The ordinary Turk in the street is asking where Turkey fits in the Western alliance as we host the foreign ministers spring meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Turkey has for decades been known as a loyal NATO ally, shouldering all responsibilities and chores and at times even doing more than is asked, all for the security of the West.
During the Cold War period, Turkey, serving as a flank country, did more than its share to bolster security in the free world. When the Cold War ended, Turkey continued to help out with all kinds of menaces that confronted the free world.
Turkey saw the great danger of terrorism facing the West and moved with its allies to put out the fire in Afghanistan. Now Turkey has taken on providing security at Kabul International Airport and has also helped to build bridges between NATO and the Muslim Afghan tribes.
As a Muslim country with a contemporary outlook and a strong socio-economic structure, Turkey has become an asset for the West, as we can see with terrorist groups like al-Qaida and now the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria.
As a unique country that has shown to the world that Islam and democracy can go hand in hand, Turkey has also championed the cause of Islam as a religion of peace and compassion and feels that it holds the key to the fight against these terrorist groups, who have hijacked the good name of Islam to legitimize their cruel causes. Turkey's Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB), under the leadership of Professor Mehmet Görmez, has used its offices to train moderate men of Islam who preach at mosques in Europe and teach true Islam, which is peaceful and compassionate and thus counter to the religious extremist imams in European countries who work to recruit potential ISIS fanatics. But instead of supporting the DİB we see countries like Austria legislating laws to scuttle the DİB and play into the hands of extremist Islamic clergy. We also see them paying lip service to those promoting Islamophobia.
Turks feel let down at times seeing that the West has not treated them as partners and the allies have preferred to see Turks as pawns to do their dirty work.
Many Turks today question why the West has gone out of its way to intervene against al-Qaida but have been reluctant to take any meaningful steps regarding Syria, which is a serious menace for Turkey in more ways than one.
Syria is a destabilizing factor for Turkey and yet NATO has not done much to eliminate the sources of the threat in that country. The Bashar Assad regime has driven 1.7 million refugees to Turkey and Turks have worked miracles spending $5.6 billion to host these people while all the help it has received from the international community has only been a bit more than $350 million. The Assad regime has tried to destabilize Turkey's Hatay region, even sponsoring bomb attacks. And what has NATO done to help out? Yes, NATO has sent Patriot missiles to protect Turkey against Scud missile attacks from Assad but those missiles cannot feed the Syrian refugees or prevent the social repercussions of the presence of these migrants in Turkish society.
So Turks are seriously questioning why they have been left on their own and why NATO is not taking steps to bring law and order to Syria where Assad continues to butcher his own people. We are required everywhere from Bosnia to Afghanistan. But then why are we left alone in Syria?
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