With the inauguration of the Biden administration in the United States on January 20, important issues in Turkish-American relations are expected to be on the table, such as the S-400 missile defense system, continuation of US cooperation with the PKK/YPG, the Gulen group, and the Eastern Mediterranean. As for the Cyprus issue, Biden is the defender of the Federation in Cyprus and the equal distribution of resources in the Eastern Mediterranean. He defends cooperation in energy sharing and the need to protect the rights of Turkish Cypriots.
Biden has long expressed his opposition to Turkey’s policies in various areas and called for serious action against Erdogan. Biden described Erdogan as an “oppressor” and suggested that the United States should support the Turkish opposition to overthrow Erdogan. While condemning the Turkish government’s provocative policies in the Eastern Mediterranean, fueling the conflict in the Caucasus, and buying the Russian S-400 missile system, he called for more pressure on Turkey and for setting aside Ankara from any diplomatic efforts in the regional issues. Biden also supports the draft law proposed by Armenia against Turkey on the “genocide and anti-humanistic crimes” against Armenians.
Therefore, tension between Turkey and the United States is not far-fetched, especially since Biden has always been critical of Ankara’s policies and Erdogan’s decisions. With the outbreak of the tensions, relations between Turkey and the United States will undergo many changes during Biden’s presidency, and it is very likely that the two countries move in the direction of tension and turmoil. Ankara-Washington relations in the next four years will be very different from the situation during the Trump presidency.
With Biden coming to power, Erdogan’s concerns about tensions and incompatibility as well as the two countries’ differing points of view on geopolitical issues, coalitions and regional positions will become clearer. The issue of human rights in Turkey, which has been criticized by the Democrats and Ankara’s move to buy Russia’s S-400 missile system, which has angered NATO and led to sanctions against Turkey, are important parts of the tension. Turkey’s military measure against Kurdish allies of the United States in northern Syria and its support for the extremist groups could strain Ankara’s relations with Washington.
The return of Brett McGurk, the former US special envoy for the declared struggle against ISIS, to the White House can also be seen in the context of negative signs. He is a figure against whom Ankara had clearly taken a stand because of his activities in the area controlled by the PKK/YPG terrorist group in Syria. His joining to the White House national security team as well as Biden’s advisory staff is not a positive sign for Ankara.
After a tense year in relations between Turkey and the European Union, Ankara wishes to open a new chapter with Brussels. Most EU countries are in favor of opening dialogue channels and starting a positive agenda in relations with Turkey. The EU summit, which will be chaired by Portugal in March, is certainly important in the future of relations. Achieving a result that can meet the expectations of both sides will depend on the positions of both the EU and Turkey. Reducing tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean and taking reform steps are seen as key elements that will change the outcome in Turkey’s favor.
On January 21, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will travel to Brussels to ease tensions with the European Union, which is preparing sanctions against Ankara’s “aggressive” activities in the Mediterranean. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, in his recent visit to Spain, said that in 2020 tensions noticed between Turkey and some EU member states, but now efforts are being made to open a new chapter in relations with the EU. He added that Turkey historically has been and will be an integral part of the European Union. Turkey’s strong ties and connections have significant strategic added value for the European Union, but unfortunately Europe has neglected it and does not see it. Turkey has always been in favor of easing tensions and holding diplomatic talks, the Turkish foreign minister further remarked.
After a critical year in Turkish-Greek relations, in 2021 the two sides will once again test the talks in the current month. In Greece, although there is a desire to start talks, it is expected to discuss only the scope of maritime authority in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean; but Ankara insists on talks to disarm the islands. The negotiations will definitely be as difficult as the previous ones. Greece has opened a special account of the solidarity of the big European countries.
Evidence shows that Russia will consider proximity to Turkey as a strategic country in the 2021 geopolitical equation. Erdogan wants the Six-Party Pact in the South Caucasus to be backed by Russia with the participation of Turkey, Russia, Iran, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. Ankara also expects the number of Russian tourists to increase by 30%, compared to the past, after the Coronavirus pandemic decrease. Development of the natural gas pipeline as such that it includes southern European countries, is another agenda between the two countries. Russia is pursuing a dual policy, on the one hand, to block US progress on the ground, and on the other hand, to push back the Kurds with the stick of Turkey and expand the sphere of control of the Syrian government.
Normalization of relations between the Zionist regime and Arab countries like the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan entered into a new phase last year. In Turkey, too, there is a tendency to normalize relations with the Zionist regime; but there are those in this regime who are not optimistic about such relationship. According to them, Erdogan will increase his influence in Libya, Turkish Cyprus and Syria by launching the Turkish Crescent, and will challenge the Zionist regime on its Mediterranean trade routes. The Turkish Crescent begins in northern Syria and extends through Turkish Cyprus to the occupied territories. Turkey will use this tactic to compete in Mediterranean trade routes, including Libya, especially with the Zionist regime.
Undoubtedly, with the start of the Syrian crisis on March 15, 2011, Turkey is the most important country involved in it. The UN-sponsored meetings of the Syrian Constitutional Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, are raising hopes in this regard. The fifth round of meetings will be held on January 25-29. For Turkey, the arrival of thousands of Syrian refugees in that country and then departure to Europe is one of the important issues in the field of foreign policy. The fate of nearly 4 million people who have taken refuge in Idlib near the Turkish border is of great importance to Turkey. According to Turkey, the position of the PKK/YPG terrorist group, which is backed by the United States and to some extent Russia and has taken control of a region, is a very important issue.
Reconciliation between Qatar and the Persian Gulf states will also have direct and indirect effects on Turkey. In Turkey’s bilateral relations with the Middle East countries, this reconciliation can be seen as an opportunity. The Justice and Development Party government, which in the closing months of 2020 took steps to improve its tense relations with Saudi Arabia and the Zionist regime, can now pave the way for the normalization of relations with Egypt and the UAE with the intervention of Qatar. The withdrawal of the Saudi-led Persian Gulf states from the 13 conditions previously set for the lifting of sanctions against Qatar, including the closure of the Turkish military base in Doha, is of great importance to Ankara. Reconciliation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia has the potential to negatively affect Turkey’s military presence and movements in Syria and Libya. The legitimacy of Turkey’s role in the civil wars in Syria and Libya, both of which are of an “Arab conflict” nature, has always been stronger because of Qatar as an Arab state standing beside it. Qatar is ready to mediate in Saudi-Turkish relations.