Turkiye, Politics

Turkish senior aide Aybet evaluates Turkey-US relations

After Biden's statement recognizing so-called ‘Armenian genocide,’ Gulnur Aybet says relations could suffer

Dilan Pamuk   | 01.05.2021
Turkish senior aide Aybet evaluates Turkey-US relations


Relations between Turkey and the US could suffer after US President Joe Biden's unlawful and unacceptable statement recognizing the so-called "Armenian genocide," said Turkish senior presidential advisor Gulnur Aybet in an article on Saturday, underlining that without Turkey, regional stability was out of the question.

Aybet wrote an article on Turkish-American relations for the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), one of the UK’s respected think tanks.

Stating that the current problems between Turkey and the US differed from the occasional tensions since the 1960s, Aybet said Turkey emerged as a power that changed the realities on the ground at a time when global power balances were shifting. 

Noting that Turkey's recent success in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Karabakh should be read as part of these broader global changes, Aybet said the US, which expects its old allies to remain the same amid a changing world, is unsettled by this situation and Turkey’s emergence with strong diplomacy on the ground and at the table on the eve of such flux was an important development for regional stability.

Aybet evaluated the current situation in bilateral relations under multiple headings.

She said Turkey was the only country that could both cooperate with and restrain Russia, arguing that the S-400 tension between Turkey and the US was not a technical problem threatening security as Washington claims, but rather as a response of the US to Russia’s increasing global influence.

Turkey’s Defense Industries Presidency has repeatedly called on the US to allay its worries on technical issues, she noted, adding that that the problem was not military and technical for the US, but a political-strategic issue on a global scale. 

She underlined that Turkey is indispensable for regional stability and that Ankara’s relations with Moscow were compartmentalized, with the two countries able to cooperate based on realpolitik despite occasional disagreements.

Biden’s statement unlawful, untrue

Underscoring that relations between Turkey and the US were fragile, Aybet said by sheltering the ringleader of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the 2016 defeated coup in Turkey, the US had caused a serious problem and mistrust in relations.

She said that one of the most recent breaking points was Biden’s recognition of the 1915 events as the so-called Armenian “genocide,” breaking with previous US presidents.

Stressing that this was unfounded historically and legally, Aybet said: “Turkey does not deny the suffering of Armenians during the First World War. In fact, President Erdoğan sent a message on 24 April to the Armenian Patriarch of Turkey, the Reverend Sahak Mashalyan, offering his condolences to the families of Ottoman Armenians who were killed during the tragic events of the First World War. The message also reiterated Turkey’s call for enhanced relations with neighbouring Armenia. No-one doubts the pain suffered by those caught up in the circumstances of that particular time, or the sincerity of the pain that lingers in the memory of relatives.

“Turkey does not deny the suffering of Armenians during the First World War. In fact, President Erdoğan sent a message on 24 April to the Armenian Patriarch of Turkey, the Reverend Sahak Mashalyan, offering his condolences to the families of Ottoman Armenians who were killed during the tragic events of the First World War.

“But the word ‘genocide’ denotes a very serious accusation and because of the gravity of the term, it must be fully supported in legal and historical fact. This is not the case in terms of the events of 1915. The term ‘genocide’ was recognised in the legal framework for the first time in 1948. The UN has not taken up consideration of describing the events of 1915 as ‘genocide’ because they happened before the term was defined in international law.

“Atrocities on a mass scale were carried out by Armenian gangs against Muslim civilians in Anatolia, a historical fact that is often conveniently not referred to.

“Therefore, it is impossible to define the situation as ‘genocide’ in legal terms. In historical terms, there is a lack of scholarly consensus on the events that transpired. There are historians who do not accept the term ‘genocide’ in referring to the events of 1915, among them Stanford Shaw, Bernard Lewis and Justin McCarthy. It is for this reason that President Erdoğan proposed the establishment of a Joint Historic Commission and the opening of all archives in Turkey and Armenia in 2005.”

Turkey will definitely find place it deserves

Senior presidential advisor Aybet said Biden was unable to see Turkey’s developing regional power as a stabilizer and that as the liberal world order had begun to decline, Turkey would definitely find a deserving place for itself in this order.

She said Biden’s unlawful and untrue remarks had resulted in a rise in anti-US sentiment across almost all segments of society, manifested in the resolution by the parties in Turkish parliament that condemned his description of the 1915 incidents as a “genocide.”

While previous US presidents refrained from making statements on this issue, Biden’s was illogical at a time when he needed Turkey’s strategic partnership, asserted Aybet, then referring to the remarks of former US Ambassador to Ankara James Jeffrey, who, well aware of the importance of bilateral ties, said: “If the Biden administration, so concerned about re-establishing American global leadership, seriously wants to confront these threats, it can’t succeed without Turkey.”

Turkish armed UAVs accomplished great things in Upper Karabakh and Syria

Another point that Aybet emphasized was that the superiority of Turkey’s armed UAVs changed the nature of wars in the region, from Libya to Syria and Karabakh.

Noting that this gathered praise from NATO members and many other countries, she mentioned that Turkey was the only nation in the international coalition against Daesh/ISIS, able to single-handedly recapture a 2,000-square-kilometer (772 square miles) area from the terror group.

Turkey assumed command of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) in 2021, she said, pointing to the country’s military and technical successes in recent years. 

In addition, Aybet stated that Turkey's relations with Ukraine should be interpreted as an indicator of its contribution to regional stability, and Ankara's support for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, Defense Cooperation Platform and Crimean Platform should be interpreted as part of its steps to safeguard Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Turkish forces won hearts of Afghan people

Emphasizing Turkey's important contribution to the Afghanistan peace process, Aybet recalled that Turkish staff have undertaken important tasks, including commanding roles, in NATO forces deployed in Afghanistan since 2002.

Noting that Turkish forces won the hearts of the Afghan people, Aybet underlined that Turkey would be one of the most important actors in the process of bringing peace to Afghanistan.

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