Turkey is better in NATO than out – expert

Turkey appears to have taken a big step away from the NATO alliance with the purchase of Russian S-400 air defence systems, but it is still better to have Turkey inside NATO than out, a former U.S. defence official wrote in a report for the non-partisan Gatestone Institute.

Lawrance A. Franklin, a former U.S. army colonel and Iran desk officer for the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, said Turkey was turning away from democratic values shared among the pact’s members by jailing journalists, shutting down NGOs and purging civil and military personnel.

“Is Turkey still a reliable ally?” Franklin asked. “Not really,” he concluded.

The current crisis between Turkey and the United States involves comical misunderstandings, such as the accusation that “Black Friday” sales in the United States are an insult to Muslims’ day of prayer, and long-lasting mistrust, resulting in the arrest of a U.S. consulate employee for espionage.

The number of instances where U.S. and Turkish interests clash also include security in the Middle East, Franklin said, where Turkey’s lax border policy allowed the flow of foreign fighters to the extremist jihadist group Islamic State (ISIS), or when the Turkish army stood by during the 2014 ISIS siege Kobane, a Syrian Kurdish town on the border with Turkey.

Still, if “Turkey's incipient romance with Russia turn sour”, or Iran continues its “regional march to hegemony,” Franklin wrote, Turkey will be an invaluable partner.