradite Fethullah Gülen, the remains reluctant to this day.
In addition to the USA’s countless betrayals of its fellow NATO member Turkey and the latest direct military attack by FETÖ, the geopolitical, economical, historical and cultural aspects of Turkey actually signal the Eurasianist future.
- Geographically, like Russia, Turkey has territories both in Asia and Europe.
- The EU began to disintegrate with Brexit, but Turkey’s membership application has been negotiated since 1987. The EU thinks that Turkey’s cultural and demographic characteristics are not suitable for the EU’s vision.
- Turkey has had no border disputes with its neighbors for a century even though it is surrounded by both Muslim and Christian countries which lived many centuries under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. For example, Turkey signed a free trade and military cooperation agreement with Serbia and, even though Turkey is a Sunni Muslim country, there has been no war with Shiite Muslim Iran since 1683.
- Turks are relatives of the Central Asian and Caucasian Turkic nations. Linguistic and cultural similarities link Turkey to Asia.
- Turks are Muslims. Therefore, religious ties bind Turkey to Iran and the Arab nations. In the Turkish language, there are thousands of Persian and Arabic words. Furthermore, Turks and Arabs lived together peacefully for five hundred years under Ottoman rule.
- The Muslim and Orthodox faiths peacefully coexisted in the Ottoman Empire. Only Bosnians and half of Albanians converted to Islam in five centuries of Ottoman rule. Ottoman Empire Sultans called themselves the protectors of Orthodox nations against Catholic west.
- For one thousand years, Turks have struggled against the West politically and militarily.
- The values and customs of the Turks are opposed to Western ideology. Instead of individualism and ultra-liberalism, the state, nation, family and moral values have become especially important in Turkey, like in many other Eurasian countries.
- Turkey trades with Eurasia, as Germany, China and Russia are the main international trade partners of Turkey. The share of non EU countries in Turkey’s international trade balance increases every year.
- Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Iraq are the main countries where Turkish construction contractors operate.
- Germans and Russians are the top nationalities who visit Turkey for tourism.
- Iraqis, Saudi Arabians, Kuwaitis, and Russians are the main foreign purchasers of houses in Turkey.
- Turks marry Syrians, Germans, Azeris, Russians and Ukrainians.
The July 15th military coup attempt is considered to be a direct attack by the US on Turkish sovereignty and democracy. Moreover, different layers of Turkish society united against the external threat. For many thinkers, this is Turkey’s second national liberation war.
During the foundation and national liberation of modern Turkey in 1921, it was Lenin’s Russia among the great powers who first recognized and supported the newly founded Turkish Republic. Similarly, in the second national liberation war, Vladimir Putin was the first leader who called and supported the legitimate Turkish government against the coup attempt. Excitingly enough, the Turkish President’s first foreign visit after the coup attempt was to Russia.
If the Syrian conflict can be solved by the cooperation of Russia and Turkey, it will pave the way for the joint will of Russia and Turkey to work on other regional confrontations such as the one in Nagorno-Karabakh. If NATO-led Russian-Turkish competition can be converted into Russian-Turkish strategic cooperation, Atlanticist provocations to disrupt stability on the Balkan Peninsula, in the Middle East, the Caucasus, and Central Asia - Russia and Turkey’s joint zone of influence -will fail. Not only will Russia and Turkey both benefit, but national sovereignty in these regions and territorial unity can be protected.
As cooperation increases between Russia and Turkey and the outcome becomes visible, trust in Eurasianism will pervade Turkey and exiting from NATO and the Western axis will be easier. Both statistical truths and historical experiences clarify the inevitable Eurasian destiny of Turkey. This historic burden is on the shoulders of the Turkish government’s leaders to accelerate Turkey’s Eurasianist trajectory and not be deceived by any US maneuvers to draw Turkey back into the Western sphere, a threat which they will encounter. This journey inevitably. This path demands Russia’s patience and perseverance.