Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should no longer remain unpunished but should be treated as a threat and even ostracised as an enemy for betraying western interests in a pretence of partnership, wrote the Observer columnist Simon Tisdall on Sunday.
“Geography doesn’t change. Turkey wields significant influence at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East,” Tisdall said. “Yet the increasingly aggressive, authoritarian and schismatic policies pursued at home and abroad over two decades by its choleric sultan-president have upended long-cherished assumptions. Turkey’s reliability and usefulness as a trusted western ally is almost at an end.”
As Turkish elections approach in May and countries in the West are faced with critical choices concerning Ukraine, Russia, Iran, Syria and Israel-Palestine, it all comes down to one basic question, according to Tisdall: “Is it time to admit that two-faced Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is no friend of the west – and punish him accordingly?”
The Turkish president’s recent threats to block Sweden’s NATO membership bid and its accusations against the Nordic country of providing a harbour for Kurdish militants are the latest examples of Erdoğan’s hostile behaviour, Tisdall argued, as the burning of Islam’s holy book only serves to fan the fire.
The commentator added that Erdoğan has several times favoured Russia over Turkey’s NATO partners, that he continues to destabilise Syrian and Iraqi borders due to his “obsessive war on the Kurds”, and that he is getting in the way of the work of the international campaign against ISIS and attempts to establish democracy in Syria.
“If Erdoğan’s sickening schmoozing of Putin, double-dealing over Ukraine, neo-Ottoman overreaching and on-off aggression towards fellow NATO member Greece are not sufficient proof of bad faith, then consider his other war – on his country’s democracy,” said Tisdall, referring to Turkey’s economic problems under Erdoğan rule and the president’s moves to eliminate his political rivals.
“Turkey inhabits a rough neighbourhood. No one expects torrents of peace and love from its leaders. And it could be a valued ally again,” Tisdall said, concluding, “But Turkey is not indispensable. If need be, the western democracies can live safely without it – until that happy day dawns when Ankara’s cantankerous sultan is finally defenestrated and debagged.”