Over the last six decades, Turkey and the United States have grown into strategic partners and NATO allies. Both countries would faced similar challenges both during the days of the Cold War and after them. However, in spite of the fact that Turkey and the United States remain a pivotal component of the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations, it won’t be an exaggeration to state that their relations have seen better times.
For years, Turkey has been rushing to Washington’s rescue whenever necessary, however the latter did not pay Ankara in kind, preferring instead to keep Turkey on a short leash.
However Washington faced serious disagreements with its Turkish allies, and it had no way of pushing its agenda through conventional means, and would instead take advantage of Turkey’s armed forces, thus taking advantage of usually pro-Western generals. The same pattern can be observed throughout all of the four military coups modern Turkey has experienced so far, since all of them (May 27, 1960, March 12, 1971, September 12, 1980, and February 28, 1997) were staged by high-profile Turkish officers who were acting in the best interests of the White House.
But these days the situation has changed drastically, since Turkey’s armed forces have become the backbone of the civilian government. That’s why, when Washington decided it was time to show Ankara its place, if found itself deprived of its favorite tool of meddling amid Turkey’s sovereign affairs.
Today, one of the stumbling blocks in the relationship between the two countries is Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, who fled Turkey and received political asylum in the United States. Ankara perceives the organization he leads as a terrorist group accused of staging a military coup d’etat, therefore Turkey demanded his extradition from the US. In turn, Washington would boldly ignore all of these demands.
Another point of contention between Ankara and Washington is the fate of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was arrested in Turkey on suspicion of plotting a coup attempt back in 2016. Some media sources claim that he has recently been released from house arrest, but the overall situation remains unclear.
No less important are the different outlooks the two states have on Middle Eastern affairs in general, and the Syrian conflict in particular. Both the US-led project of a Greater Middle East and the neo-Ottoman ambitions the ruling Justice and Development Party of Turkey had in Syria have all but collapsed. In the aftermath of the drastic turn the Syrian conflict took after the arrival of Russian forces, the two countries began to position themselves differently, as they were no longer pursuing a seemingly common agenda in Syria, Iraq, and Iran.
After successfully securing rapprochement with Russia, Turkey had the courage to try escaping the violent patronage of the United States, while beginning the pursuit of its own national interests upon the regional stage. This resulted in relations between the United States and Turkey reaching a boiling point in recent months.
Further still, the harsh stance Washington took against Turkey has considerably strengthened Ankara’s determination to acquire Russia‘s top of the line S-400 air defense system, while announcing the intention to settle payment in the national currencies of the two states, instead of using US dollars. On top of all that, Washington has clearly become infuriated by Ankara announcing its intention to develop strong ties with the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). As a result, Washington’s anger over Turkey’s behavior has manifested itself in the former introducing sanctions against a number of Turkish ministers that came together with the announcement that Washington may have a change of heart as far as the sale of US-made F-35 warplanes to Turkey is concerned.
Erdogan has also accuses the White House of launching a trade war against Ankara, with the biggest Turkish banks coming under fire. Last June, Turkey chose to stop investing in US treasuries, thus abandoning the list of the largest holders of US Treasury securities. Recep Tayyip Erdogan described the fall of the Turkish lira as a “political conspiracy” against his country, which would not go unnoticed or unpunished. He argued that Turkey is going to turn to new markets and new allies, as it’s been reported by Le Monde.
With tensions running high, one could hardly be surprised that Turkey’s president Tayyip Erdogan chose to walk out on Donald Trump delivering a speech in front of the UN General Assembly.
Given that the contradictions between the two countries have not been resolved, both sides will carry on taking hostile steps against each other, although any sharp escalation of the present war of words can hardly be expected in the foreseeable future. It should be noted that relations between Erdogan and Trump have developed in a curious pattern, first they speak highly of each other, then they start swearing and calling names only to become best friends again two weeks later. Apparently, this is the new norm of international relations.
But none of the above mentioned facts distract Washington from pursuing its main goal – putting Ankara back on a short leash. To achieve this, it needs to convince Ankara that only Washington is a real friend of Turkey, one that cannot possibly be replaced by Iran, Syria or Russia. But this approach requires the US to make an attempt at discrediting the above mentioned states, and that’s where the allegedly humanitarian organization known as the White Helmets comes into play. If prominent Turkish journalist, Ergün Diler, is to be believed, this group was created by British intelligence, and it comes in handy as it can stage false flag attacks against Turkish troops operating in Syria, which can result in a rapprochement between the United States with Ankara, notes the Yeni Çağ.
There’s a very good reason why British authorities chose to provide asylum to a total of 98 members of the White Helmets together with their families after evacuating them from southern Syria with the assistance of the United States and Israel. The UK has already proven that it is more than capable of staging a full-blown false-flag attack with the assistance of the White Helmets. And the best part is that London is always eager to act “in the best interests of the United States,” even if it jeopardizes its own positions upon the international stage.
So it is unlikely that preparations for such a provocation will take long, and one can be absolutely confident that MSM sources from the US and UK will take full advantage of it in a bid to carry on their own little propaganda war.
Martin Berger is a freelance journalist and geopolitical analyst, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”