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Former Pentagon official calls on US to confront Turkey in Eastern Mediterranean

Turkey’s latest provocations against its NATO ally Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean are just the latest in a long series of red flags about the US-Turkey alliance, and it’s time the State Department took notice, a former Pentagon official has warned.

Tensions between Turkey and Greece ramped up this week after Ankara sent an energy exploration ship to an area of the Greek continental shelf.

It was the latest move by Turkey as it tries to exert influence over areas of the Mediterranean after gas and oil discoveries in the region.

Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and former Pentagon official, accused the US State Department of appeasing Turkey rather than standing up to it. 

“Turkey is the aggressor or the only party to dispute territory,” Rubin wrote in the Washington Examiner on  Wednesday.

He added: “Rather than bolster security in the Eastern Mediterranean, State Department equivocation has undermined it.”

In the article, Rubin launched a sweeping attack on both Turkey’s foreign and domestic policies over the last half-century.

He described a long list of actions that would have any other state branded a rogue or pariah regime, let alone a US ally.

“By any reasonable metric, Turkey is a rogue regime,” he said.

Among those actions, Rubin highlighted accusations that Turkey had supplied weapons to the brutal extremist group Boko Haram — which gained international notoriety with its mass kidnapping and sexual enslavement of young Nigerian girls — and Turkey’s 46-year illegal occupation of Northern Cyprus.

But most egregious, Rubin argued was Turkey’s open support for ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Northern Syria.

“Turkey’s behavior vis-a-vis the ISIS crossed the line into terror sponsorship,” he said, “Erdogan not only enabled the group with logistical support, weaponry, and providing a safe haven, but leaked emails show his family also profited from it.”

He also points to the capture of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi just three miles from the Turkish border, in a Turkish-held area, as “evidence of Turkey’s double-game.”

At least 40 ISIS veterans are now on the Turkish payroll, Rubin claimed.
This kind of behavior, that flaunts international law and norms as one would only expect from states like Iran and North Korea, means “there is no dispute that Turkey has become a source of instability in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Rubin said.