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HomeGeopolitical CompassWest & Centeral AsiaA cool, cautious calm: US-Turkey relations six months into the Biden administration

A cool, cautious calm: US-Turkey relations six months into the Biden administration

Author: Nicholas Danforth

Affiliation: The Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP)

Organization/Publisher: Brookings Institution

Date/Place: July 2021/Washington DC, USA

Type of Literature: Report

Number of Pages: 12 


Keywords: The United States, Turkey, Foreign Policy, The Middle East, Human Rights, Democracy


Nicholas Danforth discusses US-Turkish relations and its development during the last six months of the Biden administration. He underlines that the calm and consistent relations between the two countries is due to the mutual desire to materialize good relations in confrontation with pressing issues. Danforth argues that although most of the impressive issues between the two countries have not been resolved, both Biden and Erdogan aim at maintaining consistent and calm relations and insisting that they could solve these problems. While Biden stresses human rights in his rhetoric, he is initiating a new mood for the relationship that sustains the situation instead of improving it, and which seeks the minimization of Turkish troubling of US or European interests. On the other hand, Turkey has adopted a strategy of consolidation and caution in its foreign policy, since Erdogan recognizes his country’s current situation of regional isolation, economic troubles and the decrease of his popularity in the public polls. In other words, he has aimed at maintaining positive bilateral relationships without changing any of the policies that damaged these relations earlier. Danforth describes the relations between Turkey and the West as a “hostile dance”, that both have enacted policies that provoke each other while they are not willing to jeopardize the blowout of relations. Consequently, this situation has created “a period of relative calm” in US-Turkey relations although the main causes of the clashes—either political, ideological, or geopolitical dynamics—have not been changed. However, future tensions are expected due to any predicted change in the affecting factors. Accordingly, Danforth recommends Biden to give attention to his international agenda provided that Erdogan endorses the current settlement. 


By: Yomna Süleyman, CIGA Research Assistant



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