by Burak Akinci
ANKARA, March 15 (Xinhua) -- The replacement of Rex Tillerson with the more hawkish Mike Pompeo as U.S. Secretary of State has raised concerns in Turkey about the normalization of its ties with the U.S., analysts said.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced Tuesday to replace Tillerson with Pompeo, director of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), who is known for his hawkish stance in foreign policy.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who was originally scheduled to meet Tillerson on March 19 in Washington, has postponed his visit to the U.S. following Tillerson's sudden departure.
The top Turkish diplomat said Wednesday that he hopes to build a good relationship with the new U.S. secretary of state.
"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.
But Turkish analysts are worried that Tillerson's ouster has cast a shadow on the thaw in the strained ties between Turkey and the U.S., two NATO allies.
During Tillerson's visit to Turkey in February, the two sides agreed to normalise their ties following their feud over the Turkish military operations in Syria to oust Kurdish fighters, who are supported by Washington.
Pompeo, a Trump loyalist, is seen as a hawk in foreign policies, as he has been an ardent opponent of Russia and Iran. And he is also not a fan of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
After Pompeo's appointment, Turkish media seized on a tweet purportedly posted by Pompeo, before becoming the CIA director, in which he called the Turkish government headed by Erdogan a "totalitarian Islamist dictatorship."
Pompeo's tweet was posted following a failed military coup in Turkey in July 2016. The tweet was later removed but went viral once again in the Turkish social media.
Writing in a column on Wednesday, Murat Yetkin, chief editor of the Hurriyet Daily News, said that Pompeo had "prejudgments" regarding Turkey, citing the deleted tweet.
"It is not clear whether the Turkey-U.S. ties will get better or worse under Pompeo. But based on what we know so far, there is not much room for optimism," commented Yetkin.
Turkey has been angered by Washington's support for the Syrian Kurdish militia in the fight against Islamic State (IS), as Ankara sees them as terrorists affiliated with the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged a bloody insurgency in Turkey since the early 19400's.
Despite the U.S. opposition, Turkey launched in late January a major offensive in northern Syria's Afrin enclave to oust the Kurdish fighters.
But Turkish Prime Minister Yildirim downplayed the impact of Pompeo's appointment, saying that Pompeo would stay in line with national policy rather than taking his own course of action on the issues dividing the two allies.
"It is not so import to us what the new secretary thinks about Turkey, it doesn't matter if it's person A or person B," he said.
"There would be some changes expected naturally, but we believe that the understanding that we secured during Mr. Tillerson's visit will be implemented," a Turkish diplomatic source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Some analysts believe that the deal reached recently between Turkey and the U.S. on the city of Manbij, where about 2,000 U.S. troops are deployed, is not a done deal after Tillerson's departure.
They cited that Pompeo's main priority would not be Turkey but Iran.
"Pompeo is not fond of the current Turkish leadership. He has been critical of a number of issues, starting with the failed coup," veteran Turkish journalist Tulin Daloglu told Xinhua.
Daloglu noted that while while the Turkish side said that the two sides reached a draft deal on Manbij, the U.S. has not yet confirmed it.
Some other analysts are even more pessimistic about the Turkey-U.S. ties, arguing that the hawkish Pompeo will prefer the use of force to dialogue.
"We should expect a U.S. administration more prone to conflict and less dialogue," Muhittin Ataman, a professor at the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), told the Turkish media.
"We can expect a more violent and stringent attitude which could take the place of dialogue and moderation," he argued.
Pompeo's first task in dealing with Turkey may be American pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been detained in Turkey for alleged involvement in the 2016 coup.
The prosecutor in Turkey's western province of Izmir, where Brunson is being held, charged him with being "a member and executive of the terrorist group."
The Turkish government blames Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who lives in exile in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, for the coup and has repeatedly demanded for his extradition.
But the U.S. has refused to hand over Gulen on the grounds that Turkey has not provided sufficient evidence to prove its charges against the cleric.
Brunson's detention raised doubts that Turkey is using him as a bargaining chip with the U.S. to extradite Gulen.