What Pompeo Means for Muslims in the U.S. and for U.S.-Turkey Relations?
After months of disputes over Qatar, North Korea, Iran and Israel, President Trump ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, which did not come as a surprise to those who closely follow matters in Washington.
On the contrary, the manner in which Tillerson was removed from his position is what caused a degree of shock, as President Trump tweeted early Tuesday in his personal account that he had replaced Tillerson with CIA chief Mike Pompeo.
On the same day, Tillerson stood in front of press cameras and made it clear that he did not know about the President’s decision and learned about it through the tweet, just like everybody else.
Soon enough, the term “Tillerson-ed” became TT in Twitter as many users began to mock Trump’s way of dismissing of Tillerson from his position.
All things aside, the significance of Pompeo’s appointment is the effect it has on Muslims in the U.S. and the way they perceive Pompeo as a politician and last but not least, the consequence it will have on U.S. and Turkey relations under the leadership of the new Secretary of State.
Pompeo was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010, representing the state of Kansas during the era of the Tea Party, the ultra-conservative branch of the Republican Party.
He has a history of anti-Islamic sentiments, and at least in one of his speeches he noted that “War on Terror” is a war between Muslims and Christians.
In 2013, two months after the Boston Marathon bombing, Pompeo accused U.S. Muslim leaders for their failure to condemn the “extremist” attack, saying, "Silence has made these Islamic leaders across America potentially complicit in these acts."
Similarly, in 2015, in a speech he gave in Wichita, Kansas, while referring to Muslims, Pompeo publicly noted, “This evil is all around us.” In the same speech, Pompeo argued that "and will continue to press against us until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ is our savior is truly the only solution for our world."
President Trump has already caused a fair amount destruction to Muslims in America and around the world by his castigating and stigmatizing speeches and actions. Adding to that, his decision to appoint Pompeo as the new secretary of state has caused Muslims in the U.S. a significant amount of worry given the fact that Pompeo shares the same ideology of ‘fearing Muslims’ as Trump does.
With regards to U.S.-Turkey relations following Trump’s new appointment, one the first things that comes to our mind about Pompeo is his tweet after FETO’s coup attempt on July 15 2016.
However, Ankara has made it clear that they intend to build good relations.
“We would like to work with the new secretary of state with the same understanding, with bilateral respect and understanding,” Cavusoglu told a news conference in Moscow, where he was on an official visit.
After Trump became President, Pompeo was the first U.S. representative to visit Turkey. U.S. officials noted that Pompeo was to discuss matters regarding the FETO leader Gulen as well as the stance U.S. was taking in supporting the Syrian Kurdish group during his visit.
Nonetheless, after more than one year of his visit, it’s safe to say that meeting did not bring any solution to U.S. and Turkey’s complex relations which began during President Barack Obama’s last 2 years of presidency.
I believe, the case of the American pastor Andrew Brunson will be one of the first topics Pompeo will raise in regards to relations with Turkey. I also believe that Turkey should be ready to discuss the Brunson issue before it’s too late.
It is not clear whether Turkey-U.S. ties will get better or worse under Pompeo, but there is no reason not to be optimistic, as I do not think Turkey-U.S. relations have any room left for deterioration.