Turkey has come under the scanner recently after it shot down a Russian jet close to the Syrian border last week. Russia responded first by imposing economic sanctions against Turkey and then by accusing Turkey of supporting ISIS and purchasing oil from the terrorist organization. In the days since, there has been extensive investigation into Turkeys’ alleged ties with ISIS and Russia claims it has unearthed substantial evidence to prove that Turkey is playing a dangerous game and perhaps even playing all sides.
If Russia’s allegations hold true, Turkey’s position in the modern world order will be severely challenged. Turkey’s recent actions have drawn NATO into the limelight as well; Turkey is a member state and as such, the country’s choices reflect on the coalition it represents.
With serious charges being leveled against Turkey and new information coming to light daily, experts are asking if Turkey’s time as a NATO-member state is limited. Should the collective see fit to distance itself from a disgraced state, what will the same spell for Turkey’s future? And what is the likelihood of NATO actually expelling Turkey from its ranks? French journalist and geopolitical authority Gilbert Mercier recently published an analysis examining the different factors that may cause NATO to break ties with Turkey.
Titled ‘Will Turkey Be Kicked Out of NATO?’ the November 2015 analysis for News Junkie Post presents some convincing arguments, most of which allude to the fact that a continued association with Turkey will prove extremely detrimental to NATO’s credibility as a whole as well as the individual reputations of its member states.
Turkey Shoots Russian Plane, Triggers Hostilities
On Tuesday, November 24, 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian plane close to the Syrian border. Ankara announced that the Turkish military had issued as many as ten warnings to the Russian jet before shooting it for violating Turkish airspace.
Moscow responded to Turkey’s claims by stating that the Russian plane was operating in Syrian airspace and had not crossed over to Turkish airspace; since then, Russia has accused Turkey of intentionally destroying its plane to cover tracks of its ties to the Islamic State. Commenting on Turkey’s decision to shoot down the Russian plane, Russian President Vladimir Putin alleged that Ankara’s actions prove Moscow’s claims that Turkey is actually backing ISIS.
“This incident stands out against the usual fight against terrorism. Our troops are fighting heroically against terrorists, risking their lives. But the loss we suffered today came from a stab in the back delivered by accomplices of the terrorists,” President Putin said.
President Putin has pointed out that Turkey’s behavior in the immediate aftermath of Tuesday’s incident is telling: instead of getting in touch with Moscow, as security and diplomatic protocol in such situations would dictate, Turkey instead sought an audience with NATO. President Putin suggests that in bypassing the established procedures, Turkey has raised suspicions over its motives: Ankara seems invested not in soothing tensions with Moscow but in securing NATO’s support. The RT network reports President Putin’s concerns that Turkey is working to rally NATO’s backing for its support of ISIS.
“IS has big money, hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, from selling oil. In addition they are protected by the military of an entire nation. One can understand why they are acting so boldly and blatantly. Why they kill people in such atrocious ways. Why they commit terrorist acts across the world, including in the heart of Europe,” President Putin is reported to have said.
Russia Avoids Military Retaliation, Confrontation With NATO
In the immediate wake of Tuesday’s event, the global community expected Russia to react militarily to Turkey’s ‘provocation’. President Putin is well known for steering modern-day Russia into a markedly military direction and the lack of an armed reaction to the Turkish aggression would almost equal non-action judging by Russia’s usual assertiveness.
However, an analysis of President Putin’s approach to the Turkish issue reveals that Moscow has indeed averted a greater disaster by not engaging militarily with Ankara, and instead leveling economic sanctions and formal complaints.
Given that Turkey is a NATO-member state, a military assault against it would compel other NATO countries to respond in kind against Russia. Article 5 of NATO’s charter mandates all of its members to take armed action if any one of them is attacked. By skirting the obvious path, Russia has both contained the violence and avoided earning NATO’s ire. As such, Russia’s “restraint”, as Mercier calls it, has probably earned it some goodwill in Europe, as it is not likely that any of the other NATO countries would, of their own accord, favor war with Russia at present.
The Creation Of ISIS: Turkey, Gulf States And Sunni Agenda Under Scrutiny
In another piece on the role Russia, Iran, the Iraqi Shiite forces and Hezbollah may play in destroying ISIS Mercier examines how ISIS was created and suggests that much of the coalition fighting against it today is responsible for the outfit in the first place.
Mercier argues that in the pursuit of its neoconservative ideals and democratization policies, the United States sought to reconfigure governance in Syria by launching a ‘state-building’ project the likes of which it has undertaken previously in other parts of the world, like Afghanistan. At the same time, the Gulf States were positioned to induce a regime change in Damascus in order to reaffirm a Sunni majority in the region and invited the U.S. to participate in the effort to remove the Assad government.
Mercier draws parallels with the Arab Spring and points out that in a manner similar to the 2011 uprising, the Gulf States and the U.S. once again worked to use a seemingly organic sentiment to press their own agendas. And in doing so, these states effectively provided a legion of non-state actors with the arms and funds necessary for waging a rebellion against the Assad regime.
Mercier, like many others, claims that it is the “Sunni Axis’” opposition to the Assad regime that created ISIS to begin with. And like so many past experiments of this nature, the creation is now stronger than its creator. Armed, powerful and driven by a thirst to amass vast territories in the pursuit of an Islamic Caliphate, the ‘Jihadist militia’ employed by the Axis to oust the Assad government soon proved uncontrollable to even those who had created it.
Today, ISIS answers to nobody and nothing other than itself; the argument posits that in allowing the militia to become powerful enough to carve out a cohesive identity and army for itself, the culpability of its crimes falls upon those who empowered it to begin with.
At the heart of this argument is a deep-rooted criticism for the Sunni agenda driving the regional actors, and a particular distaste for Turkey’s participation in the same. Mercier reminds readers that Turkey once proudly wore the badge of being the only secular country in a region organized along religious lines.
When Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan came to power, the state made the move towards Sunni Islamism, joining the ranks of its brethren in the region. A religious identity in itself may not be enough to tarnish Turkey’s reputation for tolerance; however, the politicization that