The situation became worse as the country’s provocative President Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded that the US extradite the "head of terrorist" referring to US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara claims was behind the failed government overthrow effort while the crowd sang "death penalty for Feto"
Conflict News (@Conflicts) July 16, 2016
But it was Prime Minister Binali Yidlirim who really lowered the boom threatening to go to war with "any" country that supports Fethullah Gulen – a direct reference to the United States.
Since accusing the United States, their long-time ally, of masterminding a failed attempt to overthrow a government whose connections to Islamic terrorist organizations – with evidence showing that Ankara has been engaged in regular weapons and oil trade with Daesh and reports connecting the Erdogan regime with a false-flag sarin gas attack in Syria – already much too close for Washington’s liking many believed that the United States would pack up and leave.
Instead, the US State Department has cautioned that accusing the United States of attempting to overthrow an allied government is "harmful to bilateral relations," expressing continued support for the Erdogan regime, and has attempted to explain to Turkey that under US law evidence is needed to support the extradition request Turkey seeks.
The final straw may very well have come several months ago with the attacks against three US marines in Istanbul on Wednesday by a group of Turkish nationalists who will no doubt be emboldened by their leaders’ statements that the Americans were behind the attempt to destabilize the country. The attackers put white hoods and bags over the heads of the US soldiers while yelling “Yankees go home” while calling them "murderers" and throwing orange paint on them.
"Because we regard you as murderers who kill men, we require that you leave our country," one of the Turks said in English while the soldiers were chased down the street. Despite the Obama administration’s attempts to downplay this growing sentiment among the Turkish people, a poll in October revealed that only 19% of Turks welcome Americans.
Washington now faces a critical challenge with Turkey serving as the linchpin to America’s security strategy in the Middle East and the Balkans based on its geography and longstanding alliance with the United States.
NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis explained in a recent Foreign Policy magazine article that Turkey has been critical to "virtually every NATO operation with significant impact: training Afghan Security Forces and leading coalition efforts in the central district, including Kabul; sending ships and aircraft to Libya; participating in counterpiracy operations; maintaining a steady presence in the security and peacekeeping force in the Balkans."
Despite its strategic importance, Ankara has increasingly become a thorn in the side of the Obama administration and NATO which houses some 90 tactical nuclear weapons at Incirlik Airbase only 60 miles northwest of the Syrian border with growing political instability raising the prospect of a "loose nuke" falling into the hands of Daesh terrorists.
That possibility looms large as the Erdogan regime engages in a full-scale purge of opposition having locked up over 10,000 alleged supporters of Fethullah Gulen from the country’s education, judicial, and military sectors while hinting at the idea of bringing back the death penalty to engage in mass executions by saying earlier this week "why should I keep them locked up and feed them."
Washington now faces a conundrum of setting back its defense strategy a decade by losing access to a critical regional base or enduring repeated accusations that it attempted a coup against its ally, attacks on US soldiers by an increasingly hostile Turkish population, the threat of weapons of mass destruction falling into the waiting arms of terrorists, and sanctioning the activities of a leader who has hinted at killing off over 10,000 people on allegations of treason.
It may ultimately not be Turkey that leaves NATO, but rather the West that decides Ankara has drifted too far down the road of perdition. One way or another, the clock appears to be ticking on the waning hours of the once great military alliance.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.