Turkey’s relationship with the United States, the world’s most important country, with the biggest economy, the largest geopolitical influence and the one that most other nations have many reasons to want as a close ally, is upset with Joe Biden’s decision to recognize the Armenian genocide.
With this action, the US sent the message that it doesn’t ascribe to Turkey the same importance that it enjoyed for decades in the eyes of all previous administrations. The alliance will continue, but the context will be different.
But why did this happen now? Mainly for three reasons:
First, President Biden has a very close relationship with the Armenian community in the US (as he does with the Greek one) and there are some leaders that do keep their promises to voters.
Second, Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s behavior has rubbed the entire US political system the wrong way. With his anti-Western rhetoric, the attacks on Israel, and his special relationship with Vladimir Putin, the Turkish president has achieved something not easy – turning both parties in the US against him.
His “friendship” with Donald Trump was personal and did not reflect the attitude of the majority of the Republican Party toward him.
With the intense frustration developing in Washington over Erdogan’s behavior, mostly regarding the acquisition of the S-400 air-defense system from Russia, but also his moves on other fronts, such as Syria and, to a lesser extent, in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, moves that the US opposes, the number of influential people in positions of power in Washington that are friendly to Ankara keeps decreasing.
The third reason that Biden decided to recognize the Armenian genocide, perhaps the most important, is the US president’s character and personality.
Biden is part of a rare breed of politicians who believe in principles and values, without this precluding his realism, as shown in certain cases.
The US president believes that, in order for a country to be a real friend and ally to the US, and not a momentary partner, it must respect democratic freedoms and human rights and follow rules in its international behavior, something it is now quite clear is not the case with the unpredictable Turkish president who envisages a “Great” Turkey which would extend to the “borders of [his] heart.”