BY ZEYNEP GURCANLI
There is an unchanging tradition in 20 years of AKP rule.
Foreign policy is shaped by whether or not an “appointment” can be arranged for President Erdoğan with the President of the USA at the UN General Assembly meeting, which is held in New York every year in September.
With only months to go before the 2023 elections, this meeting has become much more urgent for the government. For the image of Erdogan as “world leader” to be used in the election campaign, the AK Party needs an image of a close-knit relationship with the President Biden.
As a matter of fact, every discourse on foreign policy and every step taken is focused on this. These days, the government is trying to attract the attention of the current resident of the White House, President Biden, sometimes by “disturbing” Washington and sometimes with an attitude to please.
THE AFTERMATH OF “SUDDENLY ONE NIGHT”
For example, President Erdogan’s “suddenly one night” statement, which he has used twice in critical recent moments. Both issues in which this statement was used are the kind that will raise eyebrows in the USA.
Erdogan first said this about a new possible operation against Syria. He still continues to speak about this from time to time. This could be designed to rankle the US, which considers the PKK terrorist organization extension in northeast Syria an “ally.” The Washington administration does not refrain from showing this discomfort, both with discourse and with action, before the Turkish operation becomes a matter of flesh and blood. This is why American soldiers are conducting joint exercises with elements that Turkey calls terrorists in this very region.
Ankara seems to have succeeded in “getting the attention” of the Pentagon, but perhaps not of Biden. The fact that a four-star American general, the Commander of CENTCOM, who is focused on the US forces in the Middle East, went to the region “suddenly one night” and met with the PYD -YPG elements and expressed his “condolences” for the terrorists who died, is concrete proof of this.
Indeed, did the AK Party government speak out against this step of the Americans?
MAVI MARMARA NOW GREECE’S TARGET
The situation is not much different in the Aegean, which is the second issue on which Erdogan used the “suddently one night” expression.
As Erdoğan hardened his rhetoric, the Greek side, like the Americans, responded not with words but with action. First, the S -300s in Greece were locked onto Turkish warplanes flying in the Aegean.
Then, Greek fire was opened against the former Mavi Marmara, the Turkish ship, which previously caused a crisis with Israel then changed its name and emerged in the Aegean.
Finally, there are the planned visits by the Greek President to disputed islands between Greece and Turkey.
Ankara’s response to all these Greek moves were letters of complaint against Athens, which were written through NATO, with Erdogan’s saying that “Turkey is not the equal and interlocutor of Greece.”
In the Aegean, Athens evidently won by showing the US that Turkey is “aggressive” while cloaking its own aggressive actions.
When the indirect actions did not have much effect, this time, outbursts came from Ankara demanding Washington’s direct attention. Erdogan, just as he was going to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting and was expected to meet with Russian Leader Putin there, said, “The USA is not the only country selling fighter jets.” Essentially, he is saying that if Washington drags its feet in the sale of F-16s to Turkey, the AK Party government could turn to Russia.
Could this possibly be received well in Washington? There is not much movement in the US Capital at the moment.
PLANNED MEETING WITH THE PRESIDENT OF ARMENIA
In terms of the “carrot/stick” method of diplomacy, the AK Party government does not only use offensive rhetoric to attract Washington’s attention. For the “carrot” part of the work, the US may be dangling peace with Armenia in exchange for a meeting with the US president. Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan is invited to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit, which Erdogan will attend in Samarkand. In diplomatic corridors, it is said that Erdogan may have a bilateral meeting with Pashinyan in Samarkand, or a trilateral meeting with the participation of Azerbaijani Leader Aliyev.
Information from the US shows that there is little intention to give Erdogan an appointment at the White House in Washington. However, the AK Party government is willing to have a brief Biden meeting during the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.
Let’s see if that much desired photo will be taken.