Biden is quietly setting new terms for relations with Turkey - Ret. US Colonel

U.S. President Joe Biden is quietly setting out new terms for relations between Turkey and the United States, according to a senior advisor in the previous U.S. administration.  

Rich Outzen, a former army colonel, served as the senior advisor to U.S. special representative for Syrian engagement James Jeffrey under former U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking to Ahval’s Anatolian Dispatch podcast, said that for now “no news is the good news” for a relationship that has seen several high-profile confrontations in recent years.

The outgoing Trump administration had done Biden a favour by enacting Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) against over Turkey’s purchase of the Russian-made S-400 missile system, Outzen said.

The measures target Turkey’s Presidency of Defence Industries (SBB), the government body tasked with overseeing military procurement, and included a ban on U.S. export licenses, as well as restrictions on four senior officials.

However, the Trump administration left the door open for the incoming U.S. government to set the terms of relations with Turkey “by choosing some sanctions on the lighter end”, Outzen said.

Last week, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman became the highest-ranking member of the Biden administration to visit Turkey, where she presented alternatives for resolving the S-400 crisis.    

Outzen said Sherman may have put forward a compromise in which the Biden administration would not lift the sanctions, but also not impose further measures as long as Turkey remains within certain redlines. These include Russian advisers and S-400 training personnel leaving Turkey, and Ankara not making any similar weapons purchases in the future.

Ankara interpreted Sherman’s visit as laying down some of the ground rules for the relationship with Washington under Biden, the former Trump administration adviser said.

“Clearly this administration is not a team of Turkophiles, and not coming to create a good feeling about the relations, but to manage a problematic relation,” he added. “Both sides are aware of this.”