U.S. – Turkey relations

Written by  //  February 29, 2008  //  Europe & EU, Geopolitics, Security  //  1 Comment

February 29, 2008
(Stratfor Geopolitical Diary) U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly has canceled a planned trip to Turkey. The move comes as Washington is growing more vocal in its calls for Turkey to quickly wrap up its operations in northern Iraq against Kurdish militants — something Ankara says it will do when it is ready, not when others tell it to. The bickering is raising concerns about the status of the U.S.-Turkish relationship, which once was a pillar of regional security alliances.
… The country became a full NATO member in 1952. Turkey’s location made it a vital U.S. ally for controlling Soviet access to the Mediterranean from the Black Sea, as well as serving as a check on potential Soviet moves through the Caucasus to Iran or the Persian Gulf.
With the end of the Cold War, the U.S.-Turkish alliance continued largely unchallenged — even though the pressing reason for its existence had faded — and these states saw little need to redefine their security relationship. On the political front, Turkey began eyeing closer integration with Europe. Long a secular state and perceived by Europe as a potential bulwark against the Islamic nations of the Middle East, Turkey set its political sights on joining the European Union while it began a domestic program of economic growth.
…Turkey looks at its world very differently now than it did 50 years ago. The Soviet Union is not an ever-present threat, though Russia is pushing back into the Caucasus. Europe is not necessarily the shining beacon it once was. (And the European rejection of Turkish membership is reshaping the focus in Ankara.) The balance of power between Iran and Iraq has been shattered, Saudi Arabia has little military might and Egypt is beginning to take a stronger interest in the region. Ankara sees both an opportunity and a need to assert its interests in its neighborhood.
As the Ottoman Empire, Turkey once held sway over the Middle East, and it remains geographically located to reassert that role, if unofficially. In some ways, the U.S. actions in Iraq are running counter to Turkey’s own designs for the region. Washington’s goal in the Middle East is not the establishment of regional peace, though the United States may espouse such ideals; rather, the primary objective is to ensure that no regional hegemon emerges, either from within the region or from abroad. Now that Europe has snubbed Turkey, it is looking south and east for its future — and it is running into the United States.
In the short term, Turkey wants to assume a permanent security role in northern Iraq in order to deal with its Kurdish problem. Washington is trying to come up with an arrangement with Iran and the factions in Iraq that will create a relatively stable environment and facilitate a reduction of U.S. forces. Turkey’s actions complicate the matter, but Ankara cannot afford to be left out of the final settlement. This is not to say that Washington and Ankara are about to become enemies. But even allies’ strategic goals occasionally run counter to one another.

(Bloomberg) Turkey Quits Iraq After Biggest Incursion in 11 Years
Feb. 29 (Bloomberg) — Turkey’s army withdrew its troops from northern Iraq after its biggest military incursion into the country in 11 years.
Turkish units pulled out early today after more than a week of battles with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, the army said in a statement on its Web site. The clashes with the PKK, which seeks autonomy for Turkey’s 15 million ethnic Kurds, killed 237 militants and 24 Turkish soldiers, the military said.
We really would like to know which version to believe.
(LA TIMES) Gates and Turks discuss Iraq incursion
Mark Wilson / Associated Press
Ankara officials tell the visiting U.S. Defense chief that their offensive against Kurdish rebels will be limited, but give no timetable.
ANKARA, TURKEY — Civilian and military leaders here assured U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Thursday that Turkey’s incursion into northern Iraq would be limited to redoubts occupied by Kurdish separatists but offered no guarantees on how soon their troops would withdraw.
February 28
(The Economist) Turkey invades northern Iraq
With scores of fighters on both sides killed, the latest battle between Turkey and its rebel Kurds with havens in Iraq may get out of hand
THE latest incursion by Turkish forces into northern Iraq in an effort to squash the rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which draws its support from Turkey’s own Kurds, is the biggest in a decade. It is also one of the most worrying for the region as a whole. The danger is that it may draw in the peshmerga, the Kurdish forces loyal to the government of the Kurds’ autonomous region in northern Iraq, and destabilise all of Iraq, just when the insurgency across the country is gradually being contained.
Oct 16, 2007
(Asia Times) Turkey fears Kurds, not Armenians
Turkey’s integration into the global economy was sealed last week by a billion-dollar offer by the American private-equity firm KKR for a local shipping company. Days later, Turkish troops shelled Kurdish villages in northern Iraq and prepared an incursion against Kurdish rebels, a measure that would undermine Turkey’s economic standing. Whether Turkey will fling away its new-found prosperity in a fit of national pique is hard to forecast, but that has been the way of all flesh.

One Comment on "U.S. – Turkey relations"

  1. Mehmet Yilmaz March 1, 2008 at 12:26 am ·

    This Turkish army withdrawing gives a historic chance to all USA,Turkey,Kurdish, Iraq and PKK a peaceful solution.. Kurds and PKK should surprise Turkey with their creative plans.
    I think PKK will give up the up the arms on this time to open the door for peace. They they will give up the arms only if United States or NATO Army(not with inluding any Turkish) deployed to Turkey and Iraq border.
    After the International Arm Force being deployed to the region PKK will peacefully to surrender the Kurdish President Barzani.
    Than, President Barzani will negotiate with Turkey and only if Turkey give national Amnesty to PKK he will return them to Turkey.
    Since President Bush, Erdogan, and Gates all are talking about peaceful solution
    that is the only way PKK will move from guerrilla war to politic struggle in peace. For USA Army they will still be in Iraq and charge but in the safest part of the country.
    For the Kurds that will be dream time of starting Independent Kurdish State, like Kosova. After the International Army involved the area there will not be any Turkish amrmy there.
    That will be USA best policy in Mid-East toward peace and democracy

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