The current state of U.S.-Turkish relations is a far cry from the days that the U.S. was promoting Turkey as a role model in 2011 and as proof that a predominantly Muslim country can successfully combine democratic rule and market economy , writes Forbes in its recent commentary article, stressing primarily , that President Obama has had to emphasize that the U.S. didn’t have any prior knowledge of the recent coup attempt.
The tense period in the U.S-Turkey relations is not new, but is expected to continue.
The U.S. base in Incirlik plays a key role in its military presence in the region and is heavily used in the air campaign against ISIS in Syria. Turkey’s NATO membership and alliance with the U.S. is essential for its security.
But despite this mutual need, there’s been some divergence between Turkey and the U.S. regarding what needs to be done in the ongoing Syrian conflict and the rise of a de factoautonomous Kurdish entity in Northern Syria.
For Turkey, the rise of Kurds in Syria is perceived as the main threat. But for the U.S., the focus has been on fighting ISIS, and the Kurdish forces in Syria have become one of the main effective U.S. allies on the ground. The U.S. is keen to maintain its ties with the Kurdish forces, but Turkey vehemently opposes it. Turkey fears that the consolidation of Kurdish self-rule in Syria will increase the Kurds’ power as a regional actor, and permanently change the game in their favor.
Both the U.S. and the EU have urged Turkey to exercise caution and respect the rule of law. The Turkish government’s actions are not seen by the Western allies in isolation, as a reaction against the failed coup, but within Turkey’s slide toward authoritarianism. The ongoing purges are likely to add to the view that Turkey, under AKP rule, is moving closer to an authoritarian state.
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