GOP Sen. Lee floats kicking Turkey out of NATO over Erdogan's Hamas stance

mike lee

NATO has never expelled a member nation, nor have any left of their own accord.

Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee has proposed the idea of potentially removing Turkey from NATO in response to recent statements by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which he insisted that Hamas is not a terrorist organization.

Lee strongly criticized Erdogan's position, stating, "Erdogan's stance represents a deliberate denial of reality. Hamas is undeniably a violent terrorist organization. This is an established fact. Erdogan's overt dismissal of the violent nature of Hamas runs counter to the security interests of both the United States and NATO. The prospect of considering Turkey's removal from the alliance must be seriously examined."

Earlier this week, President Erdogan addressed Turkish lawmakers, asserting that "Hamas is not a terrorist organization but rather a liberation group, comprised of 'mujahideen' engaged in a battle to protect their lands and people," as reported by Reuters. "Mujahideen" is an Arabic term commonly used to refer to Islamic warriors fighting for their faith.

Senator Lee, responding to Erdogan's remarks immediately after his address, remarked, "This rhetoric is not indicative of a leader who values his country's relationship with the United States or NATO. It is a matter that warrants reconsideration at this juncture, even though NATO has never expelled a member nation, nor have any voluntarily left the alliance."

Erdogan's statements come in the wake of a recent Hamas raid on Israel on October 7, during which the group took approximately 200 hostages and resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 civilians. This incident prompted an Israeli military response in the Gaza Strip, raising concerns about the potential escalation of the conflict into a broader war. Erdogan also strongly condemned Israel's airstrikes on Gaza, labelling them a "massacre," and criticized Western nations for their support of Israel.

Erdogan's leadership has seen Turkey's military involvement in various Middle Eastern conflicts, including Libya and Syria, where Turkey has established a presence in the northern regions of Syria amid the ongoing civil war. Additionally, Turkey recently supported Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia over the disputed Artsakh region.

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