And Re­gional Demo­cratic Tran­si­tion

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Saadula Aqrawi

The chal­lenges to US in­ter­ests in the Mid­dle East have changed over time, and re­la­tions be­tween the US and Tur­key, an im­por­tant ally since the Cold War era, have also evolved. Congress al­lo­cates con­sid­er­ably less in mil­i­tary and se­cu­rity as­sis­tance to Tur­key than in the past, but still plays an ac­tive role in shap­ing and over­see­ing US re­la­tions with Tur­key. Sev­eral Turk­ish do­mes­tic and for­eign pol­icy is­sues have sig­nif­i­cant rel­e­vance for US in­ter­ests. US pol­i­cy­mak­ers are closely ob­serv­ing the do­mes­tic un­rest that be­gan in late May 2013 and spread across Tur­key in June to de­ter­mine how it may im­pact on US in­ter­ests.

Gaug­ing how US and Turk­ish in­ter­ests co­in­cide has be­come in­creas­ingly com­pli­cated and dy­namic. The close­ness of the US and Tur­key on is­sues af­fect­ing the Mid­dle East has in­creased since 2011 due to Turk­ish lead­ers per­ceiv­ing a need for US help in en­cour­ag­ing a tran­si­tion to democ­racy in the re­gion while coun­ter­ing ac­tors with the po­ten­tial to un­der­mine in­ter­nal Turk­ish and re­gional sta­bil­ity. Po­ten­tial desta­bi­liz­ing fac­tors in­clude the Ira­nian and Syr­ian regimes as well as ter­ror­ists from Tur­key’s own eth­nic Kur­dish pop­u­la­tion. More­over, the United States may be more de­pen­dent on its al­liance with Tur­key to for­ward US in­ter­ests in the re­gion be­cause of the re­cent end of the US mil­i­tary mis­sion in Iraq, cou­pled with other pos­si­ble fu­ture re­duc­tions in its Mid­dle East­ern foot­print. Th­ese fac­tors have led to fre­quent high-level US-Tur­key con­sul­ta­tion on de­vel­op­ments in Syria and the broader re­gion. In ad­di­tion, US of­fi­cials re­port­edly in­ter­preted Tur­key’s agree­ment in Septem­ber 2011 to host a US early warn­ing radar as part of a NATO mis­sile de­fense sys­tem for Europe1 as a crit­i­cal sign of Tur­key’s in­ter­est in con­tin­ued strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion with Wash­ing­ton. Dur­ing 2010, some US and Euro­pean pol­i­cy­mak­ers and an­a­lysts had voiced con­cern about Tur­key’s re­li­a­bil­ity as a bi­lat­eral and NATO ally ow­ing to its ac­tive op­po­si­tion to United Na­tions sanc­tions against Iran for its nu­clear pro­gram and its de­te­ri­o­rat­ing re­la­tion­ship with Is­rael.

In ad­di­tion to fol­low­ing the on­go­ing man­i­fes­ta­tions of do­mes­tic dis­con­tent in Tur­key, Congress also has a con­sid­er­able in­ter­est in re­gard of Tur­key with re­spect to the fol­low­ing is­sues and ques­tions: ad­dress­ing Re­gional Change in the Greater Mid­dle East; whether Tur­key’s poli­cies and ac­tions are rec­on­cil­able with US in­ter­ests in coun­tries such as Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Tu­nisia, Libya and Afghanistan with re­gard to po­lit­i­cal and ma­te­rial sup­port for pop­u­la­tions, op­po­si­tion move­ments, and tran­si­tional gov­ern­ments; ex­ist­ing and po­ten­tial sanc­tions against au­to­cratic regimes; and in­ter­na­tion­ally-man­dated hu­man­i­tar­ian and mil­i­tary ac­tion that in­cludes or may in­clude the use of Turk­ish bases or ter­ri­tory.

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