Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Briefs Outline Deterioration of U.S.-Turkey Relations and Key Electoral Trends in Turkey
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Briefs Outline Deterioration of U.S.-Turkey Relations and Key Electoral Trends in Turkey

Washington, D.C. — President Barack Obama made a major political investment in Turkey when he took office in hopes of gaining a valuable strategic partner on key Middle Eastern issues and helping repair relations with the Muslim world. This investment has not been reciprocated. The ruling Justice and Development Party and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan have handled domestic and regional developments in ways that have undermined the pillars of the U.S.-Turkey partnership.

In a pair of issue briefs, the Center for American Progress charts the deterioration of U.S.-Turkey relations over the past two years and examines the political landscape in Turkey heading into the June general elections.

“The governing party has hurt Turkey’s regional interests, polarized the country’s domestic politics, and undermined relations with the West,” said Michael Werz, CAP Senior Fellow and co-author of one of the briefs. “Over the past few years, the government’s domestic crackdown and regional impotence have greatly diminished Turkey’s standing in the world. The United States should seriously re-evaluate its relationship with Ankara.”

The first brief examines how confused and ineffective Turkish government policy in the face of the Gezi Park protests; the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS; and the siege of Kobani have deepened doubts about the value of Ankara as a strategic partner. The authors conclude that the United States has little to gain from further deference to Turkish government concerns and should adopt a policy of benign neglect toward Ankara.

The second brief contextualizes Kurdish political leaders’ push to gain greater political representation in Turkey, a high-stakes gambit that could transform Turkish politics. If the predominantly Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party succeeds for the first time in breaking the 10 percent threshold for parliamentary representation, it could offer a social-democratic alternative to the Justice and Development Party and inaugurate a new era in Turkish politics. Alternatively, failure for the Kurds in the elections could hand President Erdoğan the majority he needs to change the constitution and to solidify his long-term control over the country.

Click here to read the brief: The U.S.-Turkey Partnership: One Step Forward, Three Steps Back by Michael Werz and Max Hoffman

Click here to read the brief: Kobani, Turkey’s Kurds, and the 2015 Turkish Parliamentary Elections by Esra Sardag

Related resources:

Freedom of the Press and Expression in Turkey by Max Hoffman and Michael Werz

The United States, Turkey, and the Kurdish Regions by Michael Werz and Max Hoffman

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at [email protected] or 202.481.7141.