Ankara and Washington have been caught in a diplomatic tailspin ever since the latter began supporting Turkey's foes--the YPG and FETO--and ignoring its militaristic needs in an increasingly hostile Middle East.
Turkey and the United States have clashed over a range of issues in recent years.
Two issues initially strained ties between the two countries, including the US's refusal to extradite the leader of the FETO terror group, Fetullah Gulen, who is responsible for the 2016 coup attempt which killed 251 people and injured thousands. Former US president Barack Obama's controversial policy of supporting the PKK terror group's Syrian wing the YPG in northern Syria was the second blow.
While Turkey sought to purchase the US-made Patriot missile system to shield itself from the increasing use of the offensive-missile warfare in the Middle East, Washington first bought too much time in making the promised delivery and the delay eventually led to a denial, forcing its NATO ally to look for other alternatives.
Russia offered its military hardware to fill the gap and Turkey's procurement of the S-400 was discussed by Ankara and Moscow. With the deal reaching its completion last week, the US responded by removing Turkey from its ambitious F-35 fighter jet programme and there was also talk of imposing economic sanctions among a pack of Republicans.
US President Donald Trump accepted at the G20 Summit that Turkey had been treated unfairly by the Obama administration, which did not allow Ankara to buy Patriot missiles.
"Turkey is a NATO member and was not treated fairly," Trump said in a joint presser with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, referring to the Obama administration's reluctance to sell Patriots to Turkey in 2013.
Although Turkey had proposed forming a working group to address American concerns about the Russian S-400s, the US never responded to Ankara's offer.
Denying extradition of FETO members
After a bloody coup attempt which was orchestrated by Fetullah Gulen (the leader of FETO), who has been living in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999, Turkey demanded his extradition as a leader of a terror group.
Despite sending thousands of pages of court records and proof, Washington has always been against Ankara’s demand.
Moreover, the FETO carries out its activities in the US without being subjected to any kind of scrutiny or limitation from officials.
The US does not intervene in FETO activities, which spread its terror propaganda and enhance and increase its power through its charity schools and other organisations.
Supporting the YPG in Syria
The US supports the YPG, the Syrian wing of the PKK, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by the US, NATO, and Turkey.
The PKK has launched a terrorist campaign against the Turkish state, leading to more than 40,000 deaths and the material destruction of the country’s mostly Kurdish-populated and eastern and southeastern regions.
Its Syrian offshoot, the YPG, has silently become the group that has benefitted the most from the war in Syria, claiming one-third of the country in the northeast, with the help of US assistance and guidance.
The SDF was established in 2015, mainly as a part of US-led efforts in the fight against Daesh. Despite US reluctance to accept the fact, the backbone of the SDF has been the YPG. Washington also continues to deny any direct links between the PKK and the YPG, despite Turkey providing clear evidence that they exist.
However, the US continues to support the YPG. According to the 2020 Pentagon budget, Washington allocated more than $500 million in total assistance to SDF expenses under Revolving and Management Funds.
Vague US stance on Turkey’s downing of Russian jet
Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border in November, 2015, after repeatedly warning over its violation of Turkey’s territorial sovereignty.
Initially, US officials supported Turkey’s argument for its right to protect its territorial sovereignty, however, the US confined itself to saying the Russian jet had just entered Turkey’s airspace for a matter of seconds.
Despite NATO’s urging “calm and de-escalation” and to “stand in solidarity with Turkey”, some NATO diplomats saw Turkey as aggressive.
"We [NATO] are not going to pay the price for a war started by the Turks," a German diplomat said.
Despite then-US president Barack Obama’s public support for Ankara, some US officials blamed Turkey for overreacting about “a minor piece of airspace."
US officials also said that Turkey hit the Russian jet in Syrian territory.
At the time, the US stance undermined its strategic ally’s claim for shooting down the Russian jet.