Turkey is one of the most important members of NATO and has its second largest military. It played a very important part during the Cold War by protecting the alliance's southern flank. After 2001, it supported NATO's Afghanistan mission, sending thousands of its troops. It was in the front lines of the fight against terror and suffered its consequences, becoming the target of dozens of terrorist attacks.
After decades side by side, there are some allies that are troubled by Turkey's membership. Aware that the charter of the organization precludes Turkey's dismissal, they prefer to harass it so much that it will quit on its own. If that is what they are after, they are sorely mistaken. Turkey will continue to be an integral part of the alliance and will patiently fight back against all efforts of bullying and injustice.
However, the conduct of some members will continue to harm the alliance itself, and they are blind to the fact that without Turkey, as a geo-political heavyweight and a regional lynchpin, NATO will face significant problems in the near future.
The world's strongest security alliance seems impotent and confused when confronted with the dangers of our time.
There is also some legitimacy to the severe criticisms directed by the Turkish public toward NATO. The public believes NATO has practically deserted Turkey against the many security threats it faces. If NATO fails to adapt to the new age we are in and becomes a more efficient organization, it will, unfortunately, soon start to lose the trust of the publics of other alliance members.
The recent spate of public diplomacy disasters by NATO and the West toward Turkey could have been seen as flukes only if they had not followed similar "slip-ups" before. The increased frequency of these disasters give the impression that these are intentional, not coincidental.
The insulting way President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was portrayed as the enemy in NATO documents during a recent drill in Norway seems more like mistakes made on purpose. At least that is what the Turkish public thinks.
Such a scandalous act committed by NATO officials makes one doubt the competence and trustworthiness of the alliance personnel and the efficiency of their intelligence network. How can the photos of Turkey's founder end up in a guide book depicting NATO's enemies? How can an account be opened in the name of Erdoğan, who is portrayed as being in cahoots with the enemy? How can such "mistakes" slip by so many eyes to become part of a drill?
Such conduct not only casts a shadow on NATO's efficiency and security, it also gives ammunition to the critics who want to harm this alliance.
Turks demand NATO to prove that it truly values their participation in the alliance. An investigation into those responsible for these blunders and their superiors is a start. Rather than spreading misinformation about Turkey, NATO should start explaining what it plans to do about the two failed states exporting chaos on our southern border.
If NATO officials and experts find themselves clueless about what is going on, they are welcome to visit dailysabah.com or purchase our paper to get an idea. That way, they may prevent the repeat of scandals such as attacking leaders seen as heroes by the Turkish public.
It might seem naïve to complain about NATO at a time when the U.S. openly supports groups it recognizes as terrorist, while Europe, as a whole, hosts all kinds of terrorist groups as long as they profess animosity toward Turkey. Even though Turkey believes in NATO and what it stands for, it will do everything in its power to defend its sovereignty and citizens. This is behind the policies followed by Erdoğan, which some foreigners view as independent. When all its allies seem to be in cooperation with one terrorist or another, independence means truly fighting terror in all its forms. This is why Erdoğan's policies have public support.
Still, Turkey and NATO need to find ways to strengthen this alliance and this should start by stopping efforts to sabotage each other simply because we oppose a policy. Previous attempts have domestically strengthened Erdoğan and current ones like the NATO scandals and the Zarrab case in the U.S., will increase his public support even more.
Turkey will resist all harassment through cool and sound diplomacy while being a dependable NATO ally while pursuing security partners from outside the alliance as an antidote to the polarization that is poisoning the world order.
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