Generating Momentum for a New Era in U.S.-Turkey Relations

The emerging schism between the West and the Islamic world makes America's relationship with Turkey--a Western-oriented, democratizing Muslim country--more important than ever. Unfortunately, despite the long history of close collaboration, U.S.-Turkish relations have deteriorated markedly over the last three years. The U.S. invasion of Iraq--and the potential consequences for Turkey with its large Kurdish population--is the primary issue that divides Washington and Ankara, but there are also differences regarding Cyprus, Syria, Iran, Israel, and Hamas, as well as a rising tide of anti-Americanism in Turkey. To repair this important alliance relationship, Washington should establish a regular trilateral dialogue involving the United States, Turkey, and Iraqi Kurds; play a leading role in seeking a settlement to the long-standing dispute over Cyprus; be more active in supporting Ankara's bid for EU membership; and work to create a U.S.-Turkey Cooperation Commission that would meet on a biannual basis to provide a structured forum for government agencies, NGOs, and private sector leaders from both countries to discuss matters of mutual concern.