Biden in Turkey: Turkey’s Friendship With Russia ‘Makes Washington Nervous’
US Vice President Joe Biden will “draw the line” on Turkey’s cooperation with Russia during his visit to Ankara on Wednesday, political analyst Mikhail Smolin told Radio Sputnik, adding that Washington wants an explanation from Ankara on its recent foreign policy U-turn that has seen the country repair its relations with Moscow.”Russia’s relations with Turkey have changed, making the Americans nervous,” deputy director of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies said.Smolin further said that Biden will “draw lines that Erdoğan must not cross” during his August 24 visit.Turkish leadership drastically changed its foreign policy in May, replacing Ahmet Davutoğlu, the architect of the country’s failed strategy in Syria, with Binali Yıldırım, who promised that Ankara will focus on making friends instead of enemies, as the country’s prime minister.
This process has manifested itself in a thaw between Turkey and Russia. Ankara also restored its ties with Israel and making inroads with Iran. Yıldırım also pledged to foster cooperation with Damascus in what is a major departure from Turkey’s former strategy of supporting radical groups trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The United States appears to be unhappy with Turkey’s U-turn. Smolin suggested that Washington wanted Erdoğan to explain what foreign policy direction Ankara was taking. Biden, according to the analyst, will also tell Erdoğan that fostering relations with Russia was not in Turkey’s interest.Although Ankara is Washington’s ally, the United States will still try to exert pressure on Turkey. “They think that permanent pressure always leads to some results. I think this is an age-old tradition that they follow under any circumstances even in relations with their allies,” Smolin said.In its press release, the White House announced that Biden will meet with Erdogan and Prime minister Yıldırım to discuss their relationship and a range of issues that both countries consider to be important. No details were provided.
State Department spokesperson Mark Toner largely refrained from commenting on the issue during the Tuesday’s press briefing, saying only that Turkey remains a “valuable partner” in the anti-Daesh coalition. He also added that Biden had “good, fruitful meetings with the government and his counterparts” before they actually took place a day later.
Kemal Kirisçi, the TÜSİAD Senior Fellow in the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, noted that the visit comes at a time when Washington’s response to the failed coup and Western media coverage of the purges that followed promoted “deep anti-Americanism” in Turkey.”Turks want to know why Western leaders and media failed to express any empathy with the trauma their country suffered through, and why they are reluctant to applaud the public’s stunning defense of Turkish democracy,” the analyst said.
Kirisçi also said that anti-American sentiments in Turkey have not prevented both countries “from working together on a wide range of issues in the past, despite the ups and downs in bilateral relations.”