U.S. must prioritise national security, scrap hopes for restoring Turkey ties - analyst

Washington should prioritise U.S. national security interests and lose any hope of restoring ties with Turkey, even post- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, wrote Diliman Abdulkader, co-founder of American Friends of Kurdistan, a U.S.-based advocacy and education organisation.

Turkey has been emboldened under the current U.S. administration, ratcheting up tensions in the Middle East with Erdoğan’s desire for expansion and the restoration of Ottoman lands across the Middle East and North Africa, Abdulkader wrote in the U.S. international affairs magazine National Interest on Saturday.

Turkey maintains military presence in Syria and Iraq, where it claims it is attacking Kurdish militants, and oil rich Libya, where it is propping up the U.N. recognised Government Of National Accord, backed by Russia, France and Egypt.

Meanwhile, Turkey is enhancing ties with U.S. enemy Iran, the analyst said, pointing out that Iran is the country’s second-largest supplier of natural gas and an important supplier of oil.

In May 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump imposed heavy sanctions on Iran after he withdrew the United States from Iran’s nuclear agreement with world powers. Washington maintains Iran is working to obtain nuclear-capable missiles, a claim Iran denies.

Erdoğan has vowed to continue purchasing natural resources from Iran, despite the sanctions. 

“It is impossible for us to cancel relations with Iran with regard to oil and natural gas. We will continue to buy our natural gas from there,” Erdoğan said last year. 

Ankara has also tarnished its ties with Israel, the analyst said, with Ankara “viewing itself as the true custodian of Jerusalem.’’

In 2017, Erdoğan hosted an emergency OIC meeting after Trump announced the decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and was one of the most outspoken critics of the move. Turkey’s strongman is an unapologetic critic of the Israeli government and has gone on record to call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a tyrant massacring Palestinian children.’’ 

“To limit Turkey’s aggression, America must put in place a “maximum pressure” campaign on its economy as we did to Iran,’’ Abdulkader wrote. “The more passes we give to Turkey, the more difficult it will be to constrain it in the future.’’