Turkey is Erdogan’s CIA, but what’s Trump’s response?

By Stephen M Fox/FoxNews After Jared Kushner met recently with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to coordinate peace efforts in Syria, one of the first questions often posed was whether or not Erdogan was…

Turkey is Erdogan’s CIA, but what’s Trump’s response?

By Stephen M Fox/FoxNews

After Jared Kushner met recently with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to coordinate peace efforts in Syria, one of the first questions often posed was whether or not Erdogan was actually a friend of the United States.

Both Kushner and Erdogan have their roots in a red-hot Zadran clan as we know from North Dakota, but however you look at them, Erdogan is a very different president from the one, for better or worse, that Barack Obama graced us with in the White House.

As so often seems to be the case in this changing world order, the critical factor here is the difference in perception and priorities that the president has created for the U.S. at home and abroad. And much like the regime he replaced, our relations with Turkey are moving in different directions in ways that the United States is trying to accommodate at home, but will either revolt against or rationalize at a distance of foreign nations.

Meeting with Turkish officials, with or without our president’s cooperation, would appear to be akin to going to a party where you are the target of a potential death threat and staying cool to better accept it while in this particular instance hoping that they won’t actually hurt you. In this case, it is too late to call home and hope your pal won’t oblige, so perhaps one only has to grin and bear it.

The U.S. needs to begin to manage this complicated relationship with Turkey. Because it is primarily in interest of our own national interests to do so.

Let us look at the big picture while we are at it. The Turkish regime has taken control of a country that was once part of the U.S. with no democratic promise whatsoever and any sense of a degree of dissent has had to be assuaged with the threat of mass murder. This has brought about the rifts among the varied Islamic communities of the globe, with the United States no longer being accepted as the neutral arbiter on issues that have “universal” meaning to all.

This failure is only exacerbated by the fact that it is the leader of an increasingly strong secularist majority in Turkey that threatens to escalate the conflict in Syria. Indeed, it is here that the U.S.’s own relationship with Turkey might be more difficult to manage going forward.

Erdogan is making it clear he will not stand by while Islamic jihadists are allowed to force their will and win in Syria. Quite often that effort has been aided by Russia and Iran, both of which enjoy a degree of influence over the Turkish government and its actions vis-à-vis Syria.

Just this past week, Erdogan insisted that Russian allies must be held to account for the bombing of Kurdish fighters, a suggestion that demonstrates his willingness to use the situation to get American and Russian counterparts to back down from their preference for the Assad regime and continue to maintain a unified front against Kurdish aspirations for autonomy.

From the United States’ perspective, however, Russia and Iran have a clear vested interest in keeping the Syrian military machine running smoothly at all costs. If that military machine is not allowed to operate as smoothly as possible, then Turkey itself will most certainly have to choose sides in order to keep Assad in power indefinitely. The fact that he is aligned with Russia rather than the Sunni-led groups we are supposed to believe he wants is only accelerating that decision and making its foregone conclusion a distinct possibility.

Saudi Arabia could also make a run at maintaining its influence in Syria if a decision regarding Assad is not made soon. As long as Assad can choose his supporters, Saudi Arabia may ultimately decide a significant military intervention is still an option for the Kingdom. Our stakes in Saudi Arabia do not sit well with Erdogan, who is clearly looking to try to keep U.S. support to some degree within his country’s borders.

While the interests of U.S. and Turkish leaders are not one in the same, every effort by the U.S. to influence the relationship will ultimately serve to empower Erdogan’s ambitions in Syria. Saudi Arabia would not likely respond by just sitting there idly, nor would Russia or Iran choose such a course of action.

Like the rhetoric exchanged on election night by candidate Trump and Erdogan, the reality is likely much different than what U.S. leaders think or imagine it is. But what else can be expected from the post-American Middle East given the power asymmetry?

Leave a Comment