Turkey-West relations unlikely to improve under Biden - analyst

Without significant policy and behavioral changes from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Turkey is likely to encounter further punitive measures from the West under the Biden administration, wrote Sinan Ciddi, associate professor of national security studies at Marine Corps University in Virginia.

Ankara is set to face an uphill battle to settle its ongoing disputes with Washington and other NATO allies, Ciddi wrote in World Politics Review, including Ankara's purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system, its drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and its undermining of the West to gain voters. 

The EU has expressed full supportfor member states Greece and Cyprus in the dispute with Turkey over contested waters in the Eastern Mediterranean, threatening Ankara with sanctions.

Meanwhile, Washington has applied sanctions - albeit narrow - over Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400s, which the United States and NATO maintain is incompatible with the alliance’s existing defence infrastructure.

“Unless Turkey dramatically alters its course under the Biden administration, it is unlikely that the U.S. government will lift these sanctions, isolating Turkey within NATO,’’ according to Ciddi.

While Erdoğan known that his standoff in the eastern Mediterranean over hydrocarbon resources is “damaging his relations with both the EU and the U.S.’’ the analyst wrote, he chooses to “keep Turkish public opinion focused against the West.’’

By bolstering anti-Western sentiments, Ciddi maintains, Erdoğan can shore up support at home in a bid to maintain his grip on power.

Anti-U.S. sentiment has risen in Turkey after a failed coup attempt in 2016 that the Turkish government blames on a U.S. -based Turkish preacher.

Meanwhile, support for NATO is lowest in Turkey among 16 member countries with only 21 percent having a favourable opinion towards the alliance, according to a February survey by Pew research.