A REVIEW OF U.S.-TURKEY RELATIONS IN 2018 AND PROSPECTS FOR 2019

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A Message from THO's President

Turkish-American cooperation has  been one of the defining features of the Atlantic Alliance since the 1950s. Since Truman, every U.S. president has considered Turkey a “strategic partner” and a “crucial ally.” Turkey's geopolitical positioning between the USSR and the West was considered a vital strategic asset by both Washington and Moscow throughout the Cold War period. The strategic partnership between the U.S. and Turkey persisted through numerous tests of solidarity and conflicts of interest from the onset of the Korean War through the end of the Cold War.
Turkey has politically and militarily supported the U.S.-led NATO operations in Somalia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan, and endorsed U.S. policies and priorities in these regions. Turkey and the U.S. have shared myriad strategic interests throughout the Balkans, the Black Sea, and Central Asia; from Kosovo to Afghanistan.

The Iraq War of 2003 was not only a watershed moment in Middle Eastern history but also a crucial turning point in U.S.-Turkey relations. The regional projections and priorities of both actors started to diverge at that point.
Beginning in 2011, with the Arab Spring riots, uprisings, and insurgencies that toppled long-established dictatorships in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, the entire region experienced instability, deepening the two traditional allies' divergence of opinions. More importantly the civil war in Syria today puts these two actors in different camps with different allies and goals. 
2018 has been a contentious year for the United States-Turkey relationship. Tensions between the two countries were exacerbated mainly due to domestic and international developments.  With Turkey’s immediate surroundings being of such pressing importance to U.S. interests, the current instability and various challenges that the region currently faces places pressure on both governments to find constructive solutions.   The current crises in the EU and the worsening of relations between Russia and the West mean that instability in the Middle East threatens both the interests of the United States and the internal stability of Turkey. In spite of the challenges posed by this transition period, there still exist numerous avenues for strengthening bilateral relations between the United States and Turkey. 
The Turkish Heritage Organization (THO) aims to provide a concise yet comprehensive review of the United States- Turkey relationship in 2018. This report will highlight six issue areas: security, humanitarian aid, the economy, energy, education, and technology. It is our hope that the third installment in our yearly Annual Review series can continue to serve as a guide for ways to strengthen and improve the relationship between Washington and Ankara.
THO believes that constructive dialogue is imperative to strengthening the relationship between Turkey and the United States. To this end, we organized a total of 30 events in 2018. Roundtables, conferences, panel discussions, and teleconferences provided a platform for dialogue between Turkish and American officials and we look forward to building on that in 2019. 
Ali Cinar
THO President