25 October 2012, 20:01

Will the US-Turkey relations change after the US elections?

Will the US-Turkey relations change after the US elections?

Turkey is a strategic ally of the USA. At the same time, Ankara's actions don't always fit in with Washington's ambitions in the Middle East. How can the current relations between Turkey and the USA be characterized? And will they change after the presidential elections in the US? What is the future of the Turkish-American relations?

We addressed these questions to Turkish experts. Here is the commentary of Murat Bilhan, vice-president of the Turkish-Asian Center for Strategic Studies (TASAM) and former head of the strategic planning department of Turkey's Foreign Ministry.

Despite its strategic nature, the relations between Turkey and the USA have not always developed in the positive direction. And it is a normal thing in international relations. The Turkish-American relations should be viewed as relations between two independent states. Besides that, the positions of the parties on some specific issues can change over time. I’d like to say that the Turkish-American relations develop in waves, i.e. after an up trend there follows a downtrend. I watched the debates between the US presidential candidates and did not notice any major differences between them on the issue of cooperation with Turkey. The USA has certain strategic interests that determine the strategic plans and long-term decision. And it does not matter who will come to power – the Democrats or the Republicans – I believe that the US strategy in the Middle East will be implemented in any event. As far as the crisis in Syria is concerned, Turkey leans towards re-thinking its position on Syria, since the conditions have changed. It is clear that Turkey’s current policy towards Syria does not reflect the reality. And now it is hard to tell, whether Turkey’s interests in Syria with those of the USA. At present, there are no concrete statements on the subject coming from the US side. At the same time, Turkey also introduces certain corrections in its Syria policy.

Birol Aydin, deputy general secretary of the Saadet Party and another interviewee of the Voice of Russia see the US-Turkey relations in quite a different light.

I don't believe that the results of the US presidential elections will noticeably change the Turkish-American relations. Turkey and the USA depend upon each other, especially Turkey. The US has specific plans and goals in regards to the Middle Eastern region, which are unfortunately realized with Turkey's help. And while this co-dependence lasts, little can change in the Turkish-American relations. The American people do not determine the results of the elections in the USA. In America the power in fact belong to various cartels, lobby groups and other groups of pressure, which use the people in their own interests. And it is them who have a direct and key influence on the results of the presidential elections. That is why one should not exaggerate the influence of these elections on the US-Turkey relations, which have been developing on mutually dependent basis since 1950s.

Today one can assume looking from aside that they cannot deal without each other. However, we understand that America has its own imperial ambitions in the Middle East, it has its plans regarding Syria, Iraq, Iran and other countries in the region. It is obvious that these plans do not lead to stability, security or prosperity in the region. Despite all this, Turkey, or rather those who are in power in Turkey, for many years have implemented a policy in the region that reflects the ambitions of the US corporations.

Occasionally, Turkey demonstrated its own will and its own independent foreign policy, as it happened for example on the eve of invasion in Iraq in 2003. However, it became possible due to the fact that at that time there were deputies in the Turkish parliament who acted in the interests of the Turkish people.

The Turkish people have never supported the imperialistic actions of the USA and were against its ambitions in the Middle East as well as in other regions of the world. And today 70-80% of the Turkish people are against the US-European operations in Libya, Iraq, Syria and other countries. Turkey is trying to get rid of the Western influence in its Middle East policy. However, the burden that it took upon itself in the past forces it towards pro-Western actions.

It appears that the West understands that and broadens the geography of its ambitions: Iraq, Libya and now Syria.

In my opinion, Turkey needs to avoid getting involved in the US imperial ambitions. For that purpose it needs to cooperate with Iran, Syria, Egypt and definitely with Russia. If it succeeds, only then the Turkish-American relations can radically change. Otherwise, they won't change. And the results of the presidential elections in the USA, in my opinion, will have little effect on the development of the Turkish-American relations.

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