Turkey's New Regional Security Role: Implications for the United States

  • September 01, 2014
  • Dr Richard Weitz



Until a few years ago, the relationship between Washington and Ankara was perennially troubled and occasionally terrible. Turkey opposed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and complained that the Pentagon was allowing Iraqi Kurds too much autonomy, leading to deteriorating security along the Iraq-Turkish border. Disagreements over how to respond to Iran’s nuclear program; U.S. suspicions regarding Turkey’s outreach efforts to Iran and Syria; and differences over Armenia, Palestinians, and the Black Sea further strained ties. However, Turkey is now seen as responding to its local challenges by moving closer to the West. The United States has called the U.S.-Turkish relationship a “model partnership” and Turkey “a critical ally.” For a partnership between Turkey and the United States to endure, Turkey must adopt more of a collective transatlantic perspective, crack down harder on terrorist activities, and resolve a domestic democratic deficit. At the same time, Europeans should show more flexibility meeting Turkey’s security concerns regarding the European Union, while the United States should adopt a more proactive policy toward resolving potential sources of tensions between Ankara and Washington that could worsen significantly at any time.