Monday, July 28, 2014

Turkey/US: Update--Continuing Rife Between Ankara and Washington

According to AFP, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he has stopped talking to US President Barack Obama on the phone, amid growing strains between Ankara and Washington over Syria and the Israeli-Gaza conflict.

Turkey, a fierce opponent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and an open supporter of armed rebel fighters, felt betrayed when the United States backed away from Washington's "red-line"  rhetoric re: military action against Damascus in September 2013.

"In the past, I was calling him (Obama) directly. Because I can't get the expected results on Syria, our foreign ministers are now talking to each other," PM Erdogan said in a live interview on pro-government ATV channel late Monday (July 28).

As for VP Joe Biden, the Prime Minister said, "He calls me and I call him." 

COMMENT: An observation. It appears that both President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry are like-minded in that both see a cease-fire as the only option in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the high death toll in Syria or the armed conflict underway in the Ukraine with pro-Russian rebels, regardless of the venue or the complexity of the problem.

In the case of PM Erdogan, he seemingly fails to realize that Hamas has only one objective: the Destruction of Israel. From the Israeli point of view, Tel Aviv has but one of two options: Die or fight. Thus, a cease-fire is simply not in the cards unless Hamas or Israel modify their strategies, neither of which is likely.

As regards Syria, I must concur with PM Erdogan. Unfortunately, both President Obama and Secretary Kerry strangely see a cease-fire as the only option in every case on Earth, which is pretty close to insane. Thus far, both the President and Secretary Kerry seem to concur that the ending of 100,000+ Syrian lives is an acceptable solution without definitive punitive action.

As regards the invasion of pro-Russian rebels into the Ukraine, a sovereign nation, both President Obama and Secretary Kerry also seems to be agreeable to the deaths of 298 passengers aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 on July 17 as not worthy of punitive sanctions.

The last phone conversation between PM Erdogan and President Obama occurred on February 20 after which the White House released a statement accusing Erdogan of misrepresenting the content of the conversation.

A staunch advocate of the Palestinian cause, PM Erdogan has recently been at loggerheads with Washington over Israel's offensive in the besieged Gaza Strip that has killed 1,000 Palestinians, although it should be clarified that Hamas has consistently used Palestinians as "human shields" to protect military depots and rocket storage centers.

At the moment, PM Erdogan is expected to win the August 10 presidential elections, with analysts awaiting a more assertive foreign policy from Ankara if he is re-elected.