Following the accession of Turkey to Nato in 1952, the newly elected Turkish leader at the time, Adnan Menderes, expressed his desire for his government to be the western military alliance’s “backbone”. Nearly 70 years later, Turkey has changed fundamentally. Out of the 30 members of Nato, Turkey is one of the oldest, but now the most isolated. The long-awaited meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US President Joe Biden at the latest Nato summit this week was, in a nutshell, an anti-climax.
Turkey once had unconditional loyalty to Nato, and used its strategic location to prove its importance to the organisation. In 1955, it joined the Baghdad Pact, a Nato-backed regional alliance with Britain, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan, aimed at preventing a Soviet Union infiltration of the Middle East. The next year, Turkey stood by Britain against Egypt during the Suez crisis. Simon Smith, in his book Reassessing Suez 1956, wrote that Menderes’s government did not regard the Suez Canal dispute as a bilateral problem between the UK and Egypt, but one that concerned Nato’s entire strategy. Menderes argued: “Turkey is convinced that the UK is acting as a guardian of one of the key positions of the free world.”
Under the leadership of Mr Erdogan, however, Turkey has turned 180 degrees away from its unified accord with its Nato allies. Turkey, like other non-western members of the bygone Baghdad Pact, Iran and Pakistan, has adopted its own version of Islamist nationalism, while demonstrating degrees of suspicion and hostility towards the western world.
Read more: The National