In December 2009, the communique issued at the end of the Damascus meeting of the “Turkish-Syrian High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council” referred to a “strategic partnership”, at the time a fashionable label for Türkiye’s relationships with other nations. It mentioned common threats and challenges confronting the two countries. A year later, Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu, in remarks to the press with his Syrian counterpart in Latakia, underlined that the exemplary relations between Syria and Türkiye were serving as a model for regional partnerships and that the two countries were aiming at total economic integration with neighbors.
Last Friday President Erdoğan flew to Russia’s Black Sea resort city of Sochi where he was welcomed by President Putin as a “dear friend”. [i] Two weeks ago, in joint remarks to the press following the Astana format summit in Tehran on July 19, 2022, he had addressed both President Raisi and President Putin as “dear brother”.
It started with satellite photos of the Russian military buildup near Ukraine in early November 2021. Ever since, Russia and the West have been fighting a war of nerves with frenetic diplomacy accompanied by mutual accusations of spreading misinformation, allegations of false-flag operations, Western intelligence reports and statements at the highest levels predicting an imminent invasion, and Russian denials.
During my years at the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I sometimes asked the ambassadors in Ankara how they viewed their job in our capital since they usually stressed Turkey’s location as a unique observation post for the broad region. Many said, “never a dull moment”. I always responded that I was hoping for the day when the answer would be “boredom”, and we laughed. Because, while Turkey’s geostrategic location is an asset, it comes at a price. The end of the Cold War was a relief. But with the wars in Yugoslavia, the Caucasus and the first Gulf War, all of a sudden, we found ourselves in the middle of three major conflict areas. There was a refugee flow from Bosnia to Turkey. Our trade with Europe was disrupted. The Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline remained closed for years. Our trade with Iraq and the Gulf suffered. Energy projects in the Caucasus became more complicated. The 2003 US invasion of Iraq and the Arab spring created new challenges.
A year ago, if one were patient enough to draw up a list of the problems on the Turkish-American agenda this would have reflected a relationship not between NATO allies or family members as some seem to remember in times of distress but adversaries. It is the overall bilateral chemistry, Syria, PYD/YPG, FETO, Iran sanctions, Turkey’s purchase of S-400s, US threat not to deliver F-35 aircraft, obstacles to trade, not to mention the Brunson case.
Any progress after a whole year? None at all, except Pastor Brunson leaving Turkey on October 12, 2018 under dubious judicial procedures.
A development which has much more than symbolic value is the delivery of the S-400 air and missile defense system to Turkey. Consequently, and as threatened by the US, Turkey is going to be excluded from the F-35 program costing the Turkish economy dearly. Ankara and Washington still seem unable to find common ground in their respective operations in Syria. The current situation almost begs the question whether they are seriously searching for that. Okumaya devam et →
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party’s (JDP) principal theme in the recent municipal election campaign was “the fight for Turkey’s survival”. The party and its supporters in the media claimed that Turkey was under the siege of external powers which were determined to block Turkey’s path to becoming a global player through an array of conspiracies. Who those powers are, was never spelled out. Nonetheless, Turkish government’s disappointment with Western reaction to the Gülenist coup attempt of July 15, 2016, continuing frustration with the support extended to the PYD/YPG and the s400s/s35 conundrum offer some clues and these only point toward the US and the EU, in other words, Turkey’s traditional Western allies. Okumaya devam et →
At the beginning of the Syrian conflict Russia and Turkey were on diametrically opposite sides. Russia was supporting the regime, the Turkish government the opposition. Nonetheless, Turkish-Russian relations remained on track.
On November 24, 2015 a stunning development changed the picture. Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 military plane for having violated Turkish airspace for 17 seconds. This was no “accident”. It was a tragic “incident”. Okumaya devam et →
When President Obama’s visited Turkey in April 2009 he underlined Turkey’s “strong, vibrant, secular democracy”. Turkish-American relations appeared to have reached their peak. As Turkey started to move away from the democratic path relations started to sour not only with the US but also the EU. Then came the Syria ordeal. Turkey was at the forefront of those who were after regime change. President Obama’s decision not to enforce his redline in Syria caused resentment in Ankara because it showed that even the Obama administration, unlike Ankara, had not written off President Assad completely. Okumaya devam et →
Forty-seven years ago, today, the U.S. table tennis team arrived in China. Later in the year, in July 1971, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made a secret trip to China paving the way for Richard Nixon’s own visit. The U.S. President and his Chinese hosts agreed to the joint “Shanghai Communique” of February 27, 1972, in which both nations pledged to work toward the full normalization of diplomatic relations. As part of the effort toward that end, on May 1, 1973, the U.S. opened a liaison office in Beijing to handle all matters in the U.S.-China relationship “except the strictly formal diplomatic aspects of the relationship.” China created a counterpart office in Washington in the same year. Finally, on January 1, 1979, the U.S. recognized People’s Republic of China and established diplomatic relations with it as the sole legitimate government of China. Okumaya devam et →
On March 15, 2018 the US imposed new sanctions on 24 Russian entities and individuals for interfering in the 2016 election and conducting a series of damaging cyberattacks.
On March 20, President Trump called President Putin to congratulate him on his election victory. “We had a very good call, and I suspect that we’ll probably be meeting in the not-too-distant future to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control, but we will never allow anybody to have anything even close to what we have. And also to discuss Ukraine and Syria and North Korea and various other things” he told reporters.
On March 26, the White House announced the expulsion of sixty Russian intelligence officers from the United States and the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle due to its proximity to an American submarine base and Boeing.
The same day many EU countries and others also made similar announcements. NATO’s expulsion of seven Russian diplomats followed two days later.
EU’s decision to expel Russian intelligence officers was taken at the European Council meeting of March 22-23 in Brussels. The meeting was already on Council’s calendar and the presence of heads of state and government provided an opportunity to address the Salisbury attack and enabled joint action. Okumaya devam et →