Is The U.S-Turkey Relationship Steadily Creeping into an Abyss?

Posted on July. 30. 2021

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Has Turkey outlived its usefulness in a post-Cold War era? Let’s take a look at a litany of issues causing irreparable damage to Turkey’s international standing.
During the last couple decades, the relationship between the United States and Turkey has been steadily creeping into an abyss. The meeting between U.S. Pres. Joe Biden and Turkish Pres. Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the June 2021 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit in Brussels failed to meet Turkish expectations for the U.S.-Turkey relationship being placed back on track.

As a direct result of fading hopes for a recovery from the worsening crisis, the uncertainty increased. The underlying factors that previously shaped the relationship have remained unchanged. Turkey’s lira tumbled after the highly anticipated meeting between Biden and Erdogan ended without clear progress on bilateral tensions.
France condemns Turkish-backed terrorism in Libya:
On several occasions, France has made amply clear that it will not tolerate Turkey’s military intervention in Libya. Turkey has funneled ISIS terrorist fighters from Syria in Tripoli.
“I have already had the opportunity to say very clearly to President (Tayyip) Erdogan, I consider that Turkey is playing a dangerous game in Libya today and going against all of its commitments made at the Berlin conference,” Macron said alongside his Tunisian counterpart Kais Saied, referring to a peace meeting earlier this year. “We won’t tolerate the role that Turkey is playing in Libya,” French President Emmanuel Macron said.
Turkish intransigence in the Aegean Sea:
In a July 27 article on titled “How Long Will the Aegean Sea’s Peaceful Summer Last?” Burak Bekdil wrote: “How sustainable will the Aegean Sea’s peaceful summer of 2021 prove to be? For Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the primary reason for peace in the Aegean has been the threat of further Western sanctions amid Turkey’s ongoing economic descent. But his election campaign for the 2023 race could drive him back to his bullying, aggressive self in terms of regional policy to consolidate conservative and nationalist votes.”
In 2020, Turkish DM Hulusi Akar provocatively ‘advised’ Greece to remain silent “so as not to become a meze [snack] for the interests of others.”
That much tension between two traditional rivals who had fought four conventional wars in the 20th century alone was enough to alarm the region, the EU, and the US. The EU threatened to sanction Turkey, and in September, Washington announced that it was partially lifting a 33-year-old arms embargo on (Greek) Cyprus, a move that troubled Turkey.
Turkey’s Russian S-400 Crisis:
The United States has imposed sanctions on Turkey in 2020 over its multibillion-dollar acquisition of a Russian missile system. The S-400 system is said to pose a risk to the NATO alliance as well as the F-35, America’s most expensive weapons platform. Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program caused a hike in engine price. The cost of the F-35 fighter jet2s engine is set to increase by 3 percent due to Turkey’s removal from the program in 2019, the head of Pratt & Whitney’s military engines division said in April.
Turkey/Azerbaijan ISIS bankrolling of international terrorism in a number of hotspots such as Libya, Syria, Iraq, Armenian Artsakh Republic.
Erdogan along with his Turkish allies is accused of being top supporters of ISIS/Al-Qaeda; a proponent of a series of war crimes perpetrated by his Turkish, Azerbaijani and ISIS terrorist allies during the 44-day terrorist aggression against Armenians in Artsakh/Nagorno Karabakh in Fall 2020.
American, French, European and Russian deep concerns over Neo-Ottoman imperial ambitions in Middle East, South Caucasus and Central Asia: In 2020, Metin Kulunk, a former deputy from Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, published a map of “Greater Turkey” that illustrated the extent of Turkey’s revisionist ambitions to include areas of Greece, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Syria, Iraq, Georgia, and Armenia. These ambitions extend all the way to Central Asian states.

Dream of Democracy Dead in Turkey: Five years after an attempted coup (in 2016), the dream of democracy in Turkey is dead, wrote Simon A. Waldman is a visiting lecturer and research fellow at King’s College London and co-author of The New Turkey and its Discontents.
Ameliorating US/EU-Iran relations may isolate Turkey/Azerbaijan and offer boon to Armenia and Georgia: reported in June: “The US and Iran continued indirect talks in Vienna this week aimed at rejoining the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with Tehran returning to nuclear compliance in exchange for relief from US sanctions. The talks, which started in early April, are taking longer than some analysts predicted. But most still expect a deal to be reached in the coming months.
S&P Global Platts Analytics expects the US to remove sanctions on Iran’s oil, petrochemical, shipping, and other sectors by September, allowing the country to boost crude and condensate exports to 1.5 million b/d by December, from 600,000 b/d in May.” Iran plans to export its oil and gas products to European markets through an economic superhighway passing through Armenia and Georgia leaving both Turkey and Azerbaijan out.
Sinan Ulgen recently wrote on “At present, the relationship between Turkey and the United States is in a deep crisis. The meeting between U.S. Pres. Biden and Turkish Pres. Erdogan … raised expectations that the U.S.-Turkey relationship can be put back on track. And yet recovery from the present crisis is uncertain, as the underlying factors that previously shaped the relationship have changed.” Ulgen is a visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe in Brussels, where his research focuses on Turkish foreign policy, nuclear policy, cyberpolicy, and transatlantic relations.
Ulgen noted that “The Turkey-U.S. relationship has long been defined as a strategic alliance underwritten by NATO. Today, this definition has become obsolete and does not capture the new reality of this relationship” on the background of growing divergences between Ankara and Washington.
In 2002, Erdogan had introduced Turkey’s ‘Zero Problems’ with neighbors. But like many of his economic and political failures, Ankara went from ‘Zero Problems’ to Zero Friends, losing its leverage everywhere.

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