Turkey - America’s most important bilateral relationship today

September 10, 2016

Turkey - America’s most important bilateral relationship today

As the global fight against terrorism continues, Turkey has become America’s most critical geopolitical ally in the fight against ISIS and other dangerous terrorist organizations.

Recent meetings between President Erdogan and President Obama as well as Vice President Biden have shown the world that despite the many “distractions” for both countries, Turkey and America must work together to lower the temperature on either sides. Only then can the bond between Turkey and America strengthen.

As Vice President Biden said, “America must always protect its relationship with the Turkish people.” At present, truer words have never been spoken.

As the future of the Middle East evolves daily, Turkish-U.S. relations are critical to regional security and the management of regional crises. And despite the need to deal with major developments within its own borders,Turkey finds itself stuck in the crosshairs of external turmoil. The conflicts in Syria and Iraq, as well as Russia’s recent actions in the region, have become pressing issues of international security.

America’s relationship with Turkey is entirely unique.

The only majority-Muslim member of NATO, Turkey has lent its soil to U.S. air bases and supported American military operations in key conflicts, such as Syria today and the Balkans in the 1990s. Turkey’s stability in the face of adversity, along with the friendliness of its military toward the West are also of vital importance to the U.S. and for countries throughout Europe.

Turkey has been a NATO ally since 1952, and U.S. warplanes have used Incirlik Air Base in the south during the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. An estimated 1,800 U.S. military personnel are assigned to the base and the U.S. Embassy in Ankara.

Since 2011 Turkey and the U.S. have co-chaired the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) to help combat the rise of extremism. Turkey has also worked in conjunction with the U.S. to establish the first-ever public-private global fund to support local efforts to counter violent extremism. The country has been a leading example in its role at the Center of Excellence Defense Against Terrorism (COE-DAT) in Ankara to teach fellow NATO allies and select non-member states on how to address various terrorism-related issues.

For over fifty years, Turkey and the United Stated have enjoyed a bilateral relationship sharing values of democracy, diversity, tolerance, social mobility, and the separation of religious and civic life.

As terrorism around the world continues to cause ruin and destruction, and as ISIS continues to play a deadly role around the world, the relationship with our ally been never been as pivotal as it is today.

It is time that both nations come closer together to resolve their differences, strengthen their bonds, and find a way to work together to deal with the issues that in the international spotlight; most prominently Gulen and the Kurds.

As Vice President Biden said, it is time that America’s actions match their words.

Ali Cinar is executive vice president of the Turkish Heritage Organization.