01/02/2021

Turkey a concern for Europe and the U.S., says new National Security Advisor to President Biden

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With the Biden Administration now at the helm of U.S. foreign policy, the issue of the U.S.–Turkey relationship is once again gaining prominence.

In an article outlining the future of nuclear proliferation, London-based magazine The Economist wrote that:

According to a recent study by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, another think-tank, “Personalist authoritarian leaders seem more inclined toward the bomb, [and] their hold on power can in some ways make it easier for them to carry out their plans.” The study notes that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s increasingly autocratic president, has begun to talk like a case in point. In September 2019 he complained to members of his ruling ak party that “some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads…But [we are told] we can’t have them. This, I cannot accept.”

Sinan Ülgen, a former diplomat who leads edam, an Istanbul-based think-tank, doubts that Mr Erdogan would act on this rhetoric. “At first the public may like the idea of having nuclear weapons,” he says. “But the cost for an open economy like Turkey would be too big and long-term. No government can sustain it under conditions of democratic elections.”

The U.S. and EU have growing concerns about Turkey’s trajectory under Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A tougher stance against NATO ally Turkey seems to be in the works, with newly appointed National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan referring to the country as a concern for Europe in a meeting with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. Sullivan also called on both Russia and Turkey to remove their military personnel from Libya.

The US has already imposed sanctions over Turkey’s controversial purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system from Russia, and now looks likely to side with the EU over Erdogan’s adventurism in the eastern Mediterranean, including incursions into Greek territorial waters to search for oil.

Turkey has been facing an economic crisis, exacerbated by the coronavirus crisis. In addition to the ruling party’s exposure to a wave of criticism by the opposition which accuses it of failing to face the economic challenges and suppressing critics from other parties.