Turkey, under President Erdogan, has emerged as an expansionist, rogue state that not only infringes upon the sovereign rights of its neighbours but also bullies fellow NATO allies. Led by an Islamist radical, Turkey is virtually a miniature version of China in the Eastern Mediterranean and of late, it has been on steroids.
In this context, the United States has started taking cognizance of Ankara’s misadventures. And with Trump administration taking note of Ankara’s actions, Turkey might get booted out of the NATO alliance if it continues to harm the interests of its neighbours and other NATO countries.
As per Sputnik, a senior US State Department spokesperson said that Washington has called on Turkey to hold back its plans of conducting seismic research in Greece’s territorial waters and avoid steps that can escalate tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The State Department spokesperson said, “The United States is aware that Turkey has issued a NAVTEX for research in disputed waters in the Eastern Mediterranean,” and added, “We urge Turkish authorities to halt any plans for operations and to avoid steps that raise tensions in the region.”
NAVTEX is an acronym for Navigational Telex (or Navigational text messages)- a device used on vessels for identifying short-range Maritime Safety Information in coastal waters.
Meanwhile, Athens has registered a strong protest against Turkey’s aggressive military posturing and the violation of Greek maritime sovereignty. The Greek military forces have stated that they have observed increased activity at Southern Turkey’s Aksaz naval base, after 15 vessels departed from the Turkish military facility.
According to Greek officers, the country’s military forces have been placed on alert in the face of heightened Turkish belligerence. The Greek Foreign Ministry has also given some sharp reactions and has taken up the matter with the United Nations, the NATO alliance, and the European Union.
The manner in which Turkey is threatening the security interests of Greece, a member of the US-led NATO is bound to rile the Trump administration. Relations between the US President Donald Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have for long been strained and fragile.
Trump has been constantly at odds with Erdoğan over the latter’s misadventure and support to the Islamic State in Syria. The Turkish invasion of Syria last year entailed brutalities against Kurdish fighters. The Kurdish forces were a key US ally during the fight against the Islamic State.
At the time, Erdoğan’s offensive against the Kurdish fighters in Northeast Syria had led to Trump slamming Turkey in a strongly-worded letter. The US President had said, “Let’s work out a good deal! You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy *and I will.* ”
Trump’s warning had put Erdoğan in his place. But now, Turkey is crossing all limits. With its military intervention in Libya, for example, Turkey has not only violated the international arms embargo in Libya but is also directly acting against the interests of Mediterranean powers and NATO allies like France and Italy.
In fact, Erdoğan holds bordering EU members like Greece and Bulgaria to ransom. These countries also happen to be NATO allies, and if the EU or the NATO oppose Turkish diktats, Erdoğan unleashes waves of Arab refugees into Greece and Bulgaria leaving Europe with a huge illegal immigrant crisis.
Turkey is not really acting as a civilised state, rather it is acting like a rogue nation that uses medieval methods of blackmail, extortion, and expansionism. In this sense, Turkish posturing against Greece might just prove to be the last straw for the US before it kicks Turkey out of NATO.
To be precise, there is no provision for booting out a NATO member. At the time of the organisation’s inception, the NATO members were reluctant to discuss their internal differences in front of other members which is why such a provision was avoided.
However, the fact remains that NATO might be practically a military alliance, but as a matter of principle, it is much more than a Collective Security mechanism. NATO was envisaged as an organisation of shared values.
In 1949, then US Secretary of State Dean Acheson had said that a NATO ally which went “red” under Soviet influence could be booted out even in absence of a formal procedure. Today, of course, security concerns of the NATO alliance have changed due to the disintegration of the USSR. But now, Turkey’s actions alone threaten NATO’s interests.
Those who became a part of the US-led treaty had affirmed their faith in values such as abiding by the UN Charter, desire to ensure peace and security, safeguarding common heritage and civilisation of NATO allies, and above all promoting stability in the North Atlantic area.
Under Erdoğan, Turkey has reconverted the Hagia Sophia- an ancient Cathedral-turned-Museum into a Mosque and has also tried to disturb the status quo in the Mediterranean. Neither is the rogue state upholding the shared values of NATO allies, nor is it promoting peace and stability in fellow NATO countries. Instead, it has violated the NATO mandate in every way possible and must be expelled.