Anti-US views grow in Turkey
Pollsters say US leadership crisis in age of Trump and US support for terrorist PYD/PKK are behind rising anti-Americanism. As Anadolu Agency writes in the article Turkey: Surveys show growing anti-US views, according to a survey carried out by Optimar of 1,508 people across 26 provinces, 71.9 percent described themselves as anti-American, while 22.7 percent say they are “partially anti-U.S.,” with only 5.4 percent saying they are not anti-U.S.
Fifty-eight percent of the people surveyed said international powers such as the U.S., Israel, and European countries are behind the rapid strengthening of Daesh in Syria and Iraq. Asked what they think about Turkey and Russia moving closer together, 62.1 percent found it a positive development, while 22.4 percent called it negative, and 15.5 percent had no opinion.
Anti-US views peak
Hilmi Dasdemir, who heads the pollster, told Anadolu Agency that Optimar is doing surveys on the Middle East and foreign policy. Pointing to the new survey, Dasdemir said anti-U.S. sentiments are at a peak. "The survey result is quite concerning in terms of U.S.-Turkish relations, which of course derive from the U.S.’ policy on FETO and the PYD,” he said. The Fetullah Terrorist Organization or FETO is the group behind the July 15, 2016 defeated coup in Turkey, while the PYD/PKK is the Syrian branch of the terrorist PKK, and the main focus of Turkey’s current counter-terrorist operation in Syria, near the Turkish border. In its 30-year terrorist campaign against Turkey, the PKK -- recognized as a terrorist group by the U.S., EU, and Turkey -- has taken 40,000 lives.
Dasdemir reviewed the results of a poll done back in 2016. “When we asked ‘Who do you think is behind the July 15 coup attempt?’ 36.9 percent said FETO was behind it, 25.2 said the U.S. and FETO worked together, and 5.6 percent said only the U.S.” Dasdemir said fewer people support cooperation between Turkey and the U.S. now. “When we asked in 2015 ‘Which countries should Turkey act in line with on foreign policy?’, 23.1 percent said the U.S., but now this fell to 13.6 percent.” Dasdemir said more people are supporting Turkey’s cooperation with countries such as Russia and China.
AGS Global, another pollster, recently surveyed 393 businesspeople in various sectors. Some two-thirds -- 66 percent -- of the businesspeople said they had negative views of the U.S., versus only 13 percent with positive views, and 21 percent with mixed views. Most businesspeople with negative views of the U.S. said the main factor behind this is a “lack of trust.” Ahmet Guler, AGS Global’s CEO, said there are three main factors behind this negative view. “Western countries’ attempt to look at new Turkey from an old perspective” is one of the reasons, Guler said. Guler said contradictory statements from EU countries and the U.S. and a leadership crisis in these countries also eroded views of them among Turkish businesspeople. “Especially the leadership crises after [the election of President Donald] Trump and a contradictory management approach have caused negative attitudes to rise.” Contrary to the crises in the West, the stable situation in Russia created a positive attitude among businesspeople, Guler said.
Guler said the third reason for the falling U.S. profile is the shift of world’s economic and political center to the Asia-Pacific region.
Russia in better light, US looking worse
Adil Gur, the CEO of pollster A&G, said their recent surveys show a growing anti-U.S. attitude in Turkey alongside falling anti-Russian views. Gur said the anti-Russia percentage was quite high 20 years ago, while the anti-U.S. percentage was lower. “U.S.’ support for the [PYD] PKK and FETO in recent years has seriously pushed up anti-U.S. sentiments. These sentiments even increased to 85-90 percent amid U.S. support for the PKK during Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch in Afrin,” he said.
Against strong Turkish objections, the U.S. has given weapons and support to the PYD/PKK in Syria, claiming that it is not a branch of the terrorist PKK but a “reliable ally” in the fight against Daesh. Gur said 82 percent of Kurds living in Turkey think that the U.S. is not their friend and ally. “They say, ‘America is supporting the PYD in line with its interests.’” Gur said 87 percent of the adult population in Turkey “think the PYD is an offshoot of the PKK.”
Turkey on Jan 20. launched Operation Olive Branch to remove PYD/PKK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin. According to the Turkish General Staff, the operation aims to establish security and stability along Turkey’s borders and the region as well as to protect Syrians from terrorist oppression and cruelty. The operation is being carried out under the framework of Turkey’s rights based on international law, UN Security Council resolutions, its self-defense rights under the UN charter, and respect for Syria's territorial integrity, it said. The military has also said that only terrorist targets are being destroyed and "utmost care" is being taken to avoid harming civilians.