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Why Turkey Turned Its Back on the United States and Embraced Russia

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Why Turkey Turned Its Back on the United States and Embraced Russia

A Rift That Began in Iraq and Syria Now Threatens to Divide NATO

Foreign Affairs,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The US-Turkish alliance is at a crossroad. 


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8

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By now, keen observers of international politics recognize that the alliance between Turkey and the United States is no longer what it once was. Turkey has, increasingly, been asserting its independence vis-à-vis the United States. Most notably, Turkey has defied its ally in instances where working with Russia better suited Turkey’s immediate interests. Middle East expert Aaron Stein provides background and explanations for the growing rift between the two NATO allies, laying down the facts rather than passing judgment on either of the two sides.

Summary

During the Cold War, the United States and Turkey forged a strategic alliance that served both countries’ national security interests: Being part of NATO’s nuclear umbrella meant Turkey didn’t have to worry about potential Soviet encroachment on its territory; and, for the United States, an allied Turkey served as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism into Western Europe and the Middle East. The end of the Cold War removed a core incentive for keeping the alliance alive, however. In the years that followed, Turkey began, increasingly, to view America’s Middle East policy as antithetical to its interests.

The US invasion...

About the Author

Aaron Stein is Director of the Middle East Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.


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