Turkey–United States relations

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Turkish–American relations
Map indicating locations of Turkey and USA


United States
Diplomatic mission
Turkish Embassy, Washington D.C.United States Embassy, Ankara

Turkey–United States relations are bilateral relations between Turkey and the United States. Relations in the post-World War II period evolved from the Second Cairo Conference in December 1943 and Turkey's entrance into World War II on the side of the Allies in February 1945. Later that year, Turkey became a charter member of the United Nations.[1] Difficulties faced by Greece after the war in quelling a communist rebellion, along with demands by the Soviet Union for military bases in the Turkish Straits, prompted the United States to declare the Truman Doctrine in 1947. The doctrine enunciated American intentions to guarantee the security of Turkey and Greece, and resulted in significant U.S. military and economic support.[2] This support manifested in the establishment of a clandestine stay-behind army, denoted the "Counter-Guerrilla", under Operation Gladio. After participating with United Nations forces in the Korean War, Turkey joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 1952.[3]

Relations between the countries began to deteriorate in 2003 as Turkey refused to allow the United States to use Incirlik Air Base for the invasion of Iraq, a process that intensified following the failed coup d'état attempt in Turkey in July 2016 as the country′s foreign policy has gradually re-orientated towards seeking partnerships with other powers such as Russia.[4][5][6]

A 2017 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center showed 79% of Turks had a negative view of the United States, with only 18% having a positive view.[7] The same study also showed only 11% of Turks had confidence in the current US leader, President Donald Trump,[8][9] with 82% having no confidence in him.[10]


Country comparison[edit]

Common name Turkey United States
Official name Republic of Turkey United States of America
Coat of arms Emblem of the President of Turkey.svg Great Seal of the United States (obverse).svg
Flag Turkey United States
Area 783,356 km2 (302,455 sq mi) (36th) 9,525,067 km² (3,794,083 sq mi)

(including Alaska and Hawaii)[11]

Population 82,003,882[2] (19th) 329,798,310
Population density 105[3]/km2 (271.9/sq mi) (107th) 32.8/km2 (85/sq mi)
Capital Ankara Washington, D.C.
Largest city Istanbul (22,000,00) New York City (8,622,698)
Government Unitary multi-party democratic republic Federal democratic republic
First leader Ataturk George Washington
Current leader Erdogan Donald Trump
Established 24 July 1923 (Republic of Turkey recognized)
4 July 1776 (independence declared)

3 September 1783 (independence recognized)
21 June 1788 (current constitution)

Official languages Turkish None at the federal level (English de facto)
Currency Turkish lira (₺) (TRY) U.S. dollar
GDP (nominal) $2.274 trillion[4] (13th) (2018) $20.891 trillion (2018)
External debt (nominal) $1.843 trillion (2018 Q4) $20.740 trillion (2018 Q4)
GDP (PPP) $20.891 trillion (2018)
GDP (nominal) per capita $62,518 (2018)
GDP (PPP) per capita $9,346[4] (2018) $62,518 (2018)
Human Development Index 0.924 (very high)
Expatriates ~5,025,817[12] Chinese Americans
Foreign exchange reserves 126,026 (millions of USD)
Military expenditures $610.0 billion (3.1% of GDP) (2018)
Military personnel 512,000 (Total) [2]
  • 355,800 (Active Mehmetcik[nb 4])
  • 152,100 (Paramilitary Gendarmerie)
  • 4,700 (Active Coast Guard)
  • 378,700 (Reserve personnel[3])
2,206,350 (0.67% of population)
  • 1,348,400 (active)
  • 857,950 (reserve)
  • 0 (paramilitary)
Nuclear warheads


0(?) 1,600 / 6,450 (2019)

Leaders of Republic of Turkey and United States from 1923

Franklin D. Rooseveltharry S. TrumanDwight D. EisenhowerJohn F. KennedyLyndon B. JohnsonRichard NixonGerald FordJimmy CarterRonald ReaganGeorge H. W. BushBill ClintonGeorge W. BushBarack ObamaDonald TrumpRecep Tayyip ErdoğanRecep Tayyip ErdoğanAbdullah GülAhmet Necdet SezerSüleyman DemirelHüsamettin CindorukTurgut ÖzalKenan EvrenKenan Evrenİhsan Sabri ÇağlayangilFahri KorutürkTekin ArıburunCevdet Sunayİbrahim Şevki AtasagunCemal GürselCelal Bayarİsmet İnönüMustafa Abdülhalik RendaMustafa Kemal AtatürkUnited StatesRepublic of Turkey

Strategic partnership[edit]

The Strategic partnership characterises the exceptionally close economic, and military, relations between the two countries. It is specially used for relations since 1952. The United States also actively supports Turkey's membership bid to join the European Union, lobbying frequently on behalf of Ankara through its diplomatic missions in EU capital cities.

Cold War (1946-91)[edit]

From 1952 to 1991 the relationship premised upon the concept of a “mutuality of benefits.” [13]

Mutuality of benefits
US grantees Turkey grantees
  1. Security guarantees against Soviet.
  1. Stationed and base troops and equipment for defensive and intelligence-gathering purposes
  2. Grantee on Turkish control (Bosporus and Dardanelles straits) over Soviet access to the Mediterranean
  3. Turkish co-belligerency in case of an attack
  4. contain Turkish-Greek tensions.

War on Terror (Afghanistan - Iraq - Syria)[edit]

Beginning in 2001 the relationship premised upon the concept of [United States foster] cooperation on counterterrorism, law enforcement, and military training and education.[14] Turkey has remained a close ally of the United States, supporting it in the War on Terror in the post-September 11 climate.

Base of Cooperation[15]
Turkey Goal: Territorial Integrity US Goal:to achieve stability and a reduced threat of terrorism from Iraq and Afghanistan
  1.  ?
  1. joint counterterrorism efforts,
  2. use of Turkish bases and territory for cargo transport,
  3. possible (control-distribution) arms sales,
  4. direct involvement of Turkish non-combat troops (in Afghanistan) and trainers.

Dissociation of Partnership[edit]

US Turkey
  • Gulf War: Chief of the Turkish General Staff, General Necip Torumtay resigned to prevented Turkey's active engagement.[17]
  • Iraq War: Turkey denied opening of ground front, though enabled logistic and air space.

