The Republican victory in the U.S. midterm elections is likely to contribute positively to Turkish-American relations as they share Turkey's view on the Syrian crisis and Armenian claims regarding 1915 incidents, experts have said.
All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 33 out of the 100 seats in the Senate were contested in the Nov. 4 midterm elections.
The Republicans won a majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The result will most probably deepen the division in American politics as executive power is in the hands of a Democrat President while both chambers of legislative power are now under Republican control.
There are not only several domestic policy issues on which President Barack Obama will face resistance from Congress, but he will also face opposition on issues of foreign policy as Republicans are not happy with the White House's foreign policy moves and have been particularly critical of Obama’s vision for the Middle East.
The Obama administration has been negotiating with Iran on their nuclear program, a course of action which has frustrated a majority of Republican congressmen.
They will most probably try every way they can to block the administration's attempts to make concessions to Iran, such as the lifting or loosening of sanctions in exchange for a nuclear deal.
The Republican-led Congress will also push the White House to expand the scope of its anti-ISIL strategy in Syria and Iraq to include the option of American boots on ground as well as the removal of Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria.
Republicans close to Turkey's position on Syrian crisis
Soner Cagatpay, Director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the Anadolu Agency that a Republican-led U.S. Congress would contribute significantly to Turkish-American relations.
Cagatpay underlined that the Syrian crisis comes at the top of a host of issues in which Republicans share Turkey's view.
"Except for some marginal groups within the Republican trend, mainstream Republicans share Turkey's position on the need for international intervention in Syria, the removal of President Bashar al-Assad as well as arming the moderate Syrian opposition," Cagatpay added.
Turkey's leadership have been pushing the U.S. to take direct action against the Assad regime since they see it as the main cause of chaos in Syria, which led to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant or ISIL.
Despite reiterating that the Assad regime is the main factor behind the rise of extremist groups in Syria, the Obama administration has based its anti-ISIL strategy on degrading and defeating the group rather than starting with the removal of the Assad regime.
Republicans such as Sen. John McCain have been critical of the White House in this respect and emphasized that Obama should focus on the removal of Assad as the main pillar of his anti-ISIL strategy.
"Turkey will be relieved in terms of the Syrian crisis,” Cagatpay predicted, “as a significant actor in American politics, Congress will produce policies close to Turkey's position in terms of equipping and training Syrian opposition forces or the removal of Assad."
Dr. Kadir Ustun, Research Director at the SETA Foundation's Washington office also agreed that senators like McCain and Lindsey Graham would push the Obama administration to consider Turkey's position.
Noting that Republicans would certainly bring about some changes in foreign policy, Ustun said that, in particular, they will push the White House to increase the defense budget and expand the scope of anti-ISIL operations.
“We can expect increasing U.S. engagement in both Iraq and Syria," Ustun explained, "Obama would try to stand firm behind his promises such as putting no boots on the ground in combat roles, but if they are able to make Obama adopt a more comprehensive strategy in Syria, it will contribute to U.S.-Turkish relations -- particularly in terms of the Iraqi and Syrian crises."
Pro-Armenian chairman loses his chair
A Democrat-led Senate's Foreign Relations Committee would have been a nightmare for Turkish-American relations, as it would have come out with bills on Armenian claims of genocide during the 1915 incidents in eastern Turkey.
2015 will be centenary of the 1915 incidents, when millions of Armenians were relocated by the Ottoman Empire as they were causing chaos in the region during World War I.
Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, one of the strongest supporters of the Armenian lobby in Congress, lost his chair to the Republican ranking member of the committee, Bob Corker, who has opposed Armenian claims of genocide.
Touching upon the Republicans' approach to the 1915 incidents, Cagatpay pointed out that it has been Republicans in the Senate who have blocked bills on genocide claims against Turkey.
He also pointed out that as security plays a key role in Republicans' foreign policy tendencies, they would like to keep relations warm with Turkey as a strong ally in the Middle East.
Concerning the bills on Armenian claims, Kadir Ustun also agrees with Cagatpay that Republicans would be on Turkey's side.
Ustun said that the House majority leader, John Boehner, promised not to include bills on Armenian claims into the House agenda.
"Republicans will be more sensitive to the 1915 incidents in order to keep relations with Turkey strong," Ustun explained.
“The issue would be voiced loudly in 2015 due to the centenary of the 1915 events," Ustun said.
The Republicans would not bring this issue onto the stage but there is still a possibility that Obama would not object if the Democrats tried to bring it up in Congress, he added.
"The bill will come to Congress as there are many Armenian lobby supporters in there," Ustun predicted, "but the chance for it to pass is now lower than ever, as the Republicans are in control of Congress."
Turkish-Israeli relations are a problem for a Republican-led Congress
Turkish-Israeli relations are currently under strain due to Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip as well as its attack on a Turkish flotilla in 2009, which killed nine Turkish citizens.
Republicans are more pro-Israel than Democrats, thus one of the main issues that Congress will not be happy with will be Turkey's relations with Israel, experts also think.
"The new Congress would like to see the two close U.S. allies, Turkey and Israel, have good relations," Cagatpay said, "There will be an expectation within Congress that Turkish-Israeli relations will be normalized."
Otherwise, he added, there would be confrontation in the future between Ankara and Congress.
AALast Mod: 06 Kasım 2014, 17:00