Turks call for US backing after rapprochement with Russia and Iran

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/8/25 18:48:39

Turkey's recent rapprochement with Russia and Iran is a way to push the US to show solidarity with Turkey, local experts said over US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Ankara.

As Turkey approached Russia and Iran, with changing its policy on Syria, the US needs to diagnose the situation and show how Ankara is important for Washington, retired ambassador Uluc Ozulker told Xinhua.

This rapprochement disturbed Washington, Ozulker said, believing Biden visited Ankara to give a message that Turkey is important for the US.

Biden also wants to reset relations with Ankara strained by the fallout from the July 15 failed coup attempt.

Washington has to take Ankara's demands for extradition of Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric based in the US, into consideration, and so Washington recently sent delegations to Turkey for discussions on Gulen's case, Ozulker said.

Biden is the first White House official to visit Turkey following the failed coup attempt, which the Turkish government says was orchestrated by the Gulenist Terror Organization (FETO), a group that is not recognized by the US.

Ankara has asked Washington to extradite the cleric, who has been living in the US state of Pennsylvania since 1999, to face trial.

Gulen is accused of aiming to overthrow the government through the infiltration of Turkish state institutions. The US is hovering between extraditing Gulen and keeping hosting him, according to the retired ambassador.

As the cleric was supported by the US in opening hundreds of schools across the world, Washington will be disturbed if Gulen speaks about how the Obama administration helped him, Ozulker claimed.

"It will annoy Ankara if Washington refuses to extradite him," he noted, explaining this is why Biden said he wished Gulen was not in the US.

The US also has to support Turkey's long-pending military operation to Jarablus region of northern Syria.

Turkey had been urging Washington to stop supporting the Democratic Union Party (PYD), as gains made by the Syrian Kurds alarmed Ankara.

The Turkish government is upset over the alliance between the US and the Syria Kurds in northern Syria, as it believes the PYD is linked to outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Turkey fears the alliance is helping them gain territory for an autonomous zone along the Turkish border as the PYD seeks to increase its influence and the territory it controls west of the Euphrates River.

Giving an ear to Turkey's call, Biden has sent stern messages to Syrian Kurds during his visit to Ankara. "We have made it absolutely clear that Kurdish forces must go back across the Euphrates River. They cannot and will not, under no circumstances, get American support if they do not keep that commitment," Biden told reporters at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in Ankara.

"The US sent its vice president to Turkey in an effort to address post-coup tensions, as Turkey complained about no Western leaders visiting the country to express their solidarity," said Burhanettin Duran, an expert from Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research.

Biden's main purpose is to reiterate commitment of the US to its friendship and alliance with Turkey, he said.

Duran believed that Biden's visit will hardly be enough to fix the impaired bilateral relations. "Turkey-US relations are going through a difficult period," Duran argued. "Both sides need to be extra careful."

The article is a commentary from the Xinhua News Agency. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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