Erdogan keeping a 'Five-Months' Distance
21 August 2016
By Tariq Alhomayed
Regional and Western spotlight was highly focused on Turkish President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin's meeting which
lasted for four hours, after which Erdogan came out referring to Putin by ''my
What remains are echoed speculations on whether the Turkish President had
renounced his state's entitlements and regional heated issues rupturing across
borders, namely the Syria crisis, or not?
Could it be that Erdogan is giving NATO, Turkey's security insurance, a cold
shoulder? If so, then the alliance with the U.S. is at stake, and all
Euro-Turkey efforts have been laid to waste.
At the meantime, it is quite difficult to arrive at a clear conclusion – not
to mention that Erdogan's turn against the U.S., NATO and the EU would be a
reckless and pricey decision.
With all that being said, what does Erdogan have in mind at the moment? What
gains are reaped from restoring relationships with Russia? After all, it was
the first country chosen by the Turkish president to visit after the earlier
July abortive coup.
Is it a case of strategy alteration in Turkey, or is it simply one of the
old-fashioned Erdoganian overreactions?
Preliminary readings suggest that Erdogan chose carefully his battles for now,
being it a fight against the U.S.
The choice came with care, even though it was carried out overwhelmingly with
passion- which rings the bells of how Erdogan reacted towards Russians right
after the downing of the Russian plane.
Here is Erdogan today, warmly embraced by Putin.
When saying that Erdogan made his choice carefully, it is simply because
rushing into Putin's arms is interpreted as a political blow to U.S. President
Erdogan is fully aware that Obama is counting down his last White House days,
and is like a political limp goose- unable to take any decisive decisions
unless an earthshattering violent political stimulus is present.
Based on that, Erdogan raising the bar of conflict with the U.S., concerning
U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, will earn him even more support back home.
Turkish people will view Erdogan as the ever-strong leader that stood against
the U.S., overlooking the circumstances circling his return to Putin today.
When Erdogan attempts such a tactic, he is not at much loss; Obama's
significant political role is drawing to an end, neither his acceptance nor
denouncement come at a high value.
It is also worth mentioning that Putin's hatred for Obama is a common one
shared with Erdogan now- and they are both known to bring emotion into
Erdogan bolsters ties with Russia today, as to reach an economic end after an
eight-month boycott, and before the U.S. elects a new president.
The Turkish president will later attempt to reinforce U.S. ties post
elections, bringing the Ankara-Washington tensions to a close. A fresh new
relationship will be built between Erdogan and the new president.
As for Europe, Erdogan understands that later ending dispute with the U.S.
will also mean the last heard of the conflict with Europe.
On the other hand, Erdogan also realizes how difficult it is to make
compromises concerning Syria, or presenting any groundbreaking initiatives as
Obama's presidency draws to an end. Putin is aware of that as well. All that
being said, Erdogan found no harm of distancing himself from the U.S. for five
months till the new president is elected. The sole question remaining is: How
much will a five-month stay with Putin cost Erdogan?
Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr.
Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current
affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous
positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the
first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a
bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah.
He is based in London.