WHERE ARE THE U.S.-TURKEY RELATIONS HEADING
The relations between Turkey and the U.S. have recently undergone a sudden and unexpected deterioration. With the election of Trump, there was an expectation on the Turkish side that there would be some amelioration in the relations, because during President Obama’s last term, there were contradictions due to differences in opinion between Turkey and the U.S. on issues such as on FETO and YPG. However, as the problems emerge, such as Trump’s policy of arming the YPG more and more, not taking any steps regarding the FETO issue, the relations are at an impasse. Moreover, the arrest of Turkish citizens who worked in some of the U.S. Official Agencies within that period, some unfair pressures on Turkish citizens in the United States, imprisonment of Pastor Brunson, with the US discomfort on S400 subject the Turkey’s rapprochement with countries like Russia and Iran being in search of new alternatives, left even deeper traces in the relationship. Just before 2018, visa suspension led to a trust issue, as it was not even the case during the crisis with Russia.
In 2018, which is started on these terms, there are still different disclosures and statements coming from both sides. The meeting of H.R. McMaster, National Security Council Adviser with Ibrahim Kalın,the Spokesperson of the Presidency, over the past weeks, Defense Minister Canikli’s meeting with the Secretary of Defense of the U.S. in Europe and the U.S. Secretary of State, Tillerson’s 2-day visit in Turkey, and the meeting with the President and his counterpart Cavusoglu can be regarded as favorable steps to prevent the Turkish — U.S. relations from being cut off.
Turkey’s fight and intervention against YPG-PKK elements, which threaten its national security through the Afrin operation continues in accordance with international law. The United States stands without compromising its attitude towards YPG, while also stating that it understands the rightful security concerns of Turkey, which may cause Turkey to believe their alliance is a so-called one, actually benefiting Russia and Iran.
The funny part is that during this period in which the U.S. faces crisis with Russia and Iran, it needs to see that the YPG, which was used in a struggle with DAESH, is now associating with Iran supported by the Assad force. U.S. needs to clarify if it will continue to work with a NATO partner or with a terrorist organization.
Turkey has united against counter terrorism with both the opposition and the ruler-ship. According to the latest surveys, the Anti-American perception in Turkey is 71.9% (Optimar), 85% (A&G Survey). Interestingly, the bad perception of Kurdish citizens living in Turkey regarding the U.S. is 82% (A&G Survey). The U.S. needs to take serious steps with regards to the YPG and FETO to overcome the impression.
Yet, we should know why the U.S. does not give up on the YPG.
a-It manipulates the YPG, b-willing to convey a message to Russia and Iran that it still exists in the region, c-avoiding the loss of its own soldiers by keeping YPG in the frontline, d-black propaganda of Turkey in military circles.
e-The lack of co-ordination among the agencies in Washington DC, f- Special Envot for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS , Brett McGurk’s insistence on YPG-PKK.
If we take all of the above into account, I doubt whether we will see if the U.S will give up on the YPG in 2018.
Many of the members of the U.S. Congress and Senate, who I have spoken to, are confused about the policy on Syria. This is why it is extremely important to continually emphasize that Turkish-American relations are valuable and that the U.S. should not push Turkey towards Russia and Iran.
At the last bilateral negotiations, the decision of forming the working group was very positive. At least, existence of open communications and coordination give the message of good intentions and that we care about this relationship to the world.
I do hope that the Turkish-U.S. relations get back on track. There are many fields of investments, which both countries can undertake jointly — Economy, Education, Energy, and Technology. Close contact between each sector, without perceiving this relationship as just a security relationship, will be of benefit for both the Turkish and the U.S. community.
Both Turkey and the U.S. should stop making their enemies happy!