19.09.2018 Author: Yuriy Zinin

Middle Eastern Take on the Turkish-American Face Off


“Is the Fall of the Turkish-American Pact just a matter of Time?”, “America’s Relations with Turkey: the Worst is Yet to Come,” “Why Would Trump Fight Against his Allies?” These are the headlines in the Middle Eastern media one can come across while studying the recent tensions between Ankara and Washington.

This latest aggravation was triggered by a dispute over the fate of the American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested in Turkey on allegations of staging a coup d’etat. Immediately, Washington responded to this step with unilateral sanctions against Ankara that forced the Turkish lira to take a plunge.

The regional media that is usually filled with polarizing opinions, yet there’s been a number of honest attempts to determine the course and possible effect of this recent Turkish-American crisis. This trend was especially visible in the outlets hosted by the Arab countries that are allies of Washington, which would try to be very delicate in covering the topic.

There has also been a lot of discussion of Qatar’s decision to provide Ankara with a total of 15 billion dollars in investments to prevent the abrupt fall of Turkish lira after from continuing. Mind you, that Turkey and Qatar are the two states that are hosting two largest American military bases in the region, and yet they are getting routinely victimized by Western interventions.

However, other sides have been observing the situation cautiously, as there’s an ever growing number of enemies that Doha is making. According to UAE’s Al Khaleej newspaper, Turkey will not allow itself the luxury of breaking its alliance with Washington nor in the near or medium term, as it has a long history of cooperation with the US, dating back to the days of the Cold War.

There are warnings being voiced that Turkey’s abrupt turn to other partners is going to be extremely damaging to a number of sectors of Ankara’s economy.

At the same time, according to other commentators, the current Turkish-American face-off is not the outcome of their recent interactions. Regardless of the outcome of this crisis, there is a slow slide downwards in the bilateral ties that has been visible for quite some time. Although both sides are now reluctant to turn their back on decades of partnership, the foundations of the ties those countries used to enjoy is being increasingly eroded.

Despite the confirmation that Turkey will remain in the ranks of NATO, and the fact that the US wants it to continue to play a military and political role in the region, the question arises of Ankara’s desire to play by the rules of the North Atlantic Treaty, notes Cairo University political scientist Tariq Fahmi. But NATO is being perceived by most of its members as a big heavy burden as its appeals to the member states for them to increase the share of their profits donated to Brussels. Turkey is fully aware of this problems, just like it is aware of the the fact that NATO has overstated its welcome, while its role remains ill-defined in the modern competitive world.

This crisis is linked in the regional media with the political pressure that Donald Trump has been trying to apply on Iran. The goal of this pressure is to deprive Iran of an important route of hydrocarbons traffic through Turkey, before the second package of sanctions against Tehran is introduced, that is said to be rolled out this November. This may as well result in the introduction of a complete oil blockade of Iran, which will put Turkey on the losers’ side as it has been enjoying profits from the transfer of Iranian gas. It seems that the stubborn Turkish ally does not want to give up on its money so easily.

Ankara, according to some experts, will seek alternative partners, for alone, it is unlikely to achieve any success. So it seeks ways to expand its cooperation with Russia, China, Iran and European countries, while abandoning dollar as a tool of international settlements.

All that Trump has achieved today is the consolidation of a massive Muslim community in opposition to Washington, local media sources argue. Further still, as Washington is pushing for the creation of the so-called Arab-NATO that is supported by Sunni states, their Shia neighbors don’t want their neighbors to get too much leverage by doing so.

Washington’s announcement of an economic war against Russia, Turkey and Iran will play in favor of the cooperation of these states on the basis of the Astana negotiations platform. Pakistan has also made it clear that it would not support those anti-Iranian sanctions that the United States is putting on the table.

The large Middle East online portal sees the ongoing crisis through the prism of progress in the Middle East. It’s pointed out that a new order is emerging that will be based on the principle of decentralization. This means that the era of the “American policeman”, which was an axial force based on the alignment of forces that emerged after the Second World War, will become a thing of the past.

Yury Zinin, Leading Research Fellow at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.