'Losing Turkey as Ally Will Cost US Dearly', Experts Say as Washington-Ankara Tensions Escalate

© AP Photo / Burhan OzbiliciMembers of a Turkish political party hold national flags during a protest near the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. Turkey's vice president Fuat Oktay says his country won't bow to threats in an apparent response to U.S. President Donald Trump's warning to Ankara about the scope of its planned military incursion into Syria.
Members of a Turkish political party hold national flags during a protest near the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. Turkey's vice president Fuat Oktay says his country won't bow to threats in an apparent response to U.S. President Donald Trump's warning to Ankara about the scope of its planned military incursion into Syria. - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.10.2021
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Ties between the two nations have faced multiple challenges over the past year. While the US is still preoccupied with Ankara's decision to purchase Russian-made S-400 missile systems, Turkey wants Washington to stop supporting the Kurds in Syria. The recognition of the Armenian genocide by Joe Biden became a major bone of contention as well.
In an interview with Sputnik, Turkish experts have commented on a recent announcement by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the need for the US to withdraw from Syria and Iraq. The moment came in the latter's interview with CBS in New York.

"Of course, if I have the choice, I would want them to get out of Syria and Iraq. Just like the way they have withdrawn from Afghanistan. Because if we are going to service peace around the world, it's no longer meaningful to remain in those parts of the world", the president said.

He also pointed to "not a good start" in his contacts with American President Biden.
Commenting on Turkish-American relations, Sputnik's interviewees highlighted that it was the first time Erdogan has used such harsh rhetoric toward the American authorities and pointed out the changing situation in the region.
© AP Photo / Kayhan Ozer/U. S. Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands after a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016.
U. S. Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands after a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016. - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.10.2021
U. S. Vice President Joe Biden, left, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan shake hands after a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016.
According to Abdullah Agar, a former special operations officer with the Turkish Armed Forces, there are too many factors "undermining the trust" between Ankara and Washington, for instance, America's support for Kurdish forces in Syria and the situation surrounding the S-400s.

"The relationship between Turkey and Russia is not always easy, but the parties eventually find common ground, while in the case with the US nothing works at all. The US is trying to impose unfavourable conditions on Turkey. Their recent policies and strategies, mainly on the issue of the Kurdish self-defence forces or Kurdistan Workers' Party, have had a very negative impact on relations with Ankara. In fact, Turkey did not want the relations to deteriorate, but the US' actions left no choice because accepting Washington's terms would in fact mean an assault on Turkish sovereignty. For example, the acquisition of the S-400 is not a political issue, but a military one. Turkey's need for a defence system is obvious. At the same time, the allies refuse to sell missiles to Turkey; moreover, they don't want us to buy them from other countries. This situation damages our bilateral relations. There are a number of such trust-destroying moments between Turkey and the US", Abdullah Agar said.

Per Agar, Turkey had originally hoped to resolve these concerns in its contacts with Washington.

"Ankara had aimed to pursue a balancing policy regarding the situation, but the US, for its part, did nothing to support that intention. During Donald Trump's term as president Turkish-American relations were very unstable, however, after Biden's coming to power, an even more challenging and difficult period has started. I do not think that Turkey will abandon its balancing policy with America, but I believe that Ankara will seek to build even closer relations with Russia", he stressed.

© AP PhotoMilitary vehicles and equipment, parts of the S-400 air defense systems, are unloaded from a Russian transport aircraft, at Murted military airport in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, July 12, 2019
Military vehicles and equipment, parts of the S-400 air defense systems, are unloaded from a Russian transport aircraft, at Murted military airport in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, July 12, 2019 - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.10.2021
Military vehicles and equipment, parts of the S-400 air defense systems, are unloaded from a Russian transport aircraft, at Murted military airport in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, July 12, 2019
Agar pointed out the importance of Erdogan's call for the US to leave Syria and Iraq.

"With these words, Erdogan wants to emphasise that the US is a cause of instability in the region. Indeed, the Turkish leader has moved on to harsher rhetoric towards the US. It was the first time I saw him this strict and determined: he had shown more flexibility in the past. The reason for this is the overly ambitious and politicised stance that Biden is demonstrating. Losing Turkey as an ally will cost the US dearly. Turkey is known to be a southeastern wing of NATO, and now the US, is in fact, separating this wing from itself", he concluded.

© AP Photo / SELCAN HACAOGLUTurkish soldiers in combat gear stand guard outside the headquarters of Camp Anadolu in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010.
Turkish soldiers in combat gear stand guard outside the headquarters of Camp Anadolu in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.10.2021
Turkish soldiers in combat gear stand guard outside the headquarters of Camp Anadolu in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010.
Political scientist Mehmet Sahin also commented on Erdogan's statement, saying:

"We see a widespread deterioration of living conditions in all of the territories where the US invaded. The situation in Afghanistan or in Iraq, not only has not improved since the US invasion, it has become even worse. We see the US in Syria supporting a terrorist organisation. President Erdogan's statement indicates that the US presence does not solve the problem but only makes the situation even more difficult. So, the Turkish leader's call is perfectly logical, especially after it became known that more than $176 million had been allocated in the US defence budget for 2022 to support the YPG (recognised as a terrorist organisation in Turkey) in Syria. It is clear to Erdogan that it would be much better if the US withdrew its forces from the region, instead of continuing to destabilise the situation by supporting terrorist organisations", Sahin stated.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the experts and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
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