Ebbs and flows in Turkey-US relations

Zekeriya Kursun

The recent tensions between Turkey and the US have reached a new stage as a result of the US’s suspension of visa services in a completely indecent diplomatic and resentful manner and Turkey’s equal retaliation. Of course, even if there is a problem between strategic allies that cannot be underestimated, the history of bilateral relations shows that this is not something to exaggerate.

Despite those who demanded US mandate during the years of the Independence War, like those who justify the situation at home today, Turkey-US relations did not begin on good terms.  The most important reason for this is the seeds sowed by Henry Morgenthau, the last US ambassador to the Ottoman state, who personally was an enemy of Turks and Islam.

His memories, full of m-ade-to-order racist descrip-tions that constituted the ba-sis of Armenians’ argume-nts, created the US’s century-old discourse on this iss-ue.  While the issue is blatantly obvious in history, the discourse established on the allegations put forward by this anti-Turkey ambassador has been used like a whip to supposedly discipline Tur-key.

The lesson taught by our ambassador Ahmed Rustem: Let’s recall a historic instance that will set an example to all of our diplomats regarding the hypocrisy that the US and its diplomats are causing today. Ahmed (Alfred) Rustem, son of a Polish-born convert father, was sent to Washington in 1914 as an ambassador. Seeing the anti-Turkey environment, he informed both the government through diplomacy and the US public with articles that he wrote in newspapers.

While denying the campaigns initiated against the Ottomans and the US media’s allegations of pressure and massacres of Armenians through his articles, he also pedantically called on the US administration. Ahmed Rustem, who had to skip diplomatic channels, directed a crucial question to the US administration in an article: “If it had been found that the blacks had made an agreement with Japan in order to facilitate the US invasion, could any of them survive today?”

It is no secret that those who act against the US are followed all over the world. The American legend is also based on this pursuit. The scenarios of Hollywood movies are also built on legitimizing the illegal operations in this issue. So, let’s update Ahmed Rustem’s question: What would you have said if the ringleader and the supporters of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), who you are harboring in your country, were to cooperate with some Americans working at the Turkish Embassy in Washington and to conspire against you?

In fact, the answer to this question is hidden in the story of Ahmed Rustem. Immediately after his article that he shared with the public in which the US’s dirty linen was published, the first reaction came directly from President Wilson. They im-mediately asked Ahmed Ru-stem to retract his words, ap-ologize for them or deny them. Maintaining his firm stance, the ambassador declared that he would continue the war and would not remain indifferent to the sl-ander targeting his country, even if they violate diplomatic rules.  The Ottoman ambassador was declared persona non grata in a short time, and he officially anno-unced that he would leave the US within fifteen days, maintaining his dignified attitude.

Character of Turkey-US relations: Of course, this is not the only breaking point in Turkey-US relations. It is a starting point. Having served as an obstacle, not as an ally in Turkey’s most vital affairs, the US has often maintained its relations with Turkey far from international diplomatic codes and courtesy. Most of the ambassadors the US assigned to Turkey have generally acted like a colonial governor while the US has not shown minimum courtesy even toward the highest representatives of Turkey in their contacts in the country most of the time. The Johnson letter also revealed that the US let down its ally that fought along with it in the same front even in the hardest of times. It was the US that prevented and imposed an embargo on Turkey in the 1974 Cyprus Peace Oper-ation. It has not been forgotten that it embraced the 1980 coup, which is responsible for the FETÖ trouble installed in our system, saying “Our boys did it.”

Although it did not allow any Marxist movements in its own close interest regions, the US saw Turkey as a defense point against the USSR and clandestinely supported the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and similar Marxist organizations as it supports the PYD/YPG today. It was also the politics of the US that invaded Iraq and set fire to our region, and that pushed Turkey to the field and isolated it in the Syria issue. With and after the March 1 resolution, the US tested Turkey with which it would never co-operate in the areas it wanted to dominate. As a result, Turkey was no longer a country that waited for instructions. With these tests, both sides understood that the concept of strategic alliance was nothing more than a formula of postponing problems.

The US’s true face once again came to light with its behavior after July 15. Turkey is taking steps in the defense industry and conveying the message that it will remain in the Syria field through the Operation Euphrates Shield, that it will act in Idlib with its new allies without seeking permission against the threats and that it may carry out foreign trade with Russia and Iran in Turkish lira – all of which causes the US to freak out.

Now Turkey has to maintain its war with its equanimity and honorable diplomacy.  Of course, the US’s incompetent diplomats and rough and intrusive policies in our region are declining in influence with every passing day – which is the main reason for its agitation. But it is not a process to be completed soon. Therefore, it should not be forgotten that so-called mutual compliments and meaningless concepts such as strategic alliance will continue a while more even though relevant parties do not believe in them. The main issue is what will happen from now on. What kind of a regional structure will emerge and where Turkey will stand?