Public Session 1

The Future of Turkey-US Relations: Political and Security Dimensions

In the past decade, US-Turkey relations have been through several ups and downs. Today however, three problem areas are at the core of the divergence between the two sides. President Obama’s decision to work with notorious terror organisations in Syria, such as the PYD/YPG, in order to combat ISIS was considered in Turkey as a disaster of epic proportions. The consequences of this decision left the PYD/YPG in control of nearly one-third of Syria, constituting a clear and present danger to Turkey’s national security. Secondly, Washington’s reluctance to extradite Fetullah Gulen, the mastermind behind the July 15, 2016, failed coup attempt in Turkey, has tested Ankara’s patience. Additionally, there is the erroneous perception in Washington D.C. that Turkey’s NATO membership is in question. This view tends to gain currency whenever the Turkish leadership opts, in the absence of viable alternative, to purchase weapons systems from other parties. President Trump’s recent decision to approve Turkey’s corridor east of the Euphrates is coherent with the president’s earlier commitment to withdraw from Syria. However, President Trump has been facing mounting pressure in Washington, making it a challenge for the White House to balance its attention between domestic and foreign issues.

Discussion Themes

This session intends to discuss the following:

• Could President Trump’s approach in Syria overcome resistance from certain circles in the U.S. military and security apparatus?

• Is it possible for the White House to provide adequate attention to foreign relations amidst fast paced domestic political developments?

• Can the recent developments pave the way for a more positive trajectory in the bilateral relations?