Sputnik: How justified is Trump’s plan to impose sanctions on Turkey? What is the reason for such rhetoric against Turkey now?
Ilter Turan: The US and some members of the EU appear to feel that it is their prerogative to intervene in any part of the world because they are justified in doing so. But when Turkey does it because of existential reasons, they think that it is something that Turkey should not do, right? It is a very inconsistent and hypocritical policy. But then international politics is a world of hypocrisy. And Turkey is in there for existential reasons. Tell me what existential reason does France have to have troops in the same area, for example?
Sputnik: Commenting on Trump’s decision to impose sanctions on Turkey, the US senator Lindsay Graham stated that it “will be a game-changer in all the wrong ways for Turkey”. What did Senator Graham mean by that? In your opinion, how would these sanctions impact Turkey?
Ilter Turan: Well, first of all, Mr. Trump has been trying to avoid criticisms and implement his own mind. So he says one thing and then he changes his strategy and says something else… My impression is that the sanctions were essentially a compromise with some of the forces that are against America’s withdrawing from Syria. And Mr. Trump has qualified it by saying if “Turkey exceeds the line”. Now, we don’t know what the line is. But essentially my own feeling is that this is a sort of way of calming down the Senate and I don’t anticipate any immediate sanctions going into effect.
Sputnik: What exactly is Trump trying to achieve by withdrawing troops from northern Syria and then declaring that he will impose sanctions on Turkey?
Ilter Turan: Trump appears to be interested in withdrawing troops from a variety of areas where he finds it difficult to understand why the Americans are present there for instance. Now Mr. Trump is also reducing the American presence in Afghanistan and probably in Iraq. He has been in increasing it in Saudi Arabia. It seems that the deployment of forces abroad by the US has become more focused and more targeted rather than a general sort of orientation towards intervention in any trouble spot in the world.
Sputnik: How will Turkey’s relationship with NATO allies (especially from the EU) change, over the recent events in northern Syria?
Ilter Turan: Well, you know, NATO itself as an organization has been reasonably supportive and understanding of the Turkish intervention. But individual members have their own opinions. This has characterized NATO after the Cold War. So it is not just unique to this situation. Obviously there are tensions among NATO members. But I don’t think it will be so much that it will pose a sort of threat to NATO and it will figure things out. NATO is getting used to operating in a different environment than the environment that it was initially founded in. So it’s going to be a painful exercise. Russians were spared of this sort of exercise because the Warsaw Pact was defeated and the Soviet Union came to an end. But this did not happen on the NATO side, so NATO is trying to find new functions and emergencies and inevitably there are differences of opinion that have characterized NATO and are likely to continue, but nobody is interested in withdrawing from NATO.
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