Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Erdogan’s High-Stakes Game

Erdoğan’s latest contretemps with the United States could end up doing irreparable harm to the U.S.-Turkish relationship.

Published on: October 11, 2017
Henri J. Barkey is the Cohen Professor of International Relations at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
show comments
  • Attila_the_hun

    Turkey will prove Trump’s statement regarding NATO of being outdated. Syria brought fort the irreconcilable interests between Turkey and The USA. And it may end up unraveling NATO

  • D4x

    Excellent summary of the Eastern Question, circa 2017. One exception to Barkey’s conclusion that “Trump’s comments were detached from reality, and so Erdoğan may have been misled by them.” Yes, there was a genuine charm offensive by both POTUS, and First Lady Trump at the UN – the photos of the Erdogans at luncheons & the US diplomatic reception seemed a bit of overkill charm. Erdogan was POTUS’ next to last bilateral on Sept. 21

    Yet, do not assume that Trump did not know what he was saying. He knew Germany had already withdrawn their NATO troops and equipment from Incirlik, redeployed, not to Cyprus, but to Muwaffaq Salti Air Base Jordan. He certainly knew the Iraqi Kurdish Referendum Sept 25 would trigger Erdogan, and al-Abadi, and Iran. Better to buy time, lulling Erdogan into being ‘misled’.

    NATO does not need Incirlik. The challenge for U.S.-Turkish relations is much more complex.

    Oct. 10 2017 State Dep’t Press Briefing, section on Turkey, offers insight into how this really is fluidly breaking news:
    I got confused because the ambassadorship is vacant – that is because Amb. Bass, who Erdogan says is not ‘recognized as envoy’, Bass is on his way to his next post: Afghanistan, which will probably now feel like a vacation compared to Ankara.

    • Middy

      Dear D4x:

      The land under the Incirlik airbase (the latter’s construction was paid for mostly by the US I believe) was confiscated (i.ei. stolen) from Armenians during and after the Armenian Genocide committed by Turkey.

      Indeed, millions of parcels of land and other property was also confiscated from Armenians, Assyrians, and Hellenics and continue to be held by Turkey.

      There is plenty on the Web about this, and a lawsuit was filed several years ago in U.S. Federal Court concerning the Incirlik confiscation. Turkey was worried enough to ask for U.S. help in fighting the suit (i.e. in upholding Turkish theft).

      One Federal court rejected the claim not because of the facts but on technical grounds. I believe the decision was appealed by Armenian Americans. I am unsure of the status of the lawsuit at this time.

      See, for example, this article by Robert Fisk:
      “Fisk: Group of Armenians to claim back lands of Incirlik air base”.

      • D4x

        TY. Germany’s withdrawal from Incirlik started when the Bundestag acknowledged the Armenian genocide, straining relations with Erdogan. Elsewhere, I have suggested NATO pass a resolution requiring all member states to acknowledge same – one way to get Turkey to leave NATO. Erdogan would not hesitate to cleanse Turkey’s Kurds, just like Ataturk cleansed the Assyrians and Greeks from Anatolia.

        The Kurds are indigenous to the watershed of the Tigris and Euphrates – the real reason Erdogan is so hostile, although the deliberate destruction of any trace of Armenian presence, especially churches, is about Turkification. imo, the Turks should move back to Turkmenistan.

  • Fat_Man

    The daily TAI thumb-sucker about Turkey. It draws my standard Turkey comment:

    I will not rehearse the fulsome arguments I made previously. My bottom line is that Turkey is a worthless country in a worthless and hellish corner of the world. We should eject them from NATO, close down our bases there, and proceed to treat Turkey like the tyrannical pile of dejecta that it is.

  • Observe&Report
  • Middy

    Let’s face it, it’s long-time Turkophiles such as Henri Barkey who have indulged Turkey for many years and encouraged the US and other countries to do the same.

    Please note these Turkophiles’ endless lectures about how “secular” Turkey is, how wonderful Ataturk was, how the Armenian Genocide may not have happened and is less important then the Holocaust, how Turkey is allegedly a “loyal” ally, and of course last, but not least, how Turkey and Israel are such wonderful friends, and how Jews and Turks are deeply in love with one another.

