What the Biden presidency means for Turkey and Erdogan post-Trump

Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have been mounting for some time.  

But beneath outgoing President Donald Trump, a lot of the potential flashpoints between the NATO allies have been smoothed over because of a pleasant relationship between Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  

Looking forward to a Joe Biden administration, there's an opportunity that a few of these tensions might blow up — however there’s additionally likelihood for reconciliation. Whatever occurs, the subsequent 4 years for Turkey and its relationship with Washington are more likely to look very totally different from the final 4.   

"The only thing holding the relationship together for the last several years has been Trump's personal relationship with Erdogan," Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon official and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, advised CNBC. "With Trump removed, Erdogan should be very, very worried."

That's as a result of there isn’t any scarcity of battle factors between Ankara and Washington; factors that reveal contrasting attitudes towards geopolitics, alliances and governance.  

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan solutions questions throughout a joint information convention with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 13, 2019.Joshua Roberts | Reuters

Among these are human rights in Turkey, which Democrats particularly have spoken out towards; Turkey's buy of Russia's S-400 missile system which angered its NATO allies and almost triggered U.S. sanctions; and its navy motion towards America's Kurdish allies in northern Syria and help for Islamic extremist teams, which Ankara argues will not be terrorists and are needed to guard its pursuits in the area. 

There are additionally Erdogan's aggressive strikes towards Greece and Cyprus over gasoline sources in the Eastern Mediterranean; Turkey's alleged function in serving to Iran skirt U.S. sanctions; and the shared Incirlik air base, the place Turkey hosts an enormous variety of American troops, plane and some 50 of its nuclear warheads — and which Erdogan has threatened to chop off if hit with U.S. sanctions. 

So, that's rather a lot. What has Biden mentioned on a few of these points? 

Biden and Erdogan name-calling

Based on his earlier statements, it appears to be like like there might be a harder line from Washington. In an interview final January, Biden known as Erdogan an "autocrat," criticized his actions towards the Kurds and mentioned that the Turkish chief "has to pay a price." He additionally recommended the U.S. ought to help Turkish opposition leaders "to be able to take on and defeat Erdogan. Not by a coup, but by the electoral process."  

The U.S. could be capturing itself in the foot… if positioned beneath stringent U.S. sanctions, Turkey would double down on its makes an attempt to deepen its relations with Russia and Iran.Agathe DemaraisWorld forecasting director, Economist Intelligence Unit

Biden has pledged to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, a vastly contentious difficulty for Turkey and one which U.S. presidents have averted acknowledging for a century. Amid the turmoil of World War I, as many as 1.5 million Armenian civilians have been expelled or killed by what was then the Ottoman Empire. No authorities of Turkey has ever acknowledged it as a genocide. Turkey and Armenia shouldn’t have diplomatic relations.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike have supported sanctions over each Turkey's navy assaults on the Kurds, seen by Ankara as terrorists, and its shopping for and testing of the Russian S-400 missile protection system. Sanctions could be a devastating blow to Turkey's already struggling financial system.  

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For its half, Turkey has threatened retaliation for any sanctions, together with hamstringing the Americans over the extremely strategic Incirlik air base. Erdogan has beforehand slammed Biden for being an "interventionist."

Still, Erdogan spokesman Ibrahim Kalin on Wednesday mentioned Turkey believes it may have a "good and positive agenda" with a Biden administration, and known as any punishment for its S-400 buy "counterproductive." 

Between Russia and a tough place 

Both the U.S. and Europe have grow to be "increasingly frustrated" with Erdogan's emboldened international interventions and "erratic" conduct towards allies and adversaries alike, mentioned Agathe Demarais, world forecasting director at the at the Economist Intelligence Unit. 

"This is a dangerous path," she mentioned. "The incoming Biden administration is likely to take a much tougher stance on Turkey than Donald Trump has done."

But that comes with its personal set of dangers to the U.S. — particularly, that punishing an ally like Turkey solely pushes it additional into the arms of Russia. 

A Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system.Sergei Malgavko | TASS by way of Getty Images

"The U.S. would be shooting itself in the foot… if placed under stringent U.S. sanctions, Turkey would double down on its attempts to deepen its relations with Russia and Iran," Demarais mentioned. 

With the second-largest navy in NATO and strategic entry to American operations in the Middle East, Turkey is a companion many imagine the U.S. can't afford to lose to an adversary. 

Possibilities for win-win outcomes?

Not everybody sees a dire future as a foregone conclusion for Washington and Ankara.

Turkey is "mega strategic" for the U.S. and Europe, confused Timothy Ash, senior rising markets strategist at Bluebay Asset Management. Because of this, he expects that "Biden will work overtime to try and improve relations with Turkey and bring the country back into the Western fold." 

"I think it is important to remember that the two biggest risks to the U.S. are China and Russia," Ash mentioned. "'Winning' Turkey back from Russia would be a huge win for Biden, and I think they will focus on that."

Biden more likely to place a 'a lot stronger emphasis' on human rights globally: Atlantic CouncilCapital Connection

It's additionally value noting that the relationship throughout Trump's tenure wasn't all the time rosy. In August of 2018, Trump threatened sanctions on Turkey over its detention of an American pastor — a risk that despatched the Turkish lira to its then-lowest degree ever towards the greenback and intensified its deepening financial disaster. 

Now, with its forex at file lows, excessive inflation and unemployment exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, any clashes with the U.S. that danger sanctions are much more perilous for the Turkish financial system.

Investors and regional analysts might be watching the Biden-Erdogan dynamic over the coming months to see whether or not, in the phrases of Turkish tutorial Ahmed Alioglu, "Turkey should get ready for a rocky four years ahead."

primarily based on website supplies www.cnbc.com

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