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Turkey and the US Relations

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There are too many issues that make the US-Turkey relations as difficult as they have never been and over the past few years, it has gone only from bad to worse.  To understand the essence of the issue, it is a really good start looking at the official web-pages where the two countries define their relationship.

In the US’s Department of States web page, the relationship with Turkey has been defined with the following sentences:

“Turkey is an important U.S. security partner. Turkey has been a valued North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Ally since 1952. Turkey is a leader in the Alliance’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and serves as NATO’s vital eastern anchor, controlling (in accordance with international conventions) the straits of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, which link the Black Sea with the Mediterranean.

Turkey is also a vital member of the Counter-ISIL Coalition. Since Turkey opened its military bases to the United States and Coalition partners in July 2015, Incirlik Air Base has been critical in the effort to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL in Syria and Iraq.

Turkey contributes to international security alongside U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the seas off Somalia, and in the Mediterranean. Turkey borders Iran, Iraq, and Syria, and is a key partner for U.S. policy in the surrounding region.”

As opposed to this, Turkish Foreign Ministry web-page has characterized the relationship with the US as:

“Turkey and the U.S. cooperate on a broad geography, covering Syria, Iraq, the Middle East, North Africa, the Balkans, the Caucasus, the Eastern Mediterranean, Central and South Asia as well as on critically important issues, such as counter-terrorism, energy security, nuclear non-proliferation and global economic developments.

President Barack Obama paid a bilateral visit to Turkey in April 2009 and reaffirmed the strategic relationship between the two countries, defining it as a “model partnership”. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also visited the United States in December 2009 and May 2013 as Turkey’s Prime Minister and on the 16th of May 2017 as President.”

Thus, for the United States, Turkey is important because i) it is a NATO country; ii) as a NATO country it supports US war in Afganistan; iii) it still keeps its Cold War-era strategic value to deter/contain Russia; iv) it supports the mission against ISIS (partly). For Turkey, on the other hand, the United States important because i) they cooperate with Turkey  on the issues of Turkey’s immediate region such as Syria, Iraq, Iran, Balkans, Caucasus etc.; ii) they cooperate with Turkey on the issues of global affairs such as terrorism, energy security, nuclear non-proliferation etc.; iii) Turkey- US raletions leveled up to “a model partnership”.

Now, wait a minute and think. Even if there were not so many issues that strained the relationship between the two countries, would  they possibly be on the good term with each other given the above expectations? My answer is no. It is simply because neither the US nor Turkey does behave in a way they are supposed to behave to each other. Almost none of the expectations two countries expect from one to another is the case for the time being.

Plus, there are many other small but important issues that poison the relationship between two countries, which is my next topic here on ADV.

Hakan Mehmetcik
Currently, Hakan works as a research assistant at the Department of International Relations of Marmara University, in Turkey. He is a Ph.D. candidate at the department of Politics and International Relations of Yildiz Technical University having graduated from the Istanbul University with a B.A. in International Relations. He has two master degrees, one in Economics from Dalarna University in Sweden, and one in Eurasian Studies from Uppsala University in Sweden. His main research interests are security studies, regionalism, peace and conflicts studies, and International Relations Theories in broader perspectives.

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