Turkey has barred most U.S. visitors from entering the country, after a diplomatic tensions between the NATO allies continue to escalate.
A US consulate worker in Istanbul was recently detained under suspicion of links to the cleric, Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames for inspiring an attempted coup against him last year.
The US says the allegations are baseless.
The detainment of the consulate worker “forced the United States Government to reassess the commitment of the Government of Turkey to the security of U.S. Mission facilities and personnel,” according to an official statement from the US Embassy in Turkey.
Statement from the U.S. Mission to Turkey pic.twitter.com/RjTU3BfSXZ
— US Embassy Turkey (@USEmbassyTurkey) October 8, 2017
Turkey responded, demanding an explanation from the top diplomat in Ankara.
Using nearly identical language as the U.S. statement, Turkey claimed “Recent events have forced the Turkish Government to reassess the commitment of the Government of the U.S. to the security of the Turkish Mission facilities and personnel.”
They even barred most U.S. visitors from Turkey.
Statement from the Turkish Mission to the U.S., October 8, 2017 pic.twitter.com/4i0BwInOCj
— TurkishEmbassyDC (@TurkishEmbassy) October 8, 2017
Relations between the U.S. and Turkey have become increasingly complex. The U.S.’s backing of Syrian Kurdish militias who fight against ISIS was controversial in Turkey, whose government suspects several Kurdish groups of terrorism. Turkey has even gone so far as to bomb its own Kurdish people.
The fact that the U.S. supplied Syrian Kurds with weapons for their fight against ISIS agitated Turkey, who doesn’t think the militias should be trusted.
The military coup in Turkey led to further disagreements. The cleric Turkey believes is responsible for inciting the coup lives in the U.S. Turkey wants him extradited, but the U.S. says they can’t do anything until they have evidence of wrongdoing.
The Daily Caller reports:
The extraordinary diplomatic tit-for-tat comes between two important NATO allies whose relations have been fraught for some time. These tensions are predominantely over disagreements on anti-Islamic State strategy and the June 2016 military coup.
Turkey is particularly upset with the U.S. for backing Kurdish militias in Syria against ISIS, including providing them weapons. Turkey regards many of the Kurdish militias as terrorists groups intent on agitating its own Kurdish population and has even taken steps to bomb them at certain points.
Erdogan also is furious with the U.S. for refusing to extradite Gulen to Turkey on dubious charges. The U.S has said it is willing to extradite the cleric if actual criminal evidence is presented against him, but nothing has been yet deemed credible by the Department of Justice.
Turkey took the extraordinary step of purchasing a Russian missile defense system, leading to concerns among NATO allies that inter-operability would suffer. “We make the decisions about our own independence ourselves — we are obliged to take safety and security measures in order to defend our country,” Erdogan defiantly said of his decision to purchase the system in September.
The consulates’ recent moves prove that the situation is escalating, rather than cooling off. Trust between the nations is breaking down, as disagreements turn into formal policy.
What’s going to happen next? It’s unclear. The nation is a NATO member, but their increasing hostility to the West cannot be ignored for much longer.