The Turkish government is preparing to reset its relationship with the United States under its new leadership.
A Turkish official said the new administration of U.S. President Donald Trump “will guard Turkey’s sensitive position” in the Middle East.
Turkey’s relationship with the U.S. was strained during Barack Obama’s eight years in office.
Semih Idiz writes about politics for the Turkish website Al-Monitor. He says people in Turkey think Trump will get the relationship between Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the U.S. back on track.
“Trump is going to be more amenable towards the Erdogan government than many people assume. I think this is what Ankara is relying on. They have common enemies and I think they will try to concentrate on that...”
Turkish political experts say the relationship was hurt by the U.S. offer of military support to Kurdish opposition forces in Syria.
Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim spoke recently about what the Trump government needs to do to reset the U.S. relationship with Turkey.
Yildirim called first for the U.S. to surrender Turkish clergyman Fethullah Gulen. He is accused of inspiring last summer’s failed attempt to forcibly remove Erdogan. Gulen lives in the United States.
The prime minister also demanded that the U.S. end its support of the Syrian Kurdish group known as PYD. PYD is fighting against the Islamic State in the Syrian city of Raqqa. The Turkish government believes the PYD is also supporting Kurdish militant groups within Turkey.
Atilla Yesilada is an expert on Turkish politics and finance with the company GlobalSource Partners. He questioned the likelihood of Yildirim’s conditions being met.
He said the U.S. Department of Justice is responsible for sending or not sending, Gulen back to Turkey. He said there is little Trump could do to make it happen faster.
He also said that said Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, has defended the Kurds as allies in the fight against the Islamic State.
Politics observer Semih Idiz also said Turks should lower their expectations for a renewed relationship with the U.S. But he said there is still some reason for optimism.
He said many people thought Barack Obama’s election would heal all of the problems in the Middle East, but it did not work out that way.
Idiz thinks people will be disappointed with the Trump administration, but that there will be some change.
“So I think that is what really a lot of people are looking for rather than any sort of panacea or magic wand that will fix everything overnight.”
There are other issues that may continue to strain the U.S. relationship with Turkey. They include the possible move of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; Trump’s support of Israeli settlements in the West Bank; and plans for U.S. use of the Turkish airbase in Incirlik.
Erdogan recently said “we keep hearing words [from Trump] about the Middle East that are actually disturbing.”
And expert Atilla Yesilada called it “foolish” for Turkey to believe that Trump is “pro-Turkish” only because he is seen as “anti-Obama.”
Words in This Story
sensitive – adj. needing to be handled in a careful or secret way in order to protect someone or something
strained – adj. not friendly and relaxed
on track – adj. happening the way that you expect or want things to happen : following a schedule, routine, etc.
amenable – adj. willing to agree or to accept something that is wanted or asked for
assume – v. to think that something is true or probably true without knowing that it is true
rely – v. to trust or believe (someone or something)
concentrate – v. to cause (attention, efforts, strength, etc.) to be used or directed for a single purpose — usually + on
optimism – n. a feeling or belief that good things will happen in the future : a feeling or belief that what you hope for will happen