US-Turkey Relations: Five Years Since the Coup Attempt

US-Turkey Relations: Five Years Since the Coup Attempt

16 Jul 21

On Friday July 16, 2021, the Turkish Heritage Organization hosted a virtual discussion on US-Turkey Relations: Five Years Since the Coup Attempt. The event featured Yavuz Selim Kiran, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Turkey. The esteemed panelists were Paolo von Schirach, the President of the Global Policy Institute, Dr. Michael Reynolds, an associate professor of Near Eastern Studies, and the Director of the Program in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at Princeton University, and Nursin Atesoglu Guney, a political scientist, academic, author, and professor. This event was moderated by Jennifer Schaffer, THO Contributor and former Nonresident fellow. 

Deputy Minister Kiran started by reflecting on the coup attempt five years ago and the bravery of the Turkish people. He also emphasized the importance of the close US-Turkish relations in the investigation. 

The discussion began by asking how the coup attempt affected Turkey’s influence abroad and its relations with the US and other allies. Dr. Reynolds argued that the coup attempt caused Turkey to lose confidence in the US across the board. He also raised the violence that was seen in the coup and the possibility of civil war had it succeeded. 

Paolo von Schirach discussed the effect of the coup attempt on the US-Turkish trade relationship. He described the promises made between the Trump administration and Erdogan that failed to materialize because of uncertainties like COVID and the Turkish lira. He argued that there is great possibility for trade and investment in the future. 

Further, Dr. Guney argued that despite the coup attempt, Turkey was able to succeed on many fronts. As the security situation changes, especially in regards to the turmoil in the Middle East, she described how Turkey has faced a new Cold War and launched successful cross-border operations. She attributed this success to the modernization of Turkey and its ability to act as an autonomous actor. 

Asked about the implications of the coup attempt for NATO and its member nations, Dr. Guney argued that Turkey had expectations of support from its allies given the large trauma that it faced. She argued that there was disappointment about the reactions of the US and European allies, but she remains optimistic because Biden has indicated support for democracies. 

Von Schirach argued that there is a major geopolitical transformation, arguing that China is and will continue to be a central threat the extent of which Biden needs to assess. In terms of Turkey, he described the significant contributions it has made to NATO and argued that there is an opportunity for Turkey to rekindle relations with the US. 

Additionally, Dr. Guney spoke and discussed that we are facing a new generation of terrorist organizations that presents a new kind of danger. Along with raising awareness, she argued for stronger relations between allies and for interpersonal discussions between parties from both countries. She discussed the need to prepare for hybrid wars and to cooperate with allies on this global issue. Von Schirach agreed, saying that with the new Biden administration’s understanding of international affairs, he is reasonably optimistic about cooperation between the US and Turkey. He raised the examples of Northern Syria and the Black Sea as areas where the US and Turkey have a common interest. 

Finally, Dr. Reynolds said that both Ankara and Washington are actively working to improve their relations, even if work remains to be done. He argued that Russia is one clear area of cooperation, given Turkey’s complex relationship with it. He also pointed to China as a clear challenge and another area where Turkey could be a potential partner. 

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