Turkey was bound to have issues with Sweden and its pro-Kurdish stance, and singled out Sweden because of its longstanding commitment to Kurdish aspirations. However, it is the continued US support for Kurds that is Turkey’s main concern. The issue is not what Sweden says or does, but what the US does or fails to do on the ground in Syria that is consequential for Turkey’s national security interests – and this will decide its position on the Nordic enlargement of NATO that the US government is pushing for. Turkey is going to remain pro-Western, but it will also, as it is showing today, stand its own ground and not hesitate to confront other Western powers. Turkey is not going to defer to the US as it did during the Cold War. Nonetheless, the hard strategic interests of the US and Turkey coincide to a much larger extent than what appearances suggest. Washington will have to decide what it cares most about: the survival of the PKK-linked Syrian Kurdish statelet or a strengthened NATO with Sweden as a member. Ultimately, the crisis in NATO over Sweden’s membership will only be overcome when the US and Turkey resolve to address their differences and reach a new, mutual understanding.


Read this policy paper by Halil Karaveli published at the Stockholm Free World Forum

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