The Yeni Şafak daily, a staunch supporter of Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the government, on Sunday said NATO plans to attack Turkey in 2018. In its lead story, the daily claimed that a recent NATO enemy chart scandal during a drill in Norway was part of the alliance’s planned attack on Turkey.
Turkey withdrew from the Trident Javelin exercise at The Joint Warfare Centre in Norway, which was held between Nov. 8 and Nov. 17, after a civilian Norwegian official depicted Erdoğan as an “enemy collaborator” during a bloc exercise. A portrait of the Republic of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was also shown on a “hostile leader list” during a computer-assisted exercise. In a second incident an alliance officer posted defamatory comments about Erdoğan on an intra-NATO social media site. The technician and the military officer were later sacked, and Ankara withdrew 40 soldiers from the drill.
“The scenario that targets Turkey cannot be evaluated as a ‘personnel mistake.’ Feto [a derogatory term coined by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to refer to the Gülen movement] and the US military have put a scenario of attacking Turkey into practice. It was a scenario,” the daily said.
“The real scenario is to show Turkey as an enemy of NATO by spreading fabricated views about President Erdoğan. Make Erdoğan a target in NATO countries by showing Turkey as being against NATO. And conduct an operation like July 15 [coup attempt] in Turkey in 2018 with Feto and the US.”
The daily also claimed that the US and NATO use the F35 jets purchase to stop Turkey from buying a Russian S-400 air defense system. If the F35 jets are not delivered to Turkey on time, Ankara will respond by removing the AN-TPY 2 radar that was set up in Malatya province in 2012 as part of a NATO missile defense system.
The ultranationalist Aydınlık daily on Sunday called for the closure of NATO bases in Turkey. The newspaper, which is known for its pro-Eurosianist line, on Saturday had called on the Turkish government to leave NATO.
Both Islamist and ultranationalist/Eurosianist circles in Turkey have been pushing the idea of closing NATO/US bases in Turkey and leaving the alliance.
On Nov. 5, the Star daily, a strong supporter of Erdoğan, said NATO had started a new military drill in the Mediterranean to surround Turkey. “The US, Germany and Greece have launched a missile drill called Artemis to attack ‘an enemy in the East’,” the newspaper said in its lead story.
“The US, which selected terrorist organizations the PKK/PYD [Kurdistan Workers’ Party/ Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party] for an alliance and equipped them with heavy weapons, has taken another step against Turkey that became pretty clear following the coup attempt on July 15 . Washington, which has imposed a covert weapons embargo on Turkey, and Germany, which talks about ‘occupying Turkey,’ have launched a joint missile drill in Greece,” the daily claimed.
The recent scandal during a NATO drill in Norway was an attack targeting “Turkey and the Turkish nation,” President Erdoğan said on Sunday, while acknowledging support from the opposition over the incident.
“They [NATO] carried out a scandal. They know that they cannot stop our country, which is why they are putting us on a target board. I hope that those who welcomed attacks against us before now understand the real face of the matter, as Atatürk was also included,” Erdoğan told a ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) provincial congress in the eastern province of Bayburt.
“The issue is not a personal or party issue. The target is Turkey and the Turkish nation,” he claimed, adding that the country was “ready for further major tests in the future.”
“Today there is a Turkey that cannot be compared with 15 years ago in every field – from the economy to the defense industry and from trade to diplomacy. There is now a Turkey that produces its own weapons and tanks. There is a country which is maintaining its fight against terror with its own unmanned aerial vehicles. There is a Turkey that is now preparing to produce its own indigenous car,” Erdoğan said.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli on Saturday strongly reacted to a recent NATO enemy chart scandal during a drill in Norway, saying it is time to review Turkey’s membership in the alliance.
“It is an urgent necessity for Turkey to question NATO without losing time, discuss in detail its desires and targets. It is a fact that we are close to the line where we will have to say all-or-nothing,” said Bahçeli in his statement on Twitter.
“We were here when there was no NATO. It will not be the end of the world if it’s necessary that we leave the organization,” he added.
Describing the enemy chart scandal as a “disgrace,” Bahçeli underlined that it cannot be fixed or compensated for.
However, Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar has said that Turkey’s alliance with NATO should not be undermined. Speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia in Canada on Saturday, Gen. Akar said NATO is “the most successful and most effective military organization that has existed throughout history.”
“Recently, in one of the NATO exercises we had an unpleasant and unacceptable event, reportedly committed by an individual who may be backed by FETÖ members,” Akar said. “FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by autocratic President Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to refer to the Gülen movement
“NATO administrators responded timely and appropriately. We should not allow anyone to undermine our alliance and our solidarity,” said Akar and added that Turkey is one of the countries with the highest number of troops in NATO and the country has supported 14 missions of the alliance in 11 different countries.
President Erdoğan on Saturday said the NATO enemy chart incident was caused by vile people, adding that the issue cannot be resolved with a simple apology.
Recalling reactions from NATO countries to the Turkish decision to buy a Russian S-400 missile defense system, Erdoğan said: “The reactions of some alliance countries when we were trying to buy an S-400 air defense system for our security confirms this distorted perspective. I am clearly telling NATO and the others: We have bought the S-400s, it is done.”
Norway’s Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen on Friday issued an apology to Turkey.
Earlier on Friday NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg issued a statement saying, “I apologize for the offense caused.” He said the incident was the result of an “individual’s actions” and didn’t reflect the views of the alliance.
In the meantime, Turkey’s Foreign Ministry stated on Friday that Ankara would closely monitor legal proceedings against the perpetrators of the incident during the NATO drill in Norway.
An investigation has also been launched by Turkey’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office into the perpetrator or perpetrators of the drill scandal in in Norway.
Turkey has the second-largest army in the alliance and borders with Syria, Iraq and Iran. The Joint Warfare Centre is a multinational NATO unit based in Stavanger, 300 kilometers (186 miles) southwest of Oslo. It is currently led by Maj. Gen. Andrzej Reudowicz of Poland. According to its website, it has a staff of 250 made up of civilians from 11 NATO member states, including Turkey.
In March, the Norwegian government angered Ankara by granting political asylum to five Turkish officers based in Norway who had refused to return home after the failed July 2016 coup attempt. (SCF with turkishminute.com)