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Increasing Tension in Turkish-American Relations

The tension in Turkish-American relations is gradually increasing. The wave of tension has recently risen over the two main issues: the American mediation of the US clergyman Andrew Branson, detained in Turkey, and the US decision to refuse selling American F-35 fighters to Turkey.

In the first case, Ankara categorically refused to release a US cleric detained for involvement with coup organizers and Kurdish militants in Turkey in 2016. This was followed by US sanctions, which are still limited by freezing American accounts and assets of two Turkish ministers. Earlier on this issue, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced Turkey's proposal to exchange Branson with Fethullah Gulen, who is accused of organizing the 2016 coup attempt. By the way, Gulen's factor is of great importance in the worsening of the Turkish-American relations, as Turkey has repeatedly appealed to the United States demanding the extradition of the oppositionist Islamist propagandist whom Erdogan has always seen as his main competitor.

As for the sale of American fighters, problems have arisen after Turkey has signed a contract with Russia in 2017 to supply C-400 anti-missile systems, which has caused the apparent dissatisfaction of the American side. After that, the Senate started discussing the expropriation of the F-35 fighters to Turkey, which did not keep back the Turkish side from the idea of ​​acquiring Russian missile systems. As a result, the Senate decided to ban the sale of fighter jets to Turkey until the Pentagon presented a report on Ankara's participation in the F-35 deal, as well as evaluate the risks of Turkey's intention to buy Russian missile shields.

Turkey has taken a tough stance on this issue. First, the Turkish side insists that if the US refuses to conclude bilateral agreements and ensure the delivery of the F-35 fighters, it will appeal to the international arbitral tribunal and resolve the issue by court. In the political context, Turkey threatens the United States with the loss of allies. In this regard, President Erdoğan openly stated that if Washington does not change its attitude, it may lose a sincere ally.

Erdogan, reinforcing his position within the country, after re-election, tries to strengthen his position in the outside world. Turkey tries to show that Washington can lose its main ally in the region. However the fact that bilateral cooperation is in the interests of the two countries is realized very well both in Washington and Ankara.

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