Turkey has been a key ally of the United States for over fifty years and remains so today. Sharing borders with Iran, Iraq and Syria and having access to the Mediterranean and Black Seas, Turkey is geographically well-positioned to play an important role in both Middle Eastern politics. It is the bridge between Europe and Asia, but also the link between the Western world and the Islamic world. It has good relations with many of its neighbors, a strong economy and a modern military.
Turkey and the United States share similar strategic interests such as ensuring stability in the Middle East, creating a prosperous and secure Iraq, countering terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, achieving regional security in Afghanistan, maintaining strong economies, safeguarding the flow of oil and natural gas and promoting democracy and tolerance. But in recent years, Turkey and the United States have grown apart over disputes regarding Israel’s stance on the Palestinian issue and Iran’s nuclear program.
Turkey is also more independent in the conduct of its foreign policy, becoming increasingly assertive in the Middle East, strengthening its commercial ties with many of its neighbors, and establishing good relations with Iran and Syria, initiatives that have led some American and Israeli officials to believe that Turkey was drifting away from the West. However, the United States can use Turkey’s good relations with Iran and Syria to foster a collaborative environment in the Middle East, resolve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program and promote stability throughout the region.