When politics tarnishes economic ties
By the Gazette Editorial Board
The trade war the US is launching against various countries under the slogan of "America First" is one aspect of current US policy. The ongoing crisis between Washington and Ankara is seen to be another. But it far exceeds the row over the imprisonment of the American pastor, Andrew Craig Brunson, whom the Turkish Authorities accuse of espionage and ties to terror.
Trump recently tweeted that US-Turkish relations were currently not good. They stand, in fact, at a 100-year-low. After having been the biggest and most reliable US ally, one that Washington depended on to contribute to political and military stability, Turkey chose to side with America’s rivals in the course of considering its national interests in the region, especially while dealing with the Syrian file.
Relations between the old allies started to deteriorate because of US support for the Kurds in Syria.This raised Ankara's concern over the possible emergence of a Kurdish state on its border and it, therefore, stepped up its military operations in northern Syria targeting the Kurdish regions.
Then again, though a member of NATO, Turkey's relations with the West, including the US, recently suffered the most since Erdogan started fostering his authoritarian rule of Turkey, revealing the falsity of the image of his AKP party as an Islamic democratic ruling party.
Therefore, the change in Washington's attitude towards Ankara cannot be seen in the light of the new protective economic measures being taken by President Trump to promote the US national economy. It is more likely that America's Trump has lost interest in Erdogan’s Turkey as a Civil Democratic Muslim State that can impose its model on other Muslim countries of the Middle East.
Unlike his predecessor who used Ankara to provide political and financial support to some Muslim movements, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, in order to rule some Arab countries, Trump has turned his back on these fanatical groups as well as Turkey. The reason likely lies in the Turkish ruler’s tendency to disconnect from Western democratic principles and resort to the oppression of his rivals after the alleged coup against his rule in 2016.
The question is how far will the two countries work to mend this crack in relations and overcome the current crisis.
In retaliation for Trump's decision to boost tariffs on Turkish exports of steel and aluminium to the US that caused the free fall of the Turkish currency in face of the US dollar, Erdogan announced a boycott of US electronic goods.
Continuing to escalate measures against each other is likely not only to harm the economies of the two countries but may also provoke geopolitical shifts that might eventually damage the peace and security of the Middle East region and the entire world.