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HomeHeadlineBlinken's Potential Visit to Turkey and the Palestinian Refugee Offer Amid Tensions

Blinken’s Potential Visit to Turkey and the Palestinian Refugee Offer Amid Tensions

I titled it this way, but at the time I wrote this article, it was still uncertain whether U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken would visit Turkey as part of his second Middle East tour.

Today, Blinken is in Israel and Jordan once again.

The pool media announced as breaking news that Blinken would come to Turkey on November 5, but even after two days, the U.S. side has not confirmed this news.

They didn’t provide an answer to this question in yesterday’s daily press briefing either.

Later, there were rumors circulating that Blinken himself would not come and that his deputy, Derek Chollet, would be sent to Turkey.

Actually, just this situation alone is enough to describe how bad Turkish-American relations have become. The world is at a critical juncture, and Turkey is watching events from a distance.

Look at where we’ve come from the strategic partnership.

Blinken’s decision could change today or tomorrow, and will he come to Ankara at the last minute? Frankly, there is no Turkish official who can answer this question.

Because the decision will be made by the Biden administration and Blinken himself.

The Turkish side is eagerly waiting for Blinken, and even individuals close to the government are making comments like “if he doesn’t come, it will reflect badly on our relations,” but if Blinken doesn’t come and only sends one of his deputies, no one should be surprised.

MAYBE THERE’S TIME FOR BLINKEN’S ‘SAPLING’!

At this stage, it’s worth making a reminder; as you know, Antony Blinken had excluded Turkey during his shuttle diplomacy in the region after the conflicts had begun.

To be disregarded in a very critical event, such as the Israel-Hamas conflict, which was taking place right on Turkey’s doorstep, was a significant loss of prestige for Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and the Erdogan regime.

The Erdogan regime, which had spent all its energy and money on perception games, immediately came up with a ‘scenario.’

Hakan Fidan gathered with Ankara correspondents and told them that Blinken actually wanted to come very much but that his schedule was too busy, so they couldn’t arrange it.

In other words, Fidan was too busy, and he hadn’t given an appointment to the U.S. Secretary of State!

However, we saw the next day that not only Blinken but also AKP officials were unaware of this situation, where Fidan did not give an appointment!

AKP spokesman Ömer Çelik, in a live broadcast, criticized Blinken not coming to Turkey, saying, “The fact that the U.S. Secretary of State did not visit Turkey during his regional tour would indicate a diplomatic weakness. Turkey’s not being visited will not harm the Republic of Turkey at all. It shows how weak those who do this are.”

In simple terms, AKP spokesperson Çelik had exposed Foreign Minister Fidan’s lie.

I brought up this incident because, in the Erdogan regime, it’s advisable to approach news originating from Ankara with extra caution.

WHAT IF HE COMES, WHAT’S IN HIS BAG?

So, will Blinken come, and if he does, what’s in his bag?

First of all, let’s make this clear; Blinken’s visit will not thaw the ice between Turkey and America.

The tension has escalated further due to incidents such as the Turkish drone shot down by the U.S. in northern Syria and Foreign Minister Fidan’s statements like, “We have reached a crossroads in our relations with the U.S.” Moreover, Erdogan’s description of Hamas as ‘a group of mujahideen’ has further exacerbated the tension.

Even if Blinken comes, there should be no expectation of an improvement in relations.

It is rumored that Blinken’s agenda will have two specific topics. The first is well-known: not delaying Sweden’s NATO accession process. The Biden administration is concerned that despite Erdogan’s promise, he may delay it during the parliamentary phase.

But the real debate – the doomsday scenario – could arise in the second topic; the issue of Palestinian refugees!

The Israeli government wants to expel Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, or at least relocate more than half of the population elsewhere, and they are not hiding it.

The most powerful alternative is Egypt.

However, the Sisi regime is not opening its borders despite U.S. pressure and is resisting demands.

Egypt is in a severe economic crisis and does not want to accept a million refugees. However, after the generous zero-filled loans or grants that the U.S. will propose, this decision could change.

So, what if Blinken comes and offers Turkey to “accept some of the Palestinians”?

Turkey is already in a severe economic crisis, millions of Syrians, and an unknown number of Afghans have already scattered uncontrollably within the country. If you think that the Erdogan regime will not accept Palestinians in these conditions, you are mistaken.

In fact, this is precisely the situation Erdogan desires. In football terms, these are the kind of balls Erdogan loves.

He used Syrian refugees as a weapon against Europe, and if Blinken comes with such an offer, Erdogan will see it as a historic opportunity. He will first use it to heat up the negotiations.

He will offer a package that will maximize benefits. For example, a few billion dollars in grants, the arrival of F-16 fighter jets, and the closure of the Reza Zarrab and Sezgin Baran Korkmaz cases…

Don’t say it’s unrelated.

If you recall what Erdogan has done so far to close the Zarrab case, you will know that he will not hesitate to link the issue of settling Palestinians to Zarrab.

In summary, if Blinken comes to Turkey on Sunday and says, “Take in 1 million Palestinians, and we’ll give you a few billion dollars,” don’t be surprised.

Erdogan will pretend to oppose it at first and then spread ‘Ansar Muhajir’ propaganda through his propaganda team, so that he can be happy about being taken seriously by the Biden administration.

Based on what he has done so far, we can easily say that he can do the same things again.

So, what if Blinken doesn’t come and sends his deputy?

First of all, it wouldn’t be surprising because there is already a strong anti-Turkey sentiment in Washington. Just last week, a scathing letter was sent to Blinken from Congress.

Yesterday, late in the day, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on many countries and institutions, including Turkish companies.

The United States is closely monitoring Russia’s efforts to prevent technology transfer from third countries. Similar sanctions have been imposed on various Turkish companies before.

In short, Ankara-Washington relations are so bad that the AKP government is probably praying, “I hope Blinken comes with an offer for refugees.”

Maybe they can find a way out through this.

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Adem Yavuz Arslan
Adem Yavuz Arslan
Adem Yavuz Aslan is a leading Turkish investigative journalist in exile based in Washington, D.C.
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