Relations between countries are handled by their governments and these ties can experience their ups and downs due to the prevailing conditions of the times. However, relations between nations are more permanent and the people's perception really counts. Today in Turkey more than 85 percent of the population do not regard the United States as a friend. These results have been displayed in several public opinion polls that show very negative trends to say the least.
So can the Turks be blamed for this kind of perception when we observe so many negative trends in our relations with Washington?
Turkey regards the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Peoples Protection Units (YPG) as a natural extension of the PKK, which has been fighting a secessionist terrorist war in Turkey for more than four decades. The U.S. does not agree and uses the PYD and YPG as a fighting force against Daesh fighters. Yet many Americans confess that the YPG and the PYD are affiliates of the PKK, regard imprisoned PKK terrorist chieftain Abdullah Öcalan as their leader and display his photos at their offices. And yet when things become too obvious, the Americans persuade the Syrian militants to call themselves "the Syrian Democratic Forces" just to put a sugar coating on a bitter pill. So the U.S. supplies arms and military hardware to the PYD and YPG, which ends up in the hands of the PKK. The Turkish people see that their arch enemy, the PKK, is being fed with arms and human resources by the YPG and PYD despite American denials. The Turkish people see very clearly that the main goal of the PYD and YPG is not to get rid of Daesh, but to expand their territorial gains across northern Syria and establish a mini state or an autonomous zone just across our border. The Turkish people hear PYD and YPG statements that claim they are bent on pushing Turkish forces out of northern Syria from the areas liberated from Daesh during Operation Euphrates Shield. The Turkish people see the human rights violations committed by the PYD and YPG militants all over northern Syria and how the atheist PKK, PYD and YPG fighters have closed down 76 mosques in Afrin and have insulted Muslim believers. All these activities have nothing to do with Daesh or al-Qaida-affiliated radicals, so can the Americans explain to us what the PYD and YPG are up to?
The Turkish people also see that while the Americans are handing us the lists of the materials they are providing for the PYD and YPG, other countries like Germany, Britain, France and some Nordic states pour in arms for the YPG and PYD, yet these are not listed anywhere. Yet it is the Americans that apparently deliver these arms to these people through these supply lines. Then of course there is the matter of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) in the U.S. It is very clear in even most Americans minds that Fetullah Gülen and his gang were involved in the bloody coup attempt of July 15, 2016 and yet Gülen and his followers are being treated as "valuable guests" in the country, rather than "coup suspects." Thus Gülen is allowed to vomit his hatred and anger against the Erdoğan administration, so much so that he is allowed to call for the assassination of Turkish officials. Calls from Turkey to at least put him under house arrest have been ignored. What would you think about the U.S. if you were a Turk who sees this ugly picture?
So is it really a surprise that more than 85 percent of Turks do not see the U.S. as a friend? These are some views that Secretary of Defense James Mattis can take back home with him after his visit to Ankara today.