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Challenges on Turkey-U.S. Relationship

By Ali Cinar - Lately, the relationship between the U.S. and Turkey has taken a severe downfall. During the General Assembly of the United Nations, President Trump met with six world leaders while President Erdogan met with 14. However, other than a brief conversation at the United Nations corridor, the two leaders did not hold a formal meeting. Though there was much hope an improvement of relations would come with the presidency of Donald Trump, it has not occurred. Past disagreement between Turkey’s leadership and President Obama over the so-called Parallel State Structure in Turkey, an arm of the FETO as well as the Kurdistan Workers Party(PKK) seems to have spilled over into the administration of Donald Trump.



We are seeing a positive dialog between U.S. and Turkey since October 12th. With the release of Pastor Brunson, U.S.-Turkey relationship was released from its most serious point of contention.President Trump said "There was no deal made with Turkey for the release and return of Pastor Andrew Brunson. I don’t make deals for hostages however, great appreciation on behalf of the United States, which will lead to good, perhaps great, relations between the United States & Turkey!" Pastor Brunson had a recently interviewed with Voice of America and he said:" God Loves Turkey and We Love Turkey"

Secretary Pompeo and Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu spoke three times since October 12th.In addition, Secretary Pompeo also visited Ankara to discuss the  the Saudi Journalist murder case with President Erdogan and Minister Cavusoglu.It seems like Turkey and U.S. are on the same page to solve this political murder.Turkey makes pressure on Saudis and wants U.S act as soon as possible. Turkey might seeking reshape relations between US and Saudi Arabia over Jamal Khashoggi's murder.

President Erdogan  stood strong against an “attempted economic coup”.He highlighted that the country was being “threatened by the economy, sanctions, foreign currency, interest rates and inflation and We tell them that we see their game and we challenge them.”

Let's keep in mind that  President Trump's policy of continuing to arm the YPG, clashes over goals and expectations in Syria and lack of any progress on the extradition of Fetullah Gulen. On the other side, the relations were further marred with the arrest of a number of people of Turkish origin, working in American consulates, and the continued discomfort of Turkey purchasing the S-400 defense system, has angered policymakers in the U.S. In the meantime Turkey began to form a closer alliance with nations such as Russia and Iran in a search for alternatives, this has further alienated the two NATO nations.

We don't want to see U.S to push Turkey toward Russia and Iran. Turkey should stick with NATO Allies in order to have democratic values and enable to consult and cooperate on defence and security-related issues to solve problems, build trust and, in the long run, prevent conflict.

In Turkey, both the government and the opposition are working together in fighting terrorism. The continued U.S. support for the YPG has affected attitudes. In surveys that have been done, anti-American attitudes are at 71.9% (Optimar), 66% (AGS Global), and 85% (A&G Survey). We must also keep in mind that the survey showed no difference within the people of Kurdish origin in Turkey, with an 82% (A&G Survey) disapproval rating of the U.S.

Many in the U.S. Congress find themselves confused as to what the U.S. foreign policy in Syria is. With Turkey’s position and role in Syria, it must be emphasized, that Turkish-American relations are valuable and that the U.S. should not push Turkey toward Russia and Iran.

The good news is the Training for joint Manbij patrols with Turkish forces have already started and actual joint patrols will be starting soon. General Votel said :"We’re right on track with where we want to be. We’ve been through a very deliberate and mutually agreed upon training program.” at U.S Airbase in Qatar  last week.

Knowing that Iran and Russia are doing all to attract Turkey to their side, I believe that the NATO Allies need to understand and support Turkey. This starts with an immediate appointment of a U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, as well as establishing well and frequently used diplomatic channels to fix the issues currently faced. Turkey has the second largest military in NATO and is located in one of the most problematic geopolitical areas, an area that is of strategic benefit to the U.S. and NATO.

We should also remember that economic collaboration is very critical in order to strengthen  the ties between 2 NATO Allies. The trade volume between the US and Turkey is $19,8 billion in 2017, far from reflecting the potential of both countries. US-Turkey bilateral trade has increased %8 on a yearly basis for August 2017/2018, exports of Turkey to US has increased %5 compared to last month 1,900 US companies operating in Turkey and employs over 90,000 people

We must understand Turkey’s position better while keeping in mind that the two countries have had a very special and very good  relationship for seventy years.

It seems like President Erdogan and President Trump will meet in Paris mid-November. Hope to see a new page in U.S. and Turkey ties.

* Survey shows growing anti-US views: Conducted by Optimar
https://www.aa.com.tr/en/americas/turkey-surveys-show-growing-anti-us-views/1055501

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