Turkey has been a member of NATO since the earliest days in 1952. Its current president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is now playing chummy with Iran’s mullahs and with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who’s building a multi-billion dollar nuclear reactor in Turkey.
Erdogan has also purchased a sophisticated Russian system of anti-aircraft missiles that is incompatible with NATO weapons. He also planned to purchase F-35’s from the United States until President Trump put a hold on that last summer and on training Turkish pilots.
Now, Erdogan has opened the floodgates of Syrian refugees in Turkey and sent thousands on their way to Europe, where their predecessors have created significant social tensions.
It’s true, Turkey is hosting some 3.7 million refugees from Afghanistan and the Syrian civil war next door, more than any other country in the region.
A previous flood of one million refugees entered Europe in 2015, the largest mass migration since World War II. The European Union agreed then to pay Turkey regular sums to help with costs and Turkey closed its border since 2016.
But Erdogan claims Europe has reneged on its promises and threatens to sanction Turkey for its ongoing military incursion into Syria’s Idlib province. Nearly three dozen Turkish troops were killed in clashes there in recent days.
Although recent U.S. news coverage is more concerned with South Carolina’s primary, Syrian civil war fighting has flared with Russian help.
So, late last week Erdogan let 18,000 refugees move toward the border where they clashed with Greek police while trying to break through. Turkish government spokesmen warned another half-million refugees were prepared to move soon. Some reports said refugees on the border neared 30,000 over the weekend.
‘What did we do (Friday)?” Erdogan said in Istanbul. “We opened the doors. We will not close those doors …Why? Because the European Union should keep its promises.”
All of which suits Putin just fine since it fuels turmoil throughout his nemesis, the NATO alliance, while an inattentive U.S. concerns itself with Democratic domestic politics.