The Future of U.S.-Turkey Relations and Prospects in 2022

Turk of America Journalist Ali Cinar analyzed what happened in the relations between Turkey and the U.S. in 2021.He also analyzed the future of the relationship between two NATO Allies.

U.S.-Turkey Relations in 2021

-Since taking office in January, President Biden has maintained a distance from President Erdogan.

-Biden and Erdogan had only one phone call and two meetings (in Brussels and in Rome).

-Secretary of State Blinken and Turkish Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu had 12 meetings, 8 of which were over the phone and 4 in person. The U.S. Secretary maintains contact through diplomatic channels.

Issues

YPG/PKK: The U.S. defense budget includes an aid for education that is worth $177 million. However, there are issues that remain unsolved.

F-35/F-16: In addition to Turkey's official removal from the F-35 program, the U.S., a NATO ally, still imposes sanctions on Turkey, another NATO ally. These sanctions are imposed on the official representatives of the Defense Industry. Negotiations on the F-16 matter are ongoing, but it is possible that the Biden Administration will string out Turkey's demand up until 2023. 

Halkbank: All of the appeals made by the bank's legal team were denied. Eventually, they appealed to the Supreme Court. However, the local courts may find Halkbank guilty and submit the required conditions for the penalty sentencing to the Ministry of Finance in 2022.

Afghanistan: The U.S. negotiates with the Taliban either directly or through Qatar. The Biden Administration deliberately refrains from giving any credit to Turkey for its role and efforts in the Afghanistan matter.

Libya: The U.S. did not target Turkey directly while asking for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Libya.

Eastern Mediterranean  The initiation of drilling work in Cyprus performed by the American energy company Exxon in collaboration with a Qatari energy company has been conducted within the knowledge of the Biden Administration. Explicitly, the Biden Administration is against the two-state solution for Cyprus and the alleged violation-drilling works of Turkey.It should not be considered within the context of the Biden Administration's policy but in that of the policy of the last five years.

Turkey-Russia Cooperation: As it follows Turkish rapprochement with Russia in defense closely, the Congress will indeed impose sanctions after the recent S-400 purchase. In addition, the U.S., which is pleased with Turkey getting closer to Ukraine, is curious about Turkey's attitude toward Russia if Russia makes an invasion attempt.

U.S. Congress: A total of 89 of the Congress members are in the Turkish Coalition Group; 4 of them are senators, and 85 of them are members of the U.S. House of Representatives. Turkey is one of the countries that have a bad reputation after Russia and China. The collective efforts of Armenian, Greek, YPG-PKK, and Indian opposition groups are effective in terms of this bad reputation.  Moreover, serious steps were taken against Turkey and Azerbaijan, especially through the personal endeavor of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Menendez.

FETO Issue: While this issue was shut down in Washington, D.C., FETO silently continues to grow stronger.

Human Rights:  Turkey's exclusion from the Democracy Summit was perceived as a message to Ankara.

Trade Volume Increase to $100 Million: The Biden Administration shares the eagerness toward increasing the trade volume, which was initiated by President Trump and President Erdogan. However, no steps were taken regarding how to do it and in which way to do it.

2022 Expectations:

-President Erdogan's and President Biden's relations will continue at a steady level. However, Biden will maintain his distance. Their first meeting is predicted to take place in Madrid during the NATO Summit in June.

-Turkey's growing rapprochement with Russia in the defense areas might trigger new sanctions. It is worth noting that, on September 28, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Menendez said there would be no new sales unless S-400 was off the table.

-It is expected that the major issues will still be on the table in 2022.

-The Congress is likely to impose new sanctions against Turkey and take new steps for expansion of the Greek military.

-It should be taken into account that although mending Turkey–Armenia relations will continue to receive a positive response from Washington, D.C., Armenian associations are likely to overshadow these efforts.

-Biden is expected to deliver a speech on April 24, 2022, with the same transcript from 2021 about the alleged Armenian genocide.

