If Turkey leaves NATO then it will want the US to abandon its important airbase at Incerlik. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
After what can only be termed a terrible NATO Not Summit two weeks ago it was clear the alliance has serious fissures forming in its facade.
It opened with French President Emmanuel Macron’s refusal to back down on how ‘brain dead’ NATO’s current mission is. And it ended with an embarrassing hot mic moment with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau which led to President Trump leaving early.
It was Macron’s statements about Turkey reinvigorating ISIS with its invasion of Northern Syria which revealed the depths of European brain death in foreign affairs.
This is a talking point straight out of neocon central to appease the U.S. MIC and Israelis while he asserts the need to decouple European foreign policy from the U.S. and reorient NATO to combat terrorism, which it isn’t designed to do.
But what truly borders on farce today is the U.S. Congress threatening to sanction Turkey over buying Russian S-400 missile defense systems while its President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is actually threatening NATO member Greece, ignoring the idea that Crete even exists and making territorial claims to the eastern Mediterranean that would make Ataturk himself blush.
Erdogan’s response was to finally play his hole card,shutting down the Incerlik airbase.
“If it is necessary to shut it down, we would shut down Incirlik,” Erdogan told AHaber television on Sunday. “If it is necessary to shut it down, we would shut down Kurecik, too.”
Incerlik is a major airbase. This is not an idle threat. Frankly, I’ve been waiting for years for Erdogan to play this card. And I would hope that the U.S. would have pulled the nukes out of there a long time ago, presumably before fomenting a failed coup.
But, Erdogan rightly held onto it until after it was clear that no longer was Turkey considered a valued ally within the alliance and his relationship with both Russia and China was more solid.
To me, this all screams Israel at a time when the Israeli political situation is, at best, fluid.
The U.S. Congress pouring salt in the wound by finally recognizing the Armenian genocide is almost beside the point now, even if it was the right thing to do.
Again, this was a clear message from the AIPAC wing of Congress that Turkey has worn out its welcome.
It seems that the depths of our Congress’ cravenness before the desires of Israel knows no bottom. Erdogan has been explicit in his antipathy for Benjamin Netanyahu’s continued regional provocations to eke out a win in Syria.
And he knows that so much of NATO’s strategic decisions, or lack thereof, come from that corner of the world. The SDF Kurds are, for all intents, Israeli mercenaries, tasked to balkanize Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq.
That strategy has failed. Trump knows it, but his State Dept. and CIA, as well as those of the U.K., France and Germany, refuse to accept defeat.
And it is Russian President Vladimir Putin that is behind all of this denial up and down K Street, in Tel Aviv and at 10 Downing Street. And Trump, to his credit, understands that it’s time for us to recognize the time has come for change.
This is why he’s beginning the pullout from Afghanistan, even though he’ll still have more troops there than when he was inaugurated. It’s why he cut the deal on the Syrian border to allow Turkey to come in and replace U.S. troops there.
Erdogan, Putin and Rouhani in Iran all know that Trump doesn’t have the stomach or the stupidity for war. So they have allowed the political forces in the U.S. to over-commit to a policy they can’t back up.
The Russia/China/Iran axis has simply played the ultimate game of attrition, reading the economic and political tea leaves perfectly while executing a pan-Eurasian strategy of integration through disengagement from U.S. and U.K. financial institutions.
Russia is the only country with the unique mix of resources, geography and financial stability, thanks to its policy of de-dollarization and prudent fiscal management, that can make good on any of the promises it makes to its potential partners on the other side of the negotiating table.
Trump is following Putin’s lead in his dealings with Turkey. By leaving places like Manbij to the Syrians and the Russians it makes it clear to all that this is a bargain that can work for everyone directly involved.
Syria gets its territory back, Turkey gets the Kurdish SDF off its border in an important town and the U.S. alerts the world that the old game is over and a new one is starting.
No Trump isn’t happy about the S-400s but he can’t do anything about them really. Erdogan just told him they aren’t negotiable.
He realized after the coup attempt on him that there was no real place for him at the NATO table anymore and that it was time to cut bait on Project Mayhem in Syria.
Since that day it has been one step after another undoing his involvement there while doing just enough foot-dragging to get what he wants and secure Turkey’s future against the inevitable counter-attack.
But there was always the unspoken threat to the U.S. maintaining its presence in Turkey which allowed him to sign major energy and defense contracts with Russia, get bailouts from Qatar, continue to buy oil from Iran and provoke NATO members over gas drilling off the coast of Cyprus.
Erdogan deliberately provokes disunity within NATO whenever possible because he rightly feels the alliance takes Turkey for granted. So, he’s laying the groundwork for Turkey to realign itself to the east.
His threat to veto the defense plan for the Baltics, a clear provocation aimed at Russia, was a response to NATO refusing to back his position on the Syrian Kurds.
This is why Macron’s statements, effectively blaming Turkey for ISIS, was absurd in a way only Sartre could describe.
But it’s also deeper than that. Erdogan knows that his NATO partners would be fine with Turkey weakened to the point of breaking apart. There have been multiple attempts by the U.S. to remove him from power — the 2016 coup, the 2018 lira crisis, local election meddling.
He knows none of the Europeans think of him as an equal. They only put up with him because they have to. Fair enough, but he’s proven to be a far more adept player of this game than mos of them.
And whether the U.S. Congress understands this or not Erdogan holds the key to breaking NATO into pieces over this. He can force the situation into open crisis now.
Either the U.S. backs down, which allows Turkey to continue laying the groundwork for its expansion in the Mediterranean, stymieing Israeli plans for gas exploration there. Or, the U.S. escalates.
Either way it validates Macron’s position that Russia isn’t the enemy in Europe, undermining the main reason for NATO’s existence. It also ensures that Turkey continues to operate as it wants, rather than as a vassal.
It shows the rest of the world, again, how to stand up to U.S. political pressure while making a mockery of the Global War on Terror. Iraq will be watching this situation with great interest.
U.S. occupation of territory in Syria is now openly about denying the native people access to their own resources while harboring terrorists behind the coattails of mercenaries. It’s shameful.
And, most importantly, even if the U.S. Congress responds more forcefully, by threatening Turkey with NATO expulsion, that works as well since it cedes the entire Black Sea to Russia while extending the area covered by S-400s to preempt any snap aggression in the region.
Pretty smart move by Erdogan, for a junior partner and lunatic that is.