Balance of Power: Nearing a ‘Point of No Return’ for Turkey

(Bloomberg) -- Turkey watchers are beginning to think the unthinkable might happen: A hard split of NATO’s second-largest military from the West.

That sense is growing as a trial continues in New York, alleging what amounts to a Turkish conspiracy — right up to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — to undermine U.S. sanctions against Iran.

To many Turks, the courtroom drama is proof of a different plot — by the U.S. to topple Erdogan. The trial, recycling corruption charges crushed in Turkey in a so-called judicial coup attempt of 2013, is playing into a narrative of Western hostility the government has been pressing for several years. Erdogan lashed out again today, saying there’s a “clear” U.S. plan against Turkey.

A split has seemed inconceivable because the consequences would be so damaging. Turkey has built its military and security around NATO, while it is a potential highway to Europe for millions of refugees from Syria and elsewhere, should it open the gates. Turkey also depends on the West for trade, investment and finance.

Though still unlikely, a hard break with the West is no longer impossible, says Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat. “We may be passing a point of no return.”

Balance of Power: Nearing a ‘Point of No Return’ for Turkey

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Balance of Power: Nearing a ‘Point of No Return’ for Turkey

To contact the author of this story: Marc Champion in London at mchampion7@bloomberg.net.

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