A grim state of affairs in Turkey, amid so many other problems

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The crisis that suddenly erupted in Turkey a week ago has added to a sense of confusion in western Europe towards the turmoil in the Middle East.

Turkey, after all, is supposed to be one of the westernised and stable nations.

It is not only a member of Nato, but it was an early member. It is home to a crucial American military base.

The country followed a determinedly secular path over most of the last century. It is an established democracy.

One of the ironies of the current drama is that people such as Hillary Clinton, by defending the “democratically elected government,” have been defending an Islamic government over military forces who want to separate state and religion.

Mrs Clinton, however, was right to take that line. This crisis is one of a number of situations in which she has shown her experience over the highly unpredictable Donald Trump, who this week has been enjoying his coronation as Republican Party candidate for president.

Mr Trump’s comment that the US might not defend Nato states in the Baltic would be alarming at any time, but is particularly so when a major Nato state has been suffering internal convulsions, and after Russian aggression in Ukraine.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s response to the coup, including for a while cutting off power to Incirlik Air Base, has been such that there is talk of suspending Turkey from Nato. This is a grim state of affairs when it borders Syria, which is still in the grip of a devastating civil war.

It is sobering to think that Turkey was being pushed as a potential EU member not long ago (albeit often by internal EU sceptics who hoped such inclusion would reduce the prospects of a super state).

This could not be happening at a worse time, given Turkey’s pivotal role in stemming the migrant crisis.

Theresa May has been meeting allies such as Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel at this tense time after Brexit. Amid multiple threats to peace in or near Europe she is rightly reiterating that EU powers remain our neighbours and friends.