Over the last few years, the relationship between the United States and Turkey has steadily worsened. Despite being a nominal NATO ally meant to theoretically counter Russia’s influence in Europe, the Middle East and the Caucasus, Turkey has repeatedly failed to meet its obligations to its Western friends. From invading Syria and supplying weapons to Islamist terrorist groups in the country to orchestrating a genocide of the Kurds on its southern border, Turkey has shown time and again that it does not share the progressive and democratic values of the West. Due to its belligerent aggression, Turkey should be expelled from NATO and face heavy sanctions from the United States for its belligerent aggression against its neighbors.
Even today, Turkey’s strategic objectives are totally in opposition to the United States’ priorities in the Middle East region. Turkey only became an ally because of the United States’ efforts to contain and surround the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War. In fact, the Kennedy administration agreed to remove nuclear weapons from Turkey in return for the Soviets removing their warheads from Havana during the Cuban Missile Crisis. However, after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Bush and Clinton administrations broke their promise to Prime Minister Gorbachev and reinstalled nuclear missiles in Turkey again as part of their efforts to bully Russia into submission. This strategy was a failure, and Turkey is closer to Russia today than ever before in its history.
During the Syrian Civil War, Turkey has continuously sided with Islamist terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda in Syria, by selling them American-made weapons which Turkey procures through the NATO alliance. President Trump’s successful termination of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi also occurred deep inside Turkish-allied rebel territory in northwestern Syria — a hub for Islamist extremism and anti-government violence. To make matters even worse, Turkey recently launched a brazen offensive invading northeastern Syria in the name of countering terrorism, but in reality the operation was just an excuse to continue the mass slaughter of the Kurds, a loyal American ally who sacrificed countless lives in the war against ISIS. Despite being promised an independent homeland after the conclusion of WWI by the United States, the Kurds have been continuously betrayed because politicians in Congress wanted to prioritize their military relationship with Turkey rather than fulfilling their obligations to this stateless minority. After the invasion, during which thousands of Kurdish civilians were slaughtered, ISIS prisoners escaped from their Kurdish captives, greatly endangering regional security and posing a direct threat to global peace.
The United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights has already called for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to be tried for war crimes. Turkey has also been engaging in a grotesque effort to violate our sovereignty by silencing their critics even in the United States, notoriously physically assaulting peaceful protestors during Erdogan’s 2017 visit to the White House. At this point, it has become abundantly clear that Turkey is neither friend nor ally of the U.S. or any member of the NATO alliance. Therefore, Congress’ recent decision to slap sanctions on the Turkish regime for their activities in Syria as well as an official acknowledgment of the Armenian Genocide should be commended by all Americans as a positive first step towards reigning in this dangerous menace to world peace.
However, sanctions are not enough. As long as Turkey remains a treaty ally, our reputation will continue to suffer abroad and blood will be on our hands for excusing Turkey’s malignant behavior. Only by formally severing the military relationship will the United States finally absolve its complicity in Turkey’s multitude of atrocities on its neighbors. Hopefully, the Trump administration retains the political courage to make the right decision.