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Foreign Policy Question
New NATO Military Base for Urla?

An economic boon or a foreign policy problem?

In Turkey - Türkiye'de

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A new North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Base for Urla -- ticklish foreign policy problem in our own backyard?

When rumors surfaced last year that a new NATO military base was going to be constructed in Urla (just 30 miles down the road from us), it sent a shiver of economic excitement up and down that inlet of the Aegean Sea Coast, from Çeşme to İzmir.

At the time, it was sufficient that the new NATO base would bring economic aid to the lackluster local real estate and rentals market. No one was concerned that a military base might make Urla a target for some future long range missile attack. It was never even raised as a foreign policy issue.

And anyway... the rumors of the NATO base construction soon fizzled out. So sleepy Urla went back to sleep.

Now the rumors have resurfaced, this time fueled by a batch of intercepted international e-mail messages -- and visions of comparitively rich foreign soldiers are again dancing in the heads of local businessmen and residents. But, in light of Iran's growing militancy this year, should we now be concerned that a NATO base in Urla might become a foregn policy issue between Iran and Turkey? Or, even a missile attack target, of the nuclear variety -- if the two countries can't come to terms?

Iran's nuclear threat has never looked so threatening as it does in the hands of its fundamentalist Islamic President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And we are not comforted by the the fact that Turkey might be immune to the Iranian threat -- just because religious-right Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan is cozy with Ahmadinejad.
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That might keep Turkey out of the Iranian line-of-fire for the immediate future. Perhaps. But Turkey's got other pressing foreign policy problems -- which require Western-nation economic and political cooperation to solve. And, if Erdoğan goes too far in sweetening Turco-Iranian relations, it's likely to upset The West -- leaving Erdoğan and his political party in an international 'football match', with rules based on Samuel Huntington's 'Clash of Civilizations'.

And, the venue for such a 'World Cup' clash... might be our own backyard.

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