US-Turkey Relations: Arab Spring and the Search for Model Partnership

This article by Kadir Ustun and Kilic Kanat was published as part of SETA DC Perspective series in May 2012.

US-Turkey relations in 2011 were in stark contrast to the “troubled” year of 2010. Policy debates in 2010 focused on the political and diplomatic fallout from the Mavi Marmara incident and Turkey’s “No” vote against the UN Security Council resolution on Iran. Policymakers in Washington called into question Turkey’s foreign policy direction and the intentions of its leadership. Extrication of the Turkish-Israeli relationship from the US-Turkey relationship represented a structural change. As the two sides were seeking ways to adjust to the new reality, the historic transformations sweeping the Middle East in 2011 created a new dynamic in the bilateral relationship. Creation of a special personal rapport between President Obama and Prime Minister Erdoğan was critical for the leadership on both sides to recognize once again that their countries’ relationship needed strengthening. Notwithstanding the differences on a variety of issues, the move toward forging a “model partnership” has begun.

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