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    Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and US President Donald Trump shake hands prior to their meeting in New York, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. Erdogan is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

    US House Vote on Sanctions Highlights White House-Congress Distance Over Turkey - Scholar

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    The Turkish Parliament has condemned the US House Republicans for voting in favour of sanctions against Turkey over its offensive in northern Syria and a separate resolution recognising the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in 1914-1923 as genocide.

    Turkey has rejected the US legislation and said that it's a response to its Operation Peace Spring against Kurdish groups. The sanctions are aimed at the Turkish military and government officials.

    "The US House of Representatives made a point by overwhelmingly passing this bill with 403 to 16 votes which threatens to freeze the assets of senior Turkish officials and ban arms transfer to Turkey, as well as threatening large Turkish banks with penalties", Tulin Daloglu, a publisher and expert on US-Turkey relations, said.
    American soldiers walk together during a joint U.S.-Turkey patrol, near Tel Abyad, Syria September 8, 2019
    © REUTERS / Rodi Said
    American soldiers walk together during a joint U.S.-Turkey patrol, near Tel Abyad, Syria September 8, 2019

    The legislation still needs to be passed through the Senate but Mrs Daloglu considers it unlikely to go through.

    "The reasons are less directly related to Turkish actions but more targeted over Russia and Iran. Here the right questions are whether [the] American establishment has more problems with Putin or Erdogan; whether they could successfully impose sanctions on Iran in the absence of Turkish cooperation and whether they would prefer to see their NATO partner move even closer to Russia. All answers are negative and in favour of Erdogan", she noted.

    Erdogan is not seen as a threat in Washington to US interests in the region, but Russia, on the other hand, according to the expert, "is one of a good threat challenging their weakness now in the region".

    There's been strong bipartisan support for sanctions against Turkey over its military operation. US President Donald Trump felt the pressure and imposed punitive measures on Ankara on 14 October, but they didn't last long, nine days later, after reaching a ceasefire in northern Syria, Trump lifted them.  

    This situation shows the split between Trump's position and Congress on Turkey, the expert believes.

    "This could highlight Trump's different dealings with Erdogan, and therefore with Turkey, and the distance between the White House and the Congress over Turkey affairs. There is no doubt that Congress has an all-out negative stand against Turkey. That said, Trump is not in a love affair with Erdogan or Turkey either. He often takes to his Twitter account and threatens to 'devastate [the] Turkish economy', which hardly sounds friendly. It is a tumultuous relationship at best", Mrs Daloglu said.
    Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters carry their weapons in Raqqa's western neighbourhood of Jazra, Syria June 11, 2017.
    © REUTERS / Rodi Said
    Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters carry their weapons in Raqqa's western neighbourhood of Jazra, Syria June 11, 2017.

    Dr Hasim Turker, academic coordinator at the Ankara-based Bosphorus Centre for Asian Studies, in his turn, believes that because of the bipartisan agreement in the Senate over sanctions, they may well be passed. But Trump may not endorse them.

    "However, it [the threat of sanctions] will be hanging over the head of Turkey like a sword of Damocles. In other words, Trump will try to use this as leverage over Turkey", Dr Turker said.

    As to how Turkey might retaliate, the academic coordinator believes that Turkey will continue to turn east, towards Moscow and Beijing.

    "I believe Turkey will improve and expand its relations with Russia and China in the short and mid-term", Dr Turker noted. "Rhetorically, the United States claims that Turkey is an ally and strategic partner of the US. However, practices have nothing to do with the narrative".

    He added that while the US will support Turkey in its efforts to provide security along its borders, Ankara "will have no choice but to team up with the countries that understand and respect its security concerns".

    As the relationship between the two NATO allies continues to deteriorate, the split in the alliance only grows.

    "NATO has never been so divided since 1949. [The] Trump administration is responsible for this", Dr Turker said.

    But despite the problems, he still feels that Turkey will remain a NATO member.

    "It is in the best interest of all NATO members and NATO as an organisation, to try to understand Turkey’s security concerns and act accordingly. Otherwise, NATO will lose its credibility. This will inevitably have repercussions on NATO’s unity", the scholar stressed.
    U.S. President Donald Trump, left, talks to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as they tour the new NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Wednesday, July 11, 2018
    © AP Photo / Tatyana Zenkovich
    U.S. President Donald Trump, left, talks to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as they tour the new NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Wednesday, July 11, 2018

    Mrs Daloglu also said that she doesn’t see Turkey pulling out of the alliance.

    "Turkey still continues to take pride in being a member of NATO. Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg expressed empathy in understanding Turkey's concerns across the east of [the] Euphrates and added that NATO members should continue helping Turkey deploy air defence equipment on the border with Syria. In short, Turkey's withdrawal from NATO is not really in the cards", she concluded.

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

    Tags:
    Syria, Donald Trump, Operation Peace Spring, Armenian Genocide, Sanctions, US sanctions, United States, Turkey
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