What if Obama loses the elections?
According to a senior Turkish official, the Turkish-American bilateral relationship is enjoying a “golden era.” “Despite some disagreements on certain issues, our cooperation with Washington is satisfactory; we understand each other’s differences and concentrate on how we can further help each other to contribute to the regional and global peace,” the official said.
Roughly speaking, there were two separate developments that made Ankara and Washington come closer in such an unprecedented way. The first, Turkey’s acceptance of stationing NATO’s early warning radar system in its territories; the second, the stance it has taken regarding the Arab Spring, even from the very early days of this wave of reforms that has shaken the entire Arab World.
Turkey’s joining of NATO’s military operation against Libya’s Muammar Gadhafi and leading the international community in both Egypt and Syria to topple their defiant tyrannical leaders were very positively received by the United States. Last but not least, a change in Turkey’s language vis a vis Iran’s nuclear program could also be added to this list. The two countries are also closely working in international efforts to stabilize Afghanistan.
Cementing economic and political ties with Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani in line with Washington’s decade-old advice should also not be underestimated when citing reasons why the U.S. favors Turkey as a credible, regional ally.
Many recall how tense the dialogue was between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.S. President Barrack Obama at their June 2010 meeting in Toronto. “That meeting was the turning point,” official remembered, “Obama was astonished to see an outspoken, self-confident leader who was very much capable of defending the causes he believed in, but apart from everything Erdoğan’s honesty amazed him.”
No doubt there is a good sense of dialogue between Obama-Erdoğan and Clinton-Davutoğlu, the two countries’ foreign ministers.
Every good thing has an end though: presidential elections are looming and there is no guarantee that Obama will stay in power for another four years. “Not only Turkey, but the entire world should work for Obama,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “This is very important for the world’s peace.”
In the event of the election of a Republican candidate, probably Mitt Romney, a drastic change in Washington’s foreign policy is very likely, away from Obama’s non-interventionist multilateral understanding. For many, an Israeli attack against suspected Iranian nuclear sites would be much more likely in such an event, which would put Turkey into a very risky position as well. (It is also interesting to see the change: Traditional Turkish foreign policy always preferred a Republican president, an attitude which was challenged by George W. Bush.)
However, under a Republican President, the real risk is on the bilateral scale. It is no secret that Republicans are very much annoyed with Ankara’s growing relations with the Hamas, its defending of Iran’s nuclear program and its isolating of Israel and Armenia in the region. That’s why these days Ankara is considering reaching out to some prominent and influential Republican groups to explain the government’s policies in an explicit way.