The White House confirmed August 13 Vice-President Joseph Biden will visit Turkey later this month. He will be the first senior Western leader to travel to Ankara since the failed coup attempt in July.
Relations between Turkey and Washington have been cool to say the least since the attempt to remove from office President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Turkish leader and his supporters say the coup was plotted by Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish preacher exiled in the United States. Ankara is demanding American authorities extradite Gulen, which Washington is reportedly asking Ankara for proof of his involvement in the attempt to overthrow Erdogan.
So what message will Biden take with him on August 24?
This is not Biden’s first visit to Turkey and he has criticized Erdogan’s regime on numerous occasions. Earlier this year he is said to have condemned Ankara’s poor record on human rights:
Biden previously attacked Erdogan’s Turkey for its prevention of media freedom:
However, Biden has to tread carefully. Turkey remains a NATO member and is potentially a regional interlocutor. The country has already shown it can play good cop / bad cop regarding ISIS and has not always been a willing partner to the U.S.’ military objectives in the Middle East.
At the same time, while Erdogan often plays the passive aggressive role with Washington, he knows there are times when he needs Western backing including that of the U.S. when it comes to diplomacy, military coordination and international aid.
As Clarion Project regularly reports, Erdogan has a lot to answer for such as wholesale arrests and torture. While Turkey wants Washington’s help with a Gulen handover, Mr. Biden no doubt is well aware of Turkey’s daily crimes and must push for immediate policy change before Erdogan really does become Turkey’s Mr All Powerful.