Where is the Ankara-Washington friendship heading?

Published 06.08.2018 20:42 Modified 06.08.2018 20:42

For the first time in years, the problems in Turkey-U.S. relations went beyond rhetoric and brought about implementations. We faced some implementations following the Cyprus operation in 1974, but it was predominantly a military embargo; but now, we are confronted with an utterly different case.

Both countries have surely changed since then. We are going through a period in which the countries' interests conflict in the global setting. Considering the incidents of the past few years, it can be said that there is not a single incident in which the U.S. and Turkey have not confronted each other. The U.S. has openly adopted an anti-Turkey stance over time in many fields, including the cases in Egypt and Syria, the protection of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and the military aid to the PKK terror group.

Adding the issues of Jerusalem and the S-400 missiles, it can be said that we are experiencing a moment in which then-Prime Minister İsmet İnönü's reply to then-U.S. President Lyndon Johnson's letter in 1964 can be realized: "A new world order will be established with Turkey in it."

The latest convergence of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Korea) countries with Turkey also demonstrates this. The U.S. could not hamper Turkey's progress no matter what it did, which has incensed those with anti-Turkish sentiment in the U.S.

The negative atmosphere in the U.S. has progressed so far that the hostile statements against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are now being vocally articulated. U.S. President Donald Trump and his team, who had looked at Erdoğan in a different way than the rest of the establishment, have also jumped on the bandwagon. The visible reason for this is the case of detained American evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson.

U.S. elections to be held in November surely also have played a role in that, but this is not the only aspect raising the tension. The Brunson issue has been used as a pretext to press on and corner Turkey, which unites Trump and his opponents. This front has grown and been backed by serious public support. Therefore, probably for the first time in the history of the two countries' relations, the U.S. assets of two Turkish ministers, namely Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül, were frozen. Although this is a symbolic decision and does not correspond to anything tangible, it is still a perturbing move. They seek to deepen the economic strains they have been placing since the April 16 referendum and create a negative impression on Turkey.

It is not mere coincidence that these two ministers were chosen. Although their pretext is the Brunson case, the truth is FETÖ is behind this. It is known that the two ministers are playing a major part in the fight against FETÖ and the PKK, and the U.S. is highly disturbed by this.

Despite all of the issues, Turkey-U.S. relations will not easily reach a breaking point. Although the present situation complicates the issues, the doors are still wide open, and Turkey refuses to let them close.

The negotiations between Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and his U.S. counterpart Mike Pompeo, Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın and the U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton are ongoing and cementing the possibility of resolving the issue without deepening it any further. So, the Çavuşoğlu-Pompeo meeting is significant and might open a new door in relations.

This development shows that new steps might be taken by October, but it must be noted that relations could not be restored unless the U.S. releases the unjustly arrested Hakan Atilla, extradites FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen and gives up supporting the PKK terror group and its Syrian offshoot, the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

Moreover, it is an undeniable fact that Turkey upholds its own independence and interests, which is why it clashes with the U.S. in many fields. These aspects will continue to be the priorities of Turkey, so we will live with this dynamic henceforth.

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