New U.S. secretary of state may be bad news for Turkey

The replacement of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA head Mike Pompeo, described in a Bloomberg profile at the end of last year as “the anti-Tillerson”, may not be in Turkey’s favour.

“Pompeo has a sort of hardline approach on foreign policy that’s quite black and white, and that’s also how Trump sees the world,” the profile quoted Ilan Goldenberg, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, as saying.

“This is where Pompeo has really been able to endear himself to Trump.”

It seems unlikely that he sees Turkey and its government as being firmly in the “white” camp, either.

Indeed, Pompeo’s reaction to the failed military coup in 2016 was to disparage President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government as a “totalitarian Islamist dictatorship”.

The Bloomberg profile sums the new secretary of state up as “decisive, combative, and loyal”: all traits that could either endear him to Erdoğan’s similar style or else encourage a less-than-diplomatic style of pushback against Erdoğan’s targeting of U.S. interests in the Middle East.