I am writing this from Brussels as the NATO summit begins as part of the Turkish delegation led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. When this piece is published, the summit will have finished and we will have returned to Istanbul.
Istanbul is the city where the 2018 NATO Summit will take place. In the NATO summit where member states’ presidents and heads of government will be in attendance, it is expected that there will be discussions about topics such as the fight against terrorism, trans-Atlantic relations, the burden share among member countries and partnership with the EU.
Another important aspect of this summit is that it will be the first time the newly elected president of the U.S. will meet the members of the alliance.
Without NATO members’ active involvement, it is impossible to reach a positive conclusion in the fight against global terror
But there is another matter that is more important than the first-time attendance of the U.S. president. We are talking about a U.S. president who referred to NATO as an “obsolete institution.” Although President Trump did not qualify NATO as an “obsolete institution” again following his election, he continued with his criticisms about NATO and the shared burden among NATO members. It is expected that Trump will convey these criticisms to his interlocutors at the summit.
In fact, the following was said in the statement released by the White House prior to the summit, “The president looks forward to meeting with his NATO counterparts to reaffirm our strong commitment to NATO, and to discuss issues critical to the alliance, especially allied responsibility-sharing and NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism.”
It is also extremely important that this summit comes right after the terror attack carried out by Daesh in Manchester, a painful event that demonstrates the need for NATO to fight against the reality of a globalizing terrorism much more actively.
Unfortunately, many of the NATO member countries consider terrorism from a faulty perspective, which is reflected in NATO’s institutional vision.
First and foremost, terrorism is taken as something that is regional and specific only to the Middle East. We see this within the frame of fighting against the terror organization Daesh very clearly. Born out of Iraq and Syria, Daesh is fundamentally regarded as a terror organization that should be dealt with by neighboring countries.
However, Daesh has transformed into a bloody terror organization, becoming more globalized by the Barack Obama administration’s mistaken Syria policies, now capable of carrying out terror acts in different parts of the world.
The foreign fighters within Daesh and the fanatical elements they influence carry a serious potential threat. This dirty global crime syndicate can only be fought against through a global vision and strategy.
President Erdoğan, in the press conference he held prior to leaving for the NATO summit, emphasized a very important point; he said, “On Wednesday the Manchester bombing showed terrorism is a global problem and NATO allies should cooperate more closely and share information swiftly to confront it.”
Of course, in order to do this, it is necessary to leave aside the Euro-centric, ideological terror perspective to one side. The mistaken consideration of terror and fanaticism as a cultural factor and then equating it with Islam does nothing but clear the way for terrorism.
Without the struggle against terrorism becoming global, without NATO truly contributing to the struggle, and without all member countries taking a stance against all of its forms, and while they continue making distinctions between “good terrorist” and “bad terrorist,” there will be no meaning to these types of interactions. Let us hope that this summit will help in establishing a global vision to fight against global terror among its members.
This article was first published in Daily Sabah on May 26, 2017.