Friday, February 1, 2008

A Period of "Mutual Adjustment"

Bülent Aliriza, Turkey Program Director at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies, discusses a period of "mutual adjustment" in which Turkey-U.S. relations are currently suspended. The report is a useful summary of the bilateral relationship, which dates back to the Truman Doctrine and is shadowed by the Cold War. Aliriza discusses four main obstacles for the relationship: first, and foremost, Turkey's need to suppress PKK activities, especially in light of renewed violence in October; second, pursuit of a so-called 'genocide resolution' such as the one that passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee last October, only to be tabled before it reached a vote in the House; third, Turkey's burgeoning relationship with Iran; fourth, Turkey's pursuit of an independent foreign policy in relation to the Middle East as exampled by its recognition of the Hamas government in the occupied territory of Gaza and the cordial relationship it enjoys with Syria.

Aliriza writes that the Turkey-U.S. bilateral relationship is much approved from where it stood in October following the U.S. Congress' treatment of the 'genocide resolution' and what Turks' saw as Washington indifference to PKK attacks (and, not mentioned by Aliriza, even tacit support for the PKK). Since the tabling of the genocide resolution and U.S. sharing of intelligence that has facilitated Turkish air attacks on the PKK inside Northern Iraq, the relationship has much improved, although both countries are most likely destined to remain, as Boğazici University Professor Kemal Kirişçi has written, "ambivalent allies."

Kirişçi's work in addition to Philip Robin's book, Suits and Uniforms: Turkish Foreign Policy Since the Cold War (2003), are great sources to which to turn for more information about Turkey-U.S. diplomacy.

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