‘US-Turkish relations deteriorating rapidly’
Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a furious response to Washington after members of his security team were charged with assaulting protesters in the US capital during his official visit there last month.
RT: Erdogan has said he will “fight politically and judicially” against the arrest warrants. Do you think he would have any chance of winning that battle in the American courts?
Gerald Horne: I don’t think so, because you have to realize that US-Turkish relations are deteriorating rapidly. First of all, there is the Kurdish question. As you well know, the US is collaborating with the Kurdish population in Syria, supposedly to attack the [Islamic State or IS, formerly] ISIS forces in Raqqa. Turkey is upset because it feels it will empower simultaneously its Kurdish minority.
Secondly there is a question of Qatar, the small Persian Gulf monarchy which has been subjected to air, sea and land embargo by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, not least. Turkey has moved to support Qatar and has sent 3,000 troops, Turkish troops, to that monarchy to stave off in the wild actions by the Saudis and their Egyptian comrades. At the same time President Donald Trump has been attacking Qatar furiously.
But as a footnote I should mention that Qatar has just arranged to buy $12 billion in US fighter jets, and that is a kind of bribe to Washington that may stay the hand of Trump, but I don’t think it will keep Turkish-US relations from deteriorating ever more rapidly.
RT: The Turkish embassy insists that the guards were acting in self-defense against the protesters. Judging by the videos of the incident, does that sound convincing to you?
GH: I must say that the Turkish security seemed to be rather aggressive in attacking the demonstrators. At the same time, keep in mind that it was in July, 2016, that President Erdogan was subjected to a military coup. He is very skittish right now about his security, because apparently the coup plotters planned to assassinate him. Apparently the Turkish authorities have reason to believe that the demonstrators in Washington, DC, were somehow connected to the coup plotters, and that may help to shed light to their excessive approach in response to these demonstrators.
RT: The dispute has already derailed a $1.2 million small-arms sale to Turkish security forces, which was expected to be approved by the US State Department last month. Could there be further repercussions?
GH: I’m afraid so. First of all, there is the US airbase that’s in Turkey that is used for actions in both Iraq and Syria. It may be up for negotiations. Keep in mind that already German troops that have been stationed at that same airbase in Turkey have come to a kind of road block in terms of getting access. That is to say, German politicians getting access to German troops at this base. That helps to suggest that probably US-Turkish relations would deteriorate ever more rapidly.
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