U.S. should avoid knee-jerk responses in Turkey policy - analyst

Washington, in recognising Turkey’s drift away from NATO, should refrain from moves that do not people of Turkey and the United States and ensure it maintains credibility in the Middle East and eastern Europe, wrote Nate Schenkkan, director for special research at Freedom House. 

Turkey has proven its strategic realignment away from the United States and NATO under the autocratic rule of Erdoğan, Schenkkan wrote, but Washingon must take steps demonstrating U.S. support for democratic actors in Turkey and across the region.

A recurring mistake in U.S. policy on Turkey over the past decade has been subordination to the Syria policy, the article said, pointing to Turkey’s latest offensive in Syria. 

Turkey on Oct. 9 launched an operation into northeast Syria with the stated goal of o clearing terrorists from Turkey’s borders. The offensive followed an announcement by U.S. President Donald Trump of the withdrawal of U.S. troops in the region, a move that met with criticism in Washington, including Trump supporters.

A number of U.S. senators are proposing tough sanctions on Turkey over the offensive. The U.S. House of Representatives in Oct. overwhelmingly passed a bill threatening fresh sanctions on Turkey to punish it for its offensive into the war-torn country.

However, sanctions would only make matters worse, according to Schenkkan, who said, lawmakers should instead focus on bigger strategic issues, ‘’including by insisting that the administration implement existing sanctions legislation related to Turkey’s pivot toward Russia’’.

Washington should insulate U.S. and allied interests from the consequences of Turkey’s alignment with Russia, support Turkey’s democratic actors and leave the door open to a possible return to partnership with Ankara in the future under different political leadership, the analyst said.