NATO lost its reason for being when the Soviet Union collapsed, and so too did the rationale for Turkey’s membership. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:
The Turkish-American marriage, solemnized by Ankara’s accession to NATO in 1952, is on the rocks. The partners were ill-matched from the beginning but stayed together so long as the Soviet threat loomed and the Turkish military was in charge.
The Evil Empire, as Ronald Reagan characterized it, disappear more than three decades ago. Nearly two decades of rule by Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) have transformed Turkey. In Abraham Lincoln’s enduring words, the resulting “passion” has strained the “bonds of affection” between the two nations to the breaking point and perhaps beyond. The incoming Biden administration should stop treating Ankara as an ally and instead recognize it as the independent and often hostile power that it has become.
Tensions have long been evident. Although the AKP’s triumph in 2003 was not welcomed by Washington, which had grown comfortable with the secular nationalists who dominated Turkish politics and the generals who stood behind them, he began cautiously, using domestic liberal and foreign, especially European, support to dismantle the military-first regime. Erdogan’s early reforms won backing even from academics and feminists, who found his government more open than the ruthless nationalists replaced by the AKP. However, his professed retreat from Islamism and support for democracy was always suspect, and within a decade he acted on very different ideas.
Over time he centralized power, pushed aside old colleagues, concocted fantastic conspiracy charges against perceived enemies, deployed state agencies against opposition businessmen, detained journalists, seized critical media, arrested political opponents, and ousted opposition officials on dubious charges. He also variously used Islamism and nationalism to win increasingly unfair elections. The attempted 2016 coup became his Reichstag fire, allowing him to arrest around 100,000 people, most on contrived, often risible charges; 150,000 more were fired from public and private jobs. Hundreds of banks, businesses, schools, and other organizations were closed or confiscated.