Since gaining independence after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, Turkey has been an enigmatic presence in regional politics. On one hand, Turkey leans toward Europe as a secular, modern nation state; yet on the other it maintains strong ties to the Middle East with a culture rooted in hundreds of years of Islamic rule and traditions. With a strong economy and growing presence in international affairs, how important is Turkey to both the West and the East?
Join the Monitor Breakfast as Washington’s top journalists sit down with Ambassador Namik Tan for an on-the-record conversation about relations between Turkey and the United States and how this relationship impacts the Middle East. FORA.tv will present this event on demand.
Since becoming the chief Turkish envoy to the United States in 2010, Namik Tan inherited a diplomatic relationship that has cooled significantly over the last decade. Turkey, a member of NATO, remains an important military ally of the United States, but the Iraq War—an event that Turkey feared would cause considerable regional instability as well as an uprising in the country’s restive Kurdish minority—caused significant diplomatic damage.
Lately, the Obama administration sees Turkey’s foreign policy as having “gone rouge,” according to a New York Times article. Turkey has softened its stance toward Iran’s nuclear ambitions and has deteriorating relations with Israel, due to a conflict over Palestinian aid that left nine Turkish activists dead at the hands of Israeli commandos.
For Turkey, its current posturing is not as much as affront to the United States as it is protecting its interests. Ambassador Tan recently spoke at the University of Virginia on security and enviously stated: “The United States has Canada in the north, Mexico to the south, and two oceans between potential conflict areas.” By contrast, Turkey’s vibrant economy and security is at constant threat from regional instability, from Kurdish insurrections in Iraq, to an unpredictable Iran, and now Syria—a country that is in turmoil because of Arab Spring uprisings.