At their White House summit last week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed the two countries’ “model partnership” as they jointly called for greater international efforts to end the Syrian War. Thus far, the Arab Spring has had an overall positive effect on the Turkey-U.S. relationship. Before 2011, the Turkish-U.S. policy discourse focused on their divisions over Iraq, Iran and other regional security issues. But since the Arab Spring, Ankara and Washington have been preoccupied with harmonizing their policies toward the Arab world. This has become increasingly difficult with regard to Syria. Meanwhile, the preoccupation with Syria has obscured unresolved sources of tension between the two countries on other issues.
The war has focused the Ankara-Washington dialogue on the Arab Middle East at a time when the Obama administration considers Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, Central Asia and the Asia-Pacific region a higher priority. Turkey’s important current and potential contributions to supporting U.S. policies in these areas are overshadowed by the frustrating Syrian civil war. The conflict presents both countries with the unappealing options of relying on weak, divided and increasingly extremist rebel fighters or using their own forces directly in Syria. Turkey has reportedly been arguing for more direct Western intervention in the conflict, which the Obama administration has steadfastly resisted. Direct intervention would likely prove more effective in the short term, but would confront Western forces with a difficult post-conflict stabilization mission, and a probable state-building mission, in the long term. ...
To read the rest, sign up to try World Politics Review
- TWO WEEKS FREE.
- Cancel any time.
- After two weeks, just $11.99 monthly or $94.99/year.
Request a free trial for your office or school. Everyone at a given site can get access through our institutional subscriptions.
- Global Insights: When it Comes to Nonproliferation, China Has Been a ‘Free Rider’
- The Realist Prism: Time for the U.S. to Make Hard Choices on Russia, Middle East
- World Citizen: After Election Victory, Turkey's Erdogan Unlikely to Change Ways
- Strategic Horizons: The Rise of the Islamic State and the Evolution of Violent Extremism
- U.S., India Seek to Move Defense Ties Beyond Arms Sales