Donald Trump's decision to replace Rex Tillerson with former CIA director Mike Pompeo as secretary of state will not bring changes to US-Turkey relations, Turkish analysts opined.
"The replacement of the US secretary of state will not translate into changes in the US foreign policy towards Turkey," Dr. Huseyin Bagci, the chair of the international relations department at Ankara's Middle East Technical University, told Sputnik Turkey. "However, in the context of a human factor, the new head of the State Department may adopt a tougher stance."
On the other hand, if one looks at "the US-Turkish relationship through the prism of NATO," it is obvious that Washington is interested in maintaining ties with Ankara within the framework of its global political strategy, the academic noted.
"The differences in Turkish-American relations will not disappear, the sides will continue to seek maximum benefits based on their own interests," the academic stressed. "It would be completely naïve to believe that the US will give up protecting the Kurdish militia in the region in the foreseeable future. It is a separate issue what this process will lead to but we will keep an eye on America's assistance to the Kurds."
At the same time, the academic does not exclude that the recent reshuffle in Trump's cabinet may seriously affect America's strategy in general, given Pompeo's assertive approach towards US foreign affairs.
"This replacement will be followed by a sensitive time when Turkey and the US will have to reach compromises in bilateral relations," Dr. Bagci presumed. "I believe that Tillerson's ouster will affect US relations not only with Turkey but also with North Korea, Europe and Russia."
The academic underscored that Tillerson, a businessman, is about to be replaced by a bright representative of the American "bureaucratic class": "This cannot but lead to certain changes in the [US] foreign policy course," he suggested.
Turkish political scientist Mehmet Yegin largely shares Bagci's stance that while the general line in US-Turkish relations will remain unchanged Washington's rhetoric is likely to become more assertive once Pompeo assumes his new position.
"The existing agreement between Turkey and the United States, on the situation around Manbij, will not undergo changes with Pompeo's appointment," Yegin suggested. "However, in the future, the difference in the rhetoric of Tillerson and Pompeo is likely to affect [Turkish-American] bilateral relations. Tillerson is more diplomatic, Pompeo is acting tougher."
Still, the bright side of Pompeo's selection is that he is a man Trump listens to, Yegin noted.
"When you are holding talks with Tillerson, it is not clear whether the agreements would be implemented and to what extent. When you are negotiating with Pompeo you could take action while being confident that everything that was discussed will be done."
However, in the context of the Turkish-American relationship, the effect of Trump's recent move will be rather weak, the political scientist predicted, reiterating that one should not expect drastic changes in cooperation between Ankara and Washington.
On March 13, Trump announced that he decided to replace Rex Tillerson with CIA chief Mike Pompeo.
Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 13 марта 2018 г.
"Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job!" Trump wrote in a Twitter post. "Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service!"
The rumor of Tillerson's possible ouster emerged in November 2017; however, it was subsequently repeatedly dismissed by the Trump administration. The former secretary of state's last official day on the job will be March 31, 2018.
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