According to The Economist, in October 2017, Turkish-American relations sank to their lowest in over 40 years.[18] Tensions have risen over such issues as the Turkish arrests of Turkish nationals employed at American consulates, the arrest of American Andrew Brunson, the belief among most Turkish citizens that America was involved in the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt, America’s arming of the YPG in Syria, the 2017 clashes at the Turkish Ambassador's Residence in Washington, D.C. and growing Turkish-Russian security cooperation.[18]

Separation of relationships are put on a path by the neoconservative John McCain National Defense Congressional initiatives plan of The 115th Congress which required the Trump Administration—in the FY2019 John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA, P.L. 115-232)—to report on the status of U.S.-Turkey relations. The Department of Defense (DOD) submitted a mostly classified report to Congress in November 2018 and the following appropriations legislation proposed for FY2019 in the 116 th Congress (H.R. 648) required the DOD report on the issue. [19]

It is evident that the Turks do not want to be sidelined by the US or the West when it comes to their own national security concerns. Neither do they want to be hamstrung by easily severed logistics. Clearly they want to be, and have been thinking about becoming, important players in regional politics, and their public national security policy says as much. They have become involved at every opportunity in multi-national military interventions. They have shown a willingness to defy the US. They have industrial and procurement plans aimed at strategic autonomy.[20]

Public relations[edit]

Turkish Americans are Americans whose ancestral origin originates wholly or partly from Turkish descent. According to the 2000 United States Census 117,575 Americans claimed from Republic of Turkey.[21] However, the actual number of Americans of Turkish descent is believed to be considerably larger as a significant number of ethnic Turks have migrated not just from Republic of Turkey but also from the Balkans (such as Bulgaria and Macedonia), Cyprus, and the former Soviet Union.[22] There is a "list of Turkish Americans".


According to a survey conducted in the spring of 2017 and released in August, 72% of the Turks see the United States as a threat to Turkey's security. Furthermore, the United States was perceived as a greater threat to security than Russia or China.[23]

The data is from PEW U.S. Image Questionnaire. According to PBS, opinions of the U.S., in general, dropped steadily from 1999/2000 and in 2006, favorable opinions dropped significantly in predominately Muslim countries, ranging from 12% (52% in 1999/2000) in Turkey to 30% in Indonesia and Egypt.[24] Percent of Turkey responding Favorable:[25]

2016 Turkish coup d'état attemptSyrian Civil WarIraq War troop surge of 2007Hood event

Results of 2017 BBC World Service:

Results of 2017 BBC World Service poll[26] of whether U.S. influence
"in the world is 'mostly positive' or 'mostly negative'."
Country Positive Negative Neutral Difference
16 -44

Lobby & Think Tanks[edit]

4th Annual Turkic American Convention

The Turkish lobby in the United States is a lobby that works on behalf of the Turkish government in promoting that nation's interests with the United States government. The Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) is an educational, congressional advocacy, and charitable organization which was incorporated in February 2007.

USA lobby on Turkey. The Office of Defense Cooperation Turkey is a United States Security Assistance Organization working on Turkey issues.

Research, Advocacy, and Analysis
Turkish Think Tanks US Think Tanks
Turkish University & Special programs US University & Special programs
Turkish Journalist US Journalist


Since President Obama's mediation between Erdogan-Netanyahu on Gaza flotilla raid neoconservatives are calling for Turkey's expulsion from NATO.[27]

The neoconservatives turned on Turkey, even though was strong ally of the United States.[27] The Turkish government, than prime minister Erdogan has been openly critical of Israel’s conduct toward the Palestinians, beginning with the blockade of Gaza, ramping up after the brutal bombardment of Gaza in 2008-2009, and culminating in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.[27]

Other conservatives; "How Trump Can Stop Erdoğan from Playing the United States" says Tom Rogan columnist for the National Review reaching the conclusion in 2016 that Trump could expel Turkey from NATO as part of his broader efforts to reform the alliance. [28] "It’s time to expel Turkey from the Western alliance" said Ted Galen Carpenter is a senior fellow in defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute in 2019-07-19.[29]


Embassy of the United States in Ankara

The United States has maintained many high level contacts with Turkey since October 12, 1927. List of ambassadors of the United States to Turkey. Turkey has maintained many high level contacts with United States.

Missions of US Missions of Turkey
  • Ankara (Embassy)
  • Istanbul (Consulate General)
  • Adana (Consulate)
  • Izmir (Consular Agency)
  • Washington, D.C. (Embassy)
  • Boston (Consulate-General)
  • Chicago (Consulate–General)
  • Houston (Consulate–General)
  • Los Angeles (Consulate–General)
  • Miami (Consulate–General)
  • New York City (Consulate–General)


A Turkish stamp for the 150th anniversary of American Independence, with depictions of the Turkish president İsmet İnönü, and the president of the United States Franklin D. Roosevelt

After 1780, the United States began relations with North African countries and with the Ottoman Empire.[30] In the early 1800s, the US fought the Barbary Wars against the Barbary states, which were under Ottoman suzerainty. The Ottomans severed diplomatic relations with the United States on April 20, 1917, after the United States had declared war against Germany on April 4, 1917. The United States never declared war on the Ottoman Empire. Normal diplomatic relations were re-established with the Ottoman Empire's successor state, Turkey, in 1927.[31]

Truman (1945 – 1953)[edit]

The Truman Doctrine was an American foreign policy whose stated purpose was to counter Soviet geopolitical expansion during the Cold War. One of Turkey's most important international relationships has been with the United States since the end of the Second World War and the beginning of the Cold War. Turkey's association with the United States began in 1947 when the United States Congress designated Turkey, under the provisions of the "Truman Doctrine", as the recipient of special economic and military assistance intended to help it resist threats from the Soviet Union. In support of overall United States Cold War strategy, Turkey contributed personnel to the United Nations forces in the Korean War (1950–53), joined NATO in 1952. A mutual interest in containing Soviet expansion provided the foundation of U.S.–Turkish relations for the next four decades.

Turkish Straits crisis[edit]

Turkish Straits crisis, at the conclusion of World War II, Turkey was pressured by the Soviet government to allow Russian shipping to flow freely through the Turkish Straits, which connected the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. As the Turkish government would not submit to the Soviet Union's requests, tensions arose in the region, leading to a show of naval force on the side of the Soviets. Since British assistance to Turkey had ended in 1947, the U.S. dispatched military aid to ensure that Turkey would retain chief control of the passage. Turkey received $111 million in economic and military aid and the U.S sent the aircraft carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Ataturk in his reforms envisioned a party based system however the term "de facto single-party state" is used to define this period as the dominant-party system (in this case Republican People's Party), and unlike the single-party state, allowed democratic multiparty elections, but existing practices effectively prevent the opposition from winning the elections. As a result of Soviet threats and U.S. assistance against them, Turkey moved away from a single-party elected government towards a multi party electoral system; in fact holding the multi party elections in 1946. In 1950,President İsmet İnönü was defeated by the main opposition party led by Adnan Menderes, who was elected by popular vote.

The postwar period from 1946 started with a "multi-party period" and the Democratic Party government of Adnan Menderes.[32] .

Eisenhower Administration (1953–1961)[edit]

1952 U.S. Army film about Turkey

Turkey a founding member of the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) collective defense pact established in 1955, and endorsed the principles of the 1957 Eisenhower Doctrine. In the 1950s and 1960s, Turkey generally co-operated with other United States allies in the Middle East (Iran, Israel, and Jordan) to contain the influence of those countries (Egypt, Iraq, and Syria) regarded as Soviet clients. Throughout the Cold War, Turkey was the bulwark of NATO's southeastern flank, directly bordering Warsaw Pact countries.

