Strained Turkish-U.S. relations seem to have been cooling down for a while. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's positive statements made following his meeting with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu Tuesday also indicate that the normalization process for bilateral ties between the two countries is on the horizon.
"I welcome the positive momentum in our relationship following the release of pastor [Andrew] Brunson and urge reopening additional channels to address issues of mutual concern," Pompeo said in a press conference with Çavuşoğlu in Washington, D.C.
If normalization can be furthered and accelerated, it will be more beneficial to the U.S.' national interests rather than Turkey, an influential regional actor that is open to rational cooperation and alliances in the region.
Let's take the S-400 crisis. In order to strengthen its military defense system, Turkey, as a rational actor, preferred the Russian high-tech missiles instead of its NATO ally U.S.' systems. Also, the U.S. presently does not have a similar alternative partner in the region in the place of Turkey, within whose borders is its military base, the İncirlik Air Base. The base is the top priority for the U.S. since it is known that the U.S. deploys nuclear weapons there.
In such an energy-rich region where U.S. rivals such Iran and Russia are actively present, NATO member Turkey's geographic position is strategically unique for the U.S. Not to mention that Turkey is the sole strong democracy in the region and a safe and trustworthy country, as the region contains autocracies and a kingdom that slays its own dissident journalists in their consulate buildings.
Beyond any doubt, the tension between Turkey and the United States can come to an end on the condition that both parties take joint initiatives as Pompeo recently highlighted. It is safe to say that Turkey did its part by making a concrete attempt in the Brunson crisis. It is now the U.S.' turn to prove that it respects its ally Turkey's sovereignty and security concerns.
For that purpose, the Fetullah Gülen issue, that was reiterated by Çavuşoğlu during his discussion with Pompeo, is a good opportunity at hand for the United States.
The self-exiled Gülen is the ringleader of the terrorist cult known as the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), and is reportedly responsible for the bloody July 15, 2016 failed coup. On the night of the coup some 250 people were killed. Gülen and his secretive group are also operating lobby activities, blackmailing politicians and buying media outlets for their illegal campaign. Some news reports in some U.S. media groups, funded by FETÖ, stated that Gülen will be executed in Turkey if he is extradited to Ankara. This is pure fabrication since capital punishment is already prohibited in the country as part of the European Union membership process.
However, U.S. President Donald Trump is an extraordinary and realistic man. Hence, it wouldn't be suitable for such a professional president to be influenced by the manipulations of Gülen's men as some other politicians are.
The information about Gülen in the U.S. media is circulated and released by the U.S. establishment, dominating U.S. public opinion and following anti-Trump rhetoric. Hence, the president should pay attention to it and test their credibility. For that, it would be enough only to glance at the confessions made by FETÖ members in the Turkish trials. Such information and more is already included in the related files submitted by Turkish officials to the U.S. Attorney General and Department of Justice.
Mr. President, there is no other appropriate time as today to take such a step – extraditing this most wanted criminal Gülen and his followers! Please do not damage the mutual interests of two historical allies for a raving cult leader, who had planned to topple the democratically elected government in Turkey and then return to the country just as Ruhollah Khomeini did in Iran in 1979.