I hear you saying, "What?", "Is Turkey contemplating leaving NATO?" No, it is not. Then what the heck is all that talk about a "NATO without Turkey?" It is a possibility of a probable political and military development in the region.
In politics, if somebody talks about the possibility of a development it doesn't mean necessarily that the development is probable. On May 15, 1919, four days prior to Mustafa Kemal landing in Samsun to initiate what later turned out to be known as the War of Independence, U.S. Navy ships started to transport The National Guard Command "Bizani" infantry unit of the Hellenic Army to İzmir. When the Metropolitan of İzmir (Chrysostomos of Smyrna) blessed the troops as they arrived at 8 a.m. in the morning, U.S. Navy commanders watched the parades, dances, music and bonfires as part of the celebration that continued for one full week. At that time, who could have imagined that in a mere 20 years Turkey and the United States would be bosom-buddies at the Cairo Conference in December 1943?
Thanks to the communist rebellion after the war in Greece, the U.S. began looking for a stable ally against "communist Russia" in the region. The U.S. State Department remembered a secret report by British union leader (and later Foreign Secretary) Ernest Bevin's heart-to-heart with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin about the "Soviet demands on Turkey." The report would have alarmed even the most cold-blooded Turkish politician because "Comrade Stalin clearly stated that the Soviet Union wanted to have large Turkish territories and the straits put under Soviet control." A report coming from the new friends who benevolently allowed Turkey to declare war on Germany at such a late date and accepted the country tender-heartedly into the United Nations could not be wrong: "Only the Western alliance can save Turkey from those Soviet ambitions." Consequently, the Truman Doctrine in 1947 declared a security guarantee for Turkey and Greece, which opened the way to U.S. military and economic support.
In due course these guarantees evolved into a "model relationship" and a "strategic partnership." Until the United States opted to leave Turkey alone in the fight against Daesh last week, that is.
Turkey somehow knew it would come to this simply because the U.S. kept supplying arms and ammunition (as well as uniforms, boots and other military supplies) to their "boots on the ground." U.S. President Barack Obama would not send U.S. combat troops to Syria for it could harm his fellow Democrat in the coming elections, so he declared the Democratic Union Party (PYD) as its partner in Syria. Meanwhile, U.S. armaments had been used to create several PYD cantons on Syrian territory, much to Turkey's chagrin. Turkey objected. The PYD is another alphabet soup for the PKK terror organization. Turkey's objections wouldn't matter "because Turkey always needs our support against the Russians."
Well, guess what? The Russians are not what Turkey has been made to believe they were back in 1946, and there was no need for a deterrent. If Turkey is not in it, then what is NATO?
A turkey dinner without gravy? Tasteless but possible. If not probable.
About the author
Hakkı Öcal is an award-winning journalist. He currently serves as academic at Ibn Haldun University.