Intelligence (U-2)[edit]

1960 U-2 incident, on 1 May, a U-2 spy plane was shot down by the Soviet Air Defence Forces while performing photographic aerial reconnaissance deep into Soviet territory. On 28 April 1960, a U.S. Lockheed U-2C spy plane, Article 358, was ferried from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey to the US base at Peshawar airport by pilot Glen Dunaway. Fuel for the aircraft had been ferried to Peshawar the previous day in a US Air Force C-124 transport. A US Air Force C-130 followed, carrying the ground crew, mission pilot Francis Powers, and the back up pilot, Bob Ericson. On the morning of 29 April, the crew in Badaber was informed that the mission had been delayed one day. As a result, Bob Ericson flew Article 358 back to Incirlik and John Shinn ferried another U-2C, Article 360, from Incirlik to Peshawar. On 30 April, the mission was delayed one day further because of bad weather over the Soviet Union.[33] On 1 May, Captain Powers left the base in Peshawar on a mission with the operations code word GRAND SLAM. Four days after Powers' disappearance, NASA issued a very detailed press release noting that an aircraft had "gone missing" north of Turkey.[34]

The Soviet Union on May 13 sent protest notes to Turkey. Turkey protested to the United States. Turkey acquired assurances that no U.S. aircraft would be allowed for unauthorized purposes.

Kennedy and Johnson administrations (1961–1969)[edit]

President John F. KENNEDY addressing the Turkish people on Kemal Atatürk and the Anniversary of the Republic. Recorded in October 1963.

Cuban Missile Crisis[edit]

More than 100 (classified) US-built missiles having the capability to strike Moscow with nuclear warheads were deployed in Turkey

Turkey risked nuclear war on its soil during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was a 13-day confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union initiated by the American discovery of Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba. In response to the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961 and the presence of American Jupiter ballistic missiles in Italy and Turkey, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev agreed to Cuba's request to place nuclear missiles on the island to deter a future invasion. An agreement was reached between John F. Kennedy and Khrushchev. Publicly, the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba, in exchange for a US public declaration and agreement to avoid invading Cuba again. Secretly, the United States agreed that it would dismantle all US-built Jupiter MRBMs, which had been deployed in Turkey against the Soviet Union.

In 2017, in "The Putin interviews" claimed that the placement of Russian missiles in Cuba was a Russian reaction to the earlier stationing of American missiles in Turkey in 1961-62. It was Khruschev's attempt to achieve a balance of power.[35]

Cyprus Emergency[edit]

The Cyprus Emergency was a conflict fought in British Cyprus between 1955 and 1959. The National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA), a Greek Cypriot right-wing nationalist guerrilla organisation, began an armed campaign in support of the end of British colonial rule and the unification of Cyprus and Greece (Enosis) in 1955. Opposition to Enosis from Turkish Cypriots led to the formation of the Turkish Resistance Organisation (TMT) in support of the partition of Cyprus. In the mid-1960s relations worsened between Greek and Turkish communities on Cyprus. Britain wanted to hand the crisis and a peacekeeping role to either NATO or UN forces. US President Lyndon B. Johnson tried to prevent either a Greek or Turkish invasion of Cyprus and war between them. American diplomat George Ball found Archbishop Makarios, president of Cyprus, difficult to deal with. He took a hard-line and rejected advice.

The Americans secretly talked to General Georgios Grivas, leader of the EOKA guerrilla organisation. Invasion and war did not happen then, but the U.S. alienated both the Greek and the Turkish governments and had driven Makarios closer to the Russians and Egyptians.[36][37] The Cyprus Emergency ended in 1959 with the signature of the London-Zürich Agreements, establishing the Republic of Cyprus as a non-partitioned independent state separate from Greece.

Nixon and Ford Administrations (1969–1977)[edit]

Turkish invasion of Cyprus[edit]

Turkish invasion of Cyprus put into effect after the 1974 Cypriot coup d'état, backed by the Cypriot National Guard and the Greek military junta, Turkey sent its forces to Cyprus on July 20, 1974. In doing so, Turkey claimed to protect the safety of Turkish Cypriots under the Treaty of Guarantee. As a result of the military operation, Turkish forces took control of the northern third of Cyprus and divided the island along what became known as the Green Line monitored by the United Nations.

Turkey, only 75 km away, had repeatedly claimed, for decades before the invasion and frequently afterwards, that Cyprus was of vital strategic importance to it. Ankara has defied a host of UN resolutions demanding the withdrawal of its occupation troops from the island. About 142,000 Greek Cypriots living in the north – nearly one quarter of the population of Cyprus – were forcibly expelled from the occupied northern part of the island where they constituted 80% of the population. These people are still deprived of the right to return to their homes and properties. U.S. Congress imposed an embargo on arms sales to Turkey leading to tension and mistrust between Turkey and the United States.

Carter administration (1977–1981)[edit]

The arms embargo was silently removed a few years later with the contribution of the geopolitical changes in the Middle East like Iranian Revolution. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski discussed with his staff about a possible American invasion of Iran by using Turkish bases and territory if the Soviets would decide to repeat Afghanistan scenario in Iran, although this plan did not materialize.[38]

Reagan administration (1981–1989)[edit]

During the 1980s, relations between Turkey and the United States gradually recovered the closeness of earlier years. In March 1980 Turkey and the United States signed the Defense and Economic Cooperation Agreement (DECA), in which the United States was granted access to 26 military facilities, in return for which Turkey could buy modern military hardware and was given $450 million to start shopping.[39] Although Ankara resented continued attempts by the United States Congress to restrict military assistance to Turkey because of Cyprus and to introduce congressional resolutions condemning the Armenian Genocide, the Özal government generally perceived the administration of President George H.W. Bush as sympathetic to Turkish interests. It was in this period that the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) was established and started to build F-16 Fighting Falcon jets under licence in Turkey. Washington also demonstrated its support of Özal's market-oriented economic policies and efforts to open the Turkish economy to international trade by pushing for acceptance of an International Monetary Fund program to provide economic assistance to Turkey. Furthermore, the United States, unlike European countries, did not persistently and publicly criticize Turkey over allegations of human rights violations. Also, the United States did not pressure Özal on the Kurdish problem, another issue that seemed to preoccupy the Europeans. By 1989 the United States had recovered a generally positive image among the Turkish political elite.

George H. W. Bush administration (1989–1993)[edit]

President George H. W. Bush and President Turgut Özal take a cruise on the Bosphorus (July 21, 1991)

The end of the Cold War forced Turkish leaders to reassess their country's international position. The disappearance of the Soviet threat and the perception of being excluded from Europe have created a sense of vulnerability with respect to Turkey's position in the fast-changing global political environment. Turkey supported the Arab–Israeli peace process, and expanded ties with the Central Asian members of the CIS. Özal's pro-United States policy was not accepted by all Turks.

Gulf War[edit]

President Özal believed Turkey's future security depended on the continuation of a strong relationship with the United States. For that reason, he supported the United States' position during the Gulf War, although Turkey's economic ties to Iraq were extensive and their disruption hurt the country.

At the run-up to the war then-Chief of the Turkish General Staff, General Necip Torumtay, resigned out of disagreement to involve Turkey in the war.[40] This prevented Turkey's active engagement.

