December 3, 2015
The untrained observer could be forgiven for believing that NATO is still acting as a military and political organization dedicated to protecting the security of its members. Enlarging the organization with a less-than-significant member (militarily speaking) like Montenegro cannot, however, obscure NATO’s huge failure to adapt to today’s radically changed geopolitical and strategic landscape.
Headed in the past few years by Russia-obsessed officials hailing from European northern kingdoms (Rasmussen from Denmark or Stoltenberg from Norway), the alliance has failed to recognize that these days the biggest threat to the security of all NATO countries is represented by existing or emerging Islamic countries from the Middle East instead.
Nor did NATO reckon with the fact that, since 2002, the secular regime in Turkey was replaced by an Islamic one. This mega transformation of Turkish society – which is still ongoing – has ended up creating a serious security threat for the European Union as a whole, as illustrated by this year’s refugee crisis. Indeed, not only has Turkey failed to live up to its obligations as a NATO member, such as sealing its border with Syria, but over the past four years it has allowed tens of thousands of jihadi fighters from all over the world to cross the country and join ISIS. This year it has decided to allow hundreds of thousands of refugees on its territory to practically invade EU countries unhindered. One of Erdogan’s advisers, Burhan Kuzu, has even hailed Turkey’s latest exercise in extortion as a success for the AKP regime:
“The EU finally got Turkey’s message and opened its purse strings. What did we say? ‘We’ll open our borders and unleash all the Syrian refugees on you.”
For a number of years after 2002, I too believed that a moderate Islamic government in power in Turkey could make the country more politically stable and economically prosperous. Not anymore. The assistance – overt or covert – extended by the AKP regime to Islamists in Syria and elsewhere, the scandal of appointing Erdogan’s son-in-law as energy minister and his son as the head of another energy company ( as if Turkey was an oil-producing powerhouse), the savage repression of journalists, of the free press and of Turkish officials who are trying to uphold the rule of law within the country, have all finally contributed to convincing me that the AKP regime has outlived its usefulness for Turkey and for the NATO alliance, as well.
Undaunted, the current NATO leadership, with some behind the scenes assistance from American neo-cons, is trying to recycle expired Cold War policies and continue to depict Russia as the main enemy of the West. In so doing, the organization conclusively proves that it has become obsolete and useless when it comes to addressing major security threats affecting its members.
It is my belief that Turkey wouldn’t have dared shoot down a Russian aircraft – a jamais vu event in the Alliance’s history – if the country’s leaders had not been certain that anti-Russian bias at the top levels of NATO would prevail.
Still, instead of discussing Russia, NATO ministers would be well-advised to hold a special session dedicated to assessing Turkey’s continuing usefulness for the Alliance in the current strategic circumstances. In the light of this year’s developments, Turkey – NATO’s only Muslim member – has emerged as a dangerous ally and a questionable friend. In other words, instead of trying to evict Greece – Turkey’s main victim in the refugee crisis – from the Schengen area, it would definitely prove more useful to consider the suspension of Turkey from NATO command structures until such time as the AKP leadership could come clean on the issues of unchecked refugee migration to Europe, jihadi movements to and from Syria, shady oil dealings and the supply of weaponry to Islamic insurgents.Florian Pantazi