As the war rages, NATO members in eastern Europe fear they could be next in Moscow's crosshairs. Finland and Sweden have asked to join the transatlantic alliance. And Turkey, a member since 1952, treated the occasion as a visit to the bazaar, demanding that Stockholm deal with Ankara's Kurdish critics in exchange for its acquiescence. Why is Turkey still considered an ally of the US?
Biden, of course, insists there is no quid pro quo involved, but his proposal comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dropped his objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO. Nor is that all. Earlier this year, the Biden administration proposed selling missiles and radars to Turkey. The plan is said to have faced "stiff headwinds" in Congress, which has insisted during the Trump administration that Ankara be sanctioned for buying the S-400.
Erdogan used the failed coup as Adolf Hitler used the Reichstag fire in 1933: as an opportunity to punish political opponents and critics. Tens of thousands of Turks have been fired, banned from traveling or imprisoned, most simply for being critical of Erdogan or distancing themselves from the social movement of Fethullah Gülen, whom Erdogan has unconvincingly accused of orchestrating the coup. After the coup, Erdogan transformed the government from a parliamentary one to a presidential one, thus strengthening his power. Years later, the regime continues to use Gülen to justify its continued crackdown. There is widespread belief in Turkey that the US was involved in the incident. According to Freedom House, Turkey fell to just 32 out of a possible 100 points and is now rated as "not free". The organization explained that despite "initial adoption of some liberalizing reforms," the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government "showed increasing disdain for political rights and civil liberties.