Feb 13 2018

Turkey may choose isolation over Western allies - analyst

A wave of “anti-Western hostility” and “rampant nationalism” in Turkey has magnified the risk of a decisive break with its traditional allies in the West, even though it has not lined up any alternatives, according to an article Nicholas Danforth, a senior analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Danforth describes in the piece how the fear of “losing Turkey”, a constant refrain since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, is now dangerously close to being realised.

The possibility of this happening has increased dramatically since Jan. 20, with the beginning of Turkey’s “Operation Olive Branch”, a military incursion into northwest Syria. Turkey is fighting Kurdish forces affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the area, a group that the United States views as an essential ally in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS).

Even more worrying are President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s threats to extend the operation to the nearby area of Manbij, where U.S. special forces are stationed. The United States military has bluntly refused Erdoğan’s demand to withdraw from the area, making a military confrontation between the two NATO allies a tangible possibility.

Although this incident brought the world’s attention to Turkey’s drift away from the West, the “strategic rift” has its roots in differences between the two sides’ approach to Middle East geopolitics in the wake of the Arab Spring protests of 2011, said Danforth.

However, since Turkey’s relations are no better with its Eastern alternatives to NATO, Russia and Iran, and its relations with its Arab neighbours are “strained” the country would be forced to go it alone in the event of a break up with the West.