Edition: English Asia Pacific Africa Europe | Español Français العربية Pусский | 中文简体 中文繁体
Homepage > World

Chatting with my Chinese friend (2): US-Turkey...dilemma

Editor: Li Kun 丨CCTV.com

09-01-2015 16:18 BJT

By H.Karoui, Analyst, Expert on the MENA region

“So, what happened between Turkey and the United States? Are they friends again? ” My Chinese friend Yuan Pei asked as if he were continuing a paused conversation. He had just finished explaining to me again the benefits of Panax-Ginseng, which I've started to take upon his recommendation.

I knew what he hinted. Like many middle-class Chinese, although very focused on his own business, Yuan Pei has developed an intellectual curiosity for the world beyond China's borders. With China’s “opening up” and the government’s encouragement to “go out abroad”, many Chinese people have become aware of the new position of their country in the world. Having a friend whose job is to inform people about current issues, he would resort to asking me about anything puzzling or complicated, and I am indeed happy to have conversations with him, which often go back and forth from traditional Chinese medicines to world politics, and other subjects of our life.

As he was waiting for an answer, I said: “Yes, it seems the United States has persuaded Turkey to join the international coalition fighting ISIS (Daesh). Turkey has already allowed US planes to operate from Turkish airbases.”

Last month, Yuan Pei reminded me, “you told me such an agreement was pretty hard to reach, although the Turks have already conducted some strikes against ISIS, retaliating against attacks within Turkey that were blamed on ISIS. So, what happened? Is there any change?”

“Probably,” I replied. It seemed hard first, given the fact that the relations between the two countries have reached an extent, which has never happened before. Remember that not long ago, in April 2015, the US Bipartisan Policy Center described the Turkish-American relations as following: As the United States deals with an unraveling Middle East—particularly the threat of the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State (ISIS), but also a wider sectarian conflict in Iraq and Syria, an escalating civil war in Yemen, and a power struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia playing out in all these arenas—Turkey is largely absent, at best, or directly undermining U.S. interests, at worst. Moreover, the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) attacks on judicial independence, freedom of speech, and rule of law move Turkey further and further away from the democratic values that used to set Turkey apart in the Middle East. In light of these developments, the United States may have to look elsewhere for a reliable strategic partner in the region.

The rift between the USA and Turkey was growing wider since at least 2013, and observers noted that their respective foreign affairs agendas were increasingly mismatched, as their priorities in response to a series of challenges were divergent, from Syria, to Iraq, Israel, etc...

Turkey was blamed in the US for failing to secure the length of its 560 mile border with Syria against the tide of extremists—though when Kurdish fighters wanted to cross Turkish territory in order to defend against ISIS, Turkey barred their way. Most notably, Turkey, a member of NATO has refused to allow U.S. coalition forces to use its airbase at Incirlik, even for combat search and rescue missions. Actually, the US remonstrances against Erdogan’s attitude made headlines.

All these are to explain why I think the agreement between them is still fragile. There are still several obstacles hard to removing.

Yuan Pei, with whom I had already had a discussion about Turkey, in July, when its President, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was paying a visit to Beijing, said shrewdly: “You are pointing to the Kurds, the US big allies in the fight against ISIS…”

“You got it,” I said.

“I remember you told me that on June 7, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan experienced his first electoral defeat— his Justice and Development party (AKP) losing ten points and its majority in the parliament. This marks the end of Erdogan’s aspirations to rule Turkey single-handedly under a new presidential constitution. The big victor was pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), whose relative victory (13 percent of the vote) has emboldened as to ask the questions it has been raising for several years, to which the AKP has still no answer... and it seems that even when AKP was negotiating with the Turkish Kurdish PKK, it failed to provide concrete proposals to the Kurds. So, they are again fighting...”

“Exactly,” I replied. “But the point is the Syrian Kurds, supported by U.S. airstrikes, have had recent successes taking territory in the north of Syria from ISIS. However, Mr. Erdogan has begun bombing the Turkish Kurdish PKK in an effort to regain his waning political power. These bombings of PKK are making life uneasy for the Americans, because the Kurds have so far played a pivotal role against ISIS. The US dilemma in dealing with this issue is thus, complicated: on the one hand, Washington needs Ankara for its operations against ISIS. On the other hand, it is not happy with Turkey’s attacks against the PKK, wishing Ankara to make peace with the Kurds, so to focus on the fight against ISIS.”

“It is a blurred situation,” Yuan Pei said.

 I came back to the beginning of our conversation: “Obviously, they need to take some of this fabulous Panax-Ginseng mixture, I said. It has a powerful and luminous effect on the body and mind.”

He smiled and said: “Enjoy it. You are discovering what the Chinese have known, since centuries...”

 

( The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

 

 

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

 
 


 

Follow us on

  • Please scan the QR Code to follow us on Instagram

  • Please scan the QR Code to follow us on Wechat

We Recommend

  • World Heritage China Part 29
  • Glamorous Indonesia Part 2
  • Along the Coast Part 41
  • Glamorous Indonesia Part 1
  • Dreams and the business reality
  • Philippines' beauty pageant obsession
  • China's love for basketball
  • Box office online
  • Jixi: Land of luminaries II