Re-elected Obama faces dire challenges

Re-elected Obama faces dire challenges

CHICAGO - Hürriyet Daily News
Re-elected Obama faces dire challenges

EPA photo

Relations between Turkey and the United States are expected to enter a new and intensified hectic period amid ongoing regional crises, such as Syria’s turmoil and Iran’s controversial nuclear drive, amid Democrat Barack Obama’s victory in the U.S. elections.

Although Obama’s relatively non-interventionist and multilateral foreign policy will not shift much in its direction, expectations are high that he will be much more engaged with global affairs in his second term.

However, before diving into world politics, he needs to appoint a new figure replacing outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Among the candidates for the post of top U.S. diplomat include John Kerry, a senator for Massachusetts, and Susan Rice, the U.S. permanent representative at the U.N. Security Council, although the former’s chances appear much higher than they do for Rice, a career diplomat.

Rice’s credibility, however, took a blow after making controversial remarks regarding the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens on Sept. 11. Kerry, meanwhile, ran as the Democratic candidate for presidency in 2004 but lost against George W. Bush. The Massachusetts senator, who was at the same time chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, is a high-profile politician with strong leadership character and could continue Clinton’s effective diplomacy.

Middle East top issue

Among so many important global issues, the Middle East will likely be the most immediate issue Washington has to focus on as the crisis in Syria causes more and more civilian deaths.

Obama has said he will continue his close cooperation with allies like Turkey and Israel in dealing with the Syrian crisis without promising more military engagement. Turkish diplomats believe there is room for the U.S. to adopt a more flexible and even activist policy in Syria with no specific demand for military action.

The Obama administration has not hid its concerns that an immediate collapse of the regime would pave the way for Islamist groups to gain power, making things worse for Israel.

Another major potential risk in bilateral ties is Ankara’s disappointment in receiving sufficient support from Washington in its fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkish government have become more outspoken, criticizing the U.S. for not doing enough. The Armenian diaspora’s pressure on the president to recognize the killings of Armenians in 1915 at the hands of Ottoman Empire will surely continue to be a problem as well.