Turkey should be treated like West’s rival, not ally - columnist

Turkey’s pursuit for neo-Ottoman policies and close political relations with Russia necessitate the country be treated like an opponent, not an ally of western countries, U.S.-based Israel advocate James Sinkinson wrote for the Jewish News Syndicate on Wednesday.

“One of the most glaring examples of Turkey’s turn away from the West and its interests is in its rapidly deteriorating relationship with Israel,” Sinkinson said.

Among other signs of Turkey’s turn away from the west are the purchase of Russian S-400 system, actions in the eastern Mediterranean, involvement in foreign conflicts like Syria and support for the Palestinian militant group Hamas, according to Sinkinson.

Although many Western leaders have eventually become disillusioned with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “few have attempted to exert pressure on Turkey to change direction,” he continued. “They have been worried that by pushing too hard, they will completely lose and alienate it.”

Another concern among Turkey’s allies is the threat of renewed flow of refugees to Europe, but “this is a hollow threat,” as Ankara has not acted on it for so long, he said. “If anything, (Turkey) continues to allow access in the other direction, allowing terrorist sympathisers from Europe to use it as an access point to join with terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq.”

The United States, NATO and Turkey’s other allies should exert economic, geostrategic and diplomatic pressure “to convince Erdoğan that he has more to lose than gain from his behaviour,” Sinkinson said. “They must show that they will not be bowed by threats from Turkey and its role in conflicts, such as in Libya, to gain leverage.”

Ankara’s trade relations with Europe are its strongest ties, with the European Union buying more than half of Turkey’s exports and owning more than two-thirds of foreign direct investment, Sinkinson said. Russia, China and Iran “simply cannot compete with this reality,” which gives the EU and the United States leverage, he said.