Why aren’t tensions with the US easing? - MEHMET ACET

Why aren’t tensions with the US easing?

"In their recent encounter at the NATO summit meeting, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Trump gave each other a fist-bump, as Mr. Trump declared, 'I like him, I like him.'"

The New York Times article that discusses the tensions in Turkish-American relations, which last appeared as the Pastor Andrew Brunson crisis, opens like this. We know how the rest goes.

The nine-person delegation sent to Washington to end the tensions had its first meeting with the U.S. vice secretary of state yesterday.

Remember that the news that such a delegation would be sent to the U.S. was announced to the public two days ago along with the backstage information that an "initial agreement was reached." The factor that relatively dropped the fever of the dollar was this information "that was obtained from diplomatic sources." Ankara was hoping to manage the crisis in calm waters.

However, the official statement that followed from the U.S. seemed like it did not want the optimistic atmosphere that the crisis will be overcome to spread.

How else can we interpret Spokesperson for the U.S. Secretary of State Heather Nauert's statement, “The kind of progress we want is for Pastor Brunson, our locally employed staff and other American citizens to be brought home. That’s the progress we’re looking for and we’re not there just yet”?

The response to the question, ‘Is the problem being solved?’

After this tension broke out, last week, another comment was made in Ankara's lobbies along the lines that "the problem will be solved shortly." Upon this, I had asked someone we know to have good command over all the details of negotiations with the U.S., "Is the crisis being solved, should we pay attention to the lobby stating it will be solved shortly?" The answer was:

"Not yet, but efforts are ongoing."

A week later, it is clear that the validity of the same statement has not yet expired.

We can see that those carrying out the negotiations on behalf of Ankara are acting calmly, paying attention mostly to the sensitive state of the economy. Yet the U.S. side is acting reckless, as if to say, "We are not paying a price, you are."

Calm should not be perceived as submissive. If that was the case, Brunson would have long been sent to the U.S. In this case, we need to think, "Really, what is going on?" and connect the impressions with the information at hand and present an opinion.

Clash of two negotiating powers

A statement in the New York Times analysis mentioned at the beginning of the article might give an idea about the stage of the crisis. The New York Times reporter, whose article/analyses for the newspaper passed through Istanbul, reminds readers that both Trump and Erdoğan "drive a hard bargain."

Yes, this might be one of the reasons why it is taking longer. Neither Trump nor Erdoğan want to give up their position and weaken their negotiation power.

We know Erdoğan better than we know Trump. When we think about him in terms of negotiation power, we go back all the way to December 2004, the days of tough negotiation in Brussels that gave a hard time to the 27 EU countries.

As for this crisis, I personally do not predict that Erdoğan will say "alright" before seeing an outcome that may mean a "win-win." An outcome that is the result of the "hand him over and be freed," "surrender and be freed" method is out of the question.

On the U.S. side, the intention to turn the impact of the crisis on the economy, or the impact of this crisis on the already problematic economy into an opportunity is quite obvious. It is clear that the "blackmail card," which is one of U.S. foreign policy's fundamental devices, has been activated physically even if not verbally, with the crisis bringing additional costs to Turkey's economy.

It is as if they are using sign language to say, "If you continue this any longer, you know what will happen, don't you?"

The majority of people in Turkey might think, "Let's send this man and get out of this mess."

I too support dealing with the matter in a cordial language rather than through obstinacy. However, we should ask ourselves how things will develop even if we send the man they want.

One other question we need to ask ourselves is whether there is any guarantee that the U.S. will not say, "Since we got the Turks to kneel, let's not stop at this and use sanctions in all the other matters too?"


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