Amid the ongoing visa crisis between Turkey and the U.S., outgoing U.S. Ambassador John Bass's remarks on terrorist attacks in Turkey and Turkey's territorial integrity at his last press conference in Ankara on Oct. 11 have been interpreted by some experts as a subtle threat to Turkey.
"The U.S. is not supporting an independent Kurdistan. The U.S. is not supporting a Kurdish corridor and does not support any change in the territorial integrity of Turkey," Bass said on Oct. 11. He also said that cooperation between the two allies had helped reduce terrorist attacks in Turkey, adding that close security cooperation ensured that Daesh was no longer able to carry out the kind of attacks that plagued Turkey in 2015 and 2016.
His statement regarding Turkey's integrity raised concerns in society and the media as several Turkish newspapers perceived the remarks as a subtle threat. For instance, Sözcü Daily wrote: "U.S. envoy making insinuating remarks before he leaves." Another daily, Yenisafak wrote: "Does John Bass work with Daesh?" Aksam daily wrote called Bass a "confessor." Aydınlık daily wrote as the headline: "[Bass's] Daesh confession."
Commenting on Bass's remarks, Hasan Basri Yücel from Istanbul Trade University said Bass's statement was subtle, adding that he aims to cause a disturbance by saying these types of statements. He said: "Bass' speech can be understood as speak softly but carry a big stick," contending that Bass insinuated that the U.S. would cut off its support for Turkey in the international field. Bora Bayraktar from Istanbul Culture University agreed, calling Bass a failed diplomat who has never attempted to enhance relations between the two countries. Bayraktar said the visa suspension is the U.S.'s reaction to Turkey's efforts to provide its own security. He added that even though the U.S. has made statements regarding Turkey's security, it has been acting against Turkey's security and integrity for 25 years.
Explaining that Turkey is providing security for its people on its own, Bayraktar said: "Turkey is providing its security owing to the determinant and self-sacrificing efforts of Turkish security forces, stable government and Turkish citizens' support for the government." He added that Turkey has been fighting terrorism despite U.S. actions in the Middle East. Yücel agreed: "Turkey's security is not related to cooperation with the U.S. It is actually related to Turkey's active efforts against terrorism and Operation Euphrates Shield." Yücel added that Bass' statements do not reflect the truth.
Bayraktar added: "The main cause of the crisis is the U.S," saying that the U.S has been supporting the PKK's Syrian affiliate Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed People's Protection Units (YPG) actively for two years by providing weapons. He added that U.S actions in Iraq, Syria and its indirect moves contradict Bass' statements. "We should focus on actions not statements," Bayraktar said. He added that the U.S. has been silent for two years on incidents that Turkey faced such as the July 15 coup attempt and Ankara's security concerns pertaining to the PYD in Syria and PKK in Iraq. Yücel added: "It is a well-known fact that even Turkey was fighting against Daesh in Operation Euphrates Shield, and the U.S didn't provide air support." Yücel and Bayraktar both said that Turkey has been providing its security alone without assistance from any foreign power.