‘Erdogan has more than one trump card to play in relations with US'

‘Erdogan has more than one trump card to play in relations with US'
It is going to be difficult for Ankara and Washington to maintain their alliance after Turkish airstrikes against the other US allies in the region, the Kurds, considering the major anti-Turkish lobby in the US, says political writer Gerald Horne.

The Pentagon criticized Turkey's recent airstrikes in Syria and Iraq saying they are putting US military personnel at risk.

“We had forces within six miles of the strikes. It was an unsafe way to conduct operations. There was less than an hour of notification time before the strikes were conducted. That's not enough time. And this was notification, certainly not coordination, as you would expect from a partner and an ally in the fight against ISIS,”said Col. John Dorrian, the spokesman for the US-led coalition against ISIS.

RT: Turkey gave the US very little notice for the air strikes. How will this have been perceived by the Pentagon?

Gerald Horne: Mr. Erdogan obviously has a problem. You may recall that last year there was an attempt at a coup d’état that barely failed. That has led to Mr. Erdogan to purge the civil servants, judges, the military, and professors. And then just a few days ago he had a referendum that barely passed 51 to 49 that may allow him to stay in office, according to some, until 2033. I don’t think the Pentagon is very happy with the fact that Mr. Erdogan has been bombing their ally on the Syria-Iraqi border. I might also say that this is reflected in the US press coverage. Just today, in the Wall Street Journal…there was a major investigation of that referendum that charged there was ballot box stuffing, that dead people voted and basically intimating that Mr. Erdogan is an illegitimate president. I think that when he visits Washington in a few weeks, he’ll have much to discuss with President Donald Trump.

RT: Will Turkey and the US be able to continue to cooperate as allies in the region?

GH: That is a difficult question to answer. Keep in mind that there is a major anti-Turkish lobby here in the US. Not only there is a residence in the Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania, of Mr. Erdogan’s chief political opponent Fethullah Gulen who Mr. Erdogan wants to be extradited to Turkey….Keep in mind as well that there is a major Armenian lobby here in the US. In Los Angeles, the second largest city, there were tens of thousands of Armenian Americans protesting against what they see as Turkish denial of the Armenian genocide that took place a hundred years ago. And there is also very powerful Greek American lobby that is very close to the government of Athens and as you know Athens has a bone to pick with Turkey as well. It is going to be very difficult going forward for Ankara and Washington to maintain their alliance, although Mr. Erdogan has more than one trump card to play…because the US uses a major military base in Turkey and they do not want to give up that military base.

The US spokesperson called Turkey a partner in the fight against ISIS and Turkey has been anything but a partner in this fight against ISIS. In fact, it is because of Turkey that ISIS was able to form in Syria because they allowed all of these foreign jihadists to cross their border. And now you’ve got a situation where you are seeing the outcome of reckless US policy. The US has been funding so many sides in this war in Syria. - Rania Khalek, journalist, writer and political commentator

RT: Ankara has repeatedly warned that it may launch strikes against Kurdish forces, how much could the US have done to prevent this?

GH: Mr. Erdogan has been taking lessons at least implicitly from Mr. Trump. He is a strong man of a new type. And he tends to keep his own council. Turkey is a major power. It is the 17 largest economy in the world. It has a population of 80 million. Its influence now reaches into what used to be Soviet Central Asia. So, it is not very easy for the Pentagon to order Mr. Erdogan to follow their mandate.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.