It seems that, as Turkey’s elections calendar draws closer and closer, more often than not we will remember U.S. President Joe Biden’s words to New York Times editors in 2019, when he was getting ready to launch his presidential campaign:
“I’m still of the view that if we were to engage more directly like I was doing with them [the Turkish opposition], that we can support those elements of the Turkish leadership that still exist and get more from them and embolden them to be able to take on and defeat Erdogan. Not by a coup, not by a coup, but by the electoral process.”
Furthermore, just a few days ago, that very same New York Times, published an Istanbul-based article that implied that the White House, in other words, Joe Biden, was behind the October 18 declaration made by ten foreign embassies, including the U.S., calling for the release of Osman Kavala.
The article was quite illuminating in terms of revealing the mastermind behind this attempt, and how it was brought about.
The words of America’s secretary of state strengthen the idea that Washington was the mastermind behind it.
Before we get to U.S. Ambassador David Satterfield’s role in the declaration, let’s take a look at the statement made by the U.S. secretary of state after a full-blown crisis was averted.
These are some of Ned Price’s statements:
“We’ve taken note of President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan’s most recent remarks.”
“What we issued was a statement to underscore that the statement that we put out on October 18th was consistent with Article 41 of Vienna Convention. Ambassador [David M.] Satterfield is in Turkey.”
“We will continue to promote the rule of law and respect for human rights globally. The Biden administration seeks cooperation with Turkey on common priorities. And as with any NATO Ally, we will continue to engage in dialogue to address any disagreements.”
The impression these words imprints on minds is that the idea to release such a declaration emanated from Washington in the first place, and that the role of the embassy in Ankara was just to “follow orders.”
How did they fall back? What was their approach in negotiations?
The backtracking announcement spearheaded by the U.S. that was released on Monday did not randomly drop from the sky, either. Behind the scenes of this announcement that prevented the deepening of the crisis lies an outcome yielded by negotiations.
On Sunday, certain officials from the Turkish Presidency and Foreign Ministry launched intense and coordinated tasks with their counterparts.
Turkey’s Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin engaged in meetings with U.S. Ambassador David Satterfield that lasted all day long.
Intense negotiations were carried out through texts, with the knowledge of Erdoğan, where mutual offers came and went.
Finally, finding a middle ground, the crisis was overcome with a single sentence: the announcement of the commitment to stay out of Turkey’s internal affairs.
The impression I got from my sources is that U.S. Ambassador Satterfield adopted a reasonable and result-oriented approach. The reason for this may be that Erdogan reacted to this stunt in a way that even Joe Biden did not foresee. This reaction might be what led them to take a step back. Yet, we must underscore that the ambassador played a positive role in overcoming this deadlock.
What was it all for? Did they want to shake up Erdogan before the Rome summit, or weaken his hand?
Timing is a funny thing, and one would have to be extremely gullible to believe that this debacle has nothing to do with the upcoming Joe-Biden meeting at the Rome Summit.
The U.S. State Department statement I quoted above also serves as a summary of the current administration’s policy towards Turkey in the White House.
In a nutshell, American authorities mean to say, “We will remain in dialogue but will continue to speak up about what we don’t agree with.”
But, why now?
It’s as simple as pie, really:
The Biden administration must have wanted to rattle Erdogan with such a declaration, weakening his hand before he sets off for Rome.
Biden must have wanted to see the pathos and ludicrousy of this declaration in Erdogan’s eyes upon meeting him.
However, Erdogan saw it for what it was, put his stance forth and this scenario fell to pieces.
I wonder if you remember…?
Even when Obama was president and Biden was vice-president, whenever Erdogan had an appointment with the U.S. president, some bizarre incident would occur right before that meeting.