Stakes are higher for Turkey than many other countries if US voters elect Joe Biden as their next president since he is expected to toughen the US stance against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s foreign military interventions and closer cooperation with Russia, a Reuters analysis said on Thursday.
The analysis, written by Reuters’ Turkey chief Jonathan Spicer, cites investors who claim the Turkish lira will suffer a significant blow if a possible Biden administration decides to implement the long-threatened sanctions over Ankara’s acquisition of a Russian S-400 air defense system, which NATO deems a risk for Allied aircraft.
The State Department and Pentagon criticized an apparent S-400 test last week, and top US senators from both parties called for sanctions that could hit the Turkish economy already weakened by the pandemic and a currency crisis that saw the lira down 24 percent.
So far, Erdogan has downplayed the possible fallout and promised counter-sanctions.
According to Spicer, President Donald Trump’s resistance to punishing Erdoğan, with whom he has regular calls, hollowed the American threats since Moscow shipped the weapons to Ankara in mid-2019.
Erdogan’s warm ties with Trump allowed him to flex military muscle in Syria, Libya, the eastern Mediterranean and this month in Nagorno-Karabakh, the Reuters analysis says, filling some gaps left by a US retreat from the region in recent years.
Kirsten Fontenrose, former senior director for Gulf affairs at the National Security Council in the Trump administration, told Financial Times on September 20 that a possible Biden administration would not have the close relations Trump has with the strongmen of the Middle East, including Turkish President Erdoğan.
“Every country whose leaders have close relationships with the current president are going to find themselves out in the cold if Biden takes office. I think that’s going to be Egypt, maybe Turkey, definitely Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” Financial Times quoted Fontenrose as saying.
In December 2019 Biden advocated a new approach to the “autocrat” Erdogan, which drew backlash from Ankara.
Biden’s platform calls on “all NATO nations to recommit to their responsibilities as members of a democratic alliance.”