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NATO 2030 Projection Faces Myriad Challenges

FeniksPolitik organized its first in-house event on the future of NATO and the challenges it faces in confronting a changing Middle East, the US pivot to Asia, increasing presence of Russia and China in the region and intra-alliance tensions tied to a Turkey in democratic decline.
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FeniksPolitik organized its first in-house event titled “NATO 2030: The Future of the Alliance and its Projection of Stability in the Middle East”. Here, FeniksPolitik international security analysts Mehmet Yegin and Fatih Cungurlu presented their thoughts on future of the alliance in the context of NATO 2030 debates. 

 “NATO 2030. United for a New Era” is a report prepared by the independent Reflection Group established by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg following the London Leaders meeting in December 2019. According to FeniksPolitik analysts, NATO’s 2030 projections will encounter multiple challenges in the coming years.

Cungurlu emphasized that the report reflects NATO’s need for structural change and new strategies to counter newly emerging challenges across the globe:

“The report was instrumental in discussing security issues that the previous strategic concept doesn’t include, and paves the way for laying down the base of the new strategic concept that would cover the alliance strategy until the 2030s.”

“Current and prospective challenges mentioned in the report [include] a more belligerent Russia, how and why China’s rise poses a security threat to the alliance, and non-military factors that cause security risks, like emerging disruptive technologies and Climate Change.”

According to Cungurlu, different from the previous strategic concepts, this report emphasizes the need to integrate non-military cooperation to tackle emerging challenges that require a more holistic approach.

This “includes political cohesion, economic collaboration, cooperation with the private sector, and a more analytical system that allows the alliance to become more responsive and flexible against the potential threats by incorporating non-military tools.”

In his comments, Yegin focused on the alliance’s interests in the Middle East and changing global dynamics:

“The Middle East is changing, and NATO needs to develop new approaches to protect alliance territory and project stability in the region. The region is creating challenges to the security of NATO member countries due to nuclear proliferation, civil wars and immigration, failed states, and increasing involvement of Russia and China in the region.”

According to Yegin, the US is decreasing its footprint in the Middle East just as political cohesion falters among member states and their policies in the region. A significant problem can be seen in member states’ estrangement from the shared values of the alliance, namely democracy and human rights.

“There is a need for a debate [that could] better political cohesion among the NATO members and [clarify their] stance on the values of democracy and human rights.”

Yegin also highlighted Turkey’s democratic decline and its souring relations with other NATO members and partners:

“Turkey’s recent military activism in the Middle East, Eastern Mediterranean, and Libya and its confrontation with other NATO members and partners is embedded in its democratic decline. Erdogan needs to keep his voter base intact. Thus, without bringing a solution to Turkey’s democratic decline, there cannot be a lasting solution to the problems with [the alliance’s] political cohesion.”

According to Yegin, the alliance needs to increase its presence in the Middle East through a variety of missions in order to limit Russia’s room for maneuver and to raise awareness about the future of China in the region

“NATO should be diplomatically active in the Middle East, draw a clear picture about the future of partnerships, and increase its training activities in and cooperation with regional countries in matters related to terrorism, cyber threats, and global warming.”

The event took place on July 29 as the first installment of the FeniksTalk series on international politics and security. It was moderated by Busra Nur Ozguler-Aktel, a political scientist at Georgia State University and an editorial board member at FeniksPolitik.

The FeniksTalk event on “NATO 2030: the Future of the Alliance and its Projection of Stability in the Middle East” can be listened to on FeniksPod.