The United States has found itself at odds with Turkey because, despite its sanctions strictly aiming to target Iran, they’re impacting Turkey. President Donald Trump announced last week that new tariffs would be put into effect that would specifically target Turkish aluminum and steel. In turn, this has caused the Turkish lira to drop dramatically. The U.S. was already getting frustrated with Turkey over its continued aggression in northern Syria against U.S. allies as well as the prolonged detention of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor.
Last Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that if the United States failed to “reverse this trend of unilateralism and disrespect,” then Turkey would “start looking for new friends and allies.” The bold claim came just after the Turkish president finished a talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin to go over economic and trade possibilities and problems as well as the situation in Syria. The United States and Turkey have had a strained relationship given the United States’ continued support of the Kurdish YPG and refusal to part with the northern Syrian city of Manbij. The YPG and Turkey have long been enemies because of the YPG’s close ties to the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), a labeled terrorist group.
Retired NATO supreme allied commander Admiral James Stavridis expressed a great deal of concern over the dispute. Admiral Stavridis stated that, “To lose Turkey would be a geopolitical mistake of epic proportions. Hopefully, we can pull them back, but Turkey has to make the first step at this point.” The U.S. national security advisor, John Bolton, spoke with Turkey’s Ambassador Serdar Kilic to go over “Turkey’s continued detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson and the state of the U.S.-Turkey relationship,” according to United States officials. Officials are primarily concerned about the Turkish air base, Incirlik; a key staging point for United States forces and air power in the Middle East. The base also houses nearly fifty U.S. owned nuclear bombs.
On another note, the damaged relationship is triggering a diplomatic headache for Turkey in regards to trade with Pakistan. Presently the Turkish government is engaged in a $1.5 billion attack helicopter deal with Pakistan. The gunships are manufactured using parts manufactured in the U.S., and they require an export license, the tensions between the two nations has put all of this at risk. The Center for Middle East Studies director, Joshua Landis, told local media that,
There’s no upside to kicking Turkey out, it’ll just force Turkey into Russia’s hands. Turkey is going to be hurt the most because it’s weaker and America is just a big elephant. Ultimately hurts the smaller countries a lot more.”