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NATO may have to EXPEL TURKEY 20-07-16
Erdogans purge may give Nato no choice but to expel Turkey from the alliance
By CON COUGHLIN 19 JULY 2016 • 6:01PM
Erdogan is taking his vengeance
Ever since Turkey joined Nato in 1952, its membership has been viewed as a vital bulwark in the defence of Europe against threats emanating from Russia and the Arab world.
During the Cold War, the fact that American bombers could be flying over the former Soviet Union within an hour of take-off from their Turkish bases meant the other alliance members were unswerving in the commitment to keep Turkey in Nato.
More recently the country’s proximity to the bitter conflicts raging in Iraq and Syria has again emphasised the importance of keeping Turkey within the Nato fold, especially in view of the new terror threat caused by the creation of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
Turkey’s pivotal geographical location is also the reason the US airbase at Incirlik in southern Turkey remains home to Nato’s largest nuclear weapons facility. Built by the US Army Corps of Engineers at the height of the Cold War, the facility still holds 50 B61 hydrogen bombs – each one capable of generating an explosive force 100 times greater than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
So the fact that Washington now talks openly about the possibility of suspending Turkey’s Nato membership shows just how badly relations between Ankara and its Western allies have deteriorated since last week’s ill-fated military coup.
Questions about Turkey’s continued Nato membership have been raised following the nationwide crackdown implemented by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Last week’s coup by a group of disgruntled military officers may have ended in abject failure, but another coup, one undertaken by Erdogan loyalists, is now in full swing against those deemed to be opponents of the president’s increasingly authoritarian style of government.
Yesterday it was the turn of the country’s education establishment to suffer the nationwide purge that has already seen thousands of military personnel, police and lawyers either jailed or sacked. More than 15,000 university staff were suspended over claims they backed Fethullah Gulen, a US-based cleric accused of plotting Friday’s uprising, while 1,500 university dons have been ordered to tender their resignations.
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