Home Page
 
News 02 Aug 16

US Military Chief Visits Turkey to Ease Tensions

Top US military official Joseph Dunford made an unexpected two-day visit to Turkey in what local experts believe is an attempt to improve strained relations after the recent failed coup.

BIRN Team
BIRN
 Turkey's Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, left, and The U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford. Photo by: Beta

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, visited the NATO military base in Incirlik, some 500 kilometres south of Ankara on Tuesday, as part of a two-day visit seen as an attempt to ease tensions between the two countries.

In Ankara on Monday, Dunford met Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and was reported to have condemned last month’s attempted military coup.

"General Dunford condemns the failed coup attempt in the strongest terms and the US will continue to deepen its relations with Turkey in every aspect after the terrorist events on July 15," said a statement issued by Yildirim’s office after the meeting.

The statement added that Dunford's visit was a sign of US support for its strategic partner and for Turkish democracy.

Yildirim used the meeting to press for the extradition of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the US and is blamed by the Ankara government for the coup plot.

Washington has insisted that Ankara provide proof to support its allegations against Gulen.

According to the statement from the premier’s office, Yildirim told Dunford that "the Fethullah terrorist organisation" remained the main threat to Turkish democracy.

"The US must help Turkey, which is an important ally for the US, in its fight against these terrorists," the statement added.
Dunford also met his Turkish counterpart General Hulusi Akar and the two of them visited the parliament building, which was damaged in the fighting on July 15.

US officials openly supported President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the night of failed coup, but then joined the rest of the West in criticising the Turkish government for the massive crackdown which started immediately afterwards, allegedly aimed at the coup's instigators but also suspected to be targeting the opposition.

US-Turkey relations were additionally burdened by the Turkish demands  for Gulen's immediate extradition.

Relations between the two countries suffered an additional blow after Turkish pro-government daily newspaper Yeni Safak reported immediately after the coup attempt that the operation was helped by a retired US general, John Campbell, who previously commanded American troops in Afghanistan.

General Dunford has previously rejected these claims as "absurd".

The Incirlik base - key to NATO military operations in the region, where some 50 to 90 tactical nuclear weapons are housed - has been completely sealed off by 7,000 Turkish police since July 31, when local media reported that another military uprising could be taking place there.

The blockade of NATO's crucial military base by Turkish forces, which have until recently been a key US ally, is another example of how relations with the US had deteriorated.

Dunford’s visit was downplayed by pro-government media, which only ran short news reports citing official statements from Turkish government officials.

Most local independent media organisations were closed in the aftermath of the failed coup so there was no alternative coverage.

The subdued coverage could be a sign that the Turkish authorities were not satisfied with the messages conveyed by Washington, said an Ankara-based expert on US-Turkish relations.

"There is no sign that the US accepts Turkey’s requests, including the extradition of US-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen," the expert told BIRN on condition of anonymity.

"General Dunford's visit will not end Erdogan’s criticism against Western leaders," he added.

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Headlines:

obscure-croatian-ngo-announces-ustasa-commander-plaque-06-26-2017
26 Jun 17

Far-Right Croatian NGO to Honour Ustasa Commander

A marginal far-right NGO announced it will put up a plaque honouring Jure Francetic, the commander of a Croatian World War II fascist Ustasa unit responsible for large-scale crimes against Serbs and Jews.

26 Jun 17

The Balkans Today: 26th June - 30th June 2017

26 Jun 17

Macedonia in Line for Busy Political Week

25 Jun 17

Albania Awaits General Elections Results

25 Jun 17

LIVE: Albanian General Elections 2017

Premium Selection

bosnia-s-ex-refugees-use-language-skills-in-call-centres-06-25-2017
26 Jun 17

Bosnia’s Ex-Refugees Use Language Skills in Call Centres

When German-speaking clients get through to a call centre, there is a good chance that the operator on the other end of the line is a Bosnian who found refuge in Germany during the 1992-5 war.

serbia-s-new-pm-likely-to-stay-in-vucic-s-shadow-06-26-2017
26 Jun 17

Serbia’s New PM Likely to Stay in Vucic’s Shadow

While Ana Brnabic awaits confirmation in parliament as Serbia’s new Prime Minister, experts say the real decisions will continue to be taken by her patron, President Aleksandar Vucic.

23 Jun 17

Albania Enjoys Calmest Ever Election Campaign

23 Jun 17

Romanian Top Filmmakers Fight for Reform

Latest News from the Balkans

26 Jun 17

Macedonia in Line for Busy Political Week

25 Jun 17

Albania Awaits General Elections Results