The friendly atmosphere of the meeting of US Presidents Joe Biden and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan left several questions, especially as it came after a significant deterioration in the relations of the two countries against the background of Turkey’s purchase of Russian weapons, and the Biden administration described the events of 1915 – during the Ottoman Empire – as a “genocide” of the Armenians.
After their first meeting, which came on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels on Monday, Biden confirmed that his country will make progress very soon in relations with Turkey, and that his meeting with “Turkish President Erdogan was very positive and fruitful.” Read also Video – Journalists ask Biden what happened with Erdogan… and an unexpected answer from the US President “F-35” in the skies of the “S-400” missiles… Erdogan’s difficult choice between Washington and Moscow Just an excuse or pressure from Congress.. What made America impose sanctions on Turkey? Washington Post: How can Biden restore America’s relationship with Turkey after Trump ruined it?
Turkey has the second largest participating army in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after the US army, and is considered one of the dominant US allies in the region, but several files have contributed to the strained relations of the two countries during the past few months.
These files include Ankara’s pursuit of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missiles, disputes over the Turkish military presence inside Syria, human rights file, the Armenian massacre, and tensions in the eastern Mediterranean.
The United States’ hosting of the Turkish dissident Fethullah Gulen is another factor that makes it difficult to clear the air between the two countries.
Al Jazeera Net polled a number of Turkish-American relations experts on the Biden administration’s attitudes toward the Turkish ally.
Ambassador David Mack, former assistant secretary of state for Middle Eastern affairs and an expert at the Atlantic Council in Washington, stated that “the Biden-Erdogan meeting provided an opportunity to enhance their reputation in their countries as experienced statesmen who know how to deal with hard-line foreign leaders, while the two men avoided showing their differences that they doubtless discussed over alone.”
Mac says that fruitful working relations are a necessity to promote the national interests of the two countries, and Ankara needs American support in facing its faltering economy, while Washington wants to improve its relationship with Turkey, which can be used to address problems in countries such as Syria, Libya, Iran and Afghanistan, and from here Turkey can Be a major regional partner.
The United States also needs – according to Ambassador Mack – a strong Turkish position to resist Russian pressure in Ukraine, the Black Sea and the Caucasus.
He adds that “a better relationship with the United States is essential for both Erdogan and Biden, the task was accomplished for the two presidents at the summit, and they can now entrust the implementation to their senior officials, diplomats and military leaders.”
As for David de Roche, a professor of security studies at the Pentagon’s National Defense University, and a former military official, he believes that “Turkey under Erdogan has moved from a country that the United States is always looking for ways to help, to a country that is viewed with concern.”
“Turkey remains a valuable partner in NATO and has played a major role in most of its military operations. Because of its historical ties, it is likely to also play a significant role in future operations in Afghanistan with the withdrawal of the United States,” he says.
However, de Roches believes that “the relationship is tense between the two countries, and this is supported by the decline of Turkey’s human rights record under Erdogan, and the abolition of many of the main elements on which Ataturk established the modern Turkish Republic.”
Militarily, de Roche states that “the main point of tension is the United States’ exclusion of Turkey from the F-35 Association of Manufacturers of Advanced Fighters (F-35) due to Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system.”
According to the former military official, Turkey resents this as interference with sovereignty, while Washington retains other important aspects of defense cooperation.
It is remarkable that US policy on the S-400 missile deal under Biden is the same as it was under Trump, and “this is a rare moment of consensus in American politics, and it should draw Erdogan’s attention,” says de Roche.
Despite the dispute over the F-35, Turkey is looking to Washington as a potential source of support (or at least neutral mediation) in its ongoing conflicts in the eastern Mediterranean with various members of the European Union, led by France and Greece, according to de Roche.
Ultimately, he adds, “US-Turkish strategic relations remain vital to the latter’s regional ambitions, and they are well-established despite the fickle and boring nature of the two countries’ leaders, and are sure to strengthen after the end of Erdogan’s rule.”
Howard Eisenstadt, a Turkey expert in the Project on Middle East Democracy, a professor at St. Lawrence University, believes that “the Erdogan-Biden meeting in itself represents a significant progress that was expected, as the important issues that separate them were discussed.”
“I don’t think there has necessarily been a lot of progress on these issues, but I think both sides have preferred, for the time being, to try to resolve them quietly rather than discuss them openly,” Eisenstadt says.
The expert specializing in Turkish affairs considered that “this is especially vital for Erdogan, because his main interest at this stage is the deteriorating Turkish economy, in addition to the fact that the stability of Turkey’s relations with the West is important to him in the short term, because it helps reassure foreign investors.
In the long term, Eisenstadt expects “Turkey will remain at odds with its Western allies and Washington on a wide range of key issues.