-New Ambassador Flake will be in Ankara on January 7. Having been in the political scene and the Congress for over 18 years, Flake may prevent crises by acting as a bridge between the Biden administration and Ankara.

-The Central Bank of the United States is expected to raise interest at least three times in 2022, the first of which will be in March.

- The section supports the interest of Turkey–U.S. relations, which have decreased in Washington, D.C.; it will be critical to perform mutual concrete and outcome-oriented visits between Turkey and USA.

Biden's Foreign Policy in the first year and 2022

Areas of success: Distribution of vaccines to many countries, response to international organizations (e.g., the World Health Organization and the U.N. Human Rights Council), more systematic coordination with the E.U. countries (the latest being the joint declarations on the Ukraine issue), restoration of trust within NATO, promise to give more importance to Asia-Pacific and Australia, India, and Japan (the QUAD)

Areas of failure: He is criticized in terms of his empty rhetoric against Russia and China, and having no concrete strategies, particularly against China, and remaining weak in terms of economic relations with the region. Republicans in Congress have reacted to him after his withdrawal failure in Afghanistan, inconclusive nuclear agreement endeavors with Iran.He maintained Trump's policies in the Middle East

-The most important agenda item will be negotiated with Russia in January. Ukraine is at the top of the main list of the 2022 agenda, together with a struggle with China, of course. Regarding the struggle with China, Biden's return to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) , which Trump exited, is on the agenda.

2022 Congress Midterm Elections:

-In the 2022 congressional midterm elections, 435 seats are up for election in the House of Representatives as opposed to 34 seats in the Senate.

Current Situation:

-House of Representatives: Democrats – 221, Republicans – 213, empty seats – 1

-Senate: 50 Democrats, 50 Republicans

-Midterm Election Polls (average of ten polling companies – Real Clear Politics- Republicans 44.1%, Democrats 41.7%

-Biden is likely to lose the majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives at this rate.

-Midterm elections are not in favor of the president's political party. The midterm elections resulted in the Democratic Party losing approximately 30 seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate combined.

Two American candidates with Turkish heritage:

-Pennsylvania State Republican Candidate Mehmet Öz (highly popular and has a good chance if Trump supports his candidacy)

-New Jersey House of Representatives Deputy Nominee Republican: Tayfun Selen

-Eric Adams, the Turkish-friendly Mayor of New York: Eric Adams, who has been to Turkey five times since January 1, took office in New York. One of his missions is to sign a sister-city agreement between Istanbul and New York.

Biden's Annual Performance Review:

-The Average of the Poll Results from Eight Polling Companies between December 11 and December 27: 43% "approve," 53.4% "disapprove"

Who can run for president in the 2024 presidential elections?

-Democrats: If Biden doesn't run, the strongest first candidate is Kamala Harris, followed by the rising star Pete Buttigieg, the secretary of transportation.

-Republican: Top candidate of choice is the 45th President Trump, and the second most popular candidate is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. It is said that President Trump will be done up by 2024 because of the January 6 Congressional raid investigation and the lawsuits brought against him/his institutions. The governor of Florida has serious popularity among the Republicans, but Trump's candidacy is considered certain.

2022 Topics in the U.S.:

-The Battle against COVID: The number of COVID-related deaths in the U.S. is expected to reach 1 million by March 1, 2022.

-There is high economic distress with a 6.8% inflation rate, the economic damage caused by COVID-19, and an unemployment rate being 4.2%.

-The decisions of the Fed will be critical in 2022.