After the war, he continued to support major United States initiatives in the region, including the creation of a no-fly zone over northern Iraq, The United States' use of Turkish military installations during the bombing of Iraq in 1991 led to antiwar demonstrations in several cities, and sporadic attacks on United States facilities continued in 1992 and 1993.

Clinton administration (1993–2001)[edit]

Nevertheless, among Turkey's political elite, a consensus had emerged by January 1995 that Turkey's security depended on remaining a strategic ally of the United States. For that reason, both the Demirel and Çiller governments undertook efforts to cultivate relations with the administrations of presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

George W. Bush administration (2001–2009)[edit]

President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit talk with reporters in the Oval Office Wednesday, Jan. 16. 2002
President George W Bush welcomes President Abdullah Gul to the White House Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2008

War on Terror[edit]

Turkey has remained a close ally of the United States, supporting it in the War on Terror in the post-September 11 climate.

Iraq (territorial integrity)[edit]

The Iraq War faced strong domestic opposition in Turkey and as such, the Turkish Parliament couldn't reach the absolute majority of 276 votes needed for allowing U.S. troops to attack Iraq from Turkey, the final tally being 264 votes for and 250 against. This led to a brief period of cooling in relations, particularly following the "hood event", which was perceived as an act of hostility in Turkey.

Ankara is particularly cautious about an independent Kurdish state arising from a destabilized Iraq. Turkey has fought an insurgent war against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Kurdish guerrilla group (recognized as a terrorist organization by both the United States and the European Union) seeking Kurdish independence, in which more than 37,000 people have lost their lives. This has led Ankara to pressure the U.S. into clamping down on guerrilla training camps in northern Iraq, though the U.S. remains reluctant due to northern Iraq's relative stability compared to the rest of the country as well as its lack of spare forces to divert away from the more contentious areas of Iraq. On October 17, 2007, the Turkish Parliament voted in favour of allowing the Turkish Armed Forces to take military action against the PKK rebels based in northern Iraq.[41] In response, U.S. President George W. Bush stated that he did not believe it's in Turkey's interests to send troops into Iraq.[42]

Nuclear Energy[edit]

In June 2008, The United States and Turkey began to cooperate on peaceful uses of nuclear energy with a pact that aims for the transfer of technology, material, reactors and components for nuclear research and nuclear power production in Turkey for an initial 15-year period followed by automatic renewals in five-year increments that provides a comprehensive framework for peaceful nuclear cooperation between the two nations under the agreed non-proliferation conditions and controls. A parallel U.S. bipartisan resolution has recently highlighted the importance for Turkish Republic's key role in providing her western (E.U. and U.S.) and regional allies Eurasian energy security.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies has recently started a one-year initiative project to evaluate and enhance the Turkish Republic - United States strategic partnership, aiming for a plan of implementation of the concluded framework at the end of this phase.

Obama administration (2009–2017)[edit]

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan following the G-20 Summit afternoon session in Pittsburgh, Pa., Sept. 25, 2009.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington D.C., February 13, 2012.
On September 5, 2014, President Obama participated in a bilateral meeting with President Erdogan of Turkey.
Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, 15 February 2017

War on Terror[edit]

The 2009 U.S. Secretary of State’s Country Report on Terrorism confirmed that cooperation in terrorism is a key element in America’s strategic partnership with Turkey, before going on to praise Turkish contributions to stabilise Iraq and Afghanistan and highlighting the strategic importance of the İncirlik Air Base in Adana used by both U.S. and NATO forces for operations in the region.[43]

Questions have been subsequently raised, however, over the continued presence of U.S. nuclear weapons, reportedly stationed at the air base during the Cold War as part of the NATO nuclear sharing programme, after recent parliamentary debates in Belgium and Germany called for the removal of weapons stationed there under the same programme. Bilkent University Professor Mustafa Kibaroğlu speculates that if the Obama administration presses for the withdrawal of these weapons, which Turkey wishes to maintain, then Turkey-U.S. relations may be strained.[44]

The U.S. Secretary of State's report also contained information on the PKK and other terrorist groups operating in Turkey, whom the U.S. and Turkish authorities share intelligence on, highlighting the September 12, 2006 attack on Diyarbakır and the July 27, 2008 attack on Güngören before going on to mention the ongoing Turkish investigation into the Ergenekon network and concluding that, “the details of the case were murky, however, and Ergenekon’s status as a terrorist organisation remained under debate at year’s end.”[43]

A separate report presented to U.S. President Obama by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which had previously urged him to raise the subject of religious freedom during his 2009 presidential visit to Turkey, concluded that Turkey’s interpretation of secularism, “resulted in violations of religious freedoms for many of the country’s citizens, including members of the majority and, especially, minority religious communities.”[45]

A U.S. Democratic Party delegation group including U.S. Senators Robert Casey, Edward E. Kaufman, Frank Lautenberg and U.S. Congressman Timothy Waltz met with Turkish officials in Ankara on 30 May to confirm, “Turkey can always depend on the US, while the US can always rely on its close friendship with Turkey.”[46]

Gaza flotilla raid[edit]

Obama administration was a mediator in the conflict.

The Gaza flotilla raid was a military operation by Israel against six civilian ships of the "Gaza Freedom Flotilla" on 31 May 2010 in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea. Israel–Turkey relations reached a low point after the incident. Turkey recalled its ambassador, cancelled joint military exercises, and called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan harshly referred to the raid as a "bloody massacre" and "state terrorism", and harshly criticized Israel in a speech before the Grand National Assembly.[47] The Turkish Grand National Assembly held a debate on whether to impose sanctions on Israel, and eventually came out with a statement criticizing the attack as illegal, demanding that Israel apologize, pay compensation, and prosecute those involved, and calling on the Turkish government to review ties with Israel and take "effective measures". The flotilla raid was among the issues discussed during a security meeting of Turkish military commanders chaired by Prime Minister Erdoğan.[48]

Prior to a Gaza visit, scheduled for April 2013, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan explained to Turkish newspaper Hürriyet that the fulfilment of three conditions by Israel was necessary for friendly relations to resume between Turkey and Israel: an apology for the raid, the awarding of compensation to the families affected by the raid, and the lifting of the Gaza blockade by Israel. President Obama intervened on the issue. On 22 March 2013 Netanyahu apologised for the incident in a 30-minute telephone call with Erdoğan, stating that the results were unintended; the Turkish prime minister accepted apology and agreed to enter into discussions to resolve the compensation issue.

2010 Iran Nuclear Deal[edit]

In April 2010, Washington stepped up its efforts to impose a new round of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. Key powers such as Turkey, India and China oppose the adoption of a new round of sanctions against Tehran. As a result, the U.S. Congress has delayed arms sales sought by the Turkish military.[49]

Oil trading controversy[edit]

In March 2017, deputy head of the bank Mehmet Hakan Atilla was arrested by the U.S. government for conspiring to evade sanctions against Iran by helping Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Azeri businessman who had taken Turkish citizenship, "use U.S. financial institutions to engage in prohibited financial transactions that illegally funneled millions of dollars to Iran".[50] Zarrab was in Miami, Florida, in March 2016.[51]

Atilla's trial commenced in New York City federal court in November 2017, with Zarrab agreeing to testify after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors.[52] In early 2018, Atilla was convicted on five of six counts against him, including bank fraud and conspiracies and acquitted on one count after four days of jury deliberation.

