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Erdogan keeping a ‘Five-Months’ Distance | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Caption:Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan attend their meeting in St. Petersburg. Photo: Reuters

Regional and Western spotlight was highly focused on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin’s meeting which lasted for four hours, after which Erdogan came out referring to Putin by “my dear friend”.

What remains are echoed speculations on whether the Turkish President had renounced his state’s entitlements and regional heated issues rupturing across borders, namely the Syria crisis, or not?

Could it be that Erdogan is giving NATO, Turkey’s security insurance, a cold shoulder? If so, then the alliance with the U.S. is at stake, and all Euro-Turkey efforts have been laid to waste.

At the meantime, it is quite difficult to arrive at a clear conclusion – not to mention that Erdogan’s turn against the U.S., NATO and the EU would be a reckless and pricey decision.

With all that being said, what does Erdogan have in mind at the moment? What gains are reaped from restoring relationships with Russia? After all, it was the first country chosen by the Turkish president to visit after the earlier July abortive coup.

Is it a case of strategy alteration in Turkey, or is it simply one of the old-fashioned Erdoganian overreactions?

Preliminary readings suggest that Erdogan chose carefully his battles for now, being it a fight against the U.S.

The choice came with care, even though it was carried out overwhelmingly with passion- which rings the bells of how Erdogan reacted towards Russians right after the downing of the Russian plane.

Here is Erdogan today, warmly embraced by Putin.

When saying that Erdogan made his choice carefully, it is simply because rushing into Putin’s arms is interpreted as a political blow to U.S. President Obama.

Erdogan is fully aware that Obama is counting down his last White House days, and is like a political limp goose- unable to take any decisive decisions unless an earthshattering violent political stimulus is present.

Based on that, Erdogan raising the bar of conflict with the U.S., concerning U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, will earn him even more support back home. Turkish people will view Erdogan as the ever-strong leader that stood against the U.S., overlooking the circumstances circling his return to Putin today.

When Erdogan attempts such a tactic, he is not at much loss; Obama’s significant political role is drawing to an end, neither his acceptance nor denouncement come at a high value.

It is also worth mentioning that Putin’s hatred for Obama is a common one shared with Erdogan now- and they are both known to bring emotion into politics.

Erdogan bolsters ties with Russia today, as to reach an economic end after an eight-month boycott, and before the U.S. elects a new president.

The Turkish president will later attempt to reinforce U.S. ties post elections, bringing the Ankara-Washington tensions to a close. A fresh new relationship will be built between Erdogan and the new president.

As for Europe, Erdogan understands that later ending dispute with the U.S. will also mean the last heard of the conflict with Europe.

On the other hand, Erdogan also realizes how difficult it is to make compromises concerning Syria, or presenting any groundbreaking initiatives as Obama’s presidency draws to an end. Putin is aware of that as well. All that being said, Erdogan found no harm of distancing himself from the U.S. for five months till the new president is elected. The sole question remaining is: How much will a five-month stay with Putin cost Erdogan?