After his fierce attack against the USA, on the occasion of the murder of 13 Turks in northern Iraq a few days ago, Tayyip Erdogan returned. This time in order to argue to a very receptive audience (US-Turkish lobby in the US) that Ankara-Washington relations can be mutually beneficial (win-win or kazan-kazan, depending on each point of view). The points of convergence are, according to Erdogan, far less than the differences between the US and Turkey.
A day later, yesterday, Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani to express his interest in mediating between Washington and Tehran in order to lift US sanctions and, in theory, reactivate the process. discussions on the nuclear agreement (Joint Comprehensive Action Plan, abbreviated as JCPOA). Earlier, it was reported through channels close to the Turkish government, working to promote pro-Western “news”, that Ankara had hired a major US law firm (Arnold & Porter) to lobby for the its defense industry to return to the F-35 program.
For Turkey, the F-35 case, and the consequent sanctions imposed on it over Russian S-400 missiles, is crucial to the survival of the domestic defense industry. If the embargo is perpetuated, then within the next 1-2 years, problems will begin to appear in the domestic production of important exportable items of the Turkish defense industry, facing the various types of UAVs. At the same time that Erdogan is making all these efforts to “reopen” the door of the White House, inside himself, but also the “first violins” of the AKP, are investing in anti-Americanism, as it seems, the real situation in Turkey’s interior is bleak for the ruling party.
At the moment, it seems that there is a waiting attitude in Washington. It is by no means certain that the current US administration wants Turkey as a mediator for US interests in the Middle East-North Africa region. Quite the opposite. Many in the State Department, while acknowledging Turkey’s geopolitical value, question the degree to which Turkish interests are converging with Russian and, above all, Chinese interests. One month after the inauguration of Joe Biden, the President of Turkey is still waiting for a phone call from the White House, while at NATO level the usually neutral Americans appear not to understand how an ally country can procure weapons (S-400) that could undermine the reliability of the Alliance’s weapons systems.
This stalemate in US-Turkish relations is currently working in Athens’ favor, which – as the Cesme case has shown – is seen by Ankara as a “finger” of Washington in order to put pressure on Turkish interests. In Ankara, they were even annoyed by the fact that the new US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, called Nikos Dendias first and then Mevlüt Çavuşoγlu. From the Turkish side, the annoyance is growing due to the significant support provided by the USA to the whole network of relations that Greece is establishing, on the one hand with Israel and on the whole of the Arab world, especially with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. which Recep Tayyip Erdogan considers openly hostile.
For Greece, the balances are in fact very sensitive, because the further deterioration of US-Turkish relations does not serve the national interests, while their possible normalization will make some of the geopolitical alternatives currently offered through the tripartite relations with Israel and Arab world. In both cases, Turkey is excluded from retreating from the main problem it has created in Greece, which is the Turkish-Libyan memorandum. The solution to the problem also includes Libya on the table, which, unfortunately, turns the Turkish-Libyan memorandum into a permanent thorn in the side of Greek foreign policy.
The only encouraging factor in this whole situation is that if Tayyip Erdogan wants to get back in the game, then he has to show some constructive attitude. According to several diplomatic sources, Erdogan will not risk any escalation after June, even if, as everything shows, the next rounds of exploratory contacts are fruitless. And in Athens, of course, either on the occasion of the discussions on the renewal of the base agreement (MDCA) or on the strategic cooperation with Washington, they will clarify a lot in relation to the American priorities in the region.
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