MER – Turkey’s growing irrelevance

Turkey’s growing irrelevanceTurkeyand#39s regional context has never been as chaotic. There are civil wars in three major countries close to the country.

One of these wars involves a major superpower with nuclear weapons that has invaded a country that wants to join the European Union and NATO. There is an intense debate in Europe about how to deal with Russiaand#39s territorial ambitions over Ukraine.

Despite the fact that Turkey is the most important NATO country in the region, there is hardly any mention of Turkeyand#39s relevance in that conflict. When there is any notice of what Turkey is up to in this crisis, it is often in the context of strong Turkish-Russian economic relations.

What about the two other countries plagued by unending civil wars? In Syria, a Western and regional alliance led by the United States is engaged in a military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Turkey is the most important NATO country in the region and has the most important American air base.

It is also the most important Muslim country in the transatlantic alliance. Turkish citizens and diplomats have been taken hostage by ISIL in the past.

Yet, there is no active military Turkish participation in the anti-ISIL coalition. For months the United States has been asking for the use of its own air base in order to fight a barbaric terrorist organization that clearly threatens Turkey and Turkish citizens.

Despite the urgency of the fight against ISIL, the Turkish answer about the use of Incirlik is andquotno.andquot This is the same country that watched without lifting a finger the battle for Kobani between Syrian Kurds and ISIL.

Finally, there is the never-ending civil war in Iraq and Turkeyand#39s irrelevance in helping to find solutions. In the summer, when ISIL came close to taking Arbil, the capital of Iraqand#39s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), after its annexation of Mosul, Turkey was nowhere to be seen in sending urgently needed military support to its Kurdish allies.

Iran, on the other hand, sent two airplanes full of military equipment and one of its top commanders, Qassem Suleimani, to help the peshmerga Now that there is an Iraqi campaign to take back lost territories, the global media is full of stories of how Iran is at the forefront of the military campaign. Turkey is once again missing in action.

At this point, I wonder if Washington is even bothering to inform Ankara about the details of its nuclear talks with Iran.Beyond these three civil wars where Turkey is irrelevant, there is not much Turkish presence elsewhere in the region.

The fact that Turkey no longer has ambassadors in Egypt, Israel and Syria speaks for itself. Add to this picture the reality of a country where the president is violating the Constitution on daily basis by acting in a partisan way, a Parliament that is legislating a draconian internal security bill and an economy plagued by monetary instability and corruption.

Now ask yourself why the Turkish prime minister, who visited New York last week, did not even bother to come to Washington. We are talking about a NATO ally surrounded by three civil wars where America is engaged in military campaigns and coercive diplomacy.

Is there nothing to talk about? The answer is simple: Turkey has become largely irrelevant. It is time to admit that we can no longer call this state of affairs andquotprecious loneliness.

andquot If a Turkish prime minister visits the US for the first time after assuming office and the US State Department spokesperson says she is unaware, this is no longer about being lonely in a precious way it is rather a largely deserved state of marginalization, isolation and irrelevance.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman