Anti-President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan propaganda has been prevalent lately in Western media outlets. Especially since the Gezi Park protests, hardly any positive news report has been released about the Turkish government. However, avoiding the subject and taking these reports for granted is not a constructive approach. I believe that the government has left this space empty, which is a big mistake in my opinion.
The latest example of this negative attitude is an editorial on Turkey published in The New York Times on the weekend. The article is entitled "Turkey's Drift from NATO." It argues that Turkey has put distance between itself and NATO in three ways. The first argument is that Turkey has not cooperated sufficiently with NATO allies and the international coalition on confronting the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). This argument has been suggested for months. But it is odd that the article does not present any tangible findings or proof supporting this argument. It only included a remark of a smuggler previously covered in a report by Tim Arango and Eric Schmidt saying: "Completely shutting down the long border may be impossible, but given the country's large military and well-regarded intelligence service, it is inexcusable that Turkey is not doing a better job." The smuggler said that even though his job has become more difficult, sometimes Turkish border guards look the other way. This is all the evidence that is presented. Some attempt to support this argument with the claim that Erdoğan has become increasingly authoritarian. What relation does this bear to ISIS? It is not possible to understand unless you read the rest of the article. The next paragraph reveals the purpose. It says: "Turkey should also be making military bases and troops available to the American-led coalition." Does this mean that Erdoğan would suddenly transform from an authoritarian to a democratic figure in their eyes if Turkey joins this war?
But the army completely controls the borders via their cameras. It is said that the situation the smuggler mentioned can happen at customs gates at border crossings. By controlling its borders and opening its bases for logistical support, Turkey has actually provided solid support in fighting ISIS. For instance, it recently allowed peshmerga forces from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq to cross into Kobani through Turkey and provided treatment to those who were injured across the border. Could Kobani have been saved from ISIS if not for Turkey?
Let's look at the other claims. The article says that an air defense system will be bought from China and that it cannot be integrated with NATO's system. However, this subject has been discussed for a long time. According to the latest data, four offers have been tendered: the China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corporation (CPMIEC), Russia's Rosoboronexport, French-Italian joint Eurosam and U.S.-based Raytheon. The U.S. and Russia were eliminated at the beginning due to high prices, and China and France-Italia remained. Though China seems the most advantageous party, it is said that the French-Italian bid has begun to be favored. So it is by no means certain that the air defense system will be bought from China. Besides, the other option is becoming more prominent and it has already been announced that it could be integrated with NATO even if it is bought from China.
The article lastly mentions the gas agreement made with Russia. It is argued that Turkey goes in the opposite direction from the West on the matter of Ukraine.
In brief, the editorial published in The New York Times covertly says the U.S. wants Turkey to act completely in accordance with the demands of the U.S. and Israel. But this does not mean that we should ignore the article. The perception of Turkey around the world will continue to be subverted as Turkey creates its own position by getting stronger and defying the U.S. and Israel if required. Strong rhetoric that can be understood by the West must be used to change this.