This volume is the product of a collaboration between the European Intelligence Academy (EIA) and the Chanticleer Intelligence Brief (CIB), a student-run initiative supported by the Department of Politics at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, United States. Four CIB analysts tackle some of the most pressing and timely questions confronting intelligence observers today. Topics in this volume include the possibility of a war with North Korea, and the rise of far-right militancy in the United States. The volume also includes an assessment of the impact of the Islamic State in the relations between Russia and the United States, and a discussion of Turkish politics and its effect on NATO's cohesion.
Key Figures and Groups Several individuals and groups play key roles in the current state of tension between Turkey and its NATO allies. Primary among them is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who served as Turkey’s prime minister from 2003 to 2014, when he was elected president, a post that he continues to occupy to this day. Under Erdogan’s leadership, Turkey has witnessed substantial economic growth. However, his heavy-handed approach to political dissent shaped his reputation as a leader known for harshly punishing those who oppose him. In answering his critics, Erdogan recently stated that “an all-powerful presidency is a guarantee that the political instability used to plague Turkey will not return” (BBC 2017). President Erdogan is also the leader of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), which is based on the ideology of religious conservatism. The former leader of the AKP is Binali Yildirim, who is now the current Prime Minister of Turkey. Another individual who plays an important role in Turkey-NATO relations is Jens Stoltenberg, who has been the Security General of NATO since 2014. Stoltenberg, a career politician, served as Norway’s prime minister for 13 years before leading NATO. Another key individual that directly affects this topic is Fethullah Gülen, a former Islamic preacher and politician who leads the so-called Gülen movement. His movement promotes his beliefs in secular education, religious tolerance, and advancement in social networking (Gülen 2017). Gülen has been residing in the US since 1999 and currently lives in Pennsylvania. Alongside the Gülen movement, a group that has a major impact on this topic is the Kurds. The Kurds make up the fourth largest ethnic group in the Middle East, but do not have a permanent state. Organized groups of Kurdish fighters have been in a state of war with Turkish authorities for generations and oppose the authority of the Turkish government. The clashes —both rhetorical and armed— between these two sides continue to increase tensions in Turkey’s far-eastern Anatolia region, where Islamist groups are also active. According to Al Jazeera, more than 500 have been killed since 2015 in attacks carried out by Islamist and Kurdish forces against Turkish government targets. Finally, in January of 2017, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45 th president of the US. This event affected Turkey politically because its government has had to negotiate over a variety of issues with a new administration that holds radically different views on foreign policy and from the administration of former President Barrack Obama. However, whether the Trump administration’s different views will translate into radically different actions remains to be seen. The 2016 Military Coup An important recent event that has affected the relations between the US and Turkey was the failed coup attempt that took place in Turkey on July 15, 2016. The attempted coup was carried out by Turkish military officers in an effort to 46
emove President Erdogan from power. At least 249 people died during the coup and over 2,000 more were injured (BBC 2017). Turkish authorities later described the coup as a complete intelligence failure for the government (BBC 2017), which indicates the lack of information that Turkish security agencies had about the impending action of the military officers. President Erdogan released a statement after the failed coup attempt, stating that he had only found out about the coup attempt a couple hours prior from his brother-in-law (BBC 2017), not from intelligence officials. Soon afterwards, however, Turkish government officials identified Gülen as the individual they believe was behind the attempted coup. The Turkish government issued an arrest warrant for Gülen on July 19, 2016, just days after the failed coup attempt. The Turkish government was not able to take Gülen into custody because he lives in Pennsylvania, reportedly under US protection. The Turkish government’s efforts to extradite Gülen to Turkey have so far been unsuccessful. The Turks want to take him into custody in order to have him stand trial for the failed coup attempt. However, the US claims that there is no strong enough evidence to extradite Gülen to Turkey. Over 50,000 individuals who, according to the Turkish government, were involved in the coup, have been arrested and are awaiting trial. Additionally, another 150,000 have been fired or suspended from their government or private-sector positions in Turkey (Al Jazeera 2017). Rising Tensions Before the failed coup attempt, relations between the US and Turkey were already tense due to disagreements regarding the Syrian Civil War. The two countries have never seen eye to eye on how to proceed in the Syrian Civil War. Turkey’s government argues that the Syrian Kurdish Forces (YPG) and the Democratic Unity Party (PYD), which are the dominant armed forces the in Syrian Kurdish region, are affiliates of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). The PKK is a paramilitary group based in Iraq and Turkey that seeks to create a separate homeland for the Kurds through political agitation and armed struggle. It is designated as a terrorist group by Turkey, the US and others. The Turkish government sees the YPG and the PYD as essentially branches of the PKK (BBC News 2017). The US does not support the PYD or the PKK, which it sees as terrorist organizations. However, it has consistently offered support to the YPG in the Syrian Civil War, prompting Turkey to accuse Washington that it is backing terrorists in the Syrian Civil War. In addition to causing friction in Turkey-US relations, this disagreement has also caused rising tensions between Turkey and other NATO nations. In April of 2017, a Turkish referendum gave President Erdogan a 51.4% victory that allowed him to run for two more election cycles, and to possibly remain the head of state until 2029 (Shaheen 2017). President Erdogan can also return to the leadership of the AKP, which holds the majority of members in the Turkish 47