Troubled Partnership: U.S.-Turkish Relations in an Era of Global Geopolitical Change
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See Angel Rabasa and F. Robert F. See Iver B. For a detailed discussion, see F. Stephen Larrabee, Troubled Partnership: U. During Erdogan's trip to Washington in December , ten senators signed a letter to Nabi Sensoy, the Turkish ambassador in Washington, expressing concern about the downward spiral in Turkey's relations with Israel, particularly Turkey's decision to exclude Israel from the military exercise Anatolian Eagle , which led to America's withdrawal from the exercise.
Foreign Minister Davutoglu has downplayed the threat from Iran, noting that Turkey has the means to counter such a threat should it arise, and has expressed concern that deployment of such a system could exacerbate regional tensions.
Turkey's New Geopolitics: Survival: Vol 52, No 2
Skip to Main Content. Search in: This Journal Anywhere. Advanced search. Journal Survival Global Politics and Strategy. Journal homepage. Washington's unapologetic condemnation of the PKK as a terrorist organization and support for Turkish efforts to bring its leadership to justice contrasted sharply with more "nuanced" views of other major capitals. Vocal U. And the expansion of Turkish-Israeli ties by the late nineties helped bring American Jewish groups better to appreciate Turkey's strategic importance, neutralizing to some degree the influence of interest groups traditionally hostile to Turkey.
From a security perspective, the military dimension of the relationship proved as important as during the Cold War. Turkish participation in peacekeeping actions in Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia demonstrated to Pentagon and White House planners Ankara's capabilities and readiness to shoulder responsibility as a "security producing" nation.
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In keeping with that role, Turkey sought to modernize its armed forces, consistently showing a strong preference for U. And in the long-running debate over the European Security and Defense Initiative, Washington and Ankara were more often than not on the same page. But Iraq presents perhaps the most significant example of U. As the GHW Bush and, later, Clinton administrations sought to contain Saddam Hussein, keeping him from regaining control of northern Iraq became imperative.
Access to Incirlik airbase, whence U. Turkey, on the other hand, viewed the perpetuation of a closed border with Iraq and of de facto Kurdish self-rule as serious liabilities in economic and security terms. The importance Washington attached to Incirlik is reflected in the extent to which the U. After the mid-nineties, the border was essentially open to trade in non-strategic goods which Turkey does appear to have monitored closely , and Turkish forces made repeated incursions into, and later established contingents permanently, inside northern Iraq to deal with PKK terrorists.
The result by the late nineties was a stable modus vivendi in which the basic requirements of America, the Turks, and even the Iraqi Kurds were being met. The broad-gauged multiplication and convergence of interests described above had by the late nineties qualitatively transformed U. A relationship that had for decades been one-dimensional and based on NATO security commitments had become multifaceted and dynamic. A relationship that had been the whipping boy of single-interest groups enjoyed the support of a diverse, growing and influential constituency in Washington.
Perennially problematic issues like human rights, Cyprus and Turkey's relations with Greece and Armenia remained on the agenda. But the new breadth and depth of the relationship allowed them to be discussed in non-zero sum terms, and strengthened advocates in Ankara of innovative approaches. Formal recognition that the relationship had reached a new level of maturity came with Bill Clinton's November visit to Turkey. Turkey's strategic importance was widely viewed as the key factor in overcoming the administration's initial bias against such "bail-outs. He would later offer to send Turkish combat troops to Afghanistan, if needed despite polls showing significant public opposition to such a move.
Both Turkey and the U. In both cases, their strategic partner provided welcome support when the need was greatest. Below the surface, however, some key assumptions on which the notion of broad-gauged U. This was most dramatically the case in the economic sphere. Even before Turkey's financial meltdown, U.
Attempts to revive trade and investment, notably the January announcement that duty-free Qualified Industrial Zones would be established in Turkey, generated little enthusiasm on either side.
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Despite the impressive progress Turkey was making in carrying out structural reforms, American businessmen and investors were either moving to the sidelines, or remaining there. A different dynamic was at work with respect to energy transportation, a sector which had been a major focus of U. Signature projects like the Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan pipeline finally broke ground and simply did not need the kind of official prodding that had been necessary at an earlier stage.
Turkey's energy requirements were revised steadily downward as its economy contracted, and newly opened pipelines from Russian and Iran promised to meet its gas demand for years to come. At the official level, issues that had routinely been handled at the head-of-state and government level devolved to lower echelons of the bureaucracy. Meanwhile, negotiations for major new purchases of American military equipment notably AWACS and anti-armor helicopter systems that had begun in dragged on with no clear prospect of conclusion.
By the fall of , these delays had tempered the enthusiasm even of American defense contractors, traditionally Turkey's most ardent advocates outside of government. On the Turkish side, concerns arose over the new Bush administration's perceived unilateralist tendencies and apparently inadvertent snubs such as leaving Turkey off Secretary of State Powell's first official trip abroad Frustration over American inflexibility on market access issues meanwhile fueled criticism that the partnership lacked an economic dimension responsive to Turkey's needs.
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