Turkey’s NATO Exit is a Matter of Time After the Latest US Insult

© AFP 2023 / GEORGES GOBETA Turkish and an Union Jack flags are pictured at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels
A Turkish and an Union Jack flags are pictured at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels - Sputnik International
By denying Ankara the protection of article 5 of the NATO treaty in case of war with Russia, Washington is pushing Turkey out of NATO.

The row between Washington and Ankara over Turkey’s involvement in Syria’s war with the islamists is turning into a major crisis between the NATO allies. It also carries huge implications for the future of the alliance.

Turkish soldiers on a tank sit opposite the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane by the Kurds, at the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern Turkish village of Mursitpinar, Sanliurfa province (File) - Sputnik International
Washington's Message to Turkey: 'Don't Expect NATO to Rescue You in Syria'
Turkey is fighting a losing battle in its proxy war against the Syrian government of president Bashar Assad. After Russia’s intervention on the side of Syria Turkey has found itself confronting Russia.

Ankara’s provocative behaviour towards the Russian forces in Syria has been a major source of concern to NATO, who fears that Turkey’s rash actions may drag it into a conflict with the nuclear power.

Under article 5 of the NATO treaty the member countries are obligated to come to the defence of a member subject to attack.

After a series of private warnings, Washington has now given Ankara a stern public rebuke: provoke a war with Russia at your risk.

The implication is that Turkey is an aggressor or a loose cannon, and so doesn’t qualify for NATO protection. It also signals America’s mistrust in Turkey as a responsible NATO ally.

The warning has been all the more humiliating for the way it was delivered. It was voiced in a newspaper interview by Jean Asselborn, foreign minister of Luxembourg, a junior NATO member much denigrated by Turkish president Erdogan just recently in secret talks with EU top officials.

Asselborn said NATO couldn't afford risking a conflict with Russia on Turkey’s behalf. As to article 5, he flatly stated that it only applies to NATO members clearly under attack.

Now, that’s unfair. It’s not the question of how clear an attack is.

In this photo taken from the Turkish side of the border between Turkey and Syria, in Akcakale, southeastern Turkey, a Turkish soldier on an armoured personnel carrier watches as in the background a flag of the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, is raised over the city of Tal Abyad, Syria, Tuesday, June 16, 2015 - Sputnik International
'Too Many Enemies': Erdogan Believes Turkey 'Has the Right' to Invade Syria
Article 5 covers any attack, obvious or not, provided it is real and national security is threatened. So Washington is letting it be known that it has no intention to underwrite Erdogan’s Syria adventures. But the Turks see things differently. From their perspective, they are under attack. Turkey sees itself as dealing with Russian encroachments in its backyard that challenge its vital interests.

In their view, by abandoning Turkey in its fight with the Syrian Kurds, the US is reneging on its NATO commitments. Which raises the question: who needs a supposedly all-powerful ally that turns out to be a wet rag?

To Ankara, Washington’s message is more than a public rebuke, it’s an outright sellout.

If Turkey can’t rely on NATO to stand with it against a major threat, what’s the alliance good for? Ankara may press the issue by formally invoking article 5. While the US is legally within its rights to provide only such protection as it deems necessary, what really counts is the attitude.

Turkish army's tanks at the Turkey-Iraq border (File) - Sputnik International
NATO Warns Turkey It Won’t Support Ankara in Conflict With Russia
Washington’s resort to casuistry in order to defeat the spirit of transatlantic unity is also certain to undermine NATO solidarity and dishearten the alliance’s members. So Washington may decide to take preemptive action and kick Ankara out of NATO first.

Anyway, it now seems only a matter of time before Turkey leaves NATO, following what it perceives as Washington’s betrayal.

It may not happen tomorrow, but it will happen, however improbable such an outcome may appear now. And it’s not necessarily an Erdogan issue.

The Turkish generals and establishment have long been disenchanted with Turkey’s treatment by NATO, seeing the organization as essentially a one-way street for the promotion of Washington’s interests.

It’s highly ironic that the US destructive Middle East policy is now coming back to haunt it in the form of a bad case of NATO decay.

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