Recently, certain circles have been trying to drive a wedge between Turkey and the U.S., two former allies, and disrupt their strong relationship. The most concrete example of this trend is the pastor Andrew Brunson case.
Of course, the importance of the relationship between the two countries plays a part in Brunson being moved from prison to house arrest. Though the judiciary works independently, this decision could be considered a demonstration of goodwill by a judiciary that is loyal to its nation.
In fact, the dialogue following the house arrest decision also paralleled the positive trend of goodwill, with Washington responding positively to the move. However, the warm reception was quickly cut short when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence delivered malicious and unacceptable statements against Turkey.
Clearly, this negative response does nothing toward resolving the problem. If the U.S. really wants Brunson released and returned home, such discourse is not helping them achieve their goal. Of course, most in Washington seem to understand this point. Even if the judicial process decides to release the pastor, how will this decision be received after so many quasi-ultimatum statements?
I think the Donald Trump administration is falling into a carefully set trap that is slowly driving a wedge between Washington and Ankara. Some want to ostracize and restrain Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's administration and disrupt its close relationship with the U.S. However, it will be a fruitless effort. Turkey's divergence from the U.S., while it has intimate relations with Russia, will change the balance in the Middle East.
Therefore, prudent figures of the Trump administration should see where this is going and rephrase their statements about Turkey. Trump personally cares about Erdoğan and values his input. He, of all people, should be able to see where this is leading.
On the other hand, I believe Turkey's concerns and worries are not being taken into consideration by the U.S. Indeed, while the U.S. is making menacing statements one after another about Brunson's arrest in Turkey, Halkbank Deputy General Manager Hakan Atilla has been imprisoned in the U.S. This is obviously a politically driven detention. Washington is not doing anything about it; whereas, Turkey is pursuing low-profile diplomacy to get results. Moreover, Fetullah Gülen is still openly living and conducting business in the U.S. despite the hundreds of boxes of evidence sent by Turkey linking him to the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. No steps have been taken for his arrest.
In short, the U.S. has no right to criticize the Turkish judiciary. Ideally, there should be no problems; however, now that problems do exist, it seems far more rational for both parties to try and solve them without harming their relationship and close dialogue.
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