Recently, Sabah, a popular daily newspaper in Turkey, and a number of other Turkish media outlets enthusiastically reported about positive outcomes of the face-to-face meeting between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Joe Biden in Brussels on June 14, 2021. According to them, the Turkish leader described their discussion as “sincere”. He also said comprehensive views on the points on their agenda had been exchanged, and issues the two sides disagree on as well as “opportunities for cooperation in areas” with common interests had been discussed in a constructive manner. Turkey’s President noted that the joint work that both nations would do in regions where effective cooperation was required had been another topic of conversation.
“I see that there is a strong will to start a productive cooperation period based on mutual respect and interest in all fields… We think that there is no problem that cannot be resolved in the relations between Turkey and the USA,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan added.
An article published by another Turkish daily newspaper, Evrensel, on June 16, 2021 described the recently held meeting between Turkey’s and USA’s Presidents just as positively. It said that the NATO meeting and the tête-à-tête with Joe Biden had determined the axis that the AKP (Justice and Development Party) government would “follow in the coming days”. Its author also stated that Russia and Vladimir Putin were no longer Turkey’s close friends and that the country would be “an active supporter of the US and its allies’ policies to encircle and weaken Russia”.
Two weeks passed after the “landmark” for Turkey meeting, and opinions expressed by certain Turkish media outlets about Ankara’s relations with the United States changed dramatically.
On July 1, 2021, an article in Daily Sabah (a Turkish pro-government daily newspaper) stated that “a group led by former United States officials formed a platform called the Turkish Democracy Project to disseminate anti-Turkey propaganda”. According to its author, members of the group include “former US National Security Adviser John Bolton; Jeb Bush, the brother of former US President George W. Bush, as well as former Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata”. When it was initially launched, the organization featured two members of terror group FETÖ (led by Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen), who later quit the project.
It is noteworthy that reports about the newly formed organization were published after the meeting between US and Turkish leaders on June 14 in Brussels.
In the opinion of Nedim Sener from the Hürriyet newspaper, the target of the Turkish Democracy Project is the Turkish leadership. He believes that Turkey’s enemies, including those in the United States, are planning an operation under the guise of democracy aimed at undermining the nation’s current leadership, and this, in turn, usually leads to bloodshed, slaughter, disintegration and migration.
A recent article in Turkey’s Sabah newspaper stated directly that US elites had “done everything, including a coup, to overthrow the administration of President Erdogan”. The last attempt on July 15, 2016 involved FETÖ members who are to be used again to achieve the same aims. A similar approach with the Russian dissident Alexei Navalny was employed recently. After the failed December and July coup attempts in Turkey,“the majority of important high-level FETO members fled abroad without being caught”. The return of some of these fugitives to Turkey to surrender could drag the country “into chaos” as punishing these individuals accordingly could result in the US and EU (with the aid of FETO) taking action against the Turkish government under the guise of “human rights”.
It is important to keep in mind when reading such articles that the criticism directed towards the steps taken by the new US administration in relation to Turkey and its leadership has been expressed by journalists who work for pro-governmental media outlets.
In addition, there have been a number of reports published in Turkey that have lambasted certain aspects of US policies. For instance, a July 1 article in Milliyet accused the United States of helping to create and using terrorist organizations for its own purposes. According to the author, the only member of the anti-terror coalition (which includes the United States) fighting against DAESH (a group banned in the Russian Federation) on the frontline is Turkey. In the meantime, the US does not appear too concerned about “eliminating the organization altogether”. “In fact, DAESH is an efficient tool like a wrench created by the USA and used everywhere and as it wishes,” wrote the journalist. The US leadership appeared to view the terrorist organization “as a means of clearing the minefield in front of” it while taking steps forward. In conclusion, the author stated that the USA would have long rid itself of what it had helped create if there was a genuine desire to do so.
After the Turkish leadership reacted negatively to the declaration by President Joe Biden that the killing and deportation of Armenians would be recognized as genocide recently, the new US administration made yet another anti-Turkey move on the international arena. The United States included Turkey in the list of “countries involved in the use of child soldiers”. Remarkably, it was the first time that “a NATO member” ended up in such a document.
Still, it is unlikely that the clearly anti-Turkey direction of Joe Biden’s policies has come as a surprise to the current Turkish leadership. As US Vice President to Barack Obama, Joe Biden was openly critical of the Turkish government at a press conference with journalists (including those in opposition) during his visit to the nation in 2016.
During his presidential campaign, Joe Biden emphasized that Turkey had to “be isolated in collaboration with US allies in the Eastern Mediterranean,” including in relation to its oil activities in the region. At the time, he also advocated supporting the opposition, i.e. the Turkish Kurds, and their integration as well as involvement in political institutions and processes.
There are a number of videos online that show Joe Biden expressing his support for a change in leadership in Turkey.
In April of this year Hürriyet (Turkey’s major newspaper) published an article stating that Joe Biden’s target was Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with examples supporting this viewpoint. The report also referred to the following excerpts of Joe Biden’ conversation with the editors of the New York Times in December 2019. “Right now we have to apply a very different approach to him (President Tayyip Erdogan). We need to make it clear that we support opposition leaders and that we have a roadmap. We need to raise our voices about what we think, he has to pay the price… I think we need to leverage and leverage the elements of the Turkish leadership that still exist so that they can get in direct contact with each other and defeat Erdogan”.
According to the author of the Hürriyet article, Joe Biden has been doing exactly what he said. His aim appears to be to “increase polarization and conflict within Turkey,” with the hope that the anti-government opposition will then topple President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Since the Turkish leadership is aware of US administration’s true motives, the following question is especially relevant. “What do we expect to happen first: the removal of Turkish President from power with the aid of Washington or a complete severance of ties between the current US administration and Turkish leadership, and the refusal by the latter to follow US policies?”
Vladimir Platov, expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.