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Report to Congress on U.S.-Turkey Relations

The following is the March 23, 2018 Congressional Research Service report, Turkey: Background and U.S. Relations In Brief.

From the Report:

Turkey, a NATO ally since 1952, is significant for U.S. interests. It is a constitutional republic with a large, diversified economy and a Muslim-majority population that straddles Europe and the Middle East.

The history of the U.S.-Turkey relationship is complicated. Although the United States and Turkey support each other’s interests in some vital ways (see “U.S./NATO Cooperation with Turkey”), harmonizing priorities can be difficult. These priorities sometimes diverge irrespective of who leads the two countries, based on U.S.-Turkey contrasts in geography, threat perceptions, and regional roles.

Turkish leaders, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pronounced air-doe-wan), may be contributing to problems between the United States and Turkey by ruling in an increasingly authoritarian manner and apparently encouraging strong criticism of U.S. policy in Turkish public discourse. Conflict around Turkey’s borders with Syria and Iraq, particularly since 2011, has also fed U.S.-Turkey tensions.

Within this challenging environment, two specific points of bilateral contention arguably stand

  • Syria and the Kurds. Turkey’s military operations in Syria against largely Kurdish militias supported by the United States over Turkey’s strong objections.
  • Possible S-400 acquisition from Russia. Turkey’s planned purchase of S-400 air defense systems from Russia, which has possible implications for Turkey’s future in NATO.

Trump Administration officials have expressed significant concern about the possibility of direct conflict between Turkey and U.S. or U.S.-supported forces in Syria. Turkish officials assert that their military operations in Syria are primarily for self-defense, given links between the Syrian Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units) and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization). The PKK has significantly challenged the Turkish government’s control over parts of southeastern Turkey since the 1980s.

U.S. officials and lawmakers also have voiced opposition to Turkey’s planned acquisition of S400 systems from Russia and have acknowledged that the acquisition could trigger U.S. sanctions on Turkey under existing law (see “Possible S-400 Acquisition from Russia” below). In February 2018, several high-ranking Administration officials met with their Turkish counterparts in an effort to avoid direct U.S.-Turkey conflict in Syria and broader deterioration of the bilateral relationship. After Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Turkey, the two countries issued a joint statement agreeing to activate a “results-oriented mechanism” for the purpose of resolving outstanding issues between them.

  • Ed L

    From the state department: Turkey – Level 3: Reconsider travel to Turkey due to terrorism and arbitrary detentions. (level 4 is no travel) Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory. Under the current State of Emergency, security forces have detained individuals suspected of affiliation with alleged terrorist organizations based on scant or secret evidence and grounds that appear to be politically motivated. U.S. citizens have also been subject to travel bans that prevent them from departing Turkey. Participation in gatherings, protests, and demonstrations not explicitly approved by the Government of Turkey can result in arrest. The Government of Turkey has detained and deported U.S. citizens without allowing access to lawyers or family members, and has not routinely granted consular access to detained U.S. citizens who also possess Turkish citizenship. Even observing gatherings, protests, and demonstrations not explicitly approved by the Government of Turkey can result in arrest

    • daviessmithy

      The number of foreign tourists visiting Turkey rose 28 percent in the first 10 months of the year 2017, hitting 29 million, data from Turkey’s Tourism Ministry showed.

      Turkey is one of the leading tourism destinations in the world, with stunning scenery and rich historic legacy. Explore Turkey’s most popular holiday destinations, beautiful coastline, spectacular icons, exciting events and cultural festivals. Plan your holiday to Turkey with great deals on accommodation, travel advice and a variety of things to do and see. Fun, joy, happiness, a neverending journey ( Please no espionage spying and cunning foxes).

  • D. Jones

    The “report” seems to have missed OIL altogether, specifically Turkey buying OIL from ISIS during the previous US administration. Seems a rather critical omission.

    • On Dre

      It made no mention of Flynn and his plans at extra-judicial extrdidtion of Erdogen’s politicial foes.

    • TJ Karamanli

      Well, OIL is the main reason why the US has f*cked up most countries in the Middle East. So if you have complaints, go see your representatives.