Nov 13 2017

Turkey treats U.S. as more ‘frenemy’ than friend - analyst

Turkey is treating the United States as more of a “frenemy” than a friend, according to Middle East analyst Steven Cook.

Among the biggest diplomatic disputes is the arrest of local U.S. consulate staffer Metin Topuz, who spent more than two decades working for the U.S. government in Istanbul before being detained on terror charges.

“It is impossible to know for sure whether Topuz is guilty of what the government asserts,” Cook said.

“Prosecutors in Turkey often do not impartially apply legal standards to cases under investigation, but rather act as agents of the ruling Justice and Development Party and President Erdoğan.”

Cook also raises the possibility that arrests of Turkish nationals working at U.S. missions might be an attempt to put pressure on the United States over its reluctance to give up exile preacher Fethullah Gülen, whom Turkey accuses of masterminding last year’s failed coup, and its insistence on prosecuting Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold dealer accused of undermining U.S. sanctions on Iran with the help of senior Turkish officials.

The idea that Turkey might have taken U.S. consular employees hostage “is hard to believe,” he said, “but in September Erdoğan hinted that the Turkish government would be willing to trade an American pastor named Andrew Brunson, who has been in a Turkish jail since not long after the failed coup, in exchange for Gülen.”