Although Senator Ted Cruz is generally seen as a guy who’s mostly into domestic policies, he proved with an op-ed for Time that he’s very well aware of what’s happening in the world. In his piece, Cruz explains that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s defeat in the elections on Sunday paves the way towards a better relationship between the U.S. and Turkey — at least with regards to the war on terror:
This is good news for Turkey, and it should be good news for the United States as well. Turkey has been a long-standing friend to our nation, and is an important NATO ally. But Mr. Erdogan’s increasingly autocratic, Islamist and anti-American policies, largely un-rebuked by the Obama administration, have threatened this relationship. Under his rule, Turkey has become a leader in Internet censorship and the persecution of journalists. Mr. Erdogan’s administration has been aggressively hostile to our ally Israel, further inflaming regional tensions. By withholding access to the NATO air base at Incirlik, Turkey has further jeopardized our already anemic campaign against the spread of ISIS along Turkey’s borders with Syria and Iraq.
Erdogan’s islamist AKP is still the biggest party in Parliament, but it lost almost 10% of its votes. What’s more, because of the rise of the Kurdish HDP party the Islamists cannot form a majority government by themselves. They either have to join forces with an opposition party (who already said they’re not going to work with Erdogan), establish a minority government (which is very weak), call for new elections soon — or a combination of these possible scenarios. In theory it’s even possible that the AKP will lose its hold on power altogether: if all three opposition parties join forces, they can form a government without them.
The AKP isn’t only Islamist, the party also supports Islamic terrorists. Many believe that the current Turkish government has shipped weapons and money to ISIS and other terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq. Even though Erdogan disputes that, he can’t possibly deny his embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization bent on destroying Israel. Until now, Erdogan has refused to help the United States in the war on terror, especially with regards to ISIS. In fact, the Turkish army watched and did nothing while the Muslim extremists slaughtered innocent Kurdish civilians. Sad as that may be, they were simply following orders: Erdogan’s orders.
As Cruz also points out, Erdogan remains in power for now, but the United States should demand loudly that Turkey help out in Syria and Iraq. Turkey has to take “aggressive action against the ISIS fighters moving across its borders ” and it has to give the U.S. “access to our air base at Incirlik so we can see how ISIS reacts to a serious, concerted air campaign.” It’s likely that Erdogan won’t agree to those requests, but now that they’re slowly turning against him and his Islamist party “the Turkish people might be open to partnering with America against the vicious scourge of terrorism that threatens both our nations.” Obama has to use that window of opportunity.
As a journalist and blogger who resides in Turkey, I can only applaud Cruz’s op-ed and strategic (foreign policy) insight. Let’s hope that the president will, for once, listen to those who actually understand foreign policy and put Cruz’s advice into action. Even if he doesn’t, though, Ted Cruz has proved himself to be far more than just a domestic policy expert.