The main items discussed at the meeting were matters analysts had expected beforehand. The meeting proved once more that despite attempts to minimize military conflicts, it is not possible to take concrete action in the region without the US. A new era has started for the region, and it appears that the most important actor in this period will be the US. The most important problem for Turkey is to what extent American plans and Turkish interests will overlap. Turkey may not determine the regional policies of the US, but it may affect them to some degree. There is no disagreement between the parties with respect to Syria. Both Erdoğan and Obama agree that Assad must go. It is only a matter of time.
Turkey may play a remarkable role in making sure that a proper regime will emerge after Assad and that the region will not suffer from a sectarian clash and war. The current outlook in Libya after Muammar Gaddafi indicates the importance of what Turkey needs to do in this respect. The problem is in Iraq and particularly in Iran. The insistence of the American administration on Iraqi leader Nouri al-Maliki has a partial influence on the ongoing problems in Syria.
In addition, Maliki’s reference to a sectarian identity has taken Iraq to the brink of instability and probable partition. Both possibilities raise concerns for Turkey. With respect to Iran, Washington is under the influence of Israel. The Israeli lobby has contributed to the rising oil prices; this proved its potential impact on the American elections. Obama, whose influence in Congress has been weakened, cannot make any statement that could disturb the Jewish lobby before the election. And the Jewish lobby is opposed to Iran possessing nuclear technology; the American administration has to support this approach. On the other hand, Turkey believes that Iran is entitled to possess nuclear technology and is opposed to any military operation against Iran.
In addition, Turkey is also aware that any operation against Iran would be different than any operation against Syria and Iraq and that this operation would take the entire region to the brink of a disaster. Elections in November in the US reduce the chance of any military operation in the region. Military experts have commented that Israel would not dare to stage such an operation without American support. Europe’s role as a bystander in this plot also weakens the possibility for a peaceful solution to the nuclear crisis. Turkey now has to pursue a balanced policy in a world that will most possibly witness some developments that will affect its near future in terms of ethnic and sectarian unity. The current state of improved relations between Turkey and the US and the close ties between the parties make it more likely for Washington to reconsider measures that would negatively affect Turkey’s interests. However, this evaluation does not change the fact that Turkey should remain alert at all times.