If NATO allies won’t back multi-front war, “Turkey will take it in its own hands” – Erdoğan
Shortly after being received as a veritable guest of honor at Monday’s NATO summit in Brussels, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan joined his “brother” Ilham Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan, in a visit to the city of Shusha/Shushi in Nagorno-Karabakh, conquered last year by the latter with the assistance of the former. On the occasion of the joint visit the two leaders announced a declaration of bilateral cooperation primarily focused on defense and military components.
Afterward Erdoğan addressed the press in Azerbaijan’s capital of Baku and laid down the law to his NATO allies regarding support for his war against what he terms terrorism – by which he meant Kurds – in his own nation, Syria and Iraq (and perhaps tomorrow Iran). Regarding the results of the NATO summit, he said that Turkey “conveyed its expectations on regional issues to its allies.” He went on to assert that if that assistance is not forthcoming Turkey “will take matters into its own hands,” the governments of Syria and Iraq and international law notwithstanding.
In language suggesting the activation of NATO’s Article 5 mutual military assistance provision, he added: “We expect them to respect our country’s sovereign rights and security sensitivities. We want them to display solidarity, which is a necessity of the spirit of an alliance.”
Turkey has already succeeded in having NATO invoke its Article 4 for consultation and intervention four times: against Iraq in 2003 and against Syria twice in 2012 and once in 2020. NATO deployed Patriot missile batteries to Turkey in 1991, 2003 and 2012. They remain there, manned by U.S., German and Dutch military personnel to this day.
There has been discussion over the past five years of activating Article 5 at Turkey’s request and behest. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised Turkey ahead of the summit* and NATO expressed gratitude for its role in assisting Syrian refugees in the summit’s communiqué. Turkey has every reason to expect, and exact, NATO’s support, as it’s been able to secure it in the past.
In fact Erdoğan said he expects such assistance for his wars in Syria and Iraq – as the Turkish press reminded its readers – shortly after meeting one-on-one with U.S. President Joe Biden on the sidelines at NATO headquarters.
The Daily Sabah reported that he also met with the presidents of France, Latvia and Lithuania and the prime ministers of Britain, Germany, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands and Spain.
While in Baku he revealed that he had presented those heads of state and government with an “exclusive book” on Turkey’s alleged war against terrorism (that is, war against Kurds) entitled “Turkey’s Fight Against Terrorism.” The newspaper said that the volume was “highly welcomed” by among others U.S. President Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
In has not been the Turkish leader’s manner to refrain from confronting any nation in the world in recent years – for example, he steadfastly demands Russia give up Crimea and stop supporting the Donetsk and Lugansk republics in eastern Ukraine – and he was uncompromising in denouncing the other of NATO’s two-largest member states, the U.S.. for its support of the ethnic Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Syria. said: “I believe this: We will solve our problem by our own means. There is no other way. We trust our security forces and we are strong,” while emphasizing that Turkey has “proven its capacity” in Libya and Syria. “I have spoken all these things openly with Mr. Biden.”
In the event the U.S. and other NATO allies were slow on the uptake, he added – hours after leaving territory in the Caucasus recently conquered by his Azerbaijani client and his own armed forces – “We have proven our power in Syria and Libya and will continue to do so.”
Turkey continues a policy of browbeating and strong-arming, from Syria to Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh to Cyprus, Iraq to Yemen, Afghanistan to the Eastern Mediterranean. Even the U.S. and NATO are being given orders and ultimatums. As disturbing as anything else, that policy is working.
*“You can just look at the map and realize the importance of these lands, the landmass of Turkey. And also the only country, the only NATO Ally that borders Iraq and Syria.”