Only three months ago Turkey and its NATO ally the United States had too many issues about which to disagree: They had major divergences over Syria; they had different views on Turkey’s plans to deploy the Russian-made S-400 air defense system on NATO soil; they had mutual sanctions on top government officials due to Turkey’s refusal to free Andrew Brunson, an American evangelical Christian pastor living in Turkey who faced bogus charges of terrorism and espionage; they had a potential U.S. decision to block delivery to Turkey of arms systems, including the F-35 stealth fighter; they had potential U.S. sanctions on a Turkish public bank; the U.S. had doubled tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminium; a Turkish boycott on U.S. electronics; major differences over Syrian Kurds; and Turkey’s persistent demands for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, a Muslim cleric who is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s political nemesis, living in self-exile in Pennsylvania.
Three months later, there is not much left of the anti-American euphoria in Turkey. Erdoğan has already stopped accusing the U.S. of waging economic warfare against Turkey. For his part, President Donald Trump has said, “We’re having a very good moment with Turkey … He [Erdoğan] is a friend of mine. He’s a strong man, he’s tough man, and he’s a smart man.”
What has changed so radically in three months to lift up the relationship from its worst tensions in decades to such warmth? Not much.