U.S. line hardening on Turkey – Washington Times
The new U.S. Secretary of State is expected to take a harder line on Turkey than his predecessors, Guy Taylor and Dan Boylan wrote in The Washington Times.
Mike Pompeo “may seize on a moment of bipartisan support from U.S. lawmakers to draw a line in the sand over Turkey’s increasing closeness to Moscow,” the pair wrote.
“Turkey is an important NATO member and a critical U.S. ally, but President Erdogan’s approach to the Kremlin has been disturbing to me and many of my bipartisan colleagues for some time now,” The Washington Times quoted Senator Benjamin L. Cardin as saying.
Another senator has called for sanctions to be applied to Turkish officials as individuals.
“There are many nations around the world where such behavior is commonplace, such as Cuba and Iran,” James Lankford wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “But the recent level of thuggishness is unprecedented for an ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.”
However, sanctions would likely lead to a backlash against the West from within Turkey, academic Helin Sarı said.
“If the U.S. puts sanctions in practice, it would simply increase that nationalist mood in Turkey and strengthen the government’s thesis against the West,” she said. “Then Turkey would definitely move closer to Russia and Iran, which in fact would not suit American interests.”
Former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey said that sanctioning a NATO ally “was a crazy idea”.
“Sovereign countries do not let the parliaments of other countries dictate their country’s national security decisions,” he said.
“If you sanction them, you will destroy the relationship,” he said. “If they can’t buy our weapons, who will they buy them from?”
“I think (Mike Pompeo is) in line with some of the people at the White House who are maybe a little less trusting or running out of patience with Turkey.” Jonathan Schanzer, a senior vice president at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, said, adding however that he doubted that sanctions were on the cards.
Mr. Pompeo, who made his first acknowledged foreign trip to Turkey after he was confirmed as CIA director last year, “is a bit less afraid to throw an elbow here or there, and I think he’s in line with some of the people at the White House who are maybe a little less trusting or running out of patience with Turkey.”
“I went out for beers with him when he was a congressman,” Mr. Schanzer said. “Let’s just say he’s no fan of the ‘Islamist light’ coalition.”