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HomeGeopolitical CompassWest & Centeral AsiaRedefining the U.S.-Turkey Relationship

Redefining the U.S.-Turkey Relationship

Author: Sinan Ülgen

Affiliation: Carnegie Europe

Organization /Publisher: Carnegie endowment for International Peace  

Date/Place: July 16, 2021/USA 

Type of Literature: Article 

Number of Pages: 42


Keywords: Turkey, United States, S-400, grand bargain, Syria 


The article discusses the United States and Turkey’s antagonistic relationship that can be put back on track because the underlying causes have changed.  The author explains that the Turkish policymakers interpret the current situation as more of an opportunity than a threat. The rise of China and the growing influence of Russia in the region are signs of the lasting emergence of a multipolar world order in which Turkey needs its repositioning for the long-run benefits. The prevailing situation complicates Ankara and Washington’s bilateral disputes. The author highlights five major areas of disagreement between the US and Turkey and a possible way to overcome it. 1. Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 air and missile defense system from Russia, 2. Ongoing US support for Syria’s Kurdish military and terrorist factions, 3. Rule of Law challenges and the US position on the self-exiled Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, 4. The possible impact of the Halkbank court case on grounds of past violations of Iran sanctions, 5. The Biden administration’s decision to use the word “genocide” to refer to the deaths and deportations of Ottoman Armenians during World War I. The author suggests that the Turkey-US relationship is in need of redefinition because the Turkish government wants a “grand bargain,” in which the United States should agree to discuss with Turkey all the disputed areas in a flexible manner. These deliberations could then lead to mutual trade-offs that would be instrumental in overcoming the prevailing disagreements.  The Turkey-US relationship may in that sense be in acute need of gradual but concrete steps, that over time will set a new tone for a more positive and constructive strategic partnership to reestablish mutual trust.


By: Razia Wadood, CIGA Senior Research Associate



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