The long awaited meeting of Trump and Erdoğan took place on Tuesday (May 16). ‘Expectations’ were not met during the meeting. Academicians from Turkey, Hayri Kozanoğlu and Behlül Özkan talked to BirGün to share their comments on the meeting to which Erdoğan and his delegates went with the intention of ‘say the final word.’
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Turkey’s President Erdoğan went to USA with a baggage full of issues such as the discontent over US support to YPG in Syria; question of extradition of Fethullah Gülen; and, the case of Reza Zarrab. Let alone having his expectations met, Erdoğan could not even have the time to express his expectations.
Despite the statements of Erdoğan given prior to the meeting, where he had said ‘it will not be a coma; it will be a period’ and ‘we will go on our own way if it does not work out’, no clear conclusions were made at the end of the meeting of Erdoğan with US President Donald Trump.
We talked to Prof. Hayri Kozanoğlu and Prof. Behlül Özkan about the short meeting of US President Trump and Turkey’s President Erdoğan.
Kozanoğlu: 'Erdoğan has returned from US empty handed'
The detail that Prof. Kozanoğlu points out is the fact that this was ‘a meeting of two leaders who have lost reputation in the eye of the international public’. Reminding that Trump is in good terms with Sisi of Egypt and Duerte of the Philippines, Kozanoğlu added, “Therefore, it should not be shocking to see that the relation between the two (Erdoğan and Trump) seems better than expected.”
Kozanoğlu also mentions that Trump has been saying to the leaders he have met since his election to the office that ‘US will be fighting against terrorism together’ with these countries. Kozanoğlu underlines that Trump said the similar things to Erdoğan and continues: “What Erdoğan actually expects is for US to give up decision to arm YPG; to intervene with the Gülen Community (Cemaat) in the US or at least to give a statement that would express that it stands near Erdoğan’s stand; and, to be on the side of Erdoğan in regards to the case against Reza Zarrab. None of these expectations were met. So, in these terms, Erdoğan has returned from US empty handed... If we are talking about ‘put an end’, yes, something has been put to an end and that is the claims of the government about Turkey being a regional power in the Middle East and a playmaker.”
While the support of US to YPG was already known, Russian President Vladimir Putin also openly stated his support to YPG as Erdoğan was headed to USA. Erdoğan’s tactic, which he has been trying to use to trump ‘US against Russia, Russia against US’, did not work, either, says Kozanoğlu and adds: “Neither the USA nor Russia respect assertions of Turkey. They continue seeing YPG as a reliable power on the way to operation in Raqqa.”
Özkan: 'Political Islam can never put an end to these alliances'
Prof. Behlül Özkan also draws attention to the fact that there are so many issues that Turkey and USA do not come to terms with. Saying the short duration of the meeting and the statements given during actually ‘reflect that there has not been much of a change in these issues’, Özkan adds: “There have been disagreements between USA and AKP government over certain issues for a long time – since the last stages of the Obama administration. These are actually clashes of interests. And, it is now understood that these clashes of interests may not only continue under Trump administration but may actually deepen further.”
Özkan highlights that AKP has been cornered in terms of its foreign policies regarding especially the Middle East and Syria and says, ‘the main reason for this is the foreing policies of Turkey in the region and Syria after 2011.’
Stating that Turkey’s current government has been shaping its entire Middle East policy in line with Islamist parties and groups, Özkans says: “Therefore, Turkey has been crowned (in the Middle East) as US and Russia stood up against parties and groups that are fundementally religiuos and in support of political Islam.”
In terms of AKP government’s desire to create a space for Turkey to maneuver in the region, the meeting of Erdoğan and Trump did not bring much of a success, says Özkan.
Also commenting on President Erdoğan’s previous assertions on ‘saying the final word and putting an end to it’, Özkan said: “No power holder that was capable of putting Turkey-US relations and NATO alliance ‘to an end’ has come to power in Turkey since 1945. And, the power that could do such thing has never been political Islam. Political Islam is one of the last actors that could challenge this alliance. In short, political Islam cannot put a period on these relations and bring them to an end. If anything, it could only put three dots. And, a government that has turned its relations with the US into a ‘strategic partnership’ since 2002 and that has used these relations in its domestic struggle for power cannot ‘put a dot’ on relations with the USA.”
Front-pager article of BirGün on 18 May 2017, Thursday
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