US-Turkish Relations: Another Honeymoon?
January 31, 2008
On January 8 President George W. Bush hosted Turkish President Abdullah Gul at the White House. The visit was noteworthy not only because it was the first by a Turkish President in over a decade but also because it circumvented conventional diplomatic procedure by following so closely that of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The trip was clearly designed to underline the closer alignment between the two countries stemming from the policy adjustment by the United States at the November 5 Bush-Erdogan meeting. Much to the chagrin of the Justice and Development Party (JDP) government as well as the Turkish public, the Bush Administration had previously failed to respond to sustained Turkish appeals for support in the fight against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which had been escalating terrorist attacks on Turkish targets from its bases in Iraq. However, Bush’s public identification of the PKK as “a common enemy” and promise of “actionable intelligence” had cleared the way to Turkish air strikes against PKK camps in northern Iraq and a thaw in relations.