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12/06/2020

Will Biden ramp up aggression against Turkey? Experts weigh in

Will Biden ramp up aggression against Turkey? Experts weigh in

Turkey’s former Ambassador to Washington Faruk Logoglu and Retired Brigadier General, Assoc. Dr. Fahri Erenel have commented on possible US-Turkey relations and foreign policy under President Biden.

Despite continued push back from current US President Donald Trump, procedures are beginning for the transition to Joe Biden’s presidency next year.

President elect Biden said, “The election is over, it is time to put aside supporters and discourses designed to demonize each other.” On his Twitter account, he shared the message “America is back”.

Biden announced his new cabinet, with implications for one of the most hotly debated agenda items during the election: Turkey-US relations.

We asked some political specialists how Biden’s presidency will affect Turkish-US relations and what changes will occur in US foreign policy.

‘BIDEN’S CRIMINAL RECORD IS OBVIOUS’

Turkey’s former Ambassador to Washington Faruk Loğoğlu issued the following assessments regarding Biden’s leadership in terms of international politics and relations with Turkey:

“Biden is a leader with more balanced messages on NATO, Europe, climate change, relations with China and Russia. For example, he may bring back the nuclear deal signed with Iran during his term, despite Trump having pulled the US out of it. In the context of Syria, Iraq and Israel policies, the two do not differ much from one another.

In terms of Turkey, Biden’s anti-Turkey stance is quite solid and stable. He recognizes the so-called Armenian genocide and has worked with Greek Armenian lobbies all his life. He takes care of the Armenian lobby. He advocates imposing sanctions on Turkey related to the purchase of Russian S400s. He sides with Greeks in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus. He has always created problems on the sales of arms to Turkey. He had immediately issued unacceptable statements for Turkey’s internal affairs before being elected. Biden’s criminal record is obvious, I do not think he will change his attitude towards Turkey.”

‘IDENTICAL MIDDLE EAST POLICY’

Evaluating the potential impact of Biden’s win on international politics and Turkey, Retired Brigadier General, Assoc. Dr. Fahri Erenel said the following:

“Biden does not differ from Trump in his Middle East policy. Again, as Trump also said, the line is ‘We will withdraw forces from Iraq, but we will keep enough forces to fight ISIS.’ The second and more important point for us is that he agrees with Trump that the PKK is a part of their coalition forces. In other words, it seems that there will not be any change around the Syria and Iraq issues. With Biden’s election, I do not think there will be any change from the aspect of PKK. Support for the PKK will continue. So nothing will change at our southern borders.”

“ASTANA MAY BE THE TARGET”

Warning Turkey to be very careful about the Syria policy, Erenel went on to say:

“The latest news is that both the US and Russia are reinforcing the northern regions of Syria. All manner of attempts to eliminate the Astana process between Turkey, Russia, and Iran could be possible. I think that Biden and his team aim to unite the organization to be formed both in the north of Iraq and the north of Syria as an ultimate goal. In other words, they are attempting to materialize a criminal organization consisting of the so-called cantons there and to put it in the constitution taking Afrin from Turkey somehow, I assume. ”

‘AMERICAN JEWS AND ISRAELI JEWS ARE DIFFERENT’

Another point that Erenel drew attention to was Biden’s relations with Israel. Using the expressions “Biden does not approve of the relations of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with Israel”, Erenel argued:

“It is not possible to secure Gulf security with Saudi Arabia and the UEA which are in such a normalization process. Ergo, they are looking for a different ally, a different partner. This of course would be a development in favor of Turkey. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are under every rock we turn; the UAE supports the Caucuses, it supports the Balkans.

In addition, this may start a transformation process with regard to Israel. This is because, with this election, a difference has emerged between American Jews and Israeli Jews; while Israeli Jews supported Trump, a large number of American Jews supported Biden. Therefore, Biden has no debt to Netanyahu and the Jews currently residing in Israel. He knows that Israel is a serious burden on America in the Middle East. He knows that the two countries he has relations with during the normalization process are actually not in a condition and power to support the interests of America.

This is an important factor for reading developments. First of all, Biden wants to re-establish liberal democracy within America and internationally, a world where America is hegemon again.’’

NUCLEAR TREATY WITH IRAN

Evaluating the US-Iran relations, Erenel commented on Biden’s Iran policy as follows:

“Biden favors a nuclear deal with Iran, and I think it has no other chance to improve its relations with Iran. Despite all the sanctions on Iran, all kinds of illegal oil through Afghanistan, etc., when we take these into consideration, yes, they have had a great impact, they have weakened Iran’s power and the government, but Iran is not a state with a simple and simple structure like before. It is a country with an important state culture. It is the most important representative of Persian culture.

So whatever they do to Iran, it means nothing but wasting US power. They thought that with the nuclear deal they would at least keep Iran under control. Now some sanctions may be lifted. I also think that their main purpose here is to neutralize this incident between Iran and the United Arab Emirates, especially in the Gulf region and its security, and perhaps focus on ensuring security in the Gulf region.”

BARRICADING CHINA

Opining that Biden could cooperate with Iran and prevent China’s progress, Erenel stated the following:

“By approaching Iran, Biden can also barricade China. A 25-year strategic agreement has been signed between China and Iran. Both sides were actually waiting for the US election results for the realization of this agreement. If Biden can somehow stop Iran from cooperating with China, he may be able to prevent the influence of the Belt Road Project in the Middle East. Another issue is that I consider that the relations between Iran and the US can develop in the Biden period.”

THE EFFECT ON THE BLUE HOMELAND STRUGGLE

Noting that he does not think that there will be much change in the US’ Eastern Mediterranean policy, Erenel stated that similar policies will be continued: “The policy followed by Trump and Pompeo will continue on the same axis, a pro-Greek America, an America that protects Southern Cyprus and excludes Turkey in the process of seeking an interest in Eastern Mediterranean, i.e., an identical process will go on… Ukraine-Turkey relations continue in the same way. Russia may take steps on Crimea in return for lifting some sanctions. I do not think he will force Georgia for NATO membership. Georgia-Turkey relations will continue on the way they were.’’

‘BIDEN MAY BE MORE AGGRESSIVE’

Drawing the attention to Biden’s opposition to Turkey, Fahri Erenel concluded as follows:

“At the end of the day, when we take Biden’s opposition to Turkey –I do not prefer to define it as hostility– with regard to matters such as promoting a civil war due his being more courageous in his support of Turkish opposition parties and his knowledge of other mechanism of our government well, we can say that Biden may be more aggressive.”

Elif İlhamoğlu
Elif İlhamoğlu is political scientist and  journalist (Turkey). She is studying for PHD on the political science and international relations department at Istanbul University (Middle East studies). She visited Middle East countries, Syria, Lebanon, Iran several times and did interviews with the leaders as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hilal al-Hilal Secretary General of the Syrian Ba'ath Party.

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