Sunday, June 23, 2024

Turkey’s relations with the West have begun to nosedive

Several of Turkey’s NATO allies are engaged in hostile activities against Ankara, the country’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu has claimed. His comment came shortly after the US issued a warning to its citizens in the country about the possibility of “imminent” terrorist attacks. 

Speaking on Thursday, Soylu said: “On the day when we announced our target to attract 60 million tourists annually, they started psychological warfare against Türkiye.”

The UK, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and several other nations also announced their decisions to temporarily shut down their respective consulates in Istanbul, citing a terrorist threat.  

Last Friday, the US diplomatic mission in the country cautioned its citizens of “possible imminent retaliatory attacks by terrorists” targeting places of worship in Turkey.

According to the message, the heightened security risk was due to fears of reprisals by extremists “in the wake of recent Koran-burning incidents in Europe.” 

The consulates of the Netherlands, the UK, Belgium, Germany and France in Istanbul announced temporary closures for security reasons a short time later. 

Soylu also singled out the US for its continued support of the YPG Kurdish militia, which Ankara suspects of being behind a deadly terrorist attack in Istanbul in November last year.   

“Don’t we know that you are hand in hand with those behind the attack on Istiklal Avenue?” the Turkish minister asked. He went on to argue that, if Turkey had acted this way, it would already be labeled a terrorist state.  

Relations between Ankara and the West have soured of late, following the Koran-burning stunt by Danish-Swedish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan late last month. Swedish authorities, which later condemned the controversial performance outside of the Turkish consulate in Stockholm, did not stop the protest at the time, citing freedom of expression. 

Following the demonstration, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it clear that Ankara would not support Sweden’s bid to join NATO. Sweden and Finland applied for membership of the US-led military bloc last May in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Since the unanimous support of all NATO member states is needed to accept new countries, the accession process has effectively been in limbo since then. 

In setting out conditions for Sweden and Finland joining the bloc, Türkiye had demanded that the two nations cease providing support to groups that Ankara has designated as terrorists, to extradite terrorism suspects, and to end their arms embargoes.

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