Turkey is a strange player in the Middle East. The country is the core of the old Ottoman Empire which spread as recently as World War 1 from Asia Minor to the Persian Gulf and south almost to present day Sudan. But World War 1 ended Ankara’s centuries long dominance of the region.
After World War 2 Turkey joined NATO in the Cold War. It was a stalwart ally of the West. It was even an “ally” of Israel. But in the years since the Soviet breakup, and especially with the emergence of Erdogan, it has drifted from the West and has gotten cozier with Russia. Turkey is also now reasserting itself in corners of the world over which it once had control.
But as the Syrian civil war spiraled out of control and Daesh swept across Iraq, other forces gathered to disrupt the relationship. As the US worked with Kurdish forces to help destroy Daesh, Turkey grew increasingly angry with the US and has edged closer and closer to Russia, raising fundamental questions about Turkey’s NATO membership. And, of course, Turkey has other interests in the Middle East. All this has helped poison relations between the two states. Today, distrust of Turkey is the norm among high-ranking officials in the Israel defense industries and in the defense establishment. “With Turkey’s new friends, we better stay aside,” one of them told Breaking Defense.
Another said: “We cannot trust Turkey now. Should this country be shown the way out of NATO? What is the alternative?”…
…Another proof of the increasingly close relations with Russia, more than 50 percent of a pipeline that will supply Turkey with Russian natural gas under the Turkish Stream project has been completed. The Turkish Stream project envisages the construction of two pipelines, each 939 kilometers long. The natural gas provided by the first pipeline alone will meet 35 percent of Turkey’s natural gas consumption.
Finally, Russian companies will build Turkey’s first nuclear power plant. Work begins this year, Erdogan said recently.