July 2016 a military officer of the Turkish army coveted to impose Marshall Law by planning a coup to remove Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey; nevertheless, it was unsuccessful. This event marked a turning point in the foreign policy of Turkey as it started changing discourse in its external foreign policy vis-a-vis the US, by the Justice and Development Party lead and controlled by Tayyip Erdogan. The in-action of the US led Turkey to tilt towards Moscow, Iran and China for the support in the international community.
Some of the major reasons for the Turkish tilt have been that since 2000 Turkey has been trying to become part of the European Union based on its geographic location and has not been granted membership, the US has also not done much to help Turkey fulfill its aim, although Turkey has been in the US camp since the cold war as a member of NATO, the second biggest contributor of troops and a close ally.
The US has been interfering in the internal affairs of Turkey as the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for the bloody attempted coup with the attempt to overthrow the government indicating Gulen to be the head of the state with the aim to draw Turkey away from secularism and impose Islamist government.
Turkey requested Gulen’s extradition from the US to face the trial but the US has not yet obliged Turkey’s request, as per the UN charter Article-III attack against one state should be considered attack against all states and collective action should be taken against the aggressor. Though, the United States is the superpower, it has not done anything for Turkey and to maintain its peace and stability.
Another nail in the coffin for the currently diverging US-Turkey relations has been the arrival of the S-400 Missile technology from Russia, despite vociferous threats from Washington; the missile technology would enable Turkey to destroy any incoming bombs and missile up to 400kms.
The S-300 Missile was provided to Syrian Ba’ath Party (Basharul-Asad regime) by Moscow due to which they have been able to sustain themselves against any external intervention and attack.
The S-400 deal has made the Trump administration unhappy and has made it reluctant to transfer 116 of its F-35 fighter jets worth billions of dollars to Turkey also blocking Turkish pilots from training as Moscow hobnobbing with Ankara is making Washington concerned that Russia would have access to the US sensitive surveillance and security mechanism that may affect US security.
The Syrian rebel forces are being militarily supported and funded by the US and the West, The militant group being reinforced by the US is a close ally of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) who have been fighting a civil war against the Turkish state, so the indirect support of these non-state actors has made Turkey sour towards the US regional policy framework.
The phrase of “no permanent friends or no permanent enemies in the international politics, the only thing being permanent is interest,” Turkey’s converging interest with Russia and diverging interest with the US has made Turkey fixated on improving its military and defence strength, as Turkey is determined to evoke its days of glory and wants to assert itself to the position it held in the European continent and the world.
Turkey has become influential militarily and politically and aims to pursue a free-economic and political policy in its external affairs; it supports Qatar in the region that has been facing air, land and sea embargo from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Countries which has been counter-productive, boosting Iranian influence and destabilizing the region also leading to an air of mistrust between Doha and Riyadh.
Turkey supported the Muslim brotherhood and democratic Leadership of Muhammad Morsi in Egypt, the government was ousted by means of a military coup in 2013 led by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The US has been silent on the issue which is creating a widening gap and fraction in the relations of the US and Turkey, as it believes that it has been following a double-standard policy to please its counterpart in the Middle East as Saudi Arabia felt apprehensive of the democratic government coming to power and fearful of the domino effect it may have had on its kingdom.
In the current scenario, Erdogan wishes to see implication Islamic policies in the region, it strongly supports Pakistan in the Kashmir issue against India and Myanmar against the killings of innocent Muslims by the Buddhists.
The European Union and the US has imposed sanctions on Turkey due to its drilling for gas in waters where EU member Cyprus has exclusive economic rights. The US has called some countries in the Balkans and the Mediterranean to build a block against Syria, Iran and Russia in the Region as Egypt, Israel and Greece doesn’t have good relations with these states, this has angered Erdogan to pursue an influence free foreign policy as Turkey does not wish to side with any camp.
Turkey aspires to lead the Muslim countries in the world but the power-tussle at the helm of affairs in the region, and Turkey wants to spearhead the movement to contain the overwhelming US influence in the region.
In the on-going F-35 crisis and conflict of interests between the two states, the air of mistrust, one thing which can be rest assured is that Turkey will not leave NATO, the two countries would continue to be allies as the US needs Turkey to support in the Middle East to contain the Russian interest and power. It would resolve disputes on the bases of negotiation with Turkey as to ensure that the dream of “Greater Eurasia” does not materialize.
Denying the procurement of the jets to Turkey will also result in major obstacles and complicate matters for the United States as several key components of the jet are being manufactured by Turkish companies also the main European hub for the F-35’s engine repair and overhaul is Eskisehir in northwestern Turkey.
Looking at Turkey today Pakistan needs to absorb that if a country encompasses a stable economy and firm political structure, whatever are the circumstances the countries of power would befriend them and would adopt the policy of reconciliation rather than imposing back-breaking sanctions and rhetoric’s to achieve that status we need to bring our internal house in order, plan strategically and deal pragmatically with external forces.