Turkey is a member of NATO and has long been held out as an example of democracy and secular society in the Middle East. That has been changing since Prime Minister Erdogan came to power in 2003. He and his Justice and Development party have led the country away from the principles of Kemal Ataturk who founded the modern Turkish state toward more religious governing principles.
Many senior leaders of the military and government have been replaced with party members who share a more Islamist vision. This has led to many changes in their foreign policy and some disconcerting alliances. When we were poised to invade Iraq, they pulled the rug out from under us by changing their minds about letting us launch from their territory. They have also begun to work more closely with those paragons pf peace Syria and Iran. Recently they helped derail efforts to derail Iran’s nuclear aspirations by partnering with Brazil in a deal to “take care” of some of Iran’s processed uranium.
The movement to a more religious bent has also led them to the anti-Israel coalition. Prime Minister Erdogan had a notable blow up at the annual Davos summit where he finished a rant about Israel by walking out vowing never to return. Then there was the flotilla of “peace” activists launched from Turkey to Gaza that caused so much trouble when the Israelis had the audacity to ask if they could check it for contraband. All in all hardly a direction we can really get behind.
We have historically had quite good relations with Turkey and hopefully we can restore them. But we shouldn’t be fooled into believing that our goals and theirs are anywhere near as closely aligned as they used to be.Posted at Big Peace on Sunday.