Turkey's Islamist Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was quite open about the matter when talking to reporters on a flight to Budapest, Hungary:
“We, as Turkey, would stop wrong steps [in NATO]. Thus, we saw such steps toward Israel’s inclusion in NATO. We prevented that,” Erdoğan said. “We have our own red lines. For us, to be involved in NATO with Israel is never considerable. To be with such a cruel understanding would conflict with our structure, history and culture.”
Erdogan also spoke about Turkey's 50 year quest to join the EU, saying the union was “hesitant because the members will not be able to do everything they want when Turkey gets in.”
In an interesting sidebar, Turkey has been making noises about ditching NATO to join the Shanghai Cooperative Organization (SCO), which regular members of Joshua's Army will recall me mentioning before.
The SCO is an organization with goals of becoming the anti-NATO, consisting of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, India, and Mongolia have the status of observer states. It focuses on trade, security and military cooperation, energy ( they're working on putting together a gas cartel) and joint development projects. The six member states control 60% of the land mass of Eurasia and its population is a quarter of the world's. With observer states included, its affiliates account for half of the earth's population. It also offers an alternative bloc to western democracy and to using the U.S. dollar as reserve currency for energy dealing.
If Turkey were to quit NATO and join, it would be a major realignment of the world's power blocs.
Erdogan first approached the SCO in 2011 and was granted 'dialogue partner' last year. They now want in as a full member, and are dangling quitting NATO (and revealing all of NATO's secrets) as bait.
For Turkey, the pluses are interesting. As Erdogan himself has said, the SCO "is much better, it is much more powerful [than the EU], and we share values with its members."
Those values are essentially non-Democratic, without the sort of commitment to freedom and human rights that characterize some of the other members of NATO.
Turkey also shares Islam with most of the membership.Every one of the members and observer states except Russia, China and India are Muslim, and a number of them are primarily composed of people of Turkic origin with cultural and linguistic heritage in common with the Turks.
The minuses? Turkey would stand to lose a great deal of foreign aid if they switched sides, there are still divisions in the country between Turks who are more Islamist in allegiance and those who still lean more towards the West.And Erdogan has three other issues that get in the way of his joining the SCO.
First many if the six main members, especially India, China and Russia are strongly opposed the Islamism Erdogan champions, and in th ecase of the three main members I cited, all have problems with Islamist aggression and terrorism.
Second, Erdogan's support for the insurgents trying to topple Syrian dictator Basher Assad sets him against one major member, Russia and one observer state, Iran.
And third, while Turkey's economy appears robust, it isn't.Inflation is at 6.5% and rising, food prices are soaring, the official unemployment rate is at 9.5% ( which means the real rate is closer to 13 or 14%) and there is a major imploding domestic credit bubble in consumer loans, which Turkey's banks are slamming out at 30% interest and up.Meanwhile exports continue to decline and Turkey's current account deficits is running at about $70 billion a year.
Since a good part of what the SCO is involved with is economic growth and investment, it might be problematic for them to take on a member whose economy could tank and become a drag on the organization, perhaps even a candidate for bailouts.
According to one of my notorious Little Birdies, China is more or less favorably disposed to letting Turkey in as an observer state at least, while Russia and to a lesser extent India are strongly opposed.
Some horsetrading may go on, and we'll see what develops.