An Islamist Turkey would be a threat to NATO

An Islamist and expansionist Turkey would be a threat to NATO, a writer for the Jerusalem Post said on Wednesday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s interventions in Syria and Libya are shoring up extremist Islamist forces, Ghanem M. Nuseibeh, chair of Muslims against anti-Semitism and the founder of Cornerstone Global Associates, said. 

“The expansionist Turkish policies in Libya are an implementation of the global blueprint of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, namely, to establish a pan-national Islamist caliphate,” he said.

“Erdoğan’s used the traditional relations the secular Turkish state had with the West, especially with NATO, to legitimate his expansionist moves in the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Europe.”

Nuseibeh said Turkey’s interests in Libya, where it has intervened military to back the United Nations-recognised Government of National Accord, and in the eastern Mediterranean, where it is increasingly asserting its right to drill for hydrocarbons, are at odds with many Western countries. 

“The gradual Islamisation of Turkey now poses a direct threat to the West as a whole, as well as to the moderate states of the Middle East. The West, led by NATO, needs to adopt a united stance against Turkey, which no longer is the secular, pro-Western state that Erdoğan inherited,” he said. “Turkey under Erdoğan is the wolf, and most of Europe is still acting like Little Red Riding Hood.”

Turkey has also come under criticism for abandoning secularism in its move last week to re-convert the Hagia Sophia museum back into a mosque. 

Alex Galitsky, communications director of the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region, said the move was more than simply a provocation. 

“For Turkey, the conversion of the Hagia Sophia represents the death knell for any remaining semblance of secularism in the country,” Galitsky said in the Washington Examiner on Wednesday. 

“It signals Turkey’s full embrace of an expansionist, neo-Ottoman foreign policy, unperturbed by its neighbors and allies, and the complete abandonment of its European ambitions that NATO member states once desperately clung onto and used to justify their placation of Turkey amid the country's steady backsliding on democracy and human rights.”

Galitsky said it is part of a longstanding oppression of Christianity in Turkey. 

“For the remaining Christians of Turkey today, who have experienced the steady erosion of their rights to religious freedom and cultural expression over the last two decades, the conversion of the Hagia Sophia is tantamount to a declaration of war on their very right to exist in the lands they have lived in for millennia,” he said. 

On Friday, Erdoğan announced the opening of the Hagia Sophia to Muslim worship after the Council of State – Turkey’s highest administrative court – ruled that the building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding secular statesman was illegal.

In a televised address, Erdoğan said that prayers will be held at the site on July 24.

The Hagia Sophia, originally built as a Byzantine cathedral in 537, was turned into a mosque following the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul on May 29, 1453, and then became a museum in 1935 under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s presidency.

With Turkey leaving secularism behind, Erdoğan is positioning himself to lead what he sees as a resurgent Islam, with Turkey at its head, Yiannis Baboulias said in the Spectator magazine on Tuesday.

"Erdoğan’s firm friendship with Donald Trump has so far protected him from worse sanctions and responses by European leaders. Will the Hagia Sophia be a wake-up call to a West that has so far tolerated far too many transgressions? Does it even care? The time for complacency is over," Baboulias said.