Now the US has to prove it means business with Turkey
This week, Turkey and US presidents held their first telephone conversation after the new American leader took the office. During the 45-minute conversation, Erdogan and Donald Trump agreed to fight terrorists, discussed the creation of the safe zones in Syria, and the refugee crisis. When asked whether some positions were discussed with Moscow before this telephone conversation, the president's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said ‘no’: ”This is not a usual practice, as far as every president has his own bilateral agenda.”
Daily Sabah writes about the prospects of the US-Turkish relations.
It's true that the Obama administration left pretty bad memories of the U.S. in Turkey, yet Washington and Ankara can be expected to revive their old friendly ties as there is so much the two countries can do together. The much-awaited phone conversation between President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the new U.S. President Donald Trump has shown they both have the will to boost relations between the two countries and restore their old ties and strategic alliance.Trump and Erdoğan made a warm and sincere start, which is good news. That should be no surprise to those who are closely aware of global and regional developments. President Erdoğan has been the subject of a war of attrition in Turkey for the past 15 years by the so-called elite that used to run the country until the people brought the government to power. Trump, who is new in government, faces a similar war in Washington and he needs all the advice he can get from Erdoğan for this uphill battle he faces.
Besides this, Trump has taken on Iran, and the tensions between Washington and Tehran have reached boiling point. Trump is now moving ahead with plans to declare Iran's National Guard a terrorist organization. Turkey was very active in forging an understanding between the Western powers and Iran to eventually secure a nuclear deal where Tehran promised not to develop nuclear weapons and systems to deliver nuclear bombs. However, after the deal, Tehran turned its back on Turkey, which did not go down well in Ankara.
So Trump has a reliable and loyal ally that is well aware of the intricacies of doing business with Tehran and managing the current crisis with Iran. Erdoğan and Trump have agreed on the principles and have left the nitty gritty stuff to their aides to chart a new course for Turkish-American relations.
Hence a visit by the new CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who just paid his first visit abroad to Turkey. More visits from high-level Turkish and American officials will set the stage for a boost in ties. However, all this is much easier said than done.
The U.S. will have to ditch the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its terrorist force that has been dominating a section of northern Syria and which the Americans have used as a fighting ground force against Daesh. However, it should not be hard for the U.S. to classify the PYD a terrorist outfit after its decision to call the Iranian National Guard a terrorist organization.
The two leaders have agreed to cooperate to rid al-Bab and Raqqa of Daesh, and Turkey is now drawing up plans to achieve this on the ground with U.S. and Russian help. For once, all the forces in Syria will be making an effort to finish off Daesh.
Besides this, aides to the two presidents will also work on a plan to eliminate the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), which staged the failed bloody coup on July 15 in Turkey. Trump is of course aware of the ties and financial dealings between FETÖ and the Hillary Clinton campaign and the fact that Gülen has been funneling away millions of dollars of tax money under the pretense of running schools in the U.S.
The Turkish people have been deeply hurt by the negative attitude of the administration of former President Barack Obama, and there are hopes that Trump will make amends. Expectations should not be too high, but we also realistically expect that the U.S. and Turkey can revive their old friendly ties. After all, the regional map is changing and there is much Turkey and the U.S. can do together.