    So who is Barkey to suddenly tell others to not indulge Turkey?

    Moreover, it was people like Barkey who remained silent while Jewish American organizations helped Turkey deny the Armenian Genocide.

    I also suspect that part of the reason we are seeing criticism of Turkey now is that Israel is unhappy with Turkey because Israel supports a Kurdistan while Turkey does not. Thus, the word has gone out, and so the media and Jews are now publicly criticizing Turkey.

    Turkophiles such as Barkey need to take a hard, long look at the themselves. They should beg for forgiveness their defense of Turkey’s continuing repression of Christians and other minorities, as well as the Christian Genocides that country has committed and denied.

    • Jack Kalpakian

      Barkey, Guntur, and others like them own the current situation. But they will blame a normal politician who discovered he can get away with an endless set of demands to the US at the expense of third parties.

  • scartoon

    It’s encouraging to see the thawing of the romance between Turkey and the West. For far too long this reprehensible state has held the West hostage (“I am your main defense against Russian, Soviet, again Russian expansion.” and “I can advance the West’s interests in the Muslim world and “I am the bridge between the West and the Muslim East”… and other cliches). For the above “benefits” accrued by the West,
    1.Turkey has been allowed to occupy one-third of Cyprus and threaten the rest
    2. Intimidate Greece–a NATO member–on a daily basis through illegal overflights
    3. Indulge in slow motion genocide of the Kurds and the Alevis
    4. Interfere in the Balkans “our Ottoman lands,” according to Erdogan
    5. Cross swords with Israel
    6. Allow–nay–encourage antisemitism through the open sale of Hitler’s “Mein Kamph” and anti-Jewish TV programs not to mention antisemitic statements by Erdogan himself
    7. Ally with Hamas
    8. Interfere in European domestic affairs
    9. Make intimidating (Erdogan) statements to European leaders
    10. Urge Turks of Europe not to assimilate but form a political bloc which would interfere in host countries’ affairs
    11. Provide assistance to ISIS (weapons, money, intelligence, communication equipment, R & R for wounded ISIS fighters, permit the operations of an ISIS office in Istanbul which provided funds and transportation to the battle front to non-Middle Easterners who wanted to join ISIS
    12. Steal Iraqi oil (mostly by Bilal Erdogan, the son)
    13. Steal Iraqi antiquities
    14. Declare the plan to revive the Ottoman Empire and lead the Muslim countries against…?
    15. To form a Turkic Empire which would stretch from Istanbul to China and threaten everyone on its path. This, of course, would required the elimination of the Republic of Armenia. Thus Turkey would finish the job it started in 1915 (Armenian Genocide)
    16. Provide weapons, training, and diplomatic support to belligerent Azerbaijan which threatens land-locked Armenia almost on a daily basis
    17. Nourish a militarist policy
    18. Choke nascent democracy, jail journalists/writers and human rights volunteers plus introduce obscurantist religious policies
    19. Claim that northern Iraq belongs to Turkey
    20. Encourage the goons who protect Erdogan on his foreign trips to beat peaceful demonstrators in Europe, in Ecuador, at least twice in the United States.
    I can add another 20, 30 reasons this reprehensible state should be put in the kooler, if not dismantled. It’s no surprise that none of its neighbors–except for little Turkic brother Azerbaijan and cowed Georgia–is friendly with this carpetbagger and brutal state which should be sent packing where it came from…Central Asia.

  • Jack Kalpakian

    Has the good professor seen a single one of his explicit or implicit recommendations to the two parties get taken seriously since 2004?

  • Middy

    Many people don’t know it, but Erdogan wrote and starred in an anti-Jewish play, Mas Kom Ya, 43 years ago.

    And yet, up until relatively recently, Jews loved the guy – or rather Jewish and Israel groups TOLD Jews that they must love and praise Erdogan, just as they said that Jews must love Turkey, and now even Azerbaijan

    And by the way, the “principled” Henri Barkey opposed Armenian Genocide resolution in Congress.

    You can bet he has never opposed any Holocaust resolution or law.

    So that’s Barkey for you.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2018 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.