US Early Warn­ing Radar

Tur­key-KRG close­ness on is­sues af­fect­ing the Mid­dle East..

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - Saadula Aqrawi

The Kur­dis­tan Re­gion and Tur­key are im­por­tant US al­lies, and the Mid­dle East has be­come a key arena since the end of the Cold War. The re­cent end of the US mil­i­tary mis­sion in Iraq and other pos­si­ble fu­ture re­duc­tions in its Mid­dle East foot­print, may well have made the United States still more de­pen­dent on its al­liance with Tur­key and the Kur­dis­tan re­gion in the for­ward­ing of US in­ter­ests in the re­gion.

Th­ese fac­tors have led to fre­quent high-level con­sul­ta­tion be­tween the US, KRG and Tur­key 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 Europe as a crit­i­cal sign of Tur­key’s in­ter­est in con­tin­ued strate­gic co­op­er­a­tion with Wash­ing­ton. Congress al­lo­cates rel­a­tively small amounts of mil­i­tary and se­cu­rity as­sis­tance to Tur­key com­pared with 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.

Gaug­ing how US, KRG and Turk­ish in­ter­ests co­in­cide has be­come in­creas­ingly com­pli­cated and dy­namic. The con­ver­gence of the US, KRG and Tur­key on is­sues af­fect­ing the Mid­dle East has in­creased. Mid­dle East­ern lead­ers per­ceive a need for US help in en­cour­ag­ing re­gional demo­cratic tran­si­tion, and in coun­ter­ing ac­tors and is­sues with the po­ten­tial to un­der­mine in­ter­nal Arab and re­gional sta­bil­ity. Th­ese would in­clude the Ira­nian and Syr­ian regimes, as well as ter­ror­ist groups and Tur­key’s own eth­nic Kur­dish pop­u­la­tion is­sue.

Some US and Euro­pean pol­i­cy­mak­ers and an­a­lysts had voiced con­cern over Tur­key’s re­li­a­bil­ity as a bi­lat­eral and NATO ally ow­ing to its ac­tive op­po­si­tion to United Na­tions sanc­tions against Iran and its de­te­ri­o­rat­ing re­la­tion­ship with Is­rael. Congress has an in­ter­est in fol­low­ing the on­go­ing man­i­fes­ta­tions of do­mes­tic dis­con­tent in Tur­key, but also in re­gard to Tur­key with re­spect to the fol­low­ing is­sues: re­gional change in the Greater Mid­dle East; the rec­on­cil­abil­ity of Tur­key’s poli­cies and ac­tions 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; in­ter­na­tion­ally man­dated hu­man­i­tar­ian and or mil­i­tary ac­tion that in­cludes or may in­clude the use of Turk­ish bases or ter­ri­tory; and lim­it­ing Ira­nian in­flu­ence. There is also the three-way re­la­tion­ship be­tween Is­rael, the US and Tur­key: what are prospects for fu­ture Tur­key-Is­rael re­la­tions, given re­cent signs of im­prove­ment? How might th­ese re­la­tions af­fect US ef­forts at co­or­di­nat­ing re­gional se­cu­rity? If Tur­key-Is­rael ten­sions per­sist, should they af­fect the way in which Congress views Tur­key’s sta­tus as a US ally?

The US is in­ter­ested in Tur­key’s ac­ces­sion to the Euro­pean Union (a process which has cur­rently reached a stale­mate), in do­mes­tic po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments in Tur­key, in­clud­ing the Kur­dish is­sue, in pro­mot­ing in­creased trade be­tween the US and Tur­key, and in Tur­key’s role in the decades-long dis­pute be­tween eth­nic Greek and eth­nic Turk­ish pop­u­la­tions re­gard­ing the con­trol of Cyprus. Tur­key’s strate­gic po­si­tion and re­gional in­flu­ence is of in­ter­est to Congress and the Obama Ad­min­is­tra­tion. Tur­key is a key NATO ally with sev­eral US and NATO mil­i­tary as­sets cur­rently de­ployed to Turk­ish and NATO bases through­out the coun­try.

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