Turkey’s NATO membership in question after Erdoğan ‘belligerence’ – analyst

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s belligerence has spun out of control and NATO will now be considering whether Turkey’s continued membership is of benefit to the alliance, analyst Theodore Karasik wrote for journal Eurasia Review.

Erdoğan’s actions have generated major headaches for Turkey’s Western allies this year, when Ankara received S-400 missile defence systems from Russia, defied U.S. warnings to activate them this month, launched a military operation against Washington’s Kurdish partners in northern Syria and sent drill ships to disputed waters around Cyprus to search for hydrocarbons.

Last week two new agreements signed by Turkey and the internationally recognised government of Libya further fuelled the concerns as Tripoli asserted that the two countries were maritime neighbours.

This, Karasik said, has poured gasoline on an already highly volatile region, since Turkey is involved in ongoing disputes with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt over maritime jurisdictions.

The maritime borders agreed by Ankara and Tripoli extend a short distance from the Greek island of Crete and include crucial areas where Israel, Greece and the Greek Cypriot governments have laid out plans to build a gas pipeline.

“It is estimated that the $7 billion project will take several years to complete and deliver 10 billion cubic metres of gas per year, but Erdoğan’s bold move challenges the Mediterranean littoral states as never before,” Karasik said.

“The question now is how the U.S. will respond. It seems inevitable that nuclear weapons will be next on the agenda,” he said, referring to dozens of U.S. warheads held in an airbase in İncirlik, southern Turkey.

“The 50 in Turkey may be out of date in terms of their positioning, with Turkey’s current direction highly disconcerting to European and Arab partners,” Karasik said. “Erdoğan outplayed Trump on Syria, and is now discussing more arms purchases from Russia; clearly Ankara needs to think more clearly about its NATO membership, or it may be shown the door.”