The U.S.-Turkish relationship has recently become so bad that analysts in both countries now wonder if it is beyond repair.
In recent years, the European Union has been bogged down by one crisis after another - from Greece to the Euro to Brexit. But happily, none of these have endangered what has underpinned European integration since the late 1940s: securing lasting peace among European states. Europe has not been spared political violence, as residents of Northern Ireland and the Basque country can attest to. But to almost all Europeans, the notion of armed conflict within their midst is no longer even thinkable. While the Catalonia crisis is not destined to degenerate into large-scale violence, European and American leaders do not appear to take the potential for conflict seriously. They are mistaken.
The Gulf crisis over Qatar is once again catapulting Turkey into the politics of the Middle East, for which it is woefully unprepared. After a brief attempt at neutrality, Ankara threw in its lot with Doha, condemning the sanctions imposed by a Saudi-led coalition and accelerated its deployment of troops to a new base in Qatar. This decision risks upsetting President Erdogan's tenuous rapprochement with Saudi Arabia, and reflects the continued ideological prism guiding Turkish foreign policy. But it also reflects a concern with regime security. At least in part, Erdogan's embrace of Qatar reflects a belief that the same forces that supported the overthrow of Egypt's Muhammad Morsi welcomed the July 2016 failed coup in Turkey and now seek regime change in Doha. If so, Turkey's stance is unlikely to change, indicating a standoff may in the making.
President Trump made clear in Sunday's Riyadh speech that America stands by countries willing to fight Islamist extremism. A welcome opportunity to revisit our relationship with two ostensible allies, Turkey and Qatar. Both host significant American military bases and Turkey is a NATO member, yet for too long they have been American partners in name while providing material support to extremist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Nusra front. President Trump's serious intent to confront Islamic terrorism means he must redefine the terms of our alliances with Turkey and Qatar. The United States can no longer allow them to have it both ways.