Is Turkey dropping Washington?

Despite the longstanding alliance and shut army partnership between Turkey and the United States, the connection has all the time been troublesome. For a while now, pundits and Turkey specialists have tended to invest on “who lost Turkey.” Although a lot of the observations have seemed for an American offender, it’s now time to debate for Ankara “who lost the United States?” as Turkey is on the verge of dropping its key ally.

From the Eastern Mediterranean to Syria — crucial and essential file in entrance of Ankara — Washington has more and more sided with the rivals of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Recent developments have additionally indicated that Erdogan’s delicate sport of pitting Russia and the US towards one another additionally backfired in Washington.

Following Erdogan’s profound disappointment at not with the ability to meet with President Joe Biden in the course of the United Nations General Assembly in September, Erdogan met together with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. After the Sept 29 Sochi assembly, Erdogan spoke extremely of Putin, praising ongoing Turkish-Russian army cooperation with ever-deepening prospects, whereas needling Biden with bitter phrases.

A day earlier than the Sochi summit, Greece and France signed a deal underneath which Athens will buy three to 4 superior frigates from Paris, delivered between 2025 and 2026. The frigates shall be appropriate with 24 Rafale jets that Greece acquired from France this yr. The bold Franco-Greek army deal seems to be aiming to steadiness Turkish naval and air supremacy within the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, if not tip the scales in Athens’ favor.

The dramatic Paris settlement additionally included a clause for mutual help in case of an armed assault towards the territory of one of many two. “For the first time it is stipulated that there be military assistance in the event of a third party attacking one of the two states. And we all know who is threatening whom with a casus belli in the Mediterranean,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated following the deal. He was hinting that the unprecedented France-Greece deal was aiming to deprive Turkey of strategic dominance within the Eastern Mediterranean.

The deal got here at an unlucky time for Erdogan. Germany, which has sponsored Turkish naval supremacy within the Aegean, was preoccupied with its elections on Sept. 27. The elections mark the ending of Angela Merkel’s rule, which has lengthy been criticized as lenient towards Erdogan’s insurance policies.

What is noteworthy is Mitsotakis emphasizing the “Euro-Atlantic dimension” of the settlement, which he stated was absolutely appropriate with the Franco-German Aachen settlement. This approach makes the deal marketable as step one for European strategic autonomy, which the US administration underneath Biden in all probability would endorse. This additionally indicators Turkey’s additional marginalization throughout the Euro-Atlantic safety system.

Emboldened with the deal reached with France, Greece is now having fun with American assist with potential strategic implications within the Eastern Mediterranean. Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos stated Athens and Washington would seemingly agree to speculate additional within the 4 army bases already utilized by the American troops in Greece as a part of the renewal of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) between the 2. Under the deal, the US troops has a rotating presence within the port of Alexandroupoli only some miles away from Turkey’s frontier in northeast Greece and Stefanovikio, and Larissa air bases in central Greece, along with the Souda Bay naval base on Crete within the Aegean. 

Panagiotopoulos described the United States as Greece’s “key strategic partner,” including that the MDCA “reflects this relationship, which has been constantly upgraded over the last years.” Meanwhile, on Oct. 14 Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias is assembly in Washington with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who had described Erdogan’s Turkey as “an unreliable ally.”

The assembly comes on the heels of Biden’s resolution to lengthen the nationwide emergency in northeastern Syria. Turkish motion “threatens to undermine the peace, security, and stability in the region, and continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” Biden wrote in a letter to Congress on Oct 7. 

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu lamented the letter on social media. “Instead of blaming Turkey, the US should abandon its wrong policies. Also, it should be more honest with the American people and its Congress,” he wrote on Twitter. 

Before Cavusoglu, Erdogan accused Brett McGurk, a high-level official of the Biden administration, of supporting terrorism. “He is director for the PKK and YPG. Of course, my statement will concern some people. We know it,” Erdogan said, referring to McGurk, the US National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa.

Erdogan’s accusation came on Sept 30, a day after he met with Putin in Sochi. Biden’s letter, which came a week later, indicates the extent of alienation between Washington and Ankara.

The Turkish government is now asking to purchase 40 new F-16s with a price tag of $6 billion. Excluded from the fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet program after acquiring the Russian S-400 air missile defense system, the Turkish air force now has to use the F-16 jets, but they are too old to be modernized. 

However, the deal requires the approval of Congress — an unlikely prospect. Some Washington-based lobby groups and NGOs have already begun a campaign called “No Jets for Turkey” to strain the Biden administration and Congress to cease the method.

Even if the method strikes on, Congress will ask the administration whether or not Turkey is ready to make a concession on the S-400. Erdogan has already reiterated that there is not going to be any step again on the matter.

If Congress blocks the gross sales of latest F-16 jets, Turkey shall be left extra susceptible, and relations between Ankara and Washington shall be additional destabilized.

The downside is that Erdogan has even much less room to maneuver vis-à-vis Biden than he has with Putin. Nonetheless, he threatened a brand new operation towards the US-backed Syrian Kurdish teams in northern Syria. The rapid result’s an extra weakened Turkish lira on Oct. 11. This indicators that the Turkish ambitions in Syria can’t be sustainable. 

Erdogan’s revisionist overseas coverage appears squeezed between the Eastern Mediterranean anvil and the Syrian hammer. The gunboat diplomacy within the Eastern Mediterranean and the army assertiveness in Syria could have deadly geopolitical and financial penalties for Turkey and thereby Erdogan.

Yet as a lot as he’s cornered, an adventurous response in one of many battle zones, both within the Eastern Mediterranean or within the Syrian theater, can’t be dominated out completely.

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