Some Key Meetings in 2022:

June 29-30 NATO Leaders Summit,Spain

October 30-31: G20 Leaders Summit,Indonesia

September 13-27;UN General Assembly

November:U.S Midterm Elections

'Maras' Letter To President Biden From the Senators

'Maras' Letter To President Biden From the Senators

The Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the Democratic Party's New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, the Democratic Party's Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen, the Republican Party's Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and 11 other senators made a statement to condemn Turkey's efforts to reopen the Maras, Famagusta region of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. In their letter, senators from both parties have called President Biden to pressure Turkey to stop its "provocative" actions by using bilateral and multilateral channels and explicitly expressing the possible consequences of Turkey's "illegal" activities. The senators noted that Turkey's attempts violate the United Nations Security Council's decisions. Turkey ignores the UN Security Council's and the Council of Europe's recent calls regarding Turkey's retreat from its decision.

In their letter addressed to President Biden, the senators stated: "You rightly shaped the U.S. foreign policy around the principles of human rights and the rule of law. Any attempt by president Erdogan and Turkey to reopen Maras or resettle in the region will constitute a violation of these principles. The United States and the EU must clearly show President Erdogan that it is unacceptable for him to violate United Nations Security Council resolutions and the rule of law".

The senators also stated that Turkey's steps in Maras are hampering progress in the United Nations meetings held in the 5+1 format to bring the parties to the table.

So, what is the position of the U.S. in terms of Turkish-Greek relations? 
 
It is a well-known fact that President Joe Biden supports Greece and shows great interest in the state. Biden calls himself an "Honorary Greek," which was the case even when he was in the Senate before becoming president. It is worth mentioning that the Greek diaspora thanked Biden at the panel held at the Congress in 2008 "for promising to always stand by the Greek-American community and for his long-standing support."

Is President Biden looking for alternatives?

From a military point of view, the U.S. only has a Souda Naval Base on the island of Crete. In the updated deal signed in October 2019, the expansion of the Souda Naval Base, the designation of Stefanovicio, Larissa, and Alexandroupolis bases to the U.S., and the opportunity to utilize every military base in the country with the approval of Greece are requested. Although the U.S. has mentioned an expansion within the scope of NATO operations, Washington's support for Athens in defense and the new military bases suggest a search for an alternative to Turkey.

However, there has been contentment for the last two months due to the defused tensions in Turkish-Greek relations under Biden Administration, and it is constantly expressed.
 
Journalist, Ali Cinar

Biden and Putin Met Face-to-Face for the First Time

In their first face-to-face meeting, President Joe Biden and President of Russia Vladimir Putin agreed to restart arms control negotiations and reassign their ambassadors, whom they both had recalled earlier this year.

The meeting, which was held in Villa La Grange, a lakeside town in the Swiss city of Geneva, lasted less than 4 hours. However, Biden's advisers predicted that the session would last much longer.

After the meeting, both leaders held a press conference.

"We agreed to start a dialogue on arms control."

President Biden said that they discussed the details of the next steps of arms control and emphasized that critical infrastructures should not be exposed to such cyberattacks. He added that they talked about cybersecurity for a long time.

"If Navalny dies, the consequences of that would be devastating for Russia."

Noting that Russia's moves regarding cyberattacks have damaged their reputation in the global arena, Biden said that he asked Putin how he would feel if Russia's oil reservoirs were attacked by ransomware. Biden warned that the consequences of the death of Russian opposition leader Navalny could be devastating for Russia.

A new cold war would not serve anyone's interests.

Stating that the last thing Putin would want is a cold war, President Biden emphasized that it is not in anyone's interest to start a new cold war.

Putin: "We had a pragmatic dialogue."

Stating that it is difficult to say whether relations with the US will improve or not, Putin said that there is a "glimmer of hope" to build mutual trust. There was not an invitation to visit from Moscow or Washington.

"We will start consultations in cybersecurity."

The Russian leader indicated that Washington and Moscow would start consultations in cybersecurity and pointed out that most of the cyberattacks against Russia are carried out by the US.

In addition, it was announced at the press conference that both countries would return their ambassadors to their posts.

Here is the  U.S. Media Headlines after the meeting:

•They continued to argue even while easing the tension.

•There were no winners or losers; everything was the same.

