I have been stressing for some time the importance of repairing the strained relationship between Turkey and the United States. My argument is that we must reset before the situation hits rock bottom. The only way to accomplish that goal is for Washington to revise its unilateralist, interest-driven approach and start taking Turkey’s national security into consideration.We understand that this change is indeed challenging. We also observe that the differences of opinion between Ankara and Washington are spreading to new areas, including the Eastern Mediterranean. Still, the main point is to stop tensions from evolving into a serious catastrophe and to find new areas of cooperation. At the same time, we must continue diplomatic negotiations.
Earlier this week, senior Turkish officials visited the U.S. capital to prevent further deterioration of bilateral relations. Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan and Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalın shared Turkey’s perspective with their counterparts.
Albayrak’s meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump was arguably the most significant of those contacts. At the White House, the Turkish finance minister shared President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s messages on the S-400 missile defense system and a range of other issues with his host.
I was in Washington on the same days as the Turkish delegation to attend a panel discussion on the Syrian crisis hosted by the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA). Based on my meetings there, my sense is that the threat of CAATSA is under consideration across U.S. bureaucracy, and Trump must absolutely take an initiative to stop the S-400 issue from turning into a full-blown crisis.
Let’s see if Trump will do for Turkey what he already did for Saudi Arabia. Will he block attempts to poison Turkey-U.S. relations through CAATSA or Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program?
Ironically, Syria now presents an opportunity for the two countries to repair their relations. An agreement on the safe zone could stop further deterioration. Of course, such a step would require all sides to listen to U.S. officials willing to acknowledge Washington’s past mistakes rather than people like Brett McGurk and the rest of the Barack Obama holdovers. The words of Gen. James Jones, President Obama’s national security adviser who currently serves as chairman of the American-Turkish Council, are a case in point: “Had a safe zone been set up in Syria after the violation of the red line, the refugee influx would have been prevented. Not taking that step was a strategic mistake.”
[Daily Sabah, 20 April 2019]
In this article
- Donald Trump
- F-35 Fighter Jet Program
- Middle East
- PKK - KCK - YPG - YPJ - PYD - SDG - TAK - PJAK
- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
- S-400 Triumph Air Defence Missile System
- Safe zone
- Syrian Civil War
- Syrian Conflict
- Trump’s Syria withdrawal
- Turkey-U.S. Security Relations
- Turkey-US Relations
- Turkish-American Relations
- U.S.-PKK/YPG Relations
- U.S.-Terror Relations