Relations between the United States and Turkey are at their lowest point in decades. Turkey’s formal exclusion from the F-35 fighter jet program and the Biden administration’s stance on the Armenian genocide have already put a serious strain on ties.
The last straw could be the legal case against Turkish state lender Halkbank, which personally affects the Turkish president, who fails to understand that, in the U.S., an investigation of that sort does not just stop with a call from the White House. If that were the case, Joe Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, would have tried to do so on Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s behalf.
Mistrust toward Turkey and, personally, toward Erdoğan has deepened in Washington. Officials and analysts who used to champion the we-must-never-lose-Turkey dogma have either changed their views or stopped fighting in defence of Ankara’s interests.
Ankara has seen its influence in Congress waning for some years now. The pro-Israel lobby that for decades used to support Turkey has shifted because of Erdoğan’s abrupt moves toward Israel. The State Department bureaucracy insists on the need to maintain good ties with Ankara and does not want to send it into Moscow’s arms.
However, State Department officials essentially deem that many of Turkey’s moves “behind the curtains” are unjustifiably hostile, whether concerning Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood or other issues. Senior officials in the Biden administration place great emphasis on human rights, a fact which Erdoğan finds hard to swallow.
In other words, Turkey has lost its key friends in the United States. Even the Pentagon, once the final stronghold in defence of Turkey’s positions, is divided these days.
This does not mean that Washington will write Turkey off. Some analysts foresee a rejuvenation of bilateral ties after the Erdoğan era comes to an end. Perhaps the Biden administration is also eyeing such an outcome.
As far as Greek interests are concerned, the cooling of relations between Washington and Ankara begets opportunities as well as risks.
A Turkey that is completely cut off from the U.S. will be completely unbridled if something happens in the Aegean.
On the other hand, Greece can undertake new roles and claim some sort of informal or practical security guarantees.
However, we must keep in mind that Washington is extremely unlikely to cross certain red lines in its strategic cooperation with Greece so long as relations with Turkey hang in the balance.
(A version of this article was originally published by the Kathimerini and reproduced by permission.)