With the new revelations on Friday, it is now possible to identify a few more actors who helped the relationship between the incumbent presidents of the United States and Turkey to thrive, Merve Tahiroğlu of the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) told Ahval’s Yavuz Baydar in this Saturday’s episode of the Hot Pursuit podcast.
A number of respected outlets published a joint investigation on Friday, making Turkish connections to U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s White House more visible, particularly through the hiring of lobbyists that have an in with him.
A network of international businessmen who all have shady business backgrounds and involvement in some type of corruption appears to have helped Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to set an early foot inside of the White House to influence the new president, said Tahiroğlu.
According to Tahiroğlu, Turkey has increasingly become another influential foreign country along with Russia, China in the U.S. capital for their aggressive outreach.
What moves the personal relationship between Erdoğan and Trump has been one of the hottest topics discussed in the U.S. media, as well as during think tank talks. Figures close to Erdoğan, allies, family members, and powerful well-connected moguls had initially made outreach efforts, and apparently, various figures, including Russia-connected oligarchs, got involved later on.
Turkey has been a tool Putin uses to drive a wedge between the United States and its traditional allies for some time, the analyst said.
It is not Turkey that benefits out of this relationship, but Erdoğan, she added. Crony relations, lobbying and other ties have helped the Turkish president to get direct lines to the Oval Office and prop up his regime in Turkey.
Erdoğan’s government has also been able to get the United States to stop pushing back against its most disruptive policies in the region, as well as its domestic repression against its critics.
“We haven’t seen Trump pushing back against any of Turkey’s transgressions for years, apart from one single exception,” Tahiroğlu said, “which was U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson. There will be an election and once America moves on from Trump presidency, these relationships might come back to haunt them.”
Turkey’s foreign policy has “become a hostage to Erdoğan’s personal interests at home,” she said. “Those interests are now fanning the flames of hyper-nationalism and polarisation, while making people feel like they are under attack from external and internal enemies. This is how the Erdoğan government thrives and survives.”
“One way for Erdoğan to maintain 50 percent support is to continue his disruptive policies,” Tahiroğlu said, “but the cost of these policies will come back to haunt the country.”