Leaked diplomatic cables[edit]

According to leaked diplomatic cables, Erdoğan was described by U.S. diplomats as having "little understanding of politics beyond Ankara" and as surrounding himself with an "iron ring of sycophantic (but contemptuous) advisors". He is said to be "isolated", and that his MPs and Ministers feel "fearful of Erdogan's wrath".[53] Diplomats state that "he relies on his charisma, instincts, and the filterings of advisors who pull conspiracy theories off the web or are lost in neo-Ottoman Islamist fantasies".[54][55]

Human rights and arms sales[edit]

In 2010, U.S. President Obama said that future arms sales would depend on Turkish policies.[56]

The Arab Spring[edit]

The U.S. under President Obama was reluctant to get deeply involved in the Arab World and was generally supportive of Turkish efforts in the region.[57]

For the Anatolian Falcon 2012 joint exercises, the United States sent the 480th Fighter Squadron to train with Turkish pilots in Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses.[58]

Syrian Civil War (Territorial integrity, Rat Line)[edit]

Ankara is particularly cautious about an independent Kurdish state arising from a destabilized Syria. Turkey has fought an insurgent war against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), a Kurdish guerrilla group (recognized as a terrorist organization by both the United States and the European Union) seeking Kurdish independence.

Relations between the United States and Turkey have shown signs of deterioration during the Syrian Civil War and especially over the handling over the YPG.[59] The American forces in the Syrian Civil War are openly allied with the Kurdish YPG fighters and support them militarily. The YPG has been criticized by Turkey for its alleged support for the PKK, especially since a rebellion in southern Turkey began in 2015.[60] Turkey overtly defied American orders of ceasing Turkey's military bombardment of the YPG fighters in their bid to take the town of Azaz in northern Syria. Signs of strain were then displayed when Barack Obama refused to have a formal meeting with Erdogan when the latter visited the United States in March 2016.[61][62][63]

CIA activities in Syria. In early 2012, the CIA set up in co-operation with Turkey what it called "the Rat Line", a covert operation to obtain and transport, using proxies and front companies, armaments from Libya to rebel groups [rebel forces (later became Free Syrian Army)] in Syria via southern Turkey as reported by Seymour Hersh. The CIA's part in the operation reportedly ended as a result of the mass evacuation of CIA operatives from the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, after the 2012 Benghazi attack.[64][65] In January 2014, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence reported specifically on "the CIA annex at Benghazi" that "All CIA activities in Benghazi were legal and authorized. On-the-record testimony establishes that the CIA was not sending weapons ... from Libya to Syria, or facilitating other organizations or states that were transferring weapons from Libya to Syria."[66] In 2015, the International Business Times wrote the U.S. has sent weapons shipments to FSA-identified groups through a U.S. CIA program for years.[67] Timber Sycamore was a classified weapons supply and training program run by the CIA and supported by some Arab intelligence services, such as the security service in Saudi Arabia. Launched in 2012 or 2013, it supplied money, weaponry and training to rebel forces fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War. According to US officials, the program has trained, thousands of rebels.[68]. In July 2017, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster to President Donald Trump and neoconservative CIA Director Mike Pompeo had decided to phase out the support.[69] Following the termination of CIA program best of these forces became Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army.

In October 2014, Vice President Joe Biden accused Turkey of funding al-Nusra and al Qaeda (FSA-identified groups),[70] to which Erdoğan angrily responded, "Biden has to apologize for his statements" adding that if no apology is made, Biden would become "history to me." Biden subsequently apologized.[71]

Gülen movement (coup d'état attempt & extradition)[edit]

After the failed coup attempt in July 2016, Turkey demanded that the United States government extradite Fethullah Gülen, a cleric and Turkish national living in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. However, the U.S. government demanded that Turkey first produce evidence that he was connected with the coup attempt. Due to perceptions that former U.S. Secretary of State and Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is friendly towards the Gülen movement, many Erdoğan supporters reportedly favored Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump in the United States' 2016 presidential election.[72]

In a speech on July 29, 2016, President Erdoğan accused U.S. Central Command chief Joseph Votel of "siding with coup plotters",[73] after Votel accused the Turkish government of arresting the Pentagon's contacts in Turkey.[74] Yeni Şafak daily, a Turkish pro-government newspaper, claimed that the former commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, now-retired U.S. Army General John F. Campbell, was the "mastermind" behind the coup attempt in Turkey.[75] Turkish prime minister Binali Yıldırım in late July 2016 told The Guardian: "Of course, since the leader of this terrorist organisation is residing in the United States, there are question marks in the minds of the people whether there is any U.S. involvement or backing.[76] On 19 July, an official request had been sent to the U.S. for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen.[77] Senior U.S. officials said this evidence pertained to certain pre-coup alleged subversive activities.[78]

Trump administration (2017–present)[edit]

President Trump and Turkish President Erdoğan give a joint statement at the White House in May 2017

Gülen movement (Flynn - Brunson - Visa & Tariff)[edit]

Michael Flynn's consulting company was hired by Inovo BV, a company owned by Kamil Ekim Alptekin. Alptekin also chairs the Turkish-American Business Council, an arm of the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK).[79] On November 8, 2016 (election day in the United States), The Hill published an op-ed by Flynn in which he called for U.S. backing for Erdoğan's government and alleged that the regime's opponent, Pennsylvania-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gülen, headed a "vast global network" that fit "the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network".[80]

Andrew Brunson was charged with terrorism and espionage during the purges that followed the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt against President Erdoğan.[81] Serkan Golge, a naturalized US citizen, was jailed in Turkey for three years on charges of participating in terrorism and conspiring against the government as a member of the Gülen movement. Metin Topuz, a US consulate employee, was charged of having links to Fethullah Gülen and was arrested under "terror charges" by an Istanbul court (according to state media Anadolu). Topuz was the second US government employee in Turkey to be arrested in 2017. The United States suspended all non-immigrant visas from Turkey "indefinitely" due to Topuz's arrest. Turkey retaliated against the US with suspensions of all US visas, including tourist visas, shortly after the US State Department made their announcement.[82]

