The tension between Germany and Turkey has reached unprecedented levels. First, Turkey has not allowed German parliamentarians to visit NATO bases in Turkey to inspect German troops. As a response, the German government has decided to move its troops to Jordan.
Then, Germany refused Turkey's demands for the extradition of Turkish officers who took part in the July 15 coup attempt while a number of German citizens are being arrested in Turkey. Ankara is accusing a number of German foundations of working against Turkey while Berlin believes some of the imams sent by Turkey's Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB) are spies. Turkey is taking precautions against companies established in Germany owned by Turks who took part in the coup attempt, but the German government sees in those precautions a boycott of German businesses.
Thankfully, the two countries do not share a border – otherwise we would worry about border skirmishes as well.
All that is happening is the result, not the cause, of the crisis. The point is that we are not sure what the fundamental reason that caused this sudden deterioration is.
Ankara points to Germany's political and practical support to the PKK and accuses the country of not backing the Turkish government's efforts to tackle the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). In response, Germany claims that Turkey is using the PKK and FETÖ as a pretext to drift away from democracy.
Turkish-German relations were not as bad as they are today even in the days when Turkey was not even close to being a democracy, so the reasons provided by Germany today are not very convincing.
It looks more like Turkey has disrupted Germany's strategic plans, and Germany has decided to punish Turkey.
Germany had adopted former U.S. President Barack Obama's policy regarding the Middle East of pulling Iran into the system, supporting the Syrian terrorist People's Protection Units (YPG) regardless of what Ankara says while closing its eyes to whether the coup succeeded or not. While some circles in the U.S. have developed close ties with high-ranking putschists, FETÖ decision makers and the YPG, Germany has backed the PKK and everyone else in Turkey who is opposed to the current government. So it provided support to some Kurdish, leftist and Alevi groups along with FETÖ.
However, there is a new administration in the U.S. now and, most importantly, the coup attempt was defeated thanks to the people's resistance. U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is far more cautious about the coup plotters, but it is still strongly supporting the YPG and Iraqi Kurdish groups. Moreover, the PKK is getting closer to the U.S., as well. We can remember a similar context in the 1990s, when the PKK's leader, Abdullah Öcalan, was being tracked around the world. Germany was accusing Turkey back then of using NATO-provided weapons against Kurdish civilians and was talking about an arms embargo. Germany was angry because it saw the PKK's control slipping from its hands and the Americans were getting more influential than ever over the terrorists.
Maybe this is happening again, i.e., terrorist players, the most precious tools in Germany's hands in the Middle East, are coming under U.S. control, mostly thanks to Turkey. In addition, the Turkish-Russian rapprochement is narrowing Germany's room to maneuver in the Caucasus. In other words, Turkey is erecting barriers to stop German influence in the Middle East and the Caucasus, and Germany is putting pressure on Turkey to lift these barriers.
Germany has preferred to bypass Turkey to fulfill its aims instead of cooperating with it, because strategic cooperation with Turkey would include admitting it into the EU. Berlin does not want that to happen.
The problem is that no one benefits from the current situation, neither Germany nor Turkey. There is probably one happy country, though, which has found the perfect opportunity for implementing its long-term strategies while leaving the European Union.
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