President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s New York visit didn’t go as expected.
The goal of Erdogan, and his crowded accompanying delegation, was to demonstrate Turkey’s influence in the world during the UN General Assembly in New York and draw the attention of the West, notably U.S. President Joe Biden, to Turkey’s irreplaceable role in this context. The strategy used for this was to point out the influence of Turkey, whose majority of population is Muslim, in the Muslim world.
THE STRATEGY WAS THUS SHAPED:
>> The message to give more voice to the Muslim world was mainly used at global platforms, including the UN, according to the book published on behalf of Erdogan just before his visit to New York and translated into most spoken languages in the world. In fact, Erdogan presented this book during his meetings with leaders in New York, even though there was confusions sometimes, such as giving English books to French-speaking country leaders.
>> The inauguration of the Turkevi Center, which is located across from UN headquarters and was rebuilt after being pulled down, coincided with the UN General Assembly meetings for which global leaders were in New York. But contrary to expectations, leaders of influential countries, especially Biden, didn’t attend the inauguration ceremony. The prayer of the President of the Religious Affairs Directorate left its mark on the opening ceremony of the building, reminding those in attendance again of the Muslim majority in Turkey.
>> Erdogan held a meeting with Muslim leaders in the U.S. as soon as he stepped in New York. The message that he listens to Muslims’ problems and that he will be their leader was delivered to the world through this meeting in New York.
Everything was done for Erdogan’s image as the leader of Muslims. However, the most important thing was forgotten: The promise, made by Turkey to secure Kabul Airport, but wasn’t kept. Erdogan went to New York as a leader who couldn’t even convince the Taliban that Turkey is the vanguard of Muslim identity.
Turkey failed to repeat the meeting with Biden it achieved at the NATO summit in Brussels in June, which was specifically about Afghanistan, indicating that Turkey no longer has the influence in that country since the Taliban takeover.
Erdogan, who sent warm messages to the Washington administration before he went to the U.S., changed the tone of his statements, sharpened them, towards the end of the visit, after it became clear that no meeting would be held with Biden. He even mentioned the purchase of the second batch of S-400s from Russia.
TOUGH NEGOTIATION WITH RUSSIA
It’s clear that the AK Party government feels a need now to send a warm message to Russia. Moscow immediately reacted to Erdogan after he confronted Russia about Crimea at this speech in the UN General Assembly, when he was still hoping for a meeting with Biden.
In response to Erdogan’s Crimea scolding, the Russian press close to the Kremlin started to write about the need to play the Kurdish trump card.
Russia bombed areas near the bases where Turkish troops have been deployed in both Afrin, which is controlled by groups that act together with the Turkish Armed Forces, and Idlib, for which Turkey has taken responsibility as part of the Sochi Agreement.
Russian officials have started to emphasize that Turkey has not been able to keep its promises given for Idlib. In addition, Russia now claims, a virus has been discovered in the agricultural products, including tomatoes, imported by Russia from Turkey. And the Assad administration has started to express with a louder voice that Turkish troops should withdraw from Syrian lands, including Idlib.
TURKEY REMAINS A TOPIC IN WASHINGTON
Apart from Erdogan’s New York visit, it seems Turkey remains a point of discussion in Washington, mainly involving three issues:
>> Washington closely monitors Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) which are used by Turkey in Libya, Nagorno Karabakh and Syria, sold to Ukraine and Poland and said to have been sent to Ethiopia for dam protection. While sales to Ukraine and Poland are mentioned in glowing terms, UAVs in Nagorno Karabakh seem to elicit negative reactions. Even a motion was made in the budget talks of the Department of Defense on submitting a report to the Congress about the use of Turkey’s UAVs in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
>> Turkey’s policies in Syria. Will Turkey capitulate to Russia in Idlib? Will the AK Party government in return demand a harsher stance against the PYD -YPG from Moscow east of the Euphrates ? The Biden administration’s Syria policy will be shaped in line with the answers to these questions at the very least.
>> The third debate over Turkey is conducted through the Greek Archbishop, who was invited to the opening ceremony of the Turkevi Center. The debate has been placed on the axis of religious freedom in Turkey, after the Greek-Cypriot front scolded the Archbishop, who attended the inauguration, and he stated in response that he is still critical of the attitude adopted by Turkey over issues such as the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque and the status of the Halki (Heybeliada) Greek •rphanage. In the meantime, the situation of human rights and justice in Turkey and its impact on the Turkish-American relations are also part of the discussion.
The AK Party government is suffering from putting all its eggs in one basket in its relations with the U.S. Ankara has completely lost the Congress due to its stance of talking with Trump to resolve problems approach. The name and reputation of Turkey isn’t mentioned at all by the Biden administration, except for Afghanistan, which also failed…