Turkey Is Now A Rising Threat
The nation of Turkey has been on a collision course with Western powers in recent years. Since 2012, Recep Erdogan has been clearing the path for full dictatorial rule. Wielding the 8th largest military in the world, Turkey's defiance is raising concerns and rattling NATO.
Bolstered by last month's election victory, Erdogan is expected to further entrench division among NATO's member nations and other Western powers that have long considered Turkey a friend.
In June, Moody's put Turkey under review for a possible credit downgrade, inciting anger from Erdogan, who threatened to “conduct an operation” against the international rating agency. This follows Erdogan's escalating criticisms of the United States and European nations, which has caused officials within NATO to privately explore contingency plans for Turkey's possible exit from the alliance.
Tensions between the United States and Turkey began to escalate in February, when US officials threatened to return fire against Turkish troops in Syria in the event of a strike against US-allied Kurdish forces. In response, Erdogan threatened an “Ottoman Slap”.
Following Erdogan's pubic remarks, lawmakers in Congress began talking of possible sanctions and visa-bans on Turkish officials.
The United States and Turkey have reached a cross-road in Syria, where American officials are faced with choosing to stand by Kurdish forces while angering an increasingly more hostile Turkey, or distancing American interests from the Kurds to prevent a further deterioration in relations.
As for now, Turkey remains opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Asad, which further benefits the American strategy in the region. Rising tensions between Ankara and Washington threaten to harm US operations in Syria, but the mutually beneficial goals of both Turkey and the United States in Syria offer some comfort for lawmakers in Washington.
It is rising tensions and provocations from Turkey against US and European allies that are causing sleepless nights in Washington.
Earlier this year, Turkey threatened sanctions against Israel for its treatment of Palestine. In May, at a rally in Bosnia, Erdogan told a camp of migrant workers that European democracy has failed and that the European Union was trying to sabotage Turkey and Turkish interests around the world.
Other nations that have been caught in Erdogan's cross-hairs this year include Kosovo, Cyprus and Greece.
In February, Erdogan's aide, Yigit Bulut, threatened to “break the arms and legs” of Greece over the disputed region of Imia. Similar threats were extended to Cyprus by the Erdogan regime over the same region. One month later, Erdogan himself sent a public threat to Kosovo's Prime Minister, Ramush Haradinaj, saying, “You will pay the price for harboring those people who tried to perpetuate a coup against Turkey.”
After his re-election, officials in Turkey's central bank are fearing a takeover or shake-up that could see Erdogan influencing the nation's monetary policies. Turkey's recent economic woes have compelled Erdogan to make a pre-election promise to “deal with” national interest rates.
Officials in DC fear that the Lira's latest collapse and Turkey's climbing inflation rate could push Erdogan to take drastic economic and military actions to bolster and strengthen the nation's prospects in the coming months.
Some in Washington fear the Trump administration's lack of predictability could inflame tensions between Turkey should Erdogan take aggressive steps in Syria, Europe and the Middle East before December.