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Turkey and the West remain far apart

23 9 26

The killing of 33 Turkish soldiers in an airstrike last month in Syra’s Idlib Province not only brought Turkey and Syria to a state of undeclared war but also worsened Ankara’s relations with Moscow. As Turkish and Russian goals in Syria seem to be at odds, there are growing expectations in some circles that this would be a good time for Ankara and the West to improve their relations, not least because Turkey will be forced to seek support from NATO, the US and Europe to break out of its isolation. The alliance duly condemned the attack on the troops after Turkey invoked Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also demanded more support from his NATO and EU allies over the war in Syria and the refugee crisis at his country’s border with Greece. According to diplomatic sources, Turkey has presented NATO with a list of 10 requests, including more air support on the Turkish-Syrian border; more reconnaissance aircraft and surveillance drones; and more ships in the eastern Mediterranean.

Professor of Political Science Lenore G Martin from Emmanuel College in Boston does not believe that NATO will respond to Turkey’s demands in a way that will bring about a confrontation with Russia. She noted that Secretary of Defence Mark Esper apparently said that the US will not provide air support for Turkey, although it is willing to supply more humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees. “Russians aren’t always good partners,” said Esper pointedly, telling us a lot about the West’s irritation over Turkey’s moves towards Moscow.

READ: Turkey’s battle in Idlib exposes US hypocrisy

However, the Idlib crisis has forced Ankara to get at least political backing from NATO as a balancing act against Russia, according to Professor Selcuk Colakoglu, Director of the Turkish Centre for Asia Pacific Studies in Ankara. “This was the first time that the Turkish government sought support from NATO in Syria since the Astana process with Russia and Iran started in January 2017,” he said.

Hence, while NATO expressed political support for Ankara, and allies agreed at least nominally to boost Turkey’s........

© Middle East Monitor