Report on US-Turkish relations – USNI News

The following is the December 30, 2021 report from the Congressional Research Service, Turkey: Background and US Relations at a Glance.

From the report

US relations with Turkey take place in a complicated environment with several national bilateral, regional and Turkish considerations. Recent tensions have raised questions about the future of bilateral relations and led to US actions against Turkey, including sanctions and informal congressional lockdowns on significant new arms sales. Nonetheless, officials from both countries stress the importance of continued US-Turkish cooperation and Turkey’s membership in NATO. The following are key factors in the US-Turkey relationship.

Erdogan’s reign and Turkey’s currency crisis. Many observers are concerned about the largely authoritarian regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. One of its biggest challenges is Turkey’s economy: a currency crisis that accelerated at the end of 2021 generated great domestic concerns. With the country facing significant inflation, Erdogan pressured Turkey’s central bank to lower interest rates, a response contrary to conventional economic theory. In December, he announced measures to ease domestic concerns over the cost of living that could largely simulate interest rate hikes. While the Turkish currency has regained some of the ground it lost against the dollar, its future financial stability remains uncertain. Leading opposition politicians have called for snap elections (the next presidential and parliamentary elections are slated for June 2023) to respond to growing public discontent, and Erdogan could schedule them if he sees any benefit. Moreover, some observers question whether free and fair elections could take place under Erdogan or whether disgruntled Erdogan supporters would in fact vote for the opposition parties. Separately, some sources have questioned Erdogan’s health.

Purchase of Russian S-400s and American responses. Turkey’s acquisition of a Russian S-400 surface-to-air defense system in July 2019 had a significant impact on US-Turkish relations, leading to Turkey’s withdrawal from the F- Joint Strike Fighter program. 35. In December 2020, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Turkey’s defense procurement agency for the S-400 transaction under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA, PL 115-44). The continuing stalemate between the United States and Turkey over the S-400 could prevent significant Western arms sales to Turkey. At the end of 2021, Turkey requested new American-made F-16s and upgrades to others in its aging fleet. Some members of Congress oppose the F-16 transactions, in part because of the S-400 problem. If Turkey cannot partner with the United States to modernize its fighter jets, it could turn to Russia or other alternative suppliers. If Turkey switches to Russian weapons platforms with a lifespan of several decades, it is unclear how it can remain closely integrated with NATO on defense issues.

Turkey’s strategic orientation and the US / NATO base. Traditionally, Turkey has relied heavily on the United States and NATO for defense cooperation, European countries for trade and investment, and Russia and Iran for energy imports. . Turkey’s ongoing economic struggles highlight the risks it faces in jeopardizing these ties. A number of complicated situations in the surrounding region of Turkey, including those involving Syria, Greece, Cyprus and Libya, are affecting its relationship with the United States and other key players, as Turkey seeks policy more independent foreigner. Moreover, President Erdogan’s concerns about maintaining his parliamentary coalition with Turkish nationalists may partly explain his actions in some of the situations mentioned above.

In addition to the S-400 transaction, Turkey-Russia cooperation has developed in some areas in recent years. However, Turkey’s efforts (especially in 2020) to counter Russia in multiple theaters of conflict at relatively low cost – using domestically produced drones and Syrian mercenaries – suggest that Turkey-Russia cooperation is at stake. situational rather than global scope.

Turkey’s tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean with countries such as the Republic of Cyprus (ROC) and Greece have negatively influenced its relations with several countries in the region, some of which (such as the ROC, Greece, Israel and Egypt ) therefore came closer. Against this background, some observers have advocated that the United States explore other basic arrangements for US and NATO military assets in Turkey. Turkey has made progress in easing tensions with some governments in the Middle East, notably the United Arab Emirates, at the end of 2021.

Outlook and US options. Actions by Congress and the executive on arms sales, sanctions, or the military base regarding Turkey and its rivals could have implications for bilateral relations, US politico-military options in the region, and the Turkey’s strategic direction and financial well-being. The degree to which Erdogan’s government is engaged could depend on America’s perception of its popular legitimacy, its likely resilience, and the extent to which a successor might change its policies in light of geopolitical, historical, and economic considerations.

Download the document here.

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