Five years ago, and specifically, on April 23, 2016, Recep Tayyip Erdogan received then US Vice President Joe Biden in his office in Sultan Abdul Hamid’s palace and sat him on the golden royal chair, noting that he was 80 minutes late after he was in a private lunch with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, whom Erdogan “expelled” a month later after this occasion.
Five years after this meeting, President Biden, 3 months after his election, surprised his Turkish counterpart by calling yesterday (24 April), which carried with it many annoying and even humiliating meanings for him. The White House said “Biden called him to tell him that he would describe what the Armenians were subjected to in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Empire as genocide and ethnic cleansing,” which he did on Saturday evening.
US President also promised Erdogan to have “a lengthy and expanded” meeting on the sidelines of the Atlantic summit in Brussels next June, during which all issues of concern to Turkish-American relations in all their aspects will be discussed; bilateral, regional, and international, which may require many hours of discussion due to the heated nature of these issues, including the Russian “S-400” missiles, the relationship with Moscow, the situation in the Black Sea, the Turkish role in NATO, and its details include the Syrian crisis and American support for the Kurds, the situation in Iraq and the Turkish role in it, the Turkish-Iranian relations, the Turkish role in the region, democracy, and human rights in Turkey…
The former Turkish ambassador to Washington, Shukri Al-Akdag, expected “a difficult stage in Turkish-American relations during the coming period,” and pointed out that “Biden has not yet received the credentials of the new (Turkish) ambassador, Murat Morjan, and he has been waiting for him for 6 weeks.” The two countries are at the last turning point in their history, all because of President Erdogan’s wrong policies regionally, internationally, and internally.
Erdogan, who spoke highly of his intimate relations with Biden when he said on December 9 last year, “Biden visited me at my house when I was sick,” seems to have forgotten or ignored when he said about him in December 2019 that he is “tyrannical and must be disposed of democratically through supporting the opposition.”
On October 3, 2014, (Biden) said on Turkey, Erdogan, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, “It supported all jihadist terrorist groups, including ISIS and Al-Nusra, to get rid of President Assad, and spent millions of dollars, and transferred weapons and foreign terrorists to Syria.”
In all cases, and while awaiting the Atlantic summit in Brussels on June 14, everyone knows that President Erdogan will face many difficult and complex challenges in the entirety of his regional and international calculations, due to his contradictions, which seem to have brought Turkey to the end of the dark road. A good example of this is Washington’s decision to exclude it from the F-35 project, due to its purchase of Russian S-400 missiles, without this being sufficient to win the favor of Moscow, which said a day after this decision: “Russia will reconsider its military relations with Ankara if it continues to send its drones to Ukraine.”
Erdogan’s efforts to reconcile with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE, and later “Israel”, constitute another example of these contradictions that President Erdogan is preparing to exploit in his upcoming and decisive meeting with Biden. The former Turkish ambassador to Washington, Namiq Tan, expecting this meeting “to put points on the letters in the future of Turkish-American relations, in all its political, military, and economic aspects, this will require Erdogan to accept or reject the requests and conditions of Biden, who knows the extent of the strategic importance of Turkey.
The statements of the two Turkish ambassadors, Al-Akdag and Tan, clearly reflect how important the next few days are for Erdogan, who has only to close all the files that will be on the table during his meeting with Biden. This will require him to clarify the image of the relationship with his friend, President Putin, with all its implications for Turkish-Russian coordination and cooperation in Syria in the first place, because Washington has its own calculations there, and in particular its support for the Kurds, despite Turkey’s deep concern about that.
The prevailing opinion in Turkey is that Erdogan tends to accept most of the conditions and demands of President Biden, who will not be late in supporting Ankara to get it out of its serious economic and financial crisis, as getting out of this crisis will help the Turkish president to address all his internal problems and get rid of the opposition pressures that he will easily overcome if Washington flooded him with its dollars that would tickle the feelings of the Turkish citizen, without being indifferent to what Erdogan offered or would offer in terms of concessions to the strategic ally Washington.
Turkey has been for many years a “fish in its hook that cannot be easily disposed of,” and the saying here is by former US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, and the ultimate decision by President Biden, and Erdogan before him, because he has not yet determined the course of his regional and international policies, beginning with Iran, with their implications on all regional issues, the most important of which is Syria, Iran, and Yemen, due to the concerns of “Israel” in it, and finally with Russia, which Biden wanted to try his luck with it in Ukraine, in which its response was firm, decisive and clear.
In all cases, and whatever the content and duration of the possible meeting between Erdogan and Biden on June 14, the recognizing of the Armenian genocide by the latter will worry Ankara, with or without Erdogan, as his recognition of this genocide, which 28 countries have recognized so far, maybe followed by the demands of the Armenians for monetary compensation for their property in Turkey, after they were expelled from it at and during the First World War.
Although these potential demands are reminiscent of Israel’s demand for material compensation from the Arab countries that the Jews left after the “establishment of the Hebrew state” in 1948, some expect Tel Aviv and the Jewish lobbies in Washington to impede the Armenian demands, so that they continue to exploit emotional sentiment and global human solidarity with the victims of the Nazi genocide of the Jews at and during the First World War.
Others expect Tel Aviv and the Jewish lobbies to provoke the Armenians in the issue of compensation, as this would be a card that would help Tel Aviv in its attempts to pressure Ankara to force it to reconcile or keep it away from any hostile approach to it, with the continuation of Turkish contradictions in this area, especially after the so-called “Spring” Arabi”.
Despite the threat and menacing that President Erdogan issued, on more than one occasion, against “Israel” and Netanyahu, Ankara did not use the right of veto against “Israel” joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and opening an Israeli representation at NATO headquarters.
The file of the Marmara ship case was also closed in exchange for 20 million dollars donated by Tel Aviv to the families of the victims, at a time when trade exchange between the two countries reached record numbers, with the continued flow of Azerbaijani and Iraqi oil from Turkish ports to Israel.
There is no doubt that President Biden attaches special importance to these issues in Washington’s regional policies, regardless of the shape and size of the apathy with Netanyahu, given that “Israel” is a distinct American product that Washington does not want anyone to say it is corrupt and not consumable anymore, provided that the recognition of the genocide is an emotional issue with a weak displaced people without diminishing regional and international calculations, especially after the recent displacement they were subjected to from Syria and Iraq, without any indifference from Biden and Macron, who tweeted today to say: “We will not forget you!”