Lame duck Obama and a Congress that presses Turkey on Israel

Published 08.11.2014 02:00
Updated 08.11.2014 10:08

The recent midterm elections in the U.S. were a victory for the Republicans and a downright defeat for President Barack Obama and Democrats.

The Republicans captured the majority in the Senate and also further strengthened their grip on the House of Representatives, thus pushing Obama's presidency into a lame duck role.

Turkey will now have to watch out for congressional reflexes regarding its regional policies as well as considering the reactions of the White House.

Will Turkey have a rough ride in the U.S. Congress? Regarding the Syrian civil war and the likely problems posed by the advent of the 100th year since the 1915 incidents regarding the Armenians during Ottoman times, Turkey's fortunes are not so bad.

Republicans share similar views on Syria – that Washington has to be tougher on the Bashar Assad regime and that the opposition should be strengthened.

On the Armenian issue, too, they are not as combative as Democrats who are dying to appease the Armenian lobby in the U.S. and thus would be more receptive to a tough worded motion regarding Armenians, especially in 2015 when the 100th year of the events during World War I when Armenians living under Ottoman rule were killed and the Armenians called this controversially a genocide.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, while rejecting the term genocide, has already acknowledged the suffering of Armenians in 1915 and has voiced his condolences.

But the real problem for Turkey will be its downward relations with Israel. Republicans definitely want warm relations between Ankara and Israel and will not be as understanding on the issue as Obama and Democrats.

Of course events like the closure of Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque and the push by the Israeli government to build more settlements on Palestinian land is not helping to mend fences between Turkey and Israel. The fact that Israel is being run by a government that is, at times, obliged to pay lip service to Jewish zealots is complicating matters.

However, Turkey has to find a balance in improving its relations with Israel, and this will need good statesmanship and will be a hard test of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

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