On August 1, 2018, the U.S. Department of Treasury imposed sanctions on top Turkish government officials who were involved in the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. Daniel Glaser, the former Treasury official under President Obama, said: "It’s certainly the first time I can think of" the U.S. sanctioning a NATO ally.[83] On August 10, 2018, U.S. President Trump imposed punitive tariffs against Turkey after an impasse over Brunson's imprisonment, as well as other issues.[84] The move prompted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that the United States was "changing a strategic NATO partner with a pastor" and that the U.S. behavior would force Turkey to look for new friends and allies.[85] The presidential spokesperson of Turkish President, İbrahim Kalın, tweeted that the U.S. is losing Turkey as a whole, the entire Turkish public is against U.S. policies.[85] In addition, the Uşak Province decided to stop running digital advertisement on United States based social media platforms like Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube canceling all of the budget as a response to the U.S. sanctions on Turkey.[86] Furthermore, Turkey said that it would retaliate to the raising of steel and aluminium tariffs by the U.S. administration[87] (The U.S. had already imposed 10 percent and 25 percent additional tariffs on aluminum and steel imports respectively from all countries on March 23, 2018, but in August 13, 2018 added additional tariffs on steel imports from Turkey).[88] In addition, the Turkish President said that Turkey will boycott electronic products from the US giving iPhones as an example.[89] The Keçiören Municipality in the Ankara has decided not to issue business licenses to American brands including McDonald’s, Starbucks and Burger King.[90] In addition, Turkey decided to increase tariffs on imports of a range of US products.[91] Furthermore, in August 20, 2018 there were gunshots at the USA Embassy in the Ankara without casualties. Turkish authorities detained two men suspects.[92]

Qatari diplomatic crisis[edit]

Turkey supported Qatar in its diplomatic confrontation with a Saudi and Emirati-led bloc of countries that severed ties with and imposed sanctions on Qatar on 5 June 2017. Turkish President Erdoğan criticized the list of demands released by the countries on 22 June, stating that they undermine Qatar's sovereignty.

In December 2017, U.S. national security adviser General H.R. McMaster said that Turkey had joined Qatar as a prime source of funding that contributes to the spread of extremist ideology of Islamism: "We're seeing great involvement by Turkey from everywhere from western Africa to Southeast Asia," funding groups that help create the conditions that allow terrorism to flourish.[93]

Assassination of Jamal Khashoggi[edit]

Trump and Erdoğan at the G20 Osaka summit in June 2019

The assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident, journalist for The Washington Post and former general manager and editor-in-chief of Al-Arab News Channel, occurred on 2 October 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey and was perpetrated by agents of the Saudi Arabian government.[94] Government officials of Turkey believe Khashoggi was murdered. Turkey in particular believes it was premeditated murder, and anonymous Saudi officials have admitted that agents affiliated with the Saudi government killed him.[95]

CIA Director Gina Haspel traveled to Turkey to address the investigation. The first visit of Ms. Haspel to Turkey in her new capacity after she was sworn in as the first female CIA director. The visit by Gina Haspel comes ahead of a planned speech Of Erdogan. Gina Haspel listened to audio purportedly capturing the ...[sound of saw on a bone]. On 20 November, U.S. President Donald Trump rejected the CIA's conclusion that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the killing. He issued a statement saying "it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn't." and that "In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."[96]

Air Defense System (Russian S-400)[edit]

Regarding Air defense system which United States refused to sell Turkey US-made Patriot missiles; "Probably Turkey will look now to the Chinese- or Russian-produced jet fighters, which would further alienate Turkey to the West and push Turkey to the East. There will be a restructuring of course in the Turkish army if the F-35 is not provided.[97]":

Following Turkeys continued acquiring of russian S-400 missile system the US Pentagon has decided to end the F-35 within July 31, 2019. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan warned Turkey that such a deal with Russia risks undermining its ties to NATO-[98] The United States threatened Turkey with CAATSA sanctions over Turkey's decision to buy the S-400 missile defense system from Russia.[99][100] In February, 2019, Russia is in advance supply contract to Saudi Arabia with the S-400. [101]; Qatar is in “advanced” talks with Russia for the S-400.[101], and India agreed to pay more than $5 billion for five S-400 squadrons to be delivered in 2023.[101]

President Trump's administration officials including Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton move on with the sanctions. President Trump

"Because they have a system of missiles that's made in Russia, they're now prohibited from buying over 100 planes, I would say that (F-35 manufacturer) Lockheed isn't exactly happy. That's a lot of jobs. And frankly I've always had a very good relationship" with Erdogan[102]

On 22 July 2019, Turkey claimed to retaliate against the “unacceptable” threat of US sanctions over Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defenses.[103]

Syrian Civil War (Refugees)[edit]

U.S. and Turkish forces conduct joint patrols on the outskirts of Manbij, Syria, 8 November 2018

The Trump travel ban actions include two executive orders for restrictions on citizens of seven (first executive order) or six (second executive order) Muslim-majority countries.[104] A third action, done by a presidential proclamation, restricts entry to the U.S. by citizens of eight countries; six of these countries are predominantly Muslim. All these include "Syrian Refugees". During and after his election campaign Trump proposed establishing safe zones in Syria as an alternative to Syrian refugees' immigration to the U.S. In the past "safe zones" have been interpreted as establishing, among other things, no-fly zones over Syria. During the Obama administration Turkey encouraged the U.S. to establish safe zones; the Obama administration was concerned about the potential for pulling the U.S. into a war with Russia.[105] In the first weeks of Trump's presidency Turkey renewed its call for safe zones and proposed a new plan for them, the Trump administration has spoken with several other Sunni Arab States regarding safe zones, and Russia has asked for clarification regarding any Trump administration plan regarding safe zones.

Turkey has 3.6 million registered (2011-2018:30 billion on refugee assistance) Syrian refugees —more than any other country— as the war drags on the large-scale return of refugees to Syria uncertain, Turkey has focused on how to manage their presence in Turkish society by addressing their legal status, basic needs, employment, education, and impact on local communities.[106]

Economic relations[edit]

The United States and Turkey share membership in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the G-20. The U.S. and Turkey have had a Joint Economic Commission and a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement for several years. In 2002, the two countries indicated their joint intent to upgrade bilateral economic relations by launching an Economic Partnership Commission.

Turkey is currently 32nd largest goods trading partner with $20.5 billion in total (($10.2 billion; imports $10.3 billion) goods trade during 2018. U.S. goods and services trade with Turkey totaled an estimated $24.0 billion (exports: $12.7 billion; imports: $11.2 billion) in 2017.[107] The trade deficit was $143 million in 2018.[107]

U.S. exports of Goods and Services to Turkey involves 68,000 jobs in 2015[107].

Military relations[edit]

Erdoğan with U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry during the NATO Summit in Newport, 5 September 2014

Joint Operations[edit]

Turkey participated with the United States in the Korean War.

Turkey participated with the United States in missions in Somalia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo.[108]

Turkey has commanded (2 times) the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan since inception. [109] 2,000 Mehmetcik concentrating on training Afghan military and security forces. Mehmetcik provide security in ISAF’s Regional Command-Capital (Kabul). [110] Undisclosed number of Mehmetcik installed in Wardak and Jawzjan provinces giving ground support to USA Air Force Operations.[111]

In Iraq War Turkey established the NATO Training Mission-Iraq since 2005 and has sponsored specialized training for hundreds of Iraqi security personnel in secret facility in Turkey.[112]

Operation Gladio[edit]

Operation Gladio is the codename for clandestine "stay-behind" operations of armed resistance that was planned by the Western Union (WU), and subsequently by NATO, for a potential Warsaw Pact invasion and conquest in Europe.[113]

Counter-Guerrilla is the branch of Operation Gladio, a clandestine stay-behind anti-communist initiative backed by the United States as an expression of the Truman Doctrine. The founding goal of the operation was to erect a guerrilla force capable of countering a possible Soviet invasion. The goal was soon expanded to subverting communism in Turkey. The Counter-Guerrilla initially operated out of the Turkish Armed Forces' Tactical Mobilization Group. In 1967, the STK was renamed to the Special Warfare Department. In 1994, the ÖHD became the Special Forces Command. The counter-guerrillas' existence in Turkey was revealed in 1973 by then-prime minister Bülent Ecevit.[114]


The United States and Turkey share membership in NATO,the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and continue to cooperate in important projects, such as the Joint Strike Fighter program.

