Supporters of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s president, say that by aiding and arming Syrian Kurdish fighters, Washington is, in effect, facilitating terrorist outrages of the kind that left 39 people dead in an Istanbul nightclub on New Year’s Eve and claimed four lives at Izmir’s courthouse on Thursday.
Turkish authorities say heavily armed PKK separatists from Turkey’s large Kurdish minority, allied to Syria’s Kurdish PYD, were behind a plot that, had it not been thwarted by the mortal bravery of a lone policeman, Fethi Seminole, could have produced mass casualties.
Repeated Turkish demands that the Obama administration cut its ties to the PYD, which shares its aim of toppling the Syrian regime, have been ignored. A day after Izmir, defence minister, Fikri Işık, voiced Ankara’s mounting anger and frustration. If the US did not think again, Turkey could bar US and western coalition forces from the Incirlik air base used for operations against Isis. More than that, he warned, Turkey would review its membership of Nato.
“The US chose the PYD as a partner in the fight with Daesh (Isis). From the beginning, we have been saying this is wrong,” Işık said. “The PYD is the Syrian wing of the PKK. The US made a strategic mistake. We are paying its price as the US will also pay the price… The US is our ally in Nato. The basis of our alliance should be transparent and genuine. In the absence of these, it would be hard to sustain this alliance.”
The EU’s conditions on Turkey’s membership are a recipe for disaster, throwing fuel on to the flames of polarization, punishing all Turkish citizens, particularly those who still dream of a full democracy with the rule of law, press freedom and all other human freedoms, and, more than likely, generating an uncontrollable influx of refugees into Europe, an extreme nightmare scenario!
Europe has missed a grand opportunity for inter-cultural dialogue and a step towards a more tolerant world. Turkish membership would have been more than a trade/political cooperation deal. It would have democratized the Turkish state, helped settle the Kurdish issue through democracy, stimulated economic growth, and, at the same time, it would have cemented a cultural bridge between the Christian and Muslim worlds.
One of the most telling indicators of the moral and political crisis in Europe has been its political elite’s appeasement of Turkey’s AKP regime. EU governments and the European Commission have bent the rules by delaying publication of critical reports on Turkey to please Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They also failed to demonstrate any honourable reaction to repeated insults by Erdogan and various AKP leaders against European officials and values alike. One might hope that the latest huge European Parliament (EP) majority for suspending accession negotiations would instigate serious EU soul-searching. Yet the signs are not encouraging: both government officials and experts are scrambling for reasons as to why it is necessary to continue appeasing Turkey; and why the EP’s decision should be ignored.
What will take its place?
In addition to the discharge of nearly 4,000 officers, 85,000 public officials have been dismissed from their jobs since July 15 and 17,000 have been jailed, and scores of journalists have been detained.
The post-coup environment portends a turning point for Turkey’s domestic order and its relations with the West.