Relations between Turkey and the U.S. have suffered profound damage, as some military officers organizing the coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 hid in U.S. military bases located in Turkey while Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) leader Fetullah Gülen, who orchestrated the attempted coup, has been protected in Pennsylvania.
But the main point that has upset the alliance, ongoing for more than 50 years, between the countries has been the U.S. support for the PKK terrorist group's Syrian affiliate the People's Protection Units (YPG) without feeling a need to conceal it. The U.S. also lists the PKK, which is responsible for hundreds of thousands of casualties in Turkey, as a terrorist group. Despite that, the country provides a great amount of weapons support to the YPG. On top of that, the U.S. recently announced that it will form a border force manned by YPG militants on the Syrian border.
Although the U.S. resorts to various readjustments and equivocations, its support for the YPG – and PKK – is ongoing in every sense. A comment from The New York Times on the YPG's Daesh-like suicide attack on the Turkish military in Syria sums up the situation by pointing out that a suicide bombing by an American ally against a NATO member is peculiar.
So, what will the consequences be?
First of all, Ankara will embark on a quest for more reliable allies. The main alternatives are currently Moscow and Tehran, whose interests clash with those of the U.S. in the region. The solution that was formed in Sochi, which does not include the U.S., provides a significant political platform for the Syrian war. The S-400 missile air defense system agreement between Moscow and Ankara indicates that the U.S. will be of secondary importance militarily now. Undoubtedly, this will introduce some economic costs to the U.S. A possible novelty that will profoundly affect the dollar balances in China, Iran, Russia and the Gulf region will surely constrain the U.S. Federal Reserve.
Nevertheless, it is more than losing an important ally in the Middle East. Having started initiatives on developing bilateral relations after voting to leave the European Union, the U.K. is on much more amicable terms with Turkey since the July 15 coup attempt. London offers new alternatives to Ankara against the discussions of implementing arms and modernization sanctions on Turkey. For instance, the contacts with the British company Caterpillar have already begun for the engines for Turkey's domestically developed tank. Also, Rolls-Royce has agreed to the production of a domestic jet engine with a Turkish company. It is known that the two countries are preparing to take tangible steps in military defense and trade.
Yes, the U.S. has been losing Turkey, the country's most reliable and powerful partner in the Middle East both commercially and militarily since World War II, to its rivals.
What can be done from now on? Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, and an official during George W. Bush's presidency, answered this question during a panel he attended last week:
"[As to whether] we cannot take into consideration the interests of the most powerful and stable state in that region when we are building order, the answer is no. The Turks are not going to allow a PKK state to be built in Syria. They are not going to allow it. If we think that we are going to stop them somehow without massive military force, we are kidding ourselves."
It is never too late to mend relations.
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