Bases & Logistic[edit]

USA facilities [base, port, command] (old [red] & current [black])

Since 1954, Turkey has hosted the Incirlik Air Base, an important operations base of the United States Air Force, which has played a critical role during the Cold War, the Gulf War, and the recent Iraq War. Turkey routinely hosts the United States for Anatolian Falcon and (with Israel, before its relationship worsened with Israel) Anatolian Eagle exercises held at its Konya air base.[115]

Turkish bases and transport corridors have been used heavily for military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya as of 2011. [116]

In 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt, some of the planes used at the operation and a fueling carrier lift of from Incirlik base so the Turkish government arrested several high-ranking Turkish military officers at Incirlik and cut power to the base for nearly a week.[117]

Nuclear Warhead[edit]

Turkey is hosting U.S. nuclear weapons as part of nuclear sharing policy. Current arsenal is B61 nuclear bomb . Former arsenal was MGR-1 Honest John, MIM-14 Nike Hercules, PGM-19 Jupiter, W33 and W48 Artillery Shells.

Turkey does not have dedicated nuclear-capable fighter aircraft that can deliver the weapons. Turkey does not train its pilots to fly nuclear missions.[118]

Industrial Cooperation[edit]

Turkish Air Force F-16D

Defense industry of Turkey is growing.

Turkey’s 240 Lockheed Martin General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon were co-produced in Turkey by a predecessor firm of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). The United States and Turkey signed an FMS contract in 2009 for 30 F-16 Block 50s to be co-produced by TAI.[119]

Turkey reportedly wanted to purchase drone aircraft from the United States to assist in its counterterrorism efforts against the PKK.[120] Request denied. Turkey produced Bayraktar Tactical UAS.


Turkey is one of eight countries—along with the United Kingdom, Canada, Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Norway, and Australia—partnering with the United States on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. [121] Turkey plans to purchase up to 116 F-35s, 90 for delivery over an estimated 10-year period (2014-2023), that are jointly assembled and/or developed by firms from the various JSF partners. The cost will be at least $11 billion and could exceed $15 billion, given continued cost inflation on the program. US Pentagon has decided to end the F-35 within July 31, 2019.

#Leaked diplomatic cables: The alleged cables also highlight Turkish concerns that upgrades to General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons had "precluded Turkish access to computer systems and software modification previously allowed".[122]

Radar and Signal Analysis[edit]

For approval of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, Turkey received two conditions:[123] 1. Iran or Syria is not named as a threat to Turkey (for keeping the peace to neighbors) 2. Turkey’s territory protected by the system (National defense requirement). According to U.S. officials the AN/TPY-2 radar was deployed at Turkey's Kürecik Air Force base and activated in January 2012.[124][125]

Military aid[edit]

Table 1. U.S. Military and Security Assistance to Turkey (historical $ in millions) Source: U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. State Department. [126]
Fiscal Year(s) Foreign Mil. Fin. Excess Defense Articles Int’l Mil. Ed. and Training NADR INCLE Other Grants Total Grants Loans
1948-1975 869.0 111.8 3,406.0 4,386.8 185.0
1976-1981 3.4 1.0 10.5 14.9 952.9
1982-1992 1,884.0 36.4 6.7 1,362.1 3,289.2 2,769.1
1993-2001 205.1 14.0 0.1 3.2 222.4 1,678.1
2002-2008 170.0 21.1 23.7 8.6 0.1 223.5
2009 1.0 3.2 1.9 0.5 6.6
2010 5.0 3.0 8.0
2011 4.0 1.4 0.5 5.9
2012 4.0 0.5 4.5
TOTAL 2,055.0 1,095.2 205.5 14.0 12.5 4,778.6 8,160.8 5,585.1

U.S. equipment in Turkey[edit]

Regional problems Turkey faced in the 1960s, Cyprus crises in 1963 and 1967, Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974 and the arms embargo following the invasion necessitated the development of a defence industry based on national resources. US Arms Embargo against Turkey 1975–1978[127]

The lists (Land force, Air force) are not a comprehensive, the "Origin" of every US equipment is listed. In addition to indigenously developed military equipment, Turkey had procurement from the United States in recent years, including systems procured directly from U.S. manufacturers and ex-U.S. Forces equipment.


  • 1954 United States and Turkey sign first status of forces agreement.[128]
  • 1980 U.S.-Turkey Defense and Economic Cooperation Agreement.[129]
  • 1999 PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan captured MIT/Pentagon operation;[130]
  • 2003 Turkish Parliament denies invasion (ground forces) of Iraq from Turkey; permits to use of Turkish bases for overflight[131]
  • 2003 “Hood incident” U.S. detain Turkish special forces troops in Suleimaniyah, Iraq.[132]
  • 2011 "Operation Unified Protector”.[133]

State and official visits[edit]

1999 Clinton's visit[edit]

Süleyman Demirel with Bill Clinton

President Bill Clinton visited Ankara, İzmit, Ephesus, Istanbul on November 15–19, 1999.

It was a State visit also attended Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Summit meeting during the visit.

2009 Obama's visit[edit]

Barack Obama addresses Turkish Parliament 4-6-09

Relations between Turkey and the United States received a jumpstart during the Obama administration’s first term, but the two countries were nevertheless unable to reach their ambitious goals.[134] U.S. President Barack Obama made his first official visit to Turkey, stopping off in both Ankara and Istanbul, on April 6–7, 2009. There had been critics in the U.S. who claimed that Turkey should not be rewarded by an early presidential visit as its government had been systematically reorienting foreign policy onto an Islamist axis, but as former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Mark Parris has stated, “Whatever the merits of this argument, the Obama administration, by scheduling the visit, have decisively rejected it.”[135]

During his visit, Obama urged Turkey to come to terms with its past and resolve its Armenian issues. Prior to this, during the 2008 U.S. Presidential election, he had criticised the then U.S. President George W. Bush for his failure to take a stance and stating that the "Armenian genocide is not an allegation, a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence".[136] He responded positively to an announcement from sources in Ankara and Yerevan that a deal might soon be struck to reopen the border between the two states and exchange diplomatic personnel by indicating that although his own personal views on the subject remained unchanged, he may, in order to avoid derailing this diplomatic progress, refrain from using the word genocide in his upcoming April 24 speech on the question.[137]

