Turkish President/dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan has kept the United States and the rest of his supposed NATO allies on a teeter-totter for the past year or more. But his most recent moves have exposed the harsh reality that the west is failing to deal with heading into 2020. Turkey is no longer interested in being a solid ally of the United States, NATO and the west. Erdogan’s true allegiance is to Russia and Vladimir Putin.
If that wasn’t clear before, it should be now after his response to the latest spending bill in Washington. That measure contained new sanctions on Turkey and a specific block on sales of fighter jets to them. In response, Erdogan suggested that he may shut down America’s access to the military bases at Incirlik and Kurecik. If that wouldn’t represent the final nail in the coffin of our alliance I’m not sure what would.
Turkey’s president has warned that he would evict U.S. forces from two military bases in his country if Washington imposes new sanctions on his government—creating a quandary for the NATO alliance as it seeks to cope with Ankara’s deepening ties to Russia.
In a television interview this month, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said if the U.S. punishes Turkey for its purchase of a Russian air-defense system, then, “if necessary, we may close Incirlik and Kurecik,” installations where the U.S. keeps nuclear weapons and operates critical radar.
The declaration elicited an anxious reaction from U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said it raised questions about Turkey’s dedication to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
“They have that inherent right to house or to not house NATO bases or foreign troops,” Mr. Esper said. “But again, I think this becomes an alliance matter, your commitment to the alliance, if indeed they are serious about what they are saying.”
Shutting off American and NATO access to those two bases (where we reportedly keep nuclear weapons, by the way) would almost certainly be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It wouldn’t completely end American military influence in the region, but it would make life far more difficult and deploying military force in the region would be both more expensive and logistically complicated.
But even more disturbing is the growing trend we’ve been seeing in terms of a global realignment of military power. This is something we’ve been cautioning everyone to keep an eye on for a while now. The Turkish alignment with Russia, including their purchases of missile systems and (soon) fighter jets is only one part of a larger and highly disturbing picture.
We only recently learned that Russia is teaming up with China for military exercises starting today and as of this week, they announced that Iran will be taking part as well.
China, Iran and Russia will hold joint naval drills starting on Friday in the Indian Ocean and Sea of Oman, China’s Defence Ministry said on Thursday，amid heightened tensions in the region between Tehran and Washington.
China will send the Xining, a guided missile destroyer, to the drills, which will last from Dec. 27 to 30, and is meant to deepen cooperation between the three countries’ navies, ministry spokesman Wu Qian told a monthly news briefing.
Russia and China are currently working together to push for a UN resolution that would see most sanctions on North Korea lifted. At the same time, these same two countries have taken up positions in Venezuela in support of the Maduro regime, keeping that dictator in power as well. Venezuela is impoverished and doesn’t have much in the way of military might, but they’re sitting on the largest proven reserves of crude oil on the planet and Russia now effectively owns those resources. (China also has a claim, since they’re holding so much of Venezuela’s debt.) And don’t forget that Iran still has plenty of oil as well.
So we’re looking at a rapidly solidifying alliance between Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and Venezuela. Those are three nuclear powers, with Iran threatening to quickly join that club. This combination also controls a vast amount of the oil needed to keep a military powerhouse on the move. Now they may bring Turkey into the fold, and Erdogan commands the largest standing army in NATO after the United States.
What we’re talking about here is a serious axis of evil with the potential to push their weight around wherever they choose and the economic power to finance all manner of foreign excursions. And all of this comes at a time when we can barely get our own allies in the rest of NATO to pitch in for their fair share of the common defense. Our strongest ally, Great Britain, is going broke in the middle of the Brexit mess. If you’re not getting nervous about these developments, you haven’t been paying attention.