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Soon Turkey May Be Treated as West’s Rogue Partner, Risking Containment

By Yavuz Baydar

Every day that passes, it becomes harder for the Turkey observers to make sense on whether or not the ruling AKP under the iron fist of President Erdoğan has any strategy at all.

One of the analysts is Marc Pierini, a veteran diplomat, who admits that the chain of events surpassed his recent comments rapidly:

A mere month ago, I wrote that policies since Turkey’s failed coup attempt in July 2016 were taking the country into bigger dangers due to unsafe domestic choices and foreign adventures. In retrospect, this was a mild assessment. In the span of one month, Turkey has passed several danger thresholds.

What will be the consequences of Turkey’s worsening relationships with the USA, EU and NATO, now that almost all boundaries have been overstepped?

Pierini lines up four points:

  • European tolerance and leniency with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is over.
  • EU governments under attack are now countering the Turkish president with tough rebukes, as a matter of principle and as a defense of their democracies. Doing nothing has become politically unsustainable.
  • The only component of the EU-Turkey relationship that may have made progress in the short term—the customs union—is now in jeopardy in several EU capitals. If no progress is made, EU business will potentially lose some advantages, but Turkish business will lose a lot more at the worst possible time for the country.
  • Western military and intelligence community will alter its general assessment of Turkey. With unchecked authoritarianism growing by the day, the rule of law systematically dismantled, state hostages occurring here and there, blunt political interference taking place, and the military vastly disrupted, Turkey may increasingly appear to be a rogue partner. Over time, and despite occasional appeasing words, that may even lead to a policy of containment.

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