Turkey is finding itself a place in the new world
1967, when the United States and Turkey were at odds over Cyprus, President Lyndon Johnson wrote a letter to Prime Minister İsmet İnönü threatening to block Turkish warships from sailing to the island. İnönü in reply told the U.S. president that if the world falls apart "Turkey will find itself a place in the new world." Today, after five decades, the election of U.S. President Donald Trump is creating storms in the international arena as the U.S. seeks to create a new order based on its national interests and Britain is poised to leave the European Union.
The fact that British Prime Minister Theresa May visited Ankara last weekend and met with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım after talks with Trump in Washington suggests that while the U.S. and Britain are cooking up their new alliance, they are also saving a slot for Turkey. With the European Union falling apart and NATO sailing into the unknown, it is normal for the U.S. and Britain to seek a new order in a world where Turkey and Russia, lead by President Vladimir Putin, have emerged as key players on the global scene.
Flying directly to Turkey from her U.S. visit, Prime Minister May was making a strong point that after Brexit Britain will remain a key global player and is choosing its future partners, including Turkey, with whom it will forge strong trade and defense relations.
The signing of a framework agreement between Turkey's Aeronautics and Space Industry (TAI) and the British giant BAE Systems for the development of the Turkish National Air Fighter Project (TF-X) during Prime Minster May's visit is a clear indicator of where relations between Turkey and Britain are going and the depth of these ties. Cooperating in the defense industry is the most sensitive and secret relationship that is forged between friends and allies. There is no doubt Turkey and Britain are doing this with the blessing of Washington.
As Turkey solves its administrative problems by legislating a systems change and creating its own presidential system, it is also consolidating its position on the world map by creating strong ties with Russia on the one side and revitalizing its western ties with new arrangements with Britain and other friendly countries on the other. This means Turkey will seek to forge closer ties with Washington and restore its close ties with the U.S. under President Trump. This of course means Trump has to hold the friendly hand extended to him.
A new world order is on the horizon. This means substantial changes in the Middle East, where Turkey has once again emerged as a key player. It also means close cooperation between Turkey, Russia, the U.S. and Britain as the changes in the Middle East take shape, with particular attention on Iraq and Syria. The U.S. like Britain wants the Kurds of the Middle East to be part of this equation and live in secure borders in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. That is what Turkey wants. That is why Turkey has established such warm relations with the Masoud Barzani administration in northern Iraq.
Yet we all have to differentiate providing secure borders and a secure environment for the Kurds in the Middle East with secessionist terrorist movements that are bent on dividing countries and harming their people. The PKK terrorist organization has been waging a secessionist campaign for nearly 30 years with the aid of some of our Western friends. The bill for Turkey has been colossal. The PKK has carried its secessionist campaign to the Sinjar province of Iraq as well as to the north of Syria. This should not be tolerated. That is where Turkey seeks an understanding from its new allies.