The Role of Turkey in the US Defense Secretary’s Resignation

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(— December 22, 2018) — James Mattis’ departure from the US Defense Secretary’s office due to Trump’s decision to remove the United States troops from Syria is logical, but triggered by a telephone conversation between Donald Trump and the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Guardian reports.

Allegedly, in the phone call with the Turkish president, Trump decided to upend previous US policy and withdraw troops from Syria.

Previously, the US President announced he plans to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan without approval for such a move either by the State Department, nor by Congress and the Pentagon.

With this move, Donald Trump stepped on toes of neoconservatives that are the most powerful wing of the Republicans, and James Mattis is their spearhead.

From the beginning, Trump considered sending troops into Syria wrong and urged that America should not be involved nor have interests in Syria. This stand is aligned with a perception of Donald Trump as a person who runs the country according to the rules of business rather than diplomacy, reducing costs wherever possible.

On the other hand, neo-conservatives are highly interventionist, since they consider that the United States have not only the right, but also the duty to react in every part of the world, where, according to their estimation, “democracy is endangered.”

On the other hand, the move is seen as an attempt to bring back Turkey as a strategically important ally. In order to do so, the U.S. is urged by the Turkish President to arrest and extradite Fethullah Gulen who lives in Pennsylvania. However, even if Gulen is arrested it doesn’t mean this would bring back Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan closer to Washington as he built a strong relationship with Moscow.

The Turkish President blames the U.S. for the 2016 coup d’état attempt and failing to extradite the alleged mastermind of the coup Fethullah Gulen only strengthens his assumptions. Moscow, on the other hand, alerted Erdogan that he will be under attack thereby saving his life and giving Erdogan an opportunity to react in time and crush the coup attempt.

It all led to the situation in which Turkey didn’t formally leave NATO but behaves quite independently in recent years and is making moves without consulting with her “most powerful ally” the U.S., ditching the Patriot missiles in favor to Russian S-400 air defense systems.

Trump’s mission, according analysts is to bring back Turkey and persuade Erdogan to buy the U.S. made Patriot air defense systems which would help the U.S. military-manufacturing industry as one of the strongest lobbies that helped Trump in his campaign.