I am wondering, that while I already predicted and argued in one of my previous columns published back in February that Donald Trump would be the next U.S. president as a person who was born and grew up in Turkey and spent barely two months in the U.S., how 90 percent of the U.S. media, almost all the poll companies and capital markets could not foresee his rise and behaved like Hillary Clinton's victory was certain.
Democracy can be unpredictable sometimes. Besides, they still have not come to their senses. Neither the Republicans, nor the Democrats are endeavoring to make sense of why a controversial billionaire who is not politically correct and who does not have any political experience was elected president. They cannot see the fact that the factors seemingly wrong to them are true reasons for some people.
Particularly the elites and media outlets of the Democrat Party have already engaged in a race of blaming everyone except themselves. For instance, they are not questioning the candidacy of someone who is involved in several scandals, who is supported by all the important people on Wall Street and by almost the entire financial oligarchy of the world, and had a hand in many incidents that soured U.S. public opinion including the occupation of Iraq and the Benghazi fiasco.
Just as the left-wing and liberal stratum in Turkey never learned the reasons why Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been the leading political figure in Turkey for the last 15 years, treating the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) electorate as hillbillies and could not accomplish anything beyond insults, the Trump dissidents are behaving in the same way today. It is enough for them to consider Trump's supporters "ignorant, rural or pro-white supremacy," affront the choice of people by marching with "Fuck Trump" slogans, and valorize themselves with the slogan "I choose love" by associating the other half of the population with hate and fear, assuming that they will save the country. However, analyzing the fact that even some of the electorate voting for Obama in 2008 voted for Trump this time requires a more sophisticated intellectual effort.
Of course, this has many points concerning Turkey. Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan congratulated Trump while emphasizing their demand that Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) leader Fetullah Gülen be extradited at the first opportunity. That is not a coincidence. While almost all U.S. media outlets were concerned with purging Gülen proponents instead of the Turkish people who repelled the coup attempt on July 15, Trump said the Turkish people did a great job and congratulated Erdoğan. So, naturally, the first expectation of the Turkish public from Trump is the extradition of Gülen.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who is Trump's foreign policy adviser, wrote an article for The Hill in which he defined Gülen as the source of masked terrorism and instability. He also added that "Gülen's vast global network has all the right markings to fit the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network. From Turkey's point of view, Washington is harboring Turkey's Osama bin Laden." The reflection of this viewpoint into Trump's policies will contribute to erasing the remnants of the straining Turkey-U.S. relations during Obama's term in office.
The second important source of tension in Turkish-U.S. relations has been the U.S.'s cooperation with the People's Protection Units (YPG) in Syria. While Turkey is willing to contribute to the fight against Daesh in every aspect, the U.S. has ignored the concerns of a NATO ally country and engaged in joint military action with an organization recognized as a terrorist group by the country. Time will show whether Trump will revise this irrational policy inherited from the Obama government. However, the Turkish people, who have been suffering from terrorism, expect him to act differently to Obama, whom he called "the founder of Daesh."
Lastly, Trump is expected to end the Obama administration's gravest mistake in the Middle East, namely the policy of enabling Iran's expansionism. With the process initiated with the nuclear agreement, Iran came to hegemonize four Arab capitals, namely Baghdad, Beirut, Sana'a and Damascus. Despite that, there has been no decrease in the country's extent of aggression against other Muslim countries.
Turkey will be closely following the Trump government especially on the abovementioned aspects.
About the author
Hilal Kaplan is a journalist and columnist. Kaplan is also board member of TRT, the national public broadcaster of Turkey.