n July, a deal to release an American minister jailed in Turkey came apart because, a White House official told The Washington Post, Turkey was changing the deal and “upping the ante.” A few weeks later, President Trump tweeted that he had doubled tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Turkey, punctuating his thought with: “Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!” Magdalena Kirchner, an analyst at Conias Risk Intelligence, told Newsweek that this would stop both sides from seeking “consensus for the sake of the alliance.” Last March writing for Foreign Policy, in response to outrage after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened American forces in Syria, former Bush administration officials James F. Jeffrey and Michael Singh soberly declared, “Turkey is not just President Erdogan but a regional geographic and economic giant that stands as a buffer between Europe and the Middle East, and between the Middle East and Russia.” Writing for The Post, the Atlantic Council’s Matthew Bryza argued that “the White House has decided to give up on Turkey as an ally.”
American officials have often insisted on seeing Turkey, a NATO ally since 1952, as a close partner, which is why the recent dramatic fallout seems so shocking. Don’t these two countries share interests and values?
Not really. When you strip away all the happy talk, it’s clear the two countries aren’t really, and have never been, that close. This is a relationship doomed to antipathy.