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Turkey’s Turn toward Russia Could Threaten NATO

April 27 2017

Over the past few years, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made efforts to improve relations with Russia; despite rocky moments, the two countries do indeed appear to be moving closer. Michael Rubin warns of the consequences:

Putin approaches diplomacy not as an exercise in finding win-win solutions but rather as a zero-sum game: a partnership with Turkey cannot be only about diplomacy but must have the effect of permanently separating it from the West. Here, Erdogan, who holds the West in disdain because of its support for Turkey’s old secularist order, plays his part. Even as Turkish and Western diplomats and military officials pay lip service to [shared commitments], Erdogan has fed Turks a steady stream of hatred and conspiracy theories directed at the West in general and at NATO in particular. . . . Russian political and conspiracy theorist Aleksandr Dugin appears more often in the Turkish press than does the U.S. ambassador.

The Turkish military tilt toward Russia has gone beyond the symbolic. As depicted by Turkish diplomats and Western reporters, the [ongoing] purge of Turkish military officers is directed against followers of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, but Turkish officers with significant service in NATO have been as great a target, if not greater. To have served in NATO commands is now seen by Turkish officers as a ticket to prison, not promotion. Earlier this month, Turkey and Russia held joint naval exercises. . . .

As Erdogan seizes the power to guide Turkey from the West and toward a broader partnership with Russia, the problem for the United States is not that Turkey could leave NATO but that it might not. NATO is run by consensus, and Turkey could act as a Trojan horse, paralyzing all decision-making and effectiveness. NATO has no mechanism to expel a member that drifts away from the alliance’s political or democratic norms. The danger goes farther, however. Turkey is a partner on the F-35 joint-strike fighter and seeks to purchase what the Pentagon sees as the next generation of its airpower. To send or sell any F-35s to Turkey now is to risk provision of cutting-edge military technology and codes to Russia and China.

Read more at National Review

More about: NATO, Politics & Current Affairs, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Russia, Turkey, U.S. Foreign policy

 

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen