Seen as a rogue outlier in Nato, Turkey found and acted upon the opportunity to get the West to support its military operation in northern Syria. Turkish forces and alleged mercenaries occupy parts of this region. A vast array of human rights abuses was reported during the peak of its military intervention and Ankara faced condemnation from the Western world. All major NATO members including Germany, France, UK and Canada have refused arms sales to Erdogan’s Turkey. Tensions further escalated when Turkey stepped up its belligerence towards fellow Nato member Greece in the eastern Mediterranean and the West largely backed Athens through this tussle. The list of Turkey’s excesses can go on, but the West has decided to overlook all that now. US President Biden’s own stance on Turkey used to be one of admonishment. Today, that seems to change with Ankara’s new leverage in the game.
Mr Erdogan will now expect Sweden and Finland to adhere to the spirit, and not just the (notably vague) letter, of the agreement. This means he will demand they back a future Turkish operation in Syria to combat the YPG, who happen to be the West’s main allies against Islamic State, support Ankara’s plans to expel and forcibly resettle over one million Syrian refugees in northern Syria, take concrete steps to extradite alleged members of the PKK and Gulen movement to face trial, unlikely to be fair, in Turkey, and keep schtum about Turkey’s poor human rights records and abuses of fundamental democratic freedoms.
Turkey will seize on any hemming and hawing on these issues as evidence of bad faith, if not betrayal, and a just cause to reignite a crisis in Turkey’s relations with the West. Turkey under Erdogan is a fundamentally untrustworthy ally. The NATO deal has triggered a countdown to the next noisy but inevitable conflagration.
A trio of senior administration officials detail the first day of NATO Summit in Madrid. Here’s what they told The Pavlovic Today. The new NATO strategic concept will be released shortly and focuses heavily on Russia. But it also, for the first time, mentions China. The document will note that China’s stated ambitions and challenge …
The US did not offer Turkey anything to get Erdogan to drop his objections to allowing Sweden and Finland into the alliance, a trio of senior administration officials claim – The Pavlovic Today Read More »
Before the text was released, Turkish officials circulated to media outlets a note titled “Turkey got what it wanted.” Finland’s leading newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, wrote in an editorial that “Turkey got what it wanted – and so did Finland and Sweden.”
“The memorandum was the price that had to be paid for the weird style of dealings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that at the same time represents typical behavior to Turkey,” the Finnish newspaper said.
While arguing against making Sweden and Finland NATO members, Erdogan showed videos and photographs of PKK demonstrations in Sweden as evidence of his claim of Swedish indifference to terrorism.
Aside from a few words of condemnation at the start of the war in Ukraine, Turkey has remained on good terms with Russia throughout. When Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, visited Ankara this month his Turkish counterpart kindly suggested that the West should ease sanctions against Russia if Russia relaxed its blockade of Ukrainian ports. When Mr Lavrov repeated his claim that Russia had invaded Ukraine to liberate it from neo-Nazis, his host said nothing.
Mr Erdogan’s move to block Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to nato has further damaged Turkey’s standing in the alliance. The strongman has signalled that he wants the Nordic countries to extradite several members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (pkk), an outlawed armed group, and to drop a partial arms embargo against his country. He may also be shopping for concessions from America in exchange for withdrawing his veto, or from Russia for doing the opposite. Mr Erdogan occasionally sounds hostile to nato enlargement as a matter of principle. In a recent guest column for The Economist, he went as far as to blame Finland and Sweden for adding an “unnecessary item” to nato’s agenda by asking to join the alliance.
Under President Erdoğan, Turkish foreign policy has increasingly become an extension of domestic politics. Therefore, whenever President Erdoğan is conducting foreign policy, he has goals at both the international and domestic levels. Given that Erdoğan has an uphill battle in the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for June 2023, the domestic level game is at least as important as, if not more important, than the international level game.
In this specific case, Erdoğan’s goal at the international level is to further weaken international support for the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) which both Sweden and Finland designate as a terrorist organization, and its various off shoots, such as the PYD (Democratic Union Party) in Syria, which they do not.
Kakabaveh says she believes the NATO memberships stalemate will be resolved with a backroom deal between the U.S. and Turkey. If it isn’t, and Sweden is unable to join NATO because of her, Kakabaveh won’t have any regrets. She is against NATO membership anyway, saying it would undermine Sweden’s ability to be a voice for peace in the world.
“I am for disarmament,” she says. “The world needs more peace and diplomacy.”