NATO was originally formed after World War II as a military partnership to deter and respond to Soviet aggression in Europe. Turkey was added to NATO to guard the Soviet Union’s southwestern flank, its only southern entrance to the Mediterranean Sea via the Black Sea. At the time, Turkey had been a secular democracy since 1923 and showed no inclination to return to its imperial Ottoman-Islamic grandeur as ruler of western Asia, a position it lost in World War I. Turkey became the good guy in the Islamic world after the Great War, the nation that had taken Islam out of the public realm and promised equality before the law for all of its citizens. Turkey even had (and still has) diplomatic relations with Israel, which was unheard of for a nation with a Muslim majority. Given its strategic location due to its ability to close the Bosporus Strait and bottle up Soviet warships in the Black Sea during times of war, Turkey was a comfortable fit for NATO.
And then came Erdoğan.
While running for mayor of Istanbul, a position he held from 1994 to 1998, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan campaigned on a promise to return Turkey to its former Ottoman empire glory, the seat of the Islamic caliphate just like old times, by promoting a return to Islam in the public realm. As prime minister from 2003 to 2014, he changed the law to allow women to wear the hijab (head scarf) in public buildings, which had previously been outlawed to keep religion and public life apart. He went to war against Turkey’s Kurdish minority and charged army generals with crimes so that he could replace them with Islamists and avoid a coup d’état by secular army officers, who were the backbone of secularism in Turkey. Recently, he changed the Turkish constitution to allow himself to be president, a formerly symbolic post, with all of the dictatorial powers of an Ottoman sultan and caliph. And he is building himself a thousand-room, 600-million-dollar grand palace fit for a sultan and caliph. Now that he has the powers he sought, those who disagree with him are jailed, or they just disappear.