Though an ally, Turkey should not be trusted, write Jordan Cohen, Jonathan Ellis, and Nardine Mosaad in The Hill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a recent op-ed for The Hill, Jordan Cohen, Jonathan Ellis, and Nardine Mosaad shed light on Turkey’s controversial stance as a NATO ally and its continuous divergence from US policy goals. Despite escalating attacks against civilians in North and East Syria and a series of actions that run counter to American interests, the United States persists in providing Turkey with extensive economic cooperation, humanitarian aid, and arms sales valued at nearly $478 billion since President Biden took office.

The op-ed authors argue that Turkey, through its membership in NATO and strategic location in the Middle East, has mastered the art of “reverse leverage.” This term refers to a dynamic where the US, in its efforts to maintain alliances, becomes dependent on the recipient for security, strategic, or economic needs. In Turkey’s case, this dependency is exploited to continue policies that endanger US security while still receiving American weapons.

The authors cite several instances where Turkey’s actions directly contradict US interests, including the purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system, threats to invade Greece, close encounters with US troops in Syria, and serving as a financial hub for groups like Hamas and Russia. Despite these concerns, Turkey consistently receives US. weapons, creating a relationship that seems to prioritize arms sales over strategic alignment.

One illustrative example highlighted in the op-ed is Turkey’s evaluation of whether to approve Sweden joining NATO. In exchange for its vote, Turkey reportedly seeks a simultaneous sale of advanced F-16 aircraft from the US and drone cameras from Canada. This echoes a similar scenario when Turkey voted in favor of Finland’s NATO membership, prompting the consideration of selling F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

The Cato Institute’s Arms Sales Risk Index ranks Turkey among the 15 riskiest US weapons recipients. Additionally, the State Department’s 2022 human rights report on Turkey characterizes it as an increasingly authoritarian state with significant human rights issues.

Despite Turkey’s questionable track record as a reliable ally, the US continues to funnel millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to maintain a loyalty that Turkey has shown reluctance to reciprocate. The op-ed concludes by urging the Biden administration to reevaluate the dynamics of the relationship with Turkey and reassess the assumption that increasing weapon sales provides leverage over the recipient. The authors argue that, in Turkey’s case, it is the weaker ally dictating U.S. policy, emphasizing the need for a reconsideration of this approach in US foreign policy.