Over 60 percent of Turks view US, Israel as biggest threats

As friends, China, Russia, and Pakistan were well ahead of Turkey's official western allies, the US, France, Britain, and Germany, with more people favoring cooperation with Turkic nations and Muslim-majority countries.
author_image Ari Khalidi

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Findings from a Turkish University survey announced Wednesday revealed that 64.3 percent of Turkey’s population saw the United States as the biggest threat to their country, with Israel coming second at 61.4 percent.

Results of the privately-owned Kadir Has University’s “2017 Research on Social and Political Trends” correlated with Ankara’s increasingly sharp divergence from its main NATO ally and the larger Western camp due to rival policies in the Middle East and growing concerns over the erosion of democracy, rule of law, and human rights in Turkey.

The Istanbul-based university directed questions on domestic politics, economic developments, social relations, and international affairs at 1,000 Turkish adults residing in 26 cities between Dec. 11, 2017, and Jan. 7, 2018, through face to face interviews.

Despite warm ties with London, the United Kingdom at 50.2 percent followed the US and Israel as a threat in the view of Turks.

One of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's bodyguards kicks a man on the ground during an attack on American-Kurdish protestors on the Massachusetts Avenue, May 16, 2017. (Source: VOA)
One of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's bodyguards kicks a man on the ground during an attack on American-Kurdish protestors on the Massachusetts Avenue, May 16, 2017. (Source: VOA)

The war-torn neighboring countries of Iraq and Syria in the south where the Kurds there have set up autonomous regions along the border with Turkey with a slight percentage below 50 were the fourth and fifth respectively in the list of states posing a threat.

Next on the list were France, Germany, and Greece, nations of the European Union Ankara has long sought to join.

Neighbors to the east were no exemption.

Thirty-six percent of the Turks perceived Iran, their country’s regional competitor since imperial times, as dangerous with the small nation of Armenia seen as an even more significant threat with 46.8 percent.

Only one country was seen by above 50 percent as a friend or ally of Turkey; Azerbaijan, a Turkic nation which 67.8 respondents viewed favorably, while Northern Cyprus, a state recognized only by Ankara after the 1974 Turkish invasion of the island, made it to the second with 43.9 percent.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, review an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Ankara on Dec. 1, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, review an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Ankara on Dec. 1, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

As friends, China, Russia, and Pakistan were well ahead of Turkey’s official western allies, the US, France, Britain, and Germany, with respondents favoring more cooperation in foreign policy with Turkic nations and Muslim-majority countries as opposed to Washington or the EU.

Still, 45 percent of people found the foreign policy of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s administration— that has seen major shifts particularly regarding the Syrian civil war, the bid for the EU, and Ankara's place in NATO alliance—as successful.