Turkey-US relationship back on track after Brunson's release: Former US ambassador Bryza
Former United States ambassador Matthew Bryza has said Turkey's relationship with the U.S. is "back on track" following the release of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson.
Speaking in a teleconference organized by the Washington-based Turkish Heritage Organization (THO) on Oct. 18, Bryza voiced hope for the restoration of U.S.-Turkey relations, asserting that while this is not the turning point in the countries’ relationship, it is a starting point.
The teleconference, titled “The Future of US-Turkey Relationship after Pastor Brunson’s Release," was moderated by THO’s Executive Director Elvir Klempic and also featured Hasan Basri Yalçın, Associate Professor, Director of Strategy at SETA Istanbul and Istanbul Commerce University.
Former ambassador Bryza highlighted four different issues as obstacles on the way of normalizing relations between the U.S. and Turkey: The difference in perception between Turkey and the United States on the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, the status of Fetullah Gülen’s extradition, Turkey’s relationship with Iran, and America’s strategic partnership with the YPG in Syria.
When asked about the Manbij issue, Bryza commented that it is unclear how America will move from supporting a terrorist organization to restoring its alliance with Turkey in the region, especially with many in the U.S. Central Command believing that the YPG has proven itself and thus earned the ability to have a say in the post-war discussions.
Turkey considers the YPG as the Syrian offshoot of the illegal PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and the U.S.
Yalçın said that there is a sense in the Turkish government that the U.S. is utilizing a delaying tactic when it comes to severing ties with the YPG.
The Turkish academic also commented on the Turkish public’s perception on the release of Pastor Brunson, explaining that there are two different camps of thought. On one side, the release is seen as a concession by the Turkish government to the United States, however the other side views it as a legal decision that is part of a larger negotiation process, Yalçın said.
He stated that Pastor Brunson’s case “was an emotional issue” for Turkey and the U.S. and now that it is resolved the two countries can once again speak to each other in a meaningful way.
The U.S. criticizes Turkey for working closely with Russia in Syria, however it is the Americans’ inability to make concessions in Syria that has pushed Turkey closer to Russia, according to Yalçın.
He further explained that he does not see the relationship between Turkey and Russia as one that is long term, however the U.S. must be more flexible because “without a flexible partnership, we will continue to have issues.”