DEBATE / TURKEY – Berlin tired of Erdogan’s eccentricities

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The row between the German Chancellor Merkel and the Turkish President Erdogan has reached a new low, as Berlin is set to pull out its troops fighting the Islamic State from Turkey, leaving the Incirlik airbase.

Several factors lie behind the withdrawal. Relations have been tense since Turkey’s support in favour of the IS during the siege of Kobane. The German parliament recognized the Armenian genocide and provided safe haven for members participating in the 2015 coup attempt. Germany has also been a staunch supporter of Kurdish forces fighting in Syria which Ankara labels as terrorists. Moreover, Turkish businessmen have been buying oil from the Islamic State.

If that wasn’t enough, on Tuesday, Turkey refused members of the German parliament to visit soldiers stationed in the base because (according to Ankara) the relationship needs to improve.

The German cabinet then decided to redeploy the troops to Jordan, but the Bundestag has to vote on the issue first as the army falls under their jurisdiction. If it goes through, Incirlik would only house the US Airforce in the fight against the Islamic State and no other Coalition partner.

Turkey’s continued relationship with the NATO members is coming under mounting scrutiny, as well. After the referendum, only the Trump administration and Viktor Orbán from Hungary congratulated Erdogan’s win, while most of the West was against the President gaining more power. Donald Trump has called on more action from NATO in combatting terrorism (and oddly migration), which would require a unified response – signs are pointing in the other direction.

Turkey’s isolation also means that there is a shift in its role in the Syrian civil war.

Jordan has welcomed Coalition partners with open arms and is allowing the ‘train and equip’ program both inside its borders and in Syria.

Will Turkey’s gamble pay off in the long run?

What will be the next eccentricity of Erdogan?

And what will happen if the West decides to support a regional Kurdish government in Syria after the fall of ISIS?

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Noel Daniel Vig

Political Scientist-Director of The Maghreb and Orient Courier Editions

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