Why is Turkey harboring terrorists?

Such a designation from the U.S. government would be quite drastic and is highly unlikely to happen, considering that it threatens an alliance that has, according to U.S. officials, helped many American efforts in the region. Turkey is critical in overthrowing the Assad regime in Syria and containing Iran. A terror designation, which hasn’t been given since 1993, would mean sanctions and political isolation.

However, that is not saying American officials have not directly gone to Turkish officials and expressed their concern in this area. They have done so to “the highest levels,” according to former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey, who served from 2008 to 2010.

During his tenure, the U.S. asked Turkey on several instances to detain people associated with al-Qaida who were traveling through Turkey. And on many of those occasions, the Turks did not act diligently enough and failed to deliver.

“This does cause problems with the United States,” said Jeffrey, who is currently serving as a distinguished visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “We deal with this all the time all over the Middle East…. You just keep on going back and asking them.”