•No noteworthy objectives were announced.

•There could be a reduction in nuclear weapons and cyberattacks.

•Time will show how successful the meeting was.

•They both played to internal politics.

Journalist, Ali Cinar

President Biden's $2.3 Trillion Infrastructure Plan

President Biden announced the first stage of the plan at an event held at a union training center in Pittsburgh. President Biden defined the massive program that will restructure the American infrastructure over the next eight years as a "once-in-a-generation investment."

According to the details announced by the White House, within the scope of this plan, hundreds of billions of dollars are allocated for the modernization and construction of roads, bridges, public transportation systems, schools, and other infrastructure fields.

The plan can both fix some of the damage caused to the economy by the Coronavirus epidemic and benefit primarily low-income employees.
It is stated that President Joe Biden's choice of Pittsburgh to announce the infrastructure plan has economic and political repercussions. 

It is stated that the infrastructure projects will be financed by the higher taxes that will be obtained from the companies and establishments. It is indicated that this situation may cause repercussions in the business circles and disrupt the attempts of the Biden administration to work with the Republican Congress members.

 President Joe Biden said, "91 companies on the Fortune 500 list, including Amazon, do not pay a single solitary penny in federal income tax." During his speech in which he unveiled the infrastructure plan, he said, "Wall Street didn't build this country. The middle class built this country. And unions built the middle class."

President Biden hopes that the infrastructure plan will be passed by Congress by the summer, which means he will rely on the fact that Democrats narrowly control both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
 
Package Details:
 
$621 billion for transportation infrastructure and resilience:
$580 billion for manufacturing; research and development; and job training:
$400 billion for the care economy:
$313 billion for schools and housing:
$111 billion for clean water:$100 billion for digital infrastructure
 
 
 
 

Journalist, Ali Cinar

We have experienced 'firsts' in US history!

The inauguration ceremony, for which the world has been holding its breath, ended in an exceptionally colorful and uneventful manner. The ceremony attended by close to one thousand people, from former presidents to celebrities, took place in a warm atmosphere despite the cold weather. Representing the previous administration, former Vice President Mike Pence attended the ceremony and was warmly greeted by her successor, Kamala Harris, and President Joe Biden. Harris and her husband did not neglect to have a photograph taken with the Pence couple at the end of the ceremony, and they also saw them off in person.

Although Donald Trump wished Biden success without mentioning his name, it has also been said that he left the new President a letter. However, the content of this letter is not clear for now. As Trump did, Biden also did not refer to Trump by his name and rather referred to him as the "former administrations" in his post-oath speech, while at the same time giving a message of "unity" on numerous occasions.

The security impact ensured by 25,000 National Guards in the Capital was felt. Military trucks and SUV-type vehicles that we are used to seeing in the Middle East had proverbially become the decor of the central streets of the city. While there were no serious or big incidents in the city, the celebrations of Biden supporters stood out.

However, measures taken to ensure security have harassed the residents of Washington. I had to pass through 3 separate security points to enter the White House while getting frisked and ID checked. My body temperature was also measured as part of the Covid-19 measures taken due to the ceremony.

 The characteristics of the new administration


Let us now talk about the "firsts" of the Biden administration:

Joe Biden is the second Catholic President in US history, after John F. Kennedy;

Kamala Harris is the first female vice-president in US history;

Trump is the first US president to boycott his successor's inauguration, after Andrew Johnson's boycott in 1869;

This was the first time where there were such a small attendance and such extraordinary security measures at an inauguration ceremony;

For the first time in history, US Army investigated the personal histories of 25,000 US National Guards to prevent an inside threat.

For the first time in history, all businesses in the Capital were closed.

For the first time in history, two hundred thousand USA flags were placed in front of the Capitol building.

For the first time in history, five hundred thousand US Dollars' worth of cleaning was carried in the White House,

For the first time in history, a President (Trump) was impeached twice by the House of Representatives.

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