Jun 27 2018

Turkey could be ‘quarantined’ like Pakistan – columnist

The United States could subject Turkey to “quarantining” just like Pakistan after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s victory in presidential elections on Sunday, said Eli Lake, a columnist for Bloomberg.

Instead of congratulating Erdoğan and treating him like an equal, the West should calibrate their response to the election, which was far from fair and bestowed more powers on a leader who has turned Turkey from a flawed democracy into an Islamist police state, Lake said.

Quarantining, a term used by Michael Rubin, a Middle East scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, would seek to identify areas where U.S. and Turkish interests are not aligned. Rubin recommends working more closely on security with Greece and trying to halt Turkish inroads into the Balkans. Washington should also consider removing nuclear weapons from Turkey and look at alternatives to the Incirlik airbase, which stages missions into Syria.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman said he wouldn’t use the word quarantining. The United States needs more tough-minded diplomacy, not less, and to adopt a more transactional approach toward Ankara, he said, according to Lake.

“The first step, though, is simple: Don't pretend that Erdoğan is just another elected leader,” Lake said. “Maybe Trump won't be able to help himself. He appears to appreciate the very qualities in Erdoğan that make people like me cringe. For members of Congress, diplomats and other Western leaders, there is no need to gloss over his many defects.

“None of this will persuade Erdoğan to reform,” she said. “But it will send a message of hope to the millions of Turks standing against the man who is doing his best to destroy what's left of their democratic institutions.”