US should start treating Turkey like Pakistan - Bloomberg columnist
Western leaders are to calibrate their response to the results of the election held in Turkey on June 24 in a way that holds victorious Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to account, and the United States should start treating Turkey like Pakistan, columnist Eli Lake wrote in Bloomberg on Tuesday.
Erdoğan was re-elected as president on Sunday with an outright majority, while his Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its far-right nationalist allies also secured a majority in parliament.
Yet, despite Erdoğan’s efforts in suppressing the opposition, nearly half of his country still voted against him, showing that millions of Turks still do not buy Erdoğan’s religious nationalism and that civil society in the country is still functional, Lake noted.
"That's why it's so important for Western leaders to calibrate their response to this election. America and Europe should not promise something they cannot deliver. They cannot rescue Turkey's people from their leader. What advanced democracies can do, however, is set a benchmark for something better,” Lake said, adding that so far the responses from the West have not been encouraging.
U.S. President Donald Trump has repeated the previous administration’s mistake in treating Erdoğan like an important ally and the Pentagon is still pushing for the delivery of the F-35 fighter jets to Turkey despite the Congress’s objections, according to Lake. “Instead of trying to close a sale, the U.S. should start treating Turkey like Pakistan — a frenemy state that has at various times sponsored and combated terrorist groups. Trump suspended some $255 million of military aid to Pakistan earlier this year,” Lake added.
According to Michael Rubin, a Middle East scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, the U.S. should “quarantine” Turkey by working more closely with Greece on security cooperation, curbing Turkey’s influence in the Balkans, and removing its nuclear weapons in İncirlik military base in Turkey.
Eric Edelman, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, do not advise a quarantine, but advises a more tough-minded diplomacy, by making an issue of Turkey's detention of Americans and other Western citizens, by making clear the consequences if Turkey attacks Kurdish fighters in Syria, and by offering Erdoğan to mediate negotiations to resolve the Kurdish question inside the country.
“None of this will persuade Erdogan to reform. 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,” Lake said.