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Wednesday, 1st August 2007

Is The United States Losing Turkey?

Is The United States Losing Turkey? (PDF; 351 KB)
Source: Hudson Institute

The alliance between the United States and Turkey, which has endured since the 1947 Truman Doctrine and has contributed to the security of both countries, is now in serious trouble. What is worse, neither side is facing up to this reality, let alone taking serious remedial measures, nor even making concerted efforts to understand the new political currents within each other’s societies.

If this neglect continues, the price paid by both sides will be steep. It is becoming increasingly clear that Washington and Ankara see the world and define their interests in divergent ways. If allowed to continue, this trend could well undo the alliance. The good news is that there is still time to act, providing senior leaders on both sides move with dispatch. It is urgent that they do so, for despite the end of the Cold War, which provided a clear rationale for their alliance for four decades, Ankara and Washington still need each other, perhaps more so because they now face multiple and unfamiliar threats, not least those posed by terrorism.

The most important source of discord between Turkey and the United States is the war in Iraq. Ankara fears that Iraq will break up as a result of the war and that a separate Kurdish state will arise, creating even greater disorder and stoking separatist sentiment in Turkey’s southeast, and increasing paramilitary and terrorist attacks by the Kurdish separatist organization, the PKK. Washington, for its part, feels betrayed by the Turkish parliament’s rejection of its request to open a second front from Turkey’s territory against Saddam Hussein’s army in the run-up to the 2003 war. But more fundamentally, the Bush administration is preoccupied by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and seems to have relegated Turkey to the back burner—or so it appears to many Turks.


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