Samil Tayyar, a deputy for the ruling AKP Party of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, denounced NATO as a “terror organization” in a weekend interview.
“Turkey has been subjected to coups since it joined NATO. NATO has always been in charge of the dirty and bloody deeds in the country. The 1960 military coup was staged by the British, the 1971 coup was staged by the CIA, and the 1980 coup was staged by NATO. In NATO’s new plan, a Turkey with Erdogan should not exist,” Tayyar charged, as reported by Hurriyet Daily News.
“NATO has become a threat and is spreading terror organizations across the region,” he continued. “You can designate NATO along with Daesh, the PKK, and FETO.”
“Daesh” is another name for ISIS, the PKK is the insurgent Kurdish separatist organization Turkey has been fighting for years, and FETO is the “Fethullah Terror Organization,” the Erdogan government’s preferred name for the followers of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom it accuses of masterminding the failed coup last July. In other words, Tayyar threw just about every insult he could think of at NATO.
He called NATO a “product of the Cold War era” and said it was not necessary for Turkey to remain a member, “as it has turned into a structure threatening Turkey rather than protecting it.”
Tayyar followed up with the ominous suggestion, floated by some other Turkish authorities, that NATO might be denied further use of Incirlik Air Base.
He also read from his party’s political hymn book by demanding the extradition of Gulen from the United States as a condition for improved relations with the new Trump administration, and by accusing the United States of supporting “terrorist organizations” in Syria. President Erdogan himself accused the U.S. of supporting ISIS in December, although when Turkish politicians complain of Western support for terror organizations, they are often referring to the Kurds.
Turkey has been complaining about NATO’s reluctance to provide air support for Turkish ground operations in Syria. If NATO conducted such missions, it would end up dropping bombs on the West’s primary military allies in Syria, the Kurds. The intensity of Turkish rhetoric about the U.S. and its European allies supporting terrorism increased significantly after that, and Turkey recently began conducting joint operations with Russia in Syria.
The spectacle of a NATO member conducting joint airstrikes with Russia is disconcerting, to say the least. In a recent look at Turkey’s prospects for quitting NATO, Al-Monitor noted that Russian economic and military planners have been leaning on Turkey to do just that, as a precondition for joining a sort of Russian alternative to the European Union, known as the SCO.
Erdogan, in turn, has been signaling his receptiveness to competitive offers from Russia for years, by describing the process of joining the European Union as slow torture. At least one Russian politician has claimed Erdogan personally asked him for help joining the SCO and has indicated a willingness to abandon NATO to do so. The eagerness of other AKP Party members to trash NATO might be an indicator of how far along the conversation between Erdogan and Russia has come.