Turkey President Recep Erdogan called on Turk immigrants to drown Europe in Muslims and have as many children as possible there, but what does this mean for the United States?

Turkey and the U.S. may not have the smoothest relations regarding the Syrian crisis and President Donald Trump’s latest anti-immigrant policies, but tensions between the two nations could spiral out of control now that the Turkish president is threatening to drown the West in Muslims.

Turkey - Pakistan
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Erdogan had one of the most controversial speeches in his presidential term this week, telling Turk immigrants to have as many children as possible in Europe to become the “future” of the continent. The Turkish president’s comments were made during his campaigns for a referendum to give him more powers.

“Go live in better neighborhoods. “Drive the best cars. Live in the best houses. Make not three, but five children. Because you are the future of Europe,” Erdogan said, urging Turkish immigrants living in European countries to “fight the injustices of the West.”

There are nearly 4 million ethnic Turks living in European Union countries alone. Erdogan’s criticism toward the West comes as several Turkish ministers have been banned from holding rallies in European countries in support of the referendum that would give him more presidential powers. The bans prompted Erdogan to threaten to walk away from a major migrant deal with the EU that is currently preventing millions of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa from entering Europe.

Why the U.S. could be drowned in Muslims too

While Erdogan’s abandonment of the migrant deal would directly affect only Europe, the U.S. could also get a piece of that pie, as the Turkish president seems to be holding a grudge against the U.S. – and particularly the Trump administration – as well.

While the Turkish American community is estimated at about half a million people, the Turkish leadership took a swipe at Trump after the U.S. President unveiled his anti-Muslim immigration order in January. Although Turkey, whose population is 99.8% Muslim, wasn’t included on Trump’s so-called Muslim ban list, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim slammed the immigration order and said that “regional issues cannot be solved by closing the doors on people.”

One can argue that there are quite a few reasons for the U.S. to expect an inflow of Muslim immigrants from Turkey after Erdogan’s threats to drown Europe in Muslims. Relations between Washington and Ankara have been tense for several years now.

There are quite a few issues fueling tension between the U.S. and Turkey, such as Washington providing training and weapons to the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the national Kurdish army in Syria. On top of that, Ankara wants the U.S. to extradite Gülenist Terror Group (FEYÖ) leader Fetullah Gülen, who Erdogan himself blames for staging an attempted coup in Turkey in July 2016.

Is a migrant crisis between Turkey and the U.S. inevitable?

While tensions between the U.S. and Turkey are still running high, their relations seemingly took a turn for the worse two months ago when Trump started unveiling his policies to temporarily bar Muslims from entering the U.S.

Ankara and Washington are still holding frequent meetings to find solutions to the Syrian crisis and tackle the rise of extremism in the Middle East, but those contacts between Washington and Ankara haven’t generated any solid solutions, nor have they improved U.S. – Turkey relations.

Relations between Turkey and the U.S. and Turkey and Europe stand in stark contrast to one another though. Ankara and Europe have had grave differences regarding the migrant crisis in Europe over the past few years and had to sign a controversial migrant deal which doesn’t seem to satisfy either of them. Meanwhile, the U.S. and Turkey have had no serious differences over migrants thanks to the distance between them.

Turkey – U.S. relations: improving or disintegrating?

In fact, some see the Trump administration’s steps regarding Turkey as a sign that Turkey – U.S. relations could actually improve. One can argue that Trump seems to be interested in improving relations with Ankara, as ties have been rather cold under the presidency of Barack Obama.

In early February, Trump and Erdogan had their first phone conversation, during which the U.S. president “reiterated U.S. support to Turkey as a strategic partner and NATO ally. He also welcomed Turkey’s contributions” to fighting the spread of ISIS in the region, according to a readout from the White House.

Many critics of Trump explain the U.S. president’s softened attitude towards Turkey by the fact that he shares deep business ties to Turkey. His business empire in Turkey, Trump Towers Istanbul, is said to have been paid up to $10 million since 2014. In fact, the owner of the luxury Trump Towers Istanbul building is one of Turkey’s most influential figures in the Erdogan government.

Europe, migrant deal and the U.S.: how far can Erdogan take things?

There’s no telling yet if Erdogan excludes the U.S. from his apparent list of “unjust” Western nations. Thus, if his appeals to Turk immigrants in the West to have as many children as possible abroad weren’t targeting the U.S. as much as they were Europe, the fact remains clear that there have been positive developments in Turkey – U.S. ties lately.

The CIA director and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have made official visits to Turkey since Trump assumed office on January 20. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that Washington and Ankara are close partners now, it may suggest that the two nations are making significant steps toward normalizing their relations.

The areas of military and security cooperation seem to be the Trump administration’s priority in restoring ties between the two nations and effectively fighting the spread of ISIS in the Middle East.

There’s no telling, however, if Turkey’s major falling-out with Europe in recent weeks – and particularly the possibility of Erdogan walking away from the migrant deal with the EU – could have any impact on the development of Turkey – U.S. relations.