Bad blood between Turkey and the United States is spreading. Recent events have these nato allies moving in contradictory directions, a trend with ominous ramifications.
First, the two nations are at odds over growing tension in northern Iraq. Turkey has tried to contain Kurdish separatists there for years, with mixed success. In a recent attack, Kurdish rebels from the Kurdistan Workers Party (pkk) killed 15 Turkish soldiers; the people of Turkey are demanding retaliation. After days of bombing and shelling northern Iraq, Turkish officials now say they plan to invade.
This puts the U.S. in an uncomfortable spot, as the Kurdish north has been the most stable part of Iraq since Saddam Hussein’s ouster in 2003. Supporting Turkey may well alienate the Kurdish allies the U.S. has built there, and the whole situation could further destabilize Iraq—something U.S. and Iraqi leaders are desperate to avoid.
The fact that Turkey plans to proceed with the invasion represents its frustration over what it perceives as Washington’s lack of help there, and its growing determination to act independently, heedless of U.S. wishes. Reuters reports:
“We don’t need anyone’s advice on northern Iraq and the operation to be carried out there,” [Prime Minister Tayyip] Erdogan told a cheering crowd in Istanbul, after saying that the United States “came tens of thousands of kilometers and attacked Iraq without asking anyone’s permission.”
Amid these developments, the timing probably couldn’t have been worse for a U.S. congressional committee to pass a resolution labeling massacres of Armenians during World War i as “genocide.” The full House of Representatives will consider the resolution later this term.
Turkey reacted strongly to the news, recalling its ambassador in the U.S. and threatening to downgrade its much-needed support of American war efforts. “Potential moves could include blocking U.S. access to the Incirlik air base, canceling army contracts, downscaling bilateral visits, denying air space to U.S. aircraft, and halting joint exercises,” Reuters reported.
Turkey’s military chief, General Yasar Buyukanit, said Sunday that if Congress passes the resolution, it would damage the two nations’ alliance irreparably.
In addition, anti-Americanism has been growing in the streets of Turkey, according to the Jerusalem Post. “All prospects look bad … and relations with the U.S. have already gone down the drain,” Turkish foreign policy expert Semih İdiz said.
This situation is worth monitoring. The U.S.-Turkey relationship has been a restraining influence on Iran. Its fracturing could help shift the region’s balance of power in Iran’s favor.
There are also fears within Israel that the congressional vote represents a weakening in the historically pro-Turkey stance of America’s Jewish lobby—a development that could jeopardize Turkey’s commitment to its alliance with Israel as well. Considering what an important guarantor that alliance has been of the Jewish state’s national security, Israel is understandably nervous.
Biblical prophecy also details how the Turks (referred to as “Edom”) will betray Israel, the United States and Britain in the future (see the book of Obadiah). The seeds of that betrayal have already been sown; we may be watching them taking root before our eyes. •