Turkey & Qatar’s Support for Extremist Groups
Svante E. Cornell and Lawrence Stutzriem
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.
Last week, President Trump met at the White House with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. Though the two disagree on Syria’s Kurds – America arms them against ISIS, Turkey considers them terrorists – and though Turkey turned against ISIS only very belatedly, it is still viewed as a key coalition partner. Indeed, since 2015 Turkey has allowed Washington to use its base at Incirlik near the Syrian border as part of this fight. Simultaneously, Qatar hosts U.S. forces and the strategically important Combined Air and Space Operations Center at Al Udeid airbase, from which the United States directs coalition air operations against ISIS.