How the Democratic Party presidential candidates view Turkey
Despite a hotly contested campaign to challenge US President Donald Trump, Biden and Sanders share common ground on a number of issues.
The competition continues among the Democrats over who will be the party’s candidate to run against Trump.
The primary elections will go on until June 7, and from July 13 through 16, the candidate to get the most delegates at the Democratic Party National Conference will win its nomination.
Currently, there are three candidates left in the Democratic race: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Tulsi Gabbard (who currently has just two delegates).
Whoever reaches 1,991 delegates will be Trump’s opponent for the 2020 Presidential Election.
As of today former candidates Michael Bloomberg and Pete Buttigieg, as well as eight senators including Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris, and 56 members of Congress have endorsed Biden. Only one Senator and eight members of Congress support Sanders.
Biden is slightly ahead, both in terms of public support, and in all the polls. The majority of the latest surveys show that in the race between Trump and Biden, Biden will win with a +2 to +9 margin. But it would be fair to say that survey firms have lost the trust of the public after their subjective approach to the survey results in 2016.
Biden gets significant support from African Americans and elder voters while Sanders enjoys support from younger voters and ethnic minorities. His campaign manager is of Pakistani descent. It seems that the favourite among Muslims in the US is Sanders.
Let’s move on to Vice President Biden and Senator Sanders’ approach to foreign policy and Turkey. Joe Biden was remembered for his warm messages when he visited Turkey in 2016 as vice president. But now, we wonder if his harsh statements against Ankara are a way to criticise Trump in order to boost public opinion and votes.
Joe Biden was vice president during the Obama presidency and was in the administration during the Afghanistan, Iraq, and Ukraine crises.
He was also a member of the Foreign Relations Committee while in the Senate between 1973–2009. This means that he has great foreign policy experience.
While he believes China is a serious threat, he aims to strengthen NATO and intimidate Russia. He does not favour a heavy US military presence in the world and encourages the country to use its forces in defense when it is necessary. He thinks that the US must reconsider its policies with regard to the Saudis, especially knowing their role in the war in Yemen and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Biden’s Perspective on Turkey
Biden announced that he would recognise the so-called Armenian Genocide. As it relates to his policy on Syria, he thinks that Trump has made a mistake in decreasing the number of troops, and he is a staunch critic of the Syria operation of Turkey, declaring that the YPG-PKK has been betrayed.
It is also useful to note here that the former diplomat Brett McGurk, who supports YPG-PKK, is a consultant on the Biden campaign. The vice president has not made any comments on the extradition of FETO leader, and it seems like he will not take any action against FETO in the US. It is also known that Biden is against keeping nuclear weapons at Incirlik.
Furthermore, he is a great supporter of Israel and a proclaimed Zionist. He is for the two-state solution but believes that Israel should find another solution to the unlawful settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This issue is of importance to Turkey because the tension in the Turkish-Israel relations tends to influence the foreign policy of the United States, and the view of the candidates is important.
On the other hand, Senator Sanders is a socialist and more liberal; he thinks that the US should not be an international police force, meaning there should be a severe decrease in military interventions globally. He has gathered public reactions because of his contact with socialist regimes like Fidel Castro’s. He believes the US should not interfere with foreign regime changes.
When we look at Turkey from the perspective of Senator Sanders, he announced that he would recognize the so-called Armenian Genocide. Regarding Syria, he was a critical part of Turkey’s operation in Syria and said that Turkey slaughtered YPG-PKK members. He also said that upon invading another country, Turkey became our enemy and was no longer our friend. He also said that he wants diplomatic relations with the Assad regime, the killer of hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Just like Biden, he has expressed that he is uncomfortable with keeping nuclear missiles in Incirlik. He wants to bring the Iranians and the Saudis together and return to the previous Nuclear Arms Treaty with Iran. Sanders also has very liberal ideas on refugees and has made supportive statements before, which begs the question of whether or not he will open doors to Syrian refugees if he wins. Though he is of Jewish origin, he has harsh criticisms for the State of Israel and is in favor of a solution in Palestine. When we take a look, it is worth remembering there are some similar discourses in Turkey.
Both Democratic candidates speak negatively of Turkey; they do so to get votes from the public and to oppose Trump’s soft politics on Turkey.
Regardless of who ends up in the White House, even those who have had negative views on Turkey have softened their politics once elected, as seen in previous presidents.
The US does not have the luxury of losing Turkey in the region.