Biden needs Turkey for Libya, Iran, Turkish researcher says

U.S. President Joe Biden has much to gain from Turkey’s positions in Libya and Iran, Daily Sabah columnist Batu Coşkun said.

Strengthening relations with Turkey can have a positive impact on U.S. interests in Libya and on its policies towards Iran, Coşkun said in the pro-government newspaper on Wednesday.

“The U.S. would do well to enlist Turkey’s existing strategic expertise,” he said. “Turkey has much to offer to Washington.”

Biden is upshifting U.S. policy to play a more effective role on the world stage, but re-engagement would be a rough journey should it continue to disregard the Middle East “and might never even produce the results that Washington hopes to see”, Coşkun said.

“In Libya, Biden faces a potential debacle,” Coşkun said. NATO members have different interests and agendas in there, and this weakens the United States’ hand, raising the risk of bringing the dispute under closer European Union perusal, he said.

The United States has distanced itself from the conflict in Libya, leaving the European Union and the United Nations to lead any initiatives to stem the violence.

Since a U.N.-backed ceasefire signed on Oct. 23, Turkey, Russia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) continue to deploy military personnel and mercenaries in the country.

Turkey supports the U.N.-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) in the conflict with opposition forces in east Libya, led by rebel General Khalifa Haftar, who is backed by Egypt, the UAE and Russia, among other countries.

On Jan.28, the United States called for the immediate withdrawal of foreign forces to respect Libyan sovereignty. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Tuesday that the withdrawal of Turkish personnel would occur only if other foreign troops also leave the country.

On Iran, the Biden administration hopes to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran nuclear agreement, Coşkun said.

“But the impetus for a return seems to be lost,” he said. “Iranians no longer seem to be interested in complying with the previous agreement unless they see Washington take the first step, which in the current conjuncture is quite unlikely.”

Former U.S. President Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States from the JCPOA. He said tough economic sanctions on Iran would be forthcoming, as he sought to force the Iranian government to forge a new agreement that would address issues such as its alleged sponsorship of terrorism and ballistic missile development.