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Turkey’s Relationship With the United States Continues to Deteriorate

by Paul-Martin Foss

The relationship between Turkey and the United States continues to deteriorate, as the Turkish government retaliated against the United States government’s decision to temporarily stop processing non-immigrant visas. The Turkish government went so far as to state that it was no longer recognizing the outgoing US ambassador as an official representative of the US government.

The strained relationship between the two countries has been building for quite some time but was exacerbated when Turkish President Erdogan’s bodyguards beat up Kurdish protesters in Washington, DC in May. Many of those bodyguards have now been indicted in US courts.

Turkey has also continued its crackdown on supporters of exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, alleged by the Turkish government to have orchestrated the 2016 military coup against President Erdogan. Turkey has arrested two Turkish nationals working at the US Embassy in Ankara, alleging that they have ties to Gülen’s movement. The most recent arrest spurred the State Department to suspend processing non-immigrant visas at its consulates in Turkey, with the Turkish government retaliating by announcing the same visa suspensions for US visitors to Turkey.

Hopes for a speedy resolution to the diplomatic spat have been quashed by President Erdogan’s recent tirade against the United States. Contributing to Erdogan’s anger is US support of Kurdish fighters fighting against ISIS in Syria. The Turkish government views the Kurdish fighters as terrorists, as the country has waged decades of war against Kurdish separatists within Turkey.

The United States is not the only country with which Turkey has a strained relationship, as Turkey’s traditionally strong relationship with Germany has also deteriorated in recent years. In response to continued refusals from Erdogan to allow German parliamentarians to visit German forces stationed at NATO’s US-built Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, the German government decided to move its air units from Turkey to Jordan.

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