Trump wants to make a deal with Turkey: he should not - analyst

In advance of Thursday’s scheduled meeting between U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Brookings Institution fellow and former U.S. diplomat Amanda Sloat has written that the U.S. government should revert to a rights-based discourse.

“Unfortunately, the Trump administration has given the impression it does not care about the quality of Turkish democracy,” she said.

Sloat said the Trump administration appeared wishing to engage with Turkey in ways that overlook or bypass the fundamentals of U.S. law and diplomacy.

Sloat worried Turkish officials were being offered special treatment in return for favours in examples such as the extradition case of Fethullah Gülen, an exile preacher in Pennsylvania accused by Turkey of masterminding last year’s failed coup, and Reza Zarrab, a gold dealer with links to the Turkish government who is presently on trial for evading U.S. sanctions on Iran:

For example, Michael Flynn — who served as Trump’s first national security advisor — reportedly talked to Turkish officials during the campaign about transferring Gülen from the United States to Turkey, outside the legal process. Developments in the Zarrab case have also raised eyebrows. Trump fired Preet Bharara, the U.S. district attorney who indicted Zarrab. Then Zarrab hired Rudy Guiliani, an informal Trump advisor, as part of his defence team. And Zarrab’s lawyers said they were seeking a “diplomatic solution” to his case, with Guiliani holding meetings with Erdoğan and senior U.S. administration officials to discuss options.

Erdoğan, she said, had even offered to exchange Gülen for an American pastor jailed in Turkey on terror charges.

There are limits to the “transactional relationship” with Turkey presently being posited by many analysts as the way forward, she said, and these limits should include undemocratic behaviour, undermining the law of the land, and human rights abuses:

Turkish political leaders should understand their undemocratic behaviour is problematic for a NATO ally, and Turkish civil society needs to know the U.S. supports their efforts to keep the country on a democratic trajectory.