Erdogan: “What kind of NATO membership is this? What kind of NATO alliance is this?”

Erdogan: “What kind of NATO membership is this? What kind of NATO alliance is this?”. By Hugh Fitzgerald.

For Erdogan, any Kurdish group anywhere could help the Kurdish separatists inside Turkey, and has to be suppressed. For Erdogan, all Kurds are “terrorists” — it doesn’t matter that the Syrian Kurds were the best fighters against the most dangerous of real terrorists, those of ISIS….

His forces have been let loose on the Kurds in Syria; this occurred after the Americans had made clear they wanted 30,000 Syrian Kurdish troops to guard the Syria-Turkey border. …

And then, taking things to a still higher level of hostility, Erdogan’s men promised that American troops in Syria may be hit. “Accusing the US fighters of wearing ‘terrorists’ clothes’ (i.e. YPG uniforms) that may be hard to distinguish, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag warned that anyone fighting alongside the Kurds ‘is our target.’”

He added that “there is no chance that we will make a distinction at this point” between the Kurds and the US fighters.

He might have said something else. He might have said that “we will do our best to avoid hitting American fighters. It is certainly going to be difficult. Nonetheless, we will try.” A different tone, a different emphasis. But instead, he — and his boss Erdogan — wanted to be as tough as possible on the Americans. This is not the behavior one expects from a NATO ally.

After that warning, the commander of American troops in Syria, Lieutenant General Paul Funk, speaking in Manbij, a city that the YPG holds and that the Turks now threaten to in invade, issued his own warning to Erdogan:

“You hit us, we will respond aggressively. We will defend ourselves,” the U.S. commander, Lieutenant General Paul Funk, said in a direct warning to Turkey in the interview published on Feb. 7.

Then, an enraged Erdogan came back on February 13 with his “Ottoman slap” remark.

“It’s obvious that those who say, ‘If you hit us, we’ll hit back hard,’ have never in their lives gotten an Ottoman slap,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech at parliament on Tuesday [February 13] responding to remarks by the top U.S. commander in Syria to the New York Times. “If those who come and go as they like through Turkey think they’re going to go stirring things up in places without paying for it, they’ll soon see that’s not the case.” (He is referring to American forces using the air base at Incirlik.) …

How did we get here?

When Erdogan first came to power, women working in the public sector were still banned from wearing the hijab, including teachers, lawyers, parliamentarians and others working in state-run institutions. In recent years, the Justice and Development Party has lifted bans on wearing the hijab in schools and all state institutions. Now those teachers, lawyers, parliamentarians are not merely allowed, but encouraged, to wear the hijab by the AKP. Even female ministers and judges have taken to wearing hijabs. …

What this history of Turkey in recent years makes clear is that while Ataturk’s reforms once seemed to be forever, it was not Kemalism, but rather its nemesis, Islam, that appears to be prevailing, under the relentlessly re-islamizing despot Recep Tayyip Erdogan. …

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey has always been held up in the West as an example of a Muslim country that could successfully tame Islam, limit its role in society and politics, and make possible the modernization, through systematic secularisation, of the country in every important respect. …

Not any more. What now?

A despot and an antisemite, full of resentment against America, Israel, and Europe, Erdogan has no business being in NATO. …

The Americans can end the farce of Turkey’s membership in NATO. They should call for an extraordinary meeting of NATO to discuss the behavior of this new, anti-kemalist, islamizing, despotic, anti-Western Turkey.

hat-tip Stephen Neil