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Can the US-Turkey marriage be saved?

Jonathan Schanzer
5th December 2017 - Quoted by Jamie McIntyre - The Washington Examiner

The United States and Turkey, nominally close NATO allies, are looking more and more like an old, bickering married couple who can’t agree on much of anything, but are putting on a brave face for the sake of the children.

When President Trump hosted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the White House in May, it was all smiles as the two leaders traded compliments.

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“You look at a country like Turkey and they are one of the top jailers of journalists in the world right now,” said Jonathan Schanzer, an analyst with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “They have hollowed out their judiciary. So we are seeing the intuitions that once made Turkey a democratic state hollowed out.”

“The policies at home have been deeply troubling for those of us in America that care about maintaining alliances with democracies,” he added.

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“It’s clear he’s not all in on the U.S.-Turkish relationship. He’s not all in in the NATO alliance,” Schanzer said. “Turkey’s allegiance to NATO, I think, has to be called into question at this moment in light of what we’ve seen in the recent past.”

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Erdogan has taken a page from Putin's playbook, moving from prime minister to president, and consolidating his grip on power by pushing constitutional reforms through the parliament.

“He really does increasingly look like a leader for life,” said Schanzer, who calls Turkey a “crisis in the making," and Erdogan the core of the problem.

“His decisions, his behaviors, his policies, his leadership style has steadily eroded that alliance. If he remains in power for another five or 10 years it’s going to be very difficult to salvage,” Schanzer said. “When allies act like this, they don’t remain allies for very long.”

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