Fresh evidence of the “confidence crisis” in US-Turkish relations has come with the claim by Turkey’s Energy and Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak that recent breakdowns in Turkey’s power supply were caused by cyber-attacks coming from the US
In recent days the Energy Ministry underwent a number of powerful cyberattacks that were conducted from the United States
Note that Albayrak is not directly accusing the US government of carrying out the cyber-attacks. Rather what he is saying is that the cyber-attacks were launched from US territory.
Despite this important qualification, Albayrak’s comment shows the extent to which blaming the US has now become the default position for Turkish ministers whenever Turkey runs into problems.
This comes directly after President Erdogan’s incendiary comments that the US is responsible for the rise of ISIS – which has carried out multiple terrorist attacks on Turkish soil – and the repeated Turkish criticism of US backing for the Syrian Kurdish militia the YPG.
The extent to which Turkey’s relations with the US are deteriorating is shown by further Turkish warnings to the US about future US use of the Incirlik air base, with Turkish Defence Minister Fikri Işık in comments on Friday openly blackmailing the US by threatening to stop the US’s use of Incirlik to wage its air campaign against ISIS unless the US drops its support for the YPG
İncirlik is not a NATO base; everyone should know this. [The coalition forces] are there with Turkey’s permission. At this point, Turkey and the U.S. and the other coalition forces are in talks. If these talks come to a point that threatens Turkey’s interests and a result cannot be reached, then Turkey will consider all options. The U.S. made a strategic mistake. We are paying its price as the U.S. will also pay the price. All terror organisations have made their supporters pay the price.
Allies do not talk in this way to each other, and these sort of comments show how low relations between the US and Turkey have sunk.
Incirlik is so important to the US that more than likely this Turkish blackmail will succeed, though US President Obama will probably leave it to his successor Donald Trump to patch relations up with the Turks. In the meantime this Turkish blackmail is causing increasing irritation in the US and amongst Washington’s allies, as shown by this angry editorial criticising President Erdogan’s tilt towards Moscow in the Guardian.