Stephen J. Flanagan is senior vice president and director of the International Security Program at CSIS. Samuel J. Brannen is a fellow in the International Security Program at CSIS.
Turkey's Evolving Dynamics: Strategic Choices for U.S.-Turkey Relationsby Stephen J. Flanagan, Samuel Brannen
Relations between the United States and Turkey stand at a critical juncture. Turkey is a key ally in the advancement of U.S. interests vis-à-vis the Middle East, Eurasia, and global energy diversification. Turkey still sees the United States as its closest ally and wants to be a partner in advancing mutual interests, particularly in its immediate environs. This confluence of interests gives revitalization of bilateral ties greater urgency. Yet the relationship remains somewhat strained and lacks the strategic character it once enjoyed. The two governments have made steady progress during the past few years to repair the damage done by differences over the Iraq War and the handling of its turbulent consequences. The visits by President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the first few months of the administration suggest a commitment to further strengthening relations. However, much remains to be done.
Turkey has been buffeted in recent years by turmoil in its neighborhood, beginning with the consequences of the Iraq War, then again with the Russian invasion of Georgia in the summer of 2008. Turkish leaders will continue to pursue policies that seek to avoid such regional instability, and they expect understanding from Washington on this score. Washington, too, has the right to expect that Ankara will behave as a loyal ally when mutual interests are threatened.
This report, prepared by seven senior CSIS scholars and two colleagues from other institutions, offers a comprehensive and balanced assessment of the uncertain state of Turkey's domestic political and social dynamics and the complexity of its relations with its neighbors. It reflects extensivefield research in Turkey and neighboring countries, as well as consultations with a wide range of officials, scholars, journalists, and leaders of business and trade associations.
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