Turkish President Gül later referred to the visit as “evidence of a vital partnership between Turkey and the US,” whilst Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu pointed out that, “You are changing the psychological atmosphere,” of what was before “seen as a military relationship,”[138] but as Obama made clear, “We are not solely strategic partners, we are also model partners,” and with this change in terminology, “The President wanted to stress the uniqueness of this relationship. This is not an ordinary relationship, it’s a prototype and unique relationship.”[139] A U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing entitled The United States and Turkey: A Model Partnership under the chairmanship of the Head of the Subcommittee on Europe Robert Wexler was convened following, “the historic visit that Obama paid to Turkey,” and concluded that, “This cooperation is vital for both of the two states in an environment in which we face serious security issues in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, the Balkans, Black Sea, Caucuses and the Middle East, besides a global financial crisis.”[140]

Following Obama’s visit Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Chief of the Turkish General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ played host to U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen in Ankara. In the course of the closed-door meeting they discussed the pledging of further Turkish support troops to Afghanistan and Pakistan where Turkish authorities have influence, the secure transport of troops and equipment from the port of İskenderun during the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and the pro-Kurdish terrorists operating in south-eastern Turkey and northern Iraq.[141]

On April 22, 2009, shortly after Obama’s visit, Turkish and Armenian authorities formally announced a provisional roadmap for the normalisation of diplomatic ties between the two states.[142] The U.S. responded positively with a statement from the office of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, following a phone conversation with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, which stated that, “The Vice President applauded President Sargsyan’s leadership, and underscored the administration’s support for both Armenia and Turkey in this process.”[143] Turkish columnists however criticised the timing of the announcement believing it to have been made to placate the U.S. President in advance of his April 24 speech, with Fikret Bila writing in the Milliyet that, “the Turkish Foreign Ministry made this statement regarding the roadmap before midnight,” as it would allow Obama to go back on his campaign promise, to refer to the incident as genocide, which the Turkish government denies profusely, by pointing out to the Armenian diaspora that, “Turkey reached a consensus with Armenia and set a roadmap,” and, “there is no need now to damage this process.”[144][145]

2013 Erdogan visit[edit]

Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry participate in a lunch at the State Department honoring Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey.

In May 2013, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan visited the White House and met with President Obama. Obama said the visit was an opportunity "to return the extraordinary hospitality that the Prime Minister and the Turkish people showed me on my visit to Turkey four years ago".[146] During their joint press conference, both Obama and Erdogan stressed the importance of achieving stability in Syria. Erdogan said that during his time with President Obama, "Syria was at the top of our agenda" and Obama repeated the United States plan to support the Assad-opposition while applying "steady international pressure".[146] When not discussing national security threats, Obama and Erdogan discussed expanding economic relations between the two countries. Turkey had recently received over $50 billion in foreign investments, $20 billion of which came from the United States.[147] In 2003 there was just $8 billion in U.S. investment in Turkey; both Erdogan and Obama praised this recent increase and agreed to continue expanding the trade and investment agreements between the two countries.[146][147] Erdogan's visit culminated with talks of stability in the region. Obama stressed the importance of normalizing relations between Turkey and Israel and praised the steps Erdogan had taken in that process. The process normalizing the Turkish-Israeli relationship had slowly begun,[148] and Erdogan stated that he would continue this process: "We don't need any other problems, issues in the region".[146]


Guest Host Place of visit Date of visit
United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower Turkey President Celal Bayar Çankaya Köşkü, Ankara December 7, 1959
Turkey Prime Minister İsmet İnönü United States President Lyndon B. Johnson White House, Washington, D.C. June 22–23, 1964
Turkey Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit United States President Jimmy Carter White House, Washington, D.C. May 31, 1978
United States President George H. W. Bush Turkey President Turgut Özal Ankara and Istanbul July 20–22, 1991
Turkey Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit United States President Bill Clinton White House, Washington, D.C. September 27, 1999
United States President Bill Clinton Turkey President Süleyman Demirel Çankaya Köşkü, Ankara November 15, 1999
Turkey President Ahmet Necdet Sezer United States President Bill Clinton White House, Washington, D.C. September 4, 2000
United States President George W. Bush Turkey President Ahmet Necdet Sezer Ankara and Istanbul June 27–30, 2004
United States President Barack Obama Turkey President Abdullah Gül Ankara and Istanbul April 6–7, 2009
Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan United States President Barack Obama White House, Washington, D.C. May 16, 2013
Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan United States President Donald Trump White House, Washington, D.C. May 16, 2017

Cultural relations[edit]

The 1978 American semi-biographical film Midnight Express was banned in Turkey under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, causing a strain on US-Turkish relations.

In late 2007, Turkey recalled its ambassador to the United States after the House Committee on Foreign Affairs passed a United States resolution on the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire. This resulted in a delay of a full House vote on Res. 106. Speaker Pelosi has pledged to bring the resolution to a full vote, but pressure from the White House and Turkey has kept her from doing so.[149]

American international schools in Turkey[edit]

Turkish schools in the United States[edit]

Around 120 Gülen charter schools operate within the United States.[150]

See also[edit]


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 This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/.

Further reading[edit]

  • Barlas, Dilek, and Şuhnaz Yilmaz. "Managing the transition from Pax Britannica to Pax Americana: Turkey’s relations with Britain and the US in a turbulent era (1929–47)." Turkish Studies (2016): 1-25.
  • Kubilay Yado Arin: The AKP's Foreign Policy, Turkey's Reorientation from the West to the East? Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Berlin, Berlin 2013. ISBN 9 783865 737199.
  • Zeyno Baran (May 11, 2005) “The State of U.S.-Turkey Relations”, United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Europe and Emerging Threats.
  • Harris, George Sellers, and Bilge Criss, eds. Studies in Atatürk's Turkey: the American dimension (Brill, 2009).
  • James E. Miller; Douglas E. Selvage; Laurie Van Hook, eds. (2007). "Turkey". Eastern Europe; Eastern Mediterranean, 1969–1972 (PDF). Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976. XXIX. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. pp. 1036–1132.
  • Olson, Robert W., Nurhan Ince, and Nuhan Ince. "Turkish Foreign Policy from 1923-1960: Kemalism and Its Legacy, a Review and a Critique." Oriente Moderno 57.5/6 (1977): 227-241. in JSTOR
  • Sanberk, Özdem. "The Importance of Trust Building in Foreign Policy, a Case Study: The Trajectory of the Turkish-American Relations." Review of International Law and Politics 12 (2016): 13+
  • James E. Miller; Douglas E. Selvage; Laurie Van Hook, eds. (2007). "Turkey". Eastern Europe; Eastern Mediterranean, 1969–1972 (PDF). Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976. XXX. Washington, DC: United States Government Printing Office. pp. 650–855.
  • Trask, Roger R. The United States response to Turkish nationalism and reform, 1914-1939 (U of Minnesota Press, 1971).
  • Uslu, Nasuh. The Cyprus question as an issue of Turkish foreign policy and Turkish-American relations, 1959-2003 (Nova Publishers, 2003).
  • Yilmaz, Şuhnaz. Turkish-American Relations, 1800-1952: Between the Stars, Stripes and the Crescent (Routledge, 2015).
  • Yilmaz, Şuhnaz. "Challenging the stereotypes: Turkish–American relations in the inter-war era." Middle Eastern Studies 42.2 (2006): 223-237.

External links[edit]