For the first time in decades, the peaceful relationship between America and Middle Eastern nation Turkey appears to have been severely affected by adverse political relations. This recent reversal of foreign policy has only President Donald Trump and the president of Turkey, Tayyip Erdoğan to thank.
On July 14, 2016, a coup attempt took place in Turkey—and failed miserably. As Turks remain unsure of the coup’s exact cause, the Turkish government blames the violent seizure of government power on Fethullah Gulen, a natural-born Turk living in America. With no public evidence, Turkey accused Gulen of rousing and encouraging Turks to revolt against the injustice and mistreatment their president had inflicted upon the Turkish nation. Turkey demanded the return of their supposed traitor, Fethullah Gulen, but the United States was unwilling to give up a citizen who appeared innocent in their eyes.
Although no one knows for sure if Gulen was truly the coordinator of the coup, Turkey pushed forward with all of their might to gain leverage and establish the trade for Gulen between the two countries. As a result of American unwillingness, Turkey imprisoned American pastor Andrew Brunson. They thought that an American prisoner would be enough to persuade former president, Barack Obama, to surrender Gulen to Turkey. This so-called “foolproof” plan failed, and Turkey remains without their well-known “traitor.” Since that day, the second-world country has been in a state of emergency, giving their president the complete power to dictate.
Almost a year and a half later in October 2017, President Erdoğan of Turkey decided to further fuel the fire by arresting numerous U.S. consulate employees in Istanbul. Outraged, Washington decided it was time to intensify their reaction by fighting back. Congress placed a travel ban on Turks applying for tourist visas through the Ankara Consulate, which they need in order to enter America. When word of this reached the Turkish government, President Erdoğan naturally decided to follow suit, now denying access to any American without a Turkish residence visa. It may have seemed like a good idea for America and Turkey to provoke each other in a political battle, but in reality, Turkey’s economy cannot handle such a fall in tourism, nor can America risk not being allied with Turkey, which grants the U.S. access to a prime missile location in military bases at the heart of the Middle East.
Many components, such as the need for free travel for both Americans and Turks, need to be considered in this situation. Current President Donald Trump and President Erdoğan withhold any conciliatory moves. Both men have negatively fed into the situation, creating an atmosphere where it’s unlikely that either will willingly set pride aside and take a stab and what would be best for the citizenry. As an American living in Turkey, it saddens me to say such things about the leaders of the countries that have a special place in my heart, but this predicament is personal for many Americans in Turkey who now have a great fear of being evacuated from the country. At any given moment, President Erdoğan could decide he has had enough and proceed to kick out all Americans—like myself—from the country. Consequently, families would be uprooted from their Turkish homes and a culture dear to their hearts. Likewise, President Trump could easily do the same in the United States, leaving many dual citizens homeless.
Currently, Turkey has begun the process of banning Americans living in their eastern cities; the government continues to spread false rumors about the disliked foreigners. Turkey has indirectly threatened America by lying low and prohibiting news sites from reporting about these incidents. In the case that America and Turkey become permanent political and economic enemies, it would be wise for Americans to evacuate Turkey as risks increase. Although this may be the case for Americans in Turkey, America has not begun to do anything to Turkish citizens in their nation, refraining from the unnecessary escalation of the situation. Though it is important to consider all possibilities, in reality, the current hope is that the situation would die down without the need for any significant actions from either side.
In summary, it appears Turkey holds more negative feelings against America than America against Turkey. It has become clear that the most important decision relies upon America’s response to Turkish political action. The question at hand is whether the U.S. is willing to risk losing a valuable position and respectable ally over a “fighting fire with fire” situation. Priorities must be set in the minds of both presidents based on the livelihood of their nations. If they do not settle this matter shortly, I fear tension will increase to the extent of chaos. If this occurs, we realize that there is nothing left to do except pray. No matter what, God’s will shall conquer over any and all earthy agenda we could conceive. I encourage others to join with me in prayer as we await what God has in store for His world.
About the Author: (name omitted for political privacy reasons)
How many years have you been apart of TPS?
This is my first year at TPS.
What classes are you currently taking with TPS?
I’m taking Pre-AP Honors Biology, Honors Algebra, and English 3 foundations.
What are a few of your hobbies?
I am a competitive gymnast and swimmer.