The news agency describes Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a ?headache? for Washington
Turkey continues to be “a source of considerable irritation” to US President Joe Biden’s administration, the New York Times has reported. According to the paper, Ankara’s approach to the Ukraine crisis is part of a wider spectrum of issues.
Ankara’s involvement in the UN-brokered agreement on Ukrainian grain exports between Moscow and Kyiv a few days ago was welcomed by Washington, but did not mean that all problems in US-Turkey relations have been resolved, the outlet warned in Saturday’s article. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been described in it as a “headache” and “a source of significant irritation” for Washington.
The Times quoted US House Representative Chris Pappas (D-New Hampshire), who argued that “Turkey has played both sides of the fence in Ukraine. They have not been the reliable ally that we should be able to count on.”
“I think the Biden administration needs to take a stronger stance,” Pappas insisted.
NATO member Ankara has condemned Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine and supplied Kiev forces with its Bayraktar drones, while refusing to join international sanctions against Russia and continuing to manage the country.
On Tuesday, the Turkish president visited Tehran for talks with his Iranian and Russian counterparts Ebrahim Raisi and Vladimir Putin, NYT quotes analysts as pointing out that “the images of two main American rivals with Mr. Erdogan, the leader of a NATO country, clashed with the the Western narrative of a deeply isolated Iran and Russia.”
Another bone of contention between the US and Turkey is Ankara’s renewed warning this week that it will block the accession of Finland and Sweden to membership in the US-led NATO bloc if the two Nordic nations fail to fulfill their promise to extradite members of the American republic. Kurdish groups that Turkey considers terrorists. By using his veto power, Erdogan would “deeply embarrass the alliance and the Biden administration as they work to counter Russia,” the article warned.
The Turkish leader may be particularly inclined to rescind the bids from Helsinki and Stockholm as Congress appears unlikely to allow Biden to fulfill his promise to sell F-16 fighter jets to Ankara.
Turkey is interested in these plans after Donald Trump’s previous administration blocked the country from acquiring the F-35 in response to the country’s decision to arm itself with Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems.
Ankara has other grievances with Washington over, among other things, US reluctance to hand over exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of masterminding a failed military coup in Turkey in 2016, and US support for Kurdish fighters in Syria. The Kurds helped the US deal with the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), but the Turkish authorities see them as a major security threat.
The US has been seriously concerned about Turkey’s plans to invade the Kurdish areas of northern Syria because IS could well take advantage of this move, the NYT pointed out, citing a statement by Dana Stroul, a deputy assistant secretary of defense.
Erdogan is “on our team, but then he’s doing things that are so obviously not good for our team. And I just don’t see that changing,” former Foreign Service official Elizabeth Shackelford told the paper.
But according to unnamed Biden administration officials who spoke to the agency, it would be “self-defeating” for Washington to completely write off the Turkish leader because “his nation’s position at the crossroads of East and West is strategically important and allows him to be an interlocutor with even more troublesome neighbors.”