Erdoğan's dance with the West
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan appears to be doing everything in his power to increase his isolation and broaden support for Greece from the international community. For the past two years, the Western powers – mainly the United States but also NATO – have explicitly and repeatedly warned Turkey against purchasing the Russian S-400 missile defence system.
When you’re a member of an alliance, you don’t ignore it, much less act against it. Yet the Turkish president even went so far as to chide NATO recently, saying that he expects “alternative solutions and reasonable technical measures” on the S-400 issues, rather than rhetoric that “upsets” relations.
Erdoğan started this saga by announcing that he was going ahead with something that Turkey’s “friends and allies” were vehemently opposed to. They urged him to change his decision and even warned of the risk of sanctions if he insisted. He blatantly ignored them and acted unilaterally. And then, when they reacted to his insistence on using the S-400 system, Erdoğan called on them to act “reasonably” and, as “friends and allies,” to help find an alternative.
After issuing several warnings, the Americans, in particular, took meaningful action by excluding Turkey from the production and procurement programme for the U.S.-made F-35 stealth fighter jet.
Despite Turkey’s strategic geographical position and the investment interest from Western financial interests, the very well-organised Turkish lobby in Washington – which not only employs public and transparent courses of actions, but also inhabits darker corridors, greasing power mechanisms, public opinion makers and think tanks – is unable to reverse the tsunami of anger against Erdoğan, which is threatening to consign Turkey to international isolation.
With his exaggerated sense of his own importance and his belligerent and offensive behaviour, the Turkish president is entirely to blame for this development. Coming hot on the heels of his vulgar attack on Emmanuel Macron, saying the French president needs “some sort of mental treatment,” Erdoğan on Sunday raged against Washington over the issue of the S-400. “You have no idea who you’re dancing with,” he said.
It looks like it is Erdoğan who hasn’t realised who he’s dancing with.
(A version of this article was originally published by Kathimerini and reproduced with permission. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Ahval.)