by Burak Bekdil
The anti-American sentiment in Turkey may push Turkey further into a Russian-led axis of regional powers, including Iran.
- Ever since the Iraqi Kurds held a referendum (and voted "yes") on independence on September 25, Turkey has aligned itself with Iran and the Iran-controlled government in Iraq, who view the Kurdish political movement as a major threat.
- Take the most significant geostrategic regional calculation in northern Syria: What Ankara views as the biggest security threat are U.S. allies fighting the Islamic State: the Syrian Kurds.
- The anti-American sentiment in Turkey (part of which has been fueled by the Islamist government in power since 2002) may push Turkey further into a Russian-led axis of regional powers, including Iran.
It is puzzling why Trump gave a passionately (and ideologically) pro-Hamas, pro-Muslim Brotherhood, Islamist leader "very high marks." But in reality, the Ankara-Washington axis could not be farther from diplomatic niceties such as "allies" or "very high marks."
This is a select (and brief) recent anatomy of what some analysts call "hostage diplomacy" between the two "staunch NATO allies."
- In June this year, Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Survey,
covering a total of 37 countries, revealed that 79% of Turks had an
unfavorable opinion of the U.S. That was the second-highest among the
countries surveyed, after 82% in Jordan. Anti-American sentiment in
Turkey is 27% higher than in Russia, and more than twice as high as the
global median of 39%.
- There are reports that six Turkish government banks face billions of dollars in fines from the U.S. over alleged violations of Iran sanctions.
- Turkey is keeping in jail, among a dozen or so others, a NASA
scientist who was vacationing with relatives in Turkey, and a Christian
missionary who has lived in Turkey for 23 years. Others include a
visiting chemistry professor from Pennsylvania and his brother, a
real-estate agent. All of them face long prison sentences for allegedly
playing a part in last year's failed coup against Erdogan's government.
- Early in October, as "hostage diplomacy" intensified, the "staunch allies" U.S. and Turkey stopped issuing non-immigrant visas
to each others' citizens -- a restriction that has already affected
thousands of travelers. The first ban came from the U.S., then Turkey
retaliated. The U.S. move came after Turkey's arrest of a U.S. consulate employee,
a Turkish citizen, on charges that he had links to Gülen. The visa ban
put Turkey in the same category of countries such as Chad, Iran, Libya,
North Korea, Somalia, Venezuela and Yemen. Erdogan also claims that the U.S. is hiding a suspect in its Istanbul consulate who is also linked to Gülen.
- Erdogan apparently wants to raise the stakes. A Turkish court
earlier in October convicted -- in absentia -- a Wall Street Journal
reporter of producing "terrorist propaganda" in Turkey and sentenced her
to more than two years in prison. Ayla Albayrak
was sentenced for writing an August 2015 article which, the judges
ruled, violated Turkey's anti-terror laws. Had Albayrak not been in New
York at the time of the verdict, she would have joined nearly 200
journalists already jailed in Turkey.
- Adding insult to injury over the "very high marks," Erdogan claims that the U.S., not Turkey, is uncivilized and undemocratic. In an Oct. 21 speech, he said
that the U.S. indictment against his bodyguards was "undemocratic." He
said, "They say the United States is the cradle of democracy. This can't
be true. This can't be democracy ... I'm sorry, but I cannot say that
country [the U.S.] is civilized."
Turkey is clearly no longer a "staunch ally." Take the most significant geostrategic regional calculation in northern Syria: What Ankara views as the biggest security threat are U.S. allies fighting the Islamic State: the Syrian Kurds.
Ever since the Iraqi Kurds held a referendum (and voted "yes") on independence, on September 25, Turkey has aligned itself with Iran and the Iran-controlled government in Iraq, who view the Kurdish political movement as a major threat.
Ever since the Iraqi Kurds held a referendum on independence, on September 25, Turkey has aligned itself with Iran and the Iran-controlled government in Iraq, who view the Kurdish political movement as a major threat. Pictured: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (left) meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, on September 24, 2014. (Image source: Iranian President's Office)
Moreover, the idea of unifying Sunnis against the Shiite bloc is more difficult than it may look. Sunni Turks view Sunni Kurds, as an existential threat who are -- allied with Shiite Iran and Iran-controlled Iraq, which contains Kurds.
Saudi Arabia and Turkey also found themselves at the opposite ends of the crisis surrounding Qatar -- all Sunni.
Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from Turkey's leading newspaper after 29 years, for writing what was taking place in Turkey for Gatestone. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
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Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.