Are U.S.-Turkey relations shaped by Trump-Erdoğan ties?

Former U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said in a private speech that President Donald Trump steers the country's Turkey policy according to his personal interests, U.S. outlet NBCNews reported on Tuesday, highlighting the importance of the bond between Trump and his Turkish counterpart. 

Bolton, who left the administration in September, also derided Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, and her husband, Jared Kushner, in his speech at a Morgan Stanley event in Florida, attendees told NBC. 

The Trump Organization has a license agreement with Turkey's Doğan Group for a twin tower in Istanbul, and Trump himself said in a 2015 interview during the presidential campaign that the arrangement presented “a little conflict of interest” should he be elected.

It appears as though Trump is more than accommodating towards Erdoğan's requests during phone calls or bilateral meetings between the pair, whether the topic at hand is the withdrawal the U.S. troops and green-lighting the Turkish incursion into Syria or shielding Turkey's strongman against punishment attempts by the U.S. Congress. 

Currently Trump is holding back the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) sanctions due to Turkey's purchase of the S-400 Russian-made missile defence system. The U.S. president, through his powerful ally at the Senate, majority leader Mitch McConnell, has also stopped a similar sanction package that passed the House, from moving forward, for the time being.

There were actually neither sanctions packages against the Erdoğan administration, nor an Armenian genocide recognition resolution at the House. Though, Erdoğan's decision to take over more land in northeastern Syria triggered a new wave of anti-Erdoğan initiatives. In that regard, how Erdoğan's visit to Washington will play out remains unknown. There are calls by various groups to protest Erdoğan's meeting at the White House in Washington on Wednesday.

Another aspect of the Trump-Erdoğan relationship that is noteworthy is the personal nature of it. On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that the three sons-in-law, Trump adviser Jared Kushner, Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak – who is married to Erdoğan’s daughter Esra, and Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ, the son-in-law of a Turkish tycoon and a business partner of Trump, are keeping ties between the two sides afloat. 

The U.S. State Department is talking less and less about the events around the world. Daily briefings have ceased for months. The Pentagon and White House have also ended their daily briefings for months. Foreign policy is being mainly conducted through the White House offices.

Trump's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, also is known to be another link between Trump and Erdoğan. Giuliani is embroiled with the latest Ukraine scandal that has triggered the impeachment process against Trump at the House of Representatives. 

Giuliani was also the lawyer of Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold smuggler who became the state witness a multi-billion dollar Iran sanctions busting case. 

Appears to be many American journalists have been investigating the personal nature of the Trump-Erdoğan relationship for sometime and they are trying to unearth what may be personal or family interests on both sides with regards to the relationships. One of the most frequently-asked questions is “Just what are the U.S. interests in actions such as withdrawal from northern Syria or preventing the various sanctions packages on Turkey?'' If no U.S. or personal interests, one quipped, then definitely Trump has an unrequited love for Erdogan to keep gifting.