Turkey’s post-coup reverberations
Muhammad Jamil
9/12/2016

 

Turkey had introduced economic, social and political reforms, taken steps to liberalise its economy, and achieved more than eight percent economic growth in 2007, which was more than any other member-country of the EU.

Turkey’s relations with the US were already strained due to latter’s support for the Syrian Kurdish militia groups known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which are closely linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkey views the YPG as terrorists, and has many a time asked America to stop pampering and supporting them, but the US administration refuses to do so. After the July 15 coup, the Turkish government alleged that the coup was planned in the US by Fatehullah Gulen, calling him a CIA asset, and that Incirlik NATO’s airbase in Turkey was used for refuelling the rebels’ planes midair.
Now Turkey demands extradition of Gulen, which the US simply won’t do. In this backdrop, the Turkish government is trying to woo the Russian Federation showing its card of alternative policy options. And one day, the US could lose an old and staunch ally in the Middle East and West Asia.
Though the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has Islamist roots, its members show remarkable tolerance to other religions and those having different points of view. It had taken far-reaching reforms that stabilised the economy to ensure that Turkey’s membership talks with the European Union (EU) continued. However, some European countries do not wish to see Turkey in EU’s fold although they claim to be the continent of diverse people, races and religions united by ideas and ideals. Nevertheless, the EU members always found some excuse to stall the talks for Turkey’s membership.
In December 2006, some EU members expressed indignation over Turkey’s refusal to use its ports for the Greek Cypriot traffic. They were of the view that Turkey was under a legal obligation to treat all EU countries equally, but Turkey demanded that the EU must lift its trade embargo on Turkey’s northern Cyprus.
But there is something more to it. Berlin and Paris often expressed apprehensions that Turkey’s entry would dilute the bloc’s Christian identity. But now it looks like that the chapter of Turkey’s entry in the EU is closed, especially after Erdogan’s statement that “Turkey is not dying for EU membership.” As a matter of fact, the formal talks initiated in October 2005 about Turkey’s membership of the EU had already foundered. Some member countries were of the view that Turkey was a poor country as compared to other countries of the EU, while others highlighted its cultural differences with the rest of Europe. Nevertheless, Turkey had introduced economic, social and political reforms, taken steps to liberalise its economy, and achieved more than eight percent economic growth in 2007, which was more than any other member-country of the EU.
Indeed, Turkey is the founder member of NATO. After Britain, Turkey’s army is second biggest in NATO, and has played a commendable role as its strong arm. The Incirlik Airbase in southeast Turkey, houses NATO’s largest nuclear weapons storage facility.
The question arises that if Turkey can be a part of alliance for the security of Europe why not in economic, social and other spheres. There is also a perception that EU members do not wish to have a Muslim country in EU’s fold. Though they pretend to be broadminded, enlightened and tolerant of other religions, but in fact they are not, which Turkey now understands. Of course, it is too premature to rush to judgment that Turkey would withdraw from NATO, as both the US and Turkey see their interests best served by sticking together. However, the relations between Turkey and the US are at the lowest ebb after the last coup.
The US is likely to lose another old ally in this region. Pakistan has had a chequered history of relations with the US. Pakistan claims that it has been sincere with the US, and during 1950s to 1980s had discharged its obligations under the defence pacts signed or understanding reached with the US and the west. But every time the so-called allies achieved their objectives, they ditched Pakistan. The US entered into a civil nuclear agreement with India, but refused to sign a similar agreement with Pakistan. America’s pressure on Pakistan to “do more” irks Pakistan’s civil and military leadership. However, coercive policies of the US could lead to loss of strategic allies in the region. If Turkey has responded to the coercive tactics of the White House by showing an inclination to join the Eurasian bloc, other states in the region could follow suit.
That point aside, Pakistan has always wished to maintain long-term, multi-faceted and durable strategic ties with the US for the realisation of shared objectives. However, Pakistan had taken the position that mutual respect and co-operation at military, intelligence and diplomatic levels should be the hallmark of relations between the two countries. Members of the US administration and US generals have been pushing Pakistan to do more, despite the fact that Pakistan has lost more than 50,000 people and 5,000 security personnel since joining the war on terror. Yet, they often say that Pakistan must be sensitive to US security interests. The question is if Pakistan has not been doing that, what has it been doing since the US invasion of Afghanistan, and that too even to the detriment of its own national interests? In 1960, Pakistan had a close brush of being bombed back into the Stone Age by the enraged Soviet Union after it downed a U-2 spy plane.
In the arena are arrayed the EU and the US against Russia, which has already taken the Crimean peninsula, and is now eyeing the Russian speaking eastern Ukraine, where the natives agitated for joining the customs union with Russia. China has a dispute over islands in the South China Sea with west’s allies, but in July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected China’s claim. “The landmark arbitration ruling in July, which is binding, helped clarify maritime rights in the region,” President Barack Obama told a summit of Asian leaders in Laos on Thursday. Beijing has vowed to ignore the verdict. Both China and Russia appear to have a desire to limit American power. And one can infer from the changing political landscape that the world is moving towards a new cold war and a multipolar world.