Feb 15 2018

Tillerson should adopt Putin’s Erdoğan speak -experts

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson can learn a thing or two from Russian President Vladimir Putin, said two Turkey experts at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think-tank in a commentary they wrote to The Hill newspaper in Washington. 

Putin knows to handle authoritarian leaders by relentlessly applying leverage to extract concessions and Tillerson should do the same when he meets his Turkish counterparts this week, suggested Aykan Erdemir and Merve Tahiroğlu.

Tillerson, during his visit, will primarily deal with the complications of Ankara’s ongoing military offensive in northern Syria. Bilateral relations between the NATO allies are becoming increasingly strained as Ankara moved Turkish troops into Syria's Afrin region to fight the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) that Turkey considers as an offshoot of local Kurdish insurgents, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK.)

"Anti-Americanism is running high in Turkey," warned Erdemir and Tahiroğlu. Turkey has accused the United States of complicity in the 2016 coup attempt, jailed Americans on flimsy evidence and detained U.S. consulate workers. Bilateral relations between the allied countries are so strained that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been threatening to strike at U.S. forces embedded with Kurdish fighters in Syria.

"Yet Russia, which has undermined Turkish security in all possible aspects - economic, political, and military - over the last few years, has received a carte-blanche from the Turkish president," Erdemir and Tahiroğlu said. "A more crucial reason for Ankara’s blatant double-standards towards Washington and Moscow, however, is the difference in U.S. and Russia’s treatment of Erdoğan."

"However, as long as the U.S., in stark contrast to Putin, continues to appease Erdoğan, it shouldn’t expect much respect or cooperation from its rogue partner," they said, suggesting Tillerson use more of Putin’s Erdoğan-speak during his visit.

http://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/373896-handling-turkeys-erdogan-what-washington-can-learn-from-russia