Last Thursday, the SETA Foundation in Washington hosted Richard Outzen of the US Department of State, Mark Kimmitt of MTK Defense Consultants, Kilic B. Kanat of the SETA Foundation, as well as moderator Kadir Ustun of the Foundation to discuss the future of US-Turkey relations. The discussion gave an overview of the history of relations between the two countries, examined contemporary challenges, and proposed solutions. The discussion was timely, because of the recent “mini diplomatic crisis” that began in October, when the US halted the issuance of nonimmigrant visas to Turkish citizens, and Turkey reciprocated. Despite the gravity of this development, which was caused by the detention of US consular officers in Turkey as part of coup investigations, Ustun maintained that there are other, more serious points of contention.
The history of US-Turkey relations is replete with both long-standing tension and cooperation. Outzen outlined three main events as points of conflict: the presence of US troops in Turkey in the 1990s, the distrust that emerged because of Turkey’s Cyprus operation in the 70s, and the ensuing US embargo on Turkey. Kanat described the history of US-Turkey relations as a “roller coaster” distinguished by a vague dynamic. Kimmit shed light on positive developments in relations between Turkey and the US, citing their cooperation in Bosnia and Iraq, the existence of a US base in Turkey, and agreement on the Kurdish referendum.
Outzen and Kanat also described current causes of conflict. First is the “complex of issues” linked to the Turkish coup and Turkish political and religious figure Fethullah Gulen. Gulen, accused by the Turkish government of having organized the coup attempt of 2013, has been living in the United States and has been the subject of an extradition request by the Turkish government. The US government’s “failure to extradite Gulen,” Outzen explained, has been seen as unworthy of an ally. Outzen acknowledged that the US believes the coup to have been violent and unjustified, but that Washington also had concerns about blatant rights violations in the process of punishing those deemed responsible.
The PKK issue was also another point of tension. Outzen described the two sides, saying that Turkey interpreted the US integration of PKK fighters into the Syrian Democratic Forces as a show of support for the PKK and, by extension, undermining of Turkish power. The United States, on the other hand, sees the SDF as admirable, particularly in light of its contributions to the fight against ISIS. Kanat emphasized the significant distrust that the apparent US support for the PKK has caused, saying the PKK issue “unites Turks.”
There are nevertheless possibilities to strengthen the US-Turkey relationship. Outzen stated that an increased understanding of the other country’s national interests and values should be fostered on both sides, and that “economy to economy cooperation” should be developed and given more importance than military cooperation, for which a framework which already exists. Kimmit emphasized that the current challenges to the relations between the US and Turkey are not “structural and long-term” but rather temporary and solvable. He highlighted the importance of Turkish trust of the United States, which he found to be lacking, as well as improved public relations on both sides. Kanat called on the United States to be more transparent with Turkey on its positions and plans, mentioning specifically the lack of a clearly communicated policy on Syria, which, if shared, could foster understanding and create possible areas of cooperation.
1. Fifth Annual Conference on Turkey Monday, June 16 | 9:00 am – 5:00 pm National Press Club 529 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC. REGISTER TO ATTEND The Center for Turkish Studies at The Middle East Institute presents its Fifth Annual Conference on Turkey. This year the conference will assemble three exceptional panels to discuss the country’s tumultuous domestic politics following recent elections, the future of democracy in the country, and Turkish foreign policy. The event will feature a keynote speech by Efkan Ala, Turkey’s Minister of the Interior. SPEAKERS Amb. Robert Ford, Ibrahim Kalın, Amb. Robert Pearson, Judith Yaphe, Gönül Tol, and more.
2. What to Expect from the Al-Sisi PresidencyMonday, June 16 | 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm Woodrow Wilson Center 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was sworn in on June 8. In his inauguration speech, al-Sisi spoke of his intent to lead Egypt in an inclusive manner. Following the resignation of the interim cabinet, al-Sisi will form a new cabinet. Marina Ottaway of the American University in Cairo and Emad Shahin of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace will share their opinions of what the future of Egypt will hold.
3. U.S. Middle East Policy and the Region’s Ongoing Battle over the Muslim Brotherhood Monday, June 16 | 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm Center for American Progress 10th floor, 1333 H St. NW, Washington, DC. REGISTER TO ATTEND In the three years since popular uprisings swept across the Middle East, the status of the Muslim Brotherhood has become a deep point of contention among regional states. Key countries in the Middle East and North Africa are sharply divided over the status of the Muslim Brotherhood and political Islam. During this time, U.S. policy has been hesitant as the United States has sought to define its position in reaction to both the uprisings themselves and the new era of competition among regional states they produced. The uneven U.S. responses to the Arab uprisings and the regional competition that has been sparked offers several important lessons learned for U.S. policy in the future. SPEAKERS Peter Mandaville, Professor, George Mason University, Haroon Ullah, State Department Policy Planning Staff, and Brian Katulis, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress.
4. Transparency, Oversight and Accountability in the UN System: Problems and How to Fix Them Monday, June 16 | 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm Heritage Foundation; 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND The Associated Press reported this year that that the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services failed to pursue a number of cases of corruption over the last five years. How emblematic are these incidents of the UN system? What has changed, what still needs doing, and what levers are effective in pushing reform? SPEAKERS Robert Appleton, former Chairman of the United Nations Procurement Task Force, and Special Counsel to the UN Iraqi Oil for Food investigation, Edward Patrick Flaherty, Senior Partner, Schwab Flaherty & Associates, and James Wasserstrom, Senior Advisor on Anticorruption, U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
5. How to Unwind Iran Nuclear Sanctions Monday, June 16 | 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm Atlantic Council; 1030 15th St NW, Washington, DC. REGISTER TO ATTEND With the deadline for an Iran deal fast approaching, a key element will be how to coordinate US and European sanctions relief with Iranian confidence building measures. The Atlantic Council’s Iran Task Force invites you to the launch of two papers outlining options for unwinding nuclear-related sanctions against Iran. Authors Kenneth Katzman of the Congressional Research Service and Cornelius Adebahr of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace will explore US and EU sanctions, respectively, looking at the evolution of sanctions over the past decade and the most feasible path to providing meaningful relief in the event that Iran agrees to significant curbs on its nuclear program.
6. Whistleblowers: A Critical Anti-Corruption Tool & Challenge Tuesday, June 17 | 11:45 am – 2:15 pm AU Washington College of Law; 4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Whistleblower laws, incentives and protections are critical to fighting corruption, but implementation in practice is a challenge. Professor Robert Vaughn, noted scholar and author of “The Successes and Failures of Whistleblower Laws” and James Wasserstrom, Anti-corruption Advisor, US Embassy Kabul Afghanistan and a whistleblower on corruption in Kosovo, will discuss best practices and pitfalls.
7. Is the US AWOL in the ‘war on drugs’ in Latin America? Tuesday, June 17 | 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm AEI; 1150 17th Street, NW Washington, DC. REGISTER TO ATTEND Mexico and Central America are struggling with rampant organized crime, fueled by US demand for illegal drugs. Central American nations are too weak or too complicit in criminality to confront the powerful, multibillion-dollar criminal enterprises that collaborate with Colombian cocaine smugglers, a Venezuelan narcostate, illegal arms smugglers, and Hezbollah to threaten the security and well-being of the Americas. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), chairman of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, will assess the threat to US interests and recommend policy options, and a panel of experts will discuss. SPEAKERS Jerry Brewer Sr., Criminal Justice International Associates LLC, Richard J. Douglas, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics, Counterproliferation, and Global Threats, and Iñigo Guevara, CENTRA Global Access.
8. 2014 Global Peace Index: Measuring Country Risk and Opportunity Wednesday, June 18 | 9:30 am – 11:00 am Center for Strategic and International Studies; 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC. REGISTER TO ATTEND What is the state of global peace in 2014? What are the risks that threaten the peacefulness of nations and communities? How can our foreign policy and aid interventions better prioritize the mitigation of risk? The 2014 Global Peace Index discussion will explore these questions, detailing recent trends in militarization, safety and security, and ongoing conflict. It will also include a presentation of a new country risk framework, which quantifies current knowledge around the structural drivers of peace and conflict to identify countries most at risk today of falls in peacefulness. SPEAKERS Gary J. Milante, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Paul B. Stares, Council on Foreign Relations, Alexandra I. Toma, Peace and Security Funders Group, Daniel Hyslop, Institute for Economics and Peace. Moderated by Robert Lamb, Center for Strategic and International Studies.
9. Assessing Threats Facing the U.S.-Korea Alliance Wednesday, June 18 | 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm Woodrow Wilson Center; 1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel will deliver the keynote address of the second annual U.S.-Korea dialogue hosted jointly by the Wilson Center and the East Asia Foundation of Seoul. Register for this half-day conference, where opinion leaders from Korea and the United States will discuss their concerns for the future and seek ways to increase cooperation and mutual political, economic, diplomatic, and security benefits. SPEAKERS Daniel Russel, Jane Harman, Ro-Myung Gong, Thomas Fingar, Cheol-hee Park, and more.
10. Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War Thursday, June 19 | 10:00 am – 11:00 am Heritage Foundation; 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Pakistan’s army has dominated the state for most of its 66 years, locking the country in an enduring rivalry with India over Kashmir. To prosecute these dangerous policies, the army employs non-state actors under the security of its ever-expanding nuclear umbrella. Based on decades of the army’s own defense publications, Christine Fair’s book argues that the Pakistan military is unlikely to shift its strategy anytime soon, and thus the world must prepare for an ever more dangerous future Pakistan. Other speakers include David Sedney, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia, and Michael G. Waltz, President of Metis Solutions and former Special Advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney.
11. Mideast Shi’ites Defy Iranian Domination? Thursday, June 19 | 12:00 pm – 2:15 pm American Enterprise Institute; 1150 17th Street NW, Washington D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND Iran’s Islamic Revolution unleashed a wave of sectarianism, which has flooded the Middle East. But while many have characterized Middle Eastern Shi‘ites as under the sway of the Islamic Republic, Shi‘ites from countries like Lebanon, Bahrain, Iraq, and Azerbaijan have worked to resist Iranian influence. Join analysts from the United States and across the Middle East to discuss strategies to preserve communal independence and how the United States can successfully work with Shi‘ite communities outside Iran. This event will coincide with the release of a new report based on firsthand fieldwork in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Azerbaijan. SPEAKERS Abbas Kadhim, Brenda Shaffer, Michael Rubin, Ahmed Ali, Ali Alfoneh, Kenneth M. Pollack, and more.
12. How to Bring a Dictator to Justice: The Hissen Habré Trial Thursday, June 19 | 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm National Endowment for Democracy; 1025 F Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND From 1982 to 1990, Chad witnessed thousands of political killings under the regime of its former president, Hissen Habré. Twenty-four years after the end of his rule, litigation against Habré has finally gained critical momentum in Dakar. As a member of the international team of lawyers prosecuting the case, Delphine Djiraibe is well placed to tell the story of how Habré was brought to trial and to explore the potential impact on transitional justice in Chad. She will reflect on the legal process thus far, discuss where the trial stands today, and consider next steps in Senegal and beyond. Her presentation will be followed by comments by Dave Peterson, of the National Endowment for Democracy; the discussion will be moderated by Sally Blair of the International Forum for Democratic Studies.
13. The Solution to the Cyprus Problem: Famagusta, Energy, and Public Relations Friday, June 20 | 12:00 pm – 1:45 pm Hudson Institute; 1015 15th Street NW, 6th Floor, Washington, D.C. REGISTER TO ATTEND 2014 marks the 40th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. Following numerous failed attempts to reach a settlement, a Joint Declaration agreed to in February has galvanized new reunification efforts. The Hudson Institute hosts an important conversation on this situation with Alexis Galanos, Mayor of the city of Famagusta and former Speaker of the Cyprus House of Representatives. As the mayor of a city in the northern, Turkish-occupied part of the island, Galanos will share his unique perspective on current and future prospects for the reunification of Cyprus. Hudson Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for American Seapower, Seth Cropsey